By the time you’re reading this, the AFL season for 2023 has officially commenced, with both Footy Stars Retail and Hobby releases now in the rear view mirror of most collectors! And while I won’t be analysing any release mechanics in any great detail, as I’m sure the AJ’s will have covered all that, I did want to discuss the aspect of Footy Stars which interests me the most… The predictors!
For the first time since 2019, both gold and platinum predictors are included in the Footy Stars release. However it’s safe to assume that the 2023 release of Footy Stars looks completely different to its 2019 counterpart! There are now a whopping FOUR different predictors (Premiership, Coleman, Brownlow & Rising Star), all released with two variations!
I was VERY interested to see how collectors would react to the plethora of predictors available, and how hard people were willing to speculate on some of the bigger ticketed items!
In years past, we have been accustomed to the Platinum Brownlow Predictors being rolled out with ‘Prestige’. However the traditional second release of the year usually occurs roughly halfway through the football season. Meaning that collectors and speculators have a reasonable idea of which players or teams are well-positioned to take out the season awards. The betting-favourites platinum predictors would command massive premiums, but left most of the field slightly irrelevant. Which was a bit anticlimactic for inserts that appear in every 2.5 boxes (‘Prestige 2022’ pack odds)!
This year is different though… All predictors are LIVE from the outset! Collectors are entering the 2023 season completely BLIND of future performance, with hopeful supporters praying that on field performances correspond with collectors faith!
Of the available predictors on offer, I believe the ‘Premiership Predictors’ are the least volatile. Before the start of every season, there’s a rough understanding of the 4-6 teams who have the best chance of winning the flag, and a majority of the time those odds are already priced into the predictor. Of course you get the occasional Collingwood who makes a mad-dash deep in the finals, and if you were someone who bought in early, congratulations. But apart from that expect your Geelong, Melbourne, Brisbane, Richmond and Collingwood predictors to steadily hold their value until the pointy end of the season!
Moving up the ladder of ‘risky business’ with predictors, Coleman Predictors are an interesting proposition as realistically most teams have a forward worthy of achieving a 50-goal season. Not only that, but some teams have 2 genuine ‘bites of the cherry’ which helps avoid risk when it comes to player injury, form etc. Collectors have been used to having a Coleman Predictor at their disposal early in the year, but with the addition of the platinum, it will be interesting to see how high collectors and speculators will push that price ceiling!
Whilst I thought that there was going to be strong speculation heading the way of Will Ashcroft and the Brisbane Rising Star Predictor, I didn’t expect the market to treat it as a one horse race! There are already ‘comps’ on eBay pushing towards the $400 mark, and has probably taken the lead as the most in-demand predictor from the series.
Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe that Will Ashcroft is an impending superstar, however there’s never such a thing as a sure bet! A lot of external factors can impact a players season, and whilst he’s rightfully the favourite to take out the award, the lack of demand for other teams' predictors could leave some collectors ‘blue in the face’. Imagine if Ashcroft was to go down with an injury in the first half of the season? There would be a mad scramble for other teams predictors, which are abundantly available RIGHT NOW!
Another factor to consider is at the end of the day, how much is a successful platinum redemption worth on the market? And with the Gold Predictor numbered to 260, is there really going to be that inescapable surge of demand we saw with Nick Daicos for a player whose collector base is vastly smaller? Food for thought, and will be interesting to revisit in 6 months time!
And now finishing with the ‘piece de resistance’, the Brownlow predictors. I really think the first 3 weeks of the AFL season are going to be wild with how these cards are bought and sold. Unlike the other individual based predictors where potential performance has infinite effects, there are only 6 votes available per game, and much like the nature of predictors, collectors won’t know the verdict of their speculation until seasons end! Perception is going to drive these cards’ values, and I expect there will be extremely sharp spikes in prices, especially with platinum predictors week-to-week for the first 3-6 rounds. The platinum predictors will ultimately set the prices for the gold, but how many of the platinum predictors are going to be available after the hype of the first few rounds?
All in all, it’s a very interesting time to be a part of the hobby, and these next few weeks will at worst provide some valuable lessons for future releases involving predictors! What are your thoughts on the state of play with the predictors?