Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Biggest bust/improvement: Fleer

I'm pretty sure I've neglected close to a dozen regular features on this blog. I always seem to have lots of ideas. But if it can't be completed in a day, then my forgetful self takes over and you can kiss that concept adios.

So, anytime I unearth a feature from my brain, or -- duh, take a look at my own sidebar once in awhile -- it's a time to celebrate. I'm following through on an idea. Yay, me!

So here's a regular feature that I didn't forget.

I've charted the biggest year-to-year improvements and busts for Topps, Upper Deck and Donruss. It's now Fleer's turn.

Fleer is an interesting creature. It's kind of the lovable loser of card companies. In MLB terms, it's maybe not as inept as the Cubs, but probably more like the Mets. It has produced sporadic spectacular, memorable years, a lot of "oh lord, bless you for trying" years, and some downright "get thee to rehab" years.

My personal favorites are 1984 and 1994 Fleer. I also have affection for 1982 Fleer although it's flawed in 25 different directions. And I've always enjoyed 1987 and 1988 Fleer. My least favorite are probably 1989 and 1990 as they couldn't be more boring. And every collector worth his or her blogging badge has already weighed in on 1991 and 1995 Fleer.

I'd like you to give your Fleer thoughts in the comments. I'm looking for the biggest year-to-year improvement in Fleer and the biggest year-to-year collapse. So, in the comments you can say, "biggest bust: 1994 to 1995" (I'm sure that will appear a lot) and "biggest improvement: "1993 to 1994."

Once I receive enough comments, I'll put up a poll and that will decide the final results.

As for which Fleer years are eligible, that's kind of tricky. Older collectors will remember Fleer appearing in the late '50s/early '60s. But that's too long ago and too short a period for me. I am limiting the years to consider from Fleer's return, in 1981, through 1997. After that Fleer flaked out with Tradition and Brillants and Focus and Platinum and Genuine, etc., etc. It's too difficult to determine one primary base set.

Finally, here is a look at every Fleer base card from 1981-97 for your convenience:


















That is your Fleer retrospective.

Please take a moment to acknowledge that I actually remembered to continue this series and leave your opinions in the comments.

I promise, it will be less annoying than watching the World Series tonight.


  1. I like the 1983-85 run and I also liked 1996. What was going on in 1995? Yikes.

  2. Biggest Bust 94-95
    Biggest Improvement 83-84

    My favorite set is still 82, but I have no evidence as to why that should be true.

  3. Biggest bust 88-89
    Biggest improvement 95-96

    I absolutely love that Fleer tried something new with the 1996 set, even if it wasn't perfect. Of course after 1995, anything would have been a major improvement.

  4. I always wanted to meet the guy that took the pictures for the '82 set and see what was wrong with his eyes. They were all out of focus.

  5. Hmmmmm... how did Fleer last so long? Pretty awful until 1996 and the card backs were frustratingly boring and busy.

  6. Biggest improvement: 1983-84
    Biggest bust: 1982-1983

    I'm not trying to hate on '83, but it was sandwiched right in between a couple of my favorites from Fleer. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but I actually like '95 Fleer.

    P.S. -- Will the "Cubs are inept" jokes ever end?

  7. I'm sorely tempted to have 1995 on the wrong end of both questions, but I'll restrict it to one...

    Biggest Improvement: 1995 > 1996
    Biggest Bust: 1987 > 1988 (I also thought about 1988 > 1989)

  8. Biggest improvement 82-83
    Biggest bust 94-95

    83 & 94 Fleet are two of my favourite Fleet sets.

  9. I'm going to go with 82 to 83 as biggest improvement and 94-95 as biggest bust. This past summer I had Joe Ausaino sign a 95 Fleer and he looked at it and said "what were they thinking?" I'll always give them points for trying something new with that set, though. My favorites are 88 and 97, but both were preceded by nice sets and I like 89 okay so neither factored into my voting.

    I'm a Red Sox fan. There is NOTHING annoying about this evening's World Series game.

  10. Biggest Improvement: 94-95
    Biggest Bust: 90-91-92-93

    1990 is a pretty decent-looking set by my standards, but from there through 1993 I like the designs less and less. 1994 is kind of neutral, but I can't say it is worse that 1993. In my eyes it is slightly better than 1993, but then in 1995 Fleer really went for it with a controversial design before settling into that bland matte thing. I probably have a little nostalgia bias toward the 95 Fleer set because the '95-96 Basketball set of the same design was one of the first years that I was really into collecting, so I busted a lot of those packs. I still remember pulling a Kevin Garnett Rookie Phenoms card and being totally stoked because that was like a $12 card in Beckett!

  11. It started well in '81, then '82 and '83 and...I think I only truly like those. The '91 yellow sunshine is cool in the matter that you get all style because you have to wear sunglasses to deal with that set.
    But if Fleer would return to cards business I'd be happy.

  12. Biggest Bust: 94-95. I just don't understand what happened.
    Biggest Improvement: 91-92. I don't dislike the yellow, but I love the '92 set. I love all '92 sets. They were the peak of my childhood collecting.

  13. Biggest Bust: '90-'91 - I wanted to say '81-'82 because I like the '81 design then the '82 set ended up so blah and blurry. Then I realized I really like the campy design of the '82 set and had to pick something else. So picked the yellow one.

    Biggest improvement: '93-'94

    And I don't care what anyone says - I love the '95 set. Take away my blogging privileges, throw me in prison, whatever. I think it's not the worst.

  14. bust: 94-95
    improvement: 95-96

    yeah, just hatin' on 1995 Fleer.

    Reasons I generally like Fleer.. the backs usually featured full professional stats, including minor league numbers even if the guy had been in the majors for many years. That was always very cool, I thought. Plus, they were good about usually giving a final ("sunset") card to a guy who retired the previous year (complete career totals!), something Topps unfortunately rarely did.

  15. Not a surprise that the Night Owl is fond of the 82 had tons of shots from night games (but they were horribly blurry and grainy). Probably exceeded the number of night shots that 76 SSPC had. I was always fond of the 81 premiere cause it had some variations to chase, and I liked the 87 design the best.

  16. Biggest Bust: Beyonce

    Oh, wait. That's a different Web site...

    Biggest Bust: 1994 to 1995; Biggest Improvement: 1983 to 1984

    You're right, the biggest bust seems like a bit of a no-brainer. There are plenty of Fleer sets that I really don't like very much, but '83 is the one that was followed up by something that was actually pretty good, so I'll go there. I can't stand the color of the '83 borders. Looks like puke.

  17. Bust: '88 to '89
    Improvement: '95 to '96

    For reasons unexplainable, I adore the 88 set. And despise the 89 set. I love the minimalist design of the 95 & 96 sets and the matte cardstock that Fleer used.

    1. No! I meant 96 & 97! 95 is only minimalist if minimalist means makes me want to have a seizure. Which I'm only pretty sure is not what that word means.