panini world cup album
(Panini)

Do you remember swapping football cards in the playground when you were a kid? Buying endless sticks of gum to get your hands on a new card? Or before happily exhorting your parents to smoke more or drink some PG Tips so you could find that elusive card to complete an album?

Kids have collected cards and stickers for decades. But when Panini arrived on the scene they transformed collecting.

I remember the first Panini album I had as a teenager in the late seventies. Secretly collecting stickers of First Division footballers in between punk rock gigs.

Well, those clever Panini brothers who launched their stickers in Italy in 1961 created a monster. And a profit machine.

A clever professor has calculated it will cost over £700 to complete the Panini FIFA World Cup 2018 album. Grandparents, mums and dads should now be putting padlocks on their wallets and steering the kids into a less expensive hobby such as smashing antique vases.

pedal cars going to collect panini album
Quick the new Panini album is out

Say what?

Panini have increased the cost of their sticker packs from 50p to 80p. Which is scandalous. But I digress.

Maths wizard Professor Paul Harper has calculated that the increased price together with the large number of stickers required to fill the book will cost the average collector £773.60. Or in other words 4,832 stickers or 967 packets. This is because of the large number of duplicates you will get. And that number increases as the number of stickers needed to complete the collection decreases.

panini world cup bookSo when you only need 19 stickers you will still have to buy 438 packets to find them. I’ll let the prof explain the maths. He said: “The first sticker you buy is absolutely guaranteed not to be a duplicate. The second sticker you get has a 681/682 (99.85%) chance of being a new sticker. The third sticker you get has a 680/682 (99.7%) chance of being a new sticker, and so on.”

The good news

If you team up with likeminded collectors you can reduce the cost by swapping duplicates between you. Get five of you together and you can reduce the cost by 57%. So you can complete the collection for ‘only’ £350. Bargain.

But if you’re like the prof you may just think ‘what the hell’. And go for it. The prof will understand. He said: “I can still recall the joy of finally completing my first Panini album as a young boy for the 1982 World Cup in Spain.

“I must have used an awful lot of pocket money to do this, as well as having generous grandparents handing over bundles of packets of stickers, coupled with tense negotiations of swapping duplicates with friends in the school playground.”

But back to the cost and Professor Harper had this to say. “Filling an album has become progressively more expensive over the years since then, not just because there are typically more teams competing now, but because Panini have become more creative about allocating spaces.”

In other words Panini know how to make the golden goose lay eggs much faster. And rake in massive profits from kids and adults being overcharged for stickers. My words not the prof’s.

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