One Man's Thoughts on Sports Card Collecting

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Great Insert Sets of the '90s

The 1990s marked the birth of the insert set.  I believe the very first one ever was the Reggie Jackson Baseball Heroes insert set in 1990 Upper Deck.  That set also included what I believe were the first ever autographed cards and serial-numbered cards in packs.  Who knew just a few short years later we would be saturated with countless inserts in every set produced??  Here are my picks for some of the best inserts to come out of the 1990s.

1993 Score Select Chase Stars

Might as well get this one out of the way right away.  As I just recently posted when I got a few more of these on eBay, this may well be my favorite insert set of all time.  The combo of my favorite color (dark green, which is not used nearly often enough on cards) and one of my favorite design effects (dufex) makes for a fantastic card.

1992 Topps Gold

The parallel set that started it all.  Purchasing a factory set of 1992 Topps Gold is currently near the top of my to-do list.  I still remember vividly the surprise and awe I felt the first time I pulled one of these from a pack.  I didn't even know these cards existed! - I guess I didn't spend a lot of time looking at the side of the box, where it was advertised.  But to my 10 year old mind, it felt like I was holding actual gold in my hands!

What's that you ask?  You want to know what player I pulled that got me so worked up?  Well let me show you:

Oh yeah.  FEEL the excitement!

1995 Flair Hot Numbers

This was one of the inserts that I knew I wanted to collect the instant I saw one.  It's probably due to my being such a stat nerd that I would love a set design that covered the card with gold foil numbers.  Also, at the time the super glossy finish and thick card stock was still a pretty new phenomenon, adding to their appeal

1993 Upper Deck Then & Now Holograms

Holograms are almost always a hit with me, and these were the best.  The Then & Now set combined a color picture of the player from their rookie days with a hologram picture from today, with a background of their team's city.  (I believe the background of Yount's is Milwaukee's harbor/Third Ward area).  I was lucky enough to find a complete set of these selling at a great price on eBay, and I snatched those up in a heartbeat.

1998 Pinnacle Epix

After holograms, super shiny, colorful cards like these are the other group that always works for me.  I won't spend much time here, as I've discussed these on other posts, but I'm getting close to a full set of Griffeys from this fantastic set (9 out of 12 thus far).

1998 Pinnacle Spellbound

Pinnacle did good work in 1998.  I believe this was the first to introduce the "spell a player's name" theme, and it was just a couple months ago that I finished off my Griffey set.  I mentioned earlier that I love me some Dufex, and these cards make great use of it.

1998 Upper Deck Blue Chip Prospects

The highlight of these cards was that the picture was on a film-like surface, which was a first at the time.  As you can see from the pictures above, you can see right through the picture of the player.  Die-cutting and bronze foil complete the attractive package.

1999 Upper Deck HoloGrFx Starview & Launchers

I put these together, because while they are different inserts they look very similar.  Dark green? - Check.  Super shiny, holograph-y foil? - Check.  Parallel versions (gold and silver foil)? - Check.  Yep, no surprise these would make my list.

Multiple Years - UD Collector's Choice You Crash the Game Inserts

This was a truly cool and innovative concept.  On the off chance that anyone reading this doesn't know how these worked, if the player hit a home run on any of the dates specified on the card, you could send in the card to get a special edition card of that player.  It was really cool to follow your cards all during the season, praying for a homer.  Ironically, the one time I DID win, I forgot to mail in the card on time!!  :)

This is by no means an exhaustive list, since there were just so many insert sets that you can't possibly consider them all, but these definitely account for most of my favorites.  I'd love to hear from others which sets from the '90s would make your lists!

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