The Rise & Fall of Flair Baseball

While 1993 will be remembered by many as the year Topps introduced the Refractor, there was another brand making its debut in a much more subtle and classy way. Flair was Fleer’s true entrance into the “high-end” market and while the product was a victim of multiple cases of re-tooling (fixing what was not broke), it is still one of the most beloved brands of all-time.

Flair ran up until 2006 but by then the magic was long gone and collectors had evolved into Superfractor-chasing maniacs who valued a card’s rarity way more than it’s aesthetic-appeal. This is why unopened boxes of 1993 Flair will barely crack $10 dollars but boxes of Bowman Draft with lazy photography and terrible Photoshop sell for five times the price even after the key rookie parallels have been pulled.

I have included a scan of every single Flair release from their debut in 1993 to 1999 to show collectors some of the greatest cards ever produced. I wanted a seamless photographic journey so I had to choose one player who was featured in every single release and the best one I could think of was “The Kid”, Ken Griffey Jr.

Sorry, Jeff Conine fans

13 thoughts on “The Rise & Fall of Flair Baseball

  1. Flair was one of my favorite sets. I came across some of my old Flair cards this past weekend and I remembered how sweet that set was. Too bad it no longer exists.

  2. I thought Flair was a beautiful set in 1993… not that I could afford it. I lost all interest in 1994 because it looked like they were putting the exact same set out again.

  3. jballeck

    flair truly is one of my favorite sets of all time. been looking to buy a box of it for some time now.

  4. mfw13

    While the photography is quite nice, I hate cards where the player name is in foil (because it’s hard to read). So these cards never did much for me.

  5. Nice work with the graphical timeline!

    One thing I remember — ’93 Flair packs did not come in wax or foil wrappers, that’s right folks, they came in a freaking box with plastic wrap around each pack. I remember getting one pack for Christmas and thinking it was one of the coolest things I’d ever received. I think the packs cost $5 a pop so it’s shocking to me that the boxes are going for about $10+.

  6. SteveTX

    Wow Mario, you read my mind! I was just looking through an old box of cards the other day and stumbled upon some ’93 Flair (still in the black and gold box each pack came in) and thought, “hmmm…has Mario written an article about this yet?”.

    Yes, Flair was a very memorable product during a time in the 90s when almost every card manufacturer was overproducing a bunch of crap. Even though it didn’t have the technology of Topps Finest, I liked how glossy (seriously, can you tell me another product MORE glossy than ’93 Flair?) and thick the cards were. It really felt like an expensive product and the design/photography was great too.

    Even though these cards are fairly worthless today, it’s still one of my favorite card sets of the 90s.

  7. nexttopin

    Sounds silly, but some of my favorite cards are the 1994 Flair checklists. I bought a bunch of packs last year looking for A-Rod rookies, and was amazed at the high quality of Flair. It was a fantastic product.

  8. Mitch

    1993 Flair cards were awesome. All the pics in the timeline look good but the rest just don’t compare to the 1993’s.

  9. Tim

    I just bought a box tonight for $21 shipped. Sure I may have overpaid, but I never had the chance to open that product until 1997.

  10. Chipmaker

    One of the later 1990s sets — I’m thinking 1996 but don’t recall exactly — came in two varieties, “gold” and “silver”, for every base card. The background and the foil name imprint were switched. Neither was rarer than the other, but it made for an interesting (or annoying) variant in the set.

  11. Doug

    The embossed gold/silver script? Gross. give me 86 topps over these cards any day of the week.

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