Saturday, May 10, 2008

Vintage Video Box Break and Review: 1999 Skybox Metal Universe

One retail box of 1999 Skybox Metal Universe (paid $18.95 + shipping from Pittsburgh Sports Wholesale *)
20 packs per box, six cards per pack (MSRP $2.39)

The Details

Base Set: 300 cards

Parallels: NONE (all are Hobby Only)

15 Neophytes (1:10)
15 Boyz with the Wood (1:30)
15 Planet Metal (1:60)
15 Diamond Soul (1:96)
10 Linchpins (1:576)

Autogamers: NONE (all are Hobby Only)

The Pulls

Part One

Part Two

Base Set: 116 of 300 (38.67%)

2 Neophytes: P. Konerko, M. Tejada
1 Boyz with the Wood: M. Piazza
1 Planet Metal: D. Erstad

1999 Skybox Metal Universe was a set that I never got around to collecting. But when I ripped a pack of this in my recent 20-for-$40 gimmick on APAD, I was hooked. I made it my mission to bust a waxbox. Unfortunately, all I could find on Pittsburgh Sports Wholesale was this 20-pack retail box.

Like in previous years, all the base cards have etched-foil fronts and are embossed -- hence, the name. The 1999 Metals have an industrial look and feel, with what look like riveted iron plating. Unfortunately, they only added the embossing to the top-half of the card, which if stacked, causes a noticeable lean.

To wit: These are all the base cards I ripped from this box. I like to call this "The Leaning Tower of 1999 Metal."

Among the subsets, there are 25 "Building Blocks" (prospects and rookies), 25 "M.L.P.D.s" -- which I still have no idea what it stands for -- and 15 "Caught on the Fly's." What makes the subsets great -- but in an unintentionally funny kind of way -- are their backs. The COTF's are "written" in the style of the Sporting News column of the same name. But it's the Building Blocks and M.L.P.D. backs that are notable. Notable in their hilarity.

In the late-90s, Fleer oriented all their Skybox brands to appeal to an "urban" audience. (They even hired Coolio to star in their print ads.) This marketing/pandering even went as far as the language used on backs of the cards.

Before I go any further I should note that in September 2001 I had a job interview at Fleer's headquarters in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey. After spending nearly two hours at the Fleer office, I did not notice anyone outside the "middle-aged-white-guy/white-gal" demographic who was employed there. Please take this into consideration before reading the back of Adrian Beltre's Building Blocks card.

"Yo, Adrian, 20 years old, filling in for Bobby Bo' at third for the L.A. Dodgers ... not bad. We know that you almost nabbed the '97 FSL Triple Crown and were Mr. MVP. We can see your glove is phat already. But at 20? I guess that's why Zeile's in Texas and Konerko's in Cincy ... your move, Kid."

See what I mean?

The numbered-to-50 Precious Metal Gems and one-of-one Gem Master parallels were exclusive to Hobby, but all five non-parallel inserts were available in retail as well, albeit at slightly longer odds. Like the subsets, all the inserts are written in "Mount Laurel Ebonics." The fifteen card, 1:10/pack Neophytes are the designated "Hot Rookie" insert that was standard in most late-90s products. The fifteen card, 1:30 Boyz with the Wood (See, it's spelled with a "Z" at the end! It's gangsta!) are an equally formulaic "Power Hitters" insert. If these cards look a lot like those "Flapper" cards in this years Topps Opening Day, they should. The BwtW and the Opening Day Flappers were made by the company.

Planet Metal (1:60) is the standard issue die-cut insert and Diamond Soul (1:96) are lenticular (i.e. Sportflix) cards. In the era before the gamer, just about every Fleer set had one insert that was a genuinely tough pull. In 1999 Skybox Metal Universe, the 1:576/pack Linchpins -- which have a laser-cut cotter pin design in the background -- fit this bill.

The Bottom Line

For such a small box, (only 120 cards) I had some pretty good pulls. I only wish I had found a Hobby box though. I received almost 40% of the base set, two Neophytes inserts, a Mike Piazza Boyz with the Wood, and a one-per-third box Planet Metal of Darin Erstad.

Product Rating: 2 1/2 Gumsticks (out of five)

No comments: