Does anyone remember way back in the late 1990s when companies tried to capture the idea of a futuristic baseball card? Stl_Cardinals_Fan, a mod at SCF certianly did. So much that volunteered to write this third installment. And he did a very fine job.

During this series, I will try to recapture some of these great sets in hopes of bringing some of you back to those days of collecting.

From the years 1995-1999, each company produced several sets that captured this spirit. So let’s take a one tank trip down memory lane and rediscover some of these lost sets. 

This is part three of the series which will be three or four parts long. 

See Part 1

See Part 2

7. Topps Tek

It was 1998 when Topps ushered in the Topps Tek Era. And for the next three years, they would be one of the plethora of futuristic cards of the late 90s and early 2000s.

The 1998 set featured a large picture of the player, the Topps Tek logo in the corner of the card and the players name in all caps in a gold-rainbow like design at the bottom. All of this was then overlaid onto a clear background that was filled in with a tessellated design. These designs were randomly given to players, and as a result, many different versions for each player were released. This design theme would be carried over into future designs.

In 1999, Topps Tek once again was able to hold its own in the world of futuresque cards. However, changes were made. The player was still pictured prominently, this time over a triangular background that was filled in with an almost tie-dye foil fill. Other changes included the addition of a team name and team logo. The name was printed in transparent block letters in the background of the card, which as before, was a random transparent tessellated design. As with the 1998 set (and later with the 2000 set) a number of different backgrounds were made. Some were lacking the team name but others not lacking at all. The players’ names (in standard writing format) along with the Topps Tek logo were placed into a V-Like design at the bottom of the card. As with the 1998 issue, these cards too had a rainbow-refractor-like shine to them.

The third, and unfortunately last, chapter of the Topps Tek saga came in 2000. These cards once again featured the player prominently and  also featured the randomly selected transparent tessellation background design. However, this set featured something new to the Tek Trilogy. Instead of random shapes for the background, actual designs with real logos were used. Up to at least 10 different designs were made, some of which were: The MLB logo (as can be seen in the Walker card above), a MLB Players Choice design, and the player’s team logo. This set also featured a new idea for the Topps Tek logo. Instead of a small logo as in previous years, the Tek logo was instead enlarged and filled an entire corner. This, like the grid-like background, was also transparent. Also new to the series was a solid color stripe for the player’s name to be placed.

8. SPx  

1996-1998 were the years that SPx were known as futuristic cards. Though the era was short lived, some fascinating cards were made from it.

In 1996 SPx decided it was time for something new. Instead of making a full sized baseball card, they made them die-cut, although that’s not what was futuresque about them. The cards contained the player’s picture on the left side of the card, while the background contained two levels of 3D imaging. In the first level was another picture of the player, this time in 3D on the right side of the card. When tilting the card it seemed as though the player was following you around. And on the 2nd level was the player again. This time in an action shot from a game, be it batting, fielding or pitching. While this image did not change as the card moved, it too was remarkably clear in 3D.

1997 brought about a change in SPx, though they still managed to hold onto a futureque theme. This time an action shot of the player was seen on the left side of the card while a 3D image of the player was seen on the right. In addition to the player, team logos were also placed behind the player to add to the 3D effect. As an added feature, the card was again die cut, this time into the shape of S-P-X. You can see the curve of the S on the left and the X on the right. The P is created through the wave shapes between the player picture and holofoil.

In 1998, Upper Deck brought an end to the era of futuresque cards from SPx. Gone were the SPx cards and in were the SPx Finite. These cards, while still metallic looking, lacked any pizzazz that had been present in other issues. Gone were the 3D images and die cuts. In their place…an embossed logo.

9. Upper Deck Ovation

From 1999-2001 Upper Deck put out its Ovation series. These cards, while not metallic or die-cut in nature like other futuristic cards, instead focused on a baseball-like appearance.

In 1999, Ovation was first released. These cards featured the player image on the front of the card in front of the seam loop on a baseball. In the loop was a metallic-like background which was simply a metallic version of a crowd in the stands. In addition to the look of a baseball, Upper Deck tried to make the card feel real as well. In addition to embossing the entire baseball image with the feel of baseballs, they also realistically raised and lowered the seams making it feel as though it was a real seem running along the card.

In 2000, Upper Deck again pleased the crowds as Ovation was released again. In much the same fashion as the year before, the entire card was embossed to feel like a baseball again, and also as before, the seams had been raised and lowered to feel as though they were real seems. The difference between this issue and the year before was that this issue was centered on the Sweet Spot of a baseball, rather than a seem loop. Also changed was the round background, which had been changed to a rectangular background for this issue.

2001 marked the end of another run of cards. As before with SPx, this final year had been the worst of the three. While the image of the player had been enlarged and was now the center of interest, gone was the realness of a baseball. The red seems had been removed and were now matching the background in a white color, and the amount of baseball-like feel had also been reduced.

As I said before, there will be more of these articles coming. In the end, I would like to have a vote to see what people’s favorite futuristic style sets are. If it goes well, perhaps I will focus on other theme based sets from other eras.Thanks and I hope you enjoyed this one tank trip down memory lane.