Sunday, January 3, 2016

Nostalgic Box Break: 1996 Collector's Choice Series One (Part One)

Been a while since I dusted off an old box of Nostalgia-y goodness from the scan pile, so, seeing as we've hit a rather dormant part of the blogging year, I'm rolling this one out.

1996 Upper Deck Collector's Choice. Right in the middle of the Collector's Choice dynasty. Thin card stock, great photography, great selection. Gone way too soon. Thankfully, we still have breaks like these to remind us of how awesome this set was in its prime.

36 Packs. 12 cards per pack. 12 tonight. Let's dig in:
 Pack One- The design, like Stadium Club, was simple enough for the target audience, but, unlike stadium club, was never full-bleed and went for a white border for most of its lifespan.

 Joe Girardi, a guy who can very often be spotted in my college's Starbucks, and Jeff Brantley, one of the many 90's Reds arms.

 Our inserts are nothing too flashy. Piazza's is part of a 1978-Topps-esque game. Mo Vaughn's is part of a Fantasy Team subset. Chili Davis, my favorite of the three, points out his International heritage, with an ultra-cool backing design. Topps would borrow from this idea in 2007 with their World Domination insert set, from rack-packs.

 Pack 2- I love the 90's because they were not afraid of purple back then.

 Two very 90's arms. Langston was still mowing down batters in Anaheim. Brad Radke would be around as the ace in Minneapolis for another decade.

 Checklists had players on the front, like this one of dual Indians Eddie Murray and Albert Belle.

 Even checklists could get the silver sig treatment, like this one of Cal Ripken playing his 2131st game.
 Two Dodger inserts. Our Game insert is of Raul Mondesi. Our International is of Hideo Nomo, who is still the best arm to come out of Japan. Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka haven't gotten enough longevity to combat him there. Or consistency.
 Pack 3- Lots of extreme close-ups here.
 Two cards of note. One is a redemption card for the ALDS cards that were out by the product's release. The other is a really fun shot of Reggie Sanders.

 A fairly sane-looking Bipping, followed by a reminded that Joe Table was an All Star in '95, as well as a onetime Phillies saves leader.

 Cecil Fielder is our ultra-nice Traditional Threads subset, which is pretty cool and classy. Barry Larkin is our Fantasy shortstop. Sammy Sosa warrants a single.
 Pack 4- Man, this pack takes me back to the last time the Phillies were this consistently awful.

 A very nice rookie shot of future journeyman catcher Charles Johnson signing some autographs. I feel bad for the guy trying to throw a Mets program at the guy.
 Your annual reminder that Jack McDowell was once a Yankee.

 Robby Thompson sure has collected a ton of great posed shots.
 There's still some debate over whether or not Gary Sheffield is a Hall of Famer. I feel like his 500 Home Run club membership should make him a shoo-in, but his other numbers are pretty unspectacular. It's pretty enigmatic. I doubt he'll make it in this week.

 Pack 5- The rookies in this set are fairly unspectacular, and if there are actual stars in there, this probably isn't their rookie card.

 Great shot of Fernando Vina sliding. One of the few decent Brewers out of this era.

 Fantasy Team insert of Hideo Nomo, who was all over products in 1996. International insert of Manny Ramirez.
 Tim Salmon, Mr. Angel, in a really nice static shot, next to HOFer Craig Biggio in a really cool double play shot.
 Our Game Card this pack is of Larry Walker, who I wish had more of a Hall of Fame case.

 Pack 6- Lots of different photo techniques here, which I love.

 Great shot of Tino, and a rather odd throwback from Gary Gaetti, which perplexes, and still interests, me.

 Another fantasy insert, this one of Mike Piazza.

 And a game insert of Cal Ripken, who was also all over 1996 products, and rightfully so.

 Pack 7- You can see a couple hall of famers here.

 Three amazing sideways shots. Gant's is great because it's a full-bleed ASG card. Grace's is awesome because the backdrop contrasts well with that cool pose. Cal's is great because it's captured him at a once-in-a-lifetime moment.

 Ah, good ol' Darren Daulton, one of the hardest hitting catchers in Phillies history.

 Fantasy Team insert of Albert Belle, because this is 1996, and a really cool static shot of a microphone toting John Smoltz.
 Pack 8- Lots of star power in this one.

 Urbina's is an emotional National Anthem shot. Myers' is a great pitcher shot. Carter's is a really good leveled, well-lit shot.

 Don Mattingly, who really isn't a Hall of Famer sad to say, in a Traditional Threads insert, and Sammy Sosa in a Fantasy Team insert.

 Glad to see Eddie Murray was still a legitimate source of power in the MLB in 1996, two years before he retired. And A-Rod...yeah, that's a pretty cool shot there.

 Pack 9- Again, lots of 90's pink and purple combos.

 Manny here is getting a bro-hug from somebody. It looks like Dennis Martinez, though I could be wrong. Matt Williams is just happy to be here.

 The guy on the left will be in the Hall of Fame by this time next year. The guy on the right was bracing himself for HOF membership this time last year.
 I sometimes forget that Raul Mondesi once played for my team. It's pretty strange, actually.

 Pack 10- Also a lot of emphasis on Reds.
 An aging Tom Henke on the Cardinals, and Jose Mesa, who somehow made it into a Fantasy Team insert.
 Jose Canseco, star of Liar, Liar (not really), in an International insert, as a Red Sock, and one of the few decent rookies in this set, of Jason Isringhausen.

 Always nice to pull an insert of Frank Thomas.

 Pack 11- More HOF action in the bottom row.

 Gotta love Ozzie, in his Traditional Threads insert. Andy Pettitte's gotta be pretty young in this base card. And another Tim Salmon card.
 Two great horizontal cards. Browne's is enhanced by the awesome teal uniforms of the Marlins in 90's. Eck's is great because he's Eck.

 Pack 12- Lots of very 90's people in this pack.

 Javy Lopez, seen here before he started hitting like a complete beast, signing autos, presumably in Orlando.
 Fantasy Team insert of Vinny Castilla, and a very pleased looking Frank Thomas talks to the press.
 Two very 1996 names. Caminiti would have an MVP award a few years later, and Vaughn is just going through his stretch of awesome seasons.

That's quite enough for tonight. Tomorrow, or sometime relatively soon, I will post the next 12 packs. Full of standard 90's goodness.

1 comment:

  1. I am just now realizing how much of this set I had as a kid. Every picture, "I had that one, and that one, and that one..." Thanks for the flashback!