While collecting trading cards is a fun pastime that many can trace back to their youth, today a good card collection isn’t just child’s play as a recent boom in the industry has this old-school hobby exploding. —
This resurgence is captured in a new documentary, appropriately titled “The Hobby,” which looks at the passion behind collecting. And for those with the right cards, these collections can create small fortunes.
“I love this hobby. It’s something that I partake in and I wanted to give a love letter to the hobby,” said Morgan Jon Fox, the director of “The Hobby,” which will be released on digital platforms Feb. 16.
“It’s a behind-the-scenes comprehensive look at the wild, high-stakes world of trading cards, while also dissecting the differences between marketability, the finances of trading cards and the traditional collector,” said Fox, who got into trading cards as a young boy in the ’90s, collecting baseball and other sports cards.
The 89-minute film follows buyers, sellers, card shop owners, graders, online streamers, auctioneers and others who are passionate about these collections, which is highly accessible and covers all sorts of interests.
“There’s definitely a little bit of everything for anyone who collects these little pieces of cardboard,” Fox said. “There are cards for almost anything that anyone is into at this point.”
Fox credits the recent resurgence in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic when people stuck at home began checking their garages, closets or storage units to find old trading cards, ranging from sports cards and Pokémon cards to Garbage Pail Kids cards and others.
“The trading card world had the hugest boom, we’re talking about astronomical values that came into people’s collections,” Fox said.
Now hedge funds, celebrities, entrepreneurs and billionaires add sports, Pokémon and other cards to their collections and portfolios, Fox added.
And it can be a smart investment. The film looks at cards like a 1952 mint condition Mickey Mantle baseball card that in 2022 sold for $12.6 million, as well as a Michael Jordan rookie card that before the COVID boom was worth about $30,000, but now maxes out at about $800,000 in perfect condition, he said.
The documentary also highlights the different types of collectors driving this new boom.
“Some people love collecting. Nostalgia is something that can be deeply ingrained within and can give people a sense of well being and a connection to their past in a way that keeps them sort of grounded in life, and I think that is a beautiful thing,” Fox said. “Some people are high end and they want to get a thing they can flip for money and buy it and wait a couple of years to see what happens and maybe sell it.”
Appearing in the character-driven film are hobbyists like Josh Luber, co-founder of StockX and Fanatics Collectibles, which recently bought Topps, Gary Haase, whose Pokémon collection is reportedly worth about $10 million, plus YouTuber and Pokémon influencer Dani Sanchez, who goes by SuperDuperDani, and others.
Sanchez will likely be talking about their collection and looking for new cards at the upcoming Collect-A Con convention, happening at the LA Convention Center on March 9-10. The new documentary includes footage from Sanchez at a previous Collect-A Con.
The Los Angeles resident, who has an entire room in their apartment dedicated to their Pokémon card collection, features the cards in their YouTube channel, which has 277,000 subscribers. But for Sanchez, collecting is definitely more about passion than money.
“I collect stuff that’s fun and interesting. It was eye-opening to see the other side, where it’s way more of an investment. It’s a place of investment for a lot of people who have a lot of money. I thought that was fascinating because that’s never been the angle I’ve taken on it,” Sanchez said during an interview. “For me, it’s definitely not an investment. I found a love for this when I was younger and it’s something that interested me. I think it’s fun.”