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Magical Mystery Tour: Your Guide To Sports Card Mystery Boxes

Mystery Pack Box

The thrill of the hunt and the draw of the unknown are strong psychological forces. While buying a particular card is often a good move, sometimes the desire to take a chance on something unknown and potentially very desirable is undeniable.

Mystery Pack Boxes are designed for this very purpose.

But what is a Mystery Pack Box? What might they contain? Where can you find them? And are they a good value? Let’s try to remove some of the mystery surrounding Mystery Pack Boxes.

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What is a Baseball/Football/Basketball mystery box?

Mystery Pack Boxes come in three basic formats, although each is somewhat unique in exactly what it will include.

Unopened pack mystery box

As the name suggests, these Mystery Boxes contain unopened packs. Typically these are a mix of packs from different brands, products, and sometimes years. They usually contain cards or packs from the same sport or game (baseball, football, basketball, hockey or Pokemon), but sellers will also sell sports card mystery boxes as well.

If you’re looking for a chance to open a variety of different packs, this type of pack can be a fun way to get exposure to several different products.

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Sorted sports mystery box

Instead of containing unopened packs, these Mystery Boxes contain “packs” of cards put together by the seller from previously opened packs. Often, these types of Mystery Boxes contain a certain number of “hits,” be they rookie cards, parallels, autographs, graded cards, Hall of Famers, or the like.

Some boxes come with guaranteed hits, others with a chance of a big hit (“1 in 5 packs contains”). Some contain a mix of guaranteed and chance hits. Obviously, the less guarantee you get, the lower the cost and often the more desirable the hit is likely to be.

For those, the risk vs. reward equation is a bit different, but you may consider the risk worth the reward.

Hybrid sports card mystery Box

Some Mystery Boxes are a hybrid of the two models described above. They include both one or more unopened packed and some select singles.

Mystery Pack Boxes can come in many different sizes, from a single card or pack to a handful of cards/packs, to a whole box of fun.

Shop for unopened pack mystery boxes on eBay

Where can you find mystery pack boxes?

Mystery Pack Boxes of both types can be found in a number of different retail and online outlets. You can search eBay, Amazon, Facebook Marketplace, your Local Card Shop (LCS) and just about anywhere else where people sell stuff.

You’re even starting to see start to appear in big box retail outlets like Walmart and Target.

A retail Mystery Pack Box

Mystery Pack Boxes are having a bit of a moment right now. You can watch break videos devoted to Mystery Pack Boxes on YouTube and other social media platforms.

YouTube video

Are mystery pack boxes a good deal?

Back in the bad old days, you’d see various items similar to Mystery Boxes in stores, card shops, and the like. Typically these had one interesting or decent card on the top, maybe something vintage to catch the eye.

But once purchased and opened, the rest of the pack would be a mix of junk wax that was nearly worthless and generally disinteresting. You’d shake your head in disgust over having bought someone’s supply of 1988 Donruss and 1991 Fleer packs or commons, and vow to never do it again.

The answer nowadays is – it depends. Some Mystery Box Packs offer a good return on investment, or at least a legit chance of equaling or exceeding the purchase price in value. Of course, not every box will return more than the purchase price, but a good box at least gives you a chance.

With any purchase of this kind, there is risk, both in terms of what you may pull from a pack, and with the honesty and intentions of the seller.

By following a few simple rules, you can increase your odds of a favorable experience.

Shop for baseball mystery boxes

Shop for football mystery boxes

Shop for basketball mystery boxes

Considerations when purchasing mystery pack boxes

By their very nature mystery boxes are meant be mysterious…they are called Mystery Boxes, after all. However, there are a number of things you can do to help ensure a pleasant experience when buying Mystery Pack Boxes.

Know what you’re buying

It is absolutely key that you understand what you’re buying. What type of Mystery Box is it? Does it contain unopened packs? If not, what does it contain? Does it contain guaranteed hits? Or a chance at hits? If so, what are the odds of a hit? What is the cost, including shipping?

Buy from a reputable source

In short, you want to buy from a seller who is intent on having repeat buyers. Again, not every box will return more value than the cost, but you want something with a chance of equaling or exceeding the purchase price. If this sounds a lot like the scenario with breaking unopened packs, it’s because it is.

So, check the reviews, eBay feedback, and look at how many Mystery Boxes the seller has sold. If the reviews are solid, the chances you’ll have a pleasant experience are increased. If the feedback isn’t good, don’t repeat the mistakes of those who purchased before you.

So, you want a seller who is making enough money from their Mystery Pack Boxes to continue to sell them, but who is honest, fair, and looking to supply value to the consumer, as well.

Shop for Mystery boxes on eBay

Do the math and caveat emptor

Before you buy, do the math. What are the chances you get a solid return, or at least enough entertainment value, to make the purchase worthwhile? If the answer suggests a solid chance, that’s great and maybe you should give it a try.

Be aware, though, that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Also, make sure you stay within whatever your collecting budget allows.

Cardlines Crate mystery pack boxes

If you’re looking to dip your feet into the world of Mystery Pack Boxes, look no further than your friends at Cardlines. You can now pick up a Cardlines Crate direct from Cardlines.com. 

Cardlines.com Cardline Crates are a mix of more than a dozen packs from various hobby and retail releases. Packs will mostly be from the current year and recent years, with no cold packs.

What’s inside a Cardlines Crate? The mix will of course differ from crate to crate, but I have one on the way to me right now. Look for an unboxing article and review shortly!

Cardlines Crate Mystery Pack Box

Thinking of selling mystery pack boxes?

Thinking of getting into the Mystery Pack Box game? Lots of folks are doing it, but there’s room for more reputable sellers in the market.

My advice to you is:

  • Assess what you type of Mystery Box you’d want to offer.
  • Inventory the cards/packs you’d offer, and determine how many Mystery Pack Boxes you’d make.
  • Consider your expenses (cost of cards/packs, boxes/bubble mailers, postage, selling fees, etc.)
  • Price your Mystery Pack Boxes in a way that allows you to make a reasonable profit, without gouging people.
  • List your items for sale on your platform of choice.
  • Start small, see how it goes, and adjust accordingly.
  • Remember: Repeat customers and a reasonable profit per unit is better than a big one-time score followed by negative feedback.
Thinking of selling Mystery Pack Boxes? Don’t be a Mr. Burns – offer your customers good value

Final thoughts on sports card mystery boxes

Mystery Pack Boxes are an interesting way to add new cards to your collection, or move cards you don’t want from your inventory. The keys are to understand what you’re buying, buy from a reputable source, and of course, Caveat Emptor.

Opening a Mystery Pack Box? Let us know how it went at card_lines on Twitter.

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Mike D.

Mike D

Mike D. has collected cards for over 35 years, since he bought his first pack of Topps at the corner store in 1987. His fandom,  collecting interests, and contributions to Cardlines center around baseball in general and the Baseball Hall of Fame specifically.

Mike's collecting focus is centered on graded cards, mostly rookie cards, of Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers. Lately, he's been enjoying dabbling in graded minor league cards. A collector/investor with a "buy and hold" approach, Mike takes the long-term view with his collection.

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