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Retro Review: 1997-98 Leaf 2-Box Break

December 22, 2010

For today’s second instalment in the Retro Review series on the blog, I’ll be looking at a pair of boxes of 1997-98 Leaf that I picked up at the Toronto Fall Expo.

As with the box of 1997-98 Donruss that was the topic of the first Retro Review post, I got each of these boxes for the miniscule price of $5, for a total investment of $10.

According to the information on the packaging, inserts were to be found at a rate of one in every four packs, meaning at twenty four packs to a box, I could reasonably expect a total of twelve inserts to come out of the two boxes.  And twelve inserts ended up being exactly what I got.

Box #1 netted me the following inserts:


Box #2, meanwhile, yielded these:


Not a terrible haul on the inserts out of these two boxes, though each box was definitely saved by a single card.  The Thornton Fire on Ice from Box #1 was the “big hit” there, and obviously the Broduer Brodeur Pipe Dreams was the big one out Box #2.

The Fractal Matrix parallels were always a bit of a disappointment to me and these boxes served as a reminder of why.  The “Axis” tiers was very confusing, especially when it came to the Gamers SPs, and the lack of serial numbering despite some supposedly limited print runs only amplified that problem.  It really wasn’t a horrible concept, but the execution of it certainly was.

One thing that was not indicated on the packaging was the rate at which I could expect to pull any of the three short printed subsets that are a part of this set: Gamers, Gold Leaf Rookies, and Day in the NHL, a subset evidently from a day of stalking Trevor Linden.

Box #1 was definitely the better of the two, with these nine SPs…


…far outshining the following eight I pulled from Box #2:


Based on the rate that these were coming out of the packs you come to realize pretty quickly that this must be one tough set to finish off including the short prints.  Although the Linden Day in the NHL subset was certainly the easiest to find, based on what I pulled you would need to open 10 boxes just to get the 20 Gamers and 20 Gold Leaf Rookies needed for the set.  And that’s assuming you don’t pull any doubles, which I managed to do with the Jagr Gamers.

When it comes to the base set, the collation in each of these boxes was tremendous in comparison to the Donruss box.  From that box I wasn’t even able to put together a complete 220 card base set, despite that fact that it contained 351 base set cards. 

With these boxes I ended up with 225 and 226 cards respectively and finished up the break just a single card short of two complete base sets, which was a very pleasant surprise following the Donruss debacle. 

Though logical math would indicate I should easily have completed the two sets, this is a Donruss product after all.  I also avoided the problem that I encountered with the Donruss box where the cards were often stuck together and ended up being damaged when they were peeled apart.


Once again, I am pretty pleased with the results of these boxes overall.  Really, how couldn’t I be at $5 a piece though?  As I mentioned in that first Retro Review post I was a fan of Donruss/Leaf/Pinnacle products back then, so I enjoyed taking another little trip back in time. 

If I find these at the next Expo I will be picking up some more of them in addition to some more Donruss, if only for the fun of opening that many packs at that small of a hit to the wallet.

What are your memories of 1997-98 Leaf?  Did you love or hate the Fractal Matrix set?  What about the inserts and short prints?

Let me know what you think by posting a comment or sending me an e-mail at bb_bros [at] hotmail [dot] com.

I’m making a break for a belated honeymoon in the Dominican Republic Friday morning, but the posts will continue even while I am away.  Sunday will be my regular Month-End “Business” Update to recap what I have had going on from a sales and promotion perspective over the past month. 

That will be followed by my first Project Progress Report a week from today, a series that will be posted on the final Wednesday of each month and through which I will provide some insight into how my current collecting projects are moving along.

Have a very Happy Holidays while I am away and all the best in your collecting pursuits!



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