Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 Blowout Forums purchase: the Finest in all the land

I'll get back to trade packages shortly, but first I thought I'd show off one of my few BlowoutCards Forum purchases from late last year.

While viewing the box break section I noticed a guy was busting a case of 1997 Finest Series I baseball.  "Hey," I thought to myself, "I need a set of that to go with the one I have of Series II!"  I'd opened up a box of the latter years and years and years ago (and had a very good time doing so) and eventually completed that set, then left it by its lonesome for a long time.

I should note that when I say "complete" I'm referring just to the "Bronze" or "Common" cards, numbers 176-275; the Silvers were 1:4 packs and the Golds went 1:24, and I didn't feel bad ignoring them and just treating the Bronze cards as the base to get.

So that's where I was when I asked the box breaker if he had a Series I set (#s 1-100) available.  $15 and a few days later, one was in my mailbox:
Here's both series next to each other:
I thought I'd give everyone a quick look at the design of this very fun product that's coming up on its 20-year anniversary(!) by pulling out some cards of each "theme" while also showing what each back looks like as well:
"Masters" seems to focus on some of the biggest stars based on the bunch you see here.  I do end up making the player selection look a bit better than it is, though!
Here's the back of the Big Hurt's card, and you can see that it has its own number as well as its place within the Masters theme.  And the back also helpfully denotes it as a "common" or bronze version.
"Hurlers" is centered around pitchers, naturally, though I had to reach for Percival as a third star from the Series I bunch.  This design makes it much easier to identify a bronze card up front compared to the Masters, but pretty much every theme is a winner here.
I didn't pay attention to every back as I was flipping through these, but it sure seems like Pedro's card is one of the few with a horizontal back.
The names stay fairly intuitive as "Blue Chips" feature up-and-coming stars.  Of course, Topps couldn't produce A-Rod cards back then so he didn't represent the third member of this trio, but Renteria had a pretty nice career like the other two guys.  This is one of the least obvious designs in terms of noting the common theme.
Thankfully, Nomah didn't blow past his rookie status until '97, when he put up a great AL ROY season.  This "prospect projection" was right on.
You might think the "Power" theme focuses on power hitters, but that kind of felt like a stretch to me as I tried to grab three good players from the group.  Delgado certainly qualifies, but the other two--a solid enough hitter and one of the better guys at the dish--weren't really sluggers.  The lightning theme is pretty cool, though again these aren't obvious bronze cards.
I love the photo of a younger and slimmer Delgado here.  I don't recall him hitting a homer over the roof of old Tiger Stadium back in 1996, but I remember it being a big deal whenever a player did so.
"Warriors" is the final Series I group, and it kind of feels like a combination of the designs of Masters and Hurlers the more I look at it.  This bunch seems to comprise grizzled veterans such as the three HOFers I grabbed here.  Larkin is my only PC player out of the first series and I already had his card, but I certainly don't mind having another copy!
Barry's got some nice stats on the back, but one stat is conspicuously missing:  home runs!  Larkin socked a career-high 33 in '96 to go with 36 steals as the 30-30 club's first SS, as the back mentions.

I haven't ever done a summary of the Series II set since I finished it so long ago, so while I had everything out I added a few scans of those as well:
The Griffey and Ripken cards have long been in their PCs and are among my favorites.  I grabbed a scan of Cal's card to show one of the themes unique to Series II, "Competitors", plus former Tigers speed demon Brian Hunter in the "Acquisitions" subset.  As Griffey's card shows, Masters was a holdover, as were Blue Chips and Power.
Here's the back of Hunter's card, and the speeder OF went off for 74 steals in '97, fulfilling Topps' promise here.
And Ripken's back.  This is a great shot of him in the field, even if the placement of the text near his shoes makes it hard to read.  The stitching pattern on the front is matched on the back in a nice touch.

It's fun getting to show off the occasional complete set like this as I've largely gotten away from collecting them since I almost never bust boxes anymore.  Sometimes you can't beat letting someone else put one together for you!  Maybe this will spur me to go after a few other half-done products in my collection.


  1. I've never tried to do anything on Blowout forums. Glad it worked out for you.

    1. It's hit or miss, but I've landed some pretty good deals over there. Not nearly as often as I used to, but according to their feedback system I've bought/sold/traded more than 100 times!