I have been even more absent than usual from group breaks and card drafts in the last couple of months. I've needed to hold onto my cash for real life issues and the uncertainty that goes along with them. Now is not the time to be throwing dollar bills at cards.
Unless you come upon a deal that you can't refuse.
A few weeks ago, Rob, from Voice of the Collector, announced that he was cutting back his collection and was offering some sets in a name-your-price proposition. Then he displayed photos of what he had, and the sets of Topps All-Time Fan Favorites jumped right out at me.
This is one of my most favorite sets ever. And Rob had all three sets available -- 2003, 2004 and 2005.
In no time, we worked out a deal and the cards arrived on my porch Monday.
I haven't had time to go through them thoroughly, but can't wait for this weekend to do so. None of the sets that he sent were complete, but all of them were close to completion. I had a good chunk of 2004 Fan Favorites already and about one-third of the 2005 Fan Favorites set, so combining forces, I am very close to completing two of them and have completed another.
I never expected this to happen so quickly. Especially mere weeks after finishing off the 1971 Topps set. Completing the Fan Favorites sets has been a distant, far-off goal of mine, something that was to be finished once I got other card priorities in order.
Now I find myself in need of binders and preparing to display my prizes.
So, why did I go for these Fan Favorites sets so vigorously despite the cash crunch? Well, not only is it a terrific concept -- favorite players of the past featured on past Topps designs and using NEW photos -- but these are the sets that got me back into modern collecting.
I often point to 2006 as the year I fully returned to modern collecting. But it actually started a couple years prior. I was trying to complete the 1975 Topps set when I was in Walmart one day on vacation (yeah, I know, living on the edge). There, I saw these cards called "All-Time Fan Favorites" and I was hooked immediately. This was 2004. So I went crazy for the 2004 set.
I remember buying a box of 2004 Fan Favorites in a department store. I don't remember if blasters existed in 2004, but the box cost right around 20 bucks, and I remember thinking how insane it was that I was spending THAT MUCH money on some baseball cards. It seemed cool and guilt-wrought all at the same time.
Now, when I view Fan Favorites from '04 or '05 I get that same kind of nostalgic thrill that I get when I see cards from my childhood, like 1975 Topps minis or Kellogg's cards. These are the cards that introduced me to collecting and then re-introduced me to modern collecting. I was on the cusp of a wonderful world each time, and this second time, I owe it all to All-Time Fan Favorites.
I came relatively close to finishing the 2004 set, but had a lot of work left. When the 2005 set came out, I collected it, but not as enthusiastically. Topps seemed to be getting tired of the concept with photos that didn't seem quite right for the time -- or maybe I was just noticing it now that I was a veteran Fan Favorites purchaser.
But now, all three sets are so wonderful that I'm afraid you're going to see more than a few Fan Favorites posts from me in the next few days.
Right now, I'll break down the three sets briefly and record how close I am to finishing off the set.
2003 All-Time Fan Favorites
The first year of Fan Favorites, and I can't believe I went through all 12 months of 2003 without knowing that this set existed.
I did buy some Topps base cards in '03. I liked the blue borders. But those were the only cards I saw or bought. Yet, somewhere, probably right under my nose, Topps was issuing a set full of players from my childhood on designs of my childhood in a totally new way!
This Rollie Fingers card is a pretty good representation of what Topps did when it got things right. This photo appears to be of the right time period. I'm no uniform expert, but Fingers' mustache is about the same length as it is on his real 1973 Topps card.
Topps also did an excellent job of picking a design from a year in which the player excelled. The 1972 season was probably Fingers' first great season and the A's, of course, won the World Series that year.
Until I received these cards in the mail, the only 2003 Fan Favorites I had were some of the Dodgers cards.
But now I am a mere 10 cards away from completing the set.
You can be sure I'll be putting those cards on my want list soon.
2004 All-Time Fan Favorites
This is the set that roped me in, led me to spend a bunch of money on repacks, and started this here blog. Blame it all on 2004 Fan Favorites.
I've viewed the cards that I have of this set so many times that the new ones that I received from Rob are terribly cool. I can't wait to study them front and back.
After combining the cards I needed with the ones I have (by the way, some of the doubles here will be going to the winner of my contest) I am just one card away from finishing off the set.
I've already commented on the One Card Challenge, listing the card. It's the Don Mattingly card. Number 10. He's on the 1984 design (Mattingly's Topps rookie card).
When I get that card, I will celebrate abundantly.
2005 All-Time Fan Favorites
Another great part of Fan Favorites is owning a card of a player -- on a design of the day -- that you previously had never hoped to own. Stan Musial on a 1961 design. Ernie Banks on a 1954 design.
I know that is not as novel now with the number of retro sets that have come out in the last 10 years. But at the time it was exciting. A Johnny Pesky card!!!
So, like the other two sets, I went through and combined the cards I received in the mail with the 2005 Fan Favorites I already had. And after re-checking that I had the Jim Abbott and Chet Lemon cards, I knew that I have completed the 2005 Fan Favorites set!!!
I've already listed it on the Sets I've Completed post. It's the 27th set I have completed. In the last few months, I've been on a pretty good completion run with 2009 OPC, 2011 Lineage, 1971 Topps and now 2005 Fan Favorites.
I am elated.