Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pack Searching with SCIENCE! - 2011 Topps Football

My birthday is this week, and my present from my wife arrived in the mail from Blowout Cards.

That is a Hobby box of 2011 Topps Football.  36 packs.  I have not had a full box of any product since 1987 Topps Baseball, which my Grandma bought for me when I had a broken leg.  This is very cool.  (Yes, my wife is awesome - thank you for noticing.)

The selling point on these cards is this:

Since I've been reading blogs, I've heard a lot about pack-searching.  I still have no idea how people do it while standing in the card aisle at the store.  They must use magic or potions or something.

Given that there is a guaranteed hit somewhere in here, I want to find it.  I could just rip open 36 packs, but these have to last me the full NFL season so I won't be doing that.  What should I do?  I suck at magic and am out of potions.  However, I have one tool left in my toolbox:


The packs with a relic/auto card have a different number of cards in them, so they should either be thicker or thinner (I don't know which) than the "regular" packs, right?  So I just have to measure them.  How do you measure pack thickness?
You bust out your calipers!  What?  You don't have engineering calipers?  I do...and that's how I will figure this out.  Thanks college lab courses!

Here's what I did:
  1. Open the box.
  2. Label each pack with a marker (1-36).
  3. Use the calipers to measure the width at the top, middle, and bottom of each pack.
  4. Put that data into Excel, graph it, and look for trends.
Here's the result of my measurements for all the packs.   
There were two things happening here:
  1. Some packs were much thicker at one end than the other (see the green box).  Sometimes the top was thicker and other times the bottom was thicker.
  2. Pack #8 was consistently thicker than all the other packs across all 3 measurements.
Looking at just the middle width measurement:
Putting error bars of 2 standard deviations on the middle width, I would bet that the hit is in one of the outliers (either pack #8 or #15).  I was willing to open these two:

and......I WAS RIGHT!
Pack #8 (the thick one) did have the hit.  It is a Ben Roethlisberger Gameday Jersey insert (GDR-BR).  This would be awesome, except that I hate Roethlisberger.  :-)  So that one is for trade or for sale if anyone wants it -- let me know.  That pack did feel noticeably more rigid than the others once I checked it again.

Pack #15 (the thin one) had both a Super Bowl Legends Giveaway card and a Sam Bradford mini.  The giveaway cards and minis both feel thinner than the regular base cards.  This also confirmed that the packs which are thicker on one end are packs that contain a mini.  So if you are looking for the minis, there you go.

I can't believe Topps doesn't throw in a dummy card on this product.  Panini puts in ones of various sizes, so I doubt this analysis would work on those products. 

Summary:  To find the hits, look for packs that measure over 0.170" in the middle, and keep your calipers hidden from the local shopkeep.  Easy!  :-)

Have any of you ever noticed a measurable variation like this in other products?  Did you use that knowledge for good or evil?  :-)

1 comment:

  1. Wow, interesting to see this as an experiment. Hope you didn't go to Target and use your newfound methods!


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