|Tim Hulett tries to escape the green borders
The 1992 Fleer baseball card design raises a few immediate questions, doesn't it?
More than anything, it's those green borders. (Why green?) Folks will also point to the odd color gradient that runs from top to bottom. Then there's a small horizontal first name stacked on top of a big last name that's rotated 90 degrees. And that leads to a reduced amount of space for the player image.
What's interesting is that over the years it seems like many collectors have softened on the design—myself included. Back then I didn't like it at all. I was in my early adolescence and losing interest in collecting, so this set didn't exactly help rekindle anything. Fast-forward two or three decades, though, and I think '92 Fleer fits quite well in its time.
And to be fair, there are some attractive elements. I like how some of the players overlap the green border, producing a 3D effect. (See Mr. Hulett's left foot up there.) And some of the images are well done and show good baseball action.
However, I think it can be better. That's where this redesign post comes in.
It's the green color that I wanted to change most, so I tested out a bunch of different options and ended up with a few that were feasible. After a bit more pondering and narrowing down, I found two colors that I thought were real hits: A blue-gray (let's call it "slate"), and a more standard dark gray (let's call it "charcoal"). Then I applied those colors to some of my favorite cards in the set. I'll show those here.
Let's start with the first redesign: Slate.
Have a look at Bob Geren, Orel Hershiser, and Ryne Sandberg in their original greens:
They're really not terrible, right? In fact, seeing the cards side-by-side like this makes me appreciate the big letters for the last names a bit more. I like how they stand out.
But now have a look at the redesign:
Let's do the same with three more cards, this time showing how Fleer used different colors for the player names, depending on the team.
Again, not so bad. But the redesign:
Let's move to the second color choice: Charcoal.
Here are three more cards from the set that I like, shown with the original green borders:
Now here they are in charcoal:
Here are three more, showing some different text colors again:
And here's the redesign:
I find it interesting that on the redesign some colors are difficult to read at just the right spot of the gradient. For example, look at the second "E" in Henderson, or the "Y" in Griffey. They're just the right shade to blend into the background, or fool the eye. That sort of thing doesn't seem to happen as much on the original green borders, even with Rickey's green-on-green. Maybe that's another reason Fleer chose that color.
Overall, I really enjoyed this exercise. Along with re-tooling the original design, it was fun to simply go back and flip through the cards in this set. And after putting forth the redesign effort, it does seem like there was some method to Fleer's madness back then.
So what do you think? Original greens? Slate? Charcoal?
Leave a comment below.