Sunday, February 2, 2014

Warning! Protective coating may damage product!

I have always liked Topps Finest. I've never actually purchased a box because they're frightfully expensive, but the base cards always seem to work their way into the discount bins once the rare inserts have been pulled. Shiny, thick card stock, slightly less likely to have that frustrating curl than Topps Chrome; what's not to like?

My favorite release was 1994 Finest, the brand's second year. They're almost as green as 1991 Fleer is yellow.

1994 Topps Finest #32 Charlie Hayes
I think I even have a couple basketball cards with a roughly similar design. Basketball cards make up a tiny, tiny part of my collection, so let that stand as proof of how much I like this brand.

But then things started getting weird. In the mid '90s, well after the 1994 strike and the subsequent collapse of baseball card values, Topps decided to inject some novelty into the brand. They came up with this barely comprehensible idea of a "fractured set". And for good measure, they even gave us a handy clear protective coating on the front of the card, just like those peel-away films you find on new computer monitors and smartphones. In all honesty, I find an inordinate amount of joy in peeling those away as part of the unboxing process. And finding an unpeeled film on a years-old gadget (like my mom's microwave) is cause for celebration and can even become legendary.

1996 Topps Finest #B8 Terry Pendleton
Trouble is, though, the film found on Topps Finest cards is rather unsightly and a bit difficult to remove. It can be pretty tough to get those off without dinging a corner or bending the card. Longer fingernails help.

What, after my admission above, you think I leave Topps Finest Protectors on? Absolutely not.

However, after a decade or so in a discount box, the Topps Finest Protector can become fused to the card itself, making removal quite problematic. Take a look at these two examples from 1999 Finest.
 1999 Topps Finest #18 Quinton McCracken
1999 Topps Finest #19 J.T. Snow, Jr.
Despite the protector happily doing its job for many years, the peeling process on these two left behind a very noticeable, even legible, residue running down the left side of each card. At least Topps abandoned the ridiculous "fractured set" idea by the time 1999 rolled around. That Pendleton card above is listed as "Card 8" from "Theme G58" and is clearly noted as "Common".

So given that it's a common, (the B in the card number indicates that it's Bronze, as opposed to Silver or Gold), surely removing the protective coating won't do much to harm its long-term value.

There. Much better.


  1. I have removed the coating off of every single Finest card I've ever bought. Doing so instantly makes them look a thousand times better.

  2. I just started following thanks to Nick. Looking forward to reading your blog.

    1. Ditto. Nick is single handedly changing the landscape of our blogworld.

      By the way... great post. I didn't realize those 99's have issue with their protective coating. I'll make sure to just leave them on... or possibly invest in a bottle of Goo Gone.