Has Fleer Retro Met Big Expectations in Football?

One of the biggest surprises of 2012 was Fleer Retro basketball’s success in the market, and for the most part, there were high expectations for its performance in football. I was skeptical of its ability to match up, if not only because the structure of the football market is so different from the international high end appeal that comes with collectors in that sport. Like Panini Prizm, it seems as though the basketball market has rubbed off on football, as the cards from the set are selling a lot higher than I expected them to.

2012 Fleer Retro Robert Griffin III Green PMG /10 – This is the card by which all other Retro inserts will be measured.

2012 Fleer Retro Trent Richardson Green PMG /10 – Other players are selling well, too.

2012 Fleer Retro Jerry Rice 1960 Throwback On Card Auto

2012 Fleer Retro Aaron Rodgers Throwback Auto

The most important thing to realize is that there wasnt as large a focus on rare inserts in any sport the way they were presented in basketball, during the 1990s and beyond. Football DID have Precious Metal Gems back in the day, but they were not the ridiculous chase item they have become for the big stars. Lets face facts, without Michael Jordan to carry the value load, its tough for anything comparable to measure up. I guess that makes it more surprising that the cards are as valuable as they are.

That’s not saying that there arent some major hits in this product, as the football PMGs have turned out to be one of the more valuable non-autographed cards of the year – comparable with paralells in Chrome and Prizm. Considering they are college licesned, that’s pretty impressive. Upper Deck has carved out a growing niche of college collectors that are loyal to UDs brand, and it is done through a lot of ideas like this.

The issue stems from the fact that with such a high per box cost, without pulling one of the top tier players, many collectors are seeing a terrible return on investment. The checklist of PMGs is robust, which is a good thing if you are a player collector, but a bad thing if you are breaking wax. There are a lot of inserts to help shoulder the load, but you have to hit a good player to even come close to breaking even.

With the acquisition of an MLBPA license (something I am excited about), Fleer Retro Baseball is also in the works, and I am curious to see how it comes across. Baseball players are the least associated with their individual schools, with many of them not attending college at all, so I am wondering if this will be airbrushed like Panini’s cards are. That would be my preference when all is said and done.

In football, with the beauty and success we saw in 2012 SP Authentic Football, and the potential present in 2012 Exquisite – even without live Andrew Luck cards in the set – its obvious that Upper Deck might finally be reaching the level of stability that was lost with the NFL and MLB licenses in 2010. Hell, I am not a college collector, but I bought five boxes of SP Authentic and a box of Fleer Retro this year. That says a lot about their ability to convert new customers from existing ways of thinking.

When you can gain customers by putting out great looking products with nice content, that’s when things are going right.

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