My Pinnacle: Zenith Collection (Updated December 24th, 2021)
In 1995, Pinnacle introduced us to their newest brainchild, "Pinnacle: Zenith". To me, the "Zenith" brand was nothing more than a packaging set for some really nice insert cards. The first release of the "Pinnacle: Zenith" title was a mere 150-card set that left much to be desired, (See the 1995 Pinnacle Zenith: "Adrian Murrell" #13 left). I didn't like the front-side layout at all and even the backside left something to be desired. The backside stats were different, but bad, nonetheless. However, what I did like about the "Zenith" title were the insert sets.
I've said numerous times on this site that I don't like player images pasted onto crazy backgrounds. However, I did like the "Zenith: Z-Team" insert set. I thought it looked really cool, (See the 1995 Pinnacle Zenith: "Chris Warren" #18 right). I guess I liked the 3D Dufex printing technology that Pinnacle used. Pinnacle also used this printing technology on the "Rookie Roll Call", (See the 1995 Pinnacle Zenith: "Lake Dawson" Rookie Roll Call #14 below left). Both of these insert sets were really cool. If it wasn't for such a waste of a base set, this set might've been one of my all-time favorite "Master" sets and that is without any memorabilia or autograph sets.
1995 Pinnacle Zenth: “Adrian Murrell” #13
1995 Pinnacle Zenith: “Chris Warren” Z Team #18
1996 Pinnacle Zenith: “Larry Centers" #47
1996 Pinnacle Zenith: “Herman Moore" Noteworthy '95 #6
In '96, the "Pinnacle: Zenith" title returned for a second season. And they continued their poor set size too. The 150-card set must've satisfied the Pinnacle brass because they continued that for a 2nd go-around. And just like the '95 set, this one didn't impress me much either, (See the 1996 Pinnacle Zenith: "Larry Centers" #47 right). At this point, I'd like to point out that maybe the card didn't impress me too much, but the player on the card did. Larry Centers still holds to this day the career receptions by a running back and it's not even close. Larry ranks #28 on the all-time list with 827 receptions and the closest active player is Darren Sproles at #113 It's safe to say, Larry Centers is going to own that record for a long time.
The 1996 title was another pretty sweet release by Pinnacle when it comes to its insert sets. The insert sets are what saved this title, in my opinion. The "Rookie Rising" set, which was the "Rookie Roll Call" replacement was a very nice set itself, (See the 1996 Pinnacle Zenith: "Frank Sanders" Rookie Rising #18 below right). I still liked that 3D Dufex printing, and every set that they used it on just looked cool to me. Another thing I will say about this set is that I had trouble figuring out which side was the front and which side was the back. Both sides could have been the front side. Kind of unique.
1995 Pinnacle Zenith: “Lake Dawson” Rookie Roll Call #14
Another cool insert set from the 1996 "Pinnacle: Zenith" release was the very common "Noteworthy '95" set. This is the one insert set from this release that you can always find online for sale, (See the 1996 Pinnacle Zenith: "Herman Moore" Noteworthy '95 #6 left). This set had a very nice select group of players reaching milestones so it is a nice set to have. It's also hard to believe that in 1995 Herman Moore set the receptions mark at 123 and now it's 20 receptions higher. And I thought 123 was going to stand for a while.
1996 Pinnacle Zenith: “Frank Sanders” Rookie Rising #18
The 1997 "Pinnacle: Zenith" had the same type of feel to it that the other two had. It looked very similair, the set size was the same paltry 150 cards and it had the same # of insert sets too. The design of this set was unique, but for some reason, I just didn't like it, (See the 1997 Pinnacle Zenith: “Herman Moore" #45 below right). However, as I said earlier, the insert sets were awesome. Even though the 1997 "Rookie Rising" set doesn't scan well, (See the 1997 Pinnacle Zenith: “Jerris McPhail" Rookie Rising #23 below left), the set is still very nice. Again, that 3D Dufex printing saved the day. The other insert sets included in this release are still extremely hard to get at a low price. Both the "V2" and the "Z-Team" insert sets still book at or over $200 apiece. I'd say, Pinnacle did well with those two sets.
1997 Pinnacle Zenith: “Jerris McPhail” Rookie Rising #23
In 1998, just before the new sets were to be released, the Pinnacle brands company was forced to declare bankruptcy. However, some of their promos made it to dealers early in '98, and then some of them made it to the hobby through secondary markets after Pinnacle closed their doors. This lead to some very interesting collections. Collections that included cards that were never released to the public, (See the 1998 Pinnacle Zenith: "Steve Young" Dare to Tear #Z35 below right). So for those of us that put "Master" sets together, these unreleased promos!
In closing, the "Pinnacle: Zenith" title was a solid collectible for 3 years. Even though I didn't care for the base sets, the insert sets were extremely cool and were definitely a positive for any collection. Again, If you're brand new to the hobby and you're looking to get into some older sets, maybe something from the mid-90s, you should definitely consider the "Pinnacle: Zenith" title.
I have complete sets:
Pinnacle Zenith Series:
1) 1995 Zenith Set
A) Z-Team Insert
B) Second Season Insert
C) Rookie Roll-Call Insert
2) 1996 Zenith Set
A) Z-Team Insert
B) Noteworthy '95 Insert
C) Rookie Rising Insert
3) 1997 Zenith Set
A) Rookie Rising Insert
B) V2 Insert
4) 1998 Zenith Set - Does Not Exist
A) Dare to Tear Insert - Incomplete ( 6 / 9 )
1997 Pinnacle Zenith: ”Herman Moore” #45
1998 Pinnacle Zenith: ”Steve Young” Dare to Tear Promo #Z35*
*Note: I do not own this card. This is one of the 4, I currently do not own.