In 1992, I was as deep in the hobby as I’ve ever been. I was buying every pack I saw, subscribed to Beckett and was trading cards like the Wolf of Wall Street. I was 15 years old, playing sports year round and was a master at all the hottest sports video games. It truly was an amazing time to be alive. The Braves were coming off of a tough 7 game World Series loss but the future was bright and we were saying it was going to be our year. Dave Justice was blossoming into a star, Glavine and Smoltz were dominating on the mound and Sid Bream was preparing for the 100 yard dash in the ’92 Olympics. I’m telling you, it was a good year!
Baseball card sets were multiplying by 1992 as well. Upper Deck was in its 4th year, Leaf was in its 3rd and Stadium Club was a second year player. Another set that got its start in 1991 was Studio, issued by Donruss/Leaf. The inaugural season for Studio brought a very unique set to the hobby with black and white photos of players in a studio setting. These were all posed shots but not the kind we were used to on the field. I remember thinking they were really classy looking and unique. I also remember picturing players showing up at the mall for their shoot like we did as a family each year at Olan Mills. There were some great photos in that first set including Steve Lake with his parrot and Doug Drabek with a sultry over the shoulder “come hither” look.
In 1992, Studio made a couple of changes to their design. The first was the move from a reddish maroon border to a gold border. It actually works for this type of card as opposed to what Skybox tried in 1990. They also went from black and white photos to color with a black and white action shot in the background. I think that ’92 was a very nice upgrade from ’91. In fact, I think that ’92 was the best Studio set of the series as later issues got away from borders and the whole “in-studio” feel. I appreciated ’91 but I loved ’92. They also introduced an insert called “Heritage Series” in ’92 which pictured a current star in a throwback uniform. These were foil stamped and had a green border. They were even classier than the base set. Even the card stock was upgraded in ’92.
The box offered more cards than was standard in 1992. There were a whopping 48 packs with 12 cards in each pack. The set was only 264 cards and the box offered 576 cards so in theory, you could build 2 sets with a box if collation was perfect. Alas, as with most products in ’92, collation was far from perfect and I didn’t even build 1 set with my box. I came painfully close but I have a ton of dupes (also trips and some quads). I did hold out 4 unopened packs to random with this post so it’s possible those hold the remaining cards to complete my set. The only inserts in the set are the Heritage Series and I pulled 5 of those, with one being a dupe. Most of the photos in the set are classy poses in uniforms or warm ups but a few of them are wacky like in ’91. Don’t worry, I’ll lay those out in this post for your viewing pleasure.
Much like the front of Studio cards, the back was unique from most other sets as well. They did not lay out the season stats over the years with a little tidbit of information. In contrast, almost the entire back of Studio is information about the player with only a tidbit of stats. Some of the information is much needed as well. For instance, Ben McDonald’s hobby was alligator wrestling and Larry Walker’s was magic. The more you know my friends! Another interesting piece of the back was the “Loves/Hates To Face” section. McDonald struggled against Rickey Henderson who was .500 in his career with 2 bombs at print run. Meanwhile, Walker feasted on Greg Harris with a .643 average and 3 bombs. If there is one back that I can appreciate that was void of stats, it’s ’92 Studio.
Here is a look at what was hiding in those foil wrappers.
The checklist for ’92 Studio offered a great range of players from first year prospects to future Hall of Famers winding down. This first photo is a nice group of veteran stars that included some great posed shots. I wish Ripken hadn’t been wearing the batting helmet in his but you can’t have it all, right? This set offered an image of players that was not available in most other sets. There were some inserts that provided studio shots but these were top notch. This group would come pretty close to an all decade team with a couple of missing pieces found in the next section.
This next group of players were the guys that I loved to collect in the 90’s. Some are Hall of Famers now but some may never gain that distinction. Either way, these were the guys that I had in binder pages growing up. Hard to beat that Ken Griffey Jr shot! Randy Johnson had a nice card too with him holding broken bats, an obvious nod to his overpowering fastball. And I think Clemens is the only card in the set that doesn’t have a studio photo. I’m not sure what happened with this one unless he missed his appointment. I know Olan Mills was a stickler about missed appointments.
Then we have the hot young studs of the early 90’s. All of these guys were highly touted at some point between 89-92 and most of them never panned out. A few of them had pretty solid careers like Juan Gonzalez and John Olerud but none of them ever reached the status we thought they would when we were scooping their cards up. Maybe our expectations were too high. I know that in 1992, I would’ve been laughing all the way to the bank with this haul. I even pulled Gregg Jeffries and Todd Zeile in the same pack!
Somewhere along the way when these photos were being shot, I see the photographer saying, “Ok, just let loose. Be silly and have fun with this!” Then there was blackmail and demands weren’t met and these cards ended up in the set. I don’t know any other reason why Charlie Hayes would want to be depicted on a baseball card like this. And what is Pedro Guerrero thinking? Clearly, Rob Dibble is embracing the 90’s with his Top Gun pose. Jose Lind has a samurai and Norm Charlton is giving himself a hug. What is going on here?
I pulled all of the Braves except Steve Avery and Mark Lemke. For some reason, John Smoltz wasn’t included in the set and he was coming off a stellar postseason in the ’91 playoffs. I don’t understand the inclusion of Greg Olson to be honest but it’s not the end of the world. I pulled 5 Gant’s and I may send one of those off for TTM.
Lastly, we have the Heritage Series. These are some really sweet cards. They are pictured in throwback uni’s and they all have gold foil borders and sepia photographs. Lovely insert set!
So that’s a look at 1992 Studio some 25 years later. The cards held up in very good condition and the packs had a very nice aroma as compared to other premium sets I’ve revisited recently. The box offers a staggering 48 packs to sift through and I paid a meager $10 for this box. Like I said before, I think this is Studio’s best effort and I like these cards a lot. They are clean, classy, “junk waxy”, cheap and nostalgic. They are basic too for the old school set builder with only one insert set added to the base. I’d rip another box of this for $10 and not bat an eye. The checklist offers Hall of Famers, Stars and Rookie Prospects from the heart of my collecting days. The only drawback with this set is collation but that can be said about almost all sets from 1992. I opened one pack that had 3 doubles in the 12 cards. That’s half the pack for the mathematically challenged. Even with that drawback, I’m giving this set a 4 on the Dub-O-Meter. You really can’t beat this set in terms of early 90’s sets. I think the phrase gets passed around a lot but this set sincerely takes me back to when collecting was fun. This set is all about the visual aspect of card collecting. I encourage you to find a box of this and give it a rip!
1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards. Just read the post and thank me later.
2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.
3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.
4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did! It has some downside but worth the ride.
5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking! What are you waiting on?