Insert Set Flashback: 1997-98 Fleer Key Ingredients

The Set:
1997-98 Fleer Key Ingredients

Set Odds:
1 in 2 series one retail packs

Key Cards:
Shaquille O’Neal $1.50
Scottie Pippen $1.00

Why I Like It:
I actually didn’t know this set existed until recently, but its metallic looking finish jumped out at me.  These players are the ‘Keys’ to their teams, and each card has an identical background of the paint which is, as with several inserts sets from the late 90s, not a flat card.  There’s a 3D type effect that makes the player stand out against the background.  Fleer also produced a Gold version of these that were inserted at 1 in 18 packs.

I am putting the regular set together, and have just a few more cards I need to finish it.  You can find the ones I need on my Insert Wantlists page.  Let me know if you have any of the remaining cards there.  I have lots to trade. You can leave a comment or contact me at

Wednesday Wax: 2002-03 Fleer Hot Shots

The Set:
2002-03 Fleer Hot Shots
24 packs per box, 8 cards per pack
Base set contains 100 Basic cards, 29 Give and Go, 39 All-Stars
27 Rookie Hats-Off /350
6 Vince Carter Hats-Off /350
6 Rookies /350
Hot Hands Parallels /199, Rookies /99
Give and Go Dual Event/Game Used /50
All-Stars Triple Event/Game Used /25
Hot Shots 1:8 packs, Event Worn 1:30 packs
En Fuego 1:12 packs, Event Worn 1:44 packs
Net Burners 1:24 packs, Event Worn /100
Hot Numbers /350, Event Worn /50
Parallel Versions of Event Worn cards

Our Break:

Hot Hands Parallel (4): Grant Hill /199, Antoine Walker /199, Eric Snow and Keith Van Horn /199, John Salmons /99

Hot Shots (3): Yao Ming, Mike Dunleavy, Jared Jeffries

En Fuego (2): Vince Carter, Shaquille O’neal

Hot Numbers (1): Richard Jefferson

Net Burners (1): Steve Nash

Hot Shots Event Worn (1): Kareem Rush

Rookie Hats-Off /350 (3): Casey Jacobsen, John Salmons, Ronald Murray

Vince Carter Hats-Off /350 (1): Curtis Borchardt

En Fuego Event Worn (1): Karl Malone


A fun time for basketball breaks, to be sure.  The chase cards here are the Yao Ming rookie memorabilia cards, the All-Star Triple jerseys numbered to 25, as well as the other parallel memorabilia versions of the insert sets.

An excellent base set with lots of inserts, parallels and memorabilia cards in each box.  This is a 2000s box with a 90s feel.  It has two subsets. The Give and Go cards for the most part show a point guard or high assist man on the front with the finisher on the back.  The second subset contains participants in the previous year’s All-Star weekend, and by participants, I mean in the rookie-sophomore game, three-point contest, dunk contest, and All-Star game.  That’s why we have guys in there like Chris Mihm.

These cards have a glossy finish, more noticeable on the darker cards like some of the Rookie Hats-Off cards.  These memorabilia cards are condition sensitive, particularly on the corners.

Want to point out that the typical box will not contain 6 memorabilia cards.  The overall odds of pulling a memorabilia card are 1 in 8 packs, but this box contained a ‘hot pack’ with 4 memorabilia cards in the one pack (the 4 Rookie Hats-off cards).

Not sure how many redemption cards were inserted for this product, but we were lucky enough to avoid them.

Overall a blast to open, and it was certainly exciting to open a hot-pack, even if we didn’t hit any of the higher valued rookies such as Yao, Carlos Boozer, or the scarcer All-Star or Give and Go jerseys.  A product I wanted to open at the time it came out, and still a worthwhile break today.

Insert Set Flashback: 1997-98 Ultra Jam City

The Set:
1997-98 Ultra Jam City

Set Odds:
1 in 8 series 1 packs

Key Cards:
Kobe Bryant $8.00
Shaquille O’Neal $4.00
Kevin Garnett $3.00

Why I Like It:
Oh man, how to get started.  How sweet would a modern-day Jam City set be?  Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, LeBron, etc… highlighting a set of the league’s best dunkers?  Or a set with past slam-dunk champions?  The Jam City name had tons of potential.

The cartoon-y black and white background makes the color shot of the player jump off the card.  Putting some of the league’s arenas into the background would have been a nice touch.

One thing I found amusing from the cards above: How does Juwan have a pass into Jam City when the back of the card says that he likes to step out for 18-footers?  Howard could throw it down in his younger days, but at least mention that rather than his set-shot ability.

Pickup of the Week, 1999-00 Fleer Focus Feel the Game

The 1999-00 Fleer Feel the Game sets were some of the earliest basketball game used card sets released. The Fleer Focus versions inserted at just 1 in 288 packs.  At those odds, I am surprised that the Grant Hill card pictured above has a high book value of only $20.  These can be had at an affordable price, they just don’t show up that often.

Question – Today, most products guarantee at least one memorabilia card per box, most more than that.  How has your enjoyment of the hobby been impacted by the decreased rarity of memorabilia cards?

Insert Set Flashback: 1995-96 Fleer Total D

The Set:
1995-96 Fleer Total D

Set Odds:
1 in 5 Series 1 packs

Key Cards:
Michael Jordan $8.00
Shaquille O’Neal $3.00
Scottie Pippen $2.00

Why I Like It:
I opened more packs of 1995-96 Fleer than I’d care to admit in my early collecting days.  I was drawn to the set because of its variety of styles and patterns.  It’s also a large set so I didn’t find myself pulling the same players all the time.  The Total D set points out the defensive powerhouses of the mid-90s, such as ‘The Glove’ Gary Payton, shot-blockers Olajuwon and Mutumbo, and lockdown perimeter defenders in Jordan and Pippen.  The back description shares the player’s accolades on the defensive side of the floor.

While the uptempo, flashy offenses are often more fun to watch, getting crucial stops down the stretch wins games.  The Dirk-led Mavs finally broke through and won the championship last season after acquiring their defensive anchor in Tyson Chandler.  It’s hard to see them matching that success this season with Chandler now in New York.  Defense certainly matters, and these guys, showing their ‘Total D’, were the best at proving it.

Wednesday Wax: 1994-95 Fleer Series 1

The Set:
1994-95 Fleer Series 1
24 packs, 21 cards per pack
Base set contains 236 base cards, 1 Toronto Raptors logo card, 3 checklists
Rookie Sensations 1 in 3 packs
All-Defensive 1 in 9 packs
League Leaders 1 in 11 packs
Pro-Visions 1 in 5 packs
Triple Threats 1 in 9 packs
Award Winners 1 in 22 packs
Career Achievement 1 in 37 packs

Our Break:

Lots of base cards, lots of duplicates

All-Defensive (5): Mookie Blaylock, Charles Oakley, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Dennis Rodman

League Leaders (2): Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Dennis Rodman

Pro-Visions (5): Jamal Mashburn x2, John Starks, Dennis Rodman, Dan Majerle

Rookie Sensations (10): Vin Baker x3, P.J. Brown, Sam Cassell, Anfernee Hardaway, Chris Mills, Dino Radja, Nick Van Exel x2

Triple Threats (2): Patrick Ewing, David Robinson


Have no reason to complain on much of anything from this box, as I got it off ebay for the price of most modern-day lower-end packs.  However, I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed to pull multiples of inserts, particularly the three Vin Baker rookie sensation cards.  Also opened a ton of duplicates in the base set.  Pretty sure we came close to completing the base set, though.  Also had to spend a considerable amount of time pulling the cards apart.  Didn’t notice any damage to the cards because of this, though.

Inserts were inserted at 1 per pack, over a third of them being from the 25 card Rookie Sensations set.  Pulling the Penny Hardaway from this set was nice, and it ended being the best card in the box.  The chase cards from this insert set are the Hardaway and Chris Webber ($5 each).  The Pro-Visions cards fit together from what I can tell.  The Marshburn and Starks pictured above are cards 1 and 2 in the set, and their backgrounds run together.  Can’t argue with the variety of the inserts, pulling cards from 5 different insert sets.

It’s worth noting that the rookie cards from 1994-95 Fleer (Grant Hill, Jason Kidd, Jalen Rose, Eddie Jones, etc…), are in the series 2 products.


Base Set: 3/5 Stars
Inserts: 4/5 Stars
Value: 5/5 Stars
Overall: 4/5 Stars

The base set design isn’t particularly exciting, but does feature nice action shots of the players.  The player name text also goes well with the splotch of color underneath.  The ding on the insert score is mainly because we pulled 5 duplicate inserts out of 24 packs.  We don’t need even 1 Vin Baker, and certainly not 3.  We also didn’t pull any of the inserts with tougher odds, even though we were likely to pull at least 1.  Again, a fun break, brings back a lot of memories of opening these as a kid.  Can’t argue with the value.  The Penny basically paid for the box all by itself.  While not as thrilling as the Flair break from last week, or even an Ultra break from the same year, it’s a solid product that delivers a lot of cards, a variety of inserts, and a reasonable amount of fun.

Wednesday Wax: 1994-95 Flair Series 1

The Set:
1994-95 Flair Series 1
24 packs, 10 cards per pack
Base set contains 158 base cards, 14 USA cards, 3 checklists
Hot Numbers 1 in 5 packs
Scoring Power 1 in 8 packs
Center Spotlight 1 in 25 packs

Our Break:

163 out of 175 base cards, 73 duplicates

Hot Numbers (5): Dikembe Mutombo, Hakeem Olajuwon x2, Scottie Pippen, Isaiah Rider

Scoring Power (3): Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone

Center Spotlight (2): Hakeem Olajuwon, Chris Webber


Opening this box was the most fun I’d had on a break in a good while, and it’s likely led me to open a box of Series 2 and to complete the insert sets from Series 1 and 2.  I think it’s partly because of the current NBA lockout, which has inspired me to go back and watch some games from the mid-nineties, making pulling some of the players from those games pretty awesome.

I remember opening a single pack of 94-95 Flair Series 2 when I was younger (around 8 years old when the set first came out).  I was in awe of the packaging.  Each pack comes in a little golden cardboard box, which is wrapped in clear plastic.  Then the cards themselves are wrapped in clear plastic.  While it takes a bit of effort to get to the actual cards, the effort is worth it.

The base cards have something that I miss in modern cards, and that’s player action shots filling the entire card.  The fronts feature multiple shots of the player and script text with the player name, with team name below.  The back of the card lists the player’s entire career stats, which I always appreciate.  What’s different about this set though is that the stats don’t hog the space on the back of the card, as an action photo serves as the background with the stats overlaid.  The USA cards show a game by game account for the player during the 1994 World Championship.

The inserts look fantastic.  I would have liked to have opened more than 10 out of 24 packs, but their rarity is part of what makes 90s inserts so appealing.  Shaq inserts are the most sought after from this Flair set, but I was pretty pumped to pull multiple Center Spotlight cards, beating the odds there.  The Chris Webber Center Spotlight and the Scottie Pippen Hot Numbers were the top cards in the box.


Base Set: 5/5 Stars
Inserts: 4/5 Stars
Value: 5/5 Stars
Overall: 4.67/5 Stars

The beautiful design on the base set, the high card quality, and the nostalgia factor made 1994-95 Flair Series 1 a great buy.  You should be able to find a box online for under $30 including shipping.

Insert Set Flashback: 2000-01 Fleer Mystique Player of the Week

The Set:
2000-01 Fleer Mystique Player of the Week

Set Odds:
1 in 5 packs

Key Cards:
Kobe Bryant $5.00
Shaquille O’Neal $2.50

Why I Like It:
There was a gap between 1997 and 2000 where I stopped collecting.  Fleer Mystique was one of the sets that brought me back.  The cards were shiny, beatifully colored, and the insert sets well-designed.  Sadly, the last Mystique set was produced for the 2003-04 season.

Player of the Week featured 15 players who won the weekly award during the 1999-00 season.  The numbers and text on the front of the card are positioned to look like a calendar.  The back of the cards highlight the games that led to the player winning the award.  Fun to look back at a snapshot of that particular season, the first championship season of a Laker 3-peat.

Insert Set Flashback: 1995-96 Metal Rookie Roll Call

The Set:
1995-96 Metal Rookie Roll Call

Set Odds:
Randomly inserted in series one packs

Key Cards:
Jerry Stackhouse $3.00
Rasheed Wallace $2.50

Why I Like It:
I was in love with Fleer Metal cards back in the day.  This particular insert set is one of the most colorful designs I have ever seen on cards that wouldn’t be considered holographic or a refractor.  These cards are even better looking in person than in the scans.  Each card contains a background of basketballs colored almost like oil on a blacktop, with an action shot of the player in uniform.

The set features nearly all of the top picks from the 1995 NBA draft, the exception being Kevin Garnett, the best player by far to come out of this class.  Cherokee Parks and Brent Barry are the only players appearing in this 10-card set who were not drafted in the top 10 of the 95′ draft.  Pulling this set out makes me want to find and open a box of Fleer Metal!

Insert Set Flashback: 1993-94 Fleer NBA Superstars

The Set:
1993-94 Fleer NBA Superstars

Set Odds:
Randomly Inserted

Key Cards:
Michael Jordan $10.00
Shaquille O’Neal $4.00

Why I Like It:
This 20 card set highlights the best players in the league at the time.  The sleek design features game shots on the right side with an overlayed image of the player.  In my opinion the most attractive insert set created up to that time.  Makes me miss the 90’s NBA and want to watch intros for the ‘NBA on NBC’.