Friday, January 20, 2023

The Joy of a Year's Worth of Completed Sets

Since the time that I apparently decided I was a bit of a set collector, around five years ago, I have kept track of the final card of each set. To me, it's a fun exercise to look back at which card was the most elusive and see how many sets were knocked off my needs list each year. I've found that I tend to finish off around a dozen sets in a typical year (many of them small insert sets), with 2020 being a high point of 27 and 2021 a low point of seven. 2022 rode the flow back to a higher point, with 17 sets completed. Here is a review of those sets I put to bed last year.

2021 Topps Opening Day

220 cards; Last card: #218 Daniel Johnson

It used to be that a box of Opening Day yielded a complete set. For the last few years, that hasn't been the case. After my box of 2021 Opening Day, Daniel Johnson was the last card I tracked down.

2015 Score Gridiron Heritage

25 cards; Last card: #16 Ozzie Newsome

2016 Panini

300 cards; Last card: #285 Paul Perkins

I took my time on this set, opting only to pick up the missing rookies when I found them for less than 75 cents. Ironically, Perkins was the last card I needed--but the foil parallel has been in my collection since I broke my first box of the product 6 years before completing the set.

1998 Fleer Tradition

250 cards; Last card: #182 Derrick Rodgers

 This set was part of my mission to complete one set for every year that I have been collecting. By 1998, I was barely collecting. But I wanted to keep the complete set streak years going. I wasn't sure about 1998 because of the big rookies in the year (Peyton Manning, Randy Moss, Charles Woodson, etc.) I was able to find them pretty easily and inexpensively for this set. The streak will stop at 2000, though. There's no Tom Brady rookie I could afford.

2012 Leaf National Convention

90 cards; Last card: ??

This is an interesting one. I bought this oddball multi-sport set from ebay because I'd never seen it before. The listing said it was a 98-card set. But when I went to enter it into TCDB, I discovered that it was listed as 100 cards on the database. I was missing Marshall Faulk and Eric Dickerson. However, I've still been unable to even verify the existence of those cards. So, was it a 98-card set and TCDB has an incorrect checklist, or am I to search forever for Faulk and Dickerson?

2021 Panini Prestige

300 cards; Last card: --

I didn't collect this set piecemeal. I bought the entire set in one fell swoop. Frankly, newer products have become so expensive as unopened products that I may have to complete many base sets by just buying complete sets.

2012 Panini Cooperstown The Village

10 cards; Last card: NNO Otesaga Hotel

This is a set that I thought I had completed years ago. Last year, I discovered one missing card and had to go back and finish it off. Someday I'll go to Cooperstown.

1998 Pinnacle Mint

30 cards; Last card: #18 Cal Ripken, Jr.

This was a fun one. I collected the base set--all of which have holes for the coins. I collected the brass coins, too. It just so happened that the last card and the last coin were the same. I picked up the coin first and it sat on my desk for a few weeks while I waited for the cardboard part. It was cool to unite the two to finish off the set. Both of them, actually.

1992 Upper Deck MVP Holograms

54 cards; Last card:--

This one is a boxed set I already posted about.

1992 Fleer

720 cards; Last card: --

Part of my junk wax rampage this past summer. After tackling 1989-1991 sets a piece at a time, I opted for a factory set of 1992.

1993 Topps Colorado Rockies Inaugural Edition

825 cards; Last card: --

Another factory set. This one left me with a story about my collection I'll never forget. You can read about it here.

 2022 Topps Opening Day

220 cards; Last card: #204 Joey Bart

Same story as the 2021 Opening Day set. This one didn't spill over into the next year, though.

1993 Upper Deck (Berman's Best subset)

10 cards; Last card: #433 Jerry Rice

Probably nobody but me counts this as a completion. I was just shooting for the "Berman's Best" subset. I've loved Chris Berman's nicknames since I was a kid. Bonus points to this set for containing my only Chris Berman card.

1990 Topps

792 cards; Last card: #417 Jim Gantner

Not gonna lie. This set was a ton of fun to build. I didn't have much to begin with. Instead of busting packs, I learned what a vending box was. I pulled massive junk wax trades on TCDB. Is it my favorite set? Not even close. Was it some of the most fun I've had collecting in a 4-month span? You betcha.

1990 Bowman Sweepstakes

10 cards; Last card: NNO Bo Jackson

While searching for lots of over-produced cards for my set builds, I came across this little promotional insert from 1990 Bowman. I'd never seen them before I bought a monster box of junk cards. I'm a sucker for art cards, so I just put them all aside as I dug through the box. A quick trade later and the set was all mine.

2022 Panini Chronicles Draft Donruss Retro

25 cards; Last card: --

In the fall, I had some extra card money set aside and I went on a bit of a spending spree. Part of that included finding a deal on this set of current NFL stars in their college uniforms on the 1992 Donruss design.

2022 Panini Chronicles Draft Score Retro

25 cards; Last card: --

From the same seller came a deal on this set of NFL All-Time greats in college on the 1992 Score baseball (but not football) design. Kudos for having a BYU player in each set.

So I polished off all of those sets in 2022. Some I started and finished within the calendar year. Some were years in the making. Some were acquired as factory sets, others as hand-collated sets. Some were spur-of-the-moment, found-the-right-deal-on-a-fun-set-I-had-never-considered-building-until-this-point purchases. But at the end of December 2022, I had 17 more complete sets in my possession.

And almost 18. Here is one that was oh-so-close. I still intend to complete one set each year, even though 2020 posed a problem for me. You remember 2020, don't you? Cards were scarce and prices started to skyrocket. Either I never found or couldn't afford to buy any 2020 football products at all. And with the success of a few top rookies in the class--Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Jonathan Taylor, to name just a few--I wasn't sure I'd be able to afford a complete 2020 football set in the near future. But I found a decent price on a small Panini set on eBay one day. Chronicles only has a 100-card base set, but rookies are there. So I picked up the set and called 2020 done.

After it arrived, I left it on the shelf, unopened for about two months. Just this past week, I finally cracked the box open. And I discovered this:

Foil never scans well, so let me explain what you're seeing. The base cards in this set have silver foil in the helmet "C" logo, the team name, the position, and "Chronicles" across the bottom. Fourteen cards from my purchased set weren't base; they were parallels. The colored cards were mostly pink (Jackson, Polamalu, Kelce, Watt, Rice, and others), but some were bronze (Alexander and Sanders), green (Hockensen), and blue (Swift). Still, the major components were there, so I'm okay going back to complete the final 14 with actual base cards. Even if that means one less set in 2022.

2023 has already brought me two more set completions. Let's see how the rest of the year goes.


  1. You could do Topps, UD MVP or Stadium Club for 2000. None of those have a Brady in there.

  2. I used to have a lot of 92 Fleer, but never completed the set. I still have prob about 200 left and often toy with the idea of starting it up again. It would be a great junk wax set.

    I love the Bowman sweepstakes cards (or any sweepstakes card) and I'm working on the variations for them.

  3. Congratulations on completing all those sets. I've got around 2 full 800-count boxes of '92 Fleer and I don't even remember purchasing that much. Still gotta find time to inventory that set and set up a FS/T list on TCDb. Hopefully, I'll already have the complete base set. Completing the insert sets might be a bit of a challenge though.

  4. So jealous of that 1993 Topps Colorado Rockies Inaugural Edition set... especially for the price.

  5. Some nice looking sets. Fun to see football cards with old baseball card designs.