My friend, Mike was recently researching wholesale prices on boxes of baseball cards for a Little League fundraiser. His plan was to buy a few boxes at a reduced rate - then sell them at the concession stand for profit. A trial run of one hobby box of Topps, Series I had garnered enough interest to make it worth his time.
"Do either Fleer or Upper Deck have a web site?" he asked. Like me, he had not actively collected current releases since the early 1990s, but he knew I had this page and could probably lead him in the right direction.
"They're out of business. In fact, Topps is currently the only company licensed to produce cards with logos," I told him. He was floored. Beyond that he was speechless to learn some unlicensed companies would persevere by releasing cards without team logos/names - "What's the point?!" For Mike it was as if he had been transported from colonial times - only to find out horse-drawn carriages had been replaced by cars!
So many years have passed since Donruss and Fleer have been around that it almost seems as though they never existed in the first place. I remember thinking that a Topps monopoly would limit creativity and ultimately predicted the eventual fall of the card industry, in total. Instead, the introduction of inserts, parallels, autograph and relics to the sets over the past decade has taken card collecting to a whole new level I could have never imagined. Even more, the development of product lines aimed at different level collectors has kept everyone interested in collecting new releases - no matter what their desired level of investment.
I still have fond memories of the basic, overproduced card sets I grew up collecting, but it's a different world than Mike and I knew back in the '80s, for sure..