Every nerd has his/her collecting preferences. For some stockpiling graded comics helps the collecting itch, while some others may prefer to show their nerdom by way figures or Funko POPS. Regardless of collection focus, I think many can agree that chasing and displaying these items is one of the most fun aspects of pop culture. For me I really enjoy obtaining autographs, and I have found one of the most entertaining ways to do so is through trading cards.
Non-sports trading cards have really gained some traction among fans and collectors alike over the last few years. Sure, cards can be difficult to display, but the chase of obtaining rare cards or inserts is something awesome in itself. Most sets even provide fans with the opportunity to pull screen-used relics, one-of-one artist sketches, and autographs from their favorite movies or actors. The autograph aspect is enough to draw me in year after year, especially if the cards are hard signed and not signed stickers. Heck, some actors sign for sets and never hold private signings or attend cons (i.e. the 2008 Rittenhouse Iron Man set contains some coveted Robert Downey, Jr. autographs).
Below I will provide my top three sets of 2018 with some insight as to why I ranked the set as one of the best the year had to offer. I will also include a link as to where you can purchase a box or two at a reasonable price. Now, there are always other places to buy cards, so feel free to research products and prices that meet your needs. Here are my top three sets of 2018 in no specific order:
2018 Upper Deck Avengers: Infinity War – This base set is comprised of 90 cards, and the product boasts some pretty cool insert sets (i.e. The Strip Mined Metal cards are printed on metal stock). The signed cards may be sticker-based, but the celebrity lineup is fairly strong with Josh Brolin, Tom Holland, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Karen Gillan headlining the list. The die cut Infinity Stone inserts are some of my favorite cards this year, and the set is rather large. Purchase here.
2018 Topps Stranger Things Season 1 – Although the set was delayed a few times, I really enjoyed the overall look of the cards once I got my hands on a few. This 100 card set is featured on Heritage stock, which is a cardboard stock much like that of the ’80s style baseball cards you see all over the place. There are quite a few serial numbered inserts with the manufactured patches, autographs, relics, and base sets. Costume relics are somewhat hard to come by here, but the list is rather impressive with the like of Hopper and Mike Wheeler. Actors David Harbour, Joe Kerry, Millie Bobby Brown, and Gaten Matarazzo highlight the somewhat unimpressive overall list, but those names were enough for me. Honestly, the base set and the insert sets sold me. Purchase here.
2018 Topps Star Wars A New Hope Black and White – I know there are always a lot of solid Star Wars releases throughout the year, but I think this one delivers the biggest bang for the buck. The base set is amazing with full-bleed effects, so the images are rather original in look when compared to the nostalgic images fans will recognize from the original films. There is some potential for huge pulls here with Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill highlighting the autograph lineup. Now, I will say that some of these limited run autos have been pulled, but the set is still strong. Personally, I love the Behind the Scenes set checklist. Purchase here.
Overall, I think 2018 was a really solid year for the non-sport trading card scene, and 2019 promises to have some cool releases in store. If you loved a set that didn’t make my top three, I am sure your case has merit, as most sets had some powerful highlights within those wax packs. Happy collecting and good luck with your 2019 card chases!
Jon Maus is a high school English Language Arts teacher and an all-around pop culture enthusiast. He has a B.S. and a M.E. in English. Some of his favorite fandoms include The Walking Dead, Marvel, Disney, Back to the Future, and the Karate Kid.