I cannot argue the fact that when it’s all said and done, I will more than likely be buried in the former offices of Pinnacle Brands. I have and always will fly their now tattered flag as long as I am breathing. That doesn’t mean I am filled with blind pride. I’ve always appreciated other card manufacturers, some more than others. If I had to pick a second favorite card company, it would easily be Fleer Trading Cards, after being purchased by Marvel in the 90s. It was at this time that they united with Skybox and began to produce some extraordinarily creative products such as Metal Universe in 1996.
If you haven’t experienced Metal, I implore you, go on eBay and buy yourself an unopened box. If you are a stuffy, traditional collector … you may not like the results. However, if you are open-minded and like a little fun in your pack of baseball cards, you may find yourself a brand new fan of Fleer / Skybox and thankfully, you will have a whole new world to explore. From 1995 till 2001, Fleer was on top of their game and some of their parallels bring in big money on the secondary market to this day.
It took a few years for Metal Universe to really take off with collectors but when it did, talk about hitting new levels of secondary market INSANITY. In its third year of production, Metal Universe introduced Precious Gems inserts, serial numbered to 50 with some of the most fantastic print technology the hobby has ever seen. To this day, no one even knows the pack ratio on these rare cards. As an 18 year old, these cards were absolutely jaw-dropping. Unfortunately, a proper scan will never do it justice so check out the picture below:
These wild inserts absolutely shook collectors 21 years ago and still demand premium money on eBay if you are lucky enough to snag one. Little did I know that the print technology, while absolutely new to me in 1998, had made its card debut in a very un-cool set by a wanna-be baseball card company called Pacific. Yes, the print technology was introduced to card collectors by Mike Cramer’s company in none other than the awful Saved by the Bell: The College Years trading card set. In its debut, these inserts were called ‘Prisms’.
Talk about taking the wind out of our sails …
So Pacific, arguably the most gaudy of card companies of the 90s beat Fleer to the punch by 4 years. Ironically, Pacific got the idea from the bloated, early-90s comic book trend of holographic covers every company was doing. These overproduced comic books nearly killed the industry and Image Comics’ Wild C.A.T.S #2 was no exception. At the very least, we may possibly be looking at the first example of what ultimately became Precious Metal Gems in 1998. Hate ’em or love ’em, Pacific and Mike did it first.
My printing expert source tells me that this technology originated from a company called G.C. Packaging in Allen, Texas. Unfortunately, I do not have a contact to confirm nor do I even know what the actual name of the print stock is. It wouldn’t really matter because neither of the two company responsible for printing trading cards share any information with outsiders. I will continue to do my research but this may be a dead end. In the meantime, check out the most popular post of December 2018 on the history of the Superfractor.