Sunday, May 8, 2011

Completion!: Master Set Edition

The ability to complete a true master set has become an impossibility. Perhaps with one of the low-end products like Attax you could conceivably finish a master set, but that hardly counts. Even Topps Opening Day contains printing plates, which would render null and void any attempts at completion.
Then how, you ask, was I able to complete what I believe to be a master set? Well, step into this time capsule, my friend, and let us journey all the way back to the year 1994.

Yes, I just got the last few cards needed to finish the last insert set from 1994 Fleer Football. This set came out smack dab in the middle of insert mania. Fleer Ultra was advertised on television back then, for God's sake! Turn to the inside cover of any comic book from the era and you were bound to find a full-page ad for some kind of sports card. And what, aside from rookies, were the hobby's driving force back then?


Fleer went crazy with them in 1994, but just crazy enough to make a true believer out of an allowance-based collector such as myself. If my math is correct, there were no fewer than 107 total inserts in '94 Fleer Football, and now I've got 'em all. Your final four were:
Scoring Machine Marcus Allen, Barry Foster, Rodney Hampton, and Andre Reed

These were almost the best insert, in my opinion, but more on that later. Today, we take a look at each and every insert set available in their 100% completed glory.

But first, the box.
Reggie White, an insert himself, is doing a nice job keeping the lid cracked open a titch. A slight breeze makes these cards happy.

Speaking of Reggie, he appears in a couple of the subsets, including the hardest to find at the time of release, the Living Legends.
The Emmitt Smith was the only one I was able to pull back in the day Believe it or not, his card once booked for fifty bucks back in the day! When I pulled that one, I truly felt like I had won the fucking lottery. That sucker went straight into a top loader, and that was when I owned, like, only four of those. The set's name completely avoids hyperbole, with all six subjects eventually becoming part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A player photo in front of a foil background... this is the proper way to use foil, kids.

Fleer decided to do some rookie jock sniffing this year, and boy, did they pick the right guy. Jerome Bettis was honored with a 12-card insert set after his Offensive Rookie of the Year season. These cards are a bit too graphically similar for my taste, but it's refreshing to look back at a much-hyped rookie who actually turned out to be a stud.

Up next, the Fleer All-Pro set. Coming in at 20 cards, this series is a veritable who's who of the mid-1990s NFL. Minus Renaldo Turnbull, guys in this set were impact players for multiple seasons. Even Hardy Nickerson was a quality player who would have been better known had he played for just abut any other team. Still, he made the Pro Bowl five times. These look great with their ghosting effect. A set with a design like this would still hold up in a current card set.

Failing to hold up well over the years, however, is the 25-card NFL Prospects set. "Rookies in Hell" might have been a better name. I mean, come on, not even the Steelers played their games within an actual foundry, as the backgrounds suggest. The only rookie of note here was Marshall Faulk. Charlie Ward comes in a distant second.

Usually good for a couple of "wow" cards, the Pro-Visions insert set also falls flat. To me, it's just trying too hard. Is it a fantasy motif? Is there a landmark promised on every card? Is there an inclement weather theme? I can't tell. All I know is that I'm having a hard time deciding which element in this set is dumber: the flourishing feathers on Favre's helmet, or the fact that Joe Montana is chucking the Chiefs' arrowhead logo into space. Plus, these nine cards try to fool you into thinking they can be placed together as a puzzle, but trust me, it ain't happening. Check out the green, gold, and white striped flag pieces on the Favre, Woodson, Watters, and Aikman cards. They look like they want to go together, and one or two of them actually might, but nothing else on the cards' edges matches up. Frustrating!

Fleer did a nice job, mostly, on its League Leaders 10-card set. This reminds me more of an Ultra insert, but it works here.

The smallest insert set, the Award Winners, will cleanse the palate nicely before the last one appears. Can I get an unenthusiastic "Hey, how 'bout that," for Rick Mirer and Dana Stubblefield?

This last one was a real bastard to finish. The Scoring Machine insert set was not only one of the more massive ones, the cards could also be found only in special packs. Regular wax boxes did not contain these. I think they were in jumbo or rack packs exclusively. As a result, I began this quest with only two of these saved from my youth. And to anyone trying to track down 1990s inserts, good luck with some of the superstars. A couple of guys, Dan Marino and Barry Sanders in particular, still command significantly higher prices than other players. Many of these common player inserts could be found for a quarter or so, but get used to paying up to a fiver for some of the bigger names. These are probably the best-looking inserts of all, with the triple player photo and team colors. The complete set looks great with the entire spectrum of colors visible here. (And did you notice that not a single Minnesota Viking can be found anywhere in any insert set? Spectacular job, Fleer!)

To round things out, I can claim that I have actually completed a Master Set Plus. You see, back a few years ago when I bought a hobby box to get closer to finishing the base set, I got this goofy Aeneas Williams card out of a pack. As you can see, the magical card-producing wizard failed to foil stamp the Williams' name and Cardinals insignia on the front.

So there you have it, a complete rundown of the master set of 1994 Fleer Football. Got it done in less than 17 years. Yes!


the sewingmachineguy said...

Awesome! I can vouch for the pricey-ness of Barry Sanders cards.

AdamE said...

Looks great. I bought a ton of football cards back in 94 but never a single pack of Fleer. The guy that owned my LCS was sure that Fleer cards would never be worth anything and wouldn't even sell them. He did finally relent for some of the Ultra sets. Anyway. I never saw any of these inserts. I would have to check but I doubt I even have the base Marino amongts my 1000 Marinos.

Thanks for showing them off.

Community Gum said...

Congratulations! This is getting me pumped to really work on my goal of getting all the 95-96 basketball inserts. Only a few months until the National!

kclod06 said...

i have a 94 fleer reggie white card and also the misprinted ronald turnbol one... i was wondering how much it was worth