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Iconic Inserts: Skybox E-XL JAMBALAYA

Welcome back to Iconic Inserts, where we take a look at some of the most memorable inserts in the hobby. With the NBA wrapping up it’s regular season Sunday, what better time to take a look at one of the most iconic inserts in the basketball hobby: the JAMBALAYA SSP insert!

The iconic insert made its debut during the 1997-98 NBA Season, a year that would go down as a perfect storm for the hobby. An incredible draft classes & iconic superstars ensured the hobby was at full force when Skybox launched their innovative E-X2001 product. Inside that product? The VERY hard to pull & incredibly unique Jambalaya insert. Almost immediately the Jambalaya became one of THE cards to chase in the entire hobby during an exciting 97-98 season. The incredibly tough pull rate (1:720 packs) and STACKED checklist (feat. Kobe, Iverson, some guy named MJ & tons more) had collectors ripping as many packs as possible to find the new insert. 

But if you we’re lucky enough to have pulled one, you knew it instantly, as it’s impossible to miss a Jambalaya insert. Pairing an oval die-cut design with a colorful, “wavy” background and an incredibly unique lenticular-foil treatment, these cards almost JUMP off the page. Add in the signature Jambalaya script & a great action shot from the superstar depicted, and you’ve got a card that, to this day, is unlike anything else in the hobby. 

The original Jambalaya would only last one year, however Fleer/Upper Deck have brought the design back a few times over the years. And although they don’t hold near the same demand as the originals, the Jambalaya lives on to this day in UD’s Metal Universe line, and is still one of the most in-demand inserts of the year for Upper Deck. Throughout the years, other sports such as hockey, CFB and even Marvel have gotten their own Jambalaya insert lines as well. And as a testament to the original design, the iconic oval shape and lenticular foil remain with each release, the designs changing slightly, if at all. 2004 Fleer E-XL briefly abandoned the lenticular coating, but it was quickly added back by 2005 and remains to this day.

If you’re looking to find one of the originals in todays modern hobby world, expect to shell out some coin as they don’t go cheap. Ungraded “commons,” if you can even call them that, command well over $200 raw, with the key cards selling for astronomical figures. A Kobe (PSA 10) recently sold for $29.1k and an MJ (PSA 8) sold for a strong $19.7k!! Latter releases offer collectors a more reasonable price point, although many still command hundreds, even thousands, depending on player and grade. 

The Jambalaya insert truly changed the game during the 1997-98 season. Die-cut and Lenticular foil was all the rage, but Skybox used both in a unique and creative way that still to this day makes the cards pop unlike any other. There’s just something different about a Jambalaya. And when you hold one, you know. A magical moment in time and an innovative design team came together in 1997, crafting a truly iconic insert the hobby will forever remember. 


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