A unique aspect of the card collecting hobby is that people can participate and enjoy collecting in different ways! There’s no rulebook that everyone must uphold, it’s all down to personal preference. Time, money, and energy spent are all dependent on the collector, with pockets for everyone no matter what your budget or schedule allows. However, before committing yourself to the world of cardboard, having predetermined goals or strategies can be beneficial. It can help zone in on what interests you, and more importantly what DOES NOT. At this moment in time, LOTS of cards are being produced, which can make beginning your collecting journey slightly overwhelming. That’s why we thought it might be helpful outlining the different types of collectors in our community, so you can decide what parts interest you the most!
Master-Set Collector – If your passion for collecting matches the size of your wallet, then this could be the collecting style for you! Easily the most rigid and hardcore way to collect trading cards, Master-Set Collectors pledge themselves to buying EVERY card released from EVERY team, from EVERY series! As print runs and checklists have increased, not as many Master-Set Collectors are joining the community, mainly due to how hard it is to maintain as well as the difficulty of successfully backdating low-printed cards from yesteryear. Existing Master-Set Collectors in recent years have had to adjudge whether this collecting style is sustainable for them, with the price of cards and sealed stock becoming increasingly expensive. However if you have the stomach for this valiant chase, then it’s definitely the mecca of collecting!
Team Master-Set Collector - A subcategory of Master-Set Collector, these individuals have pledged their collecting journeys and vowed to collect EVERY card produced in their teams colours. A similar story to Master-Set Collectors, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to acquire every card of a specific team, but for those who collect in this manner understand the mantra ‘it’s a marathon not a sprint’!
Team Collector - A large bulk of AFL collectors fall within this category, which is a watered down version of the Team Master-Set Collector! Team Collectors have become far less worried about collecting absolutely everything and instead pick and choose the cards that best represent them and their collections. Whether that be avoiding retail releases and just targeting hobby products, or collecting on a case by case basis, the pressure of keeping up with Select’s schedule has become far less stringent!
Sub Set Collectors – Continuing to move through the more traditional methods of collecting, set collecting is another popular way members in the community like to build upon their collections. Whether that be something as basic as piecing together a common set, or the extremes of hunting down an entire insert set from Supremacy. Set collectors single out which inserts resonate with them the most, develop a strategy of how much they are willing to pay for each card, and slowly pick them off one-by-one! Some popular set chases in recent years include, Futures set from Optimum 2022, Blank Canvas set from Footy Stars Jumbo, the Headliners set from Optimum 2021 and even the Goal-Kicking Greats set from Supremacy 2021!
Player PC – This collecting style has been adopted from overseas markets, where there’s so many releases that it’s impossible to master-set, team collect, and even set collect. The “Player Rainbow” is often a popular route for collectors to go down, trying to collect every variant of a player's cards within a release all the way down to the ‘1 of 1’! Fortunately for AFL collectors, this chase is much more achievable with relatively large print runs of even the scarcer cards. With that being said, there’s now enough ‘meat on the bone’ for collectors to get fully stuck into a Player PC‘s and even collect multiples of each card! For those who want to challenge themselves even further, trying to lock down a player's low numbered cards, jumper numbers and 01’s keeps those who choose this road entertained.
Rookie Collector – Following decades of popularity amongst international sports card collectors and the transition of this style into AFL Collecting it has now become a focal point in Select’s releases. In the last 5 years we have seen a major focus on the rookie cards of the previous year’s draft crop. So much so, that people are basing their collections purely off acquiring the latest and hottest rookie cards. For example, in the 2022 calendar year, there were some first-year players that received as many as 10 rookie cards or rookie variations! So there’s plenty of room for rookie-collectors to maneuver their way through the hobby and construct awesome rookie collections displaying today’s best young talent.
Investor/Speculator/Flipper – It’s apparent to everyone that some sports cards are worth quite a bit of money. Meaning that there are ample opportunities in the market to invest, speculate and flip individual trading cards to make a profit! Overlapping the ‘Rookie Collector’ mold as those are normally the cards that are targeted, this group of collectors are hoping that the players they invest in turn into the game's next big superstars! This style of collecting does carry high elements of risk, as failed investments/speculations can result in losing out on big portions of the money poured in. Not for the faint-hearted, but higher risk equals higher reward? Right?
Hoarder – This collecting style is quite niche but definitely worthy of discussion. Some collectors get their kicks out of acquiring as many cards of an individual player as humanly possible. Expensive? Yes. Impressive? Also yes! There’s often a reason why certain inserts of particular players are so hard to find, and individuals who collect in this manner have worked it down to a fine art. Annoying for those trying to backdate their collections, but having a big proportion of a card population bodes well for the future of the hoarder’s investment. But it’s not like these people will let go of their stranglehold anytime soon!
Vintage/Era Collector – Finally, it can’t be a complete list without recognizing those who collect older cards or cards from specific eras! The trading card hobby has done something off a full loop back towards cards produced in the 1900’s, with some vintage cards commanding top money. Not only is it hard to find certain cards due to the low ‘survival rates’, but pairing that with good conditioning makes the task of vintage collecting that much harder! I’ve included ‘Era Collectors’ in this category as well for those who only collect the cards of players they watched growing up as kids. Card collecting is extremely personal and individually catered, so collecting cards from a potentially simpler period is understandably an enticing exercise!
Don’t think you fit into any of the above categories? The great thing about card collecting is that you’re not forced to conform to any collecting style entirely. Like a certain aspect of one style of collecting? Cool, add that to your arsenal and see what else you like! This “Hobby” is a “Hobby” for a reason, it’s there to be enjoyed!