Almost a little under the radar, Upper Deck announced this past week that they were going to be bringing the uber-successful Basketball product, Fleer Retro, to Football. In case your frame of reference isnt quite there for Basketball products, Fleer Retro might have been the most buzz-worthy set in many years. Cases are selling at almost 300% above the original MSRP. With college uniforms and a overstated nostalgia for the gaudy looking products of the late 1990s, Upper Deck accomplished what Panini has been trying to do since drastically overpaying for the NBA exclusive license. Although this product, most likely, wont have the same level of success in football that it did in Basketball, it should be interesting to see how much collectors want it.
Fleer Retro was driven by a need for collectors to have a new shot at some of the ridiculously rare inserts of a time where few cards were victim to contrived scarcity. If a card was serially numbered, it actually was that rare. Capitalizing on that premise, Upper Deck managed to achieve insert cards worth literally thousands of dollars with no autograph or relic:
2012 Fleer Retro Michael Jordan Precious Metal Gems Green /10 – I dont even know what to say about this price.
2012 Fleer Retro Lebron James Precious Metal Gems Green /10 – Equally jaw dropping price.
Football doesnt have the same sort of following or high end focused market that basketball does, but collectors will automatically assign value only because of how the cards performed in the sister product. Football did have Precious Metal Gems back in the day, but their value is peanuts compared to the big names in basketball.
Upper Deck definitely has a good thing going for them right now, and I have no idea what took them so long to come up with this as a strategy. With the ownership of retro names under their umbrella, this could be the step towards generating enough capital to get the license back. Regardless of any lawsuits or relationships. They already had success with college legends, based on their widely chased 1997 set, and if I am Gregg Kohn, I keep going to this well until its dry.