18 Greatest Hobby Boxes of All-Time (Updated 2021)

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best baseball card boxes 1989 upper deckBest Hobby Box To Invest In: 1989 Upper Deck High/Low Number Hobby Box

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Few things on earth can rival the thrill of opening a pack of 1989 Upper Deck baseball cards and seeing a Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card smiling right back at ya.

Out of the twenty-five 1989 Upper Deck boxes we opened, we managed to pull 12 Ken Griffey Jr. rookie cards. Some boxes contained zero and some contained more than one (one box we opened produced a mind-blowing 4 Ken Griffey Jr. RC).

Of course, there’s an element of risk when opening any hobby box, but it’s tempered by the chance of owning a pack-fresh copy of one of the greatest sports cards in the hobby. 

Here’s a massive rundown containing the best hobby/blaster boxes for some of the biggest sports in the world.

Must Read: Best Sports Cards To Buy Now and Make Bank

We’ve also included information about the top RCs to look out for if you do decide to take a chance with one of the more popular hobby/blaster boxes of all time. 

 

Best Sports Card Boxes to Buy Now (Shop eBay) – Hobby Box or Blaster Box

Typically, the very best hobby/blaster boxes give you the chance to find an RC containing one of the GOAT’s of the sport. 

best hobby boxes to buy

An alternative is a box that offers a good risk/reward ratio and isn’t too overpriced compared to what it originally sold for. 

We’ve sorted all of the boxes by sport, and we’ll start with basketball.

 

Best Basketball Card Boxes to Buy (Hobby/Blaster)

One notable absence is the ‘86 Fleer set, which is where you would find the coveted Michael Jordan rookie

(They’re simply overpriced at the moment, with a sealed case of 1986 Fleer basketball cards owned by Jeremy Fritsch selling for $1.8 million in August 2020. The sale worked out to around $149,000 per box or roughly $4,000 per pack.)

There are still a variety of great options that make the list below, featuring some of the biggest names in the game.

 

2018 Prizm Basketball Hobby Box (Buy on eBay)

hobby boxes: 2018 panini prizm basketball box

The 2018 Prizm Basketball Box makes the list as it potentially has one of the hottest cards in the hobby inside. 

If you didn’t know, the undisputed king of the hits has to be the Luka Doncic RC (#280). 

In terms of design, it has a unique Prizm background and layout, focusing on a crisp image of Luka as he leaps up to shoot.

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As with the majority of modern cards, parallels are plentiful and cause the price to rise rapidly depending on the print run and overall grade.

You’ll find two autographs and 22 Prizm parallels per box.

  • 2018 Panini FB Prizms: Base, Blue /175 | Red /125 | Purple /75 | Pink /50 | Bronze /20 | Neon Green /5 | Blue/Yellow/Green | Tiger Stripe | Red /88 | Green /8 | Nebula 1/1)
  • 2018 Panini Prizm Parallels: Silver | Green | Hyper | Pink Ice | Purple Wave | Red Ice | Red/White/Blue | Ruby Wave | White Sparkle, Red /299 | Blue /199 | Purple Ice /149 | Blue Ice /99 | Purple /75 | Orange (/49), Pink Pulsar (/42), Purple Pulsar /35 | Green Pulsar /25 | Mojo /25 | Gold /10| Black Gold /5 | Black /1
  • 2018 Panini Shimmer Prizms: Blue Shimmer /7 | Light Blue Shimmer /7 | Red Shimmer /7

 

2003 Topps Chrome Basketball Box (Buy on eBay)

basketball card boxes

LeBron James’ basketball cards hit the headlines in 2020 after a gem mint copy of his 2003-04 Topps Chrome, which features James mid-jump while taking a shot during his rookie season with the Cavs, sold for $57,100 at auction.

We’ve always been advocates for collecting any RC featuring ‘The King’, and the same goes for the 2003 Topps Chrome set. 

You’ll find at least 25 RCs per box, while there are also base Refractors, Black Refractors (/500), and X-Fractors (/500) to look out for.

X-Fractors are one per box, while the coveted Gold Refractor is always valuable. 

 

1992 Topps Basketball Series 2 Box (Buy on eBay)

1992 topps series 2 basketball card boxes for sale

We’re heading back to 1992 for the Topps Series 2 release. Why? It’s the best place to find a pack-fresh Shaquille O’Neal rookie card

The set makes the list despite his RCs being more affordable than other greats of his generation (i.e. Michael Jordan, Kobe Byrant).

There are 36 packs per box, 15 cards per pack, and each pack has either a Gold parallel or a Beam Team insert. 

You can find either a base Shaq RC, the gold parallel, or even the Beam Team version, featuring the player in his Orlando jersey.

 

1996 Topps Chrome Basketball Box (Buy on eBay)

1996 Topps Chrome Basketball Box

1996-97 Topps Chrome Basketball is a special release, made famous due to the Kobe Bryant RC that could potentially be contained within. 

Kobe is just one of many RCs found in the set, with other hits including Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, and Ray Allen

Boxes contain 20 four-card packs, while you’ll be hoping to find one of the refractor versions (1:12 packs) inside.

Must Read: 2020 Mosaic Football Best Cards and Value

Each of the cards is wrapped in chrome, making for one of the most distinctive sets in recent memory. 

Originally turned down by hobby dealers who weren’t sure what to make of the chrome finish, the set was a retail-only product that has quickly turned into one of the most expensive options ever. 

 

Best Baseball Cards Boxes to Buy (Hobby/Blaster)

Time and again, baseball cards have proven to be one of the best investments in the hobby. 

No matter which decade you were born in, a pristine collection of the greatest RCs from the era is sure to be worth significantly more today.

Here are some of the greatest boxes that money can buy.

 

1989 Upper Deck Box (Buy on eBay)

best baseball card boxes 1989 upper deck

One of the more important collections from the hobby, 1989 Upper Deck Baseball made the addition of high-quality card stock, as well as anti-counterfeiting holograms to combat forgeries. 

Upper Deck also raised the price to $1 per pack, marketing it as a premium option for hobbyists. In hindsight, they were certainly right. 

Ken Griffey Jr. leads the charge as the RC you want to see smiling back at you when opening packs. The iconic card is found in the Star Rookies subset.

You’ll find 36 packs per box.

 

2011 Topps Update Box (Buy on eBay)

1996 topps baseball box for sale

Next up is the 2011 Topps Update set, famed for containing a Mike Trout RC (#US175) which won’t stop going up in value! 

The base version might lack an auto, patch, or even a serial number, but it’s still an iconic card that features a potential GOAT candidate. 

You’ll find one autograph/relic card per hobby box, up to one auto, and two relic cards per jumbo box. 

Over a decade on from the original release date, the Trout RC still seems like it could keep climbing in price as he heads towards retirement age. 

There are also various parallel versions which are listed below, upping the value significantly. A 2011 Trout parallel is worth big bucks, even if it’s upgraded. 

  • Standard Parallels: Gold (/2011), Black (/60), Silk Collection (/50), Printing Plates, Platinum (1/1)
  • Diamond Parallels: Platinum Diamond (1:4), Cognac Diamond, Hope Diamond (/60), Canary Diamond (1/1)

 

2001 Bowman Chrome Box (Buy on eBay)

The 2001 Bowman Chrome Baseball set was the first to feature X-Fractors and colored gold refractors, with an Albert Pujols RC auto and an Ichiro Suzuki RC sharing top billing. 

The latter even has a Japanese version of his card which was exclusive via redemption from Topps. The same is true for his base card, as well as Pujols’ RC. 

However, the redemption cards have long since expired, which is a potential reason why prices are so low in the present day

 

1993 Upper Deck SP Box (Buy on eBay)

1993 Upper Deck SP Foil Baseball Factory Sealed Unopened Box

1993 SP Baseball. A foray into premium cards by the company, the final 20 make up the Premier Prospects subset. 

The subset features several rookies, including a Derek Jeter RC which could easily sell for five figures at higher grades. 

Along with featuring a legendary Hall of Famer, the price is due to the card being one of the most condition-sensitive to ever be released. 

The foil finish found with the Premier Prospects will flake away at the slightest touch, and it’s not unheard of to find a Jeter SP foil that has already been half-ruined when opening a pack for the first time. 

It’s another high-risk, high-reward option.

 

Best Football Card Boxes to Buy (Hobby/Blaster)

We’ve opted for a mix of current sets and vintage options when deciding on the best football hobby/blaster boxes ever. 

 

2020 Panini Prizm Football Box (Buy on eBay)

2020 football prizm panini hobby box

A box that potentially has rookie cards for Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow, you’ll find 12 variations for the former, and 14 for the latter in the premium 2020 Prizm Football collection. 

They’re included in subsets such as Illumination and Instant Impact, along with the ever-popular Color Blast. 

Then there’s the ridiculous number of parallel versions for their base RCs, which are listed below. 

Either of the QBs have to be seen as a great investment option in the here and now, even if there’s a high price of entry for the box itself.

  • 2020 Prizm Football Base Parallels: Prizm, Disco, Lazer, Black & White Checker, Blue, Green, Light Blue, Neon Green Pulsar, Orange Ice, Pink, Purple Pulsar, Red, Red Ice, Red/White/Blue, Snakeskin, White Sparkle, Orange (/249), Blue Wave (/199), Hyper (/175), Red Wave (/149), Purple (/125), Blue Ice (/99), Green Scope (/75), Purple Power (/49), Red & Yellow (base) (/49), Red Shimmer FOTL (/35), Blue Shimmer FOTL (/25), Camo (/25), Gold (/10), Red & Yellow (rookies) (/8), Gold Vinyl (/5), Green Shimmer FOTL (/5), Black Finite (1/1)
  • No Huddle Prizms: Base, Blue (/79), Red (/50), Purple (/35), Pink (/15), Neon Green (/5)

 

2017 Panini Prizm Football Blaster Box (Buy on eBay)

2017 panini prizm football blaster box

2017 is another great year for NFL cards, with the Panini Prizm blaster box making the list thanks to a couple of great rookie options. 

This time, Patrick Mahomes and Christian McCaffrey are the RCs to look out for, with a total of 17 different Prizm parallels to search for when including retail exclusives.  

2017 Panini Prizm Football hobby boxes come with three signed cards, along with 9 Prizm parallels.

There are 12 cards per pack, 12 packs per box, and 12 boxes per case. 

  • 2017 NFL Prizm Parallels: Blue, Bronze Stars, Disco, Green, Pink, Red, Red, White and Blue, White Sparkle, Orange (/275), Light Blue (/199), Blue Wave (/149), Green Scope (/99), Purple Crystals (/75), Red Power (/49), Camo (/25), Gold (/10), Gold Vinyl (/5), Black Finite (1/1)

 

1986 Topps Football Box (Buy on eBay)

Topps hobby box football

The Jerry Rice RC is the hit found in 1986 Topps Football, which features a layout with green borders and white stripes. 

It’s supposed to resemble a football field, which it does to some degree of success. The design also makes the set one of the more recognisable from the era. 

The checklist includes cards from former USFL players who moved to the NFL after the 1986 season was cancelled. 

As such, Steve Young and Reggie White have their first NFL rookie cards in the 1986 Topps collection.

Inserts come in the form of Four Box Bottoms, which had to be cut from the side, rather than the bottom of the box, and 1000 Yard Club cards, which celebrated the best rushers. 

 

1989 Score Football Wax Box (Buy on eBay)

score football hobby box

Look no further than the Barry Sanders RC if you’re looking for hits from 1989 Score Football. 

As with the set above, it features a strong design, with colorful borders that vary depending on the team. (For example, Sanders’ RC has a green background.)

A more affordable option on the resale market, boxes have 36 packs of 15 cards. 

Troy Aikman (#270) is another good RC to look out for in the set, along with Deion Sanders (#246).

As a junk wax era box, the print run is sure to be ridiculously high, but that hasn’t stopped prices from steadily increasing over 30 years on from its original release. 

 

1981 Topps Football Wax Box (Buy on eBay)

buy 1989 score hobby box

Joe Montana’s RC is the main reason why the 1981 Topps Football box manages to make the list. 

It’s the first football set to feature a Topps logo on the front of the card and helped to boost a collection that was lacking in star names. 

If you’re looking at late-1970’s/ early-1980’s football sets, there’s nothing better.

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As with many older cards, there’s a significant drop-off in terms of prices when looking below gem mint grades. 

However, a PSA 9 copy currently sells for over $4,000, which is why the set is so tempting for box breakers. 

 

Best Hockey Card Boxes to Buy (Hobby/Blaster)

Hockey cards aren’t collected with the fervor seen with baseball and basketball, but they do benefit from a large number of Canadian collectors, as well as those found in the U.S. 

Here’s a rundown with a selection of the best hockey hobby boxes of all time.

 

1991 O-Pee-Chee Premier Hockey Box (Buy on eBay)

1990-91 o-pee-chee premier hockey box

Is there any set that contains as many hits as the 1991 OPC Premier Hockey Box? 

As well as Jaromir Jagr, and Mats Sundin, the box also contains rookie cards for Curtis Joseph, Jeremy Roenick, Sergei Fedorov, and Mike Modano

Junk wax era boxes tend to be some of the most popular in the present, especially as they’re cheaper to buy compared to the premium sets of today. 

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It’s somewhat ironic, as 1990-91 O-Pee-Chee Premier Hockey was produced as a response to premium sets released by competitors at the time. 

OPC cards always carry a premium, and the same is true for graded RCs from this set. 

 

2015 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey Box (Buy on eBay)

2015 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey Box

There’s a chance to bag the 2015 first overall draft pick in the Upper Deck Series 1 box. 

Connor McDavid is found in the ever-popular Young Guns subset, as well as the 2015 NHL Draft SP’s Set, with an auto that can be found in the latter. 

McDavid is also featured in the Parkhurst Rookies Set, which also comes with red and blue versions. 

One minor flaw with the set is that the number of memorabilia cards was lowered from two down to a single one per hobby box in 2015-16 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey

 

2005 SP Authentic Hockey Box (Buy on eBay)

2005 SP Authentic Hockey Box

Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin are the two RCs to look out for in the 2005 SP Authentic Hockey box. 

It comes with five cards per pack and has 24 packs per box. 

There are also two autos per box, including the Future Watch Rookie Autographs which features Crosby and Ovechkin. The rookie autos are serial-numbered to 999 copies.

They represent the best hits from the set.

 

1990 Score Hockey Box (Buy on eBay)

1990-91 SCORE HOCKEY UNSEALED WAX BOX

The 1990 Score Hockey box is up next, representing another pick that was released midway through the junk wax era. 

It’s a colorful set that is often disregarded due to the lack of value in the past, but prices continue to creep up each year.

Jaromir Jagr, Eric Lindros, and Martin Brodeur are three interesting RCs that could potentially be contained within. 

Of course, ideally the card would need to be flawless to achieve a PSA 10 grade. 

Best Golf Card Boxes to Buy (Hobby/Blaster)

Beloved across the world, golf is another sport that is seeing additional interest in terms of hobby options. 

Related: Best Golf Card To Buy Now

We’ve listed the best box below, which is no surprise to anyone interested in the greatest golf cards. 

2001 Upper Deck PGA Golf Hobby Box (Buy on eBay)

sportscard hobby box

When it comes to golf, there’s one set that consistently gets the most attention, as well as the highest prices. 

The 2001 Upper Deck PGA Golf set is where you’ll find a variety of Tiger Woods’ best cards, back when he was just a young phenom with his career ahead of him. 

This includes multiple signed RCs, which are exceptionally expensive on the resale market. 

The 2001 UD set is perfect if you’re planning to diversify with some of the best golf cards. 

 

The Best Hobby Boxes of All-Time: Summary

The majority of collectors are already fans of a sport, team, or even a specific player. 

However, boxes are a great entry-point into the hobby, and there’s potential for profit if you manage to pack a Hall of Famer we’ve listed above.

Expect to see significant mark-ups for the most popular sets, many of which originally retailed for under $100. 

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Put it this way, you’re unlikely to find one of the best hobby boxes of all-time selling on the cheap. (Unless the redemptions have run out already.)

Have we missed out on a great hobby box? Let us know if you’ve opened one of the boxes found above in the comments below.

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Where to buy hobby boxes?

The best place to buy hobby boxes are eBay, dacardworld.com, and your local sportscard shop.

What is the best hobby box to buy?

The best hobby box to buy in regards to return on investment is the 1989 Upper Deck Baseball Box and the 1993 Upper Deck SP Foil Baseball Hobby Box.

Does Walmart Sell Hobby Boxes?

Walmart does sell hobby boxes but they usually sell out in a matter of hours if not minutes unless the Walmart store is limiting the amount of purchase per shopper.

What is a hobby box break?

A hobby box break takes place online and allows consumers to purchase the right to receive cards as part of a random draw. A hobby box break can take place on YouTube or Instagram.

8 COMMENTS

      • Agree it was a fun article to read.

        Sorry for hijacking the reply but i did have an interesting article request which would be on the possible pricing on cards that no one can put a price tag on. Something to give the average joe/jane an idea on placing a price tag on a card. One card that comes to mind is a card I saw many years ago which was a lebron rookie triple auto with lebron, kobe and jordan all signed and a BGS 9.5. At the time i searched and could not find a price on it. I still cannot 🙂 (Sorry i do not have Facebook)

        • ha, no problem at all on the request… LOVE the idea… if you (or anyone reading this) can email some cards that are super popular and known for being hard to price or can’t price.. email us at info@goldcardauctions.com (title the email: hard to price)… thx man

  1. Hi,
    I like the Giants and Luis Matos. I am considering the purchase of a few Bowman Chrome Hobby boxes to see if I can get a few of his cards; your thoughts?
    Thanks.

    Al

  2. This statement: “Retail boxes are sold by big stores like Target and are very easy to find…” is false. They are gone before the vendor can finish stacking them on the shelves.

  3. To add to my first comment, actually, they ARE very easy to find, on Facebook Marketplace, Ebay, Craigslist, etc for a 500% markup. It’s nuts.

  4. Do you guys have a $300-500 hobby box from 2020 football, or 20-21 basketball you recommend! Greatly appreciate all of your valuable info here!

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