December 19, 2021 - 16 min read
This article breaks down Gary Vaynerchuk's VeeFriends UNO Collaboration and provides data to help you decide if you want to buy, sell or hold the product. We also predict the supply and print run of the Gary Bee card.
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Gary Vaynerchuk will be one of, if not the most, fascinating people to watch in the NFT space over the next four decades. The serial entrepreneur launched VeeFriends this past May and has already sold his original artwork at a major art auction house, has done a wine collaboration, and now has partnered up with Mattel to launch a limited edition VeeFriends Uno Set.
PS — Gary has publicly stated over and over that this is a 40+ year project, not a 4-month project. He’s just getting started.
The VeeFriends Uno Sets sold out within an hour.
Even a day after the sale, the $25 sets are still reselling for nearly 6x the original purchase price:
Update: As of this writing (12/30/2021) eBay has removed all VeeFriends Uno Set listings and will not allow new ones to be published given that the release is happening in July (estimated) of next year. The last VeeFriends UNO set sold on eBay was 12/27, so this is a recent change. I wouldn't recommend buying a box right now because their scarcity is artificially high due to this. If you still want to acquire one, I recommend heading into the VeeFriends Discord and doing a PayPal transaction (do NOT do Friends and Family). Just know that the person won't receive the product for likely over 6 months.
In this article, I’m going to break down the VeeFriends and Mattel collaboration and bring in some sports card data to help you make better decisions about buying, selling, or holding the product.
Because each UNO set includes a limited edition Spectacular card that PSA (the sports card grading service) will be acceptable for grading. Each spectacular insert has different rarity levels and many are wondering if they should buy the VeeFriends UNO set, sell it, or hold it to hunt for rare collectible cards.
The insert of a spectacular emulates the same energy as the sports card market. Sports cards come in packs and boxes and many enjoy the process of opening those packs to find a rare card to grade and sell. There’s a lot of data from that market on our side to predict what might happen and create a decision-making framework.
Disclaimers: I purchased 10 VeeFriends Uno sets, but I do not have any listed for sale. No one can predict the market with certainty. Not me. Not a TikTok guru, not a Twitter influencer, no even Gary V himself. Nobody. It is always safest to only spend money you can afford to lose. If you don’t have $136 to buy a UNO set without it causing you stress, that’s okay, don’t buy it. If you bought at $25 and $100+ profit is a lot of money or makes you happy, then sell it. Always do what is best for you and your financial situation. And if you’re curious and want to learn more about the dynamics of the market, then read this article :)
I also want to make it clear that I do not own any VeeFriends, but it is my favorite NFT project. This doesn’t mean you have to like it. Heck, you don’t even have to like Gary. But my commitment is that you will learn something from this article about collectible market trends and the human behavior behind them.
Gary Vaynerchuk’s VeeFriends NFT project contains a set of 268 characters that were hand-drawn and represent core values that he believes are necessary for a happy life.
The game features 17 characters out of the 268 VeeFriends and a special rule card “Wild Sharing Squirrel” that requires a player to take a picture of the cards in their hand and share it on social media with a VeeFriends oriented hashtag — #veefriendsuno.
That’s a small detail worth paying attention to. Gary has a loyal following, and once the game releases, expect to see lots of selfies that help expand awareness and recognition of the VeeFriends NFT project.
There will be 17 foil cards to chase (one for each character) that refracts in light to distinguish it from other playing cards.
There are four levels of rarity for those cards, Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, and Tier 4:
As you’ll notice, there’s only 1 card in Tier 1: Gary Bee.
5 characters will be in Tier 2.
6 characters will be in Tier 3.
5 characters will be in Tier 4.
It’s unlikely that the design will be different across tiers, but the supply of the cards in those tiers will vary.
Odds for pulling a card of a specific rarity have not been disclosed, nor has the total supply of the product.
To understand this analysis, we first need to summarize a few principles from the sports card market:
(1) When the first asset (a card or box) of a high-volume product hits the market, it’s likely to command the highest price, then price falls as supply increases.
Supply usually increases, especially when the price 10x’s right away like the VeeFriends Uno Set did:
As expected, the prices fell by about $100 per box the next day (although still show a good return):
If Mattel created an NFT with the product, it could have taken royalties on all of these resales, but the point was to create a physical version of a digital NFT collectible.
The challenge with being first to list is picking a price. Most wait until the market rate is set, then all rush to list, which is why the price drops (unless demand can sustain the supply).
There are currently 127 VeeFriends Uno Set listings on eBay at the time of this writing, with the lowest available price at $79.92 via an auction that ends in 6 days 8 hours (at the time of this writing, not the publish date).
Auctions will prove to be a better determinant of fair market value, as Buy It Now options create buy pressures during a hype period. (See bullet point 3 for supporting evidence).
(2) Bundling items together usually results in a lower sale per unit
On the day of the sale, someone bundled their 10 purchases and sold for $1,200. After paying $250 initially, this is a great profit, but each unit price was $120 while the average price hovered around $250.
(3) Prices usually drop when the hype passes and supply overtakes waning demand
The below chart is sales data for NBA basketball star Lamelo Ball and his flagship Rookie card — Panini Prizm Silver (ungraded).
The very first card to hit the market sold for $1,925 and has since dropped to $178.
The buyer likely thought demand would outpace supply and that s/he was getting the best deal by being first. This was during the 2021 peak of sports cards, which likely didn’t help, but this type of chart and behavior is pretty common in sports cards.
As the hype wears off, I anticipate demand dropping and prices going down further until we get closer to the delivery date. Keep in mind, this product likely won’t ship until Q2 of next year.
The best time to sell for the most amount of money has already passed (most likely), but getting a 3x return is still on the table if you are considering it.
I think the price will even out as many are anticipating ripping open their boxes to see what rarity foil card they get.
Over the next few months, think of this as an “off-season” for a sport. People’s attention moves elsewhere and so does demand (and sometimes supply).
The next period I would anticipate these boxes increasing in price is when (1) a shipping date is set and it’s close to that date (2) Videos start circulating of people pulling rare foil cards from their boxes.
Let’s use another sports card example to provide some data. The below image is a chart of Patrick Mahomes’ 2017 Prizm rookie card on the day of the 2021 Super Bowl:
The card went from $15,500 a few days before the Super Bowl to $8,500 a few days later. Granted, the Chiefs lost that game, but the same dip (just less pronounced) happened after he won the Super Bowl.
Attention moves quickly, and while this is an exciting and fun announcement, that will die down given how long it is until the cards actually ship.
Verdict: Take a 3x profit if that’s what makes you happy. If you are stressed enough to want to check eBay every day, it’s likely better to sell now before we go further into the VeeFriends Uno Set off-season.
Again, all of this advice is based on trends from sports card markets. We don’t know what things will look like in July (the expected shipping date). These are hypothetical scenarios.
If the cards come in a sealed pack, it’s more than likely that PSA would grade those packs. Graded packs of sports cards do hold value and this may be an option.
However, the graded packs that sell the most are usually from older sets (more rarity because people back in the day didn’t think to grade packs) that have an established price point of the cards inside.
We don’t know just how rare the Gary Bee is. If there are 10 of them, and they end up selling for thousands of dollars, an unopened or graded pack could be worth a lot more.
The market is smarter — many people may work hard to keep their packs in pristine condition and even wait years before sending them off to grading.
Verdict: If you want to wait 30 years and keep your pack in pristine condition, it may be worth it if graded individual foil cards have value in the market. I would not recommend grading them right away, because selling would be a better option if the values of the cards inside have market value.
This is the hardest question to answer. If you are the first person to pull a Gary Bee, I would recommend listing on eBay immediately. My guess (and this is truly a guess) is that someone would pay $5,000 under the same dynamics someone spent nearly $2,000 for that Lamelo Ball rookie.
A few things could happen:
(1) Gary Bee supply is much lower than anticipated, and the next card sells for more
(2) The Gem rate (% of these cards that receive a 10 grade from PSA) is extremely low and a premium for PSA 10 sells for $10,000 (pure guess)
(3) Multiple Gary Bee’s hit the market and the price comes down to a lower market value
(4) The market doesn’t care about these cards and the foils sell for less than the price of a box
Let’s use some more sports card data to help illustrate this point.
Currently, LeBron James’ most recognized rookie card, the 2003 Topps Chrome Base in a PSA 10 grade is worth $10,170.
A hobby box of 2003 Topps Chrome (that could yield a LeBron base card or yield an even more valuable refractor) is worth 2.5x at $25,200.
The hobby box sold as high as $47,500 in February, when James’ Topps Chrome base sold for $45,000, and the rarer refractor sold for $250,000.
On the flip side, a hobby box of 2003 Exquisite Basketball is valued at $102,000, while James’ 2003 Exquisite commands a million-dollar price range.
We’ll use one last example: 2018 Prizm Basketball Hobby box. This box is valued at $5,422 and featured hobby superstars Luka Doncic and Trae Young. The Doncic silver Prizm in a PSA 10 grade is actually less than the hobby box, valued at $3,593.
Verdict: Without knowing the odds, holding unopened boxes of Uno sets is more than likely the smarter play. There’s less upside, and less downside making it the “safest” bet if the cards inside hold value. Many (including myself) will struggle to resist opening immediately, especially if the foil cards sell for high prices.
If you pull a Gary Bee, or other rare foil but aren’t the first to market, grading could be an interesting alternative. The worry here is that we don’t know what standards PSA will apply to grading.
We need to look at the gem rate of UNO cards graded by PSA. Gem Rate is the percentage of cards that receive a PSA 10:
In this case, the Gem Rate for the 2006 Yankees UNO set is 100%. For reference, the Gem Rate on the 2003 Topps Chrome set is just 32%.
If you are the first PSA 10 to the market of a rare card, you’ll likely command the most value in the market. But if you are getting graded with PSA, use Super Express ($300 per card) because Regular Service has taken over a year in some cases.
Many buyers of this product are likely unfamiliar with grading. It’s a process and if you haven’t done it before, you will be delayed and may mess something up that causes a lower grade.
There were likely enough savvy buyers who know how to grade cards for someone else to beat you to the market.
Verdict: Given that PSA has a high Gem Rate for non-foil UNO cards and we know that unopened boxes track well to the value of the most popular cards, the best thing to do is likely not rip the packs open and wait.
There will be a period of price and supply discovery — if only 100 Gary Bee’s exist, then 100 PSA 10s are still rare. If the market figures this out later, the price could skyrocket.
Foil cards may also present more issues with grading if they are mishandled and get scratched. PSA grades on the integrity of the corners of the card, how well it’s centered and the surface.
A lot of your decision-making has to do with anticipating the market behavior:
(1) Are people going to be savvy and disciplined to keep their boxes unopened? (This does not happen often in the sports card world)
(2) Do the majority of buyers understand proper handling of a card they intend to grade or will many be mishandled creating an extremely low population of PSA 10 Spectaculars?
(3) Will any more information about the supply be revealed?
Keep in mind, the more rare the Tier 1 + Tier 2 cards are, the less likely your chances are of pulling them, the higher the likely price of the cards and ultimately, unopened packs.
If you plan to do this, don’t buy the first card that shows up. Let supply flood the market and the price settled before spending. Raw cards present a lot of risks — if the card isn’t put in a penny sleeve and top loader (if UNO cards even fit in penny sleeves) it will likely get damaged.
If prices start to settle before the first graded cards show up, this is an interesting strategy, but it depends on the Gem rate. If 30% — 50% of cards receive a PSA 10, you can get a risk discount on the raw (ungraded) cards and attempt to grade them for a profit.
This is how many sports card collectors built their collections — buy raw cards at good prices, use their grading evaluation skills and submit to hopefully get a PSA 10 which typically gets a premium over raw cards.
A savvier move would be to submit the cards to BGS and hope for a Black Label (Pristine 10/10 grade) but it’s unclear if BGS will grade UNO cards.
Traditional sports card boxes post “hits” and the odds of those hits in terms of X numbers of cards per X numbers of boxes.
For example, a hobby box might state that you will get 1 Silver Prizm per box and 1 out of every 242 boxes will have a Blue Parallel numbered to 99 copies.
In this case, we know we get 1 foil per box, but we don’t know the total number of boxes, and we don’t know the “hit rate” for rarity levels. For example, we don’t know how many Gary Bee’s will be pulled per x amount of boxes.
This presents a lot of challenges to evaluate the market and make our decision.
While there are 2,156 LeBron James 2003 Topps Chrome Rookie PSA 10s, the card still holds value at a $10,000 price point, which is a significant amount of money to most people. However, James is considered the best basketball player of all time and this is his flagship rookie card.
Gary Bee may be very cool, but it’s a less traditional rookie card and will be more dependent on rarity than the IP for the price point.
Unfortunately, we don’t have great data to estimate supply. There have reportedly been 150 million UNO decks sold worldwide throughout the product’s history and there are 490 sets, which puts an average of 306,000 sales per set.
The fact that the drop sold out within an hour is a clue that supply may not be that high, but buyers were allowed to purchase up to 10 boxes per transaction.
According to Mattel’s Q3 2021 gross billings, Action Figures, Building Sets, Games, and Other drove $446 million in revenue but it doesn’t show the percentage of revenue driven by UNO to help us work backward. Revenue in Q1 2021 for the same category was $199 million.
If there were 306,000 VeeFriends UNO sets released, that would have driven $7.5 million in profit for Mattel or about 1.6% of quarterly revenue in the Games category. It would account for 3.7% of 2021 revenue using the same math, which feels extremely high for a niche of one segment in this group.
My guess is that 75,000–100,000 sets were released, which would equate to $2.5 million or 1.2% of Mattel’s Q1 2021 revenue (if that number stays the same in Q4) at the top end.
My pure guess after being in the sports card world for 3 years is that there will be between 300–400 Gary Bee cards, with odds of pulling one at 1 in 250 boxes. This is a pure guess, but it’s fun to hypothesize.
We will see in July :)
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