30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Will to Build a Set

If you are reading this post and you're not my mom or one of my students stalking me... then you're probably a fellow card collector or at least a former card collector.

And if you collect cards... then there's a somewhat good chance you've attempted to build a set at some point on your collector timeline.

My set building days began in the mid 80's when I attempted to build the 1986 Topps set... although I'm not quite sure if I ever finished or not.  For the remainder of the decade, I enjoyed building all of the Topps baseball card sets and some of the other affordable sets like 1988 Score and 1989 Donruss.

Set building was placed on the back burner in the 90's, because that's when I discovered a passion for inserts, parallels, rookie cards, and autographs.

Singles trumped sets.  And before I knew it, I had sold the majority of my collection and was out of the hobby by 2001.

Clearly my retirement didn't last long.  It never does.  In 2008... I was right back in it and set building was one of the biggest reasons.  That year, I was busting tons of boxes and building sets left and right.

It took a few years, but eventually I realized that it wasn't practical in a financial sense... which brings us to the collector I am today:  a guy who prefers to buy sets, rather than build them.

However... every now and then something will catch my eye and I'll dive right back into my old collecting ways.

Last year... Topps produced a very cool insert set for their Archives product that highlights and features one of America's most beloved actors and his memorable Spring Training day when he traveled to five different stadiums and played nine different positions for ten different teams.

At first I only wanted the A's and Padres cards, but after picking up a few other singles here and there... I eventually decided to build the entire ten card set.  Two eBay purchases later... and the set was finally complete.

Best of all... between finishing this set and wrapping up my Donruss Puzzle Project, I rediscovered the thrill of completing a set.  Over the weekend, I went on a COMC shopping spree and was able to cross off two additional sets that I'll share in a future post.

Does this mean that my focus will go back to building sets?  Probably not.  But I have more than a fair share of sets that are currently keeping me busy right now.

Do you consider yourself to be a set builder?  If so, what are some of your greatest accomplishments in terms of set building?

Happy Monday and sayonara!

Extra Innings

Sport Card Collectors is giving away a sweet Museum Collection Zach Wheeler card.  All you need to do is comment on his post to be entered.  If you want to earn additional entries, you can plug the contest on Twitter and your blog.


  1. I'm not a set builder. But I've attempted two sets before. The 2012 Sega Card Gen set, which I completed. And the 1979 Topps set which I'm building right now.

  2. I like building some sets, but it's usually easier and cheaper just to buy one that's already put together. That's the route I've taken more often than not lately.

  3. I am not a set builder at all. A few years ago I built 1968 Topps Game, but I was so impatient I just gobbled up the cards quickly. I would be bad at building a set over time.

  4. Multi faceted collector here. Sets, players, team sets. My greatest set accomplishment is my 1972 Topps set. Can't remember when I started it or completed it, but it's done and the majority of the cards are NrMt.

  5. Nice job!

    I am still a set collector. My greatest accomplishments are the 96,97,98 Spx football sets. I still need the baseball, basketball, and hockey versions of these. The holograms and layout are amazing.

  6. I have left team set building and have gone back to being a set collector (not necessarily builder). I build some through buying lots and finishing them; I buy some sets, like Heritage, and then attempt to complete it by buying the SPs; and then others I just buy outright (like some base Topps).

  7. You bet I'm a set builder.

    Probably greatest set completion accomplishment is getting the 1971 Topps set done. But when '72 is finished, that might trump '71.

  8. I feel like I need to be on my best behavior, knowing that your mom might be reading... :-D

    I used to be a set collector, but that's eroded over the years, due to various reasons I won't get into. The best way to describe what I am now is that I collect in many different ways, and when I am suitably inspired I will chase a set.

    As for greatest accomplishments, I'd say 1975 Football is up there (even though I don't generally collect football) and 2002 Topps Total. The latter really was not worth the effort, but dammit, I completed a 990-card set, that counts for something!

  9. I'm the farthest thing from a set-builder; but, that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the accomplishment of putting together a nice checklist. Those Will Ferrell cards might be one of my favorite card sets since the turn of the millenium.

    Although, I guess you can consider my CATRC a franken-set, but I don't think that's what you're aiming for here.

  10. I'm a perpetual set builder. It seems unless I buy a full set, I am forever trying to complete a set. For the Will Farrell set I have the A's card (WF-1) but need the other 9. I am still attempting to complete my 1965 Topps Baseball set that I tried/wished to get completed last year around this time but failed. Still 1/3 built on that score.

  11. I like building sets, but I just don't get the same satisfaction as adding a cool Pirates card to my collection. Plus the sets that I like are getting sp'd to death which makes it extremely hard to complete on the cheap.

  12. I've gone back and forth on set building and team set collecting. Since I'm down to collecting just vintage for my Reds team sets I've started focusing more on set building again. There's one set in particular that I've been working on lately that I'm proud of, but I can't share just yet. I will say that I have a post waiting to publish once I acquire a couple more cards :)

  13. I have a love, hate relationship with the Will Ferrell set. I love what Ferrell did that day and I love that Topps captured it on cardboard. I went to a Spring Training day. Pretty sure it was the only AZ Spring Training game that Farrell didn't appear in. So disappointing.

  14. Besides my main Focus Team sets, then I am a set collector, and finally my many mini collections. Its worse than a full time job that for sure. Nights and weekends are pretty much devoted to cards. (Maybe a week day here and there too). Love finishing off a set build. My 2016 goals noted this fact.

  15. I attempted to complete the Topps main sets from about 2001-2005 by busting packs, but haven't really attempted any since then. I got a bunch of complete sets by purchasing the set, but I haven't done that in a while either. Mainly now, I'll buy a few packs of whatever is on the shelves at target of Wally World, and occasionally buy singles online of favorite players.

  16. Been a set builder since Day 1. Finished 1979 Topps football first, then '80 baseball. Since then (and a hiatus from 1985 to 2004), I've completed all the 70's except '70 & '72, plus I just finished 1959. Also have '69, 80-84, and am within a few stars of finishing the rest of the 80's and early 90s, and several 2000s. Biggest ones I did were the Upper Deck 40-Mans, about 1200 each plus inserts. 2002 set includes all the inserts, even the Lumber Yards, minus a few McGwire Flashbacks.
    Have similar ranges in football, but I'm behind on the 70's. Only three sets complete.
    Got several hockey as well, but they're tougher with all the rookie shortprints.
    Won't go into the 2000s in any detail, but suffice to say the bulk of my two china cabinets are white boxes full of sets.