Friday, June 28, 2013

What were they thinking?

I like to think I'm a pretty positive guy.

Of course, I sometimes voice my displeasure with a few things every now and again, but I'm by and large a "glass half full" type of person.

It's a sentiment that's carried over into my love for cardboard over the years.

While I might not like everything on the shelves nowadays, I still try to find every little bit of good I can. No matter how hard I have to try. (Ahem...Gypsy Queen.)

Every so often, though, a set comes along that simply shatters the bottom of the barrel. Those very sets are so bad, in fact, that I can't seem to find a positive word to say about them.

That's what tonight's post is all about.

Yes, as with my collecting habits, I like to keep things fun and positive on the blog as well. But, at times, I think it's healthy to take a look back at some of the absolute worst this hobby has had to offer, if for no other reason than to say...

"At least we don't have to deal with cards like those anymore."

Now, every time I write a post similar to this one, I feel compelled to mention the fact that I'm a fan of 1995 Fleer. Probably the last fan on the face of the Earth, perhaps, but a fan nonetheless.

So, while I know that '95 Fleer is generally regarded as one of the worst sets ever made, you won't see it labeled as such on this blog.

On that note, let's take a look at the "best of the worst" this hobby has given us over the years.

Okay, so maybe there is one positive thing 2004 UD Play Ball had going for it.

The concept.

As a kid, I used to pluck packs upon packs of these out of my local card shops' dollar discount bin. I simply liked the old-time design back then. (I haven't changed much in that regard.)

But, over the years, I've come to realize just how big of a train wreck these monstrosities really were.

It's almost like Upper Deck was trying to give collectors nightmares with those awful retouched photos. I can't be the only one who thinks these look like something out of a bad horror movie.

UD managed to turn a perfectly nice photo of Richie Sexson into some sort of demented ghost somewhere along the production line.


Again, the concept behind '04 Play Ball wasn't all that bad.

I can't say the same about 2008 Topps Moments and Milestones, though. On the contrary, this set may have had the absolute worst concept in the history of cardboard.

See, Topps used certain stat lines for a few players that year. Take, for instance, Jack Cust's 26 homers in 2007.

I have absolutely no idea how this idea was ever green-lighted, but Topps thought it'd be a good idea to make a card for every single dinger Cust hit that year.

So, yes, there are 26 different cards that chronicle one of Cust's 2007 homers, each one numbered to 150 copies. And, if that weren't enough, each of those have other parallels to go along with them, such as black ones limited to 29 copies a piece. And red 1/1s.

A player collector's nightmare, no doubt.


You probably already know about the awfulness of '99 Skybox Thunder. And I really don't feel like delving into the atrocious rap-themed backs they had to offer.

So, for all our sakes, I won't say much more.

Go ahead and read the lyrics for the man they called "Double-U" if you must.

Here's a set that doesn't usually get a lot of play around collecting circles.

Aside from perhaps '95 Fleer, these were perhaps the loudest cards ever made. But, unlike Fleer's LSD-inspired release, I've never seen much charm in the Circa brand.

Between the absurdly large nameplate at the tops, the oddly out-of-place quotes from fellow ballpark figures, and impossible-to-read foil lettering near the bottoms, almost nothing about this set works.

All things considered, I think Circa is a prime case of a set that simply tried too hard.

Then again, I guess you could say that about 90 percent of mid-'90s cardboard.

It'd be hard for me to pick a surefire "worst set ever made".

Right now, I think the dubious honor would have to go to one of the more obscure releases in hobby history.

2001 Fleer Game Time.

While it did give the hobby coveted rookie cards of guys like Pujols and Ichiro, these cards are so ugly that I'm not even sure where to start.

So many random lines and dots and squares and symbols. In fact, these are the only cards I've seen that utilize the obscure "greater than" symbol. (Just below Grieve's name.)

And that's not even mentioning the awful double image concept. Or the weird "caged" photos in the bottom-left corners. I'm guessing Fleer was trying to capitalize on the whole "Matrix" fad at the time.

But they failed.


Not surprisingly, Fleer discontinued the Game Time brand after its lone release in 2001.

Every time I look at one of these things, the same question always seems to pop into my head.

"What were they thinking?"

I don't think we'll ever know for sure.


Red Cardboard said...

Man, I used to walk through the woods, cross a creek, and hit up the Kroger aisle for a 99 cent pack of 95 fleer (baseball AND basketball) hoping to land a sweet insert so often as a kid. i'll always have a soft spot for em.

Swing And A Pop-up said...

I happen to like "Game Time", but I agree with you about "Moments and Milestones". I don't even know how to collect that set.

hiflew said...

I agree that M&M is the worst concept ever. It wouldn't be THAT horrible for a player collector if all you had to get was 26 home run cards. I have 51 doubles for Matt Holliday and 150+ hits for Brad Hawpe to track down. I'm not even considering the parallels. The worst part about this set is that they did it two years in a row.

1997 Circa definitely tops my list for worst ever set with 1995 Fleer coming in 2nd. Although I am happy to add 2001 Game Time to the list at #3.

The Junior Junkie said...

I don't mind Circa that much. It's got a supehero feel, ya know?

LOVE '95 Fleer. We're the only sane ones here, Nick.

The Junior Junkie said...

And I would hate Skybox Thunder, too, if it didn't make me laugh so much. I might start collecting that set.