1999 Topps Finest Series 2 Hobby Box
24 packs, 6 cards per pack
When this set came out the packs cost a steep $5 each. Nowadays you can get them for about $1.25 a pack if you shop around.
The backs of the base may lack a lot of season by season stats, but they do have plenty of other cool information.
Series 2 has 150 cards and it's stuffed with base stars and subset stars, not to mention the inserts that seem to pop up every few packs.
Out of the 144 total cards from my box, 60 are stars (counting inserts, subsets). So you are looking at about 42% of the cards being something good. Careful player selection goes a long way in a product holding up through the years. Finest picked 'em right.
You can see here the difference between a scanner shot (top Henderson) and a digital camera picture (lower Henderson). These cards have a nice shine to them in person.
I have to admit I am glad the trend of the plastic protectors is over. Most people don't want to peel the plastic off because it's a hassle. Also there may be a perception it lowers the value of the card. I peeled one off a common and of course they do look much better without the protector writing interfering with the photos.
But the photography in this set is very bland anyway, so it doesn't matter much. What makes this set so great is the weighty card stock (27 pt), the shine, the subsets, and the extremely well-done inserts.
There are also some notable rookie cards. Technically the Beltran and Lee shown here aren't rookie cards, but Series 2 does have true rookie cards of C.C Sabathia and Alfonso Soriano.
The 15 card Sterling subset is almost all big names.
I pulled these five but some of the other big players in this subset include Jeter, Arod, and Griffey Jr.. The worst player is Greg Vaughn (who was pretty darn good for several years).
The Gamers subset is smaller (11 cards) yet I ended up with more of these. I like this subset quite a bit because of the shiny silver baseball diamond in the background.
I pulled eight Gamers, one of which is a refractor (I'll show that with the inserts).
I also pulled a Grace, Mo Vaughn (2), and Ivan Rodriguez.
This Home Run Kings card is not really part of a subset or an insert. It is however one of the coolest front and back combos in the set. It's also the last card of the set.
Now for the inserts.
The Hank Aaron Award Contenders insert set has nine cards. You can pull either the standard version like this Griffey, or the refractor version. The interesting thing is odds stated on the pack wrapper list all 18 possible pulls (9 non-refractors, 9 refractors), and they often differ drastically.
The odds of pulling this Griffey (non-refractors, #HA8) are 1:81 packs. Those aren't the odds of pulling any Hank Aaron Award Contenders insert, those are the specific odds for pulling the Griffey non-refractor Hank Aaron insert. It's a somewhat confusing seeding concept.
The odds of getting the Arod non-refractor HA insert are 1:93 packs. So there are more Griffey versions of this card than Arod.
Adding to this confusion is that Beckett lists different odds for these cards, putting the chance of a Griffey at 1:27 packs and the Arod at 1:31 packs (for Hobby Boxes).
Other players in this very sharp insert set include Juan Gonzalez, Vlad Guerrero, Nomar, Albert Belle, Frank Thomas, Sosa and...
Big Mac. This one is the refractor version. Both the pack wrapper and Beckett list the chances of pulling this card at 1:216 hobby packs. This was the rarest card I pulled. You can see how the digital camera reflects light off it much more than the non-refractor Griffey. This McGwire came in my first pack.
The base refractor cards fall 1:12 packs.
Mo Vaughn refractor. So I did get the two base refractors as expected.
Here's a sweet Guererro/Jones refractor/non-refractor from the Complements insert set. Half and half. You can get a non-refractor/refractor version and a refractor/refractor version as well. Finest cracks me up with how complicated they made their sets. Hobby Box odds for pulling any Complements insert are 1:56 packs.
This seven card insert set also includes a Nomar/Jeter combo, Piazza/I. Rodriguez, Gwynn/Boggs, Woods/Clemens, Juan Gonzalez/Sosa, and McGwire/Frank Thomas.
Ripken Milestones Hits insert s/n to 3,000.
The Milestones insert set is broken into four categories: Milestones Hits, Milestones Home Runs, Milestones Runs Batted In, and Milestones Doubles. Each category has ten cards.
The Milestones Hits insert is the most common (and as a result has the highest production run). Seed rates for Hobby Boxes are 1:29 packs (for any Milestones Hit insert).
Bonds Milestones Runs Batted In insert s/n to 1400.
The Runs Batted In inserts fall 1:61 packs. This card was in the same pack that the McGwire Hank Aaron refractor was part of. That was a pretty amazing pack.
Biggio Milestones Doubles insert s/n to 500.
The Milestones Doubles inserts fall 1:171 hobby packs.
I must say I am completely baffled as to how I ended up with this many hard to pull inserts. It was particularly surprising to get the McGwire, Guererro/Jones, and Biggio all in the same box.
Was this an extra lucky box? I can't say. The insert distribution is complicated. I've also never opened this product before today so I have no prior experience.
Even if a few of the inserts disappeared, I'd still be more than content with this experience.
This box must have sold for 80-100 bucks when it was first released. Ten plus years later, even though the cost is now only $30, the cards still feel high end.
I definitely recommend picking one of these up if you are looking to bust some late 90's stuff at a decent price.