Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Nostalgic Box Break: 1999 Fleer Ultra (Part One)

I feel like I've been showing too many Upper Deck boxes on the blog recently, out of the folder of boxes I've broken over the past year or so. So why not throw a Fleer one into the fold? Especially one as awesome as a Fleer Ultra box from when the set was in its prime, from 1999.

I've always had a soft spot for Ultra, as it was Fleer's answer to Stadium Club, but as it went on the 'design' became even more of an afterthought than with SC, with Ultra just using the same cursive-foil one as it went on, just with subtle changes, and periodical exceptions to the rule.

The photography in Ultra was ridiculously fun, closer to Collector's Choice than Stadium Club, and just all-around cool at times. It's a shame that they were just-about closing up shop when I got into the hobby in 2007.

Anyway, this box has 24 packs, 10 cards per pack. It'll probably take me three posts, depending on my mood at the end of 8 packs. Still, it's sure to be a fun rip.

 Pack 1- Already you can see how cool this set looks. Just a ton of character.

 This is your average base card, ft. Vinny Castilla. I like the little rainbow shine you get from the foil if you shoot it at a certain angle.
 Here are the backs. Full stats, a fun fact, another photo, and an easily readable card number. Gotta love Ultra.

 Also, each hobby pack comes with a GOLD MEDALLION PARALLEL. It's not numbered, but it's the same photo with a completely gold-toned background, which is really cool.

 Also, in case you couldn't tell, this is stamped on them all, on the back.

 Three guys who'll be on the same wall in Cooperstown in a couple years. The greatest base-stealer of all time, the greatest closer of all time, and one of the greatest hitters of all time.

 One of the more common inserts you can pull is 'The Book on', which is a little dossier on certain players. This one's of late-90's-superstar-and-SNL-fable Nomar Garciaparra.


 These are what the Prospect cards look like. AND EVEN *THEY'RE* not dull. They're pretty cool-looking actually.
 I had no clue Mark Langston pitched for the Padres. That's pretty cool.

 Here's Neifi Perez, lurking in the shadows with his camera.

 Our Gold Medallion is of Tony Clark. That just looks awesome with the gold tint.

 Two regional legends. Tim Salmon's gotta still be high on the leaderboards in Anaheim. They had to have adored him there. Meanwhile, Kenny Lofton's one of the best base-stealers in Cleveland history.

 Ray Lankford's wielding this bat like a lightsaber.

 OH MY GOD THAT ANDRUW JONES CARD. Holy Crap. He takes up 20% of the card. It's zoomed back enough that it's capturing everything amazing about that play. Meanwhile, A-Rod's making a play in the field.

 Pack 3- This set could do a lot with zooming out too.

 Brosius is our Gold Medallion, and it improved the so-so photo.

 Two guys that are gonna rendezvous on the HOF ballot next year. Vlad has more of a chance for enshrinement though. Wagner was an awesome closer, don't get me wrong, but I'm not sure if he's Hall material.

 Meanwhile, here's Eric Davis making a nice catch, even well after his nice little round of relevance.

 Pack 4- One of the only times in this box that the collation really takes away from the outcome.

 Carl Everett making a huge throw, right in front of a shot commemorating Kirk Gibson's famous '88 run. It's actually pretty symbolic. It's like he's trying to prevent the inevitable.

 Season Crowns, which is a subset, though it looks like an insert, documents things that happened during the 1998 season. Hmmm...what did Sammy Sosa do during the 1998 season that was worthy of being documented on a subset card??
I'm thinking...I'm thinking...
(Before you all comment about the home run race, I was being sarcastic).

 Here's a Cub that fans still celebrate at Wrigley, Kerry Wood, one of the stronger arms in Cubs history. He could notch wins AND close games.

 together at last...The Gold Medallion Scott Rolen, and the base Scott Rolen. And this was still during Rolen-mania.

 Here's a card of Barry Larkin, still pretty much in his prime, still playing some awesome baseball in Cincinnati.
 Pack 5- I will say that those Gold Medallions can really stand out.

 Two awesome horizontal shots. One of Dmitri Young going in for the swing, the other of Mike Lieberthal sliding and shrugging.

 Gold Medallion is of perennial Mariners catcher Dan Wilson.

 Moises Alou's just taking a break. He doesn't seemed too pleased about it, either.

 Two potential future-Hall-of-Famers. Ivan Rodriguez is looking pensive on the bench. Big Papi's looking attentive in the fi- WAIT, HE WAS IN THE FIELD? Wow, Big Papi playing defense is not something you see everyday.

 Our 'The Book on' insert is of PLEASE PLEASE EVENTUALLY IT BETTER HAPPEN Future Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell. And also, Barry Bonds is there.

 Pack 6- A few more zoomed in shots here.

 Gold Medallion Denny Neagle signing some stuff. Also, here's a reminder that Devon White once played for the Diamondbacks, which is pretty cool.

 Jay Buhner's trying to remember where he parked. Also, here's a really cool double play shot from Miguel Tejada.

 Second appearance so far for Nomar Garciaparra, so you can tell how big a deal he was. Also present is Mark Grace, the guy who got his only World Series ring by leaving the team that still considers him a franchise legend. Way to go, Mark.

 Also, here's a card of Minnesota pitching legend Brad Radke.

 Pack 7- A ton of green in these cards, more than usual sets if you can believe that.

 Two cool horizontal shots. Kevin Young fielding a grounder, and Jeff Shaw stretching his legs.

 Jeff Conine, still on the Royals, working on a hit, and Derrek Lee celebrating his hit.

 Beautiful card of Chan Ho Park, made even better by the gold medallion background.

The checklists in this set were just extra cool photos of some of the top players. This is a nice little static shot of Kerry Wood.

 Pack 8, my last one for tonight- A few more similar shots, but still really cool.

 Remember how in the very late 90's Jose Canseco tried making a comeback with the Blue Jays and Rays?
 Three great horizontal shots. Brett Boone's working on a dropped ball. Chuck Knoblauch, now a Yankees trasure, slides back to first. Pedro Martinez signs some autographs for the fans.

 A very cool throwing shot from Karim Garcia.

I have to draw attention to this one, not because it's a cool gold medallion shot, but he's wearing a modified football face mask. There have been modern interpretations of this same idea, but this batting helmet makes him look like he's about to tackle John Elway. It's quite amusing.

Tomorrow, or sometime soon, I'll post the next third of the box. All very nice stuff ahead.


  1. Good looking set. Ultra's Gold Medallion is one of my favorite parallel concepts of all time, and this one is a nice looking one, even though it features mostly foil. I'm familiar with the design from the NBA release but I am surprised to see you got subsets in baseball...the NBA set did not, although Series 2 was cancelled so who knows what was planned for that.

  2. I forgot to mention, nice reviewing work! I like that you are breaking it down pack by pack.