ESP made massive strides in their Traders release this year, on the back of a fair bit of customer criticism after their 2013 Traders release. With 11 levels of inserts over and above the 176 card common set, this year’s Traders gave a lot to chase. Just a bit of a recap on the ratios:
Parallel Set – 1:1 pack
Parallel Special Set – 1:3 packs
2013 Season Review – 1:6 packs
Milestones – 1:12 packs
Return to Sender – 1:18 packs
Galactic Stars – 1:36 packs
Retirements – 1:72 packs
Indigenous – 1:108 packs
Four Brothers – 1:864 packs
Legend Signatures – 208 of both made
Three Brothers Signatures – 300 made
The ratios on the signature cards get a bit harder to determine as the exact production run is not known. However, approximately 27,000 boxes of 2014 Traders were produced, therefore making the odds of hitting a Three Brother Sims Signature card a slim-to-no chance 1:3240 packs, or 1:2340 for either Legend Signature.
The additional level of parallel was a surprise, although a little unnecessary to simply have a black parallel version of the silver parallel. It was added value for box busters but where will it stop….a gold 1:10 parallel subset perhaps??!!
The Season Review subset was a nice variation, if not confusing to collect. The 44 card subset was a mixture of Chart Toppers (9), Magic Moments (16), Heritage Rounds (16) and Rooster Premiership cards (3). At 1:6 packs, this wasn’t the easiest insert set to put together either, in theory requiring a minimum 264 packs be opened.
The one-per-box card this year was the Galactic Star cards, featuring a gun player from each team portrayed as a cartoon-like spaceman. Whilst this subset is not to everyone’s taste, it perhaps reflected ESP’s attempt to attract kids into collecting 2014 Traders following ESP’s children specific 2013 Power Play release a 9 months earlier. Variant Galactic Stars were available as album cards, with 18 different cards available. Not included in the official set, the most noticeable difference between the two was the album cards had rounded corners.
The Retirements were much harder to obtain in 2014, eight times harder in fact, the 2013 versions containing 8 cards in the 72 packs it required to crack just 1 this year!
The Indigenous Close the Gap insert subset was probably the biggest single improvement ESP made to this year’s Traders. It substantially bridged the gap between the 2013 “easy-to-get” 1:36 inserts and signature cards, giving the serious collector a challenging chase in 2014, with only around 750 of each Indigenous card produced.
ESP also released a limited edition Four Brothers parallel card. Individually stamped and limited to 100, these cards were only made available only through an Australian retailer. This added to the already difficult attempt to collect every card, and again, was not considered a part of the official collection.
Overall a really big improvement on 2013 Traders, more collectability and a truck loads more value in it for box busters. The only drawback for mine is the sheer number of cards (689 by my count) needed for a master set.
Roll on 2014 ESP Elite! Has ESP listened to collectors again, time will tell!