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It’s back! 2000 Fleer Focus Baseball Box DEUX

A little over four months ago, I posted one of my most popular reviews to date. The review was for a box of 2000 Fleer Focus which was highlighted by an Andruw Jones autograph. Considering how much I enjoyed that box, I decided to give it another try. I recently picked up a second box for $27, a few dollars fewer than the cost of the first. Once again, each box contains 24 packs of 10 cards each. Here’s a quick rundown of the pulls (detailed descriptions in first box review):

Base cards: After falling 9 cards short of a base set in the first box, I was able to complete to complete the set with this box. As was the case with the first box, two prospect cards were pulled. This time, they were both of the action (as opposed to portrait) variety: Wily Mo Pena (2453/3999) and Adam Piatt (2486/3999). At this time, I have no intentions of putting a second set together or collecting the shortprints so if you need set fillers, let me know.

Masterpiece Mania (numbered to 300): While the prospects seem to unofficially fall at a rate of two per box, the Masterpiece Mania cards seem to fall at one per. These green-foiled parallels are limited to 300. I pulled an Ismael Valdes (026/300), who bounced between the Dodgers and Cubs in 1999-00.

Focal Points (1:6 packs): The most common inserts found in this product are the Focal Points inserts. Falling at four per box, there are fifteen cards in this set. Between the two boxes, I have yet to pull any doubles. In this box, I received Mike Piazza, Chipper Jones, Tony Gwynn, and Ken Griffey, Jr. These currently put me at 8/15 for the set.

Future Vision (1:9 packs): These holofoil inserts showcased the game’s top prospects at the time. Seeded at two or three per box, there are 15 cards in the set. I pulled cards of Mario Encarnacion and Adam Kennedy. Woohoo! Two boxes in a row with a Kennedy insert. Too bad my Kennedy card isn’t like the one that Mario at Wax Heaven pulled.

Focus Pocus (1:14 packs): Ah, the good ol’ trippy ’90s inserts. Seeded at roughly two per box, this insert set featured ten of the game’s greatest. My pulls were of Chipper Jones and Cal Ripken, Jr.

Club 3000 (1:36 packs): LIke I mentioned in the original review, Club 3000 was a cross-brand promotion in which fourteen members of the 3000-hit club were featured on inserts and game-used memorabilia cards throughout five different Fleer products. No more than three subjects could be found in each particular product. In Fleer Focus, the three subjects were Stan Musial, Steve Carlton, and Paul Molitor. I pulled a Steve Carlton insert in this box. Unfortunately, there were no game-used swatches.

Final Thoughts: Despite not have an autograph or game-used hit, I still wasn’t disappointed with this box. The inserts delivered as promised and I had no inserts repeating from the first box. Fleer Focus has always been a personal favorite of mine. It has some very good potential as far as hits go (Fresh Ink, Club 3000 Memorabilia, etc.) and an affordable price. For about $30, you can’t go wrong with this one.

As always, thanks for reading and good luck with your own breaks!
-John

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2000 Fleer Ultra Baseball Review

Ladies and gentlemen, do not adjust your monitors, this really is a new post. Today, I busted a box of one of my favorite brands, Fleer Ultra. Before it became bastardized by Upper Deck, Ultra was a very collectible set with crisp, full bleed photography. Unfortunately, it also had a very repetitive base design (at least in the later years) as shown in the 1999 and 2004 sets. Ultra also had its share of unique inserts and high-dollar parallels and in 2000, autographs and game-used memorabilia cards were thrown into the mix. So with all that to shoot for, what would I pull? Let’s see…

Base cards: The base set is comprised of 300 cards with the last 50 being shortprinted prospect cards, which fall in every 6 packs on average. From the short set, I received 170 cards with 29 duplicates and 3 triplicates. My prospect cards were of Chris Woodward, Buddy Carlyle, Jacque Jones, Eric Munson, Erubiel Durazo, and Tony Armas, Jr.

Gold Medallion Parallel (1 per pack): One can expect to find a Medallion parallel in each pack, each of which has been die cut to round off the top of the card. The Gold Medallions are the most common and were the only kind I pulled from this box. All in all, there were 24 Golds, 1 for every pack in the box. I pulled my share of stars including Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Frank Thomas, Mariano Rivera, Larry Walker, Mike Mussina, and others. Naturally, I chose to scan the crappiest one of them all, Rey Ordonez. Gold Medallion prospect cards are seeded 1 in every 24 packs, but I did not pull one. If you’re lucky, there are 2 other parallels can you find in place of these Gold Medallions. The first are the Platinum Medallions. Instead of gold, these cards have a platinum finish to them and are numbered to just 50 (the prospects are numbered to 25). The second are the Masterpiece parallels. These cards look similar to the Platinum Medallions, but have purple foil over the front text and are limited to just 1 copy each. Here’s an example of a Platinum Medallion card from my personal collection.

Diamond Mine (1:6 packs): The most common insert in this product is called Diamond Mine. This silver-foiled insert set is comprised of 15 cards and features the game’s best. I pulled 3 in this box: Tony Gwynn, Juan Gonzalez, and Vladimir Guerrero. These cards don’t look nearly as cool as they do in the scan above.

World Premiere (1:12 packs): Of course, the product wouldn’t be complete without a prospect insert set. That’s where World Premiere (15 cards) comes in. These cards are hideous and look like a bunch of Metal Universe rejects. I pulled cards of Carlos Beltran, Ben Davis, and Adam Kennedy. Speaking of Metal Universe/Skybox, the back of the Kennedy card cracks me up. It reads:

“When you were growing up, Adam, did you ever imagine that you’d be playing so close to baseball history? While most players would kill to play second base for the Cardinals, you seem unfazed. Hey, maybe someday they’ll ask Mark McGwire what was it like to play next to the line drive-hitting, smooth fielding Adam Kennedy. You think?”

Alright, so that wasn’t as great as the “gangster backs” of the Skybox cards, but still………HA!!!

Swing Kings (1:24 packs): These are acetate cards, but are still relatively simple. Out of the 10 cards in this set, I pulled a Derek Jeter and a Mark McGwire. Let’s see if there are any asinine comments on the backs of these.

Jeter: “You don’t become the best-loved player in New York by just having a pretty face. It helps if you can go yard every time up. Which, of course, you can.”

Umm…..what? Jeter’s always been more of a singles/doubles hitter and has only reached the 20-homer mark 3 times in 14 seasons. Moving on…

What WASN’T Pulled: Oh boy, this is going to be long. First, there’s an insert called Crunch Time. These cards are seeded 1 in every 3 boxes and are reminiscent of the Leather and Lumber inserts from 1997 Donruss Elite. There’s a rare insert called Ultra Talented, which are numbered to just 100. At this time, I’m unable to find a picture of those (haven’t seen one in years). Feel the Game made its Ultra debut in this product. In every 7 boxes on average, one could pull a game-used jersey or batting glove swatch from 1 of 15 different players. Lastly, there was the Fresh Ink autograph set. This set had over 60 subjects in it and print runs ranged anywhere between 1000 (lower-end guys like Matt Lawton and Jeremy Giambi) and 95 (Jeter). A quick rundown of some of the names in this set: Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn, Curt Schilling, Wade Boggs, Greg Maddux, Alfonso Soriano, Randy Johnson, and much more. One such card is a triple autograph featuring Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, and Nolan Ryan. It is limited to 100. I also did not receive any Club 3000 cards.

Final Thoughts: This box certainly turned out to be a dud, but it in no way affects my opinion of the product. A box contains 24 packs of 10 cards of each and should run in the $30-35 range. There are plenty of nice hits to chase after for a fair price. My bud Andrew, aka “slugger82685” on Youtube broke a box of this very product a couple months ago and did very well for himself (TWO autographs AND a Platinum Medallion!). Check out the video here.

As always, thanks for the read and good luck on your breaks!
-John

1998 Flair Showcase Baseball Box #2

Well folks, I apologize for the lack of new content recently, but things have been crazy around here. The good news is that I will have plenty of new reviews up in the near future. The bad news is that the boxes are taking a long time to get here! They’ll be worth the wait though. One of them, will not a be a box, but rather a vintage pack that A Pack a Day fans will appreciate. Until then, here’s a Flair Showcase box break to hold you over. If you didn’t know, 1998 Flair Showcase was my very first review on this site. One thing I failed to mention then was that I had broken another box of Showcase, just prior to that post. Ironically, this box was busted before that one in my debut post (this was before I even started this blog) so technically this should be box number 1 and that other should be box number 2. Eh, screw it, here’s what was pulled….(Check the original post for in-depth descriptions)

Row 3: This box yielded 73 Row 3 cards, with 2 dupes. The other box had 78 cards with 1 dupe. I should be close to finishing this set, but the last 30 cards are slightly shortprinted. I still have to figure out how many of these exactly I need. I got lazy, sue me.

Row 2: I pulled 30 of the Row 2 cards, which was 1 more than I had in the other box. Some of my notable names included Greg Maddux, Chipper Jones, Manny Ramirez, Paul Molitor, Jim Thome, and Curt Schilling. I doubt I will try for this set so if anyone is looking for a certain team, I’ll gladly search for you.

Row 1: There were 10 Row 1 cards in this box, again 1 more than the other box. The notable players here included Sammy Sosa, Fred McGriff, Jay Buhner, and Robin Ventura. Again, there are all available if anyone needs them.

Row 0: In both boxes, I was able to pull 3 Row 0 cards, all in different tiers. As a reminder, the Row 0 set breaks down like this:
Cards 1-30: 250 produced
Cards 31-60: 500 produced
Cards 61-90: 1000 produced
Cards 91-120: 2000 produced
This particular box yielded cards of Mike Lieberthal (/2000), John Smoltz (/1000), and the big hit: Cal Ripken, Jr! (/250). I have been quietly attempting to put this set together since around the time of last year’s World Series. I currently have 84 of the 120-card set, with 3 very key pieces incoming. I had never even seen a Ripken until I pulled it out of this box, so that hit made it really worthwhile to me!

Wave of the Future (1:20 packs): It was Eli Marrero. Enough said.

What WASN’T Pulled: Neither box contained a Legacy Collection parallel, Masterpiece parallel, or Perfect 10 card. The Perfect 10 cards are limited to 10 (with only 10 cards in the set) and as you probably know, the Masterpieces are all 1/1’s, so it’s not surprising I didn’t pull any of these in my boxes. However, neither one contained a Legacy Collection parallel, which was a little bit of a surprise to me. There are no stated odds on these, except for the fact that they’re limited to 100. I figure these probably fall in every other box or so, given the production totals compared to the 1997 version.

Final Thoughts: This is a fairly difficult box to obtain, and can be pretty pricey. I’ve seen a couple of these in ebay stores for close to $100, but was able to pick these up for about half of that. The cards are absolutely beautiful, but the fracturing of the set may drive some collectors insane. Personally, I’ve always liked it, but that’s just me. For those that enjoy chasing tiers of super-premium base cards (i.e. Gold Label), this set is for you. I would definitely recommend trying a box of these, but not necessarily for the prices I saw in the stores on the ‘Bay. There are some bargains out there on this box (trust me!), just keep your eyes peeled! Also, if you have any of the Row 0 cards numbered to 500 or less, LET ME KNOW!

As always, thanks for reading and good luck with your breaks, new or old!
-John

2000 Fleer Focus Baseball Review

This next box brings back some very good memories. Shortly after its release, a pack of 2000 Fleer Focus yielded one of my biggest pulls of that time, a Feel the Game Alex Rodriguez jersey card. Game jersey cards were still rare then, and those cards were no exception, being seeded only 1 in 288 packs! That’s only 1 per 12 box case! Boxes of 2000 Fleer Focus contain 24 packs of 10 cards each. Seeing how I’ve been lucky with this product before, I thought it’d be a great box to review on my blog. I picked up this box for $30 and here’s what I got…

Base cards: There are 250 base cards in this set with 225 veterans and 25 prospects. On each veteran card, the player’s name and information is written in gold foil, next to a little picture of his team’s cap. Each prospect card has red foil on the front and is numbered to 3999. However, each prospect card has 2 variations. Of the 3999 of each prospect, the first 999 feature a different photgraph. The first 999 feature a close-up portrait shot, while the remainder feature longer-distance action shots. In this box, I received 216 of 225 basic cards with 17 duplicates. I pulled 1 regular prospect card (Chad Hermansen: 1684/3999) and 1 portrait prospect card (Mario Encarnacion: 0691/3999).

Masterpiece Mania: All 250 cards in the set have a parallel called Masterpiece Mania. Basically, these just feature green foil on the front and are numbered to just 300. I pulled a Brad Radke that sure as heck doesn’t look like it has green foil in the scan! There are also Masterpiece and Masterpiece Error parallels, of which I pulled none of either. The Masterpiece parallel has purple foil and is numbered 1/1. The Masterpiece Error versions have the same purple foil, but lack the numbering on the back. These cards were test issues that were never meant to be released. They don’t book for very much and I’m not sure how many found their way into packs, but I don’t think it was the whole set. Can you imagine finding a card in your pack with the purple foil and then finding out it was just a stupid error card?? That would be horrible!

Focal Points: The first inserts I pulled were the Focal Points inserts. These cards are seeded 1 in every 6 packs. These cards feature a solid color background, which also contains a second faint picture of the player. The players I pulled were Derek Jeter, Frank Thomas, Juan Gonzalez, and Jeff Bagwell. There is also a parallel to this set called “Striking,” but I did not receive any of those. They are limited to 50 copies.

Future Vision: Next is your obligatory prospect-filled insert set, called Future Vision. These vibrant inserts can be found 1 in every 8 packs. I pulled inserts of Ruben Mateo, Kip Wells, and Chad Hermansen. (Chad Hermansen hot box! LOL)

Focus Pocus: Here’s a clever play on words by Fleer. Despite a corny name, these are another attractive insert set. These cards are seeded 1 in every 14 packs. I received Tony Gwynn and Ken Griffey, Jr. in this set. Doesn’t it look like the player’s body is emitting some kind of crazy rays?

Club 3000: This was a major cross-brand insert set put out by Fleer in 2000. 14 different members of the 3000-hit club could be found in 5 different products. Besides Focus, the other products were basic Fleer, Mystique, Showcase, and Ultra. Despite what product you opened, you were pretty much guaranteed to hit 1 of these inserts per box. If you were real lucky, you could find one with 1, 2 or even 3 swatches of game-used material on it! All of the game-used cards had varied serial numbering on them. I pulled a plain basic insert of Stan “The Man” Musial, but it’s still a cool card! (Did you know that of Musial’s 3,630 career hits, exactly half of them came at home and half came on the road?)

Fresh Ink: Last but not least, came my hit of the box. The Fresh Ink inserts are found only 1 in 96 packs, but there is no shortage of stars in the set. Potential pulls include Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, Cal Ripken, Jr., Tony Gwynn, Josh Beckett, Mike Mussina, Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, Edgar Martinez, and others. I saw the authentication on the back at first and thought, “please let me get a nice star autograph!!” I flipped it over and saw Andruw Jones! Despite the fact that he’s started to fall off a little in the past couple years, I was still very happy with this pull.

Overall, I had a lot of fun with this box break. I nearly finished the basic set, falling only 9 short. I found some pretty cool inserts in this box and pulled a pretty nice autograph to boot. With that said, I think it’s a pretty enjoyable product overall. The set is a decent size for a set collector (shortprints included), the inserts look very nice, and there’s potential to get a pretty nice hit as well (mainly in the Fresh Ink or Masterpiece sets). The only downside I could see is perhaps getting duped with the Masterpiece Error set, like I mentioned before. 😉

As always, thanks for the read and good luck with your own box breaks!
-John

1998 Flair Showcase Baseball Review

In a post on Wax Heaven, Mario Alejandro said that 1998 Flair Showcase might be the most beautiful set ever. If not the most the beautiful, it’s certainly up there! Having always been a fan of this set since its debut (and since I’m secretly putting Row 0 together because I’m INSANE), I decided to make this the first of my “Old School Breaks.” This set features 120 players, with 4 cards per player, the 4 rows: 3,2,1, and 0. The 120 players are broken into 4 groups of 30 and each group has its own specific odds of acquiring a particular row card. i.e. It would be easier to find Row 3 cards of cards 1-30 than it would be of cards 91-120. I won’t go into all the details, but in short, Row 3 cards are the most common in general while Row 0 cards are the most rare (and all of these are serially numbered, ranging from 250-2000, depending on where they fall in the set). Anyways, some brief descriptions of the cards are as follows:

Row 3: Black and white background with a close-up of the player
Row 2: Color background with a distant shot of the player, basically a torso shot
Row 1: Color background with a close-up shot of the player, with a crazy finish on the card
Row 0: Color background with a full-body shot of the player, another crazy-looking design

In this box I received 78 out of 120 Row 3 cards, with only 1 dupe! I received 29 Row 2 cards, 9 Row 1 cards, and 3 Row 0 cards. Stars from Row 2 included Maddux, A-Rod, Piazza, Chipper, Vlad, Smoltz, among others. The Row 1 cards were nothing to brag about, with Paul Molitor being the best. From Row 0, I got Curt Schilling out of 2000, Gary Sheffield out of 1000, and Jim Edmonds out of 500. I also got a Travis Lee Wave of the Future card (man, whatever happened to him?!?). I forgot to mention earlier that there’s an insert set called Perfect 10 (10 cards of each of 10 total players, NEVER seen one) and a parallel to the whole set called the Legacy Collection. These are limited to 100 (for everyone and every row) and feature a blue foil in the card’s font. Unfortunately, I did not have one in my box, but I still had a blast ripping it. I also didn’t get one of this parallel either, but maybe if you find a box, you can find one. 😉

Thanks for the read. Feedback is appreciated as this was my first actual review.
-John