Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Finest Refractors are the Finest Refractors

Baseball card collectors went crazy when Topps first introduced refractors with their 1993 Finest release.  To this day, those early Finest refractors are some of the most sought after cards of the decade.  I don't have any of those to show off today, but I do have some of their hockey counterparts!

Topps produced only three Finest hockey sets over the years before losing their NHL trading card license; 1994-95, 1995-96 (seen here), and 1998-99.  I'm not as interested in the '98-99 set since I had quit collecting for the first time by then, but the first two sets I love.  I picked up eight of these '95-96 refractors as a small Sportlots order recently because the price was right. 

I don't believe they're as rare as the '93 Finest baseball refractors, which have a rumored print run of 241 each.  Then again, I don't really know.  These were seeded at two per hobby box as opposed to one per box for those original baseball refractors, but I have no idea how many Finest hockey boxes Topps produced.  In any event, they are very tough to track down; there are dozens and dozens of cards from the 189-card checklist that I couldn't buy a refractor of if I wanted to right now, cost aside.  Even if they are just as rare, they're certainly a lot less expensive than the '93 baseball refractors, just not as much collector demand.

I was ecstatic to find one third of the famed "Legion of Doom" line, Mikael Renberg, available for just 65 cents.  I think I'm starting to become a Renberg super-collector without really trying.

With the '95-96 release, Topps actually noted that the card was a refractor on the back.  You can see the notation just above the card number in the upper left.

In a game where it's all about the offense, Jere Lehtinen was an under-rated player.  He played close to 900 career games, all with the Stars.  His 514 career points may not be overly impressive, but he won the Selke Trophy as the league's top defensive forward three times.

I have a sick delusion that someday I may end up with all 189 of these.  Not likely to ever happen, but there's no way I was leaving any refractor behind for a quarter, which is what Chad Kilger was priced at.

You don't hear much about Brian Bradley these days, but during their inaugural season he was arguably the best player on the Tampa Bay Lightning.

I really had no idea that Shean Donovan lasted anywhere near as long as he actually did in the NHL.  After debuting with the Sharks, he'd skate with the Avalanche, Thrashers (remember them?), Penguins, Flames, Bruins and Senators before retiring in 2010.

Trevor Linden was an absolute steal at 50 cents.

Ditto for Dale Hawerchuk.  These arrived a few days ago and I'm still kind of shocked that Linden and Hawerchuk combined set me back just a dollar.

The final card of the bunch came from a different seller, and it cost more than the other seven combined including shipping (not saying much as that was less than $6).  Behold!

I'm up to a dozen refractors now from this set, and Super Mario is by far the best of the bunch.  One of the coolest '90s hockey cards I've picked up in quite some time, and for less than $10 shipped no less!  My 2016 "frugal and selective" approach is really working out well so far.  After all, Finest Refractors really are the finest refractors...


Hackenbush said...

Those are perrty!

Tim B. said...

Very nice! Gotta love seeing those old Ducks jerseys. I've got family near Anaheim and I actually have one of those hanging in my closet as I write this. Great stuff Shane!

Marc said...

Nice additions. Sweet cards. Especially Le Magnifique.

Brass said...

These are really that rare and valuable? I have a good stack of these in a box in my collection.

shoeboxlegends said...

Well, that's the thing, I'm not really sure how rare they are but there certainly aren't a lot of them floating around on the secondary market. I know they were seeded two per box, but have no idea how many boxes were produced. So, since they aren't serial numbered I have no idea how many copies of each card are actually out there.

They're obviously not all that valuable since I paid 50 cents or less for 6 of the 8 cards in this post. If you ever want to trade any of yours I'd be interested! ;-)

Fuji said...

I spent a grip on 95/96 Finest hockey back in the day. At one point I had over half of the gold refractor set... but quit chasing it b/c I knew I couldn't compete with the guy who was buying up all of the Jagrs.

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