Archive: 2002 Interview with Fleer/Skybox

Conducted on March 25, 2002 with Product Manager M. Shtino:

Q: How does Fleer/Skybox make GU swatches? Do they just cut the jersey up in a specific amount of pieces and randomly put them in the cards (so some get a patch, others get just a white swatch, others might get an nba logo etc)?

A: It depends on the product or insert theme. Most times, especially recently, patch cards are thicker, which means we have to determine which designs get patch ahead of time.

Q: How does Fleer/Skybox decide which players to include in a set? Carter, KobeIversonShaq and all those are obvious, but what about the semi-stars or non-stars? How does Fleer/Skybox pick some over others?

A: There are unique factors at play for every roster. Such as, licensor requirements (everything must get approved and every league has its own usage rules), game-used inventory or availiability, exclusive contracts players may have with Fleer or another card company (for instance, we can’t do jersey cards of Ichiro and a few notable other players because of this). Sometimes, a player may be “breaking through” at the time we construct our roster (Ichiro last year was a good example of this in baseball). However, one obstacle hinders us (and sometimes makes us look dumb). After we make the roster, the product won’t be in collectors’ hands for another 3-4 months. Thus, people often open packs and pull a card of, say Jalen Rose as a Pacer, when he may have been traded 2 months ago. Just some of the factors involved…

Q: Usually, how many base sets are created?

A: This is different in every sport, every season. This is a number that is determined in our contract with the leagues. At Fleer (as at other card companies) we have changed a number of names of brands. This may make it appear as if there are more brands coming out than there actually are.

Q: Why does card companies only allow North American residents redeem redemption cards?

A: I can only speak for Fleer, but we generally let ALL collectors redeem redemption cards. “Open to only residents of the US and Canada” only attempts to avoid running into legal problems in other countries (because we can’t protect ourselves legally in every nation (would you want a card covered in legal copy for 57-so countries?)

Q: How does card companies run out of redemption cards before the deadline?

A: Again, this is difficult to speak for anyone except Fleer. We haven’t had any instances of this lately to my knowledge, but in the past it usually was a case of error. When the redemption cards were inserted, too many may have actually been inserted. This might be difficult to understand, but we do not have our factory at the same location (or state) as our corporate headquarters. That sometimes means there are problems at production that we can’t control from New Jersey. Sometimes these problems are not evident until the product has been out a while.

Q: What new technology is going to be used for future cards (ie., in the past, EX-2000, Showcase Materialistic, etc.)?

A: Good question. Of course we’d like to know the answer too. Truth is, this industry changes at such a quick pace, it might come across our desks tomorrow. We see things every day. It is our job to try to determine what it is collectors would want (and factor that in with how much they want to pay and how much we want to pay to execute the technology). A few years ago, technologies were more varied and prevolent. Now, with the saturation of autographs and jersey cards, technology has been toned down to allow companies like Fleer to use money to purchase autographs and memorabilia.

Q: How many jersey cards can be made out of one jersey?

A: Again, I would love to say a number, but ALL jerseys are different. For example, you can probably understand that you get more out of a Shaq jersey than a Kobe. Well, you can also get more from a double-stitched jersey than a single. Every team uses different materials and different styles. Generally, we have used 1,000 pieces per jersey as a estimate gauge. But that is very simplified. This is a difficult science that we are still learning about.

Q: What happens to unclaimed redemption cards?

A: They are generally destroyed after the redemption period is over.

Q: Why is there a time limit on redemption cards?

A: I don’t know the answer to this question but I suspect it is due to legal constraints. Generally, I believe that “mail in offers” like redemptions have to have both a start and end date to avoid litigation.

Q: How does Fleer/Skybox keep cards from slippin’ out the back door?

A: We have a Security Department that keeps close tabs on our building, employees and vendors. These people are tasked with making sure that no cards leave the building unless they are supposed to.

Q: Who comes up with the names and the designs of the insert sets?

A: Well, there is a group at Fleer (and every card company) that is tasked with coming up with ideas for sets, inserts and technologies. At Fleer, that is my group. We are made up of collectors. On our staff, I’ve worked in the industry for 7 years (previously at UD), we have a gentleman who ran a hobby shop, we have a former price-guide editor and we have numerous other staffers that have varied levels of “sports and collectibles expertise.” That said, we definitely come up with some doozies (both good and bad!). We are always looking for help and frequently get submissions from people in other departments.


Author: autobilia

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