Wednesday, February 17, 2010

1988 Fleer NFL Team Action Football Sticker and Card Sets

We've reached the final set in Fleer's 13 year run of Team Action / Live Action NFL Football Card and Sticker sets with this review of the 1988 set.


The stickers have a red border:







One item that is interesting to note is that the tops of the stickers where the team name is located are solid white in 1988 whereas in the past (1982 - 1987) the tops had a small strip at the top that matched the border color as seen in these versions of the Saints stickers:

However, at least a few teams can be found with the colored strip at the top. These are the variations I've been able to locate:


and this picture of an ebay auction for the red strip variations shows one additional team that I have yet to track down (the Seahawks):


While it may appear that the lack of the strip at the top is simply a result of the way the stickers were cut, comparing the 2 versions side by side shows that the more common solid white top has a larger white space compared to the sticker with the red strip.


I'm guessing if an uncut sheet ever surfaces, we'll find that the stickers that have this red strip across the top are double printed on the sheet in a particular row. If anyone is aware of any other stickers from this set having the red strip at the top, I'd appreciate hearing from you.

The backs of the stickers return to having the team's schedule on the back (after a few years of contest forms and ads for Fleer gum products):


The card set once again has 2 cards per team with an "On Offense" card and an "On Defense" card:







Rather than a subset featuring all past Super Bowls, the 1988 set looked at the "Super Bowls of the Decade":


For the first time, Fleer included cards highlighting the previous season's wild card, playoff, and conference championship games:


Fleer also added a subset called League Leading Team highlighting the top teams in a number of statistical categories:



Fleer did not produce a Football set in 1989, but did return to Football in 1990 as they secured a license with the Players Association so that they could produce individual player cards as they so prominently announce on their 1990 wax box:



Once Fleer started producing the player cards instead of the team action cards, they no longer issued any team logo stickers. However, Fleer did recycle the team action card design later on as this subset in the 2003 Fleer Platinum shows:


The Fleer Team Action sets were a great alternative to Topps, especially in the late 1970s and early 1980s when Topps was giving us airbrushed helmets without any logos like this


due to the fact that they did not have a license with NFL Properties at the time.

The Fleer cards showed actual football being played, whereas the Topps cards generally were pictures from training camp or the sidelines with the helmet off and rarely showed any game action.

Given the huge rise in popularity of trading cards by the late 1980s, its not surprising that Fleer moved away from team action cards and into player cards once they had the opportunity to secure a license, but its a shame that the great run of Team Action cards finally had to come to an end with the 1988 set.

UPDATE 11/13

With the help of fellow Fleer collector Albert who has passed along information on some of the variations he has come across, it now appears that there are 12 stickers which can be found with the red strip at the top.


Both Colts variations (with the team name in small letters / large letters) have the red strip


and there are 2 different versions of the Seahawks sticker - one with the Peel arrows in black as normal, and another where the Peel arrows are almost while (as it appears the black did not print).   Here is a closer look at the Seahawks variations:

While this might just be a printing flaw, I am listing is as a variation as I've come across multiple versions of both stickers, which leads me to believe the Seahawks sticker with the red strip was likely double printed on the sheet, and one of the stickers had the normal Peel arrow, and the other sticker had the white variation.   I guess we'll have to wait until an uncut sheet surfaces to confirm.

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