Up until 2 years ago retail boxes were a dog. 2 or 3 bucks a pack to get base cards when you could get a hobby box for much less than that and have a shot at pulling something decent.
These days retail seems to be the way to go in many instances. I busted a case of Topps mayo some months back. I ended up with a bit less than what i would have gotten with hobby. I missed out of 4 autos and 4 jerseys and one of those relic card things. I also didn't get a printing plate or red ink autos. Is that really a big deal? My autos were great. Forte, Ocho with a side of Cinco, Sharpe and Desean Jackson. Really? On top of that I saved myself $400 on the case. That was a no brainer.
I am in no way saying that retail is the way to go in every case. Some retail is still awful. For example, my beloved Masterpieces is dreadful at retail 1 or two parallels and a jersey card. Even now they sell for $15-$20 and you have no shot at an auto. Whereas the hobby has an auto, a jersey, a mess of parallels and a shot at a patch auto. Those badboys do very well on the bay. Hobby boxes go for $40 max on ebay and can usually be had for much less. Thus the differential is not that much and you get much more.
This only works when Hobby boxes stay at release prices i.e. 2008 mayo at $100 (Not worth it) and when Retail can be had for quite a bit off MSRP($40). The question is: How can you indentify a product that this works for?
A few indicators and questions I have come up with include: 1. Was there a production cut? Mayo and Murad both had this. 2. What is the difference between retail and hobby? 3. Can autos be found somewhat regularly in retail? 4. Is there any difference in the parallel pull rate between retail and hobby? 5. What's the price difference?
Back to 2008 Mayo. Apparently there was a huge production cut of this. Why does that make a difference? Unless Topps doubled the hit rate in Hobby, those hits have to go somewhere. In Mayo's case people were pulling plates, autos, numbered parallels and even red inks from Blasters for Pete's sake.
Second, there is little if any difference between retail and hobby. The hit rate is the only major difference I have seen and all the hits are available to my knowledge. Third, autos were available 1 in every 2 boxes in the case I busted. Fourth, The parallel rate as far as Yale, harvard and Penn were just a bit less. I pulled quite a few Y and P and even a /5 mini. Fifth, as discussed above the price difference is huge. If there was only $10-$20 in difference I probably would have gone for hobby as 4 autos and possibly a red ink would have easily been worth the $80-$150 in difference.
Topps Chrome seems to be the other right now. Plenty of hits, half the rate of insertion in my observation. No realistic shot at the 1 per hobby case patch auto but that can be scrubtastic and worthless. The kicker is that Chrome has a ton of refractors in retail and the pull rate is high. In many cases the refractors are more valuable than autos. your chances of pulling a Harvin xfractor, not available in hobby that I know of, is way higher than pulling a Harvin auto in Hobby.
The best example of crap retail is probably Topps base. Nothing but miles and miles of base in those boxes. Parallel pull rate is slim and Hobby boxes sell for a few dollars more than retail. Given the hit rate in hobby, Hobby is the way to go.
By the way. Stated insertion odds mean nothing. Those were done with anticipated production runs in mind. Here is the T-206 experience over at a cardboard problem.