1993 saw the introduction of Topps Finest, Topps’ super-premium set that raised the bar for the industry. Chromium cards were unheard of at the time, and to make the set exciting, refractors were also introduced. Because, what good is a sports card set without a parallel? Don’t answer that, though, as that’s another topic for another day.
I recall packs of Finest going for no less than $20 when introduced, and even today, that’s usually what you can expect to pay for a pack if you can find them. Obviously, too rich for my blood. But I will say that seeing the cards in person left a lasting impression on me for years to come.
However, when 1994 Finest Baseball was introduced, the packs were more affordable at just $8/pack. In fact, the odds for a refractor were doubled in the box at 2/box on average.
I can remember my local card shop owner telling me that the set wouldn’t do well because of the color scheme chosen by Topps. Gone was the design of a reflective background; instead, Topps chose a “garish” green color for the entire 441-card set. Garish? Well, that’s a matter of opinion, but in my mind, this set was leaps and bounds better than the inaugural set in terms of design.
I mean, call me crazy, but I honestly love the design, and the green background makes the cards pop a little more. In fact, the refractors make the set worth investing. Of course, that’s just my opinion. I know a lot of people would argue against that, and I’m fine with that.
To me, however, this set stands out above the earlier Finest sets that were released in the ’90s, due in part to it being more affordable than its predecessor, as well as having a better design and better odds to pull a refractor.
Just don’t get me started on refractors today.