1992 Studio Baseball Offered Picture Upgrades, Color and Charisma

A return engagement made it pretty clear that Donruss-Leaf was serious about making its newest product a staple of its of baseball release calendar.  More posed, personal photographs were on the docket as a new season began 30 years ago and 1992 Leaf Studio arrived with a more colorful look. 

Like the 1991 inaugural release, there was a 264-card base set, this time done primarily in color rather than the artsy black and white kickoff.

1992 Leaf Studio Packaging

Hobby boxes were once again jammed with 48 packs of 12 cards. That’s an enormous amount of posed pictures of your favorite pro ball players.

There were Jumbo boxes, too, with 24 packs containing a stack of 28 cards.  In the junk wax era, autographs and inserts weren’t yet the focus.  The sealed hobby boxes had a light turquoise blue with the same gold Studio cursive logo with the diamond and a batter following through on a swing as their logo. The box was wrapped in the Leaf logo shrink wrap.

The pack art was a bit different they did showcase the Studio logo followed by the words “12 Premium Quality Baseball Cards” and both Major League Baseball and MLBPA logos at the base of the pack. They were very light tan color in the background and gold foiled at the top and bottom of the foil.

Today, boxes can be found on eBay for less than $30.

The Set

The design and imagery of the cards changed from year one to year two. The card fronts feature a large black and white action photo of the player in the background and (new this year) a color posed photo of the player in the foreground. It makes for a very nice contrast in imagery. There is something striking and unique about seeing a large black and white in action photo of the player teamed up with a nice, crisp color photo on the same piece of cardboard.

The card design offers a gold colored border that is narrow on the top and sides but offers a larger chunk on the bottom of the card that features the Studio logo on the left hand side, the player’s name and team name in the center and the player’s position in the lower right hand corner.  

Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and New York Mets catcher Gary Carter have to the more aesthetically pleasing cards in the set. 

Barry Bonds, still at Pirate at the time, has a card that includes a large black and white photo in the batter’s box and a nice posed image in the forefront with a rare smile.

Still some of my all-time favorites, the card backs feature the Studio logo in the upper left-hand corner, the player’s team logo is featured in a blue three dimensional diamond shaped box on the upper center portion of the card. The card number is found in the upper right hand corner and in the middle of the card back taking up the vast majority of the card is again, like last season, a section called “Personal” which features some basic information about where the player is from, where they live, family members and college degrees.  

The second section is listed as “Career” which lists the player signings, when they made their debut, any trades any career highlights such as All-Star appearances, World Series appearances and key pieces of information along these lines. In a new addition to the 1992 card back, the next sections up are “Loves to Face” and “Hates to Face” which lists a player that the featured player has done well against and one that they have done poorly against over the course of their careers.

The final section on the card back is listed as “Up Close” which will tell you all about a player’s favor actor, favorite movies, sports teams and heroes.  

That was the whole concept behind Leaf Studio–skip most of the stats and let fans and collectors get to know the players on a more personal level.

I always find fun information on the backs of the studio cards to talk to players about when I conduct interviews. I recently spoke to slugger Greg Vaughn and specifically asked him a few questions from his card back in this set. 

Just like the previous year, there are no subsets in 1992 Studio baseball.

The last card in the 264 card base set is a really nice touch and salute to the set’s photographers: Al Tielemans, Andy Bernstein, Jon Soo Hoo and Bob Tursack, Jr.

Cincinnati Reds reliever and bad boy Rob Dibble is removing his shades in order to intimidate.

Cincinnati Reds teammate Jose Rijo is showing off his gains from his time in the gym, flexing his biceps.

Complete sets of ’92 Leaf Studio can usually be found for less than $15.

Heritage Inserts

Studio did offer an insert set called Heritage. This is a 14-card set featured players in throwback uniforms. The first eight cards were inserted 1 in every 12 card wax packs while cards numbered 9 through 14 were seeded at a rate of one per jumbo pack.

To get an idea of the card design just close your eyes and envision walking down a boardwalk by the beach and coming across the costume place that takes those old timey pictures. Now imagine Jeff Bagwell being dressed as a cowboy in the wild, wild west or busting out of the doors of a dusty saloon. There you have it. In all seriousness, the Heritage insert set does offer a unique view of the game’s greats at a time when throwback uniforms weren’t often part of a team’s wardrobe.  The card backs give a nice history of the featured uniform (and team) found on the front.

Promo Set

As it did in 1991, Donruss-Leaf produced a 22- card promo set. Two card packs were distributed directly to hobby shops but were not included in the Donruss factory set as in the previous season. There’s a notation on the front and another on the back that indicates the card as being part of a 22-card set.  The Roberto Alomar and Ozzie Smith cards are short printed and are tougher to find than the other 20 cards. Surprisingly, due to the limited distribution, this promo set remains one of the rarest of the era and only a few dozen are usually available on eBay.

The 1992 Leaf Studio set offers a great time capsule of some of the greatest players of the era. The card backs once again feature some fun, lively and unique information as opposed to the straightforward wins and losses and typical stat lines. 

Studio stepped up their game with the new and improved color images coupled with the new in action images and continued the clean, crisp card design and great card backs found in year one.

About Tony Reid

From the time he was a little kid, Tony has been a huge sports fan. If he could play sports, watch sports and talk about sports it was a great day. From as early as he was drawn to sports, Tony was drawn to collecting sports cards. Not much has changed over the years. He collects RCs of star players in baseball, basketball and football. He also has a soft spot for first autographs of MMA stars. If you want to talk to Tony about the greatness of Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson or Ken Griffey, Jr. you can reach him at @reidrattlecage on all social media platforms.

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