Comic Store In Your Future: How Crazy Will 2023 Be For Collectibles?
Comic Store In Your Future is back. How crazy will the collectibles market be for 2023? Hopefully, not very crazy. How did 2022 end for us? Not bad.
Comic Store In Your Future is back. How crazy will the collectibles market be for 2023? Hopefully, not very crazy. How did 2022 end for us? Not bad. The first thing we did in 2023 was to count the inventory. Doing so confirmed what I already knew, Magic the Gathering is pushing out too much product too quickly. Often quicker than we can sell it. Magic is also making too many changes for their players to keep up with. In the future, Wizards of the Coast (the makers of Magic the Gathering) will release a "micro-set" called War of the Machines the Aftermath. The boosters from this set will have just five cards in a pack instead of the usual fifteen. Making this a set that players will not be able to draft. The main concern over this set so far is the cost. Many Magic players are wondering why, with ten fewer cards, the price per pack for this set is not a lot lower.
On January 13th, the latest set came out, Dominaria Remastered. Selling great here in the store. Just one problem, on February 3rd, the "prerelease" for the next set comes out, which is called Phrexia: All Will Be One. Magic players are human. When a new set comes out, that is what they will buy, leaving the last set alone.
Last year's Brothers' War prerelease made it like a regular release day, where one could buy everything. Prereleases have prerelease kits. Before then. one could only buy a box of cards of the latest set. Years ago, one could only buy prelease kits the week before the regular release date, when all products for the set would come out. Prerelease gaming playing numbers for Magic is still down from before COVID hit. Why even have a prerelease if people can just buy packs and single cards on the same day? Players often played in prereleases just to get the cards earlier. The Brothers' War prerelease had unsold prerelease kits left over. The change Wizards Of The Coast made for the prerelease made for far less demand.
Wizards of the Coast releases Secret Lairs directly to customers, cards that have already been released with new art. How much would a Magic collector or fan have spent in just 2022 if they had bought all of the Secret Lair sets released? Over five thousand dollars in one year. That is a lot of money and reprinting of cards, money that skips stores that host games for them and sells their product.
It is easier to reprint a card than to come up with a new card that Magic players and collectors will want. With so many Magic products coming out, there are a ton of reprints. Cards from December's Jumpstart 2022 had some reprinted cards that were reprinted again in this month's Dominaria Remastered. Magic for prize support reprints cards with the planeswalker symbol stamped on them in what they call promo packs. The promo packs here in the store; no one wants; the players would rather have regular boosters from the set as prize support.
Magic also reprints cards that they put into their "set" boosters which are different than draft boosters which are also not included in their "collector" boosters.
Hasbro, who owns Wizards of the Coast, has made a ton of money over the years. So, what do they do? They got cheaper. Gone are the days of cool stands of the Magic characters being sent to stores to promote the upcoming Magic set. A poster is now sent instead.
A bigger letdown is Wizards of the Coast used to send to stores for free to get new players into the game playable half packs. Here these were popular to give out and did get truly new players into the game. Wizards did away with that and have been going with "Welcome" packs. They are the exact same pack every pack; there is no way a person can play the game off one or a dozen of these packs. I have had zero new players ask for any of these packs. I have given them away in gift bags from the store, and no one has opened a pack and wanted to get into Magic. Wizards wants new players, then puts out products that new players will not want. Last year's release of Commander Decks aimed at new players were weaker decks than what Wizards had put out before. Watered-down decks were not a hit, to say the least—more unsold Magic product.
We have more success of getting new players in with premade decks that I make up from sets with common and uncommon cards. They are fully playable decks that people can buy for $6.00 to get a feel of the game. They have no instructions though one can look them up online. Imagine if Wizards of the Coast did something like this, they could even include printable directions for the game and promote it. Welcome packs should just be done away with; they are falling way short of the number of people that intro half-decks got into the game.
We are cutting our Magic orders down in 2023. Other store owners are saying they also are doing so. A supplier for big chain stores has been telling me they have seen a dip in sales. What we will find out this year is if Magic as a whole is down or not, meaning will Hasbro see a drop in Magic sales, or has it grown enough that a drop for others in sales does not hurt them?
Comics sales for 2023 have been chaotic so far. Thankfully the last few months of DC Comics released in 2022 are returnable this year. Make no mistake; I am grateful for that. DC started putting out more open-to-order variant covers than they had in the past towards the end of last year. This has created big swings in sales. We might have a title come out by DC and sell out of it on release day when the previous issue did not sell out. I have people who may pick up a comic due to the cover, whether the artist or simply because they find it cool enough to purchase. We have had walk-in customers upset that we sold out so quickly, and they will need to wait a week for the re-order.
This also makes me chuckle; no one other than me seems to care if something does not sell out. Some people buy multiple copies of the same issue because they enjoy all the covers. Some covers have the opposite effect and turn people off from buying. Selling comics is what I do. I am also guessing a lot more about what to order. Sometimes an upcoming comic cover will simply say something like "Image coming soon" instead of an actual cover image. Art is subjective; what I think is a bad or cool cover may not be what others think. I would like to see the various comic publishers simply put out one cover they think would be the best per title. So many different covers can be a barrier for new people. People buying comics often get confused about whether they have a particular comic due to the different covers.
I would like to see less of this in 2023.
If there is only one item in a box shipped to the store, odds are it could easily wait until there is more material to go with it. I ordered calendars last year, and one of them came in a box the size of the one shown above.
One of the improvements for us over 2022 so far was our podcast being better than the previous one from last year, according to the feedback. It also went much better for us on our end. We will take some of our customers' feedback and use it in next week's podcast. One simple step is moving it up from 7 to 6. Rrrrrrod Casts will be weekly at six on Thursdays. We hope to keep learning and improving. I did have a funny moment when I was asked to open and thumb through the pages to show the interior artwork for Gunhoney. I was trying to be fast and make sure I did not show a page that Facebook would frown upon on camera, and for a second, I thought I accidentally did. They were just exercising.
How will Free Comic Book Day go this year? We already had to order them, so hopefully, well. It still seems like nothing new is planned for Free Comic Book Day. After all these years, it still is the same thing. I wish a publisher would at least try something different. A coupon in a Free Comic Book Day comic, saying bring this back for the follow-up issue or something.
How will business go this year? We want it to go well. The podcast we are doing is another way of selling comics. Marvel, the biggest deal for us is that Alex Ross is coming back and doing Timeless covers again; this time, instead of featuring heroes, they will feature the villains. Alex Ross's Venom cover looks amazing. Marvel's upcoming storylines? Not too much hype currently.
DC barely finished their comic event Dark Crisis On Infinite Earths before starting up their newest one, Lazarus Planet. Dark Crisis surprised me and finished out strong sales-wise for us. Lazarus Planet just started; hoping it gets some momentum; if not, we over-ordered.
Hoping this year that Magic the Gathering slows down product releases so they do not milk out their golden cow to death. Same with the comic industry. A narrower focus on comics that would sell more and stand out in a less crowded marketplace would be great.
2023 will hopefully be the year that brings stability and good fortune to all.