The Exploitation of Fleer

I’m going to say something today that I’ve never said before in over 10 years as a card blogger. Despite being a die hard Pinnacle Brands aficionado, it was Fleer Trading Cards, not Pinnacle, that featured the best-looking designs and most unique inserts that have stood the test of time. Don’t believe me? Check out the recent Michael Jordan Fleer/Skybox PMG that sold for $350,000. That card doesn’t have a piece of game-used memorabilia embedded in it nor does it feature Jordan’s overpriced signature anywhere. It is just a marvelously beautiful and rare card from the 90s.

Last week, my Twitter timeline was flooded with Fleer cards featuring moments from Michael Jordan’s embarrassing Hanes commercials. I say embarrassing because in one of those clips, he actually sports a Hitler mustache and no one seems to bat an eye. At first, I figured some custom card maker had created these monstrosities and started spreading them around because to be completely honest, they looked like a dumpster fire, featuring mostly blurry screenshots of commercials. Surely, no company in their right mind would associate themselves with these cards, right?

Unfortunately, these are not custom cards but “official” Fleer licensed cards produced by the company that purchased Fleer in 2006 yet didn’t have a single clue what to do with the commodity. It wasn’t long before the Upper Deck Baseball brand suffered a sad, public death, which unfortunately swallowed Fleer Trading Cards as well. There was talk of a baseball comeback with Fleer being put ahead of their own Upper Deck brand, but according to many, that idea was ridiculed to the point of cancellation and has never been discussed publicly by Upper Deck again.

Well, Fleer is back, sort of. You can now find Fleer’s comeback attached to underwear. Sadly, I am 100% dead serious. There are 800,000 packs of these terribly cheap, Jordan Fleer cards sold with Hanes underwear in stores like Wal-Mart and Target. There are only ten autographs in the entire series meaning the odds of pulling one is over 1:100,000. More than likely, you’re going to end up with cards that not only are a disgrace to Fleer’s tradition of brilliant work, but also a reminder that some collectors are so addicted that they will literally buy anything.

If you go into a Walgreens or CVS, you will find a product of cards with a guaranteed hit often referred to as Fairfield Mystery Boxes. These boxes are filled with “junk wax” era singles that belong in a fire pit but with a $2 game-used relic or some never-was prospect autograph. I’ve seen several dozen boxes busted on YouTube and not once have I seen anything of value in them. This industry has someone found a way to repackage the same terrible “hits” you complain about in $150 hobby boxes and has managed to somehow sell it back to you again. Brilliant! Sometimes I get the feeling that collectors who are addicted to cardboard have zero standards.

For younger collectors who weren’t around in the 90’s or were simply too young to collect, let me show you the magic of Fleer / Skybox so you can see why an old fart like myself is once again on his 90s soapbox. Below are only a small sample of Fleer / Skybox Michael Jordan cards that were produced 20+ years ago. Unlike cards of today, many of these issues have become iconic and revered, to the point that the market has skyrocketed. It’s not just Michael Jordan. Tim Duncan hit $33K, Scottie Pippen, $22K, even a guy like Ray Allen hits $11K. Fleer was consistently producing top notch trading cards in the mid to late-90s that continue to break secondary market records.

… and ya’ll are going crazy over Hanes Jordan cards?!?

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One thought on “The Exploitation of Fleer

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more! I hate these cards, and I’m sick of seeing them on Twitter – so much so, that I’ve even muted a few words to try and limit how much I them. And the real fun hasn’t even started yet, that’ll be when I have to wade through dimeboxes clogged up with these blurred monstrosities, because that day is coming, probably sooner than I, and the people trying to sell them on eBay, want.

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