My View: The Downfall of Topps Finest Basketball
Topps Finest was first introduced for Basketball back in 93-94. It was a simple premium product, with base RCs & ref versions. Over the years they've experimented with things like only base RCs, no ref RCs (95-96), having 2 series' but with only RCs in one of the series (94-95, 95-96), Bronze, Silver, Gold, Embossed (96-97), etc. Recently, Topps has just gone crazy with the parallels. In the 05-06 set, there are 19 RC variations! There's the base, 6 diff colored refs, 6 diff colored x-fractors, and 6 diff colored superfractors. It's very deceiving. If you pull a RC auto ref #'d 99, normally you'd be thrilled. But when there are 5 other colored ref auto RCs #'d to 229, 19, 59, 199 & 1, you're actually getting one that has 606 ref auto RCs on the market. All this does is dilute the value of each RC card. The best change that Topps made to the Finest Basketball brand was in 02-03 when they added Auto RCs. In my opinion, the best value Finest years were 02-03 (base auto RC, ref auto RC & Gold ref auto RC) & 03-04 (base auto RC, ref auto RC, Gold ref auto RC, X-fractor auto RC). If Topps wants to compete with UD, they should return to this simple but value inducing format. I personally refuse to buy any Finest RCs after the 03-04 year because you just won't be getting the bang for your buck that you should be.
This seems to be a trend for Topps. The Bowman Chrome Baseball is the same. It started in 97 with a base & ref set. Now they also have diff color parallels. Bowman Elevation Basketball is following the same path. They have 5 different RC variations, #'d to 999, 399, 299, 99 & 1. This should be reduced to 3 at the most: #'d 999, 99 & 1.
I've always liked the Finest & Bowman brands. They have nice designs and great auto RCs. It's a shame that they're cannibalizing themselves & pushing themselves out of competitiveness.