Tuesday, June 28, 2011

1993 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes

Set size: 165 base cards, 10 reprint inserts, 4 previews

Front Design: These 2-1/4" x 5-1/4" cards are derived from the T-202 Hassan Triple Folders set from 1912. The first 130 cards in the base set feature a photo in the center panel, a portrait on one side panel, and the BAT logo on the other side panel. The combination subset (cards 131-165), reprints, and previews feature artwork or a photograph of multiple legend players in the center panel, while the side panels feature portraits of two players.

Back Design: The backs of the standard cards feature player biographies and career highlights, as well as a description of the BAT program. The multi-player subset, reprint, and preview cards feature biographies on the side panels, and the center panels explain the association between the two players. The bottom 1/3 of the card backs are taken up by multiple Upper Deck logos and a hologram, the BAT logo, and MLB/Cooperstown Collection logos. The reprint cards are unnumbered, while the preview cards have an "HOB" prefix before the card numbers.

Parallels and Similars: All three 1993 issues of this set by Upper Deck look identical, except for card numbering (or the lack thereof). The set pays homage to the original T-202 Triple Folders set, and as such is very similar in design. Topps issued an insert set of the same design but, in folded form, is approximately the same size as a standard card.

Distribution: The 1993 All-Time Heroes set got its start at that year's All-Star FanFest, with the four-card preview set released in a special box. The regular set was issued in 12-card foil packs and was limited to 5140 cases. The ten-card insert set appeared one in every five packs, and is distinguishable from the base set only by the lack of card number. All issues came "unfolded" in their packs or boxes, unlike the 2003 Topps design.

Thoughts: Most people shy away from sets like this due to its nonstandard size, and in 1993, sets featuring retired legends weren't as popular as today. As such, the cards can be difficult to come by, but they are generally inexpensive. I ripped a box of this set in 1993, and just completed my master set earlier this year. The unnumbered inserts are the most difficult to find. Many of the combination cards and preview cards feature attractive artwork, as do the reprints. Overall it's an interesting and fun set, and one of the first throwback sets released by a major manufacturer. I have seen at least one card show dealer selling a few "cut" cards from this set, where the side panels were detached from the center panel and sold separately. I don't believe any of those cards have actually sold, and I'm not sure the dealer is aware of the difference.

Additional Images: Here are scans of one of the reprint inserts. As you can tell, the backs are the same as the regular set.

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