Is it time to retire the Refractor?

Before the days of game-used relics and certified autographs, die-cut baseball cards ruled the Hobby. A perfect example is the highly sought-after 1994 SP Die Cut Alex Rodriguez rookie card which fetches big money each and every time one is sold.

While die cut baseball cards are still in use by brands like Tristar and Donruss, it’s clear the focus today is still on game-used relics and certified autographs, no matter how low the secondary market prices drop to. What if Topps retired Refractors for a year and replaced them with serial numbered die-cut parallels? Would the Hobby come to a screeching halt?

I love Refractors more than any other technology but unfortunately it’s been used to death with all the different colors and how it’s been featured in non-sports brands. Of course, considering how addicted to Refractors collectors have become, it’s something that we will likely never see.

Below are a few examples of Donruss’ Power Alley inserts featuring Die-Cut technology. Unfortunately, unless Donruss can regain their M.L.B license they will never make anything that looks remotely close to these cards below.

Judging from the sales of ’08 Prime Cuts, it’s clear collectors don’t mind.

16 thoughts on “Is it time to retire the Refractor?

  1. Mario,
    Hey, maybe Pujols should sit out this season too. The use of refractors should be more thought out, but I don’t think it would be feasible to not use them at all for a year.


  2. No – it’s not time to retire the refractor – it’s still the most meaningful type of parallel in the hobby.

    By the way – check out 2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition baseball – they used several types of die cut parallels that look great!

  3. Upperdeck tried to bring it back this year with “X”, I think they didn’t put enough effort into it.

  4. I hate die cuts, that would be a bad switch. I dont get into refractors but at least they always look pretty cool.

  5. Don’t like die-cuts at all… they’re just too delicate and every time I get one I feel like I’m handling a California Condor egg or something like that. Plus, they’re probably expensive to produce. Refractors aren’t necessary either, but at least they look shiny and colorful when you move them around so they’re more like a nice bonus to your pack.

  6. I’d like to see a set that includes Refractors and die-cuts. Get rid of the worthless swatches and Sharpie scribbles of no-name players and bring back decent insert sets that look cool and feature the best players of today and maybe even yesterday.

  7. Personally, I do not enjoy die-cuts. They’re like that grade-school assignment in which you made cuts into paper and came up with a snowflake. It was cool then. But I’m so over it now.

    Not over refractors. Don’t plan on being over them soon.

  8. Back in my day cards were made out of the same stuff they made into cereal boxes AND WE LIKED IT. Get rid of all this newfangled communist claptrap with the shiny and the numbers and the writing on it and bring back packs of real cardboard wrapped inside wax paper with a piece of gum bigger than the cards! And get off my lawn!

    *angrily shakes fist at rotten kids and their superfractors*

  9. Out of all the different types of unwanted inserts in existence these days, refractors are the ones which annoy me the least, since they generally look pretty decent.

    Die-cuts are generally pretty ugly, but that’s only because today’s card manufacturers don’t know how to do them properly.

    Make them like the 1951 Connie Mack’s, the 1964 Topps Stand-Ups, or the mid-80’s Donruss Stand-Ups (i.e. with the image being die-cut within a regular sized card), and they’d look pretty nice.

  10. I really don’t like most parallels. In fact, I’d be perfectly happy to go back to the Topps-only era if we could just keep the modern photography.

    That said, refractors are not entirely awful. There is something nice about the shiny rainbow effect. I have no real use for modern diecut cards at all… they’re too fragile.

  11. *shakes fist angrily at dayf*

    Wake up old man! It’s a new day!
    I miss the old cardboard thick enough to choke a kid on as much as you guys. But issues like Heitage are there to make you all happy in the past.
    I like refractors. Any one who does not have a hyper blue / 50 from 2008 Co-Signers is missing out on life. They are cool cards. It takes a LOT of effort to get something like that printed. ENJOY them. Just enjoy the fact you have them out there while you still can.
    As far as die cuts go – K.I.S.S. The Topps Lasers and Pacific Crown Collections were just overkill. That part of the hobby I was glad to see go.

  12. just recently returned to the hobby after a long hiatus
    thanks to card blogs such as yours

    whatever happened to atomic refractors?
    i like them more than the xfractors im seeing now
    which appear to be the rare versions

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