October 25, 2011

Discussion: Have parallels/inserts changed your habits?

I sort of got into a discussion about this issue on Twitter and it's something I have been thinking about more lately just based on what I look for on eBay and at shows. I have made it known that I love blue refractors, so I can't say that I think all parallels and inserts are a waste.

My collection in the last year or so has shifted focus and I may have mentioned that once before. I basically look for autograph versions of my players and then fill in the base and base variations later on. I never thought I would be "that" collector who only cared about autographs but I talked myself into thinking my logic is actually logical.

If I were to do my weekly (read: daily and sometimes hourly) searches on eBay for Robbie Cano cards there are always tons of parallels, serial numbered refractors, and game used non-sense cards. Try and find 2009 Triple Threads Cano autographs, I dare you. I have seen the White Whales and maybe a triple relic autograph from 2009 but that's about it. So keeping that in mind, why wouldn't I go after his low numbered autographs and just regular autographs when they will be either non-existent in a few weeks or months or I will end up priced out as a result of scarcity?

Recently I have picked up only autographs of Cano and haven't bothered with anything else. Part of me doesn't even care about the rest of the cards but then the other part of me sees my page of 2011 Topps Chrome missing a regular refractor, atomic refractor, gold refractor, red refractor.... and it makes me mad for three reasons. Reason #1 - Mad at myself just because I'm mad about not having them. Reason #2 - That I have OCD and feel the need to fill those gaps in one day even if it's not now. Reason #3 - I (sadly) like having a page of the same refractor (there, I said it).

Now I know some of you might be going, well it must be nice to spend all that money on autographs. No, not even close. If you priced all the refractors that I am missing from Topps Chrome and Bowman Chrome if I were to just buy parallels it would probably afford me at least 2 Cano autographs maybe even 3 depending on what I went after. If I have $30 to spend on cards and there is an autograph I need in that ballpark vs. a bunch of parallels I am going for that autograph every time, no question.

Quick example, if you want to see how much a couple of parallels of Cano would add up to you can click and add them up.

2011 Finest gold refractor /50
2011 Finest red refractor /25
2011 Topps Chrome red refractor /25

Would it be nice to have those cards? It sure would. But it's always nicer to have a card like this instead.

I feel like I can save all the inserts and parallels I pull out of packs that I don't want to trade with other collectors for the ones I need rather than chasing those cards on eBay. I think this makes more sense anyway because it's not often that when we all rip wax that we pull the guys we collect in parallels. And if there are no trades on the cards I can always wait until I can get to a card show and rummage through bins for cards and buy a group of them for less than buying individual cards and paying for shipping online.

I would love to hear if your collecting habits have changed in terms of waiting on parallels and inserts and going after the autograph or game used cards first. Or do you go for the inserts/parallels first and take the quantity route for the bucks?


  1. Serial numbered parallels are currently a topic near and dear to my heart. I will definitely say yes, they have changed my habits, especially when it comes to my Jays collection. Sadly, now with all these colored parallel cards, there is just more to chase for the team collector. It's hard to draw a line in the sand though, because if you are one to want everything associated with your specfic collection, at what point do you say "enough is enough'?!

  2. I actually said "enough is enough" about 2 weeks ago. I have been chasing the Topps Black #/n. (looks like a math equation). But I realized that I will never put together the Yankee Team sets that I covet so much. Mainly do to the high costs of the Jeters involved. So I have ended that pursuit. I also decided to no longer put together sets for my two sons. A couple of reasons for that, 1) the sets are never truly "complete", as I don't pursue the shortprints for their sets. 2) Contrary to the beliefs of my friends and co-workers, I'm not made of money. Even with waiting a year or so to buy product, some of it has yet to decrease in price (see 2010 Topps Series 1 boxes, for an example). 3) I guess I'm just getting tired of only having one manufacturer to choose from. I'm never sure if a new product will exist next year, I don't want to start a new set and have it run for one year and be done. I'm sure I could find some more reasons, but these will do for now.

  3. Ok, Here's my sound off:
    That parallels are great, but are getting out of control IMO. As a Teixeira collector I've been working on my 1st rainbow from Topps chrome and it is almost impossible. I have spent time and way too much money trying to make this happen and although it is gratifying how close I am, it's scary that I'll have to go through it all again next year. My thoughts, keep a set number of refractors, ie..if you're going to add a "sepia" get rid of the Orange refractor. Once my quest is complete I'll be blogging about it as well. In the meantime good luck in your own personal hunts!

  4. I've never really understood parallels. Even when a product (like Collector's Choice) had only 2 parallels (Silver and Gold), I couldn't understand why any collector would want multiple copies of, what is essentially, the same card.

    Parallels, however, are here to stay as they are a cheap way for manufacturers to "add value" (whatever that is supposed to mean) to a product without adding to the additional cost of creating something new.

    One thing I like about parallels: They make for great trade bait.

  5. It has, yes.

    While I still want to get 'everything' of my players, my primary focus right now is getting the base cards, as well as rookie cards of Mario Williams and Andre Johnson.

    Parallels will always be there, and honestly, I only went after /25 and under on eBay, even for game-used cards. There's just too much stuff to chase, even with retired players, and too many 'patches' that are single color.

  6. I realized a long time ago I would never get all the cards of the Indians or JIm Thome. When they started coming out with 1/1's and printing plates (I don't chase plates, I don't consider them cards, which they aren't)I realized in my mind it was hopeless but I continue to chase as many parallels as I can.I keep making trades and search at card shows and buy what I can afford. I try not to get discouraged and just keep plugging along !

  7. I'm not going to throw myself off a bridge if I don't get every single parallel of all the Rangers cards that come out. That said, I do want them and it's often a starting place for a trade and helps me get rid of parallels I pull of other teams.

  8. Chris Harris said it best once again!!!!

  9. I collected parallels when they were new in the early 1990s & it was still vaguely possible to collect every card produced for your favorite player.

    I didn't pick up the habit again when I came back to collecting about 10 years ago - there were entirely too many different cards.

    I now limit myself to base card team sets from the bigger sets (the ones that have at least 8-10 different players from the team) and autographs or other nicer cards that I particularly like.