OK, I can’t believe how long it took me to figure this stuff out, but let’s just say it takes some effort. In fact, I decided to split this one post into two because the 2nd half was taking too long.
Anyway, the next thing to look at for the “completed” decade of the 90’s is the composition of the sets. The set size started the decade off at 792 cards, which is where it had been since 1982. Ignoring the rise of inserts, there were a bunch of changes in just the flagship set throughout the decade.
- In 1981, Topps introduced the update set – Topps Traded – as 132 additional cards that showcased rookies and players in their new uniforms (sometimes airbrushed) from the current season. This was issued in factory set form only (with the exception of a test pack-out in 1985). It bumped up to 825 in 1993 to account for some extra Marlins and Rockies, then went back to 792 for one last year. From there, it jumped around, bottoming out at 440 but also being really low at 462 to end the decade. The wrong direction, in my opinion
- 1995 – 660
- 1996 – 440
- 1997 – 495
- 1998 – 503
- 1999 – 462
- After being a 132-card boxed factory set since 1981, Topps Traded was packed out to 165 cards in 1995, then dropped altogether from 1996 through 1998. It came back as a 121-card factory set in the last year of the decade.
So in the decade, there were 7,499 cards in the flagship Topps brand – almost 1,500 less than the 1980’s. There were 6,553 cards in the regular sets and 946 in the Traded sets. If you want to include the Topps MLB Debut cards, which appeared from 1990 through 1991, there’s actually 515 more for a total of 8,014 cards.
I’m including those in the number below.
- 7,023 individual player cards. 6,553 are from the regular set, 946 are from Traded sets, and 515 are from the three Topps ML Debut sets.
- Out of these, 100 are noted as “All-Star Rookies”, 63 cards are marked “Future Stars”, 14 are “Star Track” (1995 only), and 10 are “Now Appearing” which Topps did in ’87, ’88, and ‘89.
- 241 Draft Pick cards. More than 10 times the previous decade – a sign of the times.
- 111 Prospect Cards. These tended to be 4-player cards, but could be found in different levels.
- 74 Team USA player cards. All in the 1991 through 1993 Traded sets.
- 54 Coming Attractions cards – in 1993 and 1994.
- 36 Expansion Prospect cards.
- 30 On Deck cards in 1995 and 1995 Traded.
- 4 Triple-A All-Stars in 1996.
- 1 Russian Angels card in 1993.
- 106 Manager cards – almost one-third of the previous decade. Topps stopped doing manager cards after 1993.
- 16 Tribute cards of various sorts. Nolan Ryan. Bart Giamatti. Hank Aaron. Babe Ruth. Mickey Mantle. Jackie Robinson. Roberto Clemente. McGwire & Sosa. The tribute thing was alive and well this decade in the regular set. I generally liked it.
- 130 All-Stars. Topps stopped doing this after 1995 Traded. I’m counting the 1996 Star Power cards in here as All-Star cards.
- 60 Season Highlights of some type. This includes 15 World Series Highlights in 1998 and 1999, Interleague HL in 1998, and At the Break highlights from 1995 Traded.
- 14 Record Breakers. None after 1992. Wish Topps had kept this alive.
- 12 ROY contenders in 1995 Traded.
- 12 League Leaders. 1995 Traded only.
- 11 All-Topps Team. From 1999.
- 9 Measures of Greatness. 1994.
- 5 Strikeout Kings. 1999.
- 5 Turn Back the Clock. A remnant from the previous decade – 1990 only.
- 2 Anatomy of a Trade. 1994 Topps Traded.
- 58 checklists.
There were no instances where the “set composition” was exactly the same from year to year.