With Footy Stars 2023 due to be released Thursday, we thought it would be interesting to take a step back through time and see how far Selects 'feeder product' has come in only a matter of 8 years!
It was discussed during Episode #42 of Card Authority that we as a collector base, are culprits of turning Footy Stars into a 'hobby product'. Now that Select have supposedly 'given the people what they want' by introducing Footy Stars Hobby, looking back at Footy Stars inaugural release in, the two products couldn't be further apart!
As alluded to above, the highly successful Footy Stars release began its journey in 2016 replacing 'AFL Champions' after its 10 year reign as Selects preferred low-end release. And now looking at the checklist in 2023, it's apparent that Select are trying to get back to the foundations of Footy stars by focusing their attention to both younger and recreational collectors, whilst also trying to appease the hobby market!
Looking back to the first ever Footy Stars release, the product was your standard 36 pack box with 7 different inserts available, however there was only one numbered insert available, being the Brownlow Predictors numbered to 275. These predictor cards have been a staple numbered insert of Footy Stars, however they haven't been a guaranteed box hit for every release. (this will be explained in greater detail later!)
Moving into 2017, Select upped the stakes of their Footy Stars release by guaranteeing collectors TWO numbered inserts per box which included the recreation of Select's 1996 'Pop-Up's' labelled the 'Platinum Stand-ups', which were numbered to 375. It should be mentioned how far the design of even Select's low end inserts have come in only a few short years. As Butters and AJ mentioned on the 'Footy Stars Preview' episode of Card Authority, the caliber of designs with some of Footy Stars long standing inserts such as the Milestones and the newly added Essentials, rival that of a Series 2 product! Therefore looking back to releases such as 2017 Footy Stars, it's amazing to see the growth in insert execution!
As mentioned above, Brownlow Predictors has been a staple in the Footy Stars checklist from the outset. However in 2018 Select decided it was time to provide collectors with two separate tiers in Predictors, by adding the Platinum Predictor variant, which collectors have been accustomed to in recant years! On the surface it seemed like a step in the right direction, however for Footy Stars 2018 & 2019, it only allowed for one guaranteed numbered insert inside each box, that being the different numbered variants of the Starburst insert. It begs the question, how would a product with only ONE guaranteed numbered hit fare in today's market?
The introduction of the recently departed 'Prestige' series, accompanied by a steadily growling demand for AFL trading cards, not only gave collectors the biggest release calendar to date, but inadvertently improved the quality of the Footy Stars product! In 2020's edition of Footy Stars, collectors were only guaranteed ONE numbered insert, which was the 'Fireworks Diecuts'. However you also had a pack percentage of pulling one of following; Starburst Galactic, Showstoppers, Gold Brownlow Predictor, and the newly added Premiership Predictors!
Footy Stars again expanded its horizons in 2021 by introducing another set of predictors, this time being the Coleman Medal Predictor which was eventually won by Harry McKay! Once again, collectors were guaranteed ONE numbered card per box with the chance of hitting FIVE additional numbered inserts! The insert designs rose to another level during this period with the 'Bangs', 'Showstoppers', and 'Marquee's' all still considered desirable to this very day, with the latter two even more sought after due to their scarce parallel versions found in Prestige!
Looking back at the 2021 release calendar though, it really was a phenomenal year for the hobby! Releases were selling out almost instantaneously, Optimum and Supremacy were both massive hits and the hobby was primed for another stellar 12 months.
And that's what Footy Stars 2022 could be described as, stellar. The numbered insert total more than DOUBLED that of 2021, with THREE guaranteed numbered inserts per box, with another FIVE subsets to both potentially hit and collect! Also for the first time Footy Stars was extended further with a parallel release called 'Footy Stars Jumbo', which included the highly sort after Virtuoso Signatures. This rendition of Footy Stars rivalled some past Series 2 releases, but in hindsight it was probably slightly too hardcore for what is supposed to be a product aimed for children.
And that's where we land in 2023, still an action-packed release but the reins have been pulled slightly. Select have seemingly listened to the sections of the community who felt that the increased number of subsets was too intense for a Series 1 product, and have now wound Footy Stars back to a level that appeases team collectors, recreational collectors, and most importantly kids!
There's been chatter amongst the community that the upcoming release has left some collectors 'underwhelmed'. But besides the removal of the 'Virtuoso Signatures', the quality of Footy Stars 2023 not only rivals the 2022 release, but could exceed it!
Even though there's less numbered cards guaranteed per box. there's actually SAME amount of numbered cards to potentially hit in this years release,. The major change being reduced subsets (11 vs 9) and a smaller checklist! Not only that, the quality of the low-end cards resemble that of Series 2 inserts, there's increased speculation with the introduction of the Rising Star Predictors, and the core elements of Prestige, being the Platinum Predictors, have been made available earlier in the cycle!
The term 'collector fatigue' was used frequently throughout parts of last year. However we think that this version of Footy Stars not only gives the hobby market what they want, but also doesn't leave Footy Stars target market chasing their tails with a massive collecting challenge so early in the year!,
Only time will decide how Footy Stars 2023 will fare with the collecting community, however it MUST be acknowledged that it's shoulders above any Series 1 product released prior to that of 2022!