The pod-a-sphere is a strange place, as you’ll literally find a podcast catered right to your personal taste (all of your legal and moral tastes that is). Ever since I’ve gotten into podcasts I’ve been occasionally plugging the following search terms into the podcast app’s search engine (with little success):
“American football cards”
And to my surprise, 6 days ago my search terms actually resulted in a relevant hit!
Cardboard Chronicles- Joshua Johnson
Josh is a young-ish guy who has a passion for Basketball trading cards, and what better to do than to start your very own podcast to talk about your passion! And if you’re able to make a few bucks along the way by publishing an e-book, teaching others in how to turn card collecting into a bonafide investment portfolio? Even better! Only in America! Right?
Being the first trading card podcast I lucked on, I think his program is still my favourite (although there are better ones out there), he sounds like an honest, down to earth guy, who has found a way to make money from his hobby, and sounds like he just wants to share his experiences and wisdom with other like-minded dudes. Me, I’m super envious as that is the dream isn’t it? Having a passion, and being able to make money (and perhaps a living) from it? Living your best life!
Josh produces a weekly pod, approx. an hour in length, where he interviews fellow hobbyists, sharing stories of how they got into card collecting, show-and-tell what notable cards they have, and just general chit chat around topics of interest (usually more interesting to them, than it is for us the listener). The interviews are unstructured, which feel more like eaves-dropping in on a crossed Skype line, but if you do have a genuine interest in collecting trading cards, you’ll find yourself hanging around and listening in, regardless where the conversations might go.
If you’re one of the rare card collectors out there, and interested to check Cardboard Chronicles out? Click HERE!
BreakerCulture Podcast- BreakerCulture Weekly
And like always, once you’ve lucked on a good thing you follow it down the rabbit hole of ‘You might also like’ and I found a few other trading card pods- the most interesting of which was ‘BreakerCulture Podcast’. To be honest with you, I’ve only listened to two episodes thus far, but from what I’ve heard I think I’ll be tapping in on a regular basis to hear his latest content. Where Josh from Cardboard chronicles comes off as an introvert and sounds like a guy who isn’t the life of the party, however Ty Wilson, the host of BreakerCulture, is clearly an extrovert, and is a dude who everyone probably looks to in any group social setting. So as mentioned, although I’ve only had the chance to hear less than 120 minutes of his channel, I found him to be extremely engaging and I can’t wait to hear more!
Ty’s show is similar to the Chronicles, i.e. each episode he interviews a fellow Hobbyist to learn of their collecting past, what they’re currently up to, and discuss all the goings on in the hobby world (like allegations of trimming and fake cards doing the rounds), and what stands the Breakers out from the other trading card podcasters, is the fact that Ty is involved in the Breaker sub-culture of the trading card scene. No, they’re not Californian Surfers who also collect cards, but Breakers is a term given to a scheme where a group of collectors all contribute towards the purchase and unboxing of an expensive box of trading cards (selling shares in the box in advance) and depending on your election of a team (in the case of NFL, electing one of 32 teams), the box is opened by the Breaker whilst streaming live on Youtube (when everyone who has a stake in the box watches on nervously). And if (and it is if, as there isn’t any guarantee that each box contains a card of your team’s) a card depicting a player from the team which you’ve elected is pulled out? Regardless of how valuable or how worthless that card may be? That card is all yours! Sent to you curtesy of the USPS!
So adding this sub-culture’s ways onto this already niche sub-culture, it really makes things that much more intriguing to listen to! Not to mention that Ty seems to be able to bring-in higher calibre guests, compared to Josh.
So if I’ve piqued your interest? Check out BreakerCulture podcast! Just click HERE!
So you might be wondering, who in their right mind would collect cards? Silly bits of coloured cardboard paper? Well, I think you have to be a guy who grew up in the 60s to the 90s to be able to answer this question from a point of experience. For me, I was in year 5 when I first started collecting sports cards. My first 2.5 by 3 collectable being NSWRL, Rugby League cards from the 92 season. I don’t know what the trigger was, but it seemed like the whole card collecting phase took-off at our school at this time. Every boy (regardless if they had prior interest in rugby or not) were all of a sudden into collecting and trading, so like a sheep I too followed. And for months and months all the boys had in their back-pockets their stack of glossy trading cards held together by a rubber band, ready to be shown to and swapped with all the other guys in our grade.
Then I changed schools at the end of year 5, and in my new school everyone were collecting NBA basketball cards. In my humble opinion at least, I believe this to be the peak of card collecting fandom in Australia- where teenage boys just flocked to and hung-out at ‘Card Shaq’ in the MidCity centre mall, for hours each Saturday and Sunday kids would stand around admiring all the cards on display in the glass cabinets, enclosed inside hard plastic protective covers with a sticky label announcing how much the card was worth in US dollars. And like a sheep, I too hung out at Card Shaq and switched from collecting Rugby cards to collecting Basketball cards- but like an Asian cheapo (which I can be), American Football cards were a dollar cheaper per pack than Basketball cards (as they’re way less popular) so I also collected NFL cards. And when the 95 season swung around I purely evolved into only collecting NFL cards (which explains why I’m still an NFL fan to this day).
So throughout the 90s (93-99) I was an avid collector of football cards, no-longer just buying single packets, but instead I’d go in for an entire box of cards (24 packets each) easily droppin’ a couple of hundred of my parent’s hard earned cash each time on this cardboard obsession of mine. My obsession was so well known, that one year for my birthday, my uncle (who lives in America) sent me a box of cards for my 13th birthday. And when my dad went overseas to meet up with his brother in Hong Kong (the same aforementioned uncle) my dad would come home with a couple of boxes which my uncle had carried half way around the world so he could hand deliver it to my dad, so he could bring it home for me (at this time the Sydney trading card industry was on its last legs). I would be so addicted to the thrill, the hope of pulling out a rare special card (called Inserts), that I’d lock myself away in my room as soon as I got home with my box and just methodologically tear open packet after packet, thumbing through the brand spanking new cards, seeing if I had scored a sort-after rookie card or a rare Insert! Just thinking about it now quickens my heart rate. Haaha. And when I was 15 years old and had a chance to live in Hong Kong for 6 months- I went nuts! There was one precinct in Hong Kong (The Alliance Centre in Prince Edward) where all of the trading card shops used to cluster in this one shopping mall. I’d go to this mall once a week, doing a circuit of each shop one after the other, checking out if they had received any new stock (this happened to be in Feb-July in the NFL off-season). And when I’d learned that they had some new stuff, I’d plead with my parents (international phone call) to allow me to tap into the funds which I had travelled with, so I could take a couple of hundred bucks out of what was meant to sustain me, but to instead buy the latest box from Upper Deck, Fleer, Collector’s Edge, or Topps. I probably purchased at least 10 boxes in that period of time, but man did I score some nice cards (which are probably worthless now).
And my fondest memory was when one of the stores was closing down, and as a fire sale the young dude who owned the store, he allowed all the kids to go through his personal collection- boxes and boxes of Inserts in their individual protective sleeves, each gem priced at $3 per piece. I honestly went back 3 consecutive days- pretty much cleaned him out of all of his worthwhile NFL cards! I can still picture that shop clearly in my mind although it was over 20 years ago.
But like all good things, things eventually had to come to an end. I came back home to Australia, where there wasn’t a trading card industry anymore – and the Internet and online shopping wasn’t like it is today, so I stopped buying cards. Not because I had lost the fire or passion for it, but due to the lacking supply of good cards coming our way down-under.
But from all accounts, from what I’ve heard thus far in the podcasts, this tale of fading away from the hobby scene? This was a similar outcome across the world. Perhaps it was our generation, the little 12-13 year olds who got in during the early 90s craze, but now these same kids were 16-17 years old, and were too cool to be still collecting cardboard cut-outs like geeks. So from my understanding, most of the dudes of my elk, and the same with the dudes on the podcasts, they all said that they had stopped collecting in the late 90s, and had recently just gotten back into the hobby due to a resurgence in the collectable. And perhaps this is the reason why in the past (let’s say in the past 2 years) I’d never stumbled on a trading card podcast, but presently there are a handful of good podcasts, each emerging in the past 12 to 15 months.
So hearing all these guys talk about their collections, about ‘Nationals’, a 5 day trading card fest, and guys owning pieces which are numbered 1/1 – I have to admit it has re-awakened an itch within me which I thought was long dead! But nah! I can’t fall into that trap all over again! I’m a responsible adult with adult responsibilities and real bills to pay! Besides, if we’re talking about wasteful and unsustainable practices? Collecting cardboard and all that single use packaging?! My wife would kill me if I’d come home with a couple packets of foil, containing squares of cardboard. Haaha. So I’ll just have to live vicariously through Josh and Ty. *Smile*. But for you boyz, here are my favourites from my 20 year old collection.