Friday, March 30, 2012
Every kind there is
"Just how many different types of refractors are there?"
This is the question I asked myself while I was browsing through some cards yesterday.
Whether you like them or not, it appears that refractors are here to stay in the hobby. Which is fine by me, as I have a weakness when it comes to shiny baseball cards that I just can't seem to shake.
I believe that the term "refractor" was first used in the '94 Finest set, a set shown above with one of those "obscure" guys I collect, Rheal Cormier.
They've been around ever since, only in many different shapes and sizes (and colors), as you'll soon see.
The other major type of refractor is the awesomely-named "x-fractor".
I'm not exactly sure when these were first introduced into the hobby. (I'd guess they were first used with these, although I could be wrong.)
I spent an hour or so this morning going through my collection and seeing how many different types of refractors I had.
Including the regular refractors and x-fractors, I came up with a total of 16 different variations, which was more than I thought I'd find. I know there's a few I don't have, like the sepia refractors from 2011 Topps Chrome. And I doubt I'll ever own a "super-fractor" judging from the going rates on those.
I'm sure there's still some I don't know about.
In order to not make this a "Here's this type of refractor. And here's another one. And another..." type of post, I've decided to rank them from my least favorite to favorite.
But even my least favorite refractor is better than a lot of other cards I own. It's a lot like saying my least favorite Beatle is George Harrison. It's not that I don't like him, he's just my least favorite of the four, and I still like him a lot more than most other musicians.
Anyways, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, refractors.
I'll leave out the regular refractors and x-fractors, so you'll see 14 different refractors in the "countdown". If you have any that aren't on this list, please feel free to comment, as I'd like to know just how many different types are out there that I don't already own.
And the countdown begins with...
#14: Copper Refractors
(A note: I don't know why, but "blogger" decided to put an extra space after lines with bold or italic text that I can't get rid of. My apologies.)
Like a lot of other types still to come on this list, these were a one-time deal.
Copper refractors were only found inside 2008 Topps Chrome packs. Copper just doesn't blend all too well with "shininess".
#13: Black X-Fractors
As is the case with a few others, this is the only one of this type of refractor that I own.
In fact, it's one of the lowest-numbered cards in my collection, limited to just 25 copies. However, like the copper refractors, the dark colors just don't work well with refractor-like qualities.
#12: Black Refractors
Same sentiments as #13.
#11: Green Refractors
Finest sure had a lot of wacky refractors.
That shade of green reminds me of this from my kiddie days watching Nickelodeon. To this day, I still wonder what the heck was in that stuff.
#10: Gold Refractors
If I was making this list a few months ago, these might have been a little higher.
But Topps made me a bit sick of "gold" this year.
#9: Blue X-Fractors
Yes, more Aubrey Huff.
By themselves, x-fractors are great. However, I'll always take the regular colored refractor over an x-fractor of the same color (like the black refractors).
#8: Blue Refractors
See what I mean?
#7: Orange Refractors
In the last couple years, rack packs of Topps Chrome have had a "special" pack containing three of these.
I probably would've never bought a single pack of Chrome last year had it not been for these.
This Ichiro was one of my best pulls of 2011.
I wish Topps would bring these back. They've been in hiding for about ten years.
The only major color that doesn't seem to have a refractor is yellow, but this is pretty close.
The "retro" is because of the old card stock-like feel to the back of the card. The above card is my personal favorite Jason Tyner card. (Another "obscure" collection of mine.)
#5: White Refractors
Another one-time deal, only found inside 2007 Topps Chrome packs.
I'm not sure why I like these so much, as you'd think white would be a horrible color for refractors.
But there's just something about them.
#4: Silver Refractors
This is the only silver refractor I own.
I want more!
#3: Red X-Fractors
Red is my personal favorite refractor color. It's one of the few that works great with x-fractors as well.
This was my first "big" card in my Marlon Byrd collection, so it holds a special meaning to me.
That and the fact that it's absurdly shiny.
#2: Red Refractors
I wish these were still around.
I've only got a few in my collection, but I love every one of them.
My favorite type of refractor was re-indroduced to the hobby last year after a lengthy hiatus. They were one of the few good things to come out of the mid '90s parallel craze.
Without further ado, here they are.
#1: Atomic Refractors
Just look at it. A thing of beauty.
I've only got two or three of these in my collection. They don't come up very often, but I consider myself lucky to have any of them.
Topps re-introduced these in last year's Topps Chrome, although they're a far cry from the mid '90s atomic greatness.
Even the name is fantastic. "Atomic".
Perhaps no singular thing has signaled a shift in this ever-changing hobby more than refractors. The difference between these and cards from the 1970's are so different that they might as well have been issued a century apart.
It really is amazing to think about how far this hobby has come sometimes.