Parallel Brand

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Parallel Brand: A card set that uses the design of a previously released set.

In 1996, with the popularity of parallel inserts, the natural progression was to create a stand-alone brand containing cards that are essentially parallels. Enter the "Parallel Brand." Although you could make a case that the first parallel brands were the Topps Tiffany sets of the 1980s, the first such product as we now know them was 1996 Topps Chrome baseball. The concept was simple, take 165 best cards from the regular 440-card Topps product, print them all on the Finest style chromium stock (hence the name "Chrome"), throw in a few of those ever popular refractors, and presto!

It took a while for collectors to warm to the concept of parallel brands though. But the parallel brand came into it's own with the release of 1996-97 Topps Chrome basketball and 1997 Bowman Chrome baseball. Since then, just about all of the trading card companies -- with the notable exception of Fleer -- have put together some sort of parallel brand.

Topps has the popular Topps Chrome, Bowman Chrome, Super Chrome (a parallel brand of a parallel brand) as well as a stripped down version of their base brand called Opening Day. In 1998 Upper Deck released their first parallel brand "Special F/X," a retail-only brand which was largely ignored and sub sequentially dropped. In 1999 Upper Deck produced two parallel brands "Encore" and "Ultimate Victory" with reprinted their Upper Deck and Victory products respectively. Unlike Topps' parallel brands, Both Ultimate Victory and Encore contained additional base set cards and inserts that were exclusive to the parallel brand.