This thread is for anything 1998 Topps Tek. Scans, discussions, bragging, transactions, market activity, anecdotes, steals, etc.
I remember back when 1998 Tek came out. I was at a show and bought a few packs. I didn't get it. The gimmick wasn't working for me and I think I was in the majority at the time. In fact, it was one of the first times that I thought things were getting a little too ridiculous with the hobby. 90 different base cards of each player and the photo was the same. Only the usually boring background doodle, many of which looked like they came from grade school art class, was different. Had I pulled any Diffractors? Who knew? They weren't marked and I didn't understand how to tell. Besides, at 1:6 packs they aren't exactly rare, right? I was grateful at the time... grateful that my guy, Rusty Greer, did not appear in the set. I felt like I was drowning as it was.
I left the hobby in 2000 and came back in 2010. I don't feel the immediacy I felt back then to finish collecting projects. I actually enjoy the long-term project. And now, I have a much different view of 1998 Topps Tek. Collecting them 14 years after their release is a very leisurely project. I'm working on collecting all of Jay Buhner's base and I don't feel any pressure to pick them up as soon as I find them. If the price ain't right I can just let them sit.
But what really interests me now are Diffractors. They are almost an enigma. Why are these cards somewhat rare when they should be so plentiful? Even if the print run is really low - like, say, 10 each per pattern, that's still 900 total Diffractors that should be out there somewhere for EACH player. If there are 900 (just an example) for each player, then why is it that in the last year and a half that I've been paying attention are there some players that I've only seen a couple, or just one, or sometimes even zero of their Diffractors for sale?
So, why are Diffractors tough to come by? One explanation that I've already alluded to is that they weren't super popular. But they weren't exactly duds either. I bet there were a ton of people that were like me and were intrigued enough that they bought a box, or at least a handful of packs, to try them out. I don't get the sense that they were gathering dust on LCS shelves everywhere like some other issues. Unopened boxes of them can still be found - they pop up occasionally on ebay, although the price seems to be going up.
Let's say that most of the 1998 Tek product is open. Why are Diffractors not hitting the market? As you can tell from many ebay listings, the reason is that this product still confuses collectors. Sellers are not calling Diffractors by name in their listings, and in some cases, they are calling base cards Diffractors. Diffractors don't really look that much different than the base if you don't know what you're looking for. They aren't marked "Diffractor" like Topps Chrome Refractors, for example. They aren't serial numbered like 1999 Tek Golds. So many of these Diffractors may be stashed in closets and dime boxes somewhere, but people don't even know they have them.
Needless to say, now I am very disappointed that Rusty wasn't in the set. Jay Buhner will have to do.
I'll end this post with the cheapest Diffractor I've found to date - $1.74 dlvd. One of the duds in the set. Someday I hope to find one in a quarter box at a show just so I can say I've done it.