Back in the day, figuring out exactly how many cards a collector needed to finish off a set of sports cards was a piece of cake. That's because every product came with checklist cards that spelled out the number of cards in the set and who was on each card. It was a simple and effective system for a simpler hobby.
Today's collectors have a tougher task. While some products still include checklist card, many do not, and the explosion in the number of releases each year has made keeping track of everything a lot more difficult. The proliferation of insert sets and parallels has also complicated matters.
Fortunately, it's in the card companies' best interests to help collectors chase down every last card they need, and all of them have made some effort to publish set checklists on the internet. Listed below are the main checklist pages for each manufacturer, as well as a short summary of which sets you can expect to find.
The main Topps page has links to checklists and set information for the most recent ten sets across all sports with a picture for each to aid in their identification. Tabs at the top of the page lead to specific information for baseball, football, basketball and hockey.
On the right hand side of the page, a box marked 'Past Releases' leads to checklists for all of the sets Topps has online, covering products from the present back to about 1992. Further up on the right side is an 'Advanced Search' box that allows collectors to look up older cards from different Topps brands, a helpful feature for those hunting for cards for a specific player or year.
Upper Deck Checklists
From Upper Deck's central checklist page, users can use a drop-down box to head for the sport of their choice. Sets from the present back to 1998 are included, and many of the sets have images of most of the cards, which is a nice touch.
The site says sets from before 1998 are still being added, and the company doesn't seem to have made it further than 1997. Collectors looking for checklists from Upper Deck's early years may have to be patient.
Since Upper Deck owns the rights to the Fleer name and trademarks, it should come as no surprise that the Fleer website navigates in the exact same manner as the parent site. The downside is that only checklists from the 2005 purchase to the present time are posted here.
Donruss Playoff Checklists
The company that makes sports cards under the Donruss, Playoff, Leaf and Score brands has one of the easiest checklist pages to use. Drop-down boxes at the top of the page allow users to choose the year and brand they seek, and choices for both football and baseball (for certain years) appear in the boxes on the left.
Highlighting any set calls up its checklist, and the final top box can be used to call up specific insert sets if desired. The site hosts checklists back to 1999.
Press Pass Checklists
Press Pass has been printing racing cards since 1993 and also puts out popular football and basketball draft pick cards. The company website isn't always up to date, but it does have checklists for all of their sets.
The navigation box on the left-hand side of the main Press Pass page has all of the checklist information. Current sets have direct links, and archive links at the bottom of the box can be used to access sets from previous years.
In The Game Checklists
Serving hockey card collectors since 1998, In The Game has all of its checklists easily accessible from its 'Products' page. Sets from 2003-04 and earlier have a single checklist link; more recent products have links to the base set checklist and links to individual insert sets.