When I opened a box of 1989 Fleer last fall, people assumed I would pull duplicates from the box, discussing the different variations of the Billy Ripken card that might come out, etc.
But I knew I wouldn't pull any duplicates because boxes of cards didn't operate like that in the '80s. A few days ago I found myself watching a box break of 1992 Bowman, just because I still need some of the Dodgers from that set, and the duplicates that came out made me think of how much the '90s ruined collectors' ideas about collation. Not even four years after '89 Fleer produced no duplicates in 36 packs, box breaks were a disaster of pulling four Jeff Juden cards in a matter of minutes.
I don't really do box breaks anymore, mostly because of the price but also because there's no chance of getting close to a complete set. Even 7 or 8 years ago when I was opening boxes of Allen & Ginter, which actually didn't yield any duplicates, I'd still finish and think to myself, "I've still got a third of the set to go!"
No, the pay out often isn't worth it if you're not going to get a complete set, or at least near one.
That's why I enjoyed opening the above little box so much. It was sent to me by reader Alan as kind of a throw-in contained inside an enormous box of items that you'll see some day soon (it's taking me forever to get it scanned). I've never opened one of these 1980s Fleer boxed sets, although I've seen plenty of the cards in my time.
Alan sent three different Fleer boxes. I decided to feature this one because I like the 1987 Record Setters design. It's simple and does well showcasing the player.
As you can see on the box, it's an "Eckerd exclusive." Yes, I remember Eckerd's. I've purchased cards at Eckerd's. It's distressing how many places that sold cards have disappeared, while a whole mess of places that don't sell cards still exist.
But anyway, this box contains six logo stickers and 44 trading cards. There are only 44 trading cards in the set. Hot dog! What more could you ask?
Let's see them:
OK, we'll start with the six stickers. Quite a random assortment. I have so many of these Fleer things, I need to find some place suitable for sticking.
Those are the first nine cards out of the box. It's interesting how they come out of the box. They aren't in alphabetical order or ordered by number on the back (The set actually is numbered according to alphabetical order of the player). I'm already enjoying all the different looks of familiar players.
The set recognizes "baseball's record setters," but there's nothing on the back stating what record the player has set. It simply shows the player's career stats, which can be found on the regular Fleer cards, too.
To me, a 44-card set is a perfect sampling of major league players of the day. It's kind of like the Kellogg's sets of the 1970s. Kellogg's capped its sets at under 60 cards, but that didn't prevent it from putting players like Bill Almon or Jeff Burroughs in the set. And that's how it should be -- I see enough of Wade Boggs and Tony Gwynn, give me a Bill Gullickson card! A Gene Garber card!
Everything you need here -- Fleer's wacky poses, strange cropping and the very good players of the day. However, I do love how Fleer zoomed out on some of these images, such as on Joe Orsulak and Ozzie Guillen.
And, just like that the box break is finished and the set is COMPLETE.
You can't beat that. Sure, it's a tiny, tiny box break, but when you're done, there is still the satisfaction of completing a set.
And that is my kind of box break.