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Six Odd MTG Moneymakers


Most of MTG finance is focused on the cards, which makes complete sense given that it's a card game after all. At the same time, the cards themselves are far from the only MTG products that have value. One of the amazing things I've learned about the MTG community over the years is that you can usually find someone to buy just about anything. This includes everything from packaging that was obviously intended to be disposed of, to cards without art or text. If it came from Wizards at one time or another, it's probably collected by someone.

Today we are going to be talking about a six Magic items that you probably didn't realize have value. These are items that you might currently be throwing away, shipping out as bulk, or generally ignoring when you could be listing them on eBay and making a few extra dollars. Most of these items are not particularly rare which might be part of the reason that we (wrongly) think of them as valueless. Anyway, without further ado, let's move on to the list.

1. Empty Fatpack Boxes

Fatpacks

It isn't surprising that sealed fat packs from older sets are worth money (although you might be surprised to learn they often increase in value much faster than sealed booster boxes). I mean, a sealed fat pack contains actual Magic cards, maybe even valuable Magic cards, but did you know that empty fat pack boxes actually maintain some value? I assume this is because they have sweet art, are good for storage, and there is probably someone out there who collects them. 

The first fat packs came out with the release of Mercadian Masques, but it wasn't until the 9th Edition core set that the boxes themselves took on their current collectable form. This means the first expert level expansion with fat pack boxes was the original Ravnica. From Ravnica until Shadowmoor, fat packs actually came in three boxes: a disposable outer box and two regular fat pack boxes which formed a panorama when sitting next to each other. So if you decide to sell some boxes from this era, make sure to go the B.F.M. route and list them as "left" or "right." 

As far as value, most fat packs sell on eBay for somewhere between $5 and $10, with newer sets often being on the lower side and (some) older sets on the higher side. While it doesn't seem to increase the price very much, empty fat packs that have the inserts, spindown, and other extras typically sell faster, although there are plenty of completed listings in the $10 range for just the box. 

If you just want a ton of fat packs, you can often find lots on eBay containing multiple (12, 20, 50) empty fat packs for as little as $1 or $2 each. As odd as it sounds, you might be able to make a profit buying these lots and reselling the boxes individually; almost like you would with a collection of cards. I've never tried it personally because it seems like a lot of work and a significant time commitment.

The point is, don't just toss your empty fat packs! While they are not super expensive, they do have value and there is a market for them. There's no reason to put them in your recycling when you could make a few dollars. 

2. Empty Booster Packs

Empty Booster Packs

Have you been thinking about dropping two grand on a sealed Revised booster box to see if you can open some pack fresh dual lands? Well, if you decide to take the plunge, open your boosters carefully because there is a chance the wrapping is worth more than what's in the pack (assuming you don't get lucky and hit an Underground Sea of course). Hopefully this is because people collect the empty wrappers and not something more nefarious like attempting to reseal the packs full of Craw Wurms and sell them again. 

Speaking of nefarious uses of booster wrappers, the rumor going around Twitter is that the new recyclable Modern Masters 2015 wrappers can actually be opened and then resealed with the use of a heat gun. If this is true, it means someone could open a pack, pull out a Tarmogoyf, replace it with a Comet Storm, and sell it again to an unsuspecting buyer. While I fully support Wizard's new eco-friendly packaging, this has potential to undermind the confidence in the secondary market. Personally I'd be very wary of buying loose booster packs from anyone but a respected LGS or vendor.

Now, I should make it clear, your freshly cracked Dragons of Tarkir wrappers are basically worthless. For an empty booster pack to have value, it needs to be old — very, very old. Here's a quick price guide to empty boosters, based on completed eBay listings. 

Empty Booster Prices
Set Price
Alpha $95
Beta ??? (Couldn't find any, probably close to Alpha)
Unlimited $20
Revised $3
Arabian Nights $20
Antiquities $5
Legends $4
Portal Three Kingdoms $2
Summer Magic $200

3. Vintage Binders

From Mirage through Planeshift, every new MTG set release was celebrated with the release of a new three ring binder featuring the artwork from the set. While I have no idea how many of these were produced, they can't be super rare because I come across them in collections I buy every now and then. Some of these binders are pretty cool looking. Who (except for that one dude with a mullet on youtube) doesn't love mid-1990's MTG art? Plus some of them are actually fairly valuable.

Generally speaking, the floor for any of these binders is $20 — regardless of which binder you have, it should be worth at least this much. At the same time, some of members of this group are actually worth significantly more. Instead of doing a boring old chart this time, let's do a visual price guide to the most valuable of these binders.

"Standard" (no set) - Retail Price: $80 

Mirage - Retail Price: $80

Mercadian Masques - Retail Price: $70

Ice Age/Alliances - Retail Price: $45

Nemesis - Retail Price $45

Urza's Saga - Retail Price: $45

Invasion- Retail Price: $40

Tempest - Retail Price: $40

 

These are all of the binders with a retail price of $40 or more; everything else on the list comes in between $20 and $35. I really haven't found any rhyme or reason for why some binders are worth two, three, or four times more than others. It doesn't seem to be their age, as there are big price differences even within the same block. For instance, Mirage retails for $80 while Visions is only $25, and Weatherlight is $35. It might simply be that some art is more in-demand than others. 

Personally I've acquired a decent stockpile of these vintage binders just from buying collections. I've never made a serious attempt to sell any of them because I like them, but it's nice to know that they do have value if I ever decide to cash them out.

4. Booster Box Repacks

Avacyn Restored Repack

As I'm sure most of you know I'm the expected value guy. Every time a new set comes out I like to figure out just how much value you can expect to pull from a booster box. So for me, realizing that the leftovers can actually be worth significantly more than bulk rates was an important revelation. I'm still shocked that people actually buy all the bulk commons, uncommons, and rares left over after someone else pulls out all the value. My guess would be these repacks offer an avenue for budget drafting. Since they are set up like a normal pack (10 commons, 3 uncommons, 1 rare/mythic), the draft environment really doesn't change much. Sure, no one in your pod is going to open a Dragonlord Ojutai or Collected Company, but it's not like this really destroys the fun of limited. 

On average, these repacks sell on eBay for between $30 and $35 regardless of the set, which allows the buyer to draft for one-third of the normal price. What this does for the seller is greatly improve the EV of a box. Take Fate Reforged for instance: When the set was released, you could expect to open $90 in value from a sealed box, but this calculation doesn't really include all the bulk cards that are close to valueless. The ability to sell these cards for a decent price ($30) instead of as bulk commons and uncommons (where the box leftovers might be worth $2.50) means that instead of expecting to open $90 in value from a FRF box, you'd expect to open $120 — the difference between a slight loss and a slight profit. 

5. Blank Cards from World Championship Decks

Blank Card from World Championship Decks

The World Championship Decks produced between 1997 and 2004 are an odd product in general. Part of your reward for placing well at Worlds during this time period was to have your deck printed, along with three others, as a not tournament legal, gold bordered theme deck with your signature across the front of all the cards. Over the years the most powerful and playable of these cards have increased in value thanks to their availability as cheap proxies for cubes and casual play. Here's a quick list of some of the most valuable World Championship Deck Printings.

World Championship Decks
Gaea's Cradle $27
Vampiric Tutor $20
Sylvan Library $17
Entomb $12
Misdirection $12
Windswept Heath $11
Grindstone $11
Flooded Strand $10
Genesis $9
Energy Field $8
Volrath's Stronghold $8
Goblin Piledriver $8
Land Tax $8
Bloodstained Mire $7
Yawgmoth's Will $7
Spiritmonger $6
Survival of the Fittest $6
Mirari's Wake $5
Kjeldoran Outpost $5
Glimmervoid $5
Academy Rector $5
Chrome Mmox $5
Archbound Ravager $5
Wasteland $5

Although the entire series of decks was strange, by far the strangest part of these decks was that each contained 12 blank proxy cards. The original idea was to allow people to customize their World Championship Decks (WCD) since the back of the WCD cards were different, not only from other Magic cards, but even from other WCDs. Whoever designed these blank cards was even nice enough to divide up the front of the box so you know where to sharpie the art and where to sharpie the text. Brilliant, really.

What people want these cards for today I have no idea. Most people use sleeves and there are far more fashionable ways to make a proxy. Maybe there is some nostalgia at play? Regardless of the reason, these cards sell consistently for about $0.50 a piece on eBay in lots of four or five. For some reason I've always pulled World Championship cards out of the collections I buy, so excuse me while I go dig through my box and list these oddities for sale. 

6. Blank Foils

Blank Foils

This one has potential to be quite profitable if you are willing to put a little bit of time into learning how to remove the artwork from regular foil cards. I'd love to give you step-by-step directions, but I've never actually done it before so if you're interested, check out this Reddit post for more details. Apparently it isn't that difficult and doesn't require any expensive special tools. Once you get the process down, you basically have a license to print money.

On eBay you can buy bulk foils by the 100 for around $0.20 each. Since buylists only pay between $0.05 and $0.10, you might be able to get them even cheaper if you put some effort into it. Once the artwork is removed, the value of these cards increases exponentially with lots of 100 selling for $1 each, and smaller four card lots selling for $10 to $12. People buy them fairly regularly because they are used for making everything from foil proxies to custom-art tokens. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. These six items are far from the only odd MTG products that have value. Someday I hope to have an article about MTG accessories and oddities, but unfortunately piecing together this information is hard. Unlike cards, there isn't any central source of information for things like Return to Ravnica wall clocks or MTG flashdrive bracelets. Instead, you have to type "MTG" and then a random word (like "bracelet" or "clock) into Google or eBay and see what (if anything) pops up, often while digging through a ton of listings for Unwinding Clock and Illusionist's Bracers. Maybe some day.

As always, leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments or you can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 


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