Saturday, February 26, 2022

Hobby Nomenclature Part 2 - Parallels


Next up in my nomenclature of the Hobby series we're going to talk about parallels. Specifically base card parallels.

Disclaimer: I do not consider myself a trading card expert or any kind of authority on the subject.  I'm just a collector with 35 years of experience.  These posts are just my opinions and are meant to be informative and educational. Feedback and/or suggestions are welcome (as long as they're civil).  

First let's talk about a term you may or may not have heard of but will be popping up in the next couple posts.  Added Value Content (AVC).  It's a mouthful and to be fair it's not a term that actually get's used a lot with collector's, but AVC is exactly what parallels, inserts, and hits are.  Basically it's why Topps, Panini, Upper Deck, or whoever can charge you more for a pack of cards.  It also makes sealed products walk a thin line (if not actually cross it) of  being a kind of gambling.  

So for this post I'm going to be talking about parallels as they pertain to the base set of a product.  Card makers also put out parallel versions of inserts and hits, but we'll cover that when we talk about those subjects.

And when I'm talking about parallels I'm talking about cards produced to parallel the base set that were inserted with the base cards and could be pulled from packs.  I make this distinction because I'm not talking specifically about sets like 1975 Topps Mini, Topps Collector Edition (Tiffany) Sets, Fleer Glossy Sets, or 1991 Topps Desert Shield stamped cards.  These are sets that do parallel other base sets but were released as their own product.  I do however consider parallels inserted into factory sets base set parallels, yeah it can get a little confusing.

Remember there is no real authoritative entity in the card collecting community (sorry Beckett) and I'll be fair I did not do exhaustive research so please forgive if I forget anything, gloss over some things, or missed something completely.  But I'm going to attempt to mark the start of the age of the parallel and that is 1992 for Baseball and 1991 for Football.  The first true parallel sets came in 1991 Wild Card Football and Basketball and  1992 Topps baseball.

If you happen to have been collecting in 1991 or come across some old Wild Cards, Wild Cards gimmick was the insertion of cards with numbered stripes of various denominations (5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 1000).   If you pulled one of those number striped cards you could send that card into Wild Cards and they would exchange it for the same number of base cards of that player.  

The higher stripe cards were very rare and today those 100 and 1000 stripe cards can command a pretty penny.

Topps' gold foil parallel appeared the next year and is considered the first true parallel set.  Inserted at different odds depending on the packaging, they fell about 1 per box or 1:36 packs. 

And we've had parallels in packs every since (mostly).  I do remember when the gold cards hit the market collector's ate them up!!  It didn't take long for other card companies to follow suit. Examples that come to mind are the 1994 Score Gold Rush parallels and 1995 Donruss Press Proofs, and the 1994 Upper Deck Collector's Choice Silver and Gold Signatures.  

The first serial numbered parallel cards would come from late to the Parallel game Fleer with it's Flair Showcase parallels and Pinnacles Totally Certified.  But the effect of cards having serial numbering and defining their print run allowed collector's and sellers to kind of gauge value based on rarity.

Fast forward to the last couple years and Topps and Panini seems to be in a competition to see who can produce the set with the most parallels. 2021 Panini Prizm baseball had 43 different color parallels!! Topps flagship and chrome baseball had over 30.  That's kind of insane.  Again we can go back to the AVC.  Inserting parallels, especially serial numbered parallels, helps companies justify their products higher costs (along with guaranteed hits and inserts).

The insane number of parallels put out today also gave rise to a popular goal in collecting and that's putting together a player rainbow, or collecting one of every parallel.  Pretty hard with 1 of 1s, in the parallel line up.  But most collector's get goals and a level they want to collect down to or an afford to.

Depending on the set and product the base set may have many different kinds of parallels. So let's look at some of the more common you may see out there in the card market from some current releases.  

Currently color parallel or border parallels are the most common type of parallel card you will encounter.  And the parallel is just what it sounds like the base border color (usually white or plain) will be replaced with a color or design.  

Another type of base parallel that is similar to the color or design front is the framed parallel.  This was popular with Donruss Diamond King sets in the mid 2000s, Upper Deck Masterpieces, and with Topps Gypsy Queen sets up until fairly recently.  And while this parallel seems to have fallen out of favor it may make a comeback again.  Here are a few examples from my Yount collection.

One last front parallel you may see are cards that are foil stamped.  Like Topps' special employee sets, Montgomery Club, or other special Topps events like their Rip Party, the All-Star Game and 70th Anniversary celebration.

Sometimes the difference in the parallel isn't on the front it's on the back.  The one example of this that comes to mind is Topps' Advanced Stat parallels.  While the fronts are completely the same from the base set the backs feature advanced stats.  It does help that Topps serial numbered these to 300 to make them a little easier to spot.
Advanced Stat card

One last parallel type to mention and that's cards with different card stock.  Again I'm thinking specifically of Topps' Vintage Stock parallel, but there have been other sets in the past that have had parallel sets with different card stock types. The Topps parallels are serial numbered and are hard to miss amongst the shiny slick base cards.   One other example that comes to mind is the 1996 Fleer baseball set, where the base set had a matte finish and the parallel set was glossy.

Love them or hate them (and there are plenty of people who do) parallels are here to stay. Do you have a favorite parallel?  Is there a parallel not being made anymore that you miss?  Did I miss anything?  Let me know.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Hobby Nomenclature - Packaging

 I recently had an interesting interaction on Twitter involving a new collector.  He was very upfront about his rookie status.  He had pulled a serial numbered red foil parallel out of 2022 Topps Series 1 and had no idea what it was or why it was different.  I was very happily surprised about the hobby twitter support that came to the aid of this new collector and it just helped remind me that there are people finding this hobby for the first time or even better coming back to the hobby, which seems to be a common theme during the pandemic.  It also helped ground me to the fact while I've been in and out of the hobby since the mid-80s the hobby is almost a completely different monster and it can be down right confusing.  So to help with that I thought I'd kind of do a primer on current hobby nomenclature.  So if you're a seasoned collector these posts might not be for you, but I would love your feedback on anything I might have missed or you think should be included.  

I'm going to break these posts up into 4 areas.  Hits (what they are and what you can expect), parallels (why are there so darn many of them), packaging (what's the difference between hobby and retail), and lingo (what is a rookie card?).

Let's start with packaging.  I'm going to focus on modern products, what you can expect to see if you go into your local Walmart or Local Card Shop (LCS).  There are lots of great vintage packaging products you don't see anymore, but that might be a post for another time.  Let's go shopping!!!

I think I might have to explain the lingo as we go as it's pretty integrated into the hobby.  So let's start with walking into your LCS or rather your local card shop or store, could also be used for your local comic book shop, which usually also carries sport cards and non sports cards.  At your LCS you are going to find what we call hobby boxes.  This is card packaging made for card stores.  You may also find more retail oriented packages as well, but I'll leave those till be head on over to Walmart to look for cards.  As of right now we have 3 big players in the sport card market.  Topps which has the exclusive baseball card license (and was recently bought by Fanatics, also another post for another time), Panini which currently holds the exclusive NFL, NBA, and NASCAR licenses, and Upper Deck which has the exclusive NHL license.  Panini also has a license with the MLB Players Association (at least for a couple more years) so they can produce baseball cards, they just can't use logos or team names.  Each company puts out their own products and has different brands, like Topps has Bowman, Panini has all the old Donruss brands and Upper Deck has all the old Fleer brands, etc.  The two main kinds of hobby products are hobby boxes and hobby jumbo boxes.  The difference being the number of cards per pack and the number of packs per box.  Also different products and box types will have different amounts of hits.  Will get to hits later, but basically a hit is considered a card that is autographed or has a piece of relic imbedded in it, or both.  

Using Topps 2022 Series 1 baseball as an example a hobby box has 24 - 14 card packs.  Topps also released a lot of there products in jumbo boxes. 2022 Topps Series 1has a configuration of 10 packs per box with 46 cards per pack.  The big difference between the two besides number of cards is that a hobby box has one guaranteed hit and a jumbo box has three.  Usually.  

So adding to our dictionary, when someone in the hobby refers to a hobby box we are talking about the 24 pack box available at your LCS and if we mention a Jumbo box or Hobby Jumbo we are talking about the 10 pack box with 3 hits.  

Now let's walk on down to a retail store and see what you might find there.  Over the years card companies offered a bunch of different packaging options for retail stores these are what you are most likely to find right now.

Blaster boxes.  A blaster box is a small box of cards that usually has somewhere between 7 and 10 retail packs inside.  Blasters can also feature exclusive parallels, like Topps Royal Blue Walmart parallels or Panini's Rapture parallel, they can also feature exclusive cards (usually manufactured relics, will get to what those are in a later post) as a bonus.

Hanger boxes.  These are small boxes that have a tab attached that can be hung from a store display hook, hence the hanger part.  These usually have one pack inside of about 40-60 or so cards.  These too may have exclusive content specific to just hanger boxes.

Retail fat packs or just fat packs (not to be confused with hobby jumbo packs).  These are just larger packs around 30 to 40 cards that like the hanger boxes are meant to be hung on a display hook.  I have yet to see Topps Series 1 fat packs, but they might be released later, which also sometimes happens.  And again these can sometimes have exclusive content just for this package type.

Blister packs.  These are packages where the card packs are on a cardboard backer and have a clear plastic shell or blister holding them on.  Topps currently has retail two pack blisters running around but again these can come in different pack configurations and have exclusive cards and content.

Mega boxes.  Relatively new Mega Boxes are just larger retail boxes, they usually have move packs than a blaster box and sometimes contain guaranteed hits and exclusive content.  They are most analogous to a hobby box.  

One last retail product you may see this year are retail tins.  Topps has released Series 1 tins the last two years, but Panini and Upper Deck also occasionally will release product tins.  Again these can contain one or multiple packs and sometimes include exclusive content.

Before I end this post I should point out that some card sets are retail or hobby exclusives, meaning you'll only find them at retail outlets or in hobby stores and some of the retail exclusives are exclusive to that store, like Topps Fire, Bowman Platinum, and Topps Holiday for examples.

I hope that was helpful.  I think I might put together a historical packaging post where we can talk about rack packs and cereal boxes.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner - 12th Annual Almost the Easiest Super Bowl Contest on the Web has a winner!!!


Wow I can't believe it's already over.  I had a nice afternoon enjoying the game at home.  I really had no horse in the race so I was really just hoping for a great competitive game (I might have been leaning on rooting for the Bengals just a little).  And boy did we get that!  It was a lot lower scoring than a lot of you predicted, but how can you complain when the game was so close the entire way and really came down to the last drive.  I'm glad Stafford and Donald get rings and wow Kupp was impressive, but Burrow, Mixon, and Higgins were equally fun to watch.  If the Bengals can keep that team intact they will be ruling the AFC North, heck maybe all of the AFC for some time.  

Ahem, let's get down to what you all are here for.  We had 4 teams going into the finals.  Two had who picked the Bengals and two for the Rams.  No one correctly predicted the opponent so we have to move to total points and boy did our two correct picks way over predict that!  But by the margin of just one point CaptKirk42 is our grand prize winner!!!!!!

bbcardz - LA Rams over Kansas City Chiefs, 72 points, 3 field goals PIMP

Twinkiller on TCDb - Bengals over Packers, (Yeah that's right,) 54 points, 4 FG

CaptKirk42 - Rams over Bills 71 points 5 FGs

Huskerfan22 - Cincinnati over Green Bay, 59 points, 5 FGS tcdb: Huskerfan22

A complete correct guess with tie breakers would have been:

Bengals over Rams, 43 Pts, 3 FGs

Kirk just happens to be a Rams fan, I guess that's not too surprising.  Kirk also writes a couple blogs the most relevant is CaptKirk42s Trading Card Blog. Kirk I'll be sending you an email here shortly, I think I have some nice Rams stuff for your collection.  Also I'm fairly certain (without going back through my notes) that Kirk has won one of my contests before.  

But wait we ain't done yet.  We still have a door prize to give away.  As is our policy, everyone who entered (and I have to add this caveat,  everyone who entered and had an identifiable entry, we had 3 unknowns that were removed)  has a chance at the door prize.  People who promoted the contest got an extra entry.  The names of everyone who entered were entered into a list randomizer at and the list was randomized 3 times!

And it's Fuji!! Who writes the great blog The Chronicles of Fuji.  Fuji is a fellow Packers fan, but also collects Seahawks (so he's probably getting Seahawks).  

Again I just want to thanks everyone who entered!! I know I've really slacked on the blogging front for that last couple years, but it's awesome to have such a great turn out for a contest.  Kirk and Fuji I will be contacting both of you to make sure I have current shipping addresses.

Now let's just hope we have a baseball season so I can have the my 12th Annual World Series contest!!!