Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Variation SPs reach the masses

(Programming note: I am running a two million views contest. Would you like to own a card you've always wanted? Follow the instructions on the previous post and enter. You have until Monday).

I shouldn't be buying any more 2018 Topps. Especially since I expect to be gifted with some tomorrow (it is my version of candy and flowers).

But I was in Walmart yesterday for the first time since 2018 Topps hit store shelves and I just had to check out the store's presentation. It was a disaster as usual. But there were hanger boxes and I must complete the trifecta of loose packs, blasters and hanger boxes! This was my chance to sample a hanger box.

I was relieved to pull relatively few dupes. Hanger boxes are notorious for poor collation.

I also pulled a variation short-print.

Yep, it's a key one, since it's my team.

I've now opened three 2018 Topps products and pulled a variation SP out of two of them (only the loose packs didn't yield anything).

Going back to 2017 Update, I've pulled five variation SPs out of maybe the last 15-to-20 retail purchases. It's obvious that variation short-prints are much more common than they once were.

I first heard of variation SPs, I believe, in 2009 Topps in which a player would share its card number with a legendary player, which was the variation SP. These weren't easy to pull. You basically had to buy a hobby box to find one. And that pattern continued over the next few years, even as the number of variation SPs increased.

But now, variation SPs have reached the masses. The commoners. The poor schleps who can't find a hobby shop, have no patience to order a hobby box online, and must do their shopping in a gigantic warehouse-like building, sharing space with the couple who obviously hasn't bathed in months, and a couple of women who think they can break out obscenities in the department store like everyone around them is deaf.

This must be similar to the patterns followed in the fashion world or fads in home decor or new recipes. Only the elite get to enjoy the most exclusive, newest items. Then when they get bored with them, the regular joes finally get a crack at it five years later.

I'm not bitter. Give me your scraps. Variation SPs were so exclusive in past years that I basically forgot they existed and didn't bother with them. No worries. I'll still take whatever is boring the case breakers.

Now that I'm pulling them every other pack, though, it's kind of weird. I stare at the card intently trying to determine what it is. Then I turn it over and try to read the tiny number code at the bottom of the card that is the tip off that it is a variation SP (Variation cards end in 43. Regular cards end in 87). That means I break out the magnifier app because there's no way 50-year-old eyes can read that type.

Then I get paranoid about missing another variation SP and I use the magnifier on every other card in the pack (I thought that the Maikel Franco card might be a variation because it looks similar to the Puig card, but it isn't).

Thank goodness there are sites like Beckett and others that keep track of variation SP card images and list them for you. I wish Topps would be kind enough to help collectors with stuff like this but apparently they're not capable (or worse, refuse).

But that's me, a card collecting commoner. I'll jump through hoops for your amusement.

Anyway, there wasn't much else about the hanger box of note. Still liking the photos.

Although this one ...

... just looks like a continuation of this one ...

Maybe we'll get a side view in this year's Heritage.


  1. Does it really say "Rizzarper" on the card? Why? I mean, Bryzzo makes some sense because they are teammates, but why combine two opponents into a stupid celeb couple name?

  2. Read the other day that the Short Prints are run at 3,000 copies and the "Super" Short Prints at 100 copies.

  3. The ubiquity of SP variations has done little more than make me paranoid about missing SP variations.

  4. The combo cards have different Cubs on them.

    1. So they do ... all Cubs are the same to me (heh).

  5. I either have to switch phone cases to the one with the kickstand (that I use at shows to read my lists), and then get the magnifier app, or just do it the old fashioned way with my 200 count box with the hole in it for the handle of the magnifying glass. THEN I can read the codes at the bottom!

  6. These are definitely a lot more common now than they used to be, although the SPs have been replaced by SSPs (!). But I remember how hard it was to pull those diamond sparkle cards or whatever they were. These seem much more attainable.

  7. The amount of sp's in these sets make it to where you almost have to have Cardboard Connection open when you open a pack. Like Nick said above, it is almost enough to make you paranoid.

  8. The 2009 Topps and 2010 Topps SP's were cool, because they were easy to spot. The problem with a lot of the newer SP's is that unless collectors do a lot of research or sift through those super tiny codes on the back, it's hard to tell you have one. I guess on the plus side, the collectors who are able to identify them can find them sitting in dime boxes.