2023 Secret Lair Winter Superdrop | Ultra PRO International

Written by Sara Cate Galasso 

No generation is immune to nostalgia. We all feel that deep inner pull towards the familiar as we get older, for the sights and sounds and smells of our youth, from a time that always somehow felt perpetually simpler. Millennials in particular, however, seem to be specifically pulled in the direction of a forever-fleeting past harder than previous generations: having grown up in a transitional period of Before Internet and After, Millennials saw a tremendous amount of societal and technological growth in just a matter of years; Imagine going from a time when you could disappear for a full day with no human contact without causing major parental hysterics, to a time where you can’t go five minutes without updating everyone you’ve ever known about the detailed minutiae of your life in a digital, hourly play-by-play. It was a weird time to be in your most formative years. A lot of us never really got over that warp-speed change, having to adjust from a life that was pretty similar to the ones our parents lead, to something that was entirely new and unknown for everyone alive. 

The result seems to be a lot of misplaced wistfulness, misdirected into a longing for that “simpler time” we vaguely remember from just a decade before, a time of landline phone calls, book reports written using actual books, and a distinct lack of instant gratification that actually kinda made everything feel more gratifying. Most importantly, it was a time when the written word still reigned supreme. Sure, we had to learn to write in cursive, because “all your reports in high school and college will require it”—-the weirdest lie we were ever told— and Mavis Beacon did her best to teach us to type on a computer keyboard, but the written word was still the norm. That also meant that binders and folders were an essential school supply, necessary to hold all your written words in one place, and more importantly, to show off your chosen identity. Sports teams, comic book characters, those weird portraits of sleeping babies wearing fruit costumes…nothing was off-limits. If someone wanted to know what your 3rd grade self was really all about, they needed only to gaze upon your school binder, the vessel that contained not only your most recent spelling test, but your very soul. And to be quite, well, frank, nobody captured the soul of a child quite like one particular artist whose colorful, animal-themed artwork graced the school supplies of many a ten year old in 1995. You know who I’m talking about: those explosively vivid rainbow colors that bordered on psychedelic; the disparate animals that sometimes wore clothes and walked upright and sometimes didn’t; the round and friendly faces that lived inside of a liminal, heaven-like space where dolphins and horses could tread together upon the same magical sun-drenched terrain …who could resist such a euphoric land of kittens and unicorns and rabbits that had careers as prima-ballerinas for some reason?! I know I couldn’t. Even if you didn’t grow up with those familiar and flamboyant depictions of ponies and puppies drinking milkshakes surrounded by bubbles and rainbows, you can probably still appreciate something that’s so earnestly bright and cheerful. They’re all just so dang cute! And while the world we live in now feels sometimes even more divorced from the distant times in which we grew up, there’s always nostalgia to act as the salve for our cracking, weather-hardened souls. No matter how hopeless things can feel, the image of a bear in a purple sequined magician’s costume surely can keep us going another day. 

Wanna know what makes nostalgia even better? Pairing it with your favorite hobbies. If you loved the colorful school supplies of your childhood, imagine applying that same vivid and playful aesthetic to your Magic: The Gathering accessories! No need to have a cow, it’s as radical as it sounds. If you’re ready to bring your Nineties Kid Cred to a whole new level of awesome, then you need the 90’s Binder Experience: five new playmats to pair with your exclusive, rainbow-tastic Secret Lair cards! 

These eye-catching playmats bring a fun new element to your favorite tabletop game, full of cute characters that will instantly transport you back to your grammar school days (—but only the good parts, don’t worry; there are no dropped ice cream cones or loudmouth bullies inside the 90’s Binder Experience.) Only adorable, brightly-colored creatures adorn these playmats, like the fluffy white kitty lying leisurely atop a pile of sparkling treasures and gold coins, a far cry from the somewhat intimidating cat cleric from the “Alms Collector” card. You may have loved the sheer terror radiating from the original “Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma”, but the 90’s Secret Lair Goreclaw is anything but: a slumbering mama bear napping peacefully on top of the moon floating in a magical cupcake galaxy, surrounded by her three charming bear cubs. Dare we say, it might actually be too cute? No way. The 90’s Binder Experience contains just the right amount of awwwwww, whether you love galloping, beach-side rainbow ponies, lands transformed into candy-filled fields of deliciousness, or that always appealing “puppy-and-kitten-BFFs” scenario. They’re all filled to the brim with cutesy nineties nostalgia, just the thing we could all use when the adult world forced upon us feels so hard to face sometimes. Pick your favorite, or collect them all! Long live the 1990’s, and the colorful school supplies of our youth!

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