I figured I'd throw some football in the mix. These are household names and they rank among the best to play the game. My review is product design focused, however. I picked up this pair last year on separate deals. I'm a huge fan of E-X. It was such a dynamic release and when it hit shelves back in 1997, I was pretty stoked. I can remember thinking that this product was pricey and well out of my range. However, I knew that it was a quality product and hoped to someday snag a 1997 E-X2000 Essential Credentials card. These EC cards are still very tough to locate in today's market, I almost never see these. This Smith was the first one I've ever seen offered in any in-person market. I get the impression that there are still a lot of these cards in unopened boxes. Thing is, I've never seen an unopened box of this stuff, at least not since '97. I just love the framed border and the clear background image. It's that starlight sparkle effect that gets me every time. It's a total product of the '90 but so what, it sure beats that hell out of 99% of designs that are released today.
The following year, E-X released another installment of the Essential Credentials this time with two sets, Future and Now. The two 1998 E-X2001 Essential Credentials sets were an exceptional follow up. Depicted is the Now variety, which features an incredible combination of green holo-foil and translucent fluorescent green Lucite. The Future variety includes pink holo-foil and translucent fluorescent pink Lucite. If you haven't already seen it, it'll blow your mind when you do! I'm biased toward this product if you can't already tell. What happened to these amazing product designs? What happened to die-cut plastic and florescent colors? A part of me almost likes it better this way though. Psychologically, the less I see of it, the more it appeals to me, which I think is normal for any human being.
If you're in the market for these guys, try eBay and/or just keep digging through boxes at shows and shops. Be prepared to spend some dough though, Essential Credentials usually aren't cheap and rightly so, they're extraordinarily scarce. However, if you can swing it financially, they sure make impressive additions to your collection. Just sayin'.