Back in 1983 MAD Magazine and Fleer put out a box of MAD Stickers and bubble gum with 36 packs with 5 sticker cards in each pack and one piece of bubble gum in each pack. That made the total number of cards 180 in each box. There were two types of cards. Some that were numbered and some that were not numbered.
The first set of cards were numbers 1 – 128 and there were 64 non-numbered cards. Since you needed at least 192 card to complete both sets, you needed to buy another box. By buying another box, most of the time you could get a complete set of each, but sometimes you had to buy a third box. Each card had a different back side, and when you put all the backs together it would make two pictures of Alfred E. Neuman and two panels of Don Martin cartoons (look at the photos).
When the first printing was sold out, they had a 2nd printing. What made getting a complete set of the numbered cards for the 2nd printing harder was on the numbered cards, they had different backs than they had on the first printing.
The Trouble Cards, non-numbered, had the same backs as the 1st printing. The boxes did not indicate if it was a 1st or 2nd printing, so you didn’t know until you opened the packs. Another difference with the 2nd printing was some of the card’s fronts were different. Cards 1 – 9 added “MAD HORRIFYING CLICHES” to the front of the card. On the first printing Alfred’s face was printed backwards on cards 18 and 24. That was fixed on the 2nd printing. Cards 53 – 61 added “MAD ODDS” to the front of the cards. Cards 98 – 105 added “MAD EXCUSES” to the front of the cards. The photos below show these differences.
There were some cards that had the same backs as the first printing, 1, 7, 9, 12, 13 21, 32, 36, 40, 44, 48, 52, 57, 66, 74, 80, 91, 111, and 122. Collecting those cards was easy except for cards 1, 7, 9, 12, and 57 because, though the backs were the same, the fronts had minor changes. That is why finding a complete set of the 2nd printing is so difficult. That’s of course after you’ve sifted through all the cards that were ruined by the gum or got stuck to the wrapper.
Over the years I’ve bought or traded for 14 boxes of these cards and from that I put together 5 complete sets of the numbered cards from the 1st and 2nd printings, 2 complete sets of the numbered cards from the 1st printing, 2 complete sets of the numbered cards mixing the 1st and 2nd printings, 25 non-numbered, Trouble Cards, and a whole bunch of extra cards. There are two sets that are one card from completion.
by Steve Kuhn
Fleer Goes MAD collectibles on MADtrash.com
Read here more facts about the Fleer company.