1996-97 Fleer Goudey: A Hobby History Lesson

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Odd-sized cards have always irritated me – jumbo cards, minis, “mini-minis,” “tall boys” and the old Fleer Gameday sets alike.  Maybe – just maybe – I’m a little obsessive, but one thing I like about football cards is seeing them in nice, neat, uniform rows or fitted snugly into protectors that are the perfect size and thickness for them.  Jumbo and Gameday cards don’t fit in normal protectors, so they just lie around kind of awkwardly.  The wide variety of mini cards always slip out of a stack, and they never quite sit right in protectors or 9-pocket pages.  All of this is very irksome to me.

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That said, the 1996-97 Fleer Goudey set somehow finds a way to transcend my desire for order and uniformity.  The first thing I found endearing about this set is the history lecture printed right onto the side of the box.  Rival bubble gum manufacturers who began putting sports cards into their respective products in the 1930’s.  The 1933 Sport Kings set with some of the pioneering, legendary names in football – Thorpe, Grange, Rockne.  This whole write-up gives me a nostalgic sense of connection with the history of the hobby before I’ve ever even opened a pack.  (It also helps assuage my loathing of the non-standard size of the cards, but only for this set!)

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Getting around to the cards themselves, the number of Hall of Famers and other notable players in the checklist only adds to the sense of nostalgia, and it makes the throwback design seem even more appropriate.  I’m a big fan of the way the player photos look like they’ve been through a “make this look old” Instagram filter, then set against the team-color background.  The rougher, brown cardboard stock these are printed on and the single-color printing on the backs really round out the vintage feel.  Brett Favre, Barry Sanders, Jerry Rice, Dan Marino, Junior Seau and all the other HOF (or soon to be!) players in this set look right at home on a card design that once featured the likes of Red Grange and Jim Thorpe.  Heck, they even threw Y.A. Tittle and Chuck Bednarik into this set!

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While I like the look and feel of the base set, which was a very important aspect of any 1990’s product to me, I’m a little less feel-good-sunshine-and-rainbows about the parallels and the inserts.  The “Gridiron Greats” parallel set just leaves me wondering why they made it.  It’s less of a parallel and more of a separate set entirely.  The design is just very generic.  They used the same photos from the base set, but without the “old school” filter.  The back features a more modern style write up and statistics for the subject player.  The set really isn’t terrible, it’s just not at all remarkable; it doesn’t fit with the vintage quality the product is going for.  I suppose one redeeming thought is that it provides a modern juxtaposition (yes, SAT word!) to the vintage base set.  The other inserts are fun – starting with the brief blurbs about the subject player from either Tittle or Bednarik on the “Tittle Says” and “Bednarik Says” cards.  I enjoy reading what the old timers think of the modern game.  I also like the comic relief of the Heads Up insert – the cartoon bodies that don’t quite fit with the photo head shots.  I do wish the inserts had stuck with the vintage look of the base set, though.  (Note: I didn’t pull a “Pigksin 2000” insert from this box.)

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While I could have done without the parallel set, and I wish the other inserts were a little more vintage-y, the base set is plenty to make this a quality product overall.  Clearly, as the author of a blog about cards from the 90’s, I’m a big fan of “the old stuff,” and I especially love looking back to a set from almost 20 years ago that provides a window even further back into hobby history.

UPDATE: Leave a comment with your Twitter handle for a chance to win a full base set of this product!

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “1996-97 Fleer Goudey: A Hobby History Lesson

  1. Sport Card Collectors

    I gotta say I am also a fan of this product and totally agree with the having to find a place to store these scenerio since they dont fit well in top loaders and pages.

    I also agree on the parallel and inserts. They seem a bit out of place in a throwback feel product. This was the 90’s Fleer! You gotta bring that insert A game!

    I recently picked up 4 cards from the set just to have some again. I seem to be doing that with a lot of my 90’s collecting as my father sold off most before I could snatch em.

    Great writeup and I look forward to the next post!

    • Thanks! I’m working on churning these posts out more regularly. Kinda sat on the idea for this blog for a while, but it’s a lot of fun getting into it a little more!

      • Sport Card Collectors

        Awesome! I tried my 90’s blog but it wasn’t getting enough exposure. So I decided to combine it with Sport Card collectors and that has helped. Good luck on your journey and I will be more than happy to help by RTing!

  2. John

    Loved seeing those cards. Your blog is sweet, I started collecting in late 80s and kept collecting through the 90s. Joined the military and stopped but I have started again since 2012-current.

    So it is cool seeing people love my early days of collecting.
    So many awesome names are in that set so many hall of famers. And household names.

    I really like that they look like they are even older cards like from the 70s.

    Great blog and i will continue to follow it and check in looking for new posts.

    Thanks for sharing
    John

    Twitter @ShowtimeJohn

    • Thanks for reading! I have heard from several other collectors who collected for a while and then got away from it, only to come back to the hobby in the last few years. That’s the case with me, as well. It’s been an interesting challenge to catch up on what I missed over the 10-12 years that I wasn’t into cards!

      • Haha it’s always cool finding some people that are collecting early 90’s cards. It’s truly about the collecting and enjoying rather than only big hits.

  3. kelli

    Do they still make odd size cards? Do the cards appreciate in value very well?

    • I think most of the odd sizes these days are parallels. Mini versions of base sets. Topps, in particular, does this with a couple different sets. They have also released a “Topps Mini” product in recent years that was basically a small-sized version of the base set, but not a parallel; it was released as a separate product. There are still some jumbo cards out there, too.

  4. Nate Baustad

    @flamingbagofpoo New follower as of today

  5. I love odd sizes and have sought out a bunch of them, but I think the market is way too saturated with minis. What was once a novelty is now a nuisance when it comes to minis. @danieldubay

  6. David Amos

    I collected football cards as a kid in the late 80’s & early 90’s but lost interest for about 20 years. Then around a year ago I started collecting again, now I am more into it then I ever was before. The range of different cards makes collecting alot more interesting & frustrating at the same time. I will be looking foward to more of your blogs to inform me on other card set I missed in my time away from collecting. @DavidAmos11

  7. Sport Card Collectors

    I am really surprised more are not interested in these! They don’t know what they could be missing out on!

    • I know, right?! I’m still gonna do the giveaway, as promised. Wanted to get to ten entries, but I’ll go ahead with it this weekend sometime even if we don’t make it to ten. Thanks for reading!

      • Sport Card Collectors

        Sounds good and fingers crossed!

        I wished you could have gotten to ten and even more. Great set to own with a good player checklist.

  8. Mick

    What a sweet product. Nothing like opening a product and going back in time. The big head cards are great, an insert series needs something that makes it special (whether it foil, size, colors or in this case large heads).

    One cool thing I like about the older cards is the images used. They are not all action shots.

    I’d enjoy ripping this product. @Ozsportsfan1

  9. David p

    I wasnt a fan of mini’s until just recently. I have a nice assortment w autos now. @dpalagi518

  10. @showtimejohn

    Just bumping this up. Getting some more looks.

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