In Our Hobby, Is Imitation Flattery or Theft?

Aside from Tribute-Gate, this week for me has been spent looking at the preview images of 2015 Prism Baseball. While I am finally starting to appreciate non-licensed cards and what they can bring to our hobby, I couldn’t help but notice that one of their parallels looks almost identical to Topps’ X-Fractor parallel used around 2007. Then that got me thinking about another parallel …

Leaf’s Gold Prismatic has been around a few years now. It’s clearly Leaf’s version of Topps’ Superfractor, hands down the most coveted and popular parallel card of all-time. Personally, I’ve never understood the fascination with the Superfractor but I can certainly see a need for Leaf to jump on Topps’ coattails. There is very little positive in our hobby these days so any card that can put us in a good light is quite alright by me.

At one point during Wax Heaven’s first run from 2007-2009, my entire life revolved around baseball cards and hobby knowledge. I’m no longer an encyclopedia so I can’t recall the debut of the Superfractor. However, if you ask me, its origins lie with the heavily underrated and just resurrected, Bowman’s Best. In 1996, Bowman’s Best introduced the Atomic Refractor, the first parallel above the common refractor.

Below is a sample of the ’96 Atomic Refractor, a card that was seeded at 1:48 packs. I don’t know about you guys but it sure looks like an ancestor of the Superfractor to me. By 1997, Topps changed the look of the Atomic Refractor to a more futuristic looking card. Fortunately, the same printing technology was moved over into a much more prominent brand.

Check out 1997’s Topps Finest Embossed Refractor. Once again, looks very familiar to me for some reason. This beauty was a 1:192 odds pull and well worth it. The color was off but again, this card is clearly an ancestor to the Superfractor we all know and love. Once again, Topps only used this parallel for one year and completely destroyed Finest in 1998, in my opinion.

After this, it appears Topps retired this particular printer for a decade or so before introducing the world to the Superfractor, err, Embossed Refractor, err, Atomic Refractor. It will be very interesting to see if Topps brings back the 1996 Atomic Refractor for Bowman’s Best’s 2015 return. Now THAT would be something else, especially if they include Superfractors in the product as well.

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Categories: Leaf Trading Cards, The Topps Company | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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