If you think investing money in the stock market or an IRA is a sure thing in the long term, wait until I tell you about investing in MTG booster boxes!
Yes, I’m talking about investing in unopened sealed booster boxes (and/or cases) of Magic: The Gathering sets from mainly the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Prices on boosters have been skyrocketing over the last year. And, during this time of a worldwide pandemic when you would think prices for such collectibles would be stagnant, sale prices continue to go up and up. And believe it or now, I do not see an end in site!
As a collector and investor, I’m constantly looking to add cards and boxes to my collection. For the most part, I’m fairly confident that in my lifetime I’ll see a gain in price to some degree. And, because I enjoy Magic: The Gathering so much, I’m not relying on anything I buy being a slam-dunk investment. Nothing is a slam dunk these days whether you’re talking about stocks or talking about MTG cards. BUT, it’s nearly impossible to ignore the price movements on MTG Booster Boxes over the last few months and here’s why….
I’ve been tracking prices of random Magic boosters on eBay over the last three months. As you’ll see below, the average gain on a simple 36ct or 60ct Magic Booster Box is thru the roof! It’s hard to find any investment these days where in just 3-months you would see an average 74.44% increase in price but Magic Boosters have defied the odds.
Now I know many people do not have large sums to throw around into Magic cards. But, I’m purely talking as an investment (long or short term) so it’s an easier sell to your significant other when you see these numbers. In October 2020, if you had invested $20,000 into buying just ONE sealed booster box of each of the sets below and then turned around and sold them in late January 2021, you would have walked away with over $35,000 (minus selling fees of course if you used eBay.) If you do the simple math, that amounts to $15,000 gain in just 3-MONTHS!! Is your mind blown yet?
Investing in MTG Booster Boxes
Not many could have seen this massive price explosion happening. If you did, you would have thrown your life savings into it. But for those thinking there are still gains to be had and are interested in getting into the sealed booster box investment game, what are some key things to remember when you’re investing in MTG booster boxes?
KEY #1 To Investing In Magic Boosters – DON’T GO ALL IN!
First and foremost, do not use your kid’s college funds or cash out your 401K to throw into Magic Booster boxes. That’s an insanely huge risk and if for some reason the bottom falls out of the collectables market, you stand to lose everything.
As with any investment, spreading your funds across different investments is safer and wiser for long term growth. If I had $20,000 spare change to invest in Magic, I certainly wouldn’t put it all into Booster boxes (although it’s SUPER tempting.) I would pick a box or two from the late 90’s (say TEMPEST or WEATHERLIGHT) and maybe a few boxes from the early 2000’s (like NINTH EDITION, GUILDPACT, LORWYN, etc.) and sit back and watch it grow. Just put those boxes somewhere where it’s safe, free from the elements and where you won’t get tempted to tear into it. REMEMBER, the value is in the unopened packs, the sealed box, the POSSIBILITY of what’s inside so keeping it in perfectly original sealed condition is what you’re going for here.
Now, after buying all of those boosters, you probably have quite a bit of money left from your original pot and that’s where you start looking for vintage singles, Reserved list, etc.! That’s a discussion for another time.
KEY #2 To Investing in Magic Boosters – STICK WITH GOLDEN AND BRONZE AGE BOOSTERS!
What I would not recommend is dumping thousands of dollars into cases of the newest and greatest sets. Remember we’re talking about investments here, not our love of the latest sets like Commander Legends or Zendikar Rising. Put your money into pre-2010 and you’ll have a better shot at some nice returns.
There was a time between the late 90’s and probably around 2008 when Magic was at it’s lowest point in popularity. All of the original guys like me who were heavy into Revised, Legends, The Dark, etc…….those guys like me who were in High School and College playing until all hours of the night…….those guys like me slowly drifted away to build careers and start families. Those super nice collections of A/B/U, those beautiful Moxes, the piles of Legends Rare cards were all either safely tucked away or SOLD OFF (yep, that was me!). And up until 2008 or so, Magic was just not as popular as it once was.
Things changed in 2009 and popularity started to pick up again. It’s those stagnant years (1996-2008) where you have the best chance of finding MGT Booster boxes that were LOW in production and primed for growth. They are hidden gems and prices continue to rise because you simply can’t find these booster boxes in any quantity anymore.
KEY #3 To Investing in MTG Booster Boxes – DO YOUR RESEARCH!
If you’re going to plunk a few thousand dollars into something, don’t take my word as Gospel (or anyone’s for that matter.) Do you own research and think about what fits into your Magic Investment portfolio.
Don’t buy stuff you simply don’t like. For example, back in the day when FALLEN EMPIRES came out, I KNEW that was a garbage set. And I remember that there were TONS AND TONS of boxes and cases made because WotC (Wizards of the Coast) knew it was a good time to cash in on the popularity explosion. But I’m telling you, that set sucked! I hated playing with the cards, I didn’t find the set very interesting, it just looked thrown together. And to this day, I would not put big bucks into investing in Fallen Empires. Now do I have singles from that set that I continue to keep? YEP! There are some Reserved List cards that are worth picking up….because they’re so cheap. But I wouldn’t go out and invest thousands into booster boxes. I just think there are better sets to put your money into.
Along with researching the sets, research the seller. There are a lot of really good people out there in the Magic community that you can trust are selling sealed products that have never been touched. Read as much as you can and find out from others online who those sellers are. Ask them questions about the item….they’ll help you!
You want to try and avoid getting into a situation where you just plunked down $4-5K for a booster box only to find out that it may have been compromised or tampered with. Research the HECK out of those boxes…..make sure you know what the plastic outer wrap is supposed to look like…..don’t buy boxes that are damaged…..if a seller has terrible feedback online, just go somewhere else. Be careful with your hard earned money! RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!!
Do your own investigating and find out what you like and who you trust before spending your money. Trust your gut AND trust your research!
KEY #4 To Investing in Magic Boosters – ASSUME THERE WILL BE RISK!
Where there is money and uncertainty, there is risk. It doesn’t matter if you’re investing in Magic cards, booster boxes, sports cards, autographs, vintage McDonald’s Cheeseburgers or WHATEVER, you are risking your money. When it comes to investing in Magic: The Gathering, the idea is to minimize your risk as best you can and put your hard earned money into things that YOU BELIEVE have the potential to increase in value over a LONG PERIOD OF TIME.
You can never for sure say that you’ll be able to repeat the $15,000 gains mentioned above in 3-months time on any Magic investment. You can take your best guess, but again it’s a guess. But if you buy Magic items that are limited in supply, high in demand and for the best possible price……AND ARE WILLING TO WAIT LONG TERM (like YEARS)…….then you should be OK.
How about Investing in NEWER MTG Booster Boxes….Is It Worth It?
As mentioned before, I would stick with investing in vintage Magic Golden and Bronze era booster boxes BUT I would not say NEVER to buying the newer sets.
I think when it comes to new stuff, you need to make sure you’re very careful. Prices fluctuate WILDLY during the 1-2 years a set is on the production line and it’s during this time you need to be watching how the market and how players are reacting to the set. If everyone thinks it’s garbage, the cards stink, prices remain low, and you see a ton of people trying to sell on eBay, then maybe it’s not worth your time or money. A set or booster like that might be a REALLY long term play so get ready to sit on those boosters for MANY years before you see a return.
- 36 Time Spiral Remastered (TSR) Magic: The Gathering Draft Booster Packs
- 1 card with a retro Magic frame in every pack
- Reprints of the most memorable cards from Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, and Future Sight
But there are some limited production booster boxes that might be worth a look. For example, in 2019 with the THRONE OF ELDRAINE set, WotC put out the very first COLLECTORS BOOSTER BOX and it was more limited of a production run than normal booster boxes. How limited we do not know but it’s safe to say there are far less of the Collectors Booster Boxes out there these days than regular draft or set booster boxes. Does this make it a good investment? Only time will tell but it may be worth monitoring the Collector Booster boxes going forward for all new sets. The cards being pulled out of these boxes tend to be more limited and flashier (is that even a word?) and that alone could potentially force box prices up over time.
But in general, I still say stick with Booster Boxes in that late 90’s, early 2000’s range. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever buy the newer stuff. I’m saying that from a PURELY INVESTMENT viewpoint, be careful sticking too much money into the newer stuff because the production runs are WAY bigger than the Gold and Bronze era sets.
Looking to BUY Magic Booster Boxes? Check out our post Best Place to Buy MTG Cards.
I think this is probably a discussion that may never end so look for future posts about this subject. All investments are subjective for the most part. What I think is a slam dunk great investment might be too risky to someone else. I think that overall, investing in MTG booster boxes is not a bad idea by no means. I think there is still a TON of room left for some of these boxes to grow over my lifetime and I wouldn’t hesitate one bit to throw some extra cash here and there into one/some/many of these older vintage boosters.
Just remember that investing, especially in Magic: The Gathering cards and boxes, is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t put money into this expecting to make massive returns in a few months. If you’re in it, be in it for the long haul…..just resist the urge to rip your booster boxes open! RESIST I SAY!! DON’T DO IT!!
Feel free to comment below and let me know your thoughts on investing in MTG booster boxes or any other TCG including MetaZoo and Pokemon!
Brian CooperBrian Cooper is the founder of Magic Card Investor and has been in the trading card industry since the 1980's and Magic The Gathering since 1994. Since then, his mission is to bring the nostalgia and joy of collecting trading cards to everyone and to help people learn about (and maybe even profit from) this fun and rewarding pastime.
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