And by rainbow, I am of course referring to obtaining one of every card parallel variant in a single product. The 1/1, the /5, /10, /15, /25, /50 etc...
Keep in mind that this doesn't include the printing plates (if there are any), or any parallels/variations that get released in other subsequent products. Those fall under the category of a "master rainbow".
All three of my rainbows are regular rainbows (I've yet to finish a master rainbow) and they were constructed in three different ways. So today I figure I'd offer some advice to people looking to make their own.
1). Adjust your budget accordingly and allocate funds to this mission
2). Be observant and expect cards you need to suddenly pop up
I'm combining these two because they're the most important and also go hand in hand with each other.
There is no set amount for what a rainbow could cost you. Obviously you can guess based on the product, the player and the team, but ultimately you won't know for sure until it's all said and done one way or the other. My Luis Torrens BoChro rainbow cost me a lot over $400. My Thairo Estrada BoChro mini rainbow barely cost me $100. You never know what could happen.
As such it always helps to keep money stashed away from your hobby budget specifically so that you have some money to spend when a card you need pops up. I probably should've mentioned that this is one of the ways I keep myself in check when it comes to buying packs the other day. If you already blew a month's worth of your hobby budget on another purchase, but then a card you really needed pops up on eBay not long after, you're going to be in a really tough pickle.
This is why I don't spend too much on non-Torrens cards. So I don't have to eat instant ramen for dinner for two weeks if/when I snag the newest 1/1 to pop up on the market.
If this is too big of a sacrifice then I'm sorry to say that rainbow building may just not be for you in the first place.
3). Be patient and expect cards you need to take forever to pop up (if at all)
This one and guideline number two go hand in hand too. Rainbows can be tricky because not all of the pieces you need can be easily found. Especially not the lower numbered ones. That said, make sure to study ahead of time and look for a complete list of all of the parallels the card you want has. Sometimes even the non-low numbered parallels can be tough to track down because they were super obscure retail exclusives, online exclusives, or exclusives limited to those prepackaged factory sets. You'd be surprised how so many people have everything except these obscure parallels.
Use the time you don't find anything to just keep saving up the money in the event that something does pop up and it costs more than you think it will.
But while we're here, let me also say that rainbow building is not something that can be done quickly. It can last years (it took me a year and a half to complete my Torrens BoChro rainbow), possibly even more. That's assuming you're lucky enough to finish it at all. Please know that you are risking spending a lot of time searching for cards that will never appear in the open because they either get opened by the olds without internet access or they don't ever get opened at all. You may never be rewarded for your efforts. If you want instant gratification or at least the assurance that the goal you're striving to achieve can be reached, I'm sorry but rainbow building isn't for you either. I'd recommend set building instead.
Of course the weird nature of card collecting dictates that when a card you need does appear, a couple more will pop up immediately after you buy it. Why? Because the universe hates you and is trying to convince you to spend your money wiser that's why. Or at least that's how I felt when it happened to me.
4). Start with the lower numbered stuff first
This should be a top three rule, but it slid all the way down to number three because I wanted my key points to be made before everyone stops paying attention to this post by this point.
You theoretically could start with the easily accessible cards first, but let me just say that for optimal rainbow building you should really prioritize the lower numbered and rarer stuff first. Most of the cards/parallels printed in huge quantities can and will likely be readily available on COMC or eBay if you ever need them. I say save them for last. There's no feeling quite like finishing off a rainbow with the base card or a not-so rare refractor.
5). Daily searches and phone/email notifications are a must
The name of the game is finding the cards you need as quick as possible. As such it's imperative to have saved searches on sites like eBay or wherever and make sure you're the first to know if a card you could potentially need is put up on the site. If you've got time to spare maybe even hit up places like baseball card Twitter or the online forums. They're cesspools for sure but you need to cast a big ass net to land hits as precise as rainbows require you to. So you'll have to hold your breath and dive right in.
6). The newer, the better/the older, the harder
If I had to guess, there's probably a four year window where building a rainbow has a relatively good shot of being completed, but after that window closes those odds go down considerably.
If you're dealing with a new product (preferably the newest on the shelves), then you'll likely benefit from EVERYONE opening it like crazy trying to land the biggest hits in the product before everyone else. In the process you'll find a lot of neat rare stuff that will be nearly impossible to find as the product's release date gets farther and farther away in the rearview mirror.
Like, if your goal is try to assemble a rainbow from 2003 Topps Chrome from scratch here in 2018, I don't think you'll get very far. If it's been nearly over five years since a product came out, the odds of people still opening that set are very very small. Almost as small as the odds the cards you need to complete the rainbow aren't already in the hands of various collectors already.
Keep it recent, or else you'll likely never even see the gold (refractor), let alone the rainbow itself.
7). Cards from all over
I can't say this will always be the case, but there is a more-than-zero chance that you will find yourself getting cards from all over the country/world doing this. Combined shipping does not exist when you're rainbow building (unless you saved a bunch of common cards on COMC until last). You'll get one card from, say, California, then the next one from Nebraska and then maybe Taiwan. If you're afraid of buying cards from sellers overseas, your prospects of building that rainbow could potentially go significantly down. Keep that in mind if you decide to begin building a rainbow.
8). This is basically just extreme player collecting
It really is. This is player collecting at the nth degree. You're after specific cards of a specific player. If you're naturally a player collector you might pull all of this off one day. If you're not, again I'd like to redirect you to set collecting instead.
So there are my eight guidelines for building a rainbow. I'm sorry in advance if I came across as being super negative and like I'm actively discouraging people before they even start, but I really felt I needed to hammer home the risks people MUST take into consideration before they start a rainbow.
As someone who's built three (technically four but I refuse to acknowledge the fourth right now), rainbows, I can say for a fact that it can be a frustrating endeavor with seemingly no end in sight. I consider myself lucky that I did actually finish the rainbows. Some people never do. As such all I can really say is that I want everyone's biggest takeaway to be that rainbow building isn't for everyone. You have to be the type of collector who has narrowed their vision to a point so small that the rainbow is pretty much the only project they're working on. You have to be willing to talk to people in the hopes of either finding stuff you need or networking so that people will actually come to you with stuff they think you might need. Above all, you need patience and focus. You'll be tempted to just give up or leave the project dormant after the three week mark. I guarantee you will. Whether you give into that or just keep going will determine in the long run if you have what it takes to see it through.
Because when it goes right and you actually build it, it can be the best thing ever.
As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).