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98-99 Michael Jordan Soul of the Game - an actual rainbow

The Soul of the Game insert set is a fascinating card - it gives you the opportunity to put together an actual rainbow even though there are no parallels.
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Parallel cards add an exciting aspect to collecting basketball cards - particularly when it comes to compiling and displaying that ‘rainbow’ you’ve been hunting. Pairing a base level card with it’s increasingly rare and valuable parallel cousins is a lot of fun and looks great.

A true ‘rainbow’ of parallel cards includes one of each - it might be base, silver, gold (as per the excellent 94-95 Collector’s Choice parallels) or base, PMG Red, PMG Green (as per the famous 97-98 Metal Universe parallels).

There are many variations of parallel cards - in fact giving us some of the nicest Michael Jordan cards ever made. Not only those I’ve mentioned above but other examples of excellent parallel cards include Refractors, Atomic Refractors, some Die-Cut cards, some gold cards and Rubies to name just a few.

You might be wondering what I’m on about - why are we discussing parallels when the article is about the 98-99 Soul of the Game insert?

Well, it’s the rainbow angle that fascinates me about the Soul of the Game set. As I mentioned, a complete set of parallels such as the 96-97 Metal base, PMG Red and PMG Green altogether is called a rainbow - take a look below to get an idea of the rainbow feel.

97-98 Michael Jordan PMG Rainbow
97-98 Michael Jordan PMG Rainbow

Soul of the Game rainbow

Oftentimes foil cards were printed using a four colour printing process over silver foil. This would let the designers dictate exactly how the card would look as a final product.

However, the 98-99 Soul of the Game cards were printed on existing rainbow coloured foil. The interesting part here is that the foil was not lined up in exactly the same manner for each sheet. This means that the cards could fall at different points within the rainbow foil giving us a unique set of variations.

Take a look here to see one set of the beautiful variations this has produced.

98-99 Michael Jordan Soul of the Game variations animation

Designer of the card Jean MacLeod mentions this in an Instagram post about the card.

Design of Soul of the Game insert for Premium set. What I find most interesting about this card is that you can have different versions depending on where the rainbow foil falls on your card. Sometimes we would print four color over a silver foil to get the color we wanted, but in this case we specked a rainbow foil. Sometimes the foil started in different areas of the card so the green might be at the top of another card, creating variations. Would have been nice to die-cut everything that is white around the letters but the budget was not cooperating.

So what we have here is a single card with no parallels however with true variations available. To top that off the variations are literally rainbow!

As an interesting aside, Jean mentions that this was originally intended to be die-cut which would have taken this already stunning card to the next level. It’s easy to see why the budget didn’t cooperate with that however given the intricacy that would have been involved to die-cut the card.

Soul of the Game variations

The colouration of the foil gives us the variations which run in the order of:

  • Purple
  • Blue
  • Teal
  • Green
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Red

I’ve seen examples of the Jordan card which start at each point of this colour scale and wrap around as necessary. So one copy may start with red and end with orange, another may start with green and end with teal.

Here’s an example card following this set of colours. This set is shown in the animation above.

98-99 Michael Jordan Soul of the Game variations set one (purple to red)
98-99 Michael Jordan Soul of the Game variations set one (purple to red)

Even more interesting is the fact that there are inverse cards available. There must have been copies printed on ‘upside down’ or mirrored rainbow foil. These run in the inverse of the above and wrap around as needed:

  • Purple
  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Teal
  • Blue
98-99 Michael Jordan Soul of the Game variations set two (purple to blue)
98-99 Michael Jordan Soul of the Game variations set two (purple to blue)

How many variations of the Soul of the Game are there?

Since the cards can theoretically start anywhere we’d have to generalise the colours to place a number on the variations available.

Given that there are seven colours - which are also available inverted - we can say that there are 14 variations available. It would take 14 cards to compile this true - non-parallel - rainbow!

Anecdotally, cards beginning with teal and orange seem less abundant. This would make sense given both of those colours are featured as a narrower part of the rainbow colouration as opposed to the remaining colours giving them less chance to appear at the top.

But wait there’s more

So I’ve said there’s 14 variations - actually it’s 15. There are copies available which are missing the rainbow foil which show through just the white backing. I’m not sure whether they were pack pulled or backdoored but there is at least one (albeit not denoted as missing foil) copy graded by BGS.

So while white isn’t part of the literal rainbow that is the 98-99 Soul of the Game we do know there is a 15th variation available. And while, teal and orange beginning cards seem less abundant it is the white card which is most rare.

98-99 Michael Jordan Soul of the Game missing rainbow foil
98-99 Michael Jordan Soul of the Game missing rainbow foil

Is this the first time a variable rainbow foil was used on a trading card?

This wasn’t the first time we saw this kind of variable rainbow effect applied to non-parallel cards.

Back in 94-95 Hoops Big Numbers cards featured a silver prism-like foil for the ‘big number’. Along with the silver is a variation using rainbow coloured foil which is variable in its colouration in the same manner as the 98-99 Soul of the Game set.

Soul of the Game rainbow collectors

I’m keen to hear from anyone who has embarked on the journey to put together this rainbow. Do any colours command higher valuations? Does anyone have a complete set of 14 to show off? Has anyone seen an uncut sheet of each set of variations?

Please do write in if you have a story to share.