May 2, 2009

The Junior High Countdown: 115. 1995 Studio

Design: Look at the images above; let's just call this the credit card set. The stats make up the credit card number on the front with an overlaid player photo and a ghosted league logo in the background. The back has a magnetic strip and facsimile signature with one year of stats, a little bit of copy, and a player photo from the field.

Details: It was released at a SRP of $1.99 per pack. Each pack had 5 cards with one of those cards being a parallel. Each box had 36 packs of pure credit card goodness. The base set had 200 cards, and the parallel sets were a gold set (inserted approximately 1:1 packs) with 50 cards and the ever more expensive platinum set with 25 cards (inserted 1:10 packs). There were no rookies in the set, only veterans, which is appropriate for the card set type.

Impact: Never again was a set catered only to teenagers at a mall where they can be conveniently kept in a wallet until ready for swiping. Studio was also retro-revamped for 1996. Cards that felt like different materials (The cards also felt plastic-like.) continued to be a trend through the late-1990s (though this set was not a trend setter).

Summary: The most unfortunate aspect of this card set is the complete deviation from the Studio branding that Donruss had established from 1991-1994. No more was the card focused on the player. Instead it was focused on gimmicktry of the first degree. "Let's make the cards feel and look just like plastic currency" Also, falling by the wayside were the insert sets that had defined Studio previously such as the very popular Studio Heritage and other one time offerings like Silhouettes and Superstars on Canvas.

The quirkiness of the set brand was also diluted because the most interesting part of the card backs in the past, the copy, was reduced to one or two short sentences. In the past, Studio cards read like the profile in a team media guide. Whether this is good or bad is up for debate, but it did create a niche for itself within the myriad of card releases. Statistics were never the focus of this card brand.

I was never interested in buying packs of this because frankly, there was nothing to get excited or intrigued about when a pack was presented. I have one card in this set in my collection, and it's really my brother's. It's only there to fill a page in my "ultimate set book". (That is a post for another time).

Donruss realized the error of its ways and reverted back to type for Studio in 1996 (which Pinnacle ultimately released after the buyout). It was a welcome reversion from the cartoonish nightmare of a set of credit cards.

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