By getting out its first series of NBA cards before the teams begin training camp, Upper Deck has a couple of ways for fans to prepare for the season.
One is the return of the Trade Upper Deck card, which can be exchanged for a set of up to 10 cards showing the top 10 draftees who have signed NBA contracts as of Dec. 3. The exchange card comes in two versions, silver-foil and a scarcer gold-foil.
Upper Deck's other preseason assist for fans is a 27-card subset, with each team's schedule on the back of a team-picture card.
The NBA set continues the manufacturer's new practice of not repeating first series cards in second series boxes. There are 255 cards in the first series, including Washington Bullets rookie Calbert Cheaney. A 15-card subset features players' trademark moves, including Michael Jordan's flights and Karl Malone's dunks.
Insert cards highlight the All-NBA team (jumbo packs), all-rookie team (retail-store packs), Jordan's choices as the game's top dunkers (hobby store packs), leaders in triple-doubles and a card honoring Jordan's seventh straight scoring title. Backs of regular player cards again contain five-year statistics and career totals.
Elite -- only bigger
Donruss is updating -- and enlarging -- Elite. The updated sets, which only contain three different cards (Nolan Ryan and Frank Thomas as Nos. 19 and 20 and Barry Bonds in his San Francisco uniform), but the new cards measure 3 1/2 x 5. To make things tougher on collectors, Donruss is packaging the updates in specially marked boxes of Series I.
Pro Insignia has produced bats commemorating the final seasons of Cleveland Stadium and Arlington Stadium. Both carry the official final-year logos. The Cleveland bat includes the years the Indians were tenants and lists the 1948 World Series and 1954 pennant plus the years the stadium was host to the All-Star Game. The Arlington bats lists the years the Rangers played there. Pro Insignia also has bats with the 25th anniversary logos of the Kansas City Royals, Montreal Expos and San Diego Padres on the barrels. Each bat is $49.95 plus $5 shipping. For information, call (800) 533-0726.
Twenty baseball players, including Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, are featured on Cooperstown Collection metal cards. Metallic Images, which produced the QB Legends set, puts the cards in a specially decorated tin and will make no more than 49,900 sets. A portion of the sale of each set will be donated to the Children's Miracle Network.
CARD OF THE WEEK
Classic's 1993 basketball draft set goes with a hardwood motif. There are 110 regular cards plus 23 insert cards. Among the inserts are five hockey preview cards and plastic cards of Chris Webber, Anfernee Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn, J. R. Rider and Rodney Rogers that form a panoramic image when placed together. Cards are 10 to a pack.