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Types of Topps Chrome Refractors—Waves, and Pulsars & More!


Ryan Barone
(@ballcardgenius, Card Expert) is a lifelong member of the hobby. He has been quoted in PSA Magazine, and his content has regularly been mentioned in “Quick Rips” (the Topps RIPPED Newsletter) and across other hobby publications. hello@ballcardgenius.com; Last Time Ago LLC dba Ballcard Genius.


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With refractors of different colors like purple wave, pulsar, pink, and padparadscha and new types including tacofractors, retrofractors, and logofractors, it can all be really difficult to keep track of sometimes (and that’s coming from an expert collector who loves color and shine).

So, let’s jump in and take a look at a few visual examples to help you identify that sparkle and shine bursting from your card boxes and binders.

We will start from traditional and move towards completely bonkers.

Types of Topps Chrome Refractors

There are also a number of different types of refractors within any given set, with each featuring its own unique design or color. Here are the different refractors to look for in Topps Chrome:

Base Refractor

This is the traditional refractor that is thought of whenever anyone uses the term “refractor” without any additional adjectives. This is the card that will most closely a silver Prizm or Holo from Panini.

You can also turn the card over to the back and look for the word “refractor” printed near the card number or in one of the card’s corners. This is true for most years, except, notably, 1993 Topps Finest, where “refractor” isn’t printed on the back of the card.

Prism Refractor

The prizm refractor is also plentiful, but slightly more rare than base refractors in terms of pack odds. These will also have a nice shine, but the pattern features smaller square-ish designs spread across the card (not to be confused with the bigger, more square designs found on an Xfractor).

It kind of resembles snake skin, no?

Read More: What is a Superfractor in Cards?

Negative Refractors

With the negative refractor, think “negative” in terms of photos (because hey, these are cards, everything is fun and positive). But seriously, these refractors are a bit more obvious thanks to their distinctive black-and-white treatment.

Sepia Refractors

Sticking with photography and filters you may have heard of, the sepia refractor is similar to the negative thanks to its lack of color, but will be more reddish-brown than black and white.

Pink Refractors

The name says it all! These look like a base refractor in terms of the clean shiny baseball card design, but instead of silver, are pink.

Mini Diamond Refractors

If you like sparkle, these are the cards for you! While the base refractors have a clean rainbow-like finish, these more closely resemble a glimmering diamond.

Logofractors

New with the release of 2022 Topps Chrome was the “Logofractor” which can only be found in 2022 Topps Chrome “Logofractor Edition” Mega boxes. These can be identified by the mini MLB logos that cover the card stock, and of course, have the shiny refractor finish.

Sonic Refractors

Also new are “Sonic” refractors, and no sorry, these aren’t like the Logofractors in which you’ll have little mini Sonic the Hedgehog logos floating around your baseball cards. Instead, think of it like a sonic boom. Here you can see the “target-like” circles that make up the card’s front, and the varying colors.

These Sonic refractors are found in another new product, Topps Chrome Sonic, as are the RayWave refractors mentioned below.

Sonar Refractors

Topps also decided to carry through that circle-based pattern to 2023 Chrome, and with it we have the Sonar refractor (which to be honest, are among my favorites.

RayWave Refractors

Also found in 2022 Topps Chrome Sonic, RayWave refractors are easily distinguishable thanks to their wave-like pattern that is quite different than any other refractor type.

Tacofractor

For 2023, we were treated to a delicious Tacofractor. While more of a gimmick refractor than anything (while we are still waiting for what that gimmick is), the Tacofractor is technically a type of refractor.

And I won’t go through the rest, but here are many of the other refractors that you can identify based on their colors and card serial numbers.

  • Magenta Refractors – /399
  • Magenta Speckle Refractors – /350
  • Sonar Purple Refractors /275
  • Purple Refractors – /250
  • Aqua Refractors – /199
  • Aqua Wave Refractors – /199
  • Aqua Lava Refractors – /199
  • Blue Refractors – /150
  • Sonar Blue Refractors /125
  • Green Refractors – /99
  • Green Wave Refractors – /99
  • Blue Wave Refractors – /75
  • Gold Refractors – /50
  • Gold Wave Refractors – /50
  • Orange Refractors – /25
  • Orange Wave Refractors – /25
  • Red Refractors – /5
  • Red Wave Refractors – /5
  • Tacofractors – /5

Prism Refractor

No, this isn’t a trick. There is a refractor. There is a prizm. But, there is also the prism refractor. Mind blown, right?

As you can see, there is a spelling difference—this is the Topps “prism” with an “s” as opposed to the “z” prism from Panini.

If you’re looking through your chrome cards, a refractor might be relatively tough to pick up on, but a prism refractor has a different look altogether. As you can see below, a prism refractor is going to have clearly-defined lines and shapes, giving the front a clear difference when compared to others.

This look will be more pronounced in later examples (like the x-fractor and pulsar), but for now, the best way to identify the prism refractor with your Topps baseball cards is to look for the shapes. But not quite squares…

Not to be confused with:

You might confuse the prism refractor with an x-fractor, but if you do, you’ll probably only make that mistake once. Learn more about the x-fractor below, but while both offer a substantially different look than a regular refractor, the two compared to each other are also that much different.

Actually, if anything, the prism refractor from Topps could be easily confused with the hyper prizm from Panini, which I’ll explain below. But, the fact that they are two different sports card brands, you’ll know which one you have just from that fact alone.

X-Fractor

Moving along, beyond your typical refractor, holo, and prizm, let’s talk about the X-Fractor.

For those who don’t know, take comfort in knowing they are easier to identify than your basic refractor among other Chrome cards. Have a look:

So, yes, the front of the card is a dead giveaway, and it’s near impossible to be thumbing through cards and not notice the X-fractor’s checkerboard, with mini connecting squares across the card.

I mean, I guess if I said you might confuse a prism refractor with an x-fractor, then I guess the same could be said the other way around.

And that’s it for now! I’ll be back to update with new and different variations, but

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