As always, let’s start off with a little product breakdown. The box contained 24 packs of 6 cards for a total of 144 cards. I paid $43.00 for this box at dacardworld.com (free shipping since I bought a bunch of supplies and boxes at one time). This breaks out to a price of just a smidge under $0.30 per card, which is a tad (like my explicit adjectives?) more than previous box breaks I’ve done here, but still a good deal.
The 150-card base set consisted of 96 veterns and stars, 35 rookies, 15 Proof Positive subset (denoted as “PP” in the pack listing below), 1 Triple Trouble (Dallas Cowboys Triplets), and 3 checklists. While not numerous, the inserts included in this product were certainly worth the hunt. Inserts consisted of Z Team (18 cards seeded 1:72), Rookie Rising (18 cards seeded 1:24), Noteworthy ’95 (18 cards seeded 1:12), and Artist’s Proof Parallel (150 cards seeded 1:23). When you open the box, the packs are presented in two columns of three tiered rows, which I assume made for a very nice hobby shop shelf display. As a side note of interest, this was Pinnacle’s second Zenith offering, which was intended to be a high-end off season product, which explains why it is a 1996 product but features 1995 rookies. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty pack breakdown:
Pack 1: Scott Mitchell (PP), Steve Bono, Ricky Watters, Terance Mathis, Tyrone Wheatley, and Edgar Bennett
Pack 2: Tony Martin, Yancy Thigpen, Kerry Collins (PP), Greg Hill, Garrison Hearst, and Dan Marino (CL)
Pack 3: Robert Brooks (PP) Terry Kirby, Derrick Alexander, EMMITT SMITH (CL), Erric Pegram, and Scott Mitchell
Pack 4: Brett Favre (PP), Drew Bledsoe, Erik Kramer, John Elway, Herman Moore, and Kordell Stewart (PP)
Pack 5: Dave Brown, Darney Scott, Terrell Fletcher, Eric Metcalf, Troy Aikman, and Rob Johnson (RC)
Pack 6: Michael Irvin (Z Team), James Stewart (RC), Adrian Murrell, Heath Shuler, Tony Boselli (RC), and Anthony Miller
Pack 7: Todd Collins (RC), Ken Norton Jr., Dan Marino, Trent Dilfer, Jeff George, and Rodney Thomas (PP)
Pack 8: Warren Moon, Steve Atwater, Jim Harbaugh, Herschel Walker, Steve McNair (RC), and Darick Holmes (Rookie Rising)
Pack 9: Herman Moore (PP), Brett Favre, Cris Carter, Jim Everett, Stan Humphries, and Kyle Brady (RC)
Pack 10: Wayne Chrebet (RC), Terry Allen, Andre Reed, Rodney Hampton, Jake Reed, and Rashaan Salaan (RC)
Pack 11: Michael Irvin, Chris Zerich, Frank Sanders (RC), Mario Bates, Jeff Hostetler, and Chris Sanders (RC)
Pack 12: J.J. Stokes (RC), Brent Jones, Mark Brunell, Kerry Collins (RC), Craig Heyward, and Charles Haley (Noteworthy ’95)
Pack 13: Eric Bjornson (RC), Marcus Allen, Tim Brown, Charlie Garner, Napoleon Kaufman (RC), and Robert Brooks
Pack 14: Jeff Blake (PP), Hugh Douglas (RC), Jeff Graham, Junior Seau, Jay Novacek, and James Stewart (RC)
Pack 15: Rodney Thomas (RC), William Floyd, Ben Coates, Lovell Pinkney (RC), Larry Centers, and Jerry Rice (CL)
Pack 16: Chad May (RC), Henry Ellard, Greg Lloyd, Carl Pickens, Carl Pickens (PP), and Reggie White
Pack 17: Tamarick Vanover (RC), Chris Warren, Lake Dawson, Barry Sanders, Rodney Peete, and Ricky Watters (PP)
Pack 18: Eric Zeier (RC), Daryl Johnston, Natrone Means, Bam Morris, Derrick Thomas, and Ken Dilger (RC)
Pack 19: Yancy Thigpen (PP), Jim Kelly, Neil O’Donnell, Deion Sanders, Troy Aikman/EMMITT SMITH/Michael Irvin (Triple Trouble), and Jerome Bettis
Pack 20: Stoney Case (RC), Steve Young, Marshall Faulk, Bert Emanuel, Bernie Parmlee, and Michael Westbrook (RC)
Pack 21: Terrell Davis (RC), Harvey Williams, Charles Haley, Brian Blades, Chris Miller, and Isaac Bruce (PP)
Pack 22: Kordell Stewart (RC), Errict Rhett, Quinn Early, Jerry Rice, Justin Armour, and Curtis Conway
Pack 23: Jeff Blake, EMMITT SMITH, Bill Brooks, Sherman Williams (RC), Curtis Martin (RC), and Bam Morris (Artist’s Proof)
Pack 24: Darick Holmes (RC), Brett Periman, Vincent Brisby, Joey Galloway, Isaac Bruce, and Troy Aikman (Noteworthy ’95)
FIRST AND GOAL’S FOUR DOWNS:
1st Down, Design: If Pinnacle was trying to create a high-end product in 1996 (essentially a 1995 product), I think they succeeded. Without the jersey, autograph sticker, or low serial number gimmicks, they managed to create a nice looking set. The design is crisp and clean and has a shiny-goodness to it. I would rather see a more complete photograph on a base card than the player cutouts we see here, but it does work fairly well for this set.
2nd Down, Inserts: This product did not have a long list of inserts, but the ones featured were fairly well done. The Z Team insert was pretty cool as the “Z” was opaque, but the rest of the card was slightly transparent. The Rookie Rising insert looks AMAZING in person! The card features incredible “etched metallic” technology and actually has a player photo and that metallic look on both sides. If not for the copyright info and card number, it would be tough to say which side was the front. The Noteworthy ’95 card was a bit of a let-down. It was very shiny and had two player photos, but the “Noteworthy ’95” background was a bit tacky.
3rd Down, Collation: With fewer inserts than a modern set, I expected to pull most of the base set. Since the set was 150 cards and I only got 144 cards, I knew I would fall a little short. I managed to pull no duplicates (Bam Morris parallel wasn’t the best, but technically not a double), which was really nice. I am missing 11 base cards, but given the above information, this is not a high number. The inserts fell exactly as predicted per the seeding, and I even managed to pull a Z Team, which should only have fell one per 3 boxes, so I was quite happy.
4th Down, Overall Value: I only paid $0.30 per card, so it’s tough to say that this product was a waste of money. The set is well designed and the inserts are beautiful (especially that Rookie Rising!). Unfortunately, there are no big time rookies in the set (Terrell Davis never panned out like we all thought he would), but there were many great super stars of that era, including Dan Marino, John Elway, Brett Favre, Barry Sanders, Jerry Rice, and of course Emmitt Smith. Like other products I’ve busted, if you are looking to bust a product purely to make a profit, this is not the product for you. However, if you enjoy flipping through some well designed cards featuring all those players you followed a decade ago, then this is a very good buy.
RED ZONE RESULTS: FIRST DOWN You may be asking yourself how that’s possible. Obviously the defense got caught cheating and 1996 Zenith was awarded a “half the distance to the goal, first down”. This product wasn’t the best I’ve ever busted and hindsight prevents me from getting excited about the young horses that would never really pan out, so it did not score any points. However, the near perfect collation and nice inserts (plus I was afforded the chance to pull 3 different Emmitt base cards), means that this product is still nicely positioned to get on the board. Given another four downs (a second box break), it just might be able to punch it into the endzone or at least walk away with a field goal.