Thursday, August 16, 2007

Box Break and Review: 2007 Fleer Ultra

One Blaster Box of 2007 Fleer Ultra (paid $19.97)
12 packs per box, five cards per pack

The Details:

Base Set: 250 cards
200 card short-set
37 Ultra Rookies
13 Lucky 13

Gold: 250 cards
Printing Plates: (one-of-one)

Swing Kings: 25 cards
Hitting Machines: 15 cards
Faces of the Game: 20 cards
Strike Zone: 10 cards
Ultra Iron Man: 50 cards

Swing Kings Memorabilia: 25 cards
Hitting Machines Memorabilia: 15 cards
Faces of the Game Memorabilia: 20 cards
Strike Zone Memorabilia: 10 cards
Feel the Game Memorabilia: 50 cards
Ultra Rookies Autographs
Lucky 13 Autographs

The Pulls

Base Set: 54 of 250 (21.60%)
Short-Set: 48 of 200 (24%)
Ultra Rookies: 5 of 37 (13.51%) Z. Segovia, M. Rabelo, J. Marshall, C. Jimenez and L. Speigner
Lucky 13: 1 of 13 (7.69%) R. Braun

2 Golds: E. Bedard and D. Haren

1 Swing King: F. Thomas
1 Strike Zone: J. Verlander
2 Ultra Iron Man

Autogamers: NONE

The Review

When Upper Deck initially announced the retooling and renaming of the Fleer Ultra brand into something called "Ultra SE", some of us had our concerns. Did The Hobby really need to have yet another $20/pack autogamer product? And why Ultra?

But fear not collectors. While the one-per-pack "Ultra SE" has hit the hobby stores (along with it's $20/pack price tag), the real Ultra has made its return as well. Only, you won't find it on the shelves of your local Hobby dealer. Nope. You'll find it instead at your local Wal-Mart.

2007 Ultra/Ultra SE is set up similar to what Pinnacle Brands did with Score ten years ago. If you remember, the mass-market retail outlets (K-Mart, Wal-Mart, et al) received regular '97 Score; however, Hobby dealers got something called "Score Premium Stock." The only difference between Score and Score Premium Stock was that the all of the Premium Stock cards were printed on a thicker "premium" gauge cardboard, and all the cards were hit with a foil stamp. For '07 Ultra, all the "SE" base cards are printed on what UD spokesman Don Williams calls "spectrum deco foil;" while the retail cards are on regular old UV coated cardboard with silver foil accents. Other than that, there is no difference -- base set wise -- between the two.

As for the Ultra base set itself, both Ultra and Ultra SE virtually unchanged: 250 cards in total, with 50 short-printed "ROOKIES." 13 of the 50 "ROOKIES" are part of a subset called "Lucky 13," and it appears that these cards are a little tougher to find than the other 37 short-printed "ROOKIES." The big "money card" is one of the first true-RCs of Brewers third-baseman Ryan Braun. He's in the Lucky 13 subset.

As is now par-for-the-course with UpperFleerDeck products, there are no checklists, nor are the pack insertion ratios are unlisted. So if you want a checklist, you know the drill: go to their website and download one. I distinctly remember Richard McWilliam saying at the Hawaii Ft. Lauderdale Trade Conference that UD was going to resume putting insertion ratios on the pack wrappers. We're still waiting on that, Dick.

The Bottom Line

For most collectors, this should be a no-brainer. For the price of one pack of Ultra SE, you can get a 12-pack Blaster Box. Oh sure, you're not guaranteed to get that Adrian Beltre game jersey. But if you're a Fleer Ultra die-hard, you're probably OK with that.

As for this particular box, every single five-card pack contained something of value -- whether it be a Gold parallel, a short-printed "ROOKIE," or an insert. (Zero doubles, five "ROOKIES," a Ryan Braun Lucky 13, four inserts, and two Golds.) If you're going after the full set, you're going to have to get at least four Blasters. Since not a lot of Hobby dealers will be breaking the retail version of Ultra, you may have to bite-the-bullet and buy a fifth, or even a sixth blaster box to dust off your base set. Either that, or intermix the regular cards with the foil-fronted SE cards.

Product Rating: 3 Gumsticks (out of five)

1 comment:

dayf said...

Instead of that 5th box blaster you could also go with the retail Fat Packs, they have 30 regular cards and two golds numbered to 999. They probably aren't much help with the rookies though, I didn't get any in the pack I got. They also have a clear wrapper so you could theoretically look to see if they had the cards you needed. Not that I would ever advocate performing such a nefarious deed.