Crowdsourcing: 2018-19 Prizm Basketball Retail Break Data
Break Submission Form
Note: The Submission Form above will make a lot more sense once you read the blog post.
It’s a rabbit hole we’ve all been down. You start with looking up who was picked #6 in the 2005 NBA Draft. Wikipedia. Huh, Martell Webster. It says he was the highest drafted player to ever be sent to the D-League. That is, until Hasheem Thabeet. Oh yeah, now that’s a draft bust. Taken one pick ahead of James Harden in the 2009 NBA draft and five picks ahead of Stephen Curry. That’s just 3 NBA MVP awards passed up. Wonder where he went? You couldn’t miss a guy who is 7’3”. Looks like he played for the Yokohama B-Corsairs in 2017-18. WTF is a Corsair? Should I be concerned that I bought computer memory from a company with the same name? Why would Corsair have a B in front of it? The B.League. Is it two levels higher than the D-League? And on and on it goes. 74 minutes later you look up and realize what happened.
Wikipedia is an amazing resource and it was created by no one. Well, ok, it was created by lots and lots of people. Every entry on Wikipedia was started by someone like you. They decided to take a few minutes and type in some factual knowledge about a topic, thereby creating a new entry. Others find the entry and add to or refine it. When millions of people all contribute to entries about their areas of expertise, it results in the most comprehensive encyclopedia ever created. It blows away the old World Book Encyclopedia set I used as a kid. Wikipedia is one of the most fantastic examples of something known as crowdsourcing.
Crowdsourcing can come in a lot of different forms. Waze, the navigation app now owned by Google, is an example of a service that crowdsources data from cell phones. Users allow Waze to gather information about the location and velocity of their smartphones. Waze then feeds that data, along with others in their network, into a set of algorithms. The result of the algorithms is a GPS enabled set of directions based upon the most time efficient way to get from point A to point B.
The NBA has even taken to using crowdsourcing. Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban (apparently an unintentional favorite on my blog), reached out to fans in China asking them to come up with a new nickname for the Mavericks. In Mandarin, Mavericks translates to “xiaoniu”, which translates back into English as something like “little cows”. As the linked article states, I guess “little cows” is better than what “Facebook” translates into. Regardless, the Mavericks realized that they are incapable of coming up with a nickname that is appropriate for the Chinese market. It’s best to get ideas from many, many people who understand the language and culture best. Crowdsourcing allows us to use the collective knowledge and experience of others to build something bigger and better than any one person could ever do. That’s the beauty of crowdsourcing.
I know what you’re thinking. How did he make this blog so very, very dull so suddenly? Ok, I’ll get back to sports cards now.
It’s here! It’s here!
2018-19 Prizm Basketball retail has started to hit store shelves and fill shopping carts across the country. Yay!
The hunt is on, both in stores and online. If you’re lucky enough to arrive at Target or Walmart as the shelves are being stocked, this is most likely the most affordable way you’ll be able to pull Silver Prizms from packs. No need to pretend to be altruistic and leave some for the kids. This is Prizm we’re talking about. The only ethics that apply here are - don’t search. No one likes a pack searcher.
With this year’s release, Panini has inched closer to their goal of providing us with as many varieties of Prizms as there are types of Oreo cookies. Ironically, Prizm has succeeded in feeling a little bit like Oreo’s mystery flavor, Fruity Pebbles. They’ve dropped no less than 8 colorful new Prizm parallels on us. Some of them look great. Here’s looking at you Purple Pulsars. Others look like they’ve taken design inspiration from the Harlem Globetrotters uniforms.
I love me some Cheese. And who could hate the Globetrotters? They are an admirable organization and group of players. You can even request a Globetrotter to speak at your school. But, Red, White, and Blue striped Prizms this year are U-G-L-Y. Yes, they’re UGLY.
To hopefully bring some clarity to a rather messy product offering, I have put together a very rectilinear table listing the types of retail formats this year and what Prizms are available in each.
You’ll notice that Panini has excused themselves from offering serial numbered exclusive cards in Super Value Racks and Mega Boxes. The lack of serial numbered cards makes it virtually impossible to get as accurate a count on the print run as we were able to do with Hobby and FOTL. This is disappointing. However, not having an accurate answer should not prevent us from attempting to determine the print run anyway. It just presents an unknown. Life is filled with those. It’s the reality of living in a world where there is randomness. Given this reality we must put the 2018-19 Prizm Basketball retail print run prediction in the same category as horseshoes and hand grenades (by the way, thanks, Frank Robinson). Close, but good enough.
As of this writing (12.2.18) I don’t have any break data on the 2018-19 Prizm Basketball retail release. It’s not like with hobby where I can just go to a breaker channel on YouTube, find videos documenting the disassembly of 20 cases, and count what was pulled. Breakers make it efficient to do this type of research. Retail is different. It is distributed so widely that it’s hard to find anyone breaking it in quantity. Right now, there are only a handful of videos on YouTube showing retail breaks and those videos show a few blasters being opened relatively slowly.
Speaking of distribution, Target and Walmart are the largest purveyors of sports cards (and almost everything else) in retail. There are a handful of smaller players across the country, but these are the big two. It begs the question, why has Amazon stayed out of the game? Are they planning on manufacturing and selling their own sports cards? But seriously, did you know that in 2017 Target had 1822 stores in the US? In 2018, Walmart had 3561 Supercenter stores in the US. That’s a lot of stores. Although I haven’t been to all of them, based on my experience visiting many stores in my lifetime I assume that most have a sports card section carrying Prizm. For the sake of any analysis we do here let’s just assume there are a total of 5000 Target and Walmart stores carrying cards. Close enough? Both retailers also have an online presence that accounts for maybe 5% to 10% of their total sales. Maybe the combination of brick and mortar and online stores should bump that number up to the equivalent of around 5500 stores. Let’s go with something in that range.
With those numbers in mind, let’s do a quick math experiment. In 2017-18 Prizm Basketball Super Value Packs, Red Pulsar Prizms numbered out of 25 hit at a rate of about 1 in every 30 packs. That means there were probably 225,000 Super Value Packs produced. 225,000 packs means there were 22,500 boxes and subsequently 1125 cases. At that quantity, you might expect each store to be allocated something like 4 boxes of Super Value Packs each (1/5 of a case). I don’t know how the product was actually distributed to stores. But with a set of assumptions and at least some data we can start to make projections that have some data-based support. I suppose employees at Target and Walmart with visibility to the inventory and sales data for these products would have better data. If that’s you, let me know. I have some questions for you.
So now, we’re finally here. What I’ve been gabbing on and on about has all been building up to this. In order for us to understand more about 2018-19 Prizm Basketball retail, I would like your help. I would like for us to crowdsource information about the product release and what has been found in the packs. The card collecting community is large, well distributed, and full of people who are experts. Sounds like a perfect application.
At the top of this post I have placed a form for submitting data about your retail break. When you buy or break 2018-19 Prizm Basketball retail products, I ask that you fill out the form with accurate information about your purchase. Collectively, with enough information, we can gain insights that can be used to predict the print run for the Prizm parallels, including Silvers. In addition, we might be able to gain some insight into the distribution patterns of retail products. What percentage ends up at Walmart as opposed to Target? Do certain stores get more than others? Are there waves of releases and how frequently might they happen? You never know what you’ll find out when you have a large set of data to analyze.
So, if you’re up for the challenge, bookmark this page and come back to it each time you score some Prizm retail. Type in and submit your information and it will be sent to a spreadsheet saved on Google Drive that is aggregating the submissions. I’ll provide updates as data is received and give you the results of the analysis I perform on the data set.
Till next time - Jeff