Fine (fee-ney) means “the end.’’
When Topps released its inaugural Finest set 20 years ago, I thought the traditional picture card as we knew it was fine.
It wasn't. Regular cards were and still are produced, but the game was altered with this super-premium release. Topps took the Upper Deck idea and cosmetically enhanced it to Morganna proportions at a huge cost to collectors. Packs went for as much as $25. Haven't even mentioned the short-printed refractor parallels, which were the beginning of the high-priced insert card.
I find the base set awfully stylish but lacking substance, like a Ferrari that won't start. The photo background is erased, which bothers the hell out of me; the back an afterthought with player facts and stats seemingly classified. Finest isn't about the mundane; it's about big and bold graphics, silver-blue metallic colors and a glass-smooth chrome finish that you can see your reflection in. I'd rather see complete stats. Still ... I catch myself wolf whistling when flipping the album pages.
Finest remains a novelty to me, not to be taken too seriously despite its high and mighty status. Topps should've sold it exclusively at Spencer's next to the Whoopie Cushions or, better yet, the local magic shop on the trick-card shelf.
So where am I going with this? Well, this is my 200th blog post and the fact there are 199 cards in the set, one for every previous post, it's time to announce that I’ll blog my set on and off as part of The Cardboard Examiner.
Get ready for Finest on Friday and a series that might take five years to complete.
1993 TOPPS FINEST AT A GLANCE
- Released in the fall.
- First hobby-only product.
- Six cards per pack.
- 18 packs per box.
- 199 cards, no checklists.
- 33-card green-tinged All-Star subset.
- 241 refractors per base card, one per box.
- Jumbo All-Star card (4x6 inches) included in each box.
- Suggested retail price $3.99 a pack.
- eBay routinely lists packs for $19.99 buy-it-now.
- Chrome and refractor technology debuts.
- Production run limited to 4,000 cases.
- First time a major card manufacturer releases production run numbers.
- Only two rookie cards: #156 J.T. Snow and #186 Mike Lansing.
- One uncorrected error card: #122 Eddie Murray.