Monday, March 8, 2021

2010 Topps Month Part 2: Chrome

Baseballcardpedia says that there are 105,000 boxes of 2010 Chrome which is four times the quantity of the same product in 2009. This should make the building of a PC master set for a given player a lot tougher, but that didn’t seem to stop Josiah Karpenko who has officially crowned himself 2010 Topps’ daddy.

Card collectors have a lot to work with these days. It’s not like the ‘70’s when it was just the Topps base set (and a random Kellogg's set every now and then), or the 80’s when it grew to three brands’ base sets, or the ‘90’s when the market exploded and you suddenly had hundreds of base and insert sets. Even after the late-90’s/early-2000’s crunch there was still a ridiculous quantity of options afforded to card collectors via sub-brands from “the big three.”

Nobody collects every version of everything – there’s just too much out there. So everyone has their focus, and given the myriad options we all have we get to pick and choose what we collect: set-builders, rainbow-builders, player collectors, team collectors, condition/PSA 10 chasers, insert-builders, and even a few non-standard focuses like cards with photos of pitchers batting, cards that show players’ waving their hats, players with funny names, players named “T.J.” (I suspect that one’s uniquely mine), and everything in-between. No two collectors are exactly alike.

There’s even enough out there that you can have sub-focuses within your focus. Obviously I am primarily a player collector, but the sub-collections within my Griffey collection are things like Jr/Sr cards, Jr/Buhner bromance cards, Griffey cameos, one of every base card, Griffey master sets of certain brands I like, and throwback designs just to name a few.

Enter Josiah Karpenko whose focus everybody in the Griffey groups knows well: Griffey’s 2010 Topps sunset card. Like, every version of it. Josiah has been building a very respectable Griffey collection outside of the 2010’s, but all that seems to take a back seat to his 2010 master set focus.

Josiah's 2010 Topps Super Collection

I mean just look at this thing. I’m quite proud to have helped him, too - that used to be my 2015 Cardboard Icons Red Jumbo #/10. I got my hands on a full set and only wanted to keep a few of them, not including the 2010. It was an extremely rare case of selling a Griffey of which I only had one. I broke my own rule, but it was worth it to see all those 2010 cards together, albeit at Josiah’s house.

It’s not like I was going to attempt the master set – not once that Superfractor was spoken for, at least. Josiah is passionate about his impressive sub-collection.

So I’m going to turn it over to JK a lot in this post because the man has a knowledge and passion for these cards that few can match. 

On to the cards:

2010 Topps Chrome #28

Chrome doesn't scan all that well, so I'm going to give you a lot of this:

A note to my fellow card bloggers: get yourself a light box! They're like 15 bucks shipped and will up your game a ton.

I’m going to take a survey today: do you prefer your Chrome base cards with white borders or chrome ones? 2002 was the last year we got fully chromed-out base borders, and it’s a solid look. The refractors are fully-chromed out in 2010 though that has not always been the case. Just curious how everyone else feels about these. Please leave your preference in the comments below.

2010 Topps Chrome #28 Refractor

See? Chrome border for maximum refraction.

I’m going to let y’all in on a little secret today: back when I was getting back into Griffey cards (somewhere around 2011) I was buying Griffey lots on eBay for anywhere between ten and twenty-five cents per card. I had a lot of catching up to do, so it was the most efficient way of grabbing cards from all the years I had missed. And they were still cheap - this was key.

There was one lot in particular that turbo-charged my collection more than any other, and I almost balked at it. I think it ended up costing around two bucks per card, and the final price was around $180 – way more than I would normally spend. Price per card was everything to me back then, but this one was different in that they were all premium cards. The lot included every Tiffany from 1989-1991 (except the 1989 Topps Traded which I got later), a ton of ‘90’s inserts, mid-2000’s relics, a few short prints, and most of the 2010 Topps Chrome refractors you’re about to see (the ones that are mine, anyway). And every card came in a lovely, thick screw-down case. To this day it is the greatest lot I’ve ever won.

Anyway, this refractor and the four that follow all came from that one lot. Given the timing of that lot someone had been collecting actively not long before they decided to sell off all those cards for an average of two bucks a pop. Were the same lot to go up on eBay today it would probably hit four figures. So much of this hobby has become about timing…

2010 Topps Chrome #28 X-fractor

The back just says "refractor," so here's the front.

X-Fractors are surprisingly gettable at a rate of 1:3 packs. I just love the look of these things, and I’m always surprised they aren’t numbered. The only kind of refractors I prefer are purple ones.

2010 Topps Chrome #28 Purple
Refractor #/599

Yes. YES. Like that.

Oh, geez. Daddy like da purp. These were some of the easier gets at 1:12 retail packs, and they're a heck of a value.

2010 Topps Chrome #28 Orange Refractor

And these were also relatively easy at three per Wal-Mart value pack. Remember finding those on shelves? Or anything? Salad days…

2010 Topps Chrome #28 Blue
Refractor #/199

Here is where things start to get hairy. The Blues were seeded at 1:58 Hobby and 1:191 Retail. With the large 220-card checklist all the refractors from here on out are big pulls.

2010 Topps Chrome #28 Gold
Refractor #/50

Courtesy of Josiah Karpenko

This is the last refractor I have from 2010 Topps Chrome, but it's also one of the most baddass. My scan looks like crap which I didn't realize before locking it away in the safe deposit box, so that photo is of Josiah's. 1:232 Hobby/1:775 Retail. That’s quite a stat line given the 220-card checklist.

2010 Topps Chrome #28 Red Refractor #/25
(courtesy of Josiah Karpenko)

1:370 Hobby only. Oof.

2010 Topps Chrome #28 Superfractor 1/1
(courtesy of Josiah Karpenko)

And finally 1:9265 Hobby only. Is this the first bonafide 1/1 we've ever had on the blog? I can think of several we've seen that are not quite as nice as this one, that's for sure. But a genuine Topps 1/1 base parallel? This does not happen a lot. Take it in...

Those insertion ratios sound pretty nutty, and according to Josiah that trait is unique to this year of Topps Chrome:

2009 & 2010 Topps are the only 2 sets during Griffey's career years that you can have a complete rainbow/master set of Griffey in M's uniform. However for Topps Chrome, when compared to the production of 2009, 2010 had roughly 4 times as many packages made. This caused all odd ratios to be so much higher making it multiple times harder to find certain variations.

For instance, the Superfractor in 2009 with 221 cards was 1:1,532 and a Printing Plate was 1:383. In 2010 with 220 cards, a Superfractor was 1:9265 and a Printing Plate was 1:1592.

Putting that in terms of value, 2010 Topps Chrome was $4 a pack, meaning just to find one Superfractor you had to pay $37,060 and to find one Printing Plate cost $6,368. Let alone finding the specific Griffey out of the 220 cards.

Speaking of printing plates:

2010 Topps Chrome #28 Printing Plate Cyan 1/1
& Yellow 1/1 (courtesy of Josiah Karpenko)

Another rare sight: multiple plates from the same card. Two more and we can start printing our own cards.

I wanted to know how one gets to this point with a single card, and Josiah was kind enough to give us the backstory:

I met a Griffey collector in NC who had all these. It was the first time I ever had anything close to an actual Topps Chrome rainbow.

When I bought those, the most I had ever spent on a baseball card was $80. The next highest purchase came when I found the gold for $100.

After that, I decided I could start buying other Griffey cards for around $100, but after 2 years, I still never paid more than $150 for a card. That changed when I found the red /25 and bought it for $250. At the time I thought I was overspending, but I had to have it.

All those $100-$150 cards are almost certainly selling for a lot more these days.

Just under a year later, the Superfractor finally surfaced. But it wasn't only the super, it was the entire rainbow from base chrome, to blue, to super. After negotiations couldn't make the seller budge from selling just the super, I had to make the decision to buy the entire rainbow from him even though I already had the rest in my collection. The biggest purchase I still have ever made solely to own one card was made and the Superfractor was added to my set.

Then after another year of searching and asking through multiple groups and friends, one seller was willing to part with 2 printing plates which was the final purchase in the collection. far, right?

The cards such as silk /50, factory red /299, black /59, were all immediate buys once they surfaced for sale dating back 3 years. All that's remaining for the master set is the 4 Topps Printing Plates, 2 Topps Chrome Printing Plates, and the one I want most Topps Platinum 1/1.

So all Josiah needs to wrap this one up is SEVEN one-of-ones. If you happen to be the owner of any of those, reach out. I have a buyer...

I also asked Josiah for a little context as to why this card struck such a chord with him.

I really did

2010 being the very last year of his career, is also the last and only second time I ever got to see him play. My brother was called out of the stands the very first game of spring training to be the batboy for the Cincinnati Reds. Already being a Reds fan because of Griffey, I was able to go to multiple games with him as he was their batboy for 3 weeks. The last day he was there, they let him choose which team he would be there for, and it just so happened to be the Seattle Mariners. Seeing Griffey and Ichiro there was amazing. That year my brother and I bought so much 2010 Topps that I had many multiples, but always held onto one 2010 Topps #85 as it was the greatest year of baseball for me growing up. Those memories, Griffey's retirement, then having the opportunity to own the very last rainbow ever to exist of Griffey's career years made the hunt to finish it so much more enjoyable. But I couldn't settle for just the rainbow, the hunt became every single possible variation in existence that has that picture. 

It is also the year that has the most Topps variations out of all sets from 1989-2010. So with the master set getting close to being complete, it's fun to sit back and know that the most ever to be in one collection, belongs to me.

There you have it. Let's have on more look at JK's drool-worthy assortment of 2010 Topps Griffeys:

I love how the Superfractor is just hanging out next to a bunch of common base cards like it's NBD.

As you can see Josiah didn't stop at official releases. There are few customs, a PSA 10, a printing error, a Tribute to the Kid stamp, and even an autograph. I've been trying to think of other variations JK could add to his master set. A BGS black label? A PSA/BGS rainbow complete with half-grades, maybe? On second thought I've been down that road and I cannot recommend enough that you avoid it. But the black label would be pretty cool.

It doesn't even matter, though - this is already one of the greatest sub-collections I've ever seen. You could lose a few of these and it would still be one of the greatest Griffey sub-collections ever. You're a legend, JK. Don't ever sell.

There are three posts left in 2010 Topps month, but I'm not going to promise any more master sets or Superfractors going forward. My 2010 collection is actually quite scant as I just don't have the same passion for it as I do pretty much any set made before 2001. And even if I did, how would I top this one? Hell, it might even get kind of boring going forward.

I'm a terrible hype man.

One last shout-out to Josiah for making this far and away the best post of 2010 Topps month. Maybe I should have saved it for last...


  1. Kind of ridiculous. And by 'kind of', I mean extremely. And by 'ridiculous', I mean some other word that makes ridiculous seem normal.

  2. I've never had the patience (or budget) to even think about building a rainbow, but I'm awe of the people who do. This is easily the finest and most impressive rainbow I've ever seen. Josiah picked a great card to do it with, too!

    (Also, I prefer chrome borders on these. They just look a lot better to me.)

  3. That is a crazy amount of cards from one set design.

    I came across your blog looking for info about the 1996 Topps Chrome set. Just wanted to let you know that I have the 3 Griffey’s from the 1996 Topps Mariners team set version (base, star power, and big Topps). If you still need them, hit me up.

    1. O really? My e-mail is at the top of the page...!

  4. Looking at these is precisely why I never could/would do this. Same card, slightly different design with higher difficulty in pull rates. Def not my cup of tea but to each their own. Shout out to the collectors who have the patience/wallet to do this!

  5. Very nice collection and great grammar in your sentences. SCHTICK...JASON IS OVERKILL IN NIGHTMARE ON HATCH STREET