Back when I was a young whipper snapper, from oh, say, 1986-1993 or so, there was no such thing as a short print. Ok, maybe there was, but I, nor none of my collecting friends knew anything about them, because this was before the internet, so no one knew anything about anything.
And then I get back into it for a little while in the early 2000s, buy packs of everything I can get my hands on, stick them in box and forget about them until fall 2009, when for some reason I get back into collecting.
One of the first sets I get into is Goodwin Champions. I guess a lot of people hate that set, but I think it looks cool. I think it is an interesting set, except for one thing.
Short prints. Not variations, besides those midnight variations (two boxes and no variations!) but short prints. Numbered beyond the final regular press run.
To break it down, the first 150 cards are the regular old set. And then there are 40 short prints, and 20 super short prints.
So you buy a pack, which only held four cards, another discouraging turn of events I discovered after ordering a box, and get 2 regular old cards, a mini and a short print, like this Greg Nettles, numbered 177.
And thus you have two choices. Ignore a card that looks like it belongs in the set, but sort of doesn't, or build the whole damn set. So long after you collect the first 150 cards and the doubles start to build up, you are still staring at cruel gaps in the binder pages. I won't get into who are the short prints in the Goodwin set. Interesting choices, to say the least.
But if a card is sequentially numbered into a set, it has no business being a short print.
I would propose card companies make the set actually buildable, and do variations or whatever, if they insist on gimmicks. But short prints suck, and I am going to avoid building sets with short prints from here on out.
Variations, on the other hand, are awesome. I like the 2010 Topps variations, Hall of Famers tucked in random packs. Very random, as I have only pulled three of them. I wish they were a bit less scarce, actually.
One set thick with variations is the 2008 Upper Deck Heroes set, pictured below.
I am sure you know what they look like. They come in green, black, beige, red, navy blue, brown, green, light blue, purple and charcoal. They are numbered to various degrees, the lowest to 25, the highest to a gajillion.
They perhaps take it a bit too far, come to think of it. Maybe they could cut it down to a half rainbow. But it provides a little fun ripping packs, and the set is presumably still buildable. You could build a frankenset, or go straight beige, or chase all the colors. But it is your choice. You get a shot at all the numbers, and the only artificial scarcity bullshit is at least rewarded with a shiny gold number.