Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Crossing the Border

2005 Diamond Kings Signature Materials Framed Red Platinum B&W
Silver Materials Framed Red Platinum Black and White

I hope you'll excuse me.  Most of this post will be delivered from my soap box.

The hobby was a crazy place in 2005.  Fleer went belly up midway through the baseball release calendar.  Donruss had their license yanked, and in doing so dumped their remaining game used and autograph inventory in a symphony of hit filled products.

At the time, there was strong sentiment calling for cutting back on the number of products and number of manufacturers.  Good riddance was the cry.  After all, as many collectors would be apt to remind you, Donruss and Fleer just keep turning out product after product filled with parallels where they do nothing more than change up the foil color and numbering.
2005 Diamond Kings Framed Green

And perhaps there was a point.  Things went a little overboard on parallel-a-palooza.  Take a look at 2005 Diamond Kings.  The set didn't have quite the aesthetic brilliance of the prior releases.  But the set still featured gallery style portraits of top players.  And an infinite number of parallel combinations.

Framed versions exist in red, blue, green, and black.  Unframed parallels come in copper, silver, and gold.  And then of coruse there is a platinum version of all of those.  Oh, the player has a game used version?  Good.  There's a version of all of the above for those too.  Plus platinum framed 1/1's for each border.  Oh, and the game used and auto dump resulted in a second set, where all the same players are included...but with black and white photos!
Diamond Kings Materials Silver /100

...and all the same variations.

Clearly things had gone overboard.  But how to right the ship?

Over the next few years, the remaining manufacturers seemed to make little to no effort to change all that much.  Upper Deck, Upper Deck Gold, Upper Deck Predictor Green, Predictor Silver, Predictor Purple.

Ok, we get it.  Parallels.

And now we're a few weeks away from 2014 products hitting the shelves.  Almost a full decade away from the great parallel debate, we now have one manufacturer with full licensing.  One company to rule them all, if you will.

And what happened?  Parallel explosion.

Topps Emerald
Topps Gold /2013
Topps Camo /99
Topps Pink /50
Topps Black /62
Topps Platinum 1/1
Topps Blue Border
Topps Red Border
Topps Purple Border
Topps Slate Blue Sparkle
Topps Slate Silver  /10
Topps Factory Set Orange /260
Topps Saphie /25

and then...
Topps Opening Day
Topps Opening Day Blue Sparkle
Topps Mini
Topps Mini Gold
Topps Mini Pink
Topps Mini Platinum

and printing plates!  Everything must have a printing plate, like every child a womb.

So what's the point?  It's not that I'm angry about the loss of manufacturers (I am).  It's not that I dislike parallels (I love 'em).  But I wonder where did those angry collectors go?  Why was the angry mob up in arms over slight foil changes nine years ago, yet today we gobble up Topps Mini's by the boxload, and bid up hideous Topps Camo cards to $10 when we used to bemoan that numbered parallels didn't mean anything anymore.  Or do we simply turn a blind eye because there is no other choice.


  1. I make sure to get the base sets. I don't actively pursue parallels unless I really like them (emeralds this year). They tend to trickle in via trades or add-ons from sellers with reasonable combined shipping rates. Eventually, I hit a tipping point where I decide to go ahead and finish the team set.

    It helps that the Cubs don't have much star power right now to drive the prices up.

  2. Amen brother! This post pretty much summarizes why 3/4 of my purchases nowadays consist of cards from 1965 and prior. To each his own, but for me it's too much to try to keep up with, my OCD tries to take over and then my hobby starts to feel more like a stressful chore. Great if it works for some, but I choose to just ignore much of it.