My Favorite Master Sets
My Top 10 List (Updated April 15th, 2021)
This page lists my favorite Master sets. Some collector's, like myself, still put sets together. But this page is for those of us who spend the time, effort and money putting "Master" sets together.
Master sets are sets that include the base set, short-printed rookies cards, (if there are any), insert sets including autograph sets, memorabilia sets and parallel sets. I would even say a "Master Set" would include any error cards that you can find.
In my opinion, A "Master" set has everything you can ask for, 1) A good sized base set with Rookies and Veterans. 2) A few insert sets that aren't autograph or memorabilia sets. 3) An autograph set or two. 4) A memorabilia set or 2. 5) And maybe a memorabilia / autograph set.
So, if a "Master" set has all of the above then it probably finds itself on this list. Tell me if you agree with my list.
The sets listed below are my favorite Master Sets. (Note: The "Master" sets below DO NOT have to be complete to make this list.)
1) 2001 Leaf: Quantum Leaf - Not only does this set have everything; Close to a 300 card set, 20 insert sets, (I said, 20!), You can start to see how some of these sets take a long time to put together. Twenty sets will eat up a lot of time. And that 20 includes memorabilia sets, autograph sets, and memorabilia / autograph parallels. But the cards are fantastic!! They are sleek, original and, in my opinion, highly collectable.
2001 Quantum Leaf: “Fred Taylor” Gamers #G5
2001 Quantum Leaf: “Shaun King” Shirt off my Back #SB7
2001 Quantum Leaf: “Warren Sapp” #HW-28
2) 2001 Playoff: Absolute - Now this set doesn't have the biggest base set, its only 185 cards, but the memorabilia sets were some of the best I've seen. I just loved the Boss/Ground Hogg set and the Tools of the Trade set. The Tools of the Trade set had Jersey, Pants, Face Mask and Glove cards in it. The Leather & Laces set had cards with just Leather and then a parallel set with Leather & Laces. The only thing this set was missing was a plain insert set, but I forgive them.
2001 Playoff Absolute: “Daunte Culpepper” Boss Hoggs #GH15
2001 Playoff Absolute: “Steve McNair” Tools of the Trade #TT17
2001 Playoff Absolute: “Jake Plummer” Leather & Laces #LL14
3) 2000 Leaf: Rookies & Stars - I really loved this set. As a matter of fact, I like all the Rookies & Stars sets. I just can't stand the name. The 2000 set has it all though; a 320 card base / rookie set, 6 insert sets, an autograph insert set and 4 memorabilia insert sets. One of those four being a memorabilia / autograph parallel of the Joe Montana collection. Talk about a high-end set, this is it!! The 2000 Leaf: Rookies & Stars "Master" set as it all and should be a fine addition to any collection.
2000 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Jamal Lewis” Freshman Orientation #FO-2
2000 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Joe Montana” Joe Montana Collection #MC-4
2000 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Terrell Davis” Dress 4 Success #D4S-9C
4) 2001 Leaf: Rookies & Stars - I follow the 2000 set with the 2001 issue. The 2001 set was another solid release; with a 300 card base / rookie set, a rookie autograph insert set and a whopping 12 memorabilia insert sets. This will keep the collector working over-time to collect all this. All the memorabilia sets are well designed and unique. Speaking of unique, take the 2001 Leaf Rookies & Stars Cross Training memorabilia set, this might be the only memorabilia set worn by 2 NFL players. The back of each card shows the rookie in question wearing an authentic NFL Game Worn jersey worn by the veteran on front. Talk about unique.
2001 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Kurt Warner” Player's Collection #PC-15
2001 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Gerard Warren” Cross Training #CT-6
2001 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Rams” Triple Threads #TT-6
5) 2001 Donruss: Classics - The 2001 Donruss Classics base set is another small set, by my standards. Its only 200 cards, but the 9 insert sets which are all autograph, memorabilia or both were a real treat to collect. This is another great "Master" set to put together.
2001 Donruss Classic: “Warren Moon” Team Colors #TC25
2001 Donruss Classics: “Corey Dillon” Stadium Stars #SS22
2001 Donruss Classics: “Edgerrin James” Hashmarks #HM12
6) 2001 Upper Deck Top Tier - The One-Hit Wonder Top Tier release back in '01 had a nice number of cards at 280, but 100 of them were Rookie cards. It has a very nice group of 5 insert sets, all of which are memorabilia sets. From the Top Tier Rookie Duos to the Home & Away Jerseys the Top Tier release was a very nice "Master" set to put together. Which, I might add, I am one card away from completing. I have never been able to find the Home & Away Jersey of Kevan Barlow.
2001 Upper Deck Top Tier: “Drew Brees / LaDainian Tomlinson” Rookie Duos #RD-BT
2001 Upper Deck Top Tier: “Ken Lucas” #279
2001 Upper Deck Top Tier: “Reggie Wayne” Home & Away #HA-RW
7) 2001 UD Game Gear - The 2001 UD Game Gear set was another one from Upper Deck that excelled at giving the collector nothing but autograph and memorabilia cards as insert sets. I don't have a problem with that, but what kept the 2001 Game Gear Master set from being ranked higher was the 110 base / rookie card set. That needs to be bigger to be ranked higher. But outside of that small set, this "Master" set has helmets, autographs and Jersey cards. It's not missing much else.
2001 UD Game Gear: “Kurt Warner” Game Gear Helmets #KW-H
2001 UD Game Gear: “Terrell Davis” Autographs #TD-GS Unlisted
2001 UD Game Gear: “Dan Marino” Game Gear Uniforms #DM-U
8) 2000 Fleer: Tradition - Now when I say, the 2000 Fleer Tradition set is for everyone, it truly does have something for everyone. The base set is a solid 400 cards, it has 9 total insert sets, 4 of which are truly insert sets that are not autographs or memorabilia. It has a huge 160-card autograph set, (thirteen of those, I am still trying to find. I don't think they exist), and it has 4 unique memorabilia sets. Truly a "Master" set for everyone.
2000 Fleer Tradition: “Peter Warrick” Patchworks Unlisted*
2000 Fleer Tradition: “Darren Chaverini” Genuine Coverage #Unlisted
2000 Fleer Tradition: “Jimmy Smith” Autographics #137
*Note: The Peter Warrick card is one of the rare cards on this site that I actually do not own. I lost this auction. The card was too sweet NOT to post. All scans that you see are of cards that I own. If not, I will always include a disclaimer.
9) 2000 Upper Deck: Gold Reserve - Over the last year or two as I've gotten more into putting this "Master" set together, I've really started to like this set. It's got a not-so-stellar 225 card base / rookie set, but the base cards themselves are very sharp. A nice group of 7 insert sets accompany the base set. One of those being a very cool Rookie Face Masks memorabilia insert set. An Autograph insert set rounds out the "Master" set. There is also a parallel autograph insert set #'d to /25. But what I really like about this parallel auto set is that the pictures on the front are different from the regular issue. A really classic "Master" set that gives the collector everything they need, despite the small base set.
2000 Upper Deck Gold Reserve: “Plaxico Burress” Facemasks #FM-PB
2000 Upper Deck Gold Reserve: “Mo Lewis" #110
2000 Upper Deck Gold Reserve: “Joe Hamilton” UD Authentics #JH (Unlisted)
10) 1999 Leaf: Rookies & Stars - It's safe to say, I think very highly of the "Leaf: Rookies & Stars" title. The "Rookies & Stars" title owns 3 of the 10 spots on this list. If I could change one thing about this title, it would be the name. I can't stand the name of this title, it basically says, if you're not a Rookie or a Star, you won't be in this set. Sorry Jeff Christy, but you have zero chance of making it in this title. With that being said, this title is missing nothing else.
1999 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Fred Taylor” Prime Cuts #PC2
1999 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Joey Galloway” Game Plan #GP13
1999 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Keyshawn Johnson / Herman Moore” Dress 4 Success #DFS-30