Monday, September 28, 2020

The Finest Month: 1993 Topps Finest

September is the Finest month here at The Junior Junkie. I’m going to be posting about the legendary first four Topps Finest sets in the timeline culminating with the original bastard of 90’s super-premium, the 1993 set. There will be many adjectives, much Chromium, and refractors refractors refractors.

After all these years and all these posts, I still don’t feel qualified to write this one. That said, just try and stop me.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Griffeys of 1993 Finest. Man oh man am I ever glad I snagged these back when I did because damn. It seems I wasn’t the only one who pined for these in my formative years when a $1250 card might as well have been a million dollar card.

But the hobby is back, baby. Just like ‘50’s and ‘60’s cards exploded in value 20 years later, transforming into legitimate investment pieces when the children of that era started having disposable income; so, too, are the great issues of the 80’s and 90’s having a moment of their own. It’s fantastic news for those who already filled their childhood checklists, but tougher to swallow for those just finding their way back to cardboard.

For two decades those old mid-90’s Beckett prices seemed insanely high, even laughable. Now we suddenly find ourselves right back where we were, at least when it comes to the big guys. And especially with Griffey. The guy remains a hobby phenomenon.

The importance of ’93 Finest cannot be overstated, and its reverberations in the hobby continue to this day. In addition to being Topps’ first super-premium set these were also the first Chromium cards AND the first refractors. Every other set nowadays is Chromium, and practically every set has refractors in one form or another.

Frankly it’s still amazing to me that a set like this was produced as early as it was.

The base set is broken up into two subsets: Baseball’s Finest and Baseball’s Finest All-Stars. The “regular” cards (if there is such a thing in a set like this) feature a big framed silver circle where the All-Stars are green with a gold and rainbow-framed Trivial Pursuit wedge.

One of the great things about ’93 Finest is that the big 199-card base set gave a truly desirable “Holy Grail” card to players (and their collectors) who otherwise might not have gotten one. For example, if you’re the David Nied supercollector (you’re out there, right?), you may know of three of four obscure cards that are scarcer; but most of us probably aren’t aware of those cards and wouldn’t recognize them as the prizes they are. Dave’s ’93 refractor, however, has instant credibility with just about any collector. You show somebody that thing, and they’ll immediately know that you mean David Nied business.

As for pack-busting ’93 Finest, you can forget it. I’m not saying it’s not possible there are still some pack-sealed monsters out there, but the nature of the boxes would make me very cautious. The boxes were sealed in regular old clear plastic in lieu of branded cellophane, so resealing one would be no challenge at all. The packs wrappers containing refractors were printed differently, so identifying them and fishing them out of a box is beyond easy. The potential for fraud and dishonesty among resellers is just way too high.

That said, if you are busting ’93 Finest packs, I want to hear all about it.

OK, let’s get to it.

1993 Finest #110

So the cards are incredibly cool. This is very important because if you invent a flux capacitor, you don’t stick it in a Chevy Nova and call it a day. You do it with some style, Marty. You spring for the Delorean and you screw the Libyans out of their plutonium with reckless abandon (and pinball machine parts).

That’s not just green. It’s ’93 FINEST green. Supergreen. Greener still because of that rainbow effect and all the gold trim. Rich and high-end, but still dynamic and crazy fun. The logo comin’ at ya from the top along with the simulated reflections and shading on every bit of gold trim give a three-dimensional effect rivaled only by the best holograms and lenticular designs. There is also a tangible, indented quality to the surface in the borders of each element as well as in the horizontal hatching of the rainbow. Despite all this, the card surface is smooth as glass.

I don’t think a Finest design ever looked better than the All-Stars of ‘93, and there have been some doozies since then. The ’94 design (and ’95 to a lesser extent) kept with the general aesthetic of the original set, but none ever nailed it quite as hard.

The back is simple but hits all the important points like previous year & career stats, player details, and a portrait in the same stately gold frame as on the front. A faded illustration of baseball happening fills out the negative background space (of which there is a lot). Also somebody tell me the name of that Finest font because I want it for my blog title.

Based on production figures there ought to be about 30,000 specimens per player, but it has been stated more than once and by multiple sources that the Griffey was one of several cards that was short-printed. I have no way to confirm this, but the market seems to agree.

1993 Finest #110 Jumbo

Here it is big! These were issued as box toppers, and per the stated production numbers there are about 1500 per player. Just like in '94 they are identical to the regular cards in every way apart from size. Only the All-Stars cards got the jumbo treatment which is a bummer for our David Nied supercollector.

2015 Topps 1993 Finest Retired Legends Metal #/99

And if you want to see what Griffey would look like on that alternate design, Topps gave us an idea in 2015 with this direct-sales metal set. It's thick, heavy, and downright dangerous (particularly those sharp edges and corners).

This has been really fun, guys, but we all know why you’re here.

1993 Finest #110 Refractor

I don’t know if you’re a fan of Dr. Werner Muensterberger (we call ourselves Muensterbergerians), but he is a psychoanalyst that wrote a book about crazy collectors like me (and possibly you) and our need for approval from our peers. Dr. M states that “need for authentication and approval by experts is a reflection of two forces existing within the collector: the desire for self-assertion through ownership and a sense of guilt over narcissistic urges and pride” (Collecting: an Unruly Passion: Psychological Perspectives, 1995).

Does this card give me narcissistic urges? Oh, hell yeah. Pride? Certainly. Self-assertion through ownership. Ugh, when you put it that way… well, still yes. I didn’t have all these killer Griffeys when I started this blog, but maybe what Dr. M describes is what has kept all this madness going. Perhaps all this self-actualization through material ownership is holding me back. Maybe there’s more to this life that cannot be validated through little paper cards and bits of cloth and ink, but by self-awareness, discipline, social responsibility, community with nature, family, and love.

Yeah, no, Griffeys are good. I’m good. This is all good.

So this is the card that originally killed my desire to collect Griffeys altogether. It was stuff like this:

Beckett Magazine October 1996 (courtesy of Jeff Makela)

And this:

1996 Beckett Ken Griffey, Jr. Tribute Checklist

As a tike I genuinely thought I could own all the Griffeys someday, but that 1996 Beckett Tribute checklist was the nail in my collecting coffin (though I did end up completing that checklist recently). Then to add insult to injury a bunch of even more difficult, prohibitively expensive Griffey cards came out just weeks after that issue was printed. I just couldn’t hang. The Griffey game was unwinnable. If you asked me then what caused me to bow out of the hobby, my answer would have been plain and honest: “The ’93 Finest Refractor.”

As it happens I finally landed my refractor back in 2013 with a best offer of $450. I was a few glasses deep into some single malt and feeling froggy. I couldn’t really afford it at the time, but am I ever glad I pulled the trigger when I did. These have been slowly creeping up in value over the years, but they are back-of-beyond ridiculous now following the great collecting surge of 2020, surpassing even the #/25 Red Crusade for high grades. For reference the generally-accepted quantity of '93 refractors is 241 per player. It's a big difference.


It’s easy to see why. This thing is legendary. It was a household name among the cardboard kids at my school. We would reference it all the time. Sure, we loved anything with our favorite player on it, but the ’93 refractors were the pinnacle – the very top of the high-end of amazing cards ever produced. Superlatives like that often seem foolish beyond childhood, but not that one. That one holds true.

Behold my narcissistic urges and pride!

Whether the alleged short-printing of the Griffey carried over to the refractors is anybody’s guess; but if you go strictly by market performance, especially in the past few months, it almost certainly did. Either that or Griffey’s cards are heavily undervalued in the current Beckett listings, but what are the odds of that? (The answer is “good,” btw. The odds are good.)

You can also thank this card for the existence of my annual Top Griffey Acquisitions lists. I invented that concept just to be able to put that card on a list at #1. Some years that’s one of the only posts I make.

I ask you honestly and with full sincerity: are refractors less refractor-y now than these early ones? You’d think they would only get better, but I don’t know, man. I don’t have any other cards that shine quite like this one. Is that the narcissistic urges talking again or did something change?

Now for something I know many of you will be very happy to see, especially those that peruse eBay listings and get all bent out of shape about the faulty ones. I’ve certainly seen enough glaring errors on eBay to know this next part is needed in the world.

How to tell if your 1993 Topps Finest card is a refractor:

All Finest cards are shiny. ALL of them, even the non-refractors. Refractors are different shiny. Like, rainbow shiny. The coating “refracts” the light, creating a bright, obvious spectrum of color not unlike a prism or crystal held in sunlight all Pollyanna style. Here are a few examples.

On-glass Scan, refractor on left
Refractor on left, regular on right

Refractor on left, regular on right
This is a refractor. The regular cards don't do this.

It’s the difference between Metallica’s Black Album and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. It’s very, very obvious, guys. If you’re still not sure then you don’t know how eyes work. Don’t err on the side of stupid. List responsibly.

I’ve wracked my brain trying to think of a set that transformed the hobby as much as Finest. My short list is the card stock, holograms, and photography of ’89 Upper Deck; the jersey relics of ‘97 Upper Deck; and the Chromium printing and refactors of ’93 Finest. There are plenty of other firsts, particularly in the ‘90’s, but those are my big three.

The big three Griffey game-changers

And to you folks just getting in (or back in) to cards, I wish you the best of luck. You could not pick a better Kid to collect. May your refractors be shiny and plentiful.

That does it for The Finest month. I'm going to keep the themes going for next month with the awkwardly named Pinnacle-tober. I've finally completed the Pinnacle flagship Griffey master set, and to celebrate I've put together posts for all the remaining Pinnacle flagship sets I haven't gotten to yet. Look out for that beginning next week.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 21, 2020

The Finest Month: 1994 Topps Finest

September is the Finest month here at The Junior Junkie. I’m going to be posting about the legendary first four Topps Finest sets in the timeline culminating with the original bastard of 90’s super-premium, the 1993 set. There will be many adjectives, much Chromium, and refractors refractors refractors.

At 27 years and counting, Finest is now one of the longest continuously-running baseball sets in history behind only Topps flagship and one other set (can you guess which one?*) – not bad for a sub-brand. This only adds to the mystique and importance of these early issues.

And early or not, the designs are excellent, standing apart from the “junk” wax of the time in every aspect. That’s a good thing considering Finest was such a huge hit in ’93. There were a lot of expectations attached to this ’94 set, and it did not disappoint.

Just as it was in ‘93 the base set is comprised of two main designs: the “home plate” and the “rainbow oval.”

Home Plate design vs Rainbow Oval design

Personally I’m partial to the home plate despite the fact that Griffey got the oval treatment here. Luckily the card backs are the same among the different designs because these are some of my favorite card backs of all time. Seriously.

This is a masterpiece any way you slice it. More on that later. On to the Griffeys!

How Looney Tunes is this thing? And I don't mean crazy or wacky - I mean it literally looks like the Looney Tunes intro - I'm waiting for Bugs Bunny’s giant grinning mug to fly out of it. My favorite bit some folks may not have noticed is that the Mariners nautical star logo is pretty much dead-center on the card front here. If you're like me you'll probably notice it every time you look at this card from this day forth.

While I haven’t seen it confirmed anywhere, there seems to be a consensus that a number of the base cards including the Griffey was short-printed. Regardless of whether that is true, it is verifiable that some Series 1 cards were included in Series 2 packs. If the production numbers for both series are equal, there must be fewer Series 2 cards out there in general. A short-print of any Series 2 cards would only increase their scarcity. Some hard production data would help here, but where is it?

This thing is literally perfect. It’s not that it has any more information than your standard Finest card back (though it does have a blurb which ’93 does not); it’s just beautifully-assembled in general, all centered and balanced with an excellent gold-framed backwards-cap shot and that great MLB Anniversary logo. There is nothing abstract or out of place here at all - it is the back of a high-end baseball card, no question.

If I wasn’t already doing the “Finest Month” theme for September, I’d have subtitled this post “Baby Got Back” with little to no shame.

1994 Finest #232 Refractor

This was another ’96 Beckett Tribute checklist item (one of the bigger ones now) that I huffed and puffed about having to pay 100 dollars for just a few years back. It had been up as a Buy It Now at that price for weeks which would be unheard of today. I may look like a shrewd investor buying it when I did, but really I was just trying to complete that checklist. Looking back my timing was pretty perfect.

Where the ’93 refractors were estimated to land about 1:15 or just short of two per box, the 1:9 ’94 refractors fell just shy of three per box. Along with the increased production numbers across the set this means there ought to be more refractors overall, even with the potential short-printing. Then again the larger checklist may have balanced this out, resulting in a comparable number of refractors. It's all guess work, though, without production figures.

The market has certainly never been hotter with loose copies running upwards of $500 and high grades reaching well into the thousands. That’s got to make it one of the best performing 1:9 Griffeys of all time.

But it’s so small…

1994 Finest #232 Jumbo

That’s better. These were box toppers, and not terribly uncommon. They are identical to their little bros in every way, even the card numbering, so I'm only showing this photo for comparison.

1994 Finest #232 Superstar Sampler

Factory sets of Topps Flagship contained three-card “Superstar Sampler” sets that included one Bowman, one Stadium Club, and one Finest base card for a given player. These have a small stamp on the bottom of the card backs that is easy to spot if you know to look for it. The seller of this one did not know to look for it, so I got it cheap.

What you really want, though, is the sealed Superstar Sampler cello pack:

1994 Topps Superstar Sampler Cello Pack (sealed)

Especially if you’re going for the 1996 Beckett Tribute checklist which calls for the whole cello pack specifically.

LOL @ $20.00

Whether you are looking to complete your ’94 Topps Griffeys, ’94 Finest Griffeys, or the monstrous ’96 Tribute checklist, you need this one. Happy hunting.

The ’94 and ’93 sets have just about everything in common to the point that they might be easy to confuse with one another. Nobody does confuse them, though, because the ’93 card is an icon. More on that next week when we close out the Finest Month. Thanks for reading!

*BTW, the second-longest continuously-running set is O-Pee-Chee whose 29-year run (1966-1994) Finest will surpass with their 2022 set.

Monday, September 14, 2020

The Finest Month: 1995 Topps Finest

September is the Finest month here at The Junior Junkie. I’m going to be posting about the legendary first four Topps Finest sets in the timeline culminating with the original bastard of 90’s super-premium, the 1993 set. There will be many adjectives, much Chromium, and refractors refractors refractors.

This is one of my favorite Finest designs in the history of the brand, but there’s a caveat here I cannot ignore. It’s possible that I’m too personally involved with this set to make an objective determination.

Some of you can relate to this: if you were still growing up when the movie Hook came out (Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, RufiOOOOOO – you know the one), you know for a fact that is an awesome movie. But is it? No. It’s actually pretty painful to sit through (the imaginary food scene gets a pass, but everything else is objectively cheeseball). It does NOT hold up, but many of us think it does because we saw it when we didn’t know any better. That may very well be the case with ’95 Finest.

I’m allowing for the possibility that it’s overdesigned and poorly printed and garish or whatever. Someone who has been collecting for a while and is seeing it or the first time might be trusted more to decide if it’s good or not. I cannot be trusted. I think it’s fantastic.

The design is noticeably more modern and refined than either of its predecessors. The ’93 and ‘94 Griffey Finest cards had rainbow elements that were totally abandoned across the base set in ’95 in favor of a textured green field complete with pinstripes and a stately silver baseball diamond. They must have really liked this design, too, because they also did away with the dual subsets from both previous years.

Maybe it’s because they wanted to make horizontal cards:

The modern font in the nameplate is certainly unique but not the most legible. I distinctly remember having to look a little harder than usual to figure out whose card I was looking at.

This would be the last set to sport a big “Finest” across the top of each base card (which is something I would miss), but for the first time Finest cards came with protective film thus beginning the great peel vs. no-peel debate that rages to this day. This particular set is especially sensitive to off-center printing, so expect premiums for good copies.

The regular cards feature blue backdrops where the rookies had what looks like a wall of flame.

This was the state of the art in my collecting heyday. I even had the opportunity to bust a box of series 2 (update). My refractor was Bill Pulsipher (yaaaay.). Lord knows where that thing is now.

On to the Griffeys:

1995 Finest #118

Some guy wrote an article recently about who had the sweetest swing in baseball history, and I honestly think the guy was trolling the whole damn world with that article because he gave the top spot to NOT GRIFFEY. I will not be linking to said article here because I do not want this man to get any more clicks (or rage clicks if you’re like me). Instead I will simply show this card and give that nameless author a big ol’ raspberry.

This is the third Finest Griffey in a row to feature him in a dark blue jersey. I’m thinking it's the fact that the dark blue looks like future Marty McFly’s cap from BTTF Part 2 in jersey form when you slap a refractor finish over it. By the way why aren't BTTF-Part-2-hat-material jerseys a thing yet? Also where are the damn hoverboards?

The back features all the standard…well, features, like player details, previous year & career stats, and a nice, concise blurb about how super good at baseball your boy is. If you’re getting compared favorably with Babe Ruth, you’re doing alright.

I am a fan of the back - the front theme carries over nicely here where it is muted just a little to allow for a better look at that superimposed action shot and text. But it also seems kind of ordinary, especially compared with the previous set. It’s attractive and cool, but ordinary. Finest cards should be anything but ordinary.

1995 Finest #118 Refractor

I needed this one for the ’96 Beckett Tribute checklist, so I begrudgingly pulled the trigger for this peeled one (in a BGS 9 sleeve) for what seemed like a very high price of $80. I’d have preferred unpeeled, but looking back I don’t care quite as much now that they cost ALL THE MONEY.

It's one of those floppy on-site sleeves.

I don’t have specific production figures but BBCP suggests an estimate of about 550 refractors per player, more than double the quantity from previous sets. It is the first refractor with an indicator on the back, but it's not in the most conspicuous place.

I actually missed this thing completely at first. Thankfully Topps would put this right by the card number from here on.

1995 Finest Power Kings #PK10

This one-per-box beauty is one of the two first ever Finest inserts (the other being “Flame Throwers”). The "cracked" background here is great and complements the “grass” texturing of the base cards, but there is one BIG thing missing with this insert: refractors. There are none for these which is a shame because those lightning bolts would look awesome.

Man oh man, look at all this stuff. They really filled this thing out with charts, blurbs, lightning bolts, and multiple action shots. This is the exact kind of back I like to see on an insert, but there’s also a lot here that is open to interpretation. First of all I want to know more about these metrics.

What is off-field power? Is that how hard he hits the ball when he’s not on the field, hitting the ball? Like, are these parking lot stats? And who sat down and said, “You know, his contact could be better.” I don’t like that person. I guess I would prefer some statistically-defensible data here because this just looks like somebody’s opinion.

I do love this blurb, though. Can we talk about “blinding trigger mechanisms” because that is so me with pizza rolls.

No jumbos this year, so that about wraps it up. The Finest month continues next week with the ’94 set and one of the greatest card backs in the modern age. Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 7, 2020

The Finest Month: 1996 Topps Finest

September is the Finest month here at The Junior Junkie. I’m going to be posting about the legendary first four Topps Finest sets in the timeline culminating with the original bastard of 90’s super-premium, the 1993 set. There will be many adjectives, much Chromium, and refractors refractors refractors.

Finest refractors are freakin’ all over the place these days. They come in every color of the rainbow (plus a few new ones), and serial-numbered from the many hundreds all the way down to 1. But it wasn’t always like that. From ’93 to ’95 there was only the one base card and its one refractor and that was it. It was both elegant and infuriating because you either had the cards or you didn’t. Simple. Easy. A little brutal.

In ‘96 we got the first inklings of just how complicated sets could get, and Finest wasn’t immune. Suddenly there were three refractors to worry about, and that number would only climb as the years would go on.

I would say ’96 Finest gave us the first tiered refractors, but that is not really the case because it was the base cards themselves that were tiered – not the refractors. These are certainly the first gold refractors (bronze, too, I suppose, but who cares about those?).

They gave us a checklist comprised of tiered subsets with each player appearing on up to three base cards, some of which were tough pulls even by Finest standards. In fact, 91 of the 359-card base set (about 25%) were seeded at 1:4. 48 of them (13%) fell only one per box, meaning you had to bust a minimum of FOUR CASES to have a shot at the full base set. These are BASE cards. Set builders must have been plotzing.

The base set is complicated by just about any standard. Each subset, those being Gamers, Additions, Intimidators, Franchises, Sterling, Prodigies, and Phenoms, had its own insert-quality design. They were also printed in varying colored tiers of either bronze, silver (1:4), or gold (1:24) with each card only appearing on one of the three colors. For example Mike Piazza’s Sterling subset card is silver, but there are no bronze or gold versions, nor are any of his other cards also silver. There are other players with Sterling cards in bronze or gold, but nobody has more than one colorway of a given subset.

Then on top of that each card had its own refractors distributed at 1:12 for bronze, 1:48 for silver, and a whopping 1:288 (case-hit) for gold.

Now don’t quote me on this, but I suspect this bronze/silver/gold thing might have something to do with the ‘96 Summer Olympic games in Atlanta. Everybody was Olympics-crazy this particular summer with them being stateside and all, so I’m guessing there was at least some influence at play there.

Topps claimed there were only 150 of each gold refractor, but without going too much into detail I’ll just go ahead and tell you that there are definitely more than that. Trust me.

There are other caveats at work here, but we are only going to talk about the Griffeys today.

1996 Finest #24 Sterling #S6 Common Bronze

Junior’s defacto base card is his Sterling subset card which is both first numerically and the most common by a mile. Each subset has a theme: Additions for rookies, Phenoms for young stars, and so on. The theme of the Sterling subset appears to be just guys who are good at baseball. Not as fun as some of the others.

I've always been smitten with the background on these which is enhanced by the Chromium. That is the very same pattern you find in the pressed copper ceilings of bars with dress codes who sell Lagavulin for $40 an ounce (don't even ask about the Pappy). Oh, and that name banner is one of the greatest of the modern era. This one's got a real Great Gatsby vibe to it.

The stat box showing just the career best stats is certainly unique, but the card numbers here tell us everything. 24th in the set at large, 6th Sterling card, and "common" which you can go ahead and read as "bronze."

1996 Finest #24 Sterling #S6 Common
Bronze Refractor

And of course it looks even better as a refractor. Again these were seeded at 1:12 which meant you were all but assured at least two refractors in each box. God bless you double-bronze-refractor pullers. You're the salt of the Earth.

You'll notice eBay sellers hawking earlier base cards they mistake for refractors (because they're shiny, I guess?), but after '96 they were truly idiot proof as the indicator was right by the number.

1996 Finest #305 Franchises #F1

The Franchises subset focuses on each player’s performance in relation to their respective team. Check out the back which touts just a small part of Junior’s total domination of the Seattle history books.

1996 Finest #305 Franchises #F1
Uncommon Silver Refractor

Now we're talkin'. The aqua glow in the silhouette pops here. Again, only the refractors matter, folks.

1996 Finest #135 Intimidators #I56
Rare Gold Refractor

Ladies and gentlemen, the first gold refractor. OK, so I don’t have the regular base card of this one and honestly I don’t even want it. I’ve got my lil’ refractor boi and that is plenty enough for me. I almost didn’t show the regular cards at all when putting together this post because they don’t scan well, and who really cares when there are refractors to be had?

The theme of the Intimidators subset is guys who are scary, specifically baseball-scary. In Griffey’s case, pitchers and anyone with plans to hit into the outfield. That’s pretty much most of the guys on the other team.

This particular Griffey fell at 1:13,824 packs. I would love to see some production figures here, but there are almost certainly more than 220 copies to be had. That number approaches the quantity of 1993 Finest Refractors of which there are allegedly 241 per player. This is not likely the rarest Junior refractor, but that speaks to the reams of silver and bronze refractors there must be out there.

That being said, refractors or bust, son. Base don’t count for squat. I can get away with such utter disregard for non-refractors here because I have all three. My tune will almost certainly change when I do a write-up of next year’s Finest set which has a little insert known as “The Man.” I’ll try and show a little humility then. In the meantime…

Here are the Griffeys I still need from 1996 Finest:

#135 Gold

But seriously I can live without it. Refractorzzzzzzzzzzzz

There's one more "1996 Finest" Griffey you need to finish this one off, and it's kind of a mystery:

1996 Finest Blank Back

The back is semi-gloss white paper not unlike a sticker, hence the "blank" part of the name. There are blank back versions of similar designs across all sports this year as well as "Landmark" and "League Leaders" baseball designs. This Griffey often has the words "bronze" and "League Leaders" attached to it, but I believe that's just because no one knows what to call it; and being that there is a mostly-bronze League Leaders card for Randy Johnson among these blank backs, those words have been erroneously ascribed to all of them.

I would say they are prototypes or executive proofs, but there are so many - like hundreds if not thousands judging by market prices. My best guess is that they were promos for the 1996 Finest designs, but a major design shift to the the multi-subset theme left them out in the cold. Affordable and easy to track down - go get 'em.

That pretty much does it, but I would be remiss not to mention the funniest (but also cruelest) thing about this 1996 Finest.

The distribution of which card got printed in which color appears to have been more or less random; and as it happened, the series 1 checklist card ended up being one of the super rare golds. And yes, the checklists did get the refractor treatment. This means that there are people out there who pulled a case hit….checklist. How’d you like to drop a mortgage payment on a case of these and pull a checklist as your case-hit gold refractor?

That was the funny part. Here’s the cruel part: how would you like to be a kid who saved up all his lawn-cutting and paper delivery money for weeks to buy a whole box of Finest, be lucky enough to get the box with the gold refractor….and….well you know the rest. Hey, imagine pulling it in the first pack, then having to rip through all the rest of those packs just friggin' sobbing. If I was that poor kid’s dad I would rage-shit a chicken.