March 03, 2008

1990 - 1994 Countdown: #19. 1993 Score

The Baseball Card Blog would like you to welcome our first major hobby advertiser, Dave & Adam's Card World, to the Blog.

Now, back to the 1990 - 1994 Countdown.

If not for the following year's soaring, majestic rhapsody in blue, 1993 Score might be remembered as the brand's most mature design. Instead it was lost in a sea of premiums, The Set That 1993 Forgot.

And though equipped with a strong checklist, gorgeous design and striking inserts, Score shook up its distribution blueprint in 1993 by not doing a factory set. I've always wondered the reason they didn't do factory sets in 1993 and 1994. By paring down the base set and re-purposing many of the most memorable subsets from 1990 through 1992 as harder-to-find inserts--and not releasing factory sets, as they did for those same three years--the company, while trying to reincarnate itself as more sophisticated brand, essentially lowered its profile with collectors.

As was the case with the flagship template in 1992, Score's 1993 design took visual cues from its sister set Pinnacle: a large, unobstructed action shot complemented by a thin frame (Pinnacle, black; Score, white). Following 1992's lead, the backs were vertical, featured a full-color headshot and full career statistics (and looked a helluva lot like the backs of Fleer's flagship from the next year, 1994). Finally, 1993 Score was the last company issue free of any type of gloss coating, UV or otherwise. (And as a sidebar, yave you noticed that those sets with a thin uniform gloss are actually hindered by it, and that because of it the cards block up and stick together? I've noticed that when I'm finally able to pry them apart(usually with the aid of a stick of butter), they feel much cheaper (and more buttery) than I remember. I wonder what kind of half-life the gloss coating has... That's something you always forget about: cards were made out of cardboard not only because it was something sturdy for cigarette and gum packaging, but because it was cheap and disposable. Nothing really changed the overall quality of cards until Kellogg's came along in the Seventies, Sportflics in 1986, Score brought full color to both front and back in 1988, Upper Deck upped the ante with large front and back full color photography in '89 and Topps Stadium Club brought its glossy A-game in 1991...)

I've always liked this set. And while this time period saw just about every brand make a conscious effort to gussy up and cater to a more discerning collector, I could never quite take Score seriously in its pursuit, no matter how many gold foil-encrusted Dream Teamers (like this one of Pudge in his trendy hoodie sweatshirt... is that B.U.M. Equipment? Tres chic, Ivan) I sent away for.

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