Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Get the aspirin ready


You've decided to read this post.

No matter how or when you happened to stumble across my blog this evening, I thank you for your readership.

But I wasn't kidding.

You might want to have some aspirin handy for this one.

Because I'm about to take you into the world of headache-inducing cardboard.

Still interested?

Cool. Let's get on with it then.

As far as I'm concerned, there are quite a few designs out there that will never get boring to me.

Sets like '65 Topps, '75 Topps, '84 Donruss, and '93 Upper Deck, to name a few.

They've been "head-turners" in my collection for as long as I've had baseball cards in this household.

Then again, for every "legendary" set, there are about twenty forgettable ones.

And for every twenty forgettable designs, one or two are just downright headache-inducing.

I'm talking about sets like 1999 Upper Deck "HoloGrFX".

First off, the name. If the awkward combination of capital and lowercase letters is any indication, card companies repeatedly tried to be "hip" with their releases in the mid-to-late '90s.

And almost every single attempt failed miserably.

In my nearly two years of reading blogs, I don't think I've seen a single specimen from this set featured anywhere in the blogosphere.

That's probably for the better, though.

Although they might not be that blinding at first sight, try staring at this Randy Johnson card for about twenty seconds.

I'll wait.


Need that aspirin yet?

I've been meaning to do some sort of write-up on this one for a while, but it just never seemed to fit in with any of my other post ideas.

It's just too crazy of a card.

Well, your time has finally come, Metal Universe.

I really don't know what to make out of this set.

It's obvious that it was intended for the younger audiences of the time, but I'd have to believe that even kids have their limits.

I was five years old when '97 Metal Universe was released. Although I couldn't say for certain, I'd bet that I would've been freaked out by this Vinny Castilla card at the time.

What is that ominous figure in the backdrop? What has he done with Castilla's torso? Why does he have tentacles?

Wow. Maybe this card does still freak me out a bit.

Too many of these in a row is bound to give someone a headache.

And probably a few nightmares, too.

Next to Topps and perhaps Upper Deck, Pinnacle is my all-time favorite brand of cardboard.

Although people might argue to the contrary, I put it ahead of both Donruss and Fleer in my rankings.

However, that doesn't mean I'm about to just gloss over Pinnacle's 1997 offering.

Those things were downright hideous.

I mean, they chopped off Todd Hollandsworth's legs just to squeeze those barely decipherable words in there.

What was that about?

I tried reading each of those little gold-plated words on one of my '97 Pinnacle cards once. 

It didn't take long before the headaches started to set in.

In the past, I've confessed that I'm a sucker for these gimmicky "see-through" cards.

Since I collect Rick Ankiel anyways, plucking this pair from a dime box was a no-brainer.

But then I did a little more research on just what this whole "Topps Tek" thing was about. My inquisitive mind at work again.

That's about when the headaches started.

Here's a quote taken directly from my self-labeled "big book o' cards"...

"Please note that there are 20 variations of the 45-card base set."

Wait. What?

Twenty variations?

Each base card has twenty different variations?!

So that means that there are eighteen more versions of this Rick Ankiel card floating around out there?

Screw that.

I'm not chasing those.

Two is enough for me.

I pity anyone who actually decided to build this set back in the day. What a quest that probably shaped up to be.

I'm sure those people gobbled down bottles of aspirin every day.

Wait a minute.

These aren't really headache-inducing, are they?

1999 Skybox Thunder may be a boring set, sure, but I doubt the fronts would give many people headaches.

The backs, however, are another story...

The people down at Skybox managed to give their cards quite a powerful kick back in '99.

A kick so powerful, in fact, that they still give me headaches to this day.

Rap in general just gives me headaches.

I don't mean to disrespect anyone who happens to listen to that genre of music, but it's just not for me.

Now, rap lyrics that were probably written by some pasty executive down at Skybox, well...

I don't think "headache" is a strong enough word.

First of all, any write-up that includes the word "ain't" probably isn't a winner. (Any that aren't attempting to quote Dizzy Dean, anyways.)

But, more than that, any card that includes more than one "o" in the word "so" is just painful.

Plain and simple.

If you've made it this far, you might note one glaring omission from this list. I'll bet that a few of you are thinking about it right now.

"What about 1995 Fleer?"

Well, fellow reader, I happen to like that set.

When it comes to '95 Fleer, I'm happily headache-free.

But, if you'll excuse me, all this talk about "HoloGrFX" and Topps Tek has my head spinning.

I'm off to the medicine cabinet now.


buckstorecards said...

Whenever I pull one of those Skybox Thunder cards out a repack, I get to chuckle at the fact that at some point in time, a person earned a paycheque writing poetry about Ugueth Urbina and Mike Stanley.

Ryan M said...

Can't forget about those "AuSome" HoloGrFx inserts too. I'm sure card-collecting chemistry buffs really appreciated UD's play on words.

For some reason I always heard Stuart Scott's voice when reading those Skybox Thunder backs. Boo Ya!

tourist504 said...

LOL - headache insert. Great post....

hiflew said...

If you think 99 Topps Tek is headache inducing with its 20 variations which isn't THAT BAD because variations #1-10 use a different photo than #11-20. You should try 98 Topps Tek with its 90 variations and 90 refractor parallels. 180! (slightly) different cards for each of the 90 players. An 8100 card set.

BTW, I still contend you are wrong about 1995 Fleer, but to each their own. Can we at least agree that 1997 Circa is godawful?

hiflew said...

Sorry that's 8100 + 8100 refractors. So, 16,200 card set.

Joe Average Card Collector said...

1973 Topps, not the design as much, but almost half their shots are blurry and cause headaches!

night owl said...

I've addressed Hologrfx several times on the blog. Can't find a scan of that particular series, but I found other ones (along with my accompanying ripping of the card ... no headache references, but several convulsions references).

My post on Skybox Thunder's tortured wording is here:


As for 1995 Fleer?



Michael Chase said...

These are the kind of cards that I'm more into as a whole. The crazier, the better.

In fact I might start making it a point on my blog that no one ever forgets Metal Universe.

Nick said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone!

Sadly, I've recently come to grips with the fact that I'm probably the only '95 Fleer fan in existence.

buckstorecards -- I actually have the Urbina one in my collection. A direct quote from the back:

"Yo, Double-O...You'd better join the circus, 'cause you've got a skill for throwin' flames. Your ERA in '98 was straight ridiculous. Man, you're en fuego!"

I think I just died a little typing that.

hiflew -- I knew '98 Topps Tek was crazy, but I never knew it was THAT crazy. To my knowledge, I don't own a single card from that set, so I refrained from including it in this post.

tourist504 said...

I LOVE '95 Fleer. I didn't know people hated it. I keep stars, semistars, and even some commons just because they look like cool. Come on, Predator-vision behind names in gold foil? Awesome.

When I was a kid I got a box of Metal Universe. A whole box. I still have every single one. Some are pretty cool what with the aliens attacking and player running away, missiles and bullets flying across the card and the player smashing one with his bat, and guys catching balls on what looks like the Mustafar system. It was a hot box, too, and I got tons of inserts out of it.

That's it, I'm doing a Metal Universe post on my blog. I can't wait!

For headaches, you should also check out 1995 Select Certified "Gold Team." You can see it on the background of my blog page - it's gold. Go fig. Or just look one up on eBay. Very busy and hard to look at, but I love it.

Josh D. said...

You hit on two of my favorite sets!

Metal Universe:

Skybox Thunder: