Magic: the Gathering is an incredibly expensive game. When certain game pieces cost more than a thousand dollars, it’s not uncommon, for me at least, to have fleeting dreams of finding an underpriced Gaea’s Cradle or something of the sort at a garage sale. At least, those stories are commonly told over a drink at a casual Commander night at any LGS. Well, one player found an unsettling amount of unopened sealed products at a local landfill. To be clear, the secondary market value of these cards easily surpasses hundreds of thousands of dollars, and no one knows why this MTG landfill product came to be.
It Started With Six Pallets
While this story has been circling around the MTG community for a while now, new developments have made this discovery much more severe. In the beginning, six pallets of Modern Horizons Two were announced to the public, but it was enough to ignite the entire MTG community.
Now, as highlighted by various other parties who covered the story, this isn’t a ton of booster boxes of Modern Horizons Two that randomly got dumped in a landfill, but instead appears to be the three-pack Blister pack style of product that you can find at large-box retailers like Walmart and Target. That said, as you may notice, the cards pictured above in a somewhat disheveled state are not from Modern Horizons Two. We will now start to highlight where the story currently is.
It Gets Worse
Since the initial discovery of Modern Horizons Two packets, which reportedly retail for more than 250 thousand dollars on shelves, were discovered, more pictures from the mysterious dumping have surfaced. As you may expect, it’s not just these Blister Packs that got dumped. Tons of Unfinity and Secret Lair products were also found at the scene. Some of the Secret Lair products found in better condition by the ones who shared the pictures seemed to take them home since the cards were still in playable condition. Many of the cards found, like the Wee Champion stuck to the wheel above, were not as lucky.
However, the picture igniting the most uproar from the MTG community is that of a crumpled card from the infamous 30th Anniversary Edition product. Those who have been following the 30th Anniversary Edition’s legacy need no introduction. Still, for those who are unfamiliar, the 30th Anniversary Edition was, in a nutshell, a series of highly collectible reprints that were illegal in sanctioned play. These reprints included cards from the Beta set, but the packs were sold for $1000 per four packs. The price of this product, combined with its tournament illegality, made it the most infamous product in MTG history.
Notably, as mentioned by content creator PleasantKenobi, this 30th Anniversary card back is only in one of the pictures presented to the public. The same goes with a single picture of a Flunk from the Strixhaven: School of Mages set. He points out that these could have been ‘set up’ for dramatic effect, so take these two pictures with a grain of salt. That said, they could also be very real.
This story gained serious traction quickly, so, unsurprisingly, the community has much to say about the topic. The biggest question amongst MTG fans is how this product ended up in the dump in the first place:
“Jesus, now I’m VERY curious what the story of this is. I thought it was just the pallets from before.”ddojima
“Even with print to order, they have to have extras lying around for returns, damage, lost in shipment, etc.
That Dack Fayden lair is like a year old now, which is a pretty good clue. You wait X months, burn though all the possibly support tickets and lost/damaged items. At some point they don’t need to hold them any more so apparently this is what happens.”HeyApples
There is a lot of speculation as to why these products ended up in the dump, but ultimately, no one knows the honest answer. Notably, some of the products found here, namely some of the Secret Lairs that are over a year old as of now, are, as pointed out by Redditor vantha, likely ‘print to order’ products, which makes the appearance of them at a landfill even more baffling. This also pokes holes in the theory that everything here was somehow connected directly to a big-box chain since those stores typically do not sell Secret Lair products. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that these products weren’t discarded together for different reasons.
One of the more commonly accepted theories about this disaster came from a Redditor who claims to be a former manager of a major department store:
“Former manager for a major Dept Store, here – this is the most likely and plausible reason.
Due to various contracts and their terms, it’s not uncommon to see rejected or damaged goods destroyed as a condition of the credits.
It’s also to prevent double/triple dipping and fraud. Say that “Target-Mart” rejects X items in a shipment for a damage reason – stench (maybe a dead, putrid animal in a box or something), conditions, water/smoke damage, etc. Target-Mart rejects those specific items. The distributor or shipper or manufacturer (basically, whoever shipped the goods and wants payment for the invoice) will accept those rejected pieces (boxes) and credit Target-Mart. From there, various things can happen, but insurance is possibly involved.
Either way, the seller now has to destroy those rejected pieces as a part of corporate accounting. Because that affetlcts taxes, financials, inventories, and so on.
There are other ways that avoid destruction of merchandise. This is just an explanation based on 10 years experience with inventory management.”BurstEDO
Basically, BurstEDO speculates that, for whatever reason, a majority of this product was rejected by whoever was supposed to receive it. Due to fraud laws, the product now has to be destroyed. While this still brings confusion about the Secret Lair product found, it would explain the majority of the product at the dump – namely the Modern Horizons Two packs and the Unfinity cards. This could, ultimately, be a conglomerate of products that had to be destroyed for various reasons. Once again, this is all just a theory.
A Grounding Experience
The takeaway from this experience that rang the loudest for many MTG players was quite sobering. The gore present in a lot of these landfill pictures took away the premium feel of MTG products and represented a reminder that, at the end of the day, these luxury items really are just some cardboard:
“This really reminds me how, for all the immense layered complexity of magic cards being played by humans in a game of magic… The cards themselves have less practical utility than toilet paper.”BurlapNapkin
“Yep, i had someone ask me once why i spend so much money on pieces of cardboard. Seeing all that product just tossed into the dump, kind of makes wonder why i do spend money on pieces of cardboard.”vantha
A lot of allegories can be seen in this conversation that capture a similar vibe to the “Wizard behind the curtain Oz moment.” The value still remains in the form of the game these cards are a part of, but this realization certainly caused players to reevaluate their positions a bit. If you wish to see further pictures of the damage in detail, you can find them here.