I hadn’t been in the lid collecting game for very long before I made my first trade offer. I offered a Ladainian Tomlinson speed authentic for a Joe Burrow flex. I remember thinking a HoF player for a rookie QB? Surely that’s a no brainer! No sooner had I sent my offer when I received the following reply “mine’s a flex”. At the time I had no idea what that meant but over time I started to see that some lids are more coveted than others.
This article is based on my experiences in the lid collecting game and I want to preface what I say with the following, at the end of the day this is a hobby so while you don’t want to get ripped off go after what interests you!
There are four general categories which determine a helmets popularity:
- Player and Position;
- Helmet brand;
- Helmet style;
- Customisation; and
- The little extras.
Player and Position
The number one factor which drives the popularity of a helmet will be the player that signed it. Often but not always this will be linked to their achievements on the field with Super Bowl winners and HoFs rising to the top.
But in general what you will find is that QB is king (it’s partly the reason why a rookie QB is more sought after than a HoF RB), followed by the other offensive skill positions, WR and RB. After this crop will be Defensive players and lastly, linesman and Special Teams. There are of course exceptions to the rule but this is the general pattern of things.
In the lid collecting world there are two main brands:
- Riddell; and
A third brand Vicis (which is worn by players such as Patrick Mahomes) are starting to appear but still quite rare. Far and away the most common are the Riddells.
Schutt’s generally only come in one of two styles the F7 and the Vengeance. Along with how were the great pyramids built, who shot JFK and what are the ingredients for Big Mac sauce, why Schutts are not as popular with collectors will go down as life’s greatest mysteries.
For Riddells there are a few different styles you’ll likely come across. I’ve listed them in order of popularity:
- Speed authentic;
- Proline authentic; and
Speedflex helmets are Riddells’ flagship model and have a unique hexagon shape at the crown of the helmet and the most expensive of the Riddell range. Hands down this is the most sought-after style of helmet by collectors. These come in a range of sizes and in general people prefer either an adult large (or extra large) or youth extra large.
Speed authentics are next in line. This is the most common style of helmet you will come across in this hobby. Most people, myself included, start with a collection of Speed authentic and slowly convert the collection to the flex style. There are a couple of variations to the Speed authentic floating around called ‘eclipse’ and ‘lunar’. These were a limited-edition style that Riddell released, eclipses being all black and lunars being all white.
Prolines are the OG helmets for collectors and have largely been phased out of the hobby due to lack of demand.
Last there is the replica helmet. These are not considered ‘authentic’ as they are not capable of actually being used in game.
This is the part of the hobby I love and what keeps it dynamic. Builders are constantly looking for ways to make their helmets that much more unique and banging. There are so many different ways to customize a helmet but here are a few of what I have seen in my travels:
- Hydro dipped;
- Hand painted; and
- Even glow in the dark!
A truly unique piece can make a helmets desirability sky rocket though having said that I’ve seen some custom lids which have truly stunk. Builders are always looking to one up each other so who knows what is next.
The Little Extras
Once you have gotten your head around the above there are the little extras which will make a helmet that much more desirable:
- Player inscriptions – a handwritten inscription from the player signing the helmet;
- Decals – Stickers, bumpers that can be added to the helmet to make it pop; and
- Visors and Clips – these range from standard to chrome right through to custom designed.
Each one of these little extras make a helmet stand out a little more.
One last thought before I go. Collecting lids is a hobby so try not to get too caught up in the ‘value’ of a helmet. Trade for what you want cause at the end of the day the happiest collector is the one with the lids he wants not the most valuable collection.