Those of you how are relatively new to collecting, or gave it up and have recently came back, may not know of the huge diversity of cards available just a few years ago. To give you a flavor of that, here are all but one of the major releases by Fleer/Skybox in 2004. They had 19 sets released that year. I'm missing just Greats of the Game. When you add in all the inserts and parallel cards you get 427 different types of cards issued by Fleer/Shybox in 2004. And they weren't the most prolific, that crown goes to Donruss. But that would be way too look a post. In 2004 I still had a local card shop where I stopped every week and bought a few packs of whatever he had that was new. Most of these cards were acquired from that shop. Ah, the good old days.
Classic ClippingsThis 75 card set featured horizontal cards without gloss or foil but a nice card stock.
Classic Clippings Insert
This is the only insert card I'm going to show because it is pretty cool. It features an insert of the box score from Mike's first game printed on newsprint. I'm guessing it's not really from a newspaper printed in 1972. This set featured 25 cards and each is numbered to 750.
This set had been around for awhile by 2004 but previous years were printed on acetate. It had aso gone through several name changes. At only 65 cards it was a short set. This was the last year for E-X.
This set started out in 1993 as Fleer's first super premium set. It has had many style changes over the years but a high gloss finish has always been the hallmark of this set.
2004 was the third year for this set which was last published in 2005. This 100-card set was designed to look something like a stadium ticket (get it? Authentix?). This year featured foil printing and silver foil for the fanciest ticket you ever saw.
Fleer Genuine Insider
The 4th and last year for this set. For the past 3 years is was just called Fleer Genuine. To me, this set is emblematic of Fleer practices: background designs featuring abstract shapes and a tendency to randomly tweak the names of their sets. This was a 125-card set with a light glossy finish and gold foil.
Fleer Hot Prospects Draft Edition
Was there a regular Hot Prospects set? No there wasn't. Another odd-ball set and similar in scope to some Upper Deck sets. Does Roger Clemens belong in a set called Draft Edition?
A one-year set. Fleer did a lot of that as well. A non-glossy card with silver foil. It featured a facsimile signature on the back. Not a bad looking card and printed on crisp white card stock.
This 60-card set featured a head shot combined with an action shot on a horizontal card. Where have I seen that before? The card border and highlight color matched the player's team colors.
This set was issued from 2003-2005. This set featured horizontal cards with partial glossy fronts. The player photo and the large logo are glossy. Another set featuring a nice card stock.
Fleer Platinum always featured card designs from 1980's Fleer sets. This year the design came from the 1984 Fleer set. Not a particularly memorable design in my opinion. No gloss, no foil, plain card stock. It's hard to see why this set is called Platinum.
This set featured a high gloss finish, silver foil and a refractive foil background. A pretty attractive card. Showcase started in 2000 and lasted until 2006. Upper Deck bought Fleer before the 2007 card year and did not issue a Showcase set.
Fleer Sweet Sigs
Another one-year set. You would think that a card set called "Sweet Sigs" might feature facsimile signatures on the base set, but it doesn't. There are inserted cards with autos, but pretty much every set in 2004 featured that. I don't think I ever saw a pack of this for sale. I have two of these, both acquired in a repack.
Fleer changed their flagship set from just Fleer to Fleer Tradition in 1998. At 500 cards it is their largest set of 2004. The design of Fleer Tradition has varied wildly over this years. This year they went with a design which brings to mind 1990 Fleer. In most years they issued an Update set later in the year, but not in 2004. This is another set which Upper Deck dumped in 2007.
The first of 2 years for this set. It features high gloss and silver foil. The player photo is embossed. Only 60 cards in this set. Like many sets issued in 2004 (and even to this day) it featured different colored parallel sets. National Pastime's were Red, or White, or Blue.
Another card that seems like it should have a signature on it. Instead it has a huge Skybox logo in gold foil. Beckett priced these cards pretty high when it first came out but the value fell rapidly. I own about half of the 65-card set. It was pricey, the cards going for about $0.50/card in loose packs.
LE for, I suppose, for Limited Edition? This set was only available through hobby outlets. The cards are all die-cut across the top (the black region in the top of the scan). It featured a partial glossy front with silver foil.
Skybox LE Retail
Maybe the LE doesn't mean Limited Edition. This is obviously the retail version of Skybox LE. I might have just called it Skybox. The main difference is that the retail version is not die-cut and has gold, instead of silver, foil.
By 2004, Ultra was the longest continuously issued Fleer set. It started way back in 1991 as Fleer's first premium card. In recent years every year of Ultra has pretty much looked like every other year and I stopped buying much of it. I have 30 of the 110-card set.