About a year ago I tried a redesign of the much-maligned 1992 Fleer Baseball set. It was a thoroughly enjoyable project, and the new design generated a lot of clicks and favorable comments. Some folks even went so far as to suggest that I try a redesign of another infamous set of the era:
Jack Clark ponders the meaning of all this
yellowness and says he's staying in the dugout
It's remarkable to look back and realize that a year before 1992's sage green borders, Fleer went with an even more ostentatious bright yellow.
But it was the early 1990s. Card companies were pushing the envelope. Competition in the market was increasing. I say kudos to Fleer for taking that leap of boldenss (or lunacy) and trying something new.
Still, many would agree that it would be good to give 1991 Fleer a new look.
I started tinkering around, and figured I'd set a goal similar to last time: Try out a couple of different ideas on a handful of cards, choose which design I liked best, and then use that design to create one card for each MLB team.
To start off, here are six cards from the original set in all their yellowness.
And you know what? Similar to my thoughts on 1992 Fleer when I see them next to each other, nine-pocket style, I don't think the 1991 design is completely awful. But flipping through an entire binder of them, page after page? That might be a bit much.
So let's get on to the redesign ideas.
First I thought white could work, so I gave it a try on the same six cards.
Paired with a matching text color for each team, it's not bad. I'd call it clean. Light. Simple.
However, the overall design of 1991 Fleer is also simple. It's just a plain Times New Roman font and a few horizontal stripes. If you add an equally simple white border to that, maybe there's just not quite enough to it.
Besides, Fleer used white borders in their baseball card design two out of the previous three years (1988 and 1990). By the time 1991 rolled around, designs of the new premium brands like Leaf and Stadium Club were starting to stand out. I'm not sure going with simple white borders yet again would have generated much more interest among collectors than the yellow borders did.
So the next thing I did was to go back to a similar charcoal color that I used for the gradient in the 1992 Fleer redesign. (Swapping out Cerone for Bonilla to show an example of a yellow version.)
I like this one more. It's sharp. It's a little more elevated. The colors really stand out against the charcoal. I think a lot of kids would have been psyched to find these cards inside their Fleer wax packs in 1991.
However, I'm also a little bit hesitant with this one. Is it too much of a premium look for Fleer's flagship set? Remember, they debuted their own premium brand, called Ultra, in 1991. Ultra's card backs that year were indeed premium, with lots of color, not to mention three (THREE!) additional images of the player who was featured on the front. But the card fronts were a bit bland, with a very neutral and thin silver border running across the top and bottom of the card.
How could the card fronts on Fleer's flagship set look more premium than the fronts on their premium set?
I'm sure I'm thinking too much about this. I like the charcoal borders better, so why not just create a card for each team using the charcoal design?
Well, it's because now that I look back at the white borders, I'm kind of liking them more and more. And there's my conundrum. I'm still not sure which design I want to use on all 26 teams.
Maybe it's time to ask you, the readers.
Which design do you like more, white borders or charcoal borders?
Or maybe I should do something different, like set American League teams in the white border and National League teams in the charcoal border? (Or vice versa?)
Leave a comment and we'll go from there.
Thanks for reading, as always. I look forward to your answers!