Quite a few months ago I wrote an article to the effect of retail possibly being better than hobby. I also busted a case of 2008 Mayo Retail that I was extremely happy with. I pulled a Forte auto, Ocho Cinco auto, Sterling Sharpe auto and a Desean Jackson auto. No scrubbery to be had. Since then I have finished the Mayo Mini Set. 330 cards, 1 per pack plus Sp's? Stop it!. That was a hard set to complete. Speaking of set completion I am now 1 card, Ocho Cinco from completing a second set of Masterpieces Football Patches.
Although Topps and the like make a bunch of money on retail; $3 a pack for 10 basecards Yup, in my opinion sales weren't all that peachy. I saw thousands of severly marked down packs. Back in 2009 ish Topps then started to pull a switcheroo. They came out with multiple versions of Topps base exclusive to Walmart and Target.
Since then Topps has been up to some glorious Chrome Shenanigans. They include Orange refractors that appear to be exclusive to value packs at walmart, and retail only purple refractors. Topps did this in 2010 Bowman as well. From the breaks I have seen, the refractors are easy enough to get or are at least not much more difficult than hobby. The main difference being that the autos are inserted at a much lower rate, I think. It seems that you get 1 auto for every $100 or so bucks in retail value packs. This is where the irony comes in...No one cares. In the days where M..Mo..Moj....I just can't say it. Anyway, in a day where hits are king, collectors are caring less and less.
I mean if I go buy 5 boxes of Topps Chrome Hobby, my chances of pulling an auto that is worth pulling is low and I have spent $300 on it. Meanwhile I can spend $100-$200 on some value packs and come up with big name rookies is limited pull form. Orange refractor Tebow (beautiful cards by the way? Purple refractor Bradford. Yes please. That aren't available in Hobby. Additionally, Chrome is a high quality card. Every year the cards seem to look better and better.
The net result is that the quality of retail, as a result of making it more appealing, may in fact be killing hobby prices in some releases. We chase hits so much now that Topps and Panini have watered them down to a point that they are worthless. Back to Mayo where hits are seeded 1 auto or two jersey per box retail or 2-3 hits per box hobby box. In a release that is set builder centered, it simply becomes too expensive to buy hobby. Mayo 08 hobby is still $100 a box for some unknown reason although the on card autos are sweet.
At this point I am thinking of seeing if I can find cases of the value packs....of course with the dive that Hobby Baseball took sub $500 a case all day long and the drop in FB cases too for, in my opinion, the reasons I have stated above, Hobby might be the right choice.