Monday, May 11, 2020

State of the Set: 1990 Action Packed Football

I feel that there are too many sets on my wantlist that have been sitting there for years while I slowly chip away at them. This year I noticed that a lot of those sets are well within striking distance this year, so I've tried to swing some trades for set needs while focusing my recent Sportlots purchase on sets as well. We'll see how many sets I can kill before the year is out.

For the past few years, I have written a post that summarizes my set completion quests for the year. I still plan to do that for 2020, but I also decided to give a progress report for sets that I'm actively acquiring cards for along the way. I thought this might be more interesting than writing one giant post that tries to tie all the different cards from a trade or a purchase together.

On today's docket: 1990 Action Packed Football

I remember when Action Packed came out. It was unlike anything that had ever been done before. Each card had a gold foil border and was embossed. And it was amazing! I couldn't afford to get much of it back when I was a kid just starting out, but I got a pack or two and was completely astounded. Plus, there is plenty of good action photography on the cards.

Another great feature of the product was the Action Note on the back. It was meant to describe the action happening in the picture. In the case of the Gary Reasons card, I remember watching that game live, down in my grandma's basement. I couldn't have told the final score or even the winner of the game before this card gave me that information, but I do recall the hit pictured on the front.

However, I do have to take the Action Note with a grain of salt. Look at this card. The Action Note says that Butler is kicking a 25-yard field goal. But where is the holder? Unless the long snapper managed to snap the ball so it could stand on its end while the kicker kicked the field goal, I'm thinking this shot is a kickoff. Years later, today's sports card manufacturers often struggle with the details of a "player used" article in the card. As for Action Packed, there are some cards where it's easy to see that the Action Note is adding useful information to the photo. The more generic looking photos, however, have to be considered just storytelling to allow the reader to visualize a possible scenario.

This set is full of Hall of Famers both on the offensive side.

And the defensive side. There's enough visual information on the Tippett and Haley cards to make me trust the Action Note on the back.

Why I'm collecting this set: This is part of my quest to complete one football set for every year that I actively collected. I've been choosing one set for each year that I liked the design and look of, and Action Packed was the one I had my eye on for 1990. A good starter set for an affordable price on eBay finalized the decision and got me going in the right direction.

How long has it been on my wantlist (roughly)?: It has been in my mind for about a year now, but I haven't even officially put it on my wantlist yet.

Current state of set completion: Base set--279/280 (99.7%); Rookie Update set--1/84 (

1.1%); 280/364 (76.9%)

Current needs: #9 (Deion Sanders), Basically all of the Rookie Update set.

Prognosis: This depends on my ability to find a good price for the Rookie Update set on eBay. I don't plan on piecing it together right now, so I'm hoping to find a good hand-collated set on the cheap. For the base set alone, it's a slam dunk to be finished by year's end. Only one card to go there.


  1. Great set. In fact I think I like all the Action Packed sets.

  2. Awesome set. That doesn't receive a lot of hobby love... even though the embossed cards played a significant role in our hobby's history. I have a stack of these sitting in a box in my office, but unfortunately didn't have the Sanders.

  3. I remember when these debuted, they were definitely different. I think I had maybe one or two packs, if that, but I know I took one single and pulled it apart at the back fold, just to see what was "under the hood" so to speak. I also did that with a Collector's Edge card - they were advertised as being tear-proof so of course I had to try, lol.