With Ohtani Mania still in full effect, I noticed something the other day while browsing eBay. Despite Shohei signing seemingly tens of thousands of 2018 Topps cards, it’s a 2017 unsigned retail exclusive that grabbed my attention. Below is Shohei’s 2017 Bowman “Mojo” Refractor parallel. These cards regularly push $1,000 on the secondary market. Recently, 2018 Bowman Mega boxes hit retail stores with yet another Shohei Mojo parallel to chase and collectors have gone mad tracking them down.
The card itself looks sharp and the “Mojo” parallel adds a new element that none of Bowman’s 2018 parallels have in common. This Refractor has an almost 90s, old school feel to it. I just couldn’t quite put my fingers on why I liked these Refractors so much but if I had an extra grand to spare, I would likely gobble up one of these cards of the next Babe Ruth before they hit absolutely ridiculous secondary prices. Then it struck me, like a 105 MPH fastball to the face. I’ve seen these cards before!
The reason I loved these “new” Topps parallels is because they were introduced two decades ago by Fleer Trading Cards, through their luxury, high-end brand, Flair Showcase. These cards had four versions; Showcase, Showstopper, Showdown, & Showpiece, all serial numbered, lower and lower. All I can say is that the 90s baseball card landscape was like the Wild West and Fleer and Pinnacle Brands were the two gangs who ran the town.
One has to wonder how and why Topps Company, the winner of the Baseball Card Wars, would resurrect a parallel by a beloved brand from a company who was producing superior products to Topps in its heyday. I guess the answer is simple: the same company that printed those Flair Showcase cards in 1998 is in charge of doing all of Topps’ printing in 2018. The rumor is that the company is the Outlook Group based out of Wisconsin, USA. This is unconfirmed, however.
By the way, it’s not the first time a company has “borrowed” from a dead manufacturer’s design. Check out Upper Deck’s low down theft of another one of Fleer’s beloved and iconic parallel designs. It could also be argued that Topps stole their #1 most popular parallel, the Superfractor, from 1992 Donruss Elite. Looks like companies love to pilfer ideas from bankrupt companies all the time. I truly don’t think that’s the case with these “Mojo” Refractors but the truth is, you never know.
In case you’re wondering how to get some “Mojo”, you can find them exclusively in Bowman Mega boxes at your local Target. My advice is to splurge on 2017 versions as the 2018 Mega boxes are selling like hot cakes but the Ohtani cards are not bringing in the type of money they did in 2017 on the secondary market. You want my advice? Check out how beautiful 90’s high end cards were by purchasing an unopened box of ’98 Showcase for less than the price of a Bowman Jumbo box.
WARNING: Showcase may turn you into a 90s addict.