Another Blog Bat Around has snuck up on me, and it's kind of in my area of expertise.
"What is," Nachos Grande asks, "the hardest set that you have ever collected (or tried to collect)." I'm going to assume that by "hard," he means "difficult" and not "made out of granite" (OK, night owl, don't be a jerk).
This Blog Bat Around is directed at set collectors, of which I am one. But it focuses on something that I try to avoid. I intentionally do not try to complete sets that might be difficult. I don't need challenges like that in my life. I have a job. I have a family. I have a teenager and a dog and a government and parents and a neighborhood and 78 passwords that I MUST CHANGE IMMEDIATELY. I don't need difficult challenges in a hobby that's supposed to be fun.
So I intentionally avoid trying to complete a tobacco mini set from 1904 or every 2016 parallel of Kris Bryant. My completion quests are much more manageable (with the exception of '56 Topps which is just too beautiful to not at least attempt). If it's going to be "hard," then never mind. I'll find something much more agreeable.
I've done this for a number of years now. But when I first got back into the hobby, I didn't know any better.
In 2006, my first time really collecting since the early '90s, I picked up where I left off and collected the way I did when I was a kid. I started to gain more and more knowledge about how the hobby worked and then I discovered blogs and gained even more knowledge.
I also stumbled across something called a "short-print".
When I first decided to try to complete 2008 Topps Heritage, I don't think was fully aware of what a short-print was. But I found out soon enough. And as the pages in the binder began to fill up, there were certain slots that always remained empty. Those were where the intentionally short-printed cards would go.
This was my first encounter with the nature of Heritage. Back then, short-prints weren't reserved for the back of the set. They were distributed throughout. So if you put your pages in a binder, interrupting beautiful page after page like this ...
... is a page like this ...
... smack in the middle of the set! (I double-bag my pages, so you're just going to have to get used to seeing the back of a card in the empty slot).
The higher you go in the set, the more painful it gets.
This beauty is just one card short. Ouch.
But for years now -- almost a decade -- this set has sat incomplete. I've needed nine cards to finish it for ages.
It's not really because I can't find the cards or even because I can't afford them. It's simply that I can't be bothered anymore.
This is the set that caused me to decide to never try to complete another Heritage set again (until 2024, of course). The short-prints are just too time-consuming for someone with all of the activities and responsibilities I mentioned at the top of the post. I don't need a challenge like this. I like my card challenges to be 660 or 792 cards that are obtainable equally. Or, if you must short-prints stuff, do it like A&G, where it's not an investment to obtain the cards.
Probably years have gone past since I've thought about trying to complete this set. It's been so long that there are players in 2008 Heritage that are long forgotten by time.
And there are other cards that are so out-of-date, they might as well have been issued in 1959, the set that '08 Heritage is referencing.
I couldn't even tell you, without looking it up, which card numbers I need or who is on those cards.
That's how much I've put this out of my mind. The set was such a pain to complete, I just don't care.
I was a newbie in 2008, so not only did I try to complete Heritage that year, but I tried to complete the Stadium Club reboot and Upper Deck Timeline. Both of those other two sets are notorious as far as completion. I gave up on Timeline and started trading some of the cards away. I haven't done the same with Stadium Club, but I'm still seven cards short and have given it about as much thought as 2008 Heritage.
So the question is: do I want to complete 2008 Heritage?
Yeah, actually I do.
It's way down on the priority list, so far down you'll have to scroll a few times. But at least it's still there.
When/if I do complete it, I won't hold a party or be all that thrilled. The set's moved too far away from my heart for that.
That's what happens when you make a set that difficult to complete. It's not worth it. My time is valuable and card companies should know that. I will not bow to their artificially short-printed tricks if I deem them too time-consuming.
I may be a hopeless collector, but I still have the power and I know that.
Make it too "hard," and I'll stop caring.