Something that collectors are becoming more accustomed to, is the amount of Redemption Cards Select are filtering into their products. What makes AFL cards stand out from other hobbies, is both the ease of redeeming cards, and the certainty that what's pulled from packs will become available to be redeemed!
If you're unfamiliar with overseas protocol when it comes to redemption cards, it can be VERY hit or miss! It's why celebrations are often subdued when you see US 'breakers' or collectors hitting potentially massive redemption cards. Emphasis on the word potentially, as pulling big redemptions far from guarantees a physical card, nor a card of equivalent value! While many top athletes are under contract with card companies, it's often hard to pin these extremely busy individuals down for on-card autographs. That's why so many redemptions are fulfilled with 'sticker autographs', or redemptions that were meant to be on-card become expired!
When redemptions expire, you can either hold onto hope that the redemption will be fulfilled, or exchange the card for one of 'similar value'. However there have been some horror stories, with $1000 cards being replaced with $50 cards! In between all this is an eternity of waiting, accompanied by little communication, as card companies try to fight the backlog of cards from releases in years prior. It's all a bit CRAZY!
In Australia, Select use redemption cards in their releases for a multitude of reasons. For starters, redemptions guarantee the quality of high-end chase cards from particular products. Imagine being in the position of pulling a massive Dual Signature from Optimum, only to find the card having surface scratches, dinged corners, smudged autographs, etc.
Luckily, Select have seemed to have almost perfected quality control in the past 12 months when it comes to autograph cards, with the Optimum 2022 DPS' quality being executed to a fault! But why risk it when it comes to thicker cards and multiple auto's? Logistical issues also need to be considered in terms of manufacturing, time shortages or a combination of both! Sometimes the cards aren't produced in time, in other instances Select's unable to track down every autograph required before the production of sealed boxes begins.
With that being said, AFL collectors have the luxury of knowing that all redemptions will be redeemable, with a vast majority fulfilled in swift turnaround times! So why is it that cards inserted as redemptions are generally valued less than the redeemed product? It's not like we have to gamble on the manufacturer not holding up their end of the bargain? We don't even have to worry about expiration dates (bar a few exceptions)! Therefore, do redemption cards pose as a potential investment opportunity?
Currently In the AFL trading card calendar, we have two perpetual redemptions; the Brownlow Predictors, and the Coleman Predictors. When either of these predictors are successfully redeemed, you are given in return a pristine Signature Booklet encapsulating that players achievements.
However, forgetting your trying to sell the predictors unredeemed and imagining you were selling the physical booklet itself, would prices get to levels we've seen on recent redemptions, or would as many be listed for sale? Look at the Cripps Gold Brownlow Predictor from last year, once Cripps won the Brownlow you saw the usual overinflated sales, but once the the supply began to flood the market, you saw listings ranging from $500-800 not being bought.
Turn forward the clock only a few months, not only was there was a recent sale of a redeemed booklet for $1000, but you can't really even find many! For what, a 2-month wait to potentially double your money or half your total spend? I'm sure a similar story is playing out RIGHT NOW with the Charlie Curnow Coleman Predictor, and it will be interesting to see comparative prices before and after redemption is available. Does 'impatience' lead to buying opportunities? Or is it the trade-off of time vs money?
With the cards mentioned above, you sort of got an idea of how they were going to be executed by referring to same card variations from previous years. How about when nobody has the vaguest idea as to how a redemption is going to turn out?
In last years Footy Stars releases, people could only speculate as to what the Spectrum Redemptions were going to look like, and the risk associated with potentially an unpopular insert, corresponded with lacklustre prices. This didn't bother master-set collectors, but for those who are getting pickier with their purchases, they were forced to pay a premium once the designs and checklists were made available.
For the Spectrums, it was a case of getting in early to secure the best deal, but does that now mean Select have enough runs on the board for collectors to blindly trust redemptions? The Virtuoso subset was also a massive hit with the public, but collectors were able to get a taste of what the redemptions in Footy Stars Jumbo would look like from retail Footy Stars.
However it seemed as though again, the redemption aspect quelled collectors interest and therefore prices. So does access to the checklist and design of the insert, prior to release, add more value to redemptions? Or is the human nature of forgetting the finished product and only valuing a plain piece of cardboard too hard to resist?
I thought I'd finish with a unique redemption story/question. If you can remember back to Optimum 2021, some Draft Pick Signatures of particular players were pulled as redemptions. Maurice Rioli Jnr, Brandon Walker, Tanner Bruhn are a few that spring to mind. When you redeemed those DPS redemptions though, you did NOT receive the redemption card hole punched in return, however the card still features on the checklist. If you're a master set collector or team collector, does that mean you need to purchase one of each to complete your set? Interesting dilemma for collectors!