Thursday, April 25, 2013

Happy Trails to You: 1999 Skybox Premium


In my collection: 1 base card, 1 checklist, 1 Soul of the Game, 1 Live Bats, 2 Spring Fling

Griffey looks: pre-slide

Is this a good Griffey card? Yes.  A unique design with some novel photography from a different but appreciable set.

The set: 1999 Skybox Premium has a nice full-bleed design loaded with great action photography.  The base card features huge script initials in holofoil with the player name beneath. 

Each card also includes triptastic team-specific color trails following the motion of the player.  You can see above that Griffey is trailing blue and green.  Reminds me of college.

The overall effect of the design is that of a premium set.  A thicker card stock might have put this set over the top as a contender in the high-end market.

Let's see the Griffeys:

Griffey is pre-slide, suspended in air in this great action shot.  The position of the background stands and spectators lead me to believe Junior is sliding into third.  Not a lot of cards showing Griffey sliding - very cool.  I do, however, totally hate the stat orientation on the back.

I must admit I never noticed the color trails until I really spent time with this card.  The effect is much more pronounced in the parallel set called "Star Rubies."
Matt Williams Star Rubies

This paralel set is numbered to only 50 copies per base card.  Plus it's called "Star Rubies," a name that would be right at home on a brony message board.

Skybox Premium CL #299
Skybox Premium CL #299

This is a very solid-looking checklist.  Griffey appears to have just hit a home run and is watching to make sure it clears the wall.  I love checklists that could pass as base cards.

It wouldn't be Skybox without that awkward second-person prose.  I like the postcard theme in this subset as well as the players riding on a cart.  A great behind-the-scenes shot you don't often see.


It's called Live Bats, but look!  No bat. 

This is the easiest insert to pull from packs of '99 Skybox Premium at 1:7 packs, and while not horrible the design is a bit lacking.  It looks like they were going for that scattered digital look that could be found everywhere in the late 90's.  Some companies nailed that look (I remember Upper Deck pulling it off on a few sets); here, unfortunately, the 8-bit font and all the crazy lines running everywhere on the card come across clunky and pointlessly busy.  Nice colors, though, and the pictures are pretty good.  B-

Skybox Premium Soul of the Game #9

Skybox Premium Soul of the Game #9

This insert on the other hand is a baddass.  The rainbow foil in the gigantic, card-filling lettering offset by the stark white background; the interesting fonts with lots of color and fun - I'm a big fan of this one.

Sadly, the back is kind of a train wreck.  Apart from being plain and lacking connective tissue to the theme of the insert in general, it features a sentence that makes absolutely no sense.  "They shouldn't call you "Junior;" they should call your father "Senior."  What?  They do both of those things, guys.  Skybox needs a new blurb guy.

That word is fun to say.  Blurb blurb blurb.

I do like how they mention SportsCenter, though.  I used to love watching Griffey in the highlights there and on Baseball Tonight.  Memories....

Here's a list of the Griffeys I still need for 1999 Skybox Premium:

137 Ken Griffey, Jr. Star Rubies #/50
287 Ken Griffey, Jr. Spring Fling
287 Ken Griffey, Jr. Spring Fling #/50
299 Ken Griffey, Jr. CL Star Rubies #/50
Intimidation Nation #10 #/99
Show Business #13

This is really not a bad set; it's just that it came out in the time when everybody and their mama had a license, and the market was inundated with myriad brands and inserts.  Fleer had obtained the Skybox brand and was using it as another outlet for making money off card collectors.  For crying out loud, it was the first year of Skybox baseball and there were already three different Skybox branded packs to choose from (Molten Metal and Thunder were the other two).  Skybox Premium was part of the problem. 

The following year the Premium set would be rebranded as simply "Skybox," then "Fleer Premium" for the next two years.  There would be no set for 2003.


  1. That "Soul Of the Game" card has to be one of the sickest Griffey Cards i've ever seen looks like a movie. Griffey is a real cool dude I got to meet him a few years back, nice guy I even saw him hit his 600th home run. Love the blog btw I'm following check mine out join the site if you like what you see I'm gonna get back to sharing my collection soon.

  2. That Soul of the Game blurb just made part of my brain die.

  3. Ah, yes, I remember this SportsCenter that they speak of. It used to be watchable at one time.

    I bet the copywriter for these cards is some white middle aged guy who works at some trainwreck like NBC now, trying to figure out how to make young and "hip" programming that really connects to today's youth.