Jan 24, 2011

Junior High Coundown: 43. 1993 Flair

1993 was a banner year of changes in the hobby in terms of type of baseball cards that entered the market. Today there is base, mid-end, and high-end. During this time, there was base and premium (Stadium Club, Ultra, Leaf, Upper Deck, Pinnacle) heading into 1993. All that changed during this year with the introduction of the self-named "superpremium" brand introductions.

Described here is Fleer's foray into this market with Flair.
The Stats
Issued in a one series 300 card set, coming in a 24 pack box with 10 cards per pack. I believe the suggested retail price at the time was $4.99 per pack.
The Design
I believe these were the first cards produced on all laminate card stock. They were much thicker than the normal card of the time (almost the thickness of three cards). The front consisted of two images, one usually an in-game pose with the second usually a close-up ghosted upon the first. The back has the last ten years of stats etched over another ghosted image of the player.

The Rookies
There was JT Snow....and not much else. A lot of 1993 sets did not have a lot of rookies because of 1992 Bowman.
The Inserts
One insert set was included which can almost be a continuity now until the brand's demise...Wave of the Future, which was a 20 card set inserted 1:5 packs or so. Notable names included Mike Piazza, Manny Ramirez, and Jim Edmonds. The image in the set looked like an ocean wave about to swallow the young, up and coming ballplayers.

The Impact
This set became a key component escalator upon which the card companies are riding up to this day in terms of offering packs of continually increasing SRPs. It used to be that the card quality itself carried the day without any thinking about return on investment or pack outs of special cards. 1993 Flair only offered a base set and one relatively obtainable insert set.

Unfortunately, the brand changed dramatically in 1997 to Flair Showcase, though while it had great ideas, did not follow the same pathway as the progenitor of the series. Flair essentially established itself as the first multi-image brand (greater than two) that I can recall (for both front and back combined) and was true to it through all of its incarnations.
The packaging was also novel. For the first time, cards were not issued in the standard sealed wrappers. The packs were little two-piece card board boxes that could classily house the cards after revealing the contents within.

1993 Flair was a foundation builder for many aspects of the proliferation of superpremium (and beyond) card sets. As a set itself, it didn't have much to offer except the classy look and the ultra-classy (for the time) packaging. It is still a collectable set because the set size is small and limited to one series (assuming decent collation). Flair began the revolution of struggling to put cards back to back in 9 pocket pages, and for that I'm not grateful. Of course, it was a thrill to open one of the packs and know one would be getting cards that could look good on the wall in a frame.


TheBrooklynMet said...

Nice write up! I thought, though, that Ultra was the first product with multiple pics per card (though on the back).

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite sets to this day. I though I was the man for getting these cards way back when. Now adays some people just consider them junk 90's cards. I still love them.