When a trading card insert is spread across two or more series, the manufacturer usually tries to maintain consistency for the sake of those looking to complete the set or just to keep the branding intact. The designers of the 1995-96 Topps Stadium Club Warp Speed set did not subscribe to that notion.
It was one of the flashier but most head scratching inserts of its time.
The concept was to highlight some of the speediest players in the league with a 12-card set spread across the two series that comprised the ’95-96 TSC release.
Cards number 1 through 6 were inserted at a rate of 1 in 36 Series 1 hobby and retail packs and 1 in 18 Series 1 jumbo packs. Cards numbered 7 through 12 were inserted one in every 48 Series 2 packs.
That’s only the beginning of the differences between the two sets. Other than the Warp Speed title on each card you would have no idea that they were part of the same insert set.
Series 1 cards feature a borderless, full-bleed front with a full color action shot of the player with a lagging image set on an extraterrestrial silver foil background with very catchy silver specks sprinkled throughout. The new Topps Stadium Club logo is found in one of the upper corners of the card, seemingly on its own circular planet. The Warp Speed logo appears vertically on the left hand side and the player’s name is printed in red at the bottom of the card.
The card backs feature multiple small square and rectangular images of the player that, together, make up a larger image. The same fonted Warp Speed logo is found at the top of the card with the player’s name team and position listed below. There’s a small paragraph that exhibits why the player featured is such a speed demon on the court.
The Series 2 card design differs completely.
The Warp Speed logo is still found on the left hand side of a card but it runs towards the middle as if it’s being pulled into the circular vortex that stands as the card backdrop. There’s a full color image of the player featured as well as the Topps Stadium Club logo found in yellow the same color the player’s name is found at the bottom of the card.
The card back features the same image found on the front, a very similar Warp Speed logo and some black static as the backdrop. Again, the player’s name team and position is listed with a small paragraph below that explains why the player is so fast.
The split set opens with Michael Jordan featured in classic form, driving intently to the hoop, tongue wagging and my personal favorite, black and white patent leather Jordan 11 kicks on his feet.
Phoenix Suns point guard Kevin Johnson is featured on card number two. KJ is seen bringing the ball up court in his home Phoenix whites.
Seattle Supersonics point guard and Hall of Famer Gary Payton is featured at card number three in Warp Speed. He’s seen in his original Sonics uni aggressively driving the ball to the hole.The picture on his card front, along with the backdrop, makes for a very cool looking piece of cardboard.
Orlando Magic point guard Anfernee Hardaway is featured in the fourth slot. Penny is also seen dribbling the ball up court, ready to make one of his highlight reel passes or finishes. Pictured is Hardaway’s Members Only version of the card.
Maybe a dark horse in the set, Atlanta Hawks point guard Mookie Blaylock is found at card number five. As the card back states, his quick feet and maybe the fastest hands in the NBA are logical reasons to have Blaylock included in the set.
There’s no debate having Golden State Warriors point guard and newly announced HOFer Tim Hardaway as card number six . Tim’s signature Killer Crossover is still an iconic move in NBA history.
Card number seven is where we see the completely different card design in the set.
Chicago Bulls forward Scottie Pippen is the first in the new design layout. Pippen was such an outstanding all around player and is an obvious choice for this Warp Speed set.
Dallas Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd is found at card eight, fresh off his Co-Rookie of the Year award with Grant Hill the year prior. Kidd was a walking triple double and one of the bright young stars in the game.
Speaking of the previous season’s Co-Rookie of the Year, Detroit Pistons young star Grant Hill is next up in the set at card number nine. Hill was a Swiss army knife of a player who could do it all at both ends of the floor. A more than worthy addition to this set.
You don’t get a nickname like ‘Nick the Quick’ and miss out on being featured in this type of insert set. Nick Van Exel checks in a card number ten as the Los Angeles Lakers point guard definitely had a solid run in the league with countless under the radar highlights and more highlight reel moves on the court than you can count.
Another unheralded player is found next in the set. New Jersey Nets point guard Kenny Anderson is another somewhat under the radar standout in the league. The New York legend had a very solid and lengthy career at the professional level.
The final card in the set features another Golden State Warriors star in shooting guard Latrell Sprewell. Spree was an incredibly dynamic player who’s highlight real dunks and overall speed still make for impressive highlight reels 20 years later.
Many of the cards can be found raw for just a few bucks. The Jordan goes anywhere between $50 to well over $100 at the higher end ungraded. The prices for graded cards vary greatly, of course. A PSA 10 copy sold for over $5,000 online in August but nicer NM/MT copies can still be had for a very reasonable cost.
While the design differences can be confusing, the set is such a fun and eye catching one that was right on brand for Topps, the Stadium Club line and 1990s basketball inserts in general of the era.
You can see 1995-96 Stadium Club Warp Speed inserts on eBay here.
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 [email protected] and @OffCenterTR on social media.