Fleer: Ultra

My Fleer Ultra Collection (Updated December 22nd, 2021)

1991 Fleer Ultra: “Leonard Smith” #9

In the late 80s and early 90s, the football hobby market exploded. In 1989 Action Packed, Score, and Pro Set jumped into the foray with Topps. Suddenly, instead of being a one-trick pony, the hobby came to life!! Fleer jumped into the mix in 1990, but in 1991 when  Upper Deck, (aka "The Big Dog" ), jumped in, everybody took notice. And one thing that everybody did at the same time was to create a "Super Premium" set to compete with "The Big Dog". And Fleer was no different. It was at that time that Fleer introduced it's Super Premium title called "Fleer: Ultra". One of the coolest and photo unique releases year-to-year of any title on a 9-year run.  From 1991 to 1999, each set was a classic with some of the most unique photos, (See the 1991 Fleer Ultra "Leonard Smith" #9 top left), and they all had a huge # of cards for the collector. The 1996 set did dip to 200 cards for a reason I'll discuss below. Maybe Fleer was saving some budget for it's upcoming "Fleer: Goudy" title to be released the following year. Regardless, in 1991, Fleer made a grand entrance into the "Super Premium" market and it stayed grand for a number of years.

The 1992 "Fleer: Ultra" set continued right where the 1991 set finished up. The action shots that Fleer continued using were very nice and unique and the card layout was excellent, (See the 1992 Fleer “Scott Case” #3 right). Fleer continued to use the borderless design that Pro-Set started back in 1990. The '92 release stayed the course and had 3 insert sets, just like the '91 release. They were nothing major, but they were also unique and very attainable, something that would change in 1993.

The '94 release was another stellar set. This time Fleer upped the set size to 525. And the # of insert sets increased again, from 6 to 10. There weren't any really rare or hard to complete insert sets in this release and I think that really hurt the overall value and interest regarding this release. The collectors need to struggle to complete a set or two, I think it gives them a feeling of getting something rare or hard to find. I know I feel that way about the 1993 Fleer Ultra Award Winners set. I don't have a single card from that set. Anyway, the 1994 "Fleer: Ultra" set was another solid release and confirmed Fleer's arrival in the "Super Premium" hobby market, (See the 1994 Fleer Ultra: "Deion Sanders" #20 below right). This would be Fleer's 4th solid release in 4 years.

The 1995 release continued to build on an already solid title. Fleer again increased the # of cards in its set from 525 to 550. The # of insert sets also increased to 12. The "Fleer: Ultra" title was starting to become a monster set to put together. With 550 base cards and 12 insert sets, it was going to take quite a few boxes to build this, baby, (See the 1995 Fleer Ultra: "Terance Mathis" #20 left). But the same high-quality cards that the hobby had become familiar with was keeping this title at the head of the pack and by 1995 the market was flooded with options. 

1992 Fleer Ultra: “Scott Case” #3

1993 Fleer Ultra: “Darion Conner” #2

1994 Fleer Ultra: “Deion Sanders” #20

1995 Fleer Ultra: “Terance Mathis” #20

1996 Fleer Ultra: “Reggie White” #58

In 1993, the "Fleer: Ultra" title hit the 500-card plateau. Again, the card photography was amazing. A blend of unique action shots and vibrant color photos really made this set collectible, (See the 1993 Fleer Ultra “Darion Conner” #2 left).  And 

1997 Fleer Ultra: “Eric Turner” #293

In 1996, the "Fleer: Ultra" release dipped down to a 200-card release, it's lowest card total up to that point. The reason for the dip, Fleer also released a parallel set called "Fleer: Ultra Sensations". Think of it as a Collector's Edge wanna-be set. Why do I say that? Because it had about 5 parallels along with it, all having a different colored border. The "Fleer: Ultra Sensations" had a one-season life-span, then it was gone. With that being said, the regular issued release from "Fleer: Ultra" was very nice, (See the 1996 Fleer Ultra: "Reggie White" #58 right). Fleer continued with the live-action shots that had, up to that point, been their staple.  And that year, Fleer cut their # of insert sets drastically from 12 in 1995 to 5 in 1996.  I guess the "Fleer: Ultra Sensations" release really stretched the budget.

The '97 release of "Fleer: Ultra" was again much of the same, (See the 1997 Fleer Ultra: "Eric Turner" #293 left). You definitely knew what you were getting when it came to this title. Fleer didn't change much from season to season. The '97 release had a 350-card release and a staggering 15 insert sets! With not one of them being a Game-Used or Autograph set, it was very possible to put this together rather quickly, but buying this release by the box to do that, could get really pricey. A few of the insert sets were a challenge to complete, ( like the 1997 Fleer Ultra: "Barry Sanders" Starring Role #2 left), but most sets were very affordable while still retaining their high quality. Something that the collector came to expect from the "Fleer: Ultra" title.

1997 Fleer Ultra: “Barry Sanders” Starring Role #2

1998 Fleer Ultra: “Eddie George” #190

 Fleer increased it's insert sets from 3 to 6. One of those insert sets is extremely difficult to find and very hard to complete the "Award Winners" insert set. As I type this, it only books for $40, but I've seen it sell twice for $31.00 and $30.50. Two really high dollar values for a set only booking for $40. Regardless, the '93 was another amazing set. Fleer had a keeper with its "Fleer: Ultra" title.

In 1998 "Fleer: Ultra" again increased its # of cards from 350 to 425. The 1998 release carried on a trait that started in '97 and that was issuing the full set in two different releases; a series 1 and a series 2. The cards were again, full action photos on the front with full players stats on the back, (See the 1998 Fleer Ultra “Eddie George” #190 right). The '98 release also had a massive group of 12 insert sets. Some of which still carry a very high book value almost 10 years later. And high book values always carry a certain appeal to the collector.

In 1999, the "Fleer: Ultra" set finally came down in the # of cards to 300. Another thing this release had for the first time was "Short Printed" Rookies, (See the 1999 Fleer Ultra: “Edgerrin James” Rookie #272 below left). This was done in order to

1999 Fleer Ultra: “Edgerrin James” RC #272

2000 Fleer Ultra: “Donovan McNabb” Millennium Monsters #10

stay up with the competition. In 1998, Upper Deck was the first to offer the "Short Printed" rookie cards in its 1998 Upper Deck release, and it was very well received by the hobby. The # of insert sets was also reduced, gone were the massive 12 or 13 insert sets. In 1999, only 5 insert sets made the cut.  At first, I thought that might have been a mistake, I enjoy chasing those insert sets,

( Hence, the name "Chase cards" ), but now with the "Short Printed" rookies that gave the collector a whole new crop of cards to chase. 

I've only made it as far as the 2000 release, but the same quality and dedication by the Fleer design team put its stamp on this set too. The 1999 "Fleer: Ultra" dropped in size again to 249 cards, but released 2 parallels, as well. The insert sets weren't up to same standard as previous insert sets, but that is bound to happen in a 10-year run, (See the 2000 Fleer Ultra: “Donovan McNabb” Millennium Monsters #10 right). Even though the insert sets weren't as nice, I really did like both of the parallel sets. They looked extremely nice and still command a pretty penny on auction sites.

For 10 years, I was extremely pleased with the work that the Fleer team put into the "Fleer: Ultra" product. Here is something else to consider, as well, when Fleer announced that it would cease all productions of trading cards in early 2005, the talks with Upper Deck started gaining momentum. By July 2005, Upper Deck acquired the rights to the Fleer name and began producing Fleer-branded football cards. The "Fleer: Ultra" title would continue for another 2 years, I guess Upper Deck thought pretty highly of the "Fleer: Ultra" title too.

I have complete sets:

 

Fleer Ultra Series:

1) 1991 Ultra Set

    A) All-Stars Insert

    B) Performances Insert

    C) Update

2) 1992 Ultra Set

    A) Chris Miller Insert

    B) Reggie White Insert

    C) Award Winners Insert

3) 1993 Ultra Set

    A) Stars Insert

    B) All-Rookies Insert

    C) Michael Irvin Insert

4) 1994 Ultra Set

    A) Stars Insert

    B) TD Kings Insert

    C) Rick Mirer Insert

    D) First Rounders Insert

    E) Award Winners Insert

    F) Flair Hot Numbers Insert

    G) Flair Scoring Power Insert

    H) Achievement Awards Insert

    I) Flair Wave Of The Future Insert

    J)  Second Year Standouts Insert

5) 1995 Ultra Set

    A) Stars Insert

    B) TD Kings Insert

    C) Ultrabilities Insert

    D) Overdrive Insert

    E) Rising Stars Insert

    F) Magna Force Insert

    G) First Rounders Insert

    H) Award Winners Insert

    I)  Achievements Insert

    J) All-Rookie Team Insert

    K) Second Year Standouts Insert

    L) All-Rookie Team Hot-Pack Insert

6) 1996 Ultra Set

    A) Rookies Insert

    B) Pulsating Insert

    C) Sledgehammer Insert

    D) Mr. Momentum Insert

    E) All-Rookie Die Cuts Insert

7) 1997 Ultra Set

    A) Reebok Insert

    B) Rookies Insert

    C) Blitzkrieg Insert

    D) Main Event Insert

    E) Specialists Insert

    F) Rising Stars Insert

    G) Talent Show Insert

    H)  Sunday School Insert

    I) First Rounders Insert

    J) Comeback Kids Insert

    K) Play Of The Game Insert

    L) Ultra Specialists Insert

    M) Stars Insert

    N) Starring Role Insert

8) 1998 Ultra Set

    A) Shots Insert

    B) Top 30 Insert

    C) TD Kings Insert

    D) Rush Hour Insert

    E) Damage, Inc. Insert

    F) Next Century Insert

    G) Sensational Sixty Insert

    H) Caught in the Draft Insert

    I) Indefensible Insert 

9) 1999 Ultra Set

    A) Damage, Inc. Insert

    B) Counterparts Insert

    C) Over the Top Insert

    D) Caught in the Draft Insert

10A) 2000 Ultra Set

10B) 2000 Ultra Gold Medallion Set

    A) Fast Lane Insert

    B) Won by One Insert

    C) Dream Team Insert

    D) Head of the Class Insert

    E) Instant Three Play Insert

    F) Millennium Monsters Insert

11) 2001 Ultra Set

    A) Ground Command Insert

12) 2002 Ultra Set

13) 2003 Ultra Set

14) 2004 Ultra Set - Incomplete ( 248 / 253 )

    A) Ultra Performers Insert

    B) Season Crown Autographs Insert - Incomplete ( 5 / 24 )*

15) 2005 Ultra Set - Do Not Have

    A) First Rounders Insert

    B) Sensations Insert

    C) TD Kings Insert

16) 2006 Ultra Set

    A) Award Winners Insert

    B) Ultra Achievements Insert

    C) Kings of Defense Insert

    D) Postseason Performers Insert

    E) Scorings Kings Insert

    F) Ultra Stars Insert

*Note: I added 2 to the total set. The 2 cards I added were 1) A Chad Pennington Exchange, 2) A Joe Jurivious Exchange,

 

 

Fleer Ultra Other Titles:

1) 1996 Ultra Sensations (Gold) Set

    A) 1996 Ultra Sensations (Blue) Parallel Set

    B) 1996 Ultra Sensations (Marble Gold) Parallel Set

    C) 1996 Ultra Sensations (Pewter) Parallel Set

    D) 1996 Ultra Sensations (Rainbow) Parallel Set

    E) Random Rookies (Silver) Insert

    F) Random Rookies (Gold) Parallel Insert

    G) Creative Chaos Insert - Incomplete (10 / 100)