The first in a series highlighting acetate, the clear plastic cards that I for some strange reason have loved since opening packs of 1993 Classic Hockey as a kid. The first set I am profiling is the bizarre 1998 Topps Tek set. At first look you have a 90 card base set with all kinds of wacky patterns, but those patterns are actually a parallel of sorts. I am not a fan of parallels and get annoyed by brands like Bowman that seem to suffer from parallel overload, but Topps Tek took this to new heights. Each card in the set of 90 had 90 different patterns with a Diffractor, a refractor style card seeded at one per 6 packs, paralleling each pattern making a grand total of 180 different cards of each player. That makes a total of 8,100 cards in the set, with each of these having a Diffractor for a master set of 16,200 different cards. This is not including the Pre-Production Promo cards of Mark McGwire, Raul Mondesi and Roger Clemens of which I do not know how many patterns are available. I would love to sit down and have a few beers with whoever came up with this idea and just ask them "What the hell?".
Overall the design is not great, the patterns are just random patterns that don't really add anything to the card. Some of the patterns overlap the colored swoop and this really looks terrible. The card front is fairly plain with just the Tek logo and player name with no mention of team or position. Cards without the team mentioned on the front is something I find very annoying. The player name also has a weird kind of drop-shadow that makes it seem blurry and I am not really high on the font they used. That aside the cards do look much better in person than they do in scans. The card backs are just as weird, there is a team logo and a close up of the player, but instead of regular stats they list three upcoming milestones in which someone made a guess to what seasons players would reach certain milestones. As much as I like acetate cards the one drawback is that it's hard to use an action shot so we are left with pretty standard boring photos, and the ugly design seems to make this worse.
MarkGrace.com actually has scans of all 90 patterns and few a Diffractors if what to see the insanity that is 1998 Topps Tek in all its glory.