Saturday, October 31, 2009

1981 Fleer NFL Football Stickers - Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears

As I mentioned in the previous post about the 1981 Fleer Team Action NFL Football stickers, each team has 2 variations, and in some cases there appears to be a 3rd version.

Buffalo Bills:

The first team where we see what appears to be a 3rd variation is the Buffalo Bills:

The Bills have helmets with a white face mask, a blue face mask, and a black face mask. The buffalo on the helmet is dark blue on the helmet on the left, a lighter shade in the middle sticker, and black on the sticker on the right.

The same holds true for the logo stickers with the different shading of the buffalo and the team name. I'm guessing that the stickers on the right with the black facemask and buffalo are most likely due to printing issues as opposed to intentional variations. However, given the fact that I've come across black versions for both the helmet and logo lead me to believe that these were more than just a mistake that was limited to a small portion of the production run.

Chicago Bears:

The Bears have two distinct helmet sticker variations. The sticker on the left has a white facemask and a navy helmet while the helmet on the right is black with a grey facemask. The other difference is that the coloring of the word Bears is slightly more orange on the left and more red on the right.

Unfortunately my scanner doesn't do a good job of showing the color variations between the 2 logo stickers, but just as with the helmet stickers, one version has a more orange shade of the word Bears while the other version is more red. When looking at the 2 logo stickers in person, the difference is much more noticeable in the color than what the scan is showing.

The other very subtle difference has to do with the positioning of the logo. The sticker on the right has just a tiny bit more of the goal post showing.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

1981 Fleer NFL Football Stickers - Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Colts

Now that Football season is back in full swing, its time to pick where I left off at the end of last Football season with the continuing review of Fleer's annual Team Action sticker sets.

We're up to the 1981 set, which was the 5th consecutive year that Fleer issued Team Action Cards and stickers (click links to see 1977, 1978, 1979, and 1980):

The 1981 Fleer Football sticker set is the king of Fleer variation sets. Each team has a helmet sticker and a logo sticker, and each of these stickers has 2 clear variations, and arguments could be made that some of these stickers have yet a 3rd variation.

Lets take a look at the Detriot Lions as an example:

Notice that the helmet on the left has a gray facemask and the helmet on the right has a white facemask. In addition, the helmet on the left is dark gray with a dark blue lion while the helmet on the right has a lighter gray helmet with a lighter blue lion.

The same is true with the logo stickers. The sticker on the left has dark blue stripes behind the lion while the sticker on the right has gray stripes. In addition, the name Lions is in dark blue on the left and in light blue on the right.

Not all teams have variations that are are as easy to spot as we've seen with the Lions, but all teams do have similar differences.

While no one seems to know for sure, the theory is that Fleer had 2 different companies printing the sheets which would account for the distinct color variations. I have yet to see an uncut sheet of these stickers, so at this point, this theory seems to make the most sense. Unless a sheet surfaces that has both variations on the same sheet, its most likely that Fleer used 2 different printers.

The backs of the stickers have the team's 1981 schedule:

Given the number of variations in this set, I am going to cover 2 teams each day to highlight the variations, starting with the

Atlanta Falcons:

Its a bit hard to tell from the scan, but the helmet sticker on the right has a darker shade of red than the sticker on the left. The same is true with the name "Falcons" on the logo stickers. The difference is more noticeable when you are holding both stickers in your hand and looking at them together.

Baltimore Colts:

The Colts helmet with the upside down horseshoe is the most obvious variation in the set. For some strange reason, Fleer printed some stickers with the horseshoe upside down. The mistake isn't limited to the front of the sticker however, as it can be found on the back as well:

Both the helmet and logo stickers have this back variation. The correct helmet has the correct back, and the upside down helmet has the upside down back.

For the logo stickers, the sticker on the left with the slightly darker blue logo has the correct helmet on the back while the sticker on the right has the upside down helmet on the back.

As we go through this review of the 1981 set, I'd like to recognize fellow Fleer collector Albert who has done an incredible amount of work investigating and documenting these variations. Many of the variations I will be covering over the coming days were brought to my attention by Albert as he has been very generous in sharing his research with me. Thanks Albert!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Baseball Helmet Banks

I came across an auction recently where someone was auctioning an entire set of Major League Baseball Helmet banks, and thought I'd share the pictures since the banks are very good replicas of the teams batting helmets from the time they were issued (these appear to be from the late 1970's to early 1980's).

Here is a look at the American League teams:

It looks like they had 2 different White Sox and Twins helmets in their collection.

Here are the National League helmets:

Laich was the manufacturer of these helmets, and they also the company that has manufactured the ice cream sundae helmets. The picture below shows that the size of the bank helmet is almost identical to the ice cream sundae helmet.

Here is a look at the bottom of the bank compared to the ice cream sundae helmet:

The bank has a plastic stopper that can be opened to get the coins out. Since the banks had a separate section for the bottom of the bank, they were able to do something that couldn't be done with the ice cream sundae helmets - have the correct colored bill on the cap. The sundae caps unfortunately do not have separate colored bills.

The banks also had the correct front panel color for teams like the Orioles, Brewers, Expos and Padres who had a front panel that was a different color from the rest of the cap - another limitation that the sundae helmets were not able to overcome since the helmets were always just a single color.