Three or four years ago I announced that I would be attempting to complete all the 1980s Fleer baseball sets.
The '80s is the last decade that contained the players from my youth and with all the '80s Topps sets out of the way, that left Donruss and Fleer. (Score and Upper Deck showed up at the end of the decade and '89 Score is a conversation for another day. '89 UD is a conversation for never).
Donruss, I could take or leave, even when it was first arriving on the scene and I was 16 years old. Wasn't much of a fan. I may finish most of the '80s Donruss sets eventually, but 1980s Fleer was clearly where I should go next. Fleer IS the '80s (did they even make sets any other decade?). I need those cards in my collection.
So, with 9 flagship Fleer sets to collect (I finished off 1984 about four years into the blog), I had an idea of what order I would complete them:
1981 Fleer would come first, because it was the first Fleer set I ever saw and collected. 1982 Fleer would come second because it was second. 1983 Fleer would be third, because third. 1987 would be next because I always liked that ice blue. 1988 after that, love the barbershop pole set. 1985 and 1986 -- which I have confused with each other for two-thirds of my life -- would be next. And 1989? Who cares? I didn't even want to complete it when I first announced this plan.
Well, the collecting gods don't really care in what order you finish sets. Sure, you have some control, but not ALL the control.
I did finish 1981 Fleer first. But 1988 Fleer completion came next. And then somebody plopped an entire box of 1989 Fleer on me. Alright, I guess I'll finish that next!
From there, I finished 1982 Fleer, earlier this year. That left 1983, 1985, 1986 and 1987.
1983 is almost done, just need to pull the trigger on that Gwynn rookie. That would mean 1987 should be next, icy blue, remember? But I have so many more 1985 cards already, so '85 looks like it's next after 1983.
1986? Oh, yeah, forgot about that one.
I always forget about 1986. There are very early blog posts in which I mention how '86 Fleer fell into a black hole back in the '80s and when I would think about those mid-1980s Fleer sets even a few years later, I would mix up '85 and '86 all the time, think the '85 design was 1986 or even just skip over the blue-bordered '86 altogether as if it didn't exist.
But 1986 has had enough of that. It demands to be counted! It IS somebody.
That's why, when I wasn't looking I received two packages heavy with 1986 Fleer. My goodness, someone actually collected this set? Didn't Fleer shut down in '86?
This group of 1986 Fleer stars arrived from Chris, The Collector. It was a late birthday gift.
It also came with a couple of Bills from the same period. I'm as deficient in '86 Topps Bills as I am '86 Fleer baseball cards.
Then, on the same day, I received another package from Greg of The Collective Mind. It was stuffed full of 1986 Fleer -- more '86 Fleer than I have seen in one place since 1986 ... no, since EVER!
Ha, ha! OK, 1986 Fleer, you win.
These two mailings really cut down my want list. Before they arrived, I still needed 140 cards to finish the set and I was pretty much ignoring it. The 1985 Fleer want list had only 69 needs and I was gearing up to tackle that set next.
But after all those cards, I am down to needing 69 cards, just like 1985. Nice! It's fitting that both of those sets have the same number of wants left.
1986 Fleer has gotten my attention.
Even with a renewed focus, I'm never going to consider 1986 Fleer one of the finer Fleer sets. There's just not a lot to it and Fleer really fell into a period of malaise from 1985-90. Many of the photos and poses are similar between the sets and compare card stock for Fleer for the first part of the decade (1981-84) and the rest of the decade. 1986 Fleer is kinda flimsy in comparison.
However, all those guys are the guys I grew up watching. The 1986 Fleer set says "1985 World Series" and "1986 World Series" and I know those two championship moments, game by game, because I watched every single one.
Welcome, Willie McGee, Mookie Wilson and all those other mid-1980s players again. You're the players I want to see on my baseball cards.
Sorry about all that dismissiveness, 1986 Fleer.