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Have insert sets mostly disappeared from modern products?

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Jan 19, 2010
I admittedly don’t buy new cards anymore and have not for a long time. I buy singles, mostly autographs and Steve Garvey, some Dodgers and things that I happen across that catch my eye.

I just realized though that I have not seen much in the way of stand alone insert sets lately within my search parameters, but the ridiculous array of colored parallels the companies are pumping out of each player in each offering seems to have picked up a lot of steam.

I tend to be focused and have my set searches, so it isn’t hard for me to miss things across the big picture, such as EBay bucks. I knew I had not seen any come through for a while and just assumed I was not getting the promos any longer and had to look up this weekend to find that they killed the program around 2021 or so! I sure missed that memo when it happened!

Back in the day it was fun to track down 3-5 different colored or foil parallels of a card or two, but it seems to have become the norm and it’s not just 3-5, but can be as much as 15-20 or more these days and before you get done, another set has already been released with their 10-15 or more parallels too.

Maybe that is what the majority wants now, but I think it is the work of companies with monopolies that no longer need to be innovative. Now that I have tossed in the towel with regard to chasing all of the low serial numbered parallels, it seems like it has just gotten even worse. I miss the days when you could count on 4-5 different insert sets and your player may or may not be in a few, but rarely all and if there was a parallel or two, they were mostly obtainable.


Well-known member
Aug 7, 2008
Parallels rule baseball now. People love to chase them, the rarer the better. I imagine the card companies love them because they are huge value-adds for the least possible amount of work and you don't have to have different photos and all that. And the more tiers the better, though there seems to be a limit on that. I do love my rainbows and low-print-run parallel sets but I haven't chased any of those with 39 versions like Panini has.

It's been a while since an insert set really seemed to be a must-have, but there are lots of sweet insert sets still being made. Topps Chrome Cosmic Planetary Pursuit, for example, was a big hit, but even then it seems like people wanted to chase that set's parallels for a "solar system" for a given player rather than a full set. Topps punting their production blunted interest pretty quick, though. Cards like Hidden Gems and Follow B@ck sell hugely, too, but they're so rare I'm sure very people are out chasing sets. 2022 Topps Chrome Heart of the City is one that comes to mind as being really popular and inexpensive because they were something like 1 per box. The autographed versions were super-popular, too, but plenty of people wanted the plain versions. But it's not like the good ol' days before autos, jerseys, and tons of color were expected to be in every box and a simple cardboard card with a sweet theme or design or production gimmick drove people nuts.

Panini has big hits in other sports, though, with their various case hits like Color Blast (and similar things), Downtown, Kaboom, and the new Micro Mosaics in the 23 Mosaic football (love those). Not too rare to contemplate building a set, but rare enough (and expensive enough) for it to be a challenge. Topps fairly blatant rip-off of Downtowns, Home Field Advantage, seems to have devotees but they don't create the same fervor, maybe because they're fairly common.


Jan 19, 2010
After you mention it, the Kabooms and other similar chase cards have been popular. I suppose it would be hard to predict what will be the next best thing. The newness of inserts will probably never be felt again they way it was in the early 90s.

Made me think of a Beckett contest I entered in the mid 90s and actually was selected as a runner up. it was Basketball and they wanted readers to design an insert set. In my mind, I had the winning idea locked up! As it turns out, it was a parallel set within an insert set. Dennis Rodman was at the height of his popularity. I suggested a die cut card similar to Flair at the time, thicker and highly glossy. The card would be shaped like Rodman's head and feature his face and hair. The twist and chase factor was that the hair would be a felt or other "fabric" type look and feel that would be colored, like his hair dye jobs. One color would be the "base" insert and the other color variations would be the harder and harder to pull parallels. I think I called it something like Rodman's Dye-Cuts.

I probably lost favor because it was just one player and not a bunch of the games brightest. Rodman was polarizing too, you either liked him or you hated him, it seemed. I still think to this day it was pretty creative and would have loved to see it made.

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