As the demand for high-end sports cards with autographs and jersey patches increased, the price of the cards increased. This opened an opportunity for creative sports card enthusiasts, with the know-how of modern internet tools, to create case breaking.
What’s case breaking? While the process varies among the case breakers, the general process is the same. First, an organizer buys a case of cards and offers collectors to buy a spot in a break. This spot may represent a team. For example, the participant may ask for, or through a lottery, get all of the Colts cards from a box of NFL cards. Then the breaker publicly awards the cards to the collectors in a live streaming video process. Lastly, the organizer ships the cards to the collector. In addition to being a fun forum to hang-out (virtually at least) with fellow collectors, case breaking gives the average collector the opportunity to get a valuable card and to chase after cards of the stars or teams that interest the collector most.
An interesting aspect of case breaking is the creative mix of modern media. The process may involve live video streaming, recorded videos, chat rooms, shared Google Documents, PayPal and various websites. All of this is molded together by the case breaker to create a social experience.
While I was at the 2014 Industry Summit for sports cards, I asked several respected case breakers and bloggers “who was the first case breaker?”. Kris from KAB, Chad from Firehand Breaks and Sergio from Sports Card Album suggested Chris from CardsInfinity is either the first case breaker, or he would know who started before him.
So here you have it… The response of “who was the first case breaker”, according to Chris at CardsInfinity:
From my understanding Dr. Wax Battle, at The Backstop in New Jersey, was the 1st to video tape some customers breaking boxes when they came in his store. He started doing that once in a while in the year 2006. The camera angles were not the best, but they were entertaining to watch. You got to see first hand what was coming out of the boxes. There were also around 2 or 3 other people that would video tape themselves opening their personal boxes and uploading them to YouTube. Once again these were entertaining, but the camera angles were not the best.
The Doctor Wax Battle Show in 2006
I bought a video camera in March of 2007 and I was going to start video taping my customers open boxes in my store. But the way I would be different, is that I would use the “Vicarious” view. That means I would breeze through the base, just focus on inserts and hits. Also, just show the hands when opening the packs and not the whole person. The videos would be very fast and you could live vicariously through the opening of boxes. Well this took off pretty quickly. I would say in less than a month I had around 20+ breaks on YouTube and all of them were getting 1000′s of views. People would email me all the time, and still do to this day, and tell me that my videos got them back into collecting cards and or that they would watch my videos to see which products to break.
So after about 4 or 5 months of video taping my customers open boxes, I came up with the idea of breaking boxes for customers online. I would create a website, CardsInfinity, and people could order boxes from me. They could either have the boxes shipped sealed or choose to have me open their box and upload the video to YouTube. I thought it would be really cool, if someone could order a box from me and have me open it on YouTube and upload it immediately. This way they don’t have to wait for their box to be shipped and they would get the instant gratification of knowing what they got. Other side benefits were… they would be able to trade/sell cards easier with the viewing audience on YouTube. They would get their cards sleeved, toploaded and teambagged. Plus they could follow the case to see what comes out. If I opened 2 of the 3 Exquisite boxes from a sealed case and nothing major came out, then you would be able to see that. That might encourage someone to try that last box. They know that the case was sealed and that nothing big came out. Versus if you order a single box online, you have no idea where the box came from or anything. For all you know the box could have been purchased off ebay and re-sold back to you. My idea was very high in transparency and I think people took to that pretty quickly.
I remember in the summer of 2007, everyone would call me an idiot and say it would never work. They said no one would let me break their box for them. “That is where all the fun is”, is what they would say. Well it is fun to look back now and see that it did work and that people actually do enjoy watching their boxes get opened for them.
So to answer your question, I don’t know the first person to video tape someone opening a box, but I believe I might be the 1st person to open boxes for other people. It has been a great source of entertainment for me and for others and I really appreciate all the people that have allowed me to do it. Without them, none of this would have been possible.
A Cards Infinity break in 2013