Jan 31, 2012
One Hobby Aspect I Miss: Hot Packs (not the ones for my lower back)
As an aside, I would just like to say that I would probably deface the rally squirrel card as a Phillies fan if I were to acquire it in a pack, but I would have to settle for scanning it and defacing the scan since it's selling for so much right now...
The mid-'90s was a crazy time for collecting. It was an utter explosion of inserts and foily designs and the beginnings of the chrome-volution. Before there were "hits" and variation gimmicks inserted into packs, there had to be other carrots to get collectors to bite. In 1994 and 1995, saw the rise of the hot pack.
There's a similar concept today en vogue with the inclusion of hot boxes of certain products. Have you noticed, though, that these have typically been unlicensed products such as Donruss/Panini Elite Extra Edition and Tristar Obak? I don't believe Topps subscribes to the deliberately inserted hot box theory, though there definitely is some variation out there in terms of box to box content.
The hot pack harkens back to the days when it was easier to find individual packs and easier to locate hobby shops (or as I called them baseball card stores). You bought a pack and hoped to find the insert of the moment or the rookie of the year. How many 1993 Mike Piazzas did I pull without caring that it wasn't his "official" rookie? How many Ken Griffey and Cal Ripken, Juniors were pulled at the height of their popularity at that time? Is that a 1:36 pack insert?
In my memory, there were two types of hot packs: 1) the entire insert set hot pack and 2) the random assortment of inserts hot pack. The first type was best represented by 1994-1995 Leaf Hockey. The second type was best represented by 1995 Fleer Baseball.
1994-95 Leaf hockey put in their hot packs insert sets like "Crease Control", a fairly common set. The thing that struck me is that somehow is that there was a hobby shop near me that sold nothing but hot packs of Leaf that year. I don't know how they knew! But it never failed; they even advertised them as such (I remember them being $9.99 each).
The 1995 Fleer I have fond memories of because I actually pulled one in a random pack one time. It was 12 cards of insert goodness. The best part was that 6 of the inserts were from the rarest of the hobby insert, Team Leaders, normally inserted one in 24 packs. For a long time, the Griffey/Johnson was my highest "booking" card. It was a thrill because it was completely out of the ordinary and made sure that it would be a memorable experience. (I'm still looking to complete this insert set, by the way...then my mastery of 1995 Fleer will be complete, but that's a different story).
I would love to see a mini hot pack or a relic hot box or something similar at some point. How does a pack of nothing but refractors sound? Is this what Topps has been doing with these crazy short prints? Trying to create a memorable pack-opening experience or are there other motives? At least it will give a boost to that collector's bottom line this week....