2020 NRL Traders review

Brendan_B

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With many in self isolation or working from home, I thought I would do this years Traders review a touch early. I haven't gone that hard this year so I haven't held many of the higher end cards in hand but here goes!

As always, feel free to like, dislike and add constructive advice.

OVERVIEW

As we have become accustomed to, Traders is a 36 packet box, 12 box per case release. At $4 per packet, that price provides a reasonable value for money with the hits available. This year has seen a significant change up with the addition of Priority Boxes and Hobby Starter Packs. I will review these separately. The packets and boxes are a nice clean design. The quality control seems to be quite good this year, previous Traders releases I have had to send back several damage cards but not one this time. I think TLA's biggest issues are there lack of communication with the end consumer and their want to dump all stock on the market, which significantly lowers the ongoing and secondary market values. Why pay $130 a box now when I know that in 4-6 months time, I will pick up boxes for nearly half that. The collation seems a bit off this year as I have seen single boxes with a Legend, Predictor and an SAS Authentic. Great box if you hit one but really makes the chances of a 'dud' box increase.

PRIORITY BOXES

When I first learnt of these, I was very skeptical and thought this is just a massive cash grab. The way they were marketed as being available to the collector and then being bought out by the dealers was very poorly done by TLA, another example of how poor their communication can be. Personally, I was happy for these to be a dealer only product to help drive sales for regular Traders up. I am led to believe there was very little mark up, if any for a dealer to sell a sealed Priority Box so I was grateful to get one to open. I still believe this was an easy cash grab for TLA but the extras in the product are quite nice with the bronze parallel street arts (/30) and parallel club heroes (/15) proving very popular and hard to come by (unless you collect Titans, Warriors, Dogs or Penrith). While it doesn't seem to be advertised, the parallel version above replace the regular club hero and black street art. This isn't a big deal but should be mentioned to the buyer. Overall I think the Priority Boxes have been a great addition and would be happy to see them become a prominent feature as long as TLA don't see $$ signs like they have with starter packs and increase the run past 40 cases.

STARTER PACKS

Extremely popular and with good reason. Great value, chances of a numbered hit separate from the packets and plenty of decent hits coming from the packets. I will review the bonus cards for the hobby and retail separately but first things first, fix the packaging! Select have adopted the starter / value pack and have a tab on the back to make opening the packet much easier, this is something TLA need to do. Secondly, make the retail starter packet plastic frosted so the bonus card can't been seen. The pilfering of the starter packs to get numbered hits is ridiculous and just promotes greed. It also drives down the secondary market significantly when a collector has 30+ blacks and 30+ for sale at once.

FOLDERS

20 Traders folders are very generic and without the year being branded on them, it allows TLA to use left over folders from release to release. I think the year should be branded and the design, or at color should change each year. I did like the way Select mixed their folders up in design and the quality of Select folders seems to be a bit better. At $25, with a bonus card, the value is okay. I don't mind the bonus card (Magic Round Parallel) this year, quite a good looking card.

BASE SET

This years base set is very plain and quite similar to 2014 Traders. I say this year after year, but why ten cards per team set? Let's do 9 with the logo / checklist being in the middle of the page. My preference would be to have different players in both Traders and Elite.

PARALLEL SPECIAL

This set is a really nice contrast to the base set and certainly one of the nicer Traders parallel sets produced. I note the club logo parallel specials are not 1:36 packets this year, why does this have to change year to year, it makes no sense.

REP STARS

A bit of a change up from previous years with all levels of rep being in the one set. For a low end set it is fine, very plain but that is to be expected. There is no real value in these with most rep starts already selling for 50c each. Good to see the IAS and MAS added in for some variety.

SEASON TO REMEMBER

This is a very tired set. The theme is fine although I am sure with a bit of research they could choose much better moments. The actual card design is very bright and shiny and I don't mind the puzzle on the back of the card as it adds something extra. This is probably the set that is easy to roll over although I personally would like to see a Milestone set each Traders release for those hitting 150 games and above.

MAGIC ROUND

Not a bad set despite there being Magic Round cards available from the actual event. The design is nice enough with the black background making the player really standout. Player selection seems okay and the stats on the back from the game are cool. I have found that many of the Magic Round cards I have pulled have had corner damage which is very obvious due to the black background and finish.

MAGIC ROUND PARALLEL (ALBUM CARD)

Not much to say here that I haven't mentioned above, Not a bad variant with the white back ground, pretty good addition overall.

STARTOONS CLEAR & COLOURED

I will review all startoons here. This is a very tired theme, surely this is the last release for them? I get the attraction for younger kids and the clear ST actually fell really good in hand. The starter pack variants are okay and having the yellow ST numbered to /150 certainly added a level of interest. Nice enough looking card, just a bit tired I feel.

LEAGUE LEADERS BRONZE / SILVER & GOLD

Certainly a very different addition to the hobby starter packs this year. The cards themselves are nice in hand, a different them and the gold edition being numbered to /100 is great. The actual player / team selection is a bit off with on;y five teams covering the 9 card set. The stats seem a bit out compared to the NRL site also but maybe it is because the stats were taken from the end of the regular season. In any event, I think that there should have been nine categories with the top player being gold, second being silver and third being bronze, not three levels per player. See below as an example;

Points Scored
Mitchell - gold
Croker - silver
Smith - Bronze

Already you have two additional teams represented. You could add tries, goals, line breaks, PCM, try assists, offloads, tackles and all run meters

STREET ART WHITE / BLACK & BRONZE

Great addition. A completely different theme and they looking really good. I like the matte finish and the style of the card in landscape is also very effective. Having different levels is often met with criticism, and I can see why but in this case I think it works. I actually think the bronze variant should have been the standard box hit with the black being the numbered (priority) variant. None the less, a great inclusion, good player selection but not one that can be repeated.

CLUB HERO

This was another very tired concept but has been rejuvenated very successfully. The cards look great in hand, love the landscape style and design and they are a great box hit. The Priority parallel version also look great in hand and being numbered to /15 are very popular. Really well done is this set.

RETIREMENTS

A classic that needs to keep rolling out year after year. A really nicely designed card and with some cracking players leaving our game (and also some less popular toilers), this set is a great tribute. The values holds nicely in the $12-$20 range and this makes putting the set together quite achievable. My on;y criticism has been the same since day one. The card should go to the club they represented most or were best known at. Sometimes this is difficult but the alternative is having each club logo pictured for a player that had multiple clubs. How Maloney wasn't pictured in a Sharks jersey given he led them to their maiden premiership is beyond me as is having Fensom as a Broncos card, much the same as Berrigan was a Raiders card a few years back.

AUTHENTIC SIGNATURE & AS BRONZE

Why TLA have removed the lower level printed version of these in the fifth year is beyond me. Having three version worked really well, especially from a visual / display perspective. This is another bizarre change for no real reason that leaves collectors scratching their heads. The actual card design is nice, landscape for signature cards is always my preference, leaves plenty of space for the signature. Some of the signatures look a bit ordinary and I am not sure if this is because they were placed straight into packets, poor quality of pens used or the players not taking time. Higher end cards like this should be via redemption only to ensure the card is at least sent to a punter in good condition. A fair point was raised about the redemption card getting damaged and lowering value, maybe once the redemption is sent in it is destroyed and you only receive the signature card back? This would certainly solve that issue. Player selection is a bit poor for a high end card. There are some great choices with Haas, Bateman, Paulo and Maumalo being the pick. Releasing so many signature cards each year is a double edged sword. It is great to get signatures of some players that you wouldn't otherwise get but the options certainly dry up! Dropping the authentic s back to /100 was a good option however having upped them to /170 last year has really killed the value. Collectors only want to pay $100-$120 for most of these which is in line with last tears prices. Even the less popular teams should be $150+ cards.

PREDICTORS

Why oh why can TLA not get this simple concept right? Numbered to /220 (or thereabouts), with only 50 sets (aside from premiers) redeemable despite TLA adverting only 20. My concern is that they will change their minds again and if you are not one of the first 20 registered, you will miss out! Every card should be redeemable and the theme (team photo) should be mixed up each year. My suggestion is knock the odds to 1:3 boxes and leave the premiership predictors unnumbered. Make each card redeemable as either the premiers for standalone or a full set of 16 to get a team per card. Further, introduce a Dally M predictor at 1:6 boxes. Make each card numbered to 50, each team has five candidates put forward with the image being one that actually makes the card collectible if the the player does not win. The winning card should be redeemable for a Dally M signature, a wild card will be needed for this set.

4 & 2

This set is a continuation from 19 Traders with the eight teams who missed last year getting one. A fairly basic concept (top try scorer / goal scorer) and a nice enough looking card that unfortunately holds little value despite being a case hit. Due to the theme the players depicted are generally more high profile and I would imagine that this type of card will continue moving forward but with a different them, much like the Dynamic Duos morphed into the 4 & 2's.

LEGENDS SIGNATURES

Another great set that needs to roll on year after year. It has been said that that the player selection was a bit down but I disagree, Petero is one of the great all times props with premierships and multiple origin / Australian jerseys to his name, a 300 gamer also I believe. 'Napper' Lyons is also a great choice, another 300 gamer, nearly a one club player, origin and national jerseys, premierships and one of those who was so smart with ball in hand, slowed the game down to suit himself, all class. I am undecided as to whether I prefer the players being in their Australian or club strip, both look great. The signatures themselves looked to be okay quality, there have been a few issue which again could be managed with the use of a redemption card...Anyways, great card, great set, please keep this going and make sure there is a Brad Clyde in green for 2021!

CASE CARDS

Great to see the Legends case cards back but numbered to /37, this makes it much harder for the average punter who can only afford this level. Why these were removed last year I have no idea and while the Retirements Parallel CC seems to look okay, I would get rid of them, go back to Legends CC only. Sometimes less is more and some consistency from release to release is good.

SUMMARY

Another very solid release with good value for money. Some great aspects, some that could use a big change up and others areas that could be explored. TLA seem to get better from release to release but to me, communication is very poor and a decent understanding of the hobby. There are many knowledgeable people on this site or in the greater NRL card community who could offer some great advice. I am going with a 7/10 on this one.
 

saintsforever

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david
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rugbydolltoys
With many in self isolation or working from home, I thought I would do this years Traders review a touch early. I haven't gone that hard this year so I haven't held many of the higher end cards in hand but here goes!

As always, feel free to like, dislike and add constructive advice.

OVERVIEW

As we have become accustomed to, Traders is a 36 packet box, 12 box per case release. At $4 per packet, that price provides a reasonable value for money with the hits available. This year has seen a significant change up with the addition of Priority Boxes and Hobby Starter Packs. I will review these separately. The packets and boxes are a nice clean design. The quality control seems to be quite good this year, previous Traders releases I have had to send back several damage cards but not one this time. I think TLA's biggest issues are there lack of communication with the end consumer and their want to dump all stock on the market, which significantly lowers the ongoing and secondary market values. Why pay $130 a box now when I know that in 4-6 months time, I will pick up boxes for nearly half that. The collation seems a bit off this year as I have seen single boxes with a Legend, Predictor and an SAS Authentic. Great box if you hit one but really makes the chances of a 'dud' box increase.

PRIORITY BOXES

When I first learnt of these, I was very skeptical and thought this is just a massive cash grab. The way they were marketed as being available to the collector and then being bought out by the dealers was very poorly done by TLA, another example of how poor their communication can be. Personally, I was happy for these to be a dealer only product to help drive sales for regular Traders up. I am led to believe there was very little mark up, if any for a dealer to sell a sealed Priority Box so I was grateful to get one to open. I still believe this was an easy cash grab for TLA but the extras in the product are quite nice with the bronze parallel street arts (/30) and parallel club heroes (/15) proving very popular and hard to come by (unless you collect Titans, Warriors, Dogs or Penrith). While it doesn't seem to be advertised, the parallel version above replace the regular club hero and black street art. This isn't a big deal but should be mentioned to the buyer. Overall I think the Priority Boxes have been a great addition and would be happy to see them become a prominent feature as long as TLA don't see $$ signs like they have with starter packs and increase the run past 40 cases.

STARTER PACKS

Extremely popular and with good reason. Great value, chances of a numbered hit separate from the packets and plenty of decent hits coming from the packets. I will review the bonus cards for the hobby and retail separately but first things first, fix the packaging! Select have adopted the starter / value pack and have a tab on the back to make opening the packet much easier, this is something TLA need to do. Secondly, make the retail starter packet plastic frosted so the bonus card can't been seen. The pilfering of the starter packs to get numbered hits is ridiculous and just promotes greed. It also drives down the secondary market significantly when a collector has 30+ blacks and 30+ for sale at once.

FOLDERS

20 Traders folders are very generic and without the year being branded on them, it allows TLA to use left over folders from release to release. I think the year should be branded and the design, or at color should change each year. I did like the way Select mixed their folders up in design and the quality of Select folders seems to be a bit better. At $25, with a bonus card, the value is okay. I don't mind the bonus card (Magic Round Parallel) this year, quite a good looking card.

BASE SET

This years base set is very plain and quite similar to 2014 Traders. I say this year after year, but why ten cards per team set? Let's do 9 with the logo / checklist being in the middle of the page. My preference would be to have different players in both Traders and Elite.

PARALLEL SPECIAL

This set is a really nice contrast to the base set and certainly one of the nicer Traders parallel sets produced. I note the club logo parallel specials are not 1:36 packets this year, why does this have to change year to year, it makes no sense.

REP STARS

A bit of a change up from previous years with all levels of rep being in the one set. For a low end set it is fine, very plain but that is to be expected. There is no real value in these with most rep starts already selling for 50c each. Good to see the IAS and MAS added in for some variety.

SEASON TO REMEMBER

This is a very tired set. The theme is fine although I am sure with a bit of research they could choose much better moments. The actual card design is very bright and shiny and I don't mind the puzzle on the back of the card as it adds something extra. This is probably the set that is easy to roll over although I personally would like to see a Milestone set each Traders release for those hitting 150 games and above.

MAGIC ROUND

Not a bad set despite there being Magic Round cards available from the actual event. The design is nice enough with the black background making the player really standout. Player selection seems okay and the stats on the back from the game are cool. I have found that many of the Magic Round cards I have pulled have had corner damage which is very obvious due to the black background and finish.

MAGIC ROUND PARALLEL (ALBUM CARD)

Not much to say here that I haven't mentioned above, Not a bad variant with the white back ground, pretty good addition overall.

STARTOONS CLEAR & COLOURED

I will review all startoons here. This is a very tired theme, surely this is the last release for them? I get the attraction for younger kids and the clear ST actually fell really good in hand. The starter pack variants are okay and having the yellow ST numbered to /150 certainly added a level of interest. Nice enough looking card, just a bit tired I feel.

LEAGUE LEADERS BRONZE / SILVER & GOLD

Certainly a very different addition to the hobby starter packs this year. The cards themselves are nice in hand, a different them and the gold edition being numbered to /100 is great. The actual player / team selection is a bit off with on;y five teams covering the 9 card set. The stats seem a bit out compared to the NRL site also but maybe it is because the stats were taken from the end of the regular season. In any event, I think that there should have been nine categories with the top player being gold, second being silver and third being bronze, not three levels per player. See below as an example;

Points Scored
Mitchell - gold
Croker - silver
Smith - Bronze

Already you have two additional teams represented. You could add tries, goals, line breaks, PCM, try assists, offloads, tackles and all run meters

STREET ART WHITE / BLACK & BRONZE

Great addition. A completely different theme and they looking really good. I like the matte finish and the style of the card in landscape is also very effective. Having different levels is often met with criticism, and I can see why but in this case I think it works. I actually think the bronze variant should have been the standard box hit with the black being the numbered (priority) variant. None the less, a great inclusion, good player selection but not one that can be repeated.

CLUB HERO

This was another very tired concept but has been rejuvenated very successfully. The cards look great in hand, love the landscape style and design and they are a great box hit. The Priority parallel version also look great in hand and being numbered to /15 are very popular. Really well done is this set.

RETIREMENTS

A classic that needs to keep rolling out year after year. A really nicely designed card and with some cracking players leaving our game (and also some less popular toilers), this set is a great tribute. The values holds nicely in the $12-$20 range and this makes putting the set together quite achievable. My on;y criticism has been the same since day one. The card should go to the club they represented most or were best known at. Sometimes this is difficult but the alternative is having each club logo pictured for a player that had multiple clubs. How Maloney wasn't pictured in a Sharks jersey given he led them to their maiden premiership is beyond me as is having Fensom as a Broncos card, much the same as Berrigan was a Raiders card a few years back.

AUTHENTIC SIGNATURE & AS BRONZE

Why TLA have removed the lower level printed version of these in the fifth year is beyond me. Having three version worked really well, especially from a visual / display perspective. This is another bizarre change for no real reason that leaves collectors scratching their heads. The actual card design is nice, landscape for signature cards is always my preference, leaves plenty of space for the signature. Some of the signatures look a bit ordinary and I am not sure if this is because they were placed straight into packets, poor quality of pens used or the players not taking time. Higher end cards like this should be via redemption only to ensure the card is at least sent to a punter in good condition. A fair point was raised about the redemption card getting damaged and lowering value, maybe once the redemption is sent in it is destroyed and you only receive the signature card back? This would certainly solve that issue. Player selection is a bit poor for a high end card. There are some great choices with Haas, Bateman, Paulo and Maumalo being the pick. Releasing so many signature cards each year is a double edged sword. It is great to get signatures of some players that you wouldn't otherwise get but the options certainly dry up! Dropping the authentic s back to /100 was a good option however having upped them to /170 last year has really killed the value. Collectors only want to pay $100-$120 for most of these which is in line with last tears prices. Even the less popular teams should be $150+ cards.

PREDICTORS

Why oh why can TLA not get this simple concept right? Numbered to /220 (or thereabouts), with only 50 sets (aside from premiers) redeemable despite TLA adverting only 20. My concern is that they will change their minds again and if you are not one of the first 20 registered, you will miss out! Every card should be redeemable and the theme (team photo) should be mixed up each year. My suggestion is knock the odds to 1:3 boxes and leave the premiership predictors unnumbered. Make each card redeemable as either the premiers for standalone or a full set of 16 to get a team per card. Further, introduce a Dally M predictor at 1:6 boxes. Make each card numbered to 50, each team has five candidates put forward with the image being one that actually makes the card collectible if the the player does not win. The winning card should be redeemable for a Dally M signature, a wild card will be needed for this set.

4 & 2

This set is a continuation from 19 Traders with the eight teams who missed last year getting one. A fairly basic concept (top try scorer / goal scorer) and a nice enough looking card that unfortunately holds little value despite being a case hit. Due to the theme the players depicted are generally more high profile and I would imagine that this type of card will continue moving forward but with a different them, much like the Dynamic Duos morphed into the 4 & 2's.

LEGENDS SIGNATURES

Another great set that needs to roll on year after year. It has been said that that the player selection was a bit down but I disagree, Petero is one of the great all times props with premierships and multiple origin / Australian jerseys to his name, a 300 gamer also I believe. 'Napper' Lyons is also a great choice, another 300 gamer, nearly a one club player, origin and national jerseys, premierships and one of those who was so smart with ball in hand, slowed the game down to suit himself, all class. I am undecided as to whether I prefer the players being in their Australian or club strip, both look great. The signatures themselves looked to be okay quality, there have been a few issue which again could be managed with the use of a redemption card...Anyways, great card, great set, please keep this going and make sure there is a Brad Clyde in green for 2021!

CASE CARDS

Great to see the Legends case cards back but numbered to /37, this makes it much harder for the average punter who can only afford this level. Why these were removed last year I have no idea and while the Retirements Parallel CC seems to look okay, I would get rid of them, go back to Legends CC only. Sometimes less is more and some consistency from release to release is good.

SUMMARY

Another very solid release with good value for money. Some great aspects, some that could use a big change up and others areas that could be explored. TLA seem to get better from release to release but to me, communication is very poor and a decent understanding of the hobby. There are many knowledgeable people on this site or in the greater NRL card community who could offer some great advice. I am going with a 7/10 on this one.
Well done again Brendan,
I liked the look of a lot of the cards, you have to be inventive if you want to stay in business, even if we like regular things, we are humans and we all like routines, this is human nature.

As for your summary of the predictors, you are spot, they cannot even follow there own concepts, they just trashed the whole concept of it.
If you make 217 cards of say westtigers and they win, they they should make 217 sets available, no ifs or butts, that is just plain misleading the consumer.

Case cards, spot on, should they all have played for Australia and wear that jersey in the pic.
Debatable, I like that theme, but then they look great in there club jersys, I would imagine Gavin Miller for the sharks being in the sharks jersey than the aus jersey, also there are a lot of legends out there that did not play rep footy for aus.
 

j0hn

OzCardTrader
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Great review, as always. I agree with everything you have said.

A couple of personal variations would be:
- I think that the base set should be 9 players, with logo cards as a low-end insert (whoever decides the numbers of these things obviously hasn't spent years placing cards into album sleeves - they should be in 1, 2, 3 or 9!)
- (in hindsight) Legends should all be internationals and should all have been pictured in national colours with no club logo - therefore not alienating collectors of multi-club players (although I was a beneficiary with Fittler and Coote)
- Retirement parallels I find annoying as the regular retirements have been the only consistent card - perhaps these should be three different versions with each of the three images rotated in front with corresponding logo...?
- So sick of startoons, and numbering more of them is like putting lipstick on a pig. I think the Best & Less concept (cheap packets with a smaller set aimed at kids) should be expanded across a greater range of shops - put the startoons in that release and include a Traders card in every pack as a teaser/advertisement for the main release.

Just my thoughts! As ever, happy to have something to collect - unlike some sports. Thanks Brendan!
 

hobo

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Ross
Well considered and well written as always.

IMO overall another good solid Traders release. I will say I'm not a fan of all the different distributions (with distribution specific cards) it's almost impossible to keep track of them let alone bust all the cards you need even for a PC..

Album cards
Case cards
Hobby
Retail
Starters
Priority
Best & Less
Show cards

Clear starter packs to allow for searching should be stopped and it is simple to stop. I don't know why year on year they wont do anything about it.

It's probably just me but I also cant get my head around how in one subset Pink is the limited numbered card, then changes to Black and then another set where Bronze is the highest but another subset Bronze is the lowest..............

Cheers
Ross
 

ElijahCraigHyde

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Canberra
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Jarrah
Once again a nice compressive review! Agree 7/10 is a suitable rating. Especially agree with what you are saying about the top end components of the release:

In particular with the retirement cards - quite a fascinating concept and I think it's been mentioned many times before the blunder with these was TLA making them 1:9 pack hit ratios in 2013 (I honestly thought why aren't these a beyond box hit back then) before making them the 1:72 pack hit ratio from 2014 onward.

Bottom line is some collectors have taken advantage of the devaluation of this initial $50 card back in 2014 - therefore collecting many duplicate copies of the realistic $12-20 value which can well be rescuing the devaluation of this sub series somewhat???!!!
 

Jimmy79

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Love it great review -

I would just add something on card dimensions. I keep getting cards that are either to short and move around a lot in one touch or don’t fit in at all....

other than that this years cards are great
 

troy titans douglas

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gold coast, QLD
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With many in self isolation or working from home, I thought I would do this years Traders review a touch early. I haven't gone that hard this year so I haven't held many of the higher end cards in hand but here goes!

As always, feel free to like, dislike and add constructive advice.

OVERVIEW

As we have become accustomed to, Traders is a 36 packet box, 12 box per case release. At $4 per packet, that price provides a reasonable value for money with the hits available. This year has seen a significant change up with the addition of Priority Boxes and Hobby Starter Packs. I will review these separately. The packets and boxes are a nice clean design. The quality control seems to be quite good this year, previous Traders releases I have had to send back several damage cards but not one this time. I think TLA's biggest issues are there lack of communication with the end consumer and their want to dump all stock on the market, which significantly lowers the ongoing and secondary market values. Why pay $130 a box now when I know that in 4-6 months time, I will pick up boxes for nearly half that. The collation seems a bit off this year as I have seen single boxes with a Legend, Predictor and an SAS Authentic. Great box if you hit one but really makes the chances of a 'dud' box increase.

PRIORITY BOXES

When I first learnt of these, I was very skeptical and thought this is just a massive cash grab. The way they were marketed as being available to the collector and then being bought out by the dealers was very poorly done by TLA, another example of how poor their communication can be. Personally, I was happy for these to be a dealer only product to help drive sales for regular Traders up. I am led to believe there was very little mark up, if any for a dealer to sell a sealed Priority Box so I was grateful to get one to open. I still believe this was an easy cash grab for TLA but the extras in the product are quite nice with the bronze parallel street arts (/30) and parallel club heroes (/15) proving very popular and hard to come by (unless you collect Titans, Warriors, Dogs or Penrith). While it doesn't seem to be advertised, the parallel version above replace the regular club hero and black street art. This isn't a big deal but should be mentioned to the buyer. Overall I think the Priority Boxes have been a great addition and would be happy to see them become a prominent feature as long as TLA don't see $$ signs like they have with starter packs and increase the run past 40 cases.

STARTER PACKS

Extremely popular and with good reason. Great value, chances of a numbered hit separate from the packets and plenty of decent hits coming from the packets. I will review the bonus cards for the hobby and retail separately but first things first, fix the packaging! Select have adopted the starter / value pack and have a tab on the back to make opening the packet much easier, this is something TLA need to do. Secondly, make the retail starter packet plastic frosted so the bonus card can't been seen. The pilfering of the starter packs to get numbered hits is ridiculous and just promotes greed. It also drives down the secondary market significantly when a collector has 30+ blacks and 30+ for sale at once.

FOLDERS

20 Traders folders are very generic and without the year being branded on them, it allows TLA to use left over folders from release to release. I think the year should be branded and the design, or at color should change each year. I did like the way Select mixed their folders up in design and the quality of Select folders seems to be a bit better. At $25, with a bonus card, the value is okay. I don't mind the bonus card (Magic Round Parallel) this year, quite a good looking card.

BASE SET

This years base set is very plain and quite similar to 2014 Traders. I say this year after year, but why ten cards per team set? Let's do 9 with the logo / checklist being in the middle of the page. My preference would be to have different players in both Traders and Elite.

PARALLEL SPECIAL

This set is a really nice contrast to the base set and certainly one of the nicer Traders parallel sets produced. I note the club logo parallel specials are not 1:36 packets this year, why does this have to change year to year, it makes no sense.

REP STARS

A bit of a change up from previous years with all levels of rep being in the one set. For a low end set it is fine, very plain but that is to be expected. There is no real value in these with most rep starts already selling for 50c each. Good to see the IAS and MAS added in for some variety.

SEASON TO REMEMBER

This is a very tired set. The theme is fine although I am sure with a bit of research they could choose much better moments. The actual card design is very bright and shiny and I don't mind the puzzle on the back of the card as it adds something extra. This is probably the set that is easy to roll over although I personally would like to see a Milestone set each Traders release for those hitting 150 games and above.

MAGIC ROUND

Not a bad set despite there being Magic Round cards available from the actual event. The design is nice enough with the black background making the player really standout. Player selection seems okay and the stats on the back from the game are cool. I have found that many of the Magic Round cards I have pulled have had corner damage which is very obvious due to the black background and finish.

MAGIC ROUND PARALLEL (ALBUM CARD)

Not much to say here that I haven't mentioned above, Not a bad variant with the white back ground, pretty good addition overall.

STARTOONS CLEAR & COLOURED

I will review all startoons here. This is a very tired theme, surely this is the last release for them? I get the attraction for younger kids and the clear ST actually fell really good in hand. The starter pack variants are okay and having the yellow ST numbered to /150 certainly added a level of interest. Nice enough looking card, just a bit tired I feel.

LEAGUE LEADERS BRONZE / SILVER & GOLD

Certainly a very different addition to the hobby starter packs this year. The cards themselves are nice in hand, a different them and the gold edition being numbered to /100 is great. The actual player / team selection is a bit off with on;y five teams covering the 9 card set. The stats seem a bit out compared to the NRL site also but maybe it is because the stats were taken from the end of the regular season. In any event, I think that there should have been nine categories with the top player being gold, second being silver and third being bronze, not three levels per player. See below as an example;

Points Scored
Mitchell - gold
Croker - silver
Smith - Bronze

Already you have two additional teams represented. You could add tries, goals, line breaks, PCM, try assists, offloads, tackles and all run meters

STREET ART WHITE / BLACK & BRONZE

Great addition. A completely different theme and they looking really good. I like the matte finish and the style of the card in landscape is also very effective. Having different levels is often met with criticism, and I can see why but in this case I think it works. I actually think the bronze variant should have been the standard box hit with the black being the numbered (priority) variant. None the less, a great inclusion, good player selection but not one that can be repeated.

CLUB HERO

This was another very tired concept but has been rejuvenated very successfully. The cards look great in hand, love the landscape style and design and they are a great box hit. The Priority parallel version also look great in hand and being numbered to /15 are very popular. Really well done is this set.

RETIREMENTS

A classic that needs to keep rolling out year after year. A really nicely designed card and with some cracking players leaving our game (and also some less popular toilers), this set is a great tribute. The values holds nicely in the $12-$20 range and this makes putting the set together quite achievable. My on;y criticism has been the same since day one. The card should go to the club they represented most or were best known at. Sometimes this is difficult but the alternative is having each club logo pictured for a player that had multiple clubs. How Maloney wasn't pictured in a Sharks jersey given he led them to their maiden premiership is beyond me as is having Fensom as a Broncos card, much the same as Berrigan was a Raiders card a few years back.

AUTHENTIC SIGNATURE & AS BRONZE

Why TLA have removed the lower level printed version of these in the fifth year is beyond me. Having three version worked really well, especially from a visual / display perspective. This is another bizarre change for no real reason that leaves collectors scratching their heads. The actual card design is nice, landscape for signature cards is always my preference, leaves plenty of space for the signature. Some of the signatures look a bit ordinary and I am not sure if this is because they were placed straight into packets, poor quality of pens used or the players not taking time. Higher end cards like this should be via redemption only to ensure the card is at least sent to a punter in good condition. A fair point was raised about the redemption card getting damaged and lowering value, maybe once the redemption is sent in it is destroyed and you only receive the signature card back? This would certainly solve that issue. Player selection is a bit poor for a high end card. There are some great choices with Haas, Bateman, Paulo and Maumalo being the pick. Releasing so many signature cards each year is a double edged sword. It is great to get signatures of some players that you wouldn't otherwise get but the options certainly dry up! Dropping the authentic s back to /100 was a good option however having upped them to /170 last year has really killed the value. Collectors only want to pay $100-$120 for most of these which is in line with last tears prices. Even the less popular teams should be $150+ cards.

PREDICTORS

Why oh why can TLA not get this simple concept right? Numbered to /220 (or thereabouts), with only 50 sets (aside from premiers) redeemable despite TLA adverting only 20. My concern is that they will change their minds again and if you are not one of the first 20 registered, you will miss out! Every card should be redeemable and the theme (team photo) should be mixed up each year. My suggestion is knock the odds to 1:3 boxes and leave the premiership predictors unnumbered. Make each card redeemable as either the premiers for standalone or a full set of 16 to get a team per card. Further, introduce a Dally M predictor at 1:6 boxes. Make each card numbered to 50, each team has five candidates put forward with the image being one that actually makes the card collectible if the the player does not win. The winning card should be redeemable for a Dally M signature, a wild card will be needed for this set.

4 & 2

This set is a continuation from 19 Traders with the eight teams who missed last year getting one. A fairly basic concept (top try scorer / goal scorer) and a nice enough looking card that unfortunately holds little value despite being a case hit. Due to the theme the players depicted are generally more high profile and I would imagine that this type of card will continue moving forward but with a different them, much like the Dynamic Duos morphed into the 4 & 2's.

LEGENDS SIGNATURES

Another great set that needs to roll on year after year. It has been said that that the player selection was a bit down but I disagree, Petero is one of the great all times props with premierships and multiple origin / Australian jerseys to his name, a 300 gamer also I believe. 'Napper' Lyons is also a great choice, another 300 gamer, nearly a one club player, origin and national jerseys, premierships and one of those who was so smart with ball in hand, slowed the game down to suit himself, all class. I am undecided as to whether I prefer the players being in their Australian or club strip, both look great. The signatures themselves looked to be okay quality, there have been a few issue which again could be managed with the use of a redemption card...Anyways, great card, great set, please keep this going and make sure there is a Brad Clyde in green for 2021!

CASE CARDS

Great to see the Legends case cards back but numbered to /37, this makes it much harder for the average punter who can only afford this level. Why these were removed last year I have no idea and while the Retirements Parallel CC seems to look okay, I would get rid of them, go back to Legends CC only. Sometimes less is more and some consistency from release to release is good.

SUMMARY

Another very solid release with good value for money. Some great aspects, some that could use a big change up and others areas that could be explored. TLA seem to get better from release to release but to me, communication is very poor and a decent understanding of the hobby. There are many knowledgeable people on this site or in the greater NRL card community who could offer some great advice. I am going with a 7/10 on this one.
love your reviews mate. As I’ve been fading in and out of card collecting the last two years due to too many cards to keep up with. It would be handy to see someone take on the pricing guides/master checklists that used to float around especially with TLA adding cards that aren’t on the checklists over the past few years
 

Brendan_B

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love your reviews mate. As I’ve been fading in and out of card collecting the last two years due to too many cards to keep up with. It would be handy to see someone take on the pricing guides/master checklists that used to float around especially with TLA adding cards that aren’t on the checklists over the past few years
Thanks mate. This was one of the biggest detriments when Owen fell out of the hobby. I know he burnt a few people but he had the ASCC running and this would have been a great thing to continue as both a resource and price guide.
 

saintsforever

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Thanks mate. This was one of the biggest detriments when Owen fell out of the hobby. I know he burnt a few people but he had the ASCC running and this would have been a great thing to continue as both a resource and price guide.
only thing with a price guide is there are so many cards, it really does make it so hard to put an individual price on esp/tla cards.
With a common set selling at around 5 -8.,how do you value an individual card.
Then you have everyone on the internet /facebook, selling off minor inserts or giving them away to get business, ie a 2018 pink startoon should be around 35 - 50 depending on numbers, but they are selling for around 25 plus post.
Have a look at a 1963 set, 30yrs ago, a nr/m set was worth approx. 30 k.
Now, if you found a set and they are about, you are pressed to even get 12k, that's just the way the market is.
The more cards you produce the less there worth.
I have been collecting cards for 50 yrs, and I can say quiet a few cards from dynamic are worth more than esp/tla at this present time.
It is going to take a long time for present cards to increase.
 

Brendan_B

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only thing with a price guide is there are so many cards, it really does make it so hard to put an individual price on esp/tla cards.
With a common set selling at around 5 -8.,how do you value an individual card.
Then you have everyone on the internet /facebook, selling off minor inserts or giving them away to get business, ie a 2018 pink startoon should be around 35 - 50 depending on numbers, but they are selling for around 25 plus post.
Have a look at a 1963 set, 30yrs ago, a nr/m set was worth approx. 30 k.
Now, if you found a set and they are about, you are pressed to even get 12k, that's just the way the market is.
The more cards you produce the less there worth.
I have been collecting cards for 50 yrs, and I can say quiet a few cards from dynamic are worth more than esp/tla at this present time.
It is going to take a long time for present cards to increase.
It is not easy but there was a significant amount of research put into the ASCC. This included eBay listings that had sold, both auction and BIN, condition (prices were for M / NM), production runs, teams and their popularity and several other factors. Of course it was by no means perfect, a card is really only worth what someone is willing to pay.

The thing to consider with a pink or black (numbered ST) is that even though they are limited individually (/100), there are 1800 in the run and as we know, only available in starters. The odds for a pink ST were about 1 per mini case or 1:54 packets. The blacks this year are about 1:12/13 starters.

Not really rare cards when you think how easy they are to hit and as starters are popular and sell out, most see the light of day.

Look at 13 Traders YG’s. Not individually numbered, I believe around /260 each. Some great players but due to that release bring a bit of a flop, not as many hit the secondary market. Even less popular teams for this set start at $100 and go up to $200 for a Teddy
 

saintsforever

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It is not easy but there was a significant amount of research put into the ASCC. This included eBay listings that had sold, both auction and BIN, condition (prices were for M / NM), production runs, teams and their popularity and several other factors. Of course it was by no means perfect, a card is really only worth what someone is willing to pay.

The thing to consider with a pink or black (numbered ST) is that even though they are limited individually (/100), there are 1800 in the run and as we know, only available in starters. The odds for a pink ST were about 1 per mini case or 1:54 packets. The blacks this year are about 1:12/13 starters.

Not really rare cards when you think how easy they are to hit and as starters are popular and sell out, most see the light of day.

Look at 13 Traders YG’s. Not individually numbered, I believe around /260 each. Some great players but due to that release bring a bit of a flop, not as many hit the secondary market. Even less popular teams for this set start at $100 and go up to $200 for a Teddy
Brendan, you hit every nail on the head in 1 sentence,
every card is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it,
whether it be an early cains, morrows, allens, scanlens or young gun black.
 

troy titans douglas

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I guess this is part of the problem with cards in 2020. Collectors that have been around a while as wel as master set collectors, want to see individual cards maintain value while so many people have turned to team collecting as there’s just to many cards to keep up with.
even as a team collector it’s starting to cost me to much many and with hobby box cards, show card exclusives, best and less cards there’s too much to keep up with year to year that’s on checklists.
I can get lazy for 1-2 card releases and all of a sudden I’m struggling to know what’s even out there to collect
 

saintsforever

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I guess this is part of the problem with cards in 2020. Collectors that have been around a while as wel as master set collectors, want to see individual cards maintain value while so many people have turned to team collecting as there’s just to many cards to keep up with.
even as a team collector it’s starting to cost me to much many and with hobby box cards, show card exclusives, best and less cards there’s too much to keep up with year to year that’s on checklists.
I can get lazy for 1-2 card releases and all of a sudden I’m struggling to know what’s even out there to collect
that's why I have stopped.
 
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