Chill Clinton is a trading card enthusiast and investor who operates an online trading card store.
What Are Sealed Products?
Sealed Pokémon Trading Card Game products come in a number of forms including booster packs, booster boxes, smaller sealed collections, tins, and blister packs. These sealed products are the primary vessels by which collectors obtain new Pokémon cards directly from the manufacturer.
Booster packs will contain ten to eleven random cards from a particular set or collection of 100–200 potential cards that you could receive from a booster pack labeled with the corresponding set name.
With large swings in the Pokémon trading card market since 2019, there has been a ton of revived interest in the property and plenty of money flooding the space. A 2021 eBay report even showed a 500% increase in the valuation of the platform's Pokémon marketplace over 2019–2020.
For those interested in investing in the Pokémon Trading Card Game, these sealed products offer lower-risk options to gain some exposure to sought-after cards at relatively low prices and have historically shown impressive growth in value as the game continues to attract new players and produce more cards.
Below, I've compiled a few reasons why investing in sealed products are a great and often overlooked aspect of Pokémon Trading Card Game investing, and why investors may want to consider adding these collectible assets to their portfolio.
Why Booster Packs Are One of the Lowest Risk Pokémon Investments
If you are at all familiar with the stock market, you may understand the difference between individual stocks and exchange-traded funds.
However, let's run down the difference and how they relate to Pokémon investing.
When one purchases a share of individual stock, they are purchasing partial ownership of a particular company. Exchange-traded funds are investment products managed by an investment company that contain shares of various different individual stocks, allowing an investor to purchase portions of the fund and thus gain exposure to dozen or even hundreds of different companies.
In the world of Pokémon card investing, single cards are a lot like individual stocks. They often have some of the greatest potential upsides but also carry a fair degree of risk.
Especially when looking at modern cards, an investor might purchase a popularly traded card going for a lot of money in its first year of release, only to see the value of that asset decline with time and take quite a bit of time to recover if it recovers at all.
Booster packs, however, are similar to exchange-traded funds. When purchasing a booster pack or other sealed product containing booster packs, an investor is purchasing the possibility of owning any one of hundreds of cards, including the rarest ones, within a particular set or sets.
Though not all cards that are popular at the time of their printing retain that long-term popularity, almost all sets contain at least a few cards that sustain long-term collector interest, making booster packs and other sealed products, investments that would likely only lose significant value in the long-term if people lose interest in the property generally.
However, unlike other flash-in-the-pan collectibles like Beanie Babies, the entire Pokémon property has seen long-term sustained growth across all of its products and media for over twenty-five years with no signs of slowing down!
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When purchasing out-of-print booster packs, investors will need to weigh their degree of risk tolerance because these items, like exchange-traded funds, can still fluctuate in price based on the performance of the wider market.
However, if investors are interested in purchasing modern Pokémon products to hold for several years or more and can find these products for MSRP, past performance would suggest that this is likely a safe investment. Nearly every Pokémon sealed product that is presently out-of-print has appreciated in value over the years.
The "Sealed Premium"
With many out-of-print booster packs fetching hundreds of dollars or more, the statistical likelihood of pulling a card worth at least the amount paid for the booster pack is extremely slim.
However, by owning a booster pack, you not only own the cards within it, but the experience of opening the pack, which for collectors, is extremely valuable.
A booster pack typically goes out of print within two or three years of its release, meaning that once production ceases, the remaining unopened booster packs are the only sealed booster packs that will ever exist.
Therefore, the nostalgic experience of opening one of these vintage booster packs is valuable in and of itself, and as long as you own the pack, you own the exclusive authority to determine whether that pack remains sealed or is opened.
Pack Weighing and How to Avoid Scams
When purchasing booster packs, many sellers will disclose the weight of the pack in the grams. The reason why buyers are interested in knowing the weight of a booster pack is that we have available data suggesting the likelihood of opening holographic cards across dozens of sets (however not all booster packs can be accurately weighed).
Of course, buyers are often more interested in purchasing packs that are most likely to yield holographic cards, but these sellers will often ask for a premium above the average market price of these packs.
This being said, the popularity of buyers shopping on the basis of pack weight means that investors should attempt to acquire booster packs that are heavier, but keep in mind that not all sellers agree to the ethics of this practice and may refuse to disclose the weight of their packs.
However, pack weighing is not the only common practice you need to be aware of in this specialized market. Investors also need to keep in mind that the high-priced vintage booster pack marketplace also attracts a number of scammers engaged in counterfeit pack production and pack resealing.
If you are not well versed at spotting the tell-tale signs of pack tampering, the best way to protect yourself is by only purchasing from trusted sellers on platforms such as eBay and TCGPlayer.com that offer buyer protection. Upon receiving the booster pack, check to ensure that the top and bottom crimps appear tightly sealed and uncut and that the back seal also appears tight and uncut.
Also, take a moment to compare the booster pack to images on Google. Though there is some variance in color saturation between different printings, if you notice that your pack is exceptionally lighter or darker than images you see online, or if the art or writing on the pack appears blurry, you may have a counterfeit or resealed booster.
In this instance, buyers can initiate a return on the basis of fraudulent listing on eBay, or if using TCGPlayer.com, they can contact customer support directly since the platform actually provides a completely free verification service for customers who believe they have purchased a fraudulent item.
As With Any Collectible, Invest for Fun, Not Just Profit
I published an article listing five tips for those interested in investing in Pokémon trading cards, and perhaps one of the most important tips was the last one: "If You Don't Have a Passion for Pokémon, Don't Do It."
This remains true for sealed products. Due to the moderate risk of acquiring illegitimate items, the potential for fire or other disaster, the difficulty of storing and maintaining your assets, and the illiquidity of Pokémon cards, the only investors who should realistically get involved in the space are those with a genuine interest in collecting Pokémon while seeing some healthy yet often humble returns in the process.
This being said, if you have a passion for "catching them all," you may find that investing in sealed products will reduce your risk, quickly diversify your market exposure, and offer your eventual buyers value that exceeds simply the physical product. Happy collecting!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.