No, it is not a redhead, or that sports car that one of my friends has while I drive a minivan. It is those great, well-designed, shiny (SHY-NEEEEE!) cards from the late '90's, Topps Gold Label and Flair Showcase.
I have had a stack of them sitting amidst all my stacks of cards sitting on my desk. I've toyed with the idea of collecting them as a set, but didn't really give it serious thought until this weekend, when I came across about a dozen of them, all stars, in the 50¢ box. Jackpot!
I love the design of the 1999 TGL (left), not so much the 2000 design (right). The dual images, refractor technology, gold embossing, and thick stock make this a really desirable product.
Here is what Beckett has to say about 1999 TGL:
This 100-card set was distributed in four-card packs with a suggested retail price of $3.99. The set features color action player photos printed with spectral reflective rainbow technology on 35-point card stock. Three different versions of the cards were produced each having the same foreground player photo but a different background photo.
The Class 1 set carried a Fielding background player photo or a Set Position photo for pitchers.
Randomly inserted in packs at the rate of one in four retail and 1:2 HTA, [the Class 2] 100-card set is parallel to the Class 1 set and features a Running background player photo or a Wind-Up photo for pitchers.
Randomly inserted in hobby packs at the rate of one in eight and HTA packs at a rate of one in four, [the Class 3] 100-card set is parallel to the Class 1 set and features a Hitting background player photo or a Throwing photo for pitchers.
So now, I open up a new checklist for my first two, 1999 Topps Gold Label and 1998 Flair Showcase. But do I really know what I am getting into. Not only does TGL have Class 1, 2, and 3, but each one of those has three variations: Black, Red, and One-to-One. Maybe I can come across some Blacks, or if I'm lucky a Red, since those are severely short-printed, to 100 for Class 1, 50 for Class 2, and 25 for Class 3. The One-to-One, well, that is out of 9, so there is almost no chance me ever - EVAH! - getting one, unless some poor soul takes pity on me and sends me the Thome One-to-One. (hint. hint.) The set also has an insert set with the same parallels, Race to Aaron highlighting the players who may break Aaron's HR record.
I don't think that Flair Showcase is any better. In fact it has more base cards, more "classes," more insert sets (Perfect 10, numbered to 10, and Wave of the Future) with parallels of each! Rows 3, 2, 1, and 0, in order from easiest to hardest, also boasted seeding in packs that varied with card number:
Each player was featured in four rows with Row 3 being the easiest to obtain from opening packs. This 120 card set features two photos of the player on the front. The Row 3 cards were inserted in different ratios depending on which numbers they are. The complete odds are listed below for each group of 30 cards. Cards numbered 1-30 were seeded one every 9/10th of a pack; cards numbered 31-60 were seeded one every 1.1 packs; cards numbered 61-90 were seeded one every 1.5 packs and cards 91-120 were seeded one every two packs.
Row 2 cards are parallel to regular base set. Similar to the other rows there is different pull ratios for each group of 30 cards as follows. Cards numbered 1 through 30 are seeded one every two packs; cards numbered from 31 through 60 are seeded one every 2.5 packs; cards numbered from 61 through 90 are seeded one every four packs and cards numbered from 91-120 are seeded one every 3.5 packs.
Row 1 cards are parallel to regular base set. Similar to the other rows there is different pull ratios for each group of 30 cards as follows. Cards numbered from 1 through 30 are inserted one every 16 packs; cards numbered from 31 through 60 are inserted one every 24 packs; cards numbered from 61 through 90 are inserted one every six packs and cards numbered from 91 through 120 are inserted one every 10 packs.
Row 0 cards are parallel to regular base set. These cards are serial numbered and get more plentiful as they are numbered higher in the set. Serial numbering is as follows: Cards numbered from 1 through 30 are serial numbered to 250, cards numbered from 31 through 60 are serial numbered to 500, cards numbered from 61 through 90 are serial numbered to 1000 and cards numbered 91 through 120 are serial numbered to 2000.
Not only that, but there was also a Legacy version, each row having each card with only 100 prints, and a Masterpiece version, with each card a 1 of 1.
I know I will never get any of the one-ifs, and I may never get all the Red versions or rarer parallels of each, but I hope to put together Class 1 and Class 2 of TGL, and Row 3 and Row 2 of Flair Showcase. I've got a good jump on it. Look in my wantlists for the cards I need.