In the spring of 2019, I came across a garage sale find for the ages. Included were 12 complete sets, 55 full wax boxes, 1,265 loose wax packs, and 21 Topps ScreenPlays tins from 1997.
Up to that point I had never seen this product, but as I began to share my find on social media, several people began to comment on them which made me want to learn what they were all about.
Topps released this lenticular set in the summer of 1997. I was first introduced to this type of card with Sportflics in the late 80s, but instead of the two or three images found on those cards, the ScreenPlays utilized 24 frames of actual game footage on each card!
The unnumbered base checklist consisted of 20 cards, and there was also a 6 card “Premium Series” insert set. Boxes contained 21 cards and typically had a full set plus one of the six inserts. Each card retailed for about $10 and came inside a metal tin which looks like a film canister. The tins were also customized for each player, but their original packaging contained a cover which kept you from knowing who was inside.
The “Premium Series” cards have a different picture on the Tin, and the card itself has the players name in a gold box.
There was also a 3 card “Private Screenings” set which appears to be a promo set that was not available in the tins.
Topps got creative with the design of this product. The entire package was created to be displayed! Inside the canister was a piece of foam which enabled collectors to display both the tin cover and the card itself. While they never really gained widespread popularity, you have to give them credit for trying something different. The quality of the materials are top notch, and I can definitely see player or team collectors having these on display next to their favorite starting lineup, stadium giveaway, or autographed ball.
This unique product is fairly easy to find online, but your options may be more limited depending on whether or not you want the tin included. The single cards can be found on COMC and Sportlots at prices ranging from about $1 - $5. However you will have to go to EBay if you want the tin as well. Most cards with the tin will run you between $5 and $10 delivered, however the Premium Series are more limited and seem to run $15 and up. The Private Screenings Promo cards also seem to be selling in the mid-teens.
Sealed boxes are available for somewhere in the neighborhood of $50-$60.
This is another set that was released in the window where I was out of the hobby for the most part. Discovering it now, 20 years later, I can see the allure it has to its fans. I can also see why some people balked at the idea of spending $10 on a product that could be awkward to display in some situations. What about you? Did you collect it? Do you have any now? Or were you oblivious to its existence like I was?
Let me know in the comments below!
Private Screenings Promos
Ken Griffey Jr.
Cal Ripken Jr.
Ken Griffey Jr.
Cal Ripken Jr.