5. Metal Universe- This was a fun set in 1998. The first issues of Metal Universe featured players being grabbed by tentacles, players in outer space, and all kinds of other interesting backgrounds. The 1998 set also featured interesting backgrounds, but they were a little bit more focused on the card's subject. Ryne Sandberg in front of a rhinoceros, Cardinals players in front of the Gateway Arch, and Yankees players with the Statue of Liberty. This was the best Metal Universe set in my opinion and a fun set to assemble. The boxes are still available on Ebay, not too expensive, and are a fun open. I remember buying a box of these from 1,000,000 Baseball Cards outside of St Louis and buying a second box a few weeks later to finish off the set.
4. Upper Deck Retro- Really cool packaging, old players, cool autographs. Upper Deck made a lot of sets using that formula over the years and this one was a really good set. Let me be more specific, the base set is rather meh, but the autographs are really what you want here. I have the base set in my collection, but I also have a bunch of the autographs. I always thought about this set as a precursor to the Upper Deck Legends set which will be on my list in a Friday or two....
The autographs in this product are on-card with tons of Hall of Famers. I am a huge fan of the Upper Deck Legends sets as a great source for on-card Hall of Fame autographs, but this set is not bad either. In fact, I think some of these are a tougher find than the Upper Deck Legends cards. The best card in the set, in my opinion, is Kirby Puckett.
3. 1998 Donruss Signature- This was one of my favorite per pack autographed products from the late 1990s. Unfortunately this was the end of the line for the original Donruss Signature line. Playoff bought the Donruss name and relaunched the product, with sticker autographs, in in the early 2000s. This release of this product was highly anticipated in the fall of 1998, but due to financial problems with Pinnacle, the company that originally produced the Donruss products, the release was a bit of a debacle. The product was delayed and there were problems with players getting paid for signing in the product. In the end, this product was the swan song for Pinnacle. Still the set featured more than 100 autographs including the diverse base set and inserts like Significant Signatures.
The cards in the set all feature on card autographs. Over the years I have picked up dozens of these cards. There are some great names that fly under the radar. My personal favorites include any of the Significant Signatures cards and the Mariano Rivera. Plenty of other good veteran autographs in there too.
2. Topps Tek- This is one of the more unique sets that was ever put out. 90 cards with 90 variations of each cards means that this set is a grand total of 8100 cards. A lot of collectors love these cards and have tried to collect either a player, or a pattern, or something in between. I picked up the cards I needed to complete this set a year or two ago. The cards are acetate with the patterns printed over color pictures of the players. Topps simplified this product in subsequent years after this version of the set, but the ceased making the Tek product after 2000 until a relaunch last year. The original product had no inserts and no autographs. Just 90 cards with 90 variations. Not sure something that sounds that simple could be so complex. Still, a great product.
1. Skybox EX-2001- One of my favorite all-time 90s sets. This product actually started in 1997, but I never touched it that year. I have gone back and put together the set, but this was the first EX set that I put together. Half acetate and half textured pictured with some sort of reflective surface thing going on over on the side of the card. These were awesome. I started out with a pack or two, picked up a box somewhere along the way, then some lots. I have a ton of these and have not missed on issue of these cards since.