Futera - Early sets from 1989-1994
The world was a very different place in 1989. The instantaneous nature of today was still a decade away, and trends took longer to catch on. Trading cards had long been part of the American sporting culture, particularly in baseball, and by the mid-1980s, the cards themselves were seemingly as important as the sport itself.
Outside the US, it was a different story. In Australia, despite a huge thirst for anything sports-related, the market for trading cards was relatively untapped.
This was of some surprise to a pair of American Baseball players, Tad Powers and David Voit, who had recently arrived to take part in the newly-formed Australian Baseball League.
They were both just 23, but had grown up in an era where trading cards were a staple part of the sporting landscape.
The pair were part of the Sydney Metros’ line-up, but their focus was soon consumed by the challenge of introducing trading cards to the domestic market. They created sets for both the Metros and the Perth Heat - printing 2,500 copies of each set.
Powers and Voit soon moved back to the US to continue their career, selling Futera to focus on their own dreams of stepping up to the major leagues.
Futera’s stable of sports was quickly expanded to include Basketball, Cricket, Rugby Union, Horse racing, Formula 1 and Football. It was here that the brand began to develop the genesis of the reputation that lives on today.
New management of the company saw Futera position itself as a premium publisher of trading cards - a point of difference in a highly competitive market. Almost 30 years on, collectors are still clamouring to get a glimpse of the earliest collections.
Arguably Futera’s most sought-after collection from its first few years was the Australian Cricket 1993-1994 Premier Edition collection with a print run of just 2000 sets.
Futera’s 1994 collection of National Soccer League cards developed a cult following for being a rare collectible from the much-cherished era, while the same year’s Grand Prix collection - with its instantly recognisable metallic inserts - sold out in five days.
Hidden gems abound everywhere in these sets. Ben Simmons might be the hottest new property in the NBA, but did you know his father - Dave Simmons - featured in Futera’s first NBL set in 1992?
Or perhaps you’ll be one of the lucky few to have a Dave Nilsson autographed insert card from the 1993 Baseball collection. Only 200 of these cards were made.
While the brand would go on to produce some all-time classics later in the 1990s and outgrow its Australian origins by the end of the decade, these earliest sets remain an integral part of the Futera story.