Sunday, March 7, 2010

2003 Topps Chrome Series 2 Hobby Box Break

2003 Topps Chrome Series 2 Hobby Box
24 packs, 4 cards per pack
1 refractors relic per box
8 refractors parallels (all sequentially numbered)
1 uncirculated x-fractors parallel box loader

In the past several years I have been conditioned to view blue bordered Topps Chrome as insert refractors, which makes opening this box feel somewhat special.  I know the blue borders are just the 2003 base design, but in my mind every card screams insert.  And I've always loved the look of blue chrome refractors, so this set is particularly attractive to me.

The Mauer/Morneau and Utley/Floyd cards came in the same pack.

As many of you know who purchased these back in 2003, these cards look amazing in person.  Scans do not do them justice.  It's such a nice set that I am very tempted to put the commons in my books too.

Which brings me to the downside to this box, if there is one.  There are a lot of commons in the 220 card series.  Of the 96 cards I received, just 14 are star cards.  Another 10 or so are semi-stars.  That leaves a whopping 64 commons.

But I'm not complaining, just noting it is not an easy task to get a star.

You should get six gold refractors inserts serially numbered to #449.

I received my six as expected.  The way they arrived caught me off-guard.  They came in three packs with two gold cards in each pack.  That seemed a bit odd to me.

The first time it happened I thought the gold cards got stuck together during packaging and that I had snared a freebie.  But when it happened again and again I realized this was just how they did it way back in 2003.  Silly primitive society.

That raised the hit or miss stakes for those buying by the pack back then.  

I like the gold refractors, but as far as looks go, the blue base wins easily.

The black bordered refractors are serial numbered to #199.  

The trees and grass behind Mr. Hermansen makes this card a win.  Chad had Major League at-bats in six seasons with four different clubs.  His lifetime .195 ba with a .584 ops (492 ab) tells us he had enough potential that clubs kept hoping he'd find his way.  

He was the Pirates' #1 pick in the amateur draft in 1995.  His best minor league season came at just age 21 (1999) in AAA (.270 ba, 32 hr, .850 ops).

I guess I beat the odds a bit.  The packs say black refractors drop 1 in 17 packs.  

Hey look, Doug Mientkiewicz.  I ended up with the gold refractor and black refractor.  Awhile back I also pulled a multi-colored patch of him.  He's becoming one of those guys I seem to accumulate without trying.  I think I also have his auto from the great 1999 SP Signature set.  

Well, at least he will have a nice little insert page in a binder.  Sometimes the pages of random non-star players end up being the ones I like the most.

Out of the eight serial numbered refractors only Rafael Palmeiro is a star.  That matches the overall star percentage pretty spot on.

My relic is a red back Pedro jersey.  I absolutely love these game used cards.  Heck, I like red backs without the chrome or jersey add-ons, but throw those on the card too and I go bonkers.  This is how game used cards should look!

For my uncirculated box loader card I pulled...

A Jose Reyes!  Not technically his rookie card but a sweet player to score.

Serial numbered to just 57.  
When you consider you always get eight (correction: 14, see update notes) serial numbered cards, a relic card, and an uncirculated box loader, these 2003 Chrome Topps boxes pack a bunch of fun.  You can pick up a box for around $35 so the low star rate can be forgiven.


A few days after posting this box break I was wandering around Ebay and came across blue chrome serial numbered 2003 refractors.  I did even recall they exist.  

I marched over to my stack of 2003 Chrome from this break, flipped each one over, and sure enough there were six blue refractors serial numbered to 699.

The official descriptions on several websites mentions eight serial numbered cards total (not counting the uncirculated x-fractor), not 14, so I wasn't even looking for them.  

This makes the 2003 Topps Chrome an even more impressive box to bust.  It also makes me wonder if it is the norm or an aberration.   

Here is the description of what to expect straight from the product description notes along with my comments:

Parallel Cards - 8 per box.
Chrome Refractors 4 per box. (I guess these would be the blue - I pulled six)
Gold Border Refractors 2 per box (I pulled six of these as well)
Black border refractors1 per box (I pulled two)
Uncirculated X-Fractors 1 per box (I pulled one)


  1. 2003 Topps and Topps Chrome was one of the best designs if not the best design of the 2000s

  2. I have a box of 2003 Series 1 Chrome sitting around waiting for me to open. This post makes me anxious to get to it.

  3. MS, Cool! I am definitely curious to see how you do.

  4. I love the chrome cards also and 2003 is one of my favorites.

  5. Nice break! The I'm with you: the Redback Chrome relics are sweet!

  6. I should buy myself one of these, but I really want to stick to trying to collect the base set (well, all 3 series...)