Break – 1991 Ultra

Stats

base cards: 400 of 400 – 100% complete (95 duplicates/1 triplicate)
Ultra Gold (unknown insertion rate): 8 of 10 – 80% (1 duplicate)

Some base cards with backs

The base cards have a vertical format. The silver borders on the top and bottom try to look distinctive, but on too many cards the card picture just washes into the border. Just a little black line to separate the picture and border would have helped a lot, I think. The backs have a handful of smaller pictures. I would prefer more stats and information on the player.

This is Steve Avery’s card – a great shot that creatively fills the entire frame of the card. Most of the player pictures are action shots with some poses.

The Ultra Prospects subset runs from 373 to 390. They don’t stand out too much except the Fleer 91 Ultra logo is replaced with a green diamond containing a yellow shooting star. The backs of the Prospects are far more informative than the backs of the base cards.

Cards 391 to 396 comprise the Great Performances subset. The last four cards are checklists.

Inserts and parallels

The box held nine Ultra Gold inserts, including a duplicate. I normally like to show all the inserts, but these aren’t exciting enough to warrant scanning the whole group. Shown here are Bo Jackson (#6) and Chris Sabo (#9). I don’t know how Sabo made the list, but maybe a member of the Fleer staff is a Reds fan (like me).

Ultra Gold #6 – Bo Jackson (with back)

Ultra Gold #9 – Chris Sabo (with back)

Comments

  • collation
    The 504 cards in this box included 495 base cards and 9 Ultra Gold inserts. Of the 495 base cards, I picked up one 400-card complete set, 94 duplicates, and one triplicate. That is pretty ideal collation. Completely random collation would have given something in the neighborhood of 284 cards.
  • card numbering
    This is numbered based on (1) a player’s team and (2) the player’s last name. I like this clustering of teams. More companies should try this. The fact that most sets are not done this way maybe implies that other collectors don’t like this style of numbering. You tell me.
  • unevenly cut cards
    I couldn’t properly capture this with a picture, but these cards are not very uniform in size. Put a stack of them on the table, and the edge of the stack is pretty ragged looking. I vaguely remember seeing this in Fleer cards from the early 1980s. Apparently, Fleer hadn’t fixed this problem ten years later.
  • stickers (“logo stickers” to be precise)
    Why even include stickers with cards? I can understand Topps holding onto their gum shtick. That is their signature thing, which ultimately wasn’t even their idea. Why Donruss and Fleer decided to push puzzles and stickers, respectively, makes no sense. Nobody wants the puzzles or stickers. Did they have to include something else in the packs? It makes me think of ticket scalpers who sell a #2 pencil for $150 and then throw in a couple tickets. The stickers in my box were a bit hit-or-miss. A couple packs had no stickers, and a couple packs had two. In all I picked up 25 different stickers and 11 duplicates. One (Boston Red Sox) came without a frame. Weird.
    “unframed logo sticker”                         “framed sticker”

  • Ultra Gold inserts
    Sometimes you hear harsh criticism of the seeming saturation of new card issues with inserts and parallels. I guess the hobby might have some problems in this regard. However, when breaking this box, I was dying for some inserts (and I’m a base set collector). Inserts and parallels are definitely good things. I can’t say how many define overkill, but just Ultra Gold is clearly too few. By the way, I could not find any published information on the insertion rate of Ultra Gold in 1991 Ultra boxes. I pulled nine cards from this 36-pack box. You read it here first… The insertion rate of Ultra Gold cards is (probably close to) 1:4 packs. Yet another hobby mystery laid to rest.

Conclusion

Man alive, if you plan on breaking one of these boxes, you had better work your way into it. Not only does this box have a lot of packs (36) but each pack has lots of cards (14). Do a couple blaster boxes every day for a week to get into box breaking condition. Otherwise, once you get up to pack #28 with miles of base card monotony to go, you might hit the wall. Long-haul truckers have their amphetamines; Incan miners chewed cocoa leaves; and marathoners have their endorphins (and gel packs). I’m not advocating anything illegal, but I don’t think anyone would think less of you if you had a couple Red Bulls at the ready during a break of a 1991 Ultra box.

This box produced a full base set. Because the insert set only has ten cards, I’m also just two cards shy of completing all the base and insert cards. I will pick up the last two Ultra Gold cards at some point and declare myself a collector of the highest level with my master set of 1991 Ultra.

Overall this box was a bit lame to break. By itself, it was fine. It had loads of packs, tons of cards, and yielded a complete set (and close to a complete insert set). However, it is hard not to judge the very early 1990s products through the eyes of 2010. They cannot compete. The sports card hobby may have problems, but the product has improved dramatically over the past 20 years. I would argue that it was better in 2000 than 2010, but that’s a matter for another time.

Detailed list of pack contents (with abbreviated city of sticker)

Back left stack (packs listed from top to bottom)
Pack 1: Mil, 103, 29, 164, 54, 134, 159, 182, 102, 148, 70, 122, 8, 266, 191
Pack 2: Atl, 161, 183, 94, 144, 63, 121, 12, 269, 194, G10, 277, 383, 290, 214
Pack 3: Tor, 332, 255, 213, 361, 379, 359, 30, 244, 42, 344, 59, 90, 224, 355
Pack 4: ChC, 384, 22, 310, 335, 326, 199, 322, 50, 135, 363, 232, 305, 176, 393
Pack 5: Cin, 200, 235, 275, 295, 261, 354, 208, 334, 248, 218, 367, 381, 68, 142
Pack 6: NYY, 388, 28, 301, 391, 331, 179, 240, 370, 165, 358, 233, 312, 36, 394
Pack 7: Oak, 375, 360, 396, 340, 245, 126, 117, 399, 136, 76, 5, 108, 61, 15
Pack 8: Sea, 225, 34, 302, 3, 92, 207, 329, 382, 16, 303, 339, 318, 171, 319
Pack 9: Hou, 343, 251, 227, 365, 387, 69, 285, 211, 35, 311, 6, 95, 215, 330

Back right stack
Pack 1: Mil, 242, 186, 52, 73, 397, 133, 82, 11, 105, 65, 26, 91, 33, 163
Pack 2: none, 369, 79, 253, 111, 341, 101, 170, 264, 348, 386, 118, 313, 395, 321
Pack 3: Min, 125, 2, 260, 196, G4, 286, 378, 293, 221, 205, 237, 282, 291, 272
Pack 4: Cle, 356, 197, 345, 256, 223, 372, 376, 88, 297, 258, 77, 300, 67, 162
Pack 5: Det, 46, 86, 109, 172, 47, 143, 38, 120, 20, 268, 195, G6, 283, 150
Pack 6: CWS & Cal, 349, 206, 336, 254, 220, 371, 385, 89, 202, 270, 78, 306, 60, 145
Pack 7: none, 262, 324, 380, 110, 307, 333, 320, 284, 323, 81, 212, 309, 252, 317
Pack 8: Bal, 298, 154, 198, 236, 185, 230, 175, 308, 124, 342, 247, 219, 368, 377
Pack 9: Tex, 122, 8, 266, 191, G5, 287, 156, 289, 222, 204, 228, 274, 292, 263

Front left stack
Pack 1: KC, 259, 193, G9, 281, 158, 299, 151, 203, 239, 188, 238, 184, 351, 127
Pack 2: Min, 45, 10, 364, 234, 294, 173, 392, 389, 14, 229, 242, 186, 52, 73
Pack 3: Cle, 96, 40, 160, 123, 138, 168, 181, 100, 153, 66, 125, 2, 260, 196
Pack 4: Det, G2, 287, 156, 289, 222, 204, 228, 274, 292, 263, 356, 197, 345, 256
Pack 5: Bal, 397, 133, 82, 11, 105, 65, 26, 91, 33, 163, 46, 86, 109, 172
Pack 6: Bos, G3, 286, 378, 293, 221, 205, 237, 282, 291, 272, 349, 206, 336, 254
Pack 7: Cal, 223, 372, 376, 88, 297, 258, 77, 300, 67, 162, 262, 324, 380, 110
Pack 8: LA, 265, 189, G10, 279, 146, 296, 226, 201, 231, 276, 288, 267, 357, 210
Pack 9: Mon, 155, 174, 398, 140, 72, 7, 116, 62, 25, 99, 32, 169, 43, 141

Front right stack
Pack 1: Tex, 49, 19, 41, 366, 350, 147, 180, 397, 131, 74, 1, 112, 58, 21
Pack 2: Bos, 216, 315, 373, 85, 304, 338, 316, 278, 328, 115, 217, 271, 243, 314
Pack 3: Sea, 1, 112, 58, 21, 96, 40, 160, 123, 138, 168, 181, 100, 153, 66
Pack 4: SF & SD, 347, 55, 390, 113, 325, 337, 246, 128, 116, 400, 137, 80, 9, 101
Pack 5: SF, 190, 56, 374, 353, 249, 241, 187, 53, 157, 398, 132, 84, 4, 103
Pack 6: Pit, 64, 23, 87, 39, 166, 44, 139, 280, 177, 93, 152, 57, 130, 13
Pack 7: NYM, 192, 250, 97, 273, 83, 257, 327, 352, 209, 107, 18, 37, 362, 346
Pack 8: Phi, 71, 24, 98, 27, 167, 48, 75, 111, 178, 51, 149, 31, 129, 17
Pack 9: CWS, 47, 143, 38, 120, 20, 268, 195, G1, 283, 150, 298, 154, 198, 236

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3 responses to “Break – 1991 Ultra

  1. Wow, those gold insert card fronts just look like the back of the base cards. And then the back of those front/backs is text. Not a very appealing card.

  2. john bateman

    The problem with 1991 Ultra was the design – Ultra was always Fleer version of Topps Stadium Club (By 1995 Upper Deck became Upper Decks version of Topps Stadium Club)

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