The 2022-23 soccer card releases seem to have finally come to an end although I don’t know what year they are going to put on Topps Dynasty. For me every new soccer season starts with the release of Panini Megacracks (Search On Ebay). It’s the one product that consistently comes out ahead of the season which is so nice. There is Adrenalyn and Match Attax as well but we all know the hobby doesn’t give them a ton of love yet despite their importance to soccer cards worldwide. With those out of the way let’s take a look at how the rest of the 2023-24 Topps and Panini soccer card releases could go and how to approach them. As always this is not investment advice. This is just my approach. Buy and hobby how you like.

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Early Topps Soccer Card On Demand Releases

We now have 3-4 years of Topps soccer card on-demand releases to go off and see how those products hold up over time. The first of which has been Summer Signings for a few seasons. This set has already been announced for this year so we know it’s coming out. Of course, it was put on presale coming up on 2 months now and they still haven’t shipped which I will get into later. Summer Signings is a relatively cheap paper product that doesn’t get a ton of respect especially long term. Jude Bellingham’s first rookie cards were in 2020 Summer Signings and you can see the prices on those (Search On Ebay). They also had Darwin Nunez first rookie cards but they forgot to put the RC on it so few people care. Last year they even came out with a Bundesliga Summer Signing edition for some reason. They put a bad RC on Mathys Tel in that set so you can tell by the QC this set doesn’t get a ton of attention.

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Topps has also now presold 2023-24 Topps Deco. Deco is a set that people love to look at but don’t value much. I looked on the day these went on sale and on eBay only 9 cards in the last 90 days had sold for more than you would pay for a box delivered to the US. What’s even worse is the Erling Haaland 1/1 last year sold for less than 10x what a box was selling for. When one of the biggest hits in the product sells for that low of a multiple it’s probably a bad value to rip. I did an IG poll asking people that bought Deco why they were buying. Most of the answers were either about liking the design or just addicted to ripping which is what I expected.

I expect Topps to come out with even more on demand products before we start seeing traditional hobby release. They are no dummies. They know if they save these for later in the cycle nobody would buy when better products are on the market. I believe that people buying into this from an “investing” basis do so because they have plans to be first to the market for say a Jude Bellingham Real Madrid card, even though he has Megacracks, or the new rookies. The problem with the rookies is that if they are making it into these early releases they will be in a ton of releases. That will lead to way too many rookie cards for the current market to absorb. A few people will ultimately be first to market and do OK. Most won’t for the simple fact that not everyone can be first to market. I think this is a fallacy that plays into breaking a product on release day. Everyone wants to be first to market so they overpay. It certainly works for the first person and then usually every subsequent sale is lower than the former. It becomes a game of hot potato in most cases. I have never been one to fall into this trap. I have bought these on demand in the past, but will be avoiding them this year. I have seen enough evidence to see they are not a value proposition I want to get involved with. I would love if everyone avoided these products and saved their money and either bought singles or the more premium products that come later in the cycle. Those products at least contain cards that could have real value.

Hobby Box Topps Soccer Card Releases

Topps has really shot themselves in the foot when it comes to their soccer card release calendar. The hobby releases seem to come out later and later each year. That leads to less prospecting as there is a lot more evidence of which rookies are doing well and which aren’t. For example, we didn’t see any Sidney Raebinger type sales last year. Part of this was likely do to the market, but I believe the pumpers could have still found a way with a player or two if the cards came out early in the season.

As for the actual releases I would expect them to stay about the same. Topps Chrome and Sapphire leading the way, outside Dyansty whenever that comes, followed by Merlin Chrome, Finest, Stadium Club and Museum in some order. With the overproduction of cards those secondary releases will be very dependent on checklist and design. I think checklist makes a lot of sense to people but design less so. Now that the soccer card market is settling in following the boom, you will see how big of a factor design plays in singles pricing. People are becoming wiser to which colors hold value and things like full bleed cards doing really well. I think the difference between 2020-21 Stadium Club and 2021-2022 Stadium Club shows that. Some people will say that 2020-21 does so much better because it was the first year. I think if the 2021-22 coloring would have been used in 2020-21 it would not have done as well. I will be keeping a close eye on designs when deciding what to buy this year.

When it comes to checklists the Topps gameplan seems pretty clear. They are going to make a couple really cool chase cards to get people, especially those that buy into breaks, excited. Break pricing and therefor box pricing is usually dictated by the biggest hits not the overall ROI. In this time when it seems like a lot of the biggest hits are coming out early and being hit by a small concentration of breakers waiting out the FOMO can be as important as ever. Of course, if it’s the big cards you are chasing as much as it pains me to say I think there is a case to be made that you should be buying the spots of those chases from the breakers that have been hitting at a higher than expected rate. For anyone that is in the camp that those breakers are hitting those cards take it from the guy that runs all the numbers. They are hitting at much higher rates than probability dictates.

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2020 vs 2021 Stadium Club Gold

My strategy for these releases has been the same for the past few years. I wait out the release calendar so I know how many cards the rookies will have. If you have followed me for a while you will know my previous affection for Merlin Chrome. It wasn’t that it took me back to childhood and the Merlin brand. It was because I knew if a player had a rookie in there they were likely going to have any more. With Topps expanding most of the products to include all Club Competitions last year waiting is more important than ever for me. Topps didn’t include all the rookies in the all the products which was good. They still had some new ones in Merlin. I just can’t handle buying what I think will be a rarish card early in the release calendar only to have that player flooded with rookies by the end. Especially now that the in season prospecting risk is not as high reward with the cards coming out so late in the season. I do think there is something to be said about going back to previous year’s rookies that have fallen in value and picking them up before a new season. In the current state of the hobby people give up very quickly and move on to the new shiny object. That provides some opportunity for players that start the new season hot as we have seen with Jude Bellingham this year. Just think if 6 weeks ago you would have spent money on a comparable Jude Bellingham card instead of loaning your money to Topps for Summer Signings.

Panini Soccer Card Releases

Panini has done a better job so far of getting releases out earlier in the season than Topps. They still aren’t early enough to make a big difference since it still has been February and later. I thought with them not having to do World Cup products this season we may get some releases earlier than last year. Based on nothing really being announced yet I am not holding out much hope for that. In the last couple years, outside of the World Cup products, Panini hobby box prices have dropped even more from release date to their floor than Topps. A lot of that has to do with their initial prices being much higher on release. Topps is more on the print more at a lower price and Panini is print less at a higher price. The problem for Panini in this scenario is that when the checklists overlap so much the singles prices don’t hold up enough to justify like in basketball and football where they are the only one with the license right now.

The Panini product lineup has varied a lot in the last few years so I will be interested to see what they come out with for the 2023-24 season. They have killed the premium value of a few of their high end products by becoming really lazy. By that I mean they are filled with sticker autos and non associated patches. I think people are realizing the importance of on-card autos along with player and especially match worn patches. I don’t buy sticker autos or non associated patches anymore with one exception. If a card is graded a 10 with a sticker auto and at least a player worn patch I will buy it. It’s so hard to get 10s on those cards I know that the supply should stay pretty low.

Now that we are many years into Panini releases, I like to look back to older releases to guide on future prices and see if I can find deals. For instance, Select came back this year with most of the parallels from releases years ago. If I notice a 2022-23 Zebra parallel selling for way more than a 2017 Zebra (Search On Ebay) of the same player, I take note. Usually as time goes along the 2017 will end up being more. That could happen because the 2017 goes up or the 2022 comes down. That part is unknown. If the gap is big I will usually take a chance on the 2017 with hopes it goes up as more people realize it exists.

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2017 and 2022 Select Zebra

Conclusion

I know a lot of what I have covered here requires patience and that is not something that is prevalent in the hobby right now. It’s more of an analytical approach and people use the hobby as a release. That is why I say buy and hobby as you wish. What I would like to stress is that even though prices are down I think as much money is being spent in the soccer card hobby as ever. The problem is a lot of that money is being funneled out of the hobby to Topps and Panini. There was a lot of fuss made about flippers in the hobby. The thing about flippers is that some of them became part of the hobby. The put the profits that were being made back into other cards. Topps and Panini swallowed up all those profits and keep them for themselves. The same can be said about breakers. I don’t break a lot but I certainly wouldn’t break with someone who is also not a collector.

When you hear the word economy that basically means the exchange of money between everyone in the ecosystem. The more money moves hands the better the economy is. If that money leaves the economy you have a bad economy. That is essentially what has happened with Topps and Panini trying to achieve max profits by pricing products perfectly. Take a product that nobody really cares about and didn’t exist a few years ago like Topps UCL Paper. At release prices if every hobby box and blaster would have sold that would have been roughly $8,500,000. I don’t know what the return on that product is but it’s safe to say millions of dollars that were previously spent on other better products and singles was gone. That is what is driving prices down more than anything in my opinion as I truly believe there are as many soccer card collectors as ever. This is why we all get smarter with what we buy and don’t reward the companies that are taking all the money. The selling platforms are also guilty in this. Selling your card for a little less than “comps” through social media is better for the hobby as a whole. Even if you get the same amount of money after fees the buyer saved a little that they can use to help out the entire soccer card economy.

¬†Update – After doing the YouTube I remembered that I wanted to talk about potential Copa America and Euros card releases. Those could be interesting as there is a potential for rookies that aren’t in other products. It will just come down to how well Topps and Panini do with the checklists and how many sets we get.

I did a YouTube video with BreakingTheLaw cards about our 2023-24 approach. I went into a lot more detail about these thoughts as well as got his approach. It is a longer vid but I quite enjoyed it. Even though it’s on YouTube you can treat it as an audio only podcast as there isn’t anything visual that adds to it.

If you have any questions reach out via social media @SoccerCardsHQ on Twitter, IG and FB. Here is last year’s 2021-22 Merlin Chrome UEFA review.