Wednesday Wax: 1998-99 Bowman’s Best

The Set:
1998-99 Bowman’s Best
24 packs, 6 cards per pack
Base set contains 100 base cards, 25 rookies (1 in 4 packs)
Refractors 1 in 25 packs
Atomic Refractors 1 in 100 packs
Veteran Autograph Atomic Refractors 1 in 10,073 packs
Rookie Autograph Atomic Refractors 1 in 12,515 packs
Veteran Autograph Refractors 1 in 3,358 packs
Rookie Autograph Refractors 1 in 4,172 packs
Franchise Best 1 in 23 packs
Mirror Image 1 in 12 packs
Mirror Image Refractors 1 in 628 packs
Mirror Image Atomic Refractors 1 in 2,504 packs
Best Performers 1 in 12 packs
Best Performers Refractors 1 in 628 packs
Best Performers Atomic Refractors 1 in 2,504 packs

Our Break:


94/100 base cards, 38 duplicates


Rookies (6): Tyronn Lue, Bryce Drew, Keon Clark, Brian Skinner, Al Harrington, Paul Pierce


Best Performers (3): Grant Hill, Antawn Jamison, Mike Bibby


Refractors /400 (1): Chauncey Billups
Franchise Best (1): Karl Malone


Mirror Image (1): Shawn Kemp/Keith Van Horn

Impressions:

Wouldn’t take much to complete the base set of 100 cards, as we were just a handful short from our one box.  It’s always enjoyable to open 90’s products to see the league where the league was heading at that time.  You’ve got Shaq and Kobe just before their Finals runs.  The overlap of the end of Robinson’s career and the beginning of Duncan’s.  Pippen, Barkley along with Hakeem on the Rockets.   All of the base cards have golden strips at the top and bottom.  Imagine how nice these would have looked if these sections were colored to correspond with a player’s team colors.

1998-99 Bowman’s Best was one of the first products to have short printed rookie cards in the base set.  While we would have loved to have seen a Dirk rookie, Paul Pierce was a fine second choice.  The rookies, inserted at 1 in 4 packs, have the same glossy and metallic look as the rest of the base set, but have silver top and bottom sections, with a darkened background of an arena crowd.

The number of inserts in this product is certainly on the low side, particularly since only one refractor is usually included in each box.  This was also one of the first products to include serial numbered cards.  The refractor we did pull (Chauncey Billups) is really a beautiful card.  Could have done worse there for sure.

The chase inserts are the Kobe Mirror Image card and the Jordan Franchise Best card, and of course the refractor and atomic refractor versions of any of the inserts, which all have extremely tough odds.  The odds on the autographs are pretty mind-blowing as well.

Recap:

Base Set: 3/5 Stars
Inserts: 3/5 Stars
Value: 3/5 Stars
Overall: 3/5 Stars

A fun break, but half of the packs held nothing but base cards, and the inserts we did pull weren’t necessarily worth the wait.  Best card was probably the Pierce rookie.  One insert refractor, a Dirk rookie, or even a star refractor would have pushed this break another direction though.


Wednesday Wax: 1994-95 Fleer Series 1

The Set:
1994-95 Fleer Series 1
24 packs, 21 cards per pack
Base set contains 236 base cards, 1 Toronto Raptors logo card, 3 checklists
Rookie Sensations 1 in 3 packs
All-Defensive 1 in 9 packs
League Leaders 1 in 11 packs
Pro-Visions 1 in 5 packs
Triple Threats 1 in 9 packs
Award Winners 1 in 22 packs
Career Achievement 1 in 37 packs

Our Break:


Lots of base cards, lots of duplicates


All-Defensive (5): Mookie Blaylock, Charles Oakley, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Dennis Rodman


League Leaders (2): Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Dennis Rodman


Pro-Visions (5): Jamal Mashburn x2, John Starks, Dennis Rodman, Dan Majerle


Rookie Sensations (10): Vin Baker x3, P.J. Brown, Sam Cassell, Anfernee Hardaway, Chris Mills, Dino Radja, Nick Van Exel x2


Triple Threats (2): Patrick Ewing, David Robinson

Impressions:

Have no reason to complain on much of anything from this box, as I got it off ebay for the price of most modern-day lower-end packs.  However, I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed to pull multiples of inserts, particularly the three Vin Baker rookie sensation cards.  Also opened a ton of duplicates in the base set.  Pretty sure we came close to completing the base set, though.  Also had to spend a considerable amount of time pulling the cards apart.  Didn’t notice any damage to the cards because of this, though.

Inserts were inserted at 1 per pack, over a third of them being from the 25 card Rookie Sensations set.  Pulling the Penny Hardaway from this set was nice, and it ended being the best card in the box.  The chase cards from this insert set are the Hardaway and Chris Webber ($5 each).  The Pro-Visions cards fit together from what I can tell.  The Marshburn and Starks pictured above are cards 1 and 2 in the set, and their backgrounds run together.  Can’t argue with the variety of the inserts, pulling cards from 5 different insert sets.

It’s worth noting that the rookie cards from 1994-95 Fleer (Grant Hill, Jason Kidd, Jalen Rose, Eddie Jones, etc…), are in the series 2 products.

Recap:

Base Set: 3/5 Stars
Inserts: 4/5 Stars
Value: 5/5 Stars
Overall: 4/5 Stars

The base set design isn’t particularly exciting, but does feature nice action shots of the players.  The player name text also goes well with the splotch of color underneath.  The ding on the insert score is mainly because we pulled 5 duplicate inserts out of 24 packs.  We don’t need even 1 Vin Baker, and certainly not 3.  We also didn’t pull any of the inserts with tougher odds, even though we were likely to pull at least 1.  Again, a fun break, brings back a lot of memories of opening these as a kid.  Can’t argue with the value.  The Penny basically paid for the box all by itself.  While not as thrilling as the Flair break from last week, or even an Ultra break from the same year, it’s a solid product that delivers a lot of cards, a variety of inserts, and a reasonable amount of fun.


Wednesday Wax: 1994-95 Flair Series 1

The Set:
1994-95 Flair Series 1
24 packs, 10 cards per pack
Base set contains 158 base cards, 14 USA cards, 3 checklists
Hot Numbers 1 in 5 packs
Scoring Power 1 in 8 packs
Center Spotlight 1 in 25 packs

Our Break:



163 out of 175 base cards, 73 duplicates


Hot Numbers (5): Dikembe Mutombo, Hakeem Olajuwon x2, Scottie Pippen, Isaiah Rider


Scoring Power (3): Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone


Center Spotlight (2): Hakeem Olajuwon, Chris Webber

Impressions:

Opening this box was the most fun I’d had on a break in a good while, and it’s likely led me to open a box of Series 2 and to complete the insert sets from Series 1 and 2.  I think it’s partly because of the current NBA lockout, which has inspired me to go back and watch some games from the mid-nineties, making pulling some of the players from those games pretty awesome.

I remember opening a single pack of 94-95 Flair Series 2 when I was younger (around 8 years old when the set first came out).  I was in awe of the packaging.  Each pack comes in a little golden cardboard box, which is wrapped in clear plastic.  Then the cards themselves are wrapped in clear plastic.  While it takes a bit of effort to get to the actual cards, the effort is worth it.

The base cards have something that I miss in modern cards, and that’s player action shots filling the entire card.  The fronts feature multiple shots of the player and script text with the player name, with team name below.  The back of the card lists the player’s entire career stats, which I always appreciate.  What’s different about this set though is that the stats don’t hog the space on the back of the card, as an action photo serves as the background with the stats overlaid.  The USA cards show a game by game account for the player during the 1994 World Championship.

The inserts look fantastic.  I would have liked to have opened more than 10 out of 24 packs, but their rarity is part of what makes 90s inserts so appealing.  Shaq inserts are the most sought after from this Flair set, but I was pretty pumped to pull multiple Center Spotlight cards, beating the odds there.  The Chris Webber Center Spotlight and the Scottie Pippen Hot Numbers were the top cards in the box.

Recap:

Base Set: 5/5 Stars
Inserts: 4/5 Stars
Value: 5/5 Stars
Overall: 4.67/5 Stars

The beautiful design on the base set, the high card quality, and the nostalgia factor made 1994-95 Flair Series 1 a great buy.  You should be able to find a box online for under $30 including shipping.


Wednesday Wax: 2010-11 Panini Playoff Contenders Patches

The Set:
2010-11 Panini Playoff Contenders Patches
20 packs per box, 5 cards per pack
Base set contains 100 base cards ‘Season Tickets’, 100 rookie autograph patches ‘Rookie Tickets’

Our Break:


83 of 100 Season Tickets, no duplicates
Die Cuts Silver /299 (2): Kevin Love, Tayshaun Prince


Rookie of the Year Contenders Die-Cuts Silver /299 (1): James Anderson
Place In History (3): Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Pau Gasol


Starting Blocks (6): D. DeRozan/E. Davis, D. Gallinari/T. Douglas, B. Lopez/D. James, E. Gordon/B. Griffin, T. Gibson/J. Johnson, B. Griffin/A. Aminu
Starting Blocks Die Cuts Silver /299 (1): B. Lopez/D. Favors


One-Two Punch (3): J. Flynn/M. Beasley, J. Holiday/E. Brand, S. Nash/C. Frye
One-Two Punch Die Cuts Gold /99 (1): R. Allen/P. Pierce


Rookie Tickets (4): Solomon Alabi, Omer Asik, Luke Babbitt, Hassan Whiteside (Redemption)

Impressions:

For the set collectors, the base set would be an easy one to complete, as we received over 80% of the base set in our box.  The inserts provided a nice mix of younger, up-and-coming players (the Starting Blocks) and veteran leaders and stars (One-Two Punch).  The insert card ratio was great as well, as there were 21 non-base cards in our box from 20 packs.  With 4 autographs and that many inserts per box, this product is a solid value for the price (selling for around $85/box at this posting).

One thing that stuck out on the base set design was the amount of white space, particularly at the bottom of the cards.  This is more noticable on certain cards than others, particularly on cards of the smaller guards like Jonny Flynn and Sasha Vujacic.  The stats on the ticket section of the card are well done, providing information on when the team was established, how many years the player has been in the league, etc…

The rookie patch cards are beautiful, and while the autographs aren’t on-card, the autographs are inserts which are typically favorable to the sticker autographs.  My only real complaint with the patches is how the bottom of each patch is covered up by the product name and year, and this is nitpicky as it does not bring down the attractiveness of the card too much.  The ticket theme is completely overshadowed by the huge patch though.

The theme of this set seems to branch in a bunch of different ways.  We’ve got the Contenders, Rookie Patches, and then the ticket theme.  I think the cards would fit together better if there was more of a focus on one of these themes.  It seems like too much is going on in one set.

Recap:

Base Set: 3/5 Stars
Inserts: 5/5 Stars
Memorabilia and Autographs: 4/5 Stars
Value: 5/5 Stars
Overall: 4.25/5 Stars

For the price of the box, Playoff Contenders Patches is a good value with 4 attractive autographed cards per box and a variety of insert cards.


Wednesday Wax: 2010-11 Panini Classics

The Set:
2010-11 Panini Classics
18 packs per box, 8 cards per pack
Base set contains 100 base cards, 40 Legends, 40 Autographed rookies

Our Break:

Complete set of 100 base cards plus 30 duplicates
Legends /999 (2): Michael Finley, Chris Webber
Silver /250 (1): Jeff Green


Classic Moments (1): Rajon Rondo
Classic Combos (1): Karl Malone/John Stockton
Dress Code (2): David Lee, Andrea Bargnani
Dress Code Silver /250 (1): Toney Douglas



Classic Greats (1): Artis Gilmore
Blast From The Past (2): Kevin Durant, Chris Bosh


Membership Materials /499 (2): Tayshaun Prince, Pau Gasol


Autographed Rookies /699 (2): Luke Harangody, Terrico White

Impressions:

The base set design is one of my favorite designs from the past several years.  It does have a throwback feel with script text of the player, position, and Classics logo.  The primary team colors filling the majority of the background on the base cards make for a relatively bright and colorful set.  The base set had at least 3 players from each team, with a good mix of stars, established veterans, and up-and-coming players.  We also received a complete set of base cards, which is pretty rare and definitely a plus for those set collectors and the player collectors who want to be sure to pull a favorite player.

The two ‘Legend’ cards we pulled had a red and black color scheme with a black and white photo to give the card a look of nostalgia.  While the obvious legends were included like Bird, Magic, Dr. J, Moses, etc.., some of the choices confused me a bit, such as Michael Finley, Glenn Robinson, and Jamal Mashburn, among others.  Are these guys really ‘Legends’?

While I found the base set appealing, the inserts were another story.  I found most of the inserts relatively bland, lacking the vibrant coloring of the base set.  Instead most of the inserts have a similar look, feel, and color scheme.  The Blast From The Past inserts confused me as well.  Chris Bosh’s card, for instance, features him in a Raptors uniform.  Glad to see we have blasted back a whole year to revisit his exile in Toronto.  I’d imagine most folks would be more excited to pull a card featuring Bosh in his new Heat uniform.

The insert ratio is appreciated, which including memorabilia and autographs was close to one per pack (15/18).

The Membership Materials cards are made to look like membership cards, and contain a mix of retired and current players.  Seeing at least one of the memorabilia or autographed cards from the box feature a retired player would have been nice.

We pulled two rookie autographs in the box- no complaints there.  The rookie autographs in the set are just excellent as they follow the base design and are signed on-card.  Surely the top rookie autographs are popular and selling well.

Recap:

Base Set: 5/5 Stars
Inserts: 2/5 Stars
Memorabilia and Autographs: 4/5 Stars
Value: 4/5 Stars
Overall: 3.75/5 Stars

My biggest suggestion for a future Classics product would be to include more retired players per box (only 4 cards in my box), which is what most would probably expect from a product labeled ‘Classics’.  Maybe this was just an odd box.