GPK for Mishmash

Where part one of my Garbage Pail Kids trade with Cards From the Attic was about vintage stuffs, part two is about the big box of junk wax Giants mishmash. It was big enough that it took me a few days to sort through and yes, there’s plenty of stuff in there for everyone in the family to share.

Two dozen pre-junk-wax cards including a bunch of 1984 Donruss* as well as a 1981 Donruss Jack Clark.** Despite being able to afford proper vintage cards I hope I never lose that smile I get when I come across anything before 1986 in a lot of repack mishmash. Those were cool when I was little and I’m happy that my kids can still find cards like them as affordable commons for their collections.

*A set I could never acquire samples from when I was a kid.

**A player who I never liked as a kid but have come to appreciate as the standard bearer on some bad Giants teams.

The dozen 1987 Topps cards meanwhile remind me of the first set I collected as a kid. My sons are going to be excited by both the Will Clark cards and the Atlee Hammaker cards since they’re already familiar with my stories. I meanwhile like the Kevin Mitchell Traded card since while I have the 1987 set I never got the Traded set and so never had this card when I was little.

More junk wax, this time 1987 to 1989. Three Aldretes for the Stanford album. A couple nice Will Clark oddballs from sets I’ve not seen before. A lot of appalling airbrushing on the 1988 Topps cards. And it’s always nice to find a Donell Nixon.

A big batch of 1990 cards. I need to remember to loupe 1990 Topps to see how they did the oversized halftone screen patterns. That 1990 Fleer Brett Butler is the only Giant I was missing from my team set for that year. And I really like the 1990 Upper Deck Don Robinson where he’s sliding into 3rd wearing the jacket that pitchers—and the rest of us—always had to wear at Candlestick.

A couple 1990 Bowmans and a bunch of 1991 cards. 1991 Topps is such a good-looking set. It was the first with horizontal cards in my consciousness and many of the photos are a massive improvement over the usual Topps fare in previous years. 1991 Fleer is one of those designs which could’ve been released and look just fine only a year or two later with white text and foil stamping on black instead of yellow. 1991 Upper Deck meanwhile is just one of those sets I’m really fond of.

The last few 1991s—including a wonderful Studio 91 card. One of these days I’ll make a run at that set. I loved it when it came out and I love it still since it remains distinct with its black and white portrait photos.

A bunch of 1992s. Where 1991 Stadium Club hasn’t aged well for me, I really like 1992’s design and photography. Topps upped its game big time in its second year of premium sets. 1992 Score is not a design I particularly like but I do enjoy all the turn back the clock uniforms on it. Though to be fair there are a lot of these uniforms in all the 1992 releases.

Where 1992 Donruss, Fleer, and Score have a bit of gradient madness, 1993 Donruss ushers us fully into the computer-aided design world of bevelled edges. I don’t like this design. I do like the increasingly large photo sizes though.

Some more 1993s. Triple play is another set I’d like to chase some day. 1993 Score is plain but I find myself liking this design more and more. 1993 Upper Deck is an all-time classic which I’m aping for my GiantsNow project. I really like that photo of Will Clark on 1993 Leaf. I couldn’t help but laugh at the super-foiled Steve Hosey prospect card.

Getting into 1994 and I don’t recognize many of the cards anymore. Stadium Club I do remember and that 1990s Dymo-labeler name design grows on me each time I see it. The draft picks? Not familiar at all. Although I do remember Jacob Cruz. Topps Finest? I don’t think I ever saw these as a kid. As with Flair they were out of my price range.

Speaking of Flair, there was a lot of it in this box. That stuff was super spendy 25 years ago but obviously hasn’t held up that way. I need to loupe these since I’ve seen some things suggesting that they were printed with 6 color process. I’ve louped some 1993 Flairs and can’t see anything different. But I’ll keep looking over as many as I can.

Speaking of louping cards, I also need to loupe the Score Gold Rush cards to see what they‘re doing in the non-foiled parts of the cards. Aside from the reflectivity differences, there’s clearly a white point on the players and I can even see the trap where the player silhouette and foil meet.*

*I need to do this on a lot of Topps Chrome and other silver/foil cards as well.

Finishing out the 1994s with a bunch more Score Gold Rush. I have no idea why Score went with such a crazy 1990s design for their Rookies and Traded set when the base 1994 set is so elegant in comparison. 1994 Score select is one of those crazy designs that has no business working as well as it does. 1994 Upper Deck is kind of a disaster but I really like Collectors Choice—especially the silver signature variants.

Nice to get some 1995 Topps since that set seems to be hard to find. I’m not so keen on the mid-late 90s Stadium Club designs but then I like my Stadium Club to be as simple as possible so the photos can sing. 1995 Donruss is a nice-looking set with an unreadable foil-on-foil nameplate. I’m digging the 1995 Leaf design with the rainbow foil effect. There’s a lot of mid-late 90s Leaf in this box and all of it is brand new to me.

LOL at the 1995 Fleer Strawberry. MORE Flair, this time with a gold foil background effect that is also asking to be louped. And a few 1995 Score and Score Gold Rush.

One last 1995 Score. This time a Platinum version. It’s awfully sparkly. I’ve never heard of Score Summit. I’ve not seen a lot of these mid-90s Pinnacle either. I really like that 1995 Pinnacle Rod Beck though.

1995 Upper Deck is a great-looking set with another fantastic Rod Beck card. The 1995 Upper Deck Minors cards are also pretty nice. I had to look up what the different foil colors on the Upper Deck SP cards meant. As someone who’s only learned about parallel madeness recently, I figured the blue ones were special. Nope. Turns out this is from the days when silver and gold parallels were still the special ones. Though that blue parallel Collectors Choice card suggests things are about to switch.

And some 1995 Pacific which showcases Pacific’s awkward year as it figures out what it wants to be. That super foil/refractor/prism/whatever you call it of William Van Landingham is something else though. It’s kind of wonderful in a hideous kind of way.

Between the Score Gold Rush and this special Pacific card I can see a lot of what counts as special cards today. No wonder people are tired of those concepts now. They’re clearly gimmicks which are interesting only as long as they’re new and novel.

On to 1996 and I can see that figuring out what the hell Bowman is doing is going to be required for every year of Bowman. I gather that this is probably the first year of Bowman Chrome—or what would become Chrome—as there’s a foil parallel set. I kind of like 1996 Donruss although that big foil box does seem to get in the way of a lot of the photos to the point where it often looks like it’s censoring someone pulling a Claude Raymond.

Those two 1996 Fleers are glossy instead of uncoated which means that they’re Tiffany cards. Fleer Ultra is a nice looking set. And I’ll one of these days I’ll figure out the method behind the madness with the bordered and full-bleed Collectors Choice cards.

Into 1997 now. I’m not feeling this Topps design but I like it more than the Stadium Club one. Bowman is Bowman. I really like that Russ Ortiz card. Not sure what’s going on with the gradient madness on the Leaf cards. So thank god for Fleer and its set of uncoated cards. They look kind of dull in comparison to the super glossy cards all around but I love the uncoated look and feel.

Continuing with 1997. I’ve mixed feelings on Fleer Ultra. There’s something very Baseball™ about that font and it looks exactly like what my son is trying to make his signature look like right now—which also means that it looks like something an 8-year-old would design.

There’s also a ton of gold foil now. Pinnacle is now like a third foil and Pacific is similarly as foil-centered a design as you can get. It is nice to get some duplicate McCartys for both the Giants and Stanford albums.

And finally some 1998 and 1999 cards. Something about the 1998 Ultra font doesn’t sit right with me at all. I don’t know if it reminds me of glamour shot photostudio stamping or something else but it feels off. In some ways I find that it feels like wannabe Pacific but by this time Pacific has gone off the deep end with all kinds of craziness.


Speaking of Pacific, those Invincibles are as horrid as the earlier Van Landingham refractor thing but don’t have any of the awkward charm. Very much not my thing. I’m sure my kids will love them.

All in all a very fun box to go through. I’ve got a huge stack of cards for my kids to divvy up. And I’ve got a decent stack for myself as well. We’re going to have a lot of fun this fall as I slowly distribute them over the months.

Oh, the bumper cards here didn’t get the photo treatment but it’s worth noting that they were mostly 1986 Topps and 1990 Upper Deck—AKA two sets I’m trying to build. Going through those filled a bunch of holes in my searchlist so that was a very pleasant surprise to go along with expected portion of the trade package.

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at, and the web at

7 thoughts on “GPK for Mishmash”

  1. The blue 1995 Collector’s Choice SE set actually came out prior to the regular set. It wasn’t an opening day sort of thing, either, but rather a “will we see baseball this year or is this the end of baseball as we know it?” It’s an entirely separate set.

    God bless the 1996 and 1997 Fleer sets, I love them so much.

    1997 Stadium Club gets a bad rap. And the 1997 Donruss set (which I believe is what you’re referring to when you say Leaf is underrated. It may be one of those things where certain team colors work better than others. The 1997 Leaf set is an elegant, simple design though.

    And I think you already know my opinion on how great 1998 Fleer Ultra is. ;)

    1. Oh huh. Good to know about 1995 Collectors Choice.

      And you’re right that’s 1997 Donruss not Leaf. The gold foil starburst just triggered “Leaf” in my brain. I looked up other samples and with darker colors the gradient isn’t as WTF.

  2. Lots of great stuff. This is going to sound crazy, but I was able to get my hands on plenty of 1984 Donruss. It’s 1984 Fleer that I had a difficult time finding. I opened just as many 84D packs as 84T packs. And mid 90’s Flair was awesome! I’d love to bust some boxes of that stuff right now.

    1. By the time I was collecting, wax packs of 1984 Donruss were like $10 each (1983 Fleer was similarly expensive). I saved my allowance to buy one pack of each year (back to 1980 Topps) but I could never bring myself to buy either 83 Fleer or 84 Donruss.

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