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Sunday, January 25, 2009

2008-2009 Fleer Basketball

Even though there will never, ever, EVER be another Fleer baseball set* at least I can find some solace in the fact that Fleer is alive and well in the basketball market. This is oddly appropriate, since I've always associated Fleer as being THE basketball set every year ever since the landmark '86-87 set. I was lucky enough to get a huge chunk of that set through 35 cent packs at McCrory's (although not smart enough to buy up a ton of packs and build a complete set, let alone two or three) and I have most of the sets up through the mid '90s or so. I never got many '87-88 cards and I sort of fizzled out on the set in 1995 with the weird design from that year (although I ate up the baseball and football sets) but it's still seemed to me to be, well, the Topps of basketball base card sets. I've got about 5 or 6 (mostly) complete sets in a binder from the early days of Fleer basketball. Oh, one important safety tip: Make sure you use those plastic end thingys on your binders and make sure you don't overstuff them. I've got a '86-87 Kareem with a big binder dent on the side because I did not do those things. UPDATE: These are the Binder End Thingys, courtesy a link from sruchris. Those and proper storage will help keep the cards of the first page from getting the bumps. If you can't find any of those, try putting a few empty sheets in front.

So, I was at the World of Wally today and they had big juicy Fat Packs of Fleer hoops dangling from the rack. I have been utterly dissatisfied with most everything that's out right now so I pounced on one of 'em. 52 cards in a pack, 2 of 'em are Michael Jordan inserts. The back of the pack showed a rookie and a '86-87 retro card. Upper Deck has stuck that same style retro card in every Fleer basketball set they've done so far, so it looks like they will milk that one for as long a Topps will milk their '52 design. I always liked the design, so what the heck.

Here's the first half of the pack:
15 Keith Bogans
78 Raymond Felton
63 Yi Jianlian
55 Acie Law IV
93 Nate Robinson
87 Charlie Bell
92 Quentin Richardson
23 LeBron James
89 Eddy Curry
70 Ben Gordon
170 Beno Udrith
196 Jeff Green
133 Luther Head
118 Michael Finley
113 Julian Wright
151 Nene
150 Carmelo Anthony
181 Cuttino Mobely
144 Jason Kidd
183 Corey Brewer
187 Mike Miller
229 Walter Sharpe RC
JR*MJ-23 Jordan Retrospective
86R-189 Joey Dorsey
246 Mario Chalmers, DeAndre Jordan, Kyle Weaver RC
211 Jerryd Bayless

Ok, interesting first half. Let's take a look at the design:

Base card

Fleer uses silver borders for the base cards, unlike their multicolored borders from last year. They look good, but the rough borders are a little distracting. I've seen this kind of border used a few times before, although I can't remember the sets and I'm too lazy to look it up right now. I think they are supposed to be edgy but they always just looked sloppy to me. The photography is good, but it's not Topps good. I think the border is a big part in this. There are a lot of action shots but they just get lost in the mess. Again, the cards don't look bad, I think they would have looked better without the splatters on the edges. Maybe it's just me being picky.

The back of the card is pretty minimalistic. Like most recent Fleer sets it mirrors the front and has the exact same border. On the lower left corner is the player's number instead of the team logo, which moves to the bottom of the frame. There's no personal info like height or birth date or anything, just the players name in bold at the top and full career stats. I must say the full stats are nice and the slop border isn't as distracting on the back to me for some reason.

Rookie card

Rookie cards have the same design, just flipped horizontally with a gold border instead of silver. They are probably slightly short printed as I got 5 in this pack compared with 42 base cards. I'm not exactly sure how many rookies are in the set, probably 50 or so. It's too late for me to be searching for checklists right now, Google it yourself.

As you can see the backs are the same as the base cards, just with Rookie Card all over it and no stats.

It looks like there are '80-81 style tri-cards in the set too. Probably to group up all the second rounders who will languish in the D-league for a few years. It's amazing how an awful experimental design from the early '80s ended up being a basketball card staple for decades.

Retro cards

These rip off the '86-87 Fleer set almost exactly. These are pretty cool not only for their colorful design, but for the college stats on the back. Again, I'm too lazy to look it up right now, but I think this is actually a continuing series from the last two Fleer sets. Two years ago had a 132 card parallel set, last year had 30-40 rookies and it appears that this years set picks up where those numbers left off as I got card 176 and 189 in this pack. This would be a really cool set to collect, but finding all the parallel cards from the past two years would be a pain in the kiester.

Jordan Retrospective

Typical hero worship set. Also with a gold border (or is it more bronze, I can't really tell) but with a slightly different design. I actually prefer this design over the base cards to be honest. This one had MJ looking bored over his 5th MVP award. Ho hum.

Here's the second half of the pack:

16 Maurice Evans
51 Al Horford
94 David Lee
14 Antonio McDyess
42 Elton Brand
3 Paul Pierce
60 Troy Murphy
45 Andre Iguodala
82 Andrew Bogut
64 Sean Williams
164 Travis Outlaw
104 Pau Gasol
137 Amare Stoudemire
122 Mehmet Okur
135 Ron Artest
139 Shaquille O'Neal
138 Steve Nash
153 Kenyon Martin
161 Kelenna Azubuike
126 Andrei Kirilenko
159 Al Harrington
86R-163 Derrick Rose
207 Eric Gordon RC
JR*MJ-12 Jordan Retrospective
218 Javale McGee RC
86R-176 Robin Lopez

Not a bad pack. Lots of stars in there, plus I got Al Horford, my favorite player. Derrick Rose was the #1 overall pick, so not too shabby. This isn't the greatest set ever, but it's reasonably inexpensive, looks decent, the Fleer brand has sufficient basketball gravitas, and the cards have that nice Fleer smell. Sort of like one of those perfume inserts in magazines girls read. It's 2:30 in the morning now and I'm starting to fade, so I'll leave you with Robin Lopez and his fabulous hair.

* at least until my bloody coup at the Upper Deck Headquarters where I declare myself UD Emperor, kill off X, A Piece Of History, Spectrum and Documentary, bring back Fleer, Collector's Choice, Ultra and STICKERS, and use the current Executive board's pasty hides** for a new Leatherman insert set that will be the industries' newest money making gimmick and make me and the shareholders mad cash.***


*** I will do this eventually, right now I'm just biding my time and wating for the right moment to STRIKE

**** ick†

† Sorry, I'm in a bummy mood this weekend and am expressing it inappropriately††. My week off just ended and I got bugger all done. Well, actually I did get this done, but I kind of hoped to do something a little more constructive on my vacation. Dear God, I hope I can get my act together enough to begin Lemmerpalooza on Monday.

†† skinning inept corporate executives for use in trading card inserts is inappropriate, isn't it?


handcollated said...

It's funny you mention Collector's Choice, because it's coming back for hockey and I've got a feeling it may return for baseball, too.

Nothing but a hunch at this point. But it would seem a safe and easy set to release in light of the financial turmoil.

I mean who doesn't like Stick Ums?

MMayes said...

Showing Shaq shooting free throws on his card was kind of like Enzo Hernandez being in a batting stance on his 1972 card.

Erin said...

I'm glad to see that Fleer basketball is still alive and kicking, even if it's UD Fleer now.

I really want a Bayless card sometime. He may never be a point guard, but he is an absolute beast when he puts his head down and attacks the basket.

The base design looks very '90s, and at least from all the cards you scanned it seems like they focused on close-up shots without much if any background. Would be nice to see some variety.

madding said...

Crap, that was me. I should pay more attention to who is logged in.

sruchris said...


Can you tell more more about the binder "plastic end thingys" that you speak of? My entire collection is in binders and I'm now worried. Is this what you're talking about:


dayf said...

sruchris: yeah, those are them. on D-ring binders you only need one in the front, O-rings need one on the front and the back. Again, don't overstuff and store them properly as well. If you can't find them, extra empty plastic sheets or a sheet protector fuil of checklists or just plain paper work as well. You just don't want the cars getting pinched against the ring.

ernest said...

the concept of consecutive numbering for the retro insert sets over a number of years is pure genius.

and i'm digging the new blog. looks like i'll have alot more reading to keep up with at work.

ernest said...

uh, i guess i mean old blog. four years! that's cultural institution status.