I was one of those people that did not know that leaf was coming out with a card set in 1990. I knew all about the leaf version of donruss cards and how they were worth very little compared to the regular Donruss brand. Imagine my surprise when, on a trip to Burlington Washington Summer of 1990, I walked into the store at the gas station we stopped at and found a box of 1990 Leaf Series 1 sitting on the counter. They were $1.25 a pack and thanks to UD, that price no longer phased me. I was in my "buy everything in site" collectoring years and so the box was mine. The packs were foilie with red and blue and leaf emblazened across the front.
The first thing I noticed was that the cards were glossy, but not too glassy, the stock was white, but not too thin, the photography was crisp and had the right contrast. Bottom line was I loved these cards. With a mere 264 cards in the set it would seem that it was easy to complete a set. Not so fast. I ended up with 7 Roberto Kellys and a multitude of other doubles. Over the course of that year I bought Series 1 and Series 2. At Bi-Mart they had a laundry basket of Series 2 packs. I had all the stars. In 91, 92 and so on, the cards lost their luster and Leaf went down hill and fell off the collecting abyss in my opinion. I still bought lots of 91 and 92 to get the black gold and gold rookies.
Fast forward to today, well last week. Razor guy Brian Gray bought the Leaf name and is resurrecting it. Find them on Twitter here. Now I have never been a fan of Razor products. I don't like minor league cards, I think poker is stupid, and UFC is for meatheads that have nothing going for them but a high pain tolerance and a total disregard for their bodies.
Leaf has the familiar silver script logo, but it has been perverted by a douchey Ed Hardyesque "art work" thing. Leaf is being advertised as "One of the most classic brands in the history of trading cards is making a triumphant return." That could not be a more false statement because Leaf is not returning, just the name.
The product line is going to be Sport Releases sorta. Leaf will have basically what Razor did with crap like MMA, Poker, Muhammad Ali, the US Army High School game, Pop Century and more cut sigs than you can shake a stick at. Basically I have no interest in any of their releases.
Now don't get me wrong. I hope MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL considers giving Leaf a license. It would be great to see what a smaller company could do with it. Leaf, Mr. Gray, is certainly more than capable of producing quality cards even if I don't like what he did at Razor and looks like he is going to do at Leaf. What I want to see out of Leaf are some classic looking sets from the major sports.
Unfortunately at this point, Razor looks to be relegated to 4th tier status along with Tristar. It seems that without a major sport license, these companies just can't put anything out that is compelling to me. The crazy thing is that I would love to work with a guy like Mr. Gray to develop a baseball, football, basketball or hockey set using the Leaf name and some classic styling. Why would I want to work with a guy like him if I don't like the products he has put out? He isn't afraid to take chances, or spend the money to get the job done. I'd even be willing to bet my salary on putting out a successful set.