Every so often you hear of a collector buying up an old empty display box from the Fifties or Sixties. They're not the subject of this post.
I'm writing about the fact that so many collectors purchase a full box of packs, instead of individual packs. The practice has become so common that card manufacturers now cater to the box collector.
And not just with the upper-tier consumer, either. Thus the presence (and desirability) of box loaders. And as an aside, are box loaders the modern-day equivalent to cards that used to be found on box bottoms? I think they are...
Thus the common parlance of referring to the odds of receiving a specific card based on times-per-case, not times-per-box. We are surprised when a box contains an unexpectedly large (or small) amount of chase cards. We've come to expect excellent collation, and are thrown for a loop when we rack up doubles and triples, just from 24 packs.
Purchasing cards by the box is such a regular occurrence that manufacturers have taken to selling cards at retail stores (themselves big boxes) in mini boxes, with mini packs stacked inside like nesting dolls. It's half the amount of cards, at half the price, like the manufacturers are training young collectors for when they can afford the big boy boxes.
It's an interesting situation that's evolved over the years. I'd never really noticed it until I started working next door to a Kmart and would browse the store on my lunch break. The mini box seems so perfect a vehicle for training young collectors to buy in bulk (especially those boxes that come replete with guaranteed jersey card), and I'm sure they make nice gifts.
But what does it say about where the hobby is going? Does it effectively spell the death of the pack? Or was the pack already on a path to a slow demise before the box boom? Also, what does it say about the future marketing of the case?
The box is as important to the hobby today as the pack was twenty years ago. So if we skip ahead even five years, it makes sense that we'll start seeing case loader insert sets or some other incentive for collectors to purchase a case. Also, if the case is the thing of the future, what does that say about the place of the card shop or dealer?