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.