1998 Metal Universe Baseball Review

metaluniverse1In 1996, Fleer introduced a rather unique set with futuristic/comic-like metallic backgrounds known as Metal Universe. The first two releases of Metal Universe (later shortened to Metal) featured some of the most out of this world designs ever seen on sports cards. Literally. By the time 1998 rolled around, Fleer decided to scrap these backgrounds in favor of actual images that ranged from famous landmarks and city skylines to random shots in the wilderness and even outer space! The key to these cards was that the background image had something to do with the player on the card. In most cases, the images were associated with the player’s home city. And then you had Ryne Sandberg being chased by a rhinoceros. How could you not love that? Anyway, here are the results of a box of ’98 Metal Universe I broke a couple days ago. I apologize for the crappy scans.

Box Details: 24 packs per box, 8 cards per pack. ~$30

Base Set: The base set is comprised of 220 cards which includes a 15-card subset called Hardball Galaxy and three checklists. The Hardball Galaxy cards depict the players as larger than life comic characters. Given the fact that these were made during the steroid era, it’s only appropriate. The monster at the top right of the scan is Mo Vaughn. Overall, I pulled 183 of 220 base cards, for 83%. There were only 2 dupes in the entire box!

Universal Language (20 cards, 1:6 packs): Seeded at four per box, the Universal Language inserts are die-cut at the top and bottom and have a matte finish to them. My pulls were of Kenny Lofton, Darin Erstad, Chipper Jones, and Frank Thomas. The card backs let me know that all four of these men were born in the USA and speak English. Don’t say you never learned anything from this blog, folks.

Diamond Heroes (6 cards, 1:18 packs): Seeded 1 in every 18 packs, the Diamond Heroes inserts are designed to look like comic book covers right down to the smallest detail. The top left-hand corner of each card features a team logo, card number, MSRP ($2.50, $3.55 CDN), and date of issue (Jan. ’98). I’m going to assume that those last two reflect the real MSRP and issue date of this product. There are only six cards in this set, making it fairly easy to complete. With this box, I’m already a third of the way there with my Ken Griffey, Jr. and Jose Cruz, Jr. cards. If memory serves me correct, there’s someone out there that’s into both Jose Cruz, Jr. AND comics.

All-Galactic Team (18 cards, 1:192 packs): The hit of this box was the All-Galactic Team insert of Frank Thomas. Keeping in the Metal tradition of “out of this world” inserts, these cards feature a planetary background treated with holofoil. These are a very difficult pull, falling in only every eighth box on average.

What WASN’T Pulled: Limited to just 50 copies, the Precious Metal Gems parallel the entire 220-card set. The Titanium inserts (15 cards) also returned in 1998. These inserts, which were a one-per-box insert in previous years, could be found in every fourth box on average. The design of these cards featured a titanium shield background, embossed with the player’s team logo and die-cut around the left side of the perimeter. And speaking of inserts that got rarer as the years went by, the Platinum Portraits inserts (which were inserted 1:4 packs in 1996), were a 1:360 pack pull in 1998. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a scan of these.

Final Thoughts: In my personal opinion, this was the last enjoyable Metal set. While the backgrounds changed from artistic images to actual photographs, the finished product was a winner that produced some of the most unique (and cool!) base cards ever. This particular box was great as I beat the odds on a few of the inserts and the collation was excellent. For only $30, you can’t go wrong with this box. It beats the heck out of the Target Sweet Spot tin of the same price.

Because I couldn’t scan just two, here’s a look at some more of the base cards. If you can’t tell, the backgrounds include Lady Liberty, the Seattle Space Needle, a rocket, and the ocean floor.
As always, thanks for reading and good luck with your own breaks!

Posted on January 20, 2009, in Box Breaks and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Love these backgrounds, perhaps the inspiration of the 1999 Bowman International set backgrounds?

  2. would be interested in both of the Frank Thomas that you pulled, and even a base one if possible just let me know what your looking for…thanks Jeff

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