Box Breaking, a Hobby Heavyweight interview…

Modern collecting has become directly linked to the online/social media world. There was a time when yesterday’s announcement about Panini inking a deal with the MLBPA would have come to the collectors through print media such as Beckett and Tuff Stuff. Today collectors can hop on blogs, Twitter and message boards for news and reviews. If they want to check out the newest cards and see what the latest release is all about they can hop on youtube and check out video box breaks. If you are like me the first stop when checking out video breaks is the Cards Infinity channel.

The channel run by Chris Justice is in my opinion the best place to check out breaks and easily the most epic. He has too many videos to count with over 17 million views and more than 13,000 subscribers.

Chris runs a shop in North Carolina called The Hobby Box and an online store called http://www.cardsinfinity.com. Many folks that buy boxes ask him to bust the box on video that he then uploads for all to enjoy.

I sent Chris an e-mail a few weeks ago and he was gracious enough to take the time to answer some questions. Having watched hundereds of his videos it was crazy hearing his voice on the other end of the phone. I was half hoping to hear the familiar “I am in a break hit me back…” when I called.

Here is what the man had to say.

K: Tell us about when you first got into collecting?

Chris: I got into collecting in 1987. I then stopped around 1992. I then got back into cards in 2004 and opened my store in 2006.

K: Did you favor one sport, team or player?

Chris: I loved the Redskins in the 80’s.

K: What was your favorite set and card as a kid?

Chris: I had the complete 1985 Topps set and liked the green borders a lot. Favorite card was any Redskins cards.

K: When/How did you decide to make it your career?

Chris: In 2006 I decided that I wanted to do something different for a living. I thought about what I really liked. I really liked Golf so I thought about a job in that field. I also really loved sports, gambling, thrill of the hunt & sports cards. So I combined the 3 and opened a shop. It has the gambling thrill, the collectability thrill and sports card thrill.

Κ: How did the video break idea start?

Chris: I was watching Dr. Wax Battle Break some boxes online and I thought it was pretty neat. I then saw KoolJazz1966 break some of his own boxes of National Treasures NFL on youtube and I thought it was really cool. So I decided to start taping customers of mine breaking boxes and sharing the breaks with them on youTube. I was thinking I could share with people so they could live vicariously through the breaks.

K: I think a big part of the success of your video breaks is the way you shoot them, did you come up with this style or see it somewhere?

Chris: When I first started I was mainly video taping customers breaking stuff over their sholder, about two and a half or maybe three years ago someone left a comment on a video telling me how to do the breaks. I think it’s more vicarious, like you are opening the packs. I set my camera on a box (it’s the small box from inside a box of UD’s The Cup) to give the camera the right height.

K: What was the first break you posted on youtube?

Chris: I posted my first video in early March of 2007. I think it was a 2006 Ultimate Collection Football Box Break

Κ: What is the best card pulled in one of your beaks?

Chris: I have no idea. I have had a lot of really BIG PULLS. Check out the Big Pulls section of my website and you can see some of them!

*K: Personally I would go with this one.
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Κ: Do you know what product(s) has been in the most breaks?

Chris: I would guess 2007 Sweet Spot or Black Baseball.

K: I know Johnny Lee Higgins seemed to be a frequent guest in many ’07 breaks, is there anyone else that seems to pop up all the time?

Chris: Of late, it seems to be Bilal Powell 😀

Κ: Have any of the manufacturers ever reached out to you to comment on your breaks?

Chris: I am sure they have all seen them. I know Jason from UD use to watch my breaks all the time. I know that Tracy from Panini has checked them out. I don’t think they have ever commented on a video though.

Κ: What do you collect these days?

Chris: I collect certain rookies that I think will be great one day. I am a big fan of Mike Williams from Tampa, but I don’t have a lot of his cards. I pick and choose when I see someone I like. I use to super collect Solomon Jones, but he moved to the Pacers and I stopped.

Κ: Do you bust wax for yourself? If so what is your favorite product in recent years.

Chris: I do break boxes from time to time, but I have to be careful. Breaking boxes is a ton of fun and exciting, but can get expensive. I don’t have another job and it would hurt me to open a ton of my own product, for I have to sell it to make a living. My favorite cheap product is Bowman Chrome. Favorite medium range is Absolute & favorite high end is Exquisite.

K: What’s the last thing you broke?

Chris: Lately I have opened a few boxes of (2011) Topps Heritage. I like the look of the cards and I like the gum. I haven’t pulled anything good though.

Κ: What is your personal best hit?

Chris: I pulled a Tiger Woods 2001 Sp Authentic Shirt Swatch GOLD version #d to 25. Come to find out that was a big chase piece. I once saw one sell on ebay for close to 4K.

K: Wow, very nice. What is your favorite card?

Chris: It would be the game used NBA logoman cards. They are really sweet looking cards and the logoman sets it off.

Κ: What do you think is the best product of the last 5-10 years?

Chris: 2009 UD Ultimate Collection Baseball is probably the best. It was absolutely loaded and the patch cards were gorgeous.
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Κ: What product of the last 5-10 years was less than stellar…it was the first year of Sports Kings wasn’t it?

Chris: Sports Kings would take the cake on that one. There have been several flops though.

Κ: What trends in the hobby do you like?

Chris: The longest trend I know of and that I like is the Bowman Chrome Superfractor, Red Refractor and etc. They always look awesome and always remain some of the most sought after cards year after year.

Κ: What trends do you wish would go away?

Chris: I wish manufactured patches would go away….. that goes for manufactured letter patches too. Most people would prefer a standard jersey autograph then a “Fake” patch with an auto on it.

Κ: There is debate online about whether or not the hobby is moving in a good direction. What do you think about the hobby today vs. several years ago?

Chris: I like the way it is moving in some areas and not so much in others. I think that more than 1 company should have a specific sports license. It creates competition and that is always good in any market place. I do like how the companies are focused on cards with all sorts of patches in them. I think they realize that people enjoy the multi-color patch cards and a lot of products, IE Inception, have done a good job with that. Those are just a couple examples.

Κ: If you could change one thing in the hobby what would it be?

Chris: Redemption cards NEVER EXPIRE. 100 Years from now you should be able to redeem a redemption card. If they don’t have the card or it was never made then they give a replacement with current “Market” value. That can easily be determined by searching any online site that sells cards and has completed listings. I bet you would see a drastic cut in redemption cards if that was implemented, because they wouldn’t want to store all of those cards. They would make sure that they have solid contracts with players to sign by a certain time.

Κ: What do you love most about the hobby?

Chris: The thrill of not knowing what will come out of the box. There is an excitement about it that is like no other. Especially the high end boxes, because you have more at risk.

Κ: You maintain such an upbeat positive attitude, what is your secret?

Chris: Tons of Diet Coke :D.. Just kidding. I enjoy seeing what comes out of the boxes. Like I say, it is very fun when someone gets a really big card or a card they wanted.

Κ: If one of our readers is thinking about dropping around $100 on a box what would you recommend?

Chris: That is a question I get all the time and my answer is always the same. Go with what you like the design of and hope you find the cards you like. ANY box can be “Great” or not so “Great”. So there is not one specific box that I can recommend.

Κ: Last question, what do you do with all the lacquered wooden boxes from the high end video breaks? You must have quiet the collection.

Chris: I give most away to kids and etc that come in the store. I would say I still have around 50 or so in my store though. I should throw them away, but I can’t. I am a pack rat like that 😀

K: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?

Chris: Thanks to everyone that visits my website and YouTube channel. Without you guys I am absolutely nothing!

A true class act start to finish!

I have picked up a few boxes from Chris and had some nice hits, my favorite of which being this guy.
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Here is a little sampling of some of the hits pulled from Chris’ store.
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Not too bad.

Please take a minute and check out his online store and video breaks.

-K-

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5 responses to “Box Breaking, a Hobby Heavyweight interview…

  1. Awesome interview, nice work!

  2. Nice work Kev!

    Chris is dead on about ’09 Ultimate Collection. I would damn near kill for a product that nice right now.

  3. Great stuff. I love that he said break what you like the design of (in response to the $100 – which box? question). Everyone has their own unique opinions about things, and the best part of cards is that there is usually an option to satisfy each person. There are many $50 boxes that I love to open and $100 boxes that I could care less about.

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