Topps Stars was one of those products that, when it was first introduced in 1997, actually seemed to serve a purpose -- which is more than you can say for many of the other products that debuted in '97 (i.e. Pinnacle Inside, UD3, Donruss Preferred, Topps Screenplays). Topps Stars was what The Hobby needed in '97; a moderately priced, Hobby-only, collectible product. (Come to think about it, The Hobby could use a product like 1997 Topps Stars now.)
The problem was, Topps could keep well enough alone and in ensuing years meddled around with it. The 1998 version had every card (base set, parallel, and insert) serial numbered. When that didn't work, they came up with another gimmick for the '99 version.
The 1999 Topps Stars set was 180 cards -- 150 player cards with two subsets. Good enough, right? This is where it gets a little crazy, so bear with me.
There are four pseudo-parallel "Star" inserts; each progressively smaller and scarcer, with each photo cropped closer and closer as you move up the star scale. Then, there's a foil parallel that includes not only the base set, but also the Star cards. And as you would expect, the Foil Stars are also progressively scarce. Got all that? There will be a quiz later on.
Each six-card waxpack contained two base cards, two one-star and one two-star inserts, and either another base card, a foil parallel, a three or four-star insert or a non-star insert.
The backs of each base card lists the player's skills on a zero-to-four star scale.
Foil (1:15, numbered to 299): Ray Lankford
One Star (2:1): Scott Rolen, NOE-MAH!!!
Two Star (1:1): Brad Fullmer
The backs of each One Star card lists the player's career highlights, while the Two Star has a summary of his 1998 season.
Believe it or not, I need the Ray Durham base card for my complete set -- the first card I pulled so far that's actually on my wantlist. So I guess I am "better feeling." Just a bit though.