I've gotten a lot of mail with cards enclosed this week. A couple of those were eBay purchases, but the vast majority were cards from bloggers. After the large pile of envelopes that I sent out in February -- which I'm lucky that my wife takes to the post office for me -- my wife commented to me that all my hard work in putting those together has paid off recently.
I don't view it that way, to be fair. I view it more as just the normal back and forth of blind trades in the blog world. Even the whole #SuperTraders thing to me is just a consolidation of that thought. I enjoyed breaking the boxes that I bought for that group (and, depending how things work out with the group, I may buy a few more to break later this year), but I will always try to trade with whomever is interested.
Someone I've swapped cards with a couple of times in the past is Ray at All Cardinals All the Time. This time, a great PWE arrived from Ray with a few recent parallels and inserts that I needed either for team collections or player collections.
We start with the foil parallel of Ryan Braun from this year. This one will go to my team collection, which now features a grand total of about three cards right now. All the parallels can be frustrating sometimes, what with some of the cards barely looking any different from their main set counterparts.
When it comes to team sets and parallels, I am certainly trying to put together team sets of any un-serial-numbered parallels and even those that are serial numbered anything above 100. That said, I have my doubts about trying to complete team sets of parallels from anything high-end. Even the ones numbered to, say, 325 -- which should be at least somewhat available -- can get expensive quickly simply because they come in boxes with a total of 14 cards that will run you around $180 a box.
You know, like Triple Threads....
Funny thing, though. For whatever reason, this card has been very accessible to me. This is my third different amethyst parallel of Braun from the 2013 Topps Triple Threads set. With serial numbers, though, every card is a different addition to the player collection -- even if one may find its way into a team set for the parallel for that set.
Another tricky issue as a team collector are the inserts. Some inserts are easily obtained -- you know, the ones that come in practically every pack of the flagship set, like the ever-present reprints of past cards repackaged as Cards Mom Threw Out, or 60 Years of Topps, or Berger's Best.
Then, there are the "cross-trainers" of inserts and even the Archives set -- putting current players on older designs. This Braun insert from last year's Topps Finest set reuses the 1995 Finest design but for some reason numbers the cards with a "94F" prefix -- which, strangely enough, is the same prefix that Topps used in 2014 for its 1994 Finest inserts.
That's a small thing, but we all know that details are important in life. Not paying attention to the details has become commonplace for Topps as of late, what with the issues with the Cubs that Wrigley Wax has detailed and even the reference to Robin Yount's nonexistent 1974 Rookie card ("especially in mini form") on the Berger's Best inserts this year. It seems that Topps is more concerned with coming up with more photo variations than it is in getting things on its cards correct.
And that is truly a shame, because some of the parallels and sets Topps puts out look really sharp.
Like this purple refractor from 2015 Bowman Chrome of Khris Davis serial numbered to 150. As much as Bowman has way too many parallels of the same photo and same card and as much as the Bowman sets would be far better if the parallels were cut in half, the shiny refractors are still quite the draw and look sharp together in a binder.
I'm not as sure that the same can be said of the Gold Parallels over the past two years.
With the very colorful borders in 2015 and the general lack of borders in 2016, these cards just are not very attractive. I have a particular worry, though, about the honeycombed look on the 2016 Topps Gold Parallel cards.
My concern is that Topps is going to use the pattern to create more parallels that we don't need in the hobby. Maybe not this year, but next year, would it surprise anyone if suddenly we had a short-print variation in the flagship set based around these textures or backgrounds in the fashion of Topps Hi Tek or the old school Topps Tek? This year it's honeycomb in flagship, next year it will be spiral icebreak parallels.
Or worse -- I could see this coming up later this year in Topps Chrome, where the white clouds in the corners are transformed to even more parallels beyond simply the color parallels. We'll have orange honeycomb, orange spiral, orange brick, orange peel, and orange Kool-Aid refractors, each serial numbered to between 123 and 129 or something ridiculous like that.
In the end, though, I definitely appreciate these cards greatly from Ray. It's a great day when an envelope arrives, and it's an even better day with over half the cards being serial numbered and needed for team sets and player collections.
Thank you, Ray!