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Et tu, 1989 Fleer?

Set-collecting is a challenge and my theory is there are so few set collectors these days because nobody has the attention span for it anymore.

Well, that, and they don't have the money for it anymore, I guess. But there are many collectors who don't see the point of accumulating cards of Brad Miller and Marcus Semien, Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A's, when they can just buy cards of their five favorite players over and over again.

Set-collecting takes commitment, persistence, cash and the mind-set that every player is valuable no matter what team he plays for or how well-known he is. In short, it's not easy to do. Or, as they say, everyone would be doing it.

I have the most fun set-collecting, even though it can be tough. It gets tougher and tougher all the time, which is why I thought I'd have an easy time of trying to complete the 1989 Fleer set.

The '89 Fleer set arrived during a time when cards were plentiful and the cards from that era continue to be as plentiful as ever (see tomorrow's post for another example). Also, the scourge of 1990s collation hadn't arrived yet so you can avoid accumulating mass duplicates with sets like '89 Fleer.

So, when Johnny's Trading Spot sent me a 36-pack box of 1989 Fleer, which totals to 540 cards, I figured I'd finish off this set in a breeze. There are 660 cards in the set, there were no duplicates in the 36-pack box (hey, there's a concept for ya, modern-day Topps), so all I needed was to blend the 250 or so 1989 Fleer cards already in my collection with those 540 cards and I should be on my way to a complete set in no time!

Not so fast.

I've finally arrived at the final totals and I need only .... 80 cards!?!?!?!?!?! ... to complete the set.


I had hoped that I'd need maybe 25 or 30 when the counting was done. But with the 536 cards from the box (4 of the cards were inserts, so they don't count), it means that I had just 44 cards already in my collection that didn't duplicate the cards in the box. 1989 Fleer isn't any easier to complete than any other set!!!

Well, not as easy as I thought it would be anyway.

This kind of sucks because as I mentioned before I never intended to complete 1989 Fleer. I've never been much of a fan. The thought of attempting to buy the 80 cards that I'm missing is ridiculous to me. I'm sure there's a complete 1989 Fleer set listed online for 40 cents right now.

So, (*hangs head in shame*), these are the cards that I don't have:

20, 23, 30, 31, 35, 50, 76, 92, 97, 101, 111, 117, 125, 130, 139, 152, 157, 162, 178, 188, 195, 210, 215, 216, 224, 230, 233, 234, 244, 248, 266, 269, 277, 288, 303, 306, 324, 331, 334, 341, 348, 352, 353, 379, 385, 387, 389, 402, 403, 428, 434, 442, 448, 460, 466, 475, 487, 493, 499, 500, 516, 519, 527, 530, 540, 546, 552, 553, 568, 571, 579, 588, 620, 626, 638, 645, 647, 655, 656

That's probably the only place where I will list a 1989 Fleer want list. It's not going on my main want list page -- all the other want lists will laugh at it.

So, now that I've come to the end of my dealings with that '89 Fleer box, here are the other items from it:

Those are the box-bottom cards. It's good to get the Kirk Gibson card, even though I have it already. The whole bottom is quite Mets-heavy.

Here are the stickers, someone on the last 1989 Fleer post got all upset because I didn't show the stickers.

I also saved a few wrappers that advertised different collector items: "Fleer's official sports card collectors sheets, an "official Fleer baseball card team set album," or an "official Fleer card collectors album." Everything was very official.

Johnny also sent several packs of nonsports cards, including one pack of the Pro Set MusiCards, a set I'm trying to complete.

This was the only card I needed in the pack. It came out of the pack kind of beat up. This is what happened when cards stopped being issued in wax packs.

These are the other nonsports packs. I don't really know what to do with them as none are anything I know or collect:

Anybody's welcome to them. I suppose I could show some on A Pack To Be Named Later.

Johnny also sent a bunch of cards of something I do collect -- Dodgers!!!! I'm still sifting through those and they'll get their own post.

Also, here's one last shot of what I have from the 1989 Fleer set:

All of that -- including the Billy Ripken F-face, the Randy Johnson variation and a few other variations -- and still 80 cards short.

Set-collecting. It ain't easy.


Nick Vossbrink said…
I'm the kind of set collector who runs the "how many duplicates should I expect" math before getting my hopes up with a random batch of cards. So 540÷660×250 means I'd expect ~205 duplicates out of that random batch of ~250 and yeah there's a reason I never expect to finish my sets with random batches of cards…
Old Cards said…
Not a set collector, because you have to collect those crappy team cards (a bunch of tiny figures with unrecognizable faces), multiple player cards (especially rookies), leader cards, world series cards, etc. Wouldn't mind collecting no-name player cards to complete a set. Best of luck to you on completing the 1989 Fleer.
David said…
I appreciate the title of this post. Nice work. I'll see if I can fill any of your '89 Fleer needs.
Bo said…
When you let me know what '67s and '70s you need (not rushing you) I can take care of most of these too.
While I will freely admit that my attention span has gone to hell in a handbasket over the past 5-10 years, the biggest factor in why I largely stopped completing sets is this: Set building is much more of a "chase" when much of it is done at shows or card shops, and I just don't have those local resources anymore. I've finished sets by finding THAT ONE CARD at a show, I've finished sets by clicking "Buy Now", and there's no question about which is more satisfying.
Alan Deakins said…
-I received three boxes of 1989 Fleer several years ago.....was still short maybe about 15 cards....ended up finishing set up via Beckett and COMC with all the error cards etc....I never looked at it from a cost to loss/investment ratio...I did it for fun..I received all the big cards including the Billy Ripken Rick Face card from the wax boxes. I had an Rick Face card in 1989-90 era, but unfortunately it was confiscated at school. Vulgarity is not acceptable. I showed it off and got in trouble. Parents contacted by assistant principal etc.....It is by far my favorite card of the era....
Mark Hoyle said…
I think the complete set can be had for about $12.00 shipped.
Zippy Zappy said…
Zippy Zappy said…
Which is to say, please save that Codename Kids Next Door booster pack and the Desert Storm (and maybe one of the Terminator 2 packs) if you don't have any other home for them.
Looks like you have a place to sends those unwanted packs. Once you wrap up the Dodgers post, you'll have pulled 3 or 4 posts out of "that box", plus the FU card. Well worth it.
Brett Alan said…
When I came back to the hobby in 2016, I bought a couple of blasters of Opening Day (best deal for using those coupons from Marketside Pizza!), and I thought I'd try to finish the set. What I found was the being a set collector doesn't really work anymore, especially for lower end stuff like that. First off, you get to the point where you know that any additional packs/boxes you buy might turn out to be almost all duplicates, given the way collation goes. And then what? As it turns out, the commons for such sets are of such little interest that you just can't find them at shows--I've added a few more to my set build, but I rarely see them. Yes, I could buy online or try to trade, but I'd end up paying a lot more than it's worth for shipping. If I could find low-end collectors near me (northern NJ) who want to get together in person and trade, it might be worth it...I could do that when I was a young collector in school, but it's not exactly easy to find other collectors around me, let alone those collecting similar things.

I'm pretty close to finishing my 1980 Topps set, and I might consider trying to complete another set from that era at some point. But for current product, the hobby just isn't set up for set collectors anymore, for better or for worse. At least from where I sit--do others have a different experience?
Fuji said…
Lol. Love how you take a shot at my beloved A's. You're 100% right though. I'd much rather spend my hard earned money on singles. But there's a time and a place for set building. When Johnny sent me two free boxes of 1991 Fleer, I considered building the set. Unfortunately collation was terrible and there is no way I'm going to go out and buy one or two more boxes to finish it off. Not when I can probably find a complete set for $5 at the flea market.
BaseSetCalling said…
Try COMC to fill out set needs. You can purchase a whole bunch of common cards and have them all shipped together. You can also sell all those random cards of star players that you don’t collect, from sets you are not completing.

Set collecting is challenging. Time is the enemy of grown-ups.
Defenders50 said…
As someone whose last order on Sportslots got me one card away from completing the 2015 Stadium Club set (The Kris Bryant RC- which I may take my good sweet time on), this post strikes home. For starters, 2015 SC was too old to do any box blasting on, so it was mostly acquired via 1) scrounging the quarter boxes at the LCS and 2) Sportslots orders. Finding cards via #1 was definitely more exciting than #2, and given my budget constraints by the time I had made 6-7 purchases from Sportslots throughout the year, the entire set is going to cost probably close to twice what it would have cost to just purchase the set from Larry Fritsch at the outset (had I known about that company back then).

It's an interesting quandary. I'd like to complete the 2018 flagship set at some point too, and I feel like I've made a decent start just by picking up random cards here or there (probably about 100-150 or so). But I know deep down I'm nowhere close to completing it, and it will probably be so much cheaper just to find the set on eBay. Pretty much the only way set collecting makes sense financially to me is as the set is released so you can scoop up on the cheap what hit seekers are discarding.
AdamE said…
Try Sportslots for your commons. But don't just search for cards you need. Instead go to Preferred Sellers select a seller with allot of cards in inventory and then search your cards. This way you get all in one shipping. You might have to look at a few different sellers until you find one that has the set(s) you are looking for but it will be worth it in the end.
Jafronius said…
I'd like to consider myself to be a set collector, but have yet to complete a set. Money appears to be more of a factor than attention span, besides....WHOA, A 1994 STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION COLLECTIBLE CARD GAME BOOSTER PACK!!! I spent a whole lot of money on those cards back in the mid-90's, seriously putting a massive dent in my baseball and basketball card collecting. Hmm, I was gonna comment about set collecting, but I can't remember now...
GCA said…
Guess ya gotta be like me and have no life (or major cash drains) otherwise and a network of set building traders to swap with for the current ones at the very least.
Bru said…
Fuji, if you really want to finish it I can probably get you there. I “inherited” about 65% of the set in a collection I picked up.
Bru said…
Well, as you can see I’m terribly behind here. But I have to ask if anybody has attacked that want list. I can cross check with what I’ve got here and see what help I can send.
Fuji said…
Thanks for the offer Bru. But it's not worth the money you'd spend on shipping. I've already broken it up and sent singles to fellow collectors already.

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