Wax to the Future – 1996 Upper Deck

It usually takes a card company a few tries before getting it right. Pick up a Bowman Chrome card from its debut year, 1997 and you clearly have a card only a die-hard prospector could love. The following year they produced one of the best-looking Bowman Chrome sets of all-time.

I think it’s fair to say that Upper Deck came into the scene and immediately became the premier card company. Pick up any non-Upper Deck card from 1989 and no matter how much nostalgia is connected to it, Upper Deck’s debut demolishes it.

By 1996 I was growing tired of baseball cards. I was sixteen and had much more important things on my mind when I walked into 7-11 one afternoon. I had already stopped bustin’ wax months ago when but I decided to buy two packs of ’96 Upper Deck since I had a little money to burn.

This release was so much fun that it saved baseball cards for me, at least until late 1997 when I had finally had enough. During my 10-year absence from collecting the entire hobby changed and morphed into something completely different but when I would look back, for some reason 1996 Upper Deck always popped up in my mind.

There are many things that makes 1996’s U.D. flagship special and it all begins with the classy and elegant base design which features a surprisingly large photograph on the back as well. As nice as the base cards look, the real star of the brand is the large variety of inserts you can find.

From traditional 90’s insert to the futuristic-style collectors were accustomed to, all the bases were covered. If you love die-cut cards, you’ll absolutely love some of the inserts and unlike some other brands of that era, the technology was not overdone. In fact, these inserts look amazing but also feature very subtle elegance.

What’s very surprising is the lack of autographs, considering Upper Deck had included them frequently in their flagship since 1991. As for game-used relics, they had not been introduced into baseball yet. For that, look to 1997. So while some inserts are extremely tough to pull, this is not the brand to buy if you’re looking to make a profit.

If you love collecting for the fun that was shared during the “junk wax” era but need just a little more flash, ’96 Upper Deck is your brand. It’s one of the very few products I’d recommend buying more than one box of. I showcased seven different inserts but there were close to ten others I could not fit in.

You can find unopened boxes of 1996 Upper Deck on eBay for around $30 dollars.


8 thoughts on “Wax to the Future – 1996 Upper Deck

  1. Actually, I would argue that 1992 and 1993 Upper Deck are even better because of their simple designs and outstanding photography. Boxes can be found for $5-10, and ripping them and then giving the cards away to kids is about as fun as it gets.

  2. yeah, I busted about 8 boxes of UD 92 a while back (looking for that Williams auto lol) and it was very fun. I would do it again but Im running out of space.

  3. I love that this set had lots of inserts and stayed clear of an over abundance of parallels.

  4. How Upper Deck managed to survive the Dewayne Buice era, and still put out quality products still amazes me.

    There’s no crying in baseball, and no free advertising either.

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