Thursday, May 9, 2024

2005 Topps Pristine Legends refractors

Here's something that's been an upper-level collecting priority of mine for at least a couple years, yet I haven't really been documenting the progress much on the blog for whatever reason. (Laziness?) I'm going for a set of 2005 Topps Pristine Legends.. not a standard base set, but a frankenset that's mostly (base) refractors.

The first 100 cards in the set are in a design riffing on 1965 Topps, a favorite set of mine that was one of the first (the 2nd?) vintage sets I completed after returning to the hobby as an adult, and pair that with my love for refractors, you can see how I stumbled upon collecting the set. These pseudo '65s were also made available in an "uncirculated" state:

I don't have much preference between encased or not. On one hand the case makes the card feel a bit more special-- not to mention the added protection-- but they're bulky and take up more space. Plus those cases scratch up pretty easily if the owner(s) weren't good about keeping them in team bags.

All 140 cards are paralleled in gold refractors numbered out of 65. These are touted as being "die cut" but in reality it's just a deckle-edge, cut reminiscent of an old O-Pee-Chee card. lol. So yeah, I don't really chase these, but if the price is right, I may bite.

Cards 101-125 mix things up and use a design inspired by 1982 Topps. You don't see a lot of licensed collegiate cards released by Topps from this time, so there's some novelty there. Like with the rest of the checklist, some are encased and some aren't, and there are /65 gold parallels, however the base refractors are /199 (with the non-refractor base numbered /1999), so they're tougher than the first hundred cards. And the checklist gets more SP'ed as it continues.

Cards 126 through 135 go back to the preintegration days for some greats who played back when racism was a bit more in-your-face than it is today. If this design is paying homage to an old set, it's not ringing a bell with me, so let me know in the comments if I'm missing something (Closest I can guess is 1951 Topps maybe?). I was stoked to add the Buck O'Neil as he's a PC favorite and I had been after it for a while. They put FOUR different Josh Gibson cards in this little section of the checklist, so I've still got 3 to go. These refractors are numbered out of 99 and look great in the light with so much "blank refractor" space on them. The non-refractors are /999 and there are /65 gold refractors, though I don't have any.

The checklist wraps up with a 5-card subset in a '53 Topps-inspired design celebrating "The Little League Years" of Gary Carter, Bo Jackson, George Brett, Joe Carter, and Nolan Ryan. I don't have any of these yet, sadly. The base refractors are out of only 25 copies, so in this instance, the /65 gold refractors are actually more common than the base. I took a run at a gold Bo that popped up recently, but got outbid as it ended up in 3-digit territory. If I'm ever to finish this frankenset, I will probably have to give in and allow non-refractors for these last 5 cards (which base are numbered /499, so still not that common). It just feels weird to pay $100+ for a card picturing a Little Leaguer, even if the kid went on to stardom, you know?

Anyways, yeah.. fun set to work on. I'm currently at 55% complete, so this quest won't be wrapped up any time soon, but I'll keep chipping away with a card here and a card there.

Thanks for stopping by.


  1. I really like the look of this set. Cool cards that I rarely see in the wild.

  2. Looking forward to seeing more of this set.

  3. This is such a cool set! I cannot - but can - believe that Topps doesn't do this type of set anymore, as I'm not counting Platinum Anniversary. This is way better.

  4. When you build sets... you don't play games. This project is gonna be tough, but fun at the same time. And when it's finished, you'll have quite the card set in your collection. Good luck buddy!

  5. It's wild to see someone like Wilbur Wood in refractor form.