30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Unparalleled Parallel

In 1992... Topps and Leaf paved the road for card companies when each company produced and inserted the industry's first pack pulled parallels into their products.  Topps had their Topps Gold parallels, while Leaf had their Black Gold parallels.

A year later, Topps introduced the "refractor" to collectors, which is a parallel that essentially refracts light and produces a "rainbow" like reflection when you look at them at the right angle.

Twenty-four years later, the refractor's popularity is still going strong and is now used to produced a variety of colored parallels in most Topps products.  Personally, I wish they'd take it down a notch, reduce the number of refractor variations, and make them a little tougher to pull... like in the 90's.  

Back then... if you pulled a refractor from a pack, it felt like a "hit".

For example... check out this Nolan Ryan I stumbled across last week while digging through my insert box:

1999 Topps Chrome Refractor #34

This card is seriously amazing and I was truly blown away by its beauty.  The simple card design focuses the attention of the collector on the "shine".  Obviously the scan doesn't do the refraction of light justice, but even without it you can still see the perfectly cropped picture of Ryan's high kick windup.

The card back contains his entire MLB statistics, along with photos of him from his days with the New York Mets, California Angels, and Houston Astros.  If you look at the card number in the upper left corner, you'll also see that it states that this is the refractor parallel.

Although I appreciate "greatness", I've never thought about starting a Nolan Ryan collection.  In fact, growing up I was much more into Steve Carlton.  That's why I felt that this card was the perfect card for the 20th Challenge in Tony's 30 Day Baseball Card Challenge, which is to show off your favorite parallel card based on the parallel, not the player.

What about you...

What are some of your favorite parallels?

Since the beginning of this challenge, I had intended to use one of the UD Masterpieces or Gypsy Queen framed parallels for this post.  They're the only parallels out there (in my humble opinion) that give refractors a run for their money.  But I didn't even bother digging through my framed parallels after seeing this Ryan.  It would have been a waste of time... and free time remaining during my summer break is just too valuable.

Happy Sunday and sayonara!


  1. For my money, 90's refractors will always be the king of parallels.

  2. Refractors for me, too. They are always incredible...no matter who is on the card.

  3. Refractors are hard to beat. I also like old school silver and gold signatures from Collector's Choice.

  4. MINIS! love the mini parallels (tobacco sized only please)

  5. The early Finest refractors would be my favorite parallel even though I never pulled any of them.

  6. I thought of the GQ framed ones right off the bat. Like those (in certain colors) as well as Ginter X with the badass black. Though they're a pain to obtain.

  7. Refractors for me and, specifically, blue refractors.

  8. I always liked the 1998 Score Artist Proofs (https://www.comc.com/Cards/Hockey/1997-98/Score_-_Base_-_Artist_Proof/97/Theoren_Fleury/12029811). They had them in both hockey and baseball.

  9. I'm a sucker for the crazy 90's parallels. I also love the clear acetate and silver frame cards in flagship.

  10. The whole 92-93 Topps Gold was a nice parallel and I'm partial to the 92-93 Parkhurst Emerald Ice parallel. Actually completed all 510 cards a few years ago.

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    2. I hope to get the Topps gold set someday too.

  11. The 94-95 Electric Ice parallels have long been my favorite. Maybe someday I'll get around to finishing the set.

  12. great responses! glad to see that i'm not the only one who appreciates refractors.

    matt stupienski - as a fan of parallels in general, i'm all over minis when i can find them. and i don't stop at the tobacco sized ones

    gcc - i'll have to look up the badass black parallels. they sound cool

    paul - great looking cards. i remember pulling at least one or two of those back in the day

    matthew - this acetate parallels look beautiful. never actually owned one, but i've seen them around the blogworld

    forestrydave - congratulations! i actually tried to build that emerald ice set too back in the day. i wonder what happened to all of my singles from that project. haven't seen them in years

    robert - i've actually picked up a few of those electric ice parallels on comc. they're pretty affordable these days

    paul's tom blog - thanks! i think so too.