—By Kevin Fuller—
So, the subject of collecting Midnight Flyers interests you, at least enough to have clicked on this article. What does it mean to be a Midnight Flyer collector? It can mean a lot of different things to different people. Before you jump into the deep end of the glowing phosphorescent pool, with no idea where the bottom might be, let's take a look at the landscape. It's ripe with opportunities to define nice finite collection sets—finite that is until someone finds one more that meets your set's criteria that you didn't know existed (never say you have them all). To start us off, and to prove that the title of this article does not contain a typo, here's an incomplete collection of ones.
The ones represent the first approach to collecting Midnight Flyers—get one from each mold/color combination. Making them all the same number makes it a little harder to collect, is less numerically diverse, but gives the collection a unique personality.
Midnight Flyer 70C Mold Set The opposite approach is to collect a set. It is perhaps the easiest way to complete a defined group of Midnight Flyers. Get one matching 1–8 set of the mold and color of your choice. Perhaps you played a lot of ultimate and want an 80 mold set, or were a distance thrower with a big arm and remember fondly the days of sailing 70Cs out around the 400 foot mark before your arm got old and slow (of course, you didn't get old and slow, just your arm). If you're lucky, you find a seller that's parting with a complete set. One transaction and bang, you're done. That does happen, but Midnight Flyers sell individually much more often. When you have three, four, or five of your desired set it's just a work in process. Somewhere around six the collecting anxiety increases as you're almost there, just one or two more. Where are you going to find that #2 and #4 that you need? The hunt is the fun part.
Midnight Flyer 80 Mold Family SetsTop to bottom: 80 molds, 80E molds, 80C molds Once you get your first full set displayed proudly on your wall (probably not in your bedroom unless you're single), the allure begins for another set. That urge is a thing about collecting Midnight Flyers. You can define a nice contained goal, but once you reach it, the ghost of Ed keeps whispering in your ear, "Expand. A set of 50 molds would look great next to those." And off you go. But perhaps your sets can be contained. For example, get all the sets with the original Block band 4 TMB (see the previous article for the discussion on the evolution of the trademark band). Maybe try to find all the sets of a particular mold (or mold family). Or, collect all the sets in pink glow plastic. Of course it would be helpful to know what makes up any of these groups, but more on that later.
If you want to raise the bar on collecting sets, you can search out sets in the original DGA tube packaging. A little history here that didn't make the part 1 article; Ed Headrick came up with an innovative way to package and ship complete sets of eight Midnight Flyers. The discs are
Midnight Flyer sets in DGA tube packaging neatly stacked and tightly packaged in cylindrical package to keep the disc from shifting, getting marked up, or getting warped. It's been suggested that Ed patented this packaging approach, but a search of the U.S. Patent database turned up nothing. (Perhaps someone more skilled at USPTO searches will give it a try and leave a comment at the bottom of this article.) A lot of these tubes were discarded over the years as the discs contained were used or sold individually, so collecting them is a challenge.
Prefer something a little smaller? Collecting Midnight Flyer minis may be for you. In 1981 the DGA released marker minis in 1–8 sets. The standard Wham-O C and D mold minis made up one set, and the slightly larger Pocket Pro (which at 4.625 inches isn't technically a mini by MDGF, WFDF, or Dudley standards) make up the second. A third, from Towa in Japan, is frequently included in this group. They share the 1–8 numbering and glow, but it's clearly not the same plastic as they don't glow nearly as bright, and they're called Night Lighters. They did come in a cool display case though. The marker minis mostly have a metallic green hot stamp, but there do exist some with a metallic blue stamp. Reportedly, full blue sets do exist.
Minis also form the biggest set that collectors can aim their sights on—a set of 55 minis, mostly calling cards (56 if you include a blank in the set). Regional directors were all given 100 of the minis, although some made more, including custom designs and multiple hot stamp colors. Of the 55 discs, only 44 actually include "Midnight Flyer" as part of the stamp. Three of those 44 are runs of discs with various forms of misprints. The other 11 include a Wham-O executive, other special designs for disc people, celebrities, and a tournament. It's not entirely clear why those 11 are considered part of the set. The only things that are universally common are the plastic they're on and the time frame, but every collector surveyed considers all 55 as part of the set.
John ConnellyStandard Calling Card Dan Mangone"Disigner" misprint Ron KaufmanCustom design and white stamp Barry ShapiroTwo-color hot stamp Kim Seelbrede, Miss USACelebrity disc University of O.B.Tournament stamp
Not all Midnight Flyers came in full sets. An approach to defining a small collecting specialty would be Midnight Flyers that do not come in complete eight-disc sets. The 22 molds have a Block band 4 TMB. But, a few exist with no TMB, the same as the other early 1979 discs.
No TMB #4 22A Mold
Only #4 versions of this have been found at this point. If you have a 22 mold with no TMB that's not a #4, please leave a comment below.
Midnight Flyer Fastbacks Midnight Flyers come in Fastback molds, but only numbers 6, 7 and 8. They weren't made as a set. Based on their hot stamps, it seems the #8 was made first in the days of the Block band 4 TMB, in FB19 and F20 molds. The #6 and 7 came after the change to the Split band TMB. The #7 is also available in FB19 and FB20. For the #6 Fastback the mold was changed to the FB6. The answer to why only these three numbers were made is still to be uncovered.
When is a Midnight Flyer not a Midnight Flyer? When it doesn't glow. There's one one with no phosphorus, just clear plastic. Why? Most people speculate that the wrong stock was run by mistake, but who knows. A box of 48 discs existed. They sat in an office of the IFA for a while, and eventually 22 of them were sold via a Factory Connection ad in
50 Mold—Clear(does not glow)
Factory Connection Ad
Frisbee World. One was also used in an incentive drawing when the Flying Disc Collectors Association (FDCA) was building an International Flying Disc Inventory and asked collectors to send in listings of their discs (also an ad in Frisbee World). They only exist with the #1 hot stamp. Now, if a stray #2, 3, and 5 could be identified, there would be a full set of discs that don't come in full sets.
Shadow #7 100 Mold Stock 97G Misprint(non-glow) Green 70C Mold There are some rarities as well. There's a very small number of 100 molds with a #7 shadow stamp. And there's another non-glow, a misprint #8 on a stock green 97G disc—the only one known to exist. Speaking of green, there was some experimentation with green glow plastic as seen on this very rare 70C mold #3.
For the last area where you can focus a collection that this article will discuss, we have to pose the question, what makes a Midnight Flyer a Midnight Flyer? Is it the hot stamp or the plastic?
For the purpose of this article, it's either. As we've just seen, there are a couple Midnight Flyer stamps on other plastic. But the popular heavy glow plastic was used for a variety of custom discs. We're not talking about all glow/moonlighter plastic here—a smorgasbord of glow discs exist—just the beefy Midnight Flyer glow. Tournament, organization, and other special discs on Midnight Flyer plastic make up another whole collection specialty. They're as diverse as you'd expect from a grouping like this in every way … except the plastic. Many great discs fall into this category, including La Mirada Opens, American Flying Disc Opens (AFDO), Discovering the World disc golf holes, discs from the PDGA and JFDA, and many others. Canadian tournaments, in particular, used the plastic for a variety of discs, and are the only discs known with Midnight Flyer plastic in 51 or 100AD molds.
1983 AFDO50 Mold
DTW—La Mirada Old 16th Hole42AG Mold
JFDA Heavy Glow Flyer70C Mold
1987 Shelly Sharpe Memorial42AG Mold
PDGA Member Disc100D Mold
1978 Vancouver National Series Meet51 Mold 1978 Canadian Open51 Mold Canadian Open DGC100AD Mold 1981 Toronto Islands DG Tournament100AD Mold 1982 Western Canadian FDC100AD Mold
Now that the preamble is finally finished, let's move on to the main point of this article … What Midnight Flyers exist? In part 1 it says that if you want to collect all Midnight Flyers you'd need space on your walls for 560 discs (it's actually a little higher). But whether your goal is to collect everything, one of the specialties discussed above, or some subset of your own definition, it helps to know what's out there.
Several years back, Steve Hartwell built the website disc-collector.com. The site compiled a list of the Midnight Flyers that had been identified at the time (it also listed HDXs, Kitty Hawks, and a few other categories). That site is gone, but building on that great work, the Flying Disc Museum has added quite a few entries and compiled a list of Midnight Flyers known to exist. Did you know that there are 55 different 1–8 sets? On top of that there are 120+ additional discs with either the Midnight Flyer stamp but believed to not exist in full sets, or custom stamps. That list continues to grow—research for this article uncovered five new entries.
Below are a couple samples showing the different variations from the 80 mold family and mini calling cards. The list shows the mold, plastic color, hot stamp and color, copyright year, the style of TMB, whether there’s a player line, and the known or assumed numbers that version of Midnight Flyer came in, plus a small sample photo. Tables like this exist for all molds except calling cards, which list the person and their title.
This list is certainly not complete. There are perhaps standard sets with different colors or styles, and certainly more custom designs exist, especially from Europe and Japan. For example, there are European Disc Golf discs that are glow, but need to be verified if they are Midnight Flyer plastic. Also, there are several sets assumed to be available in the full 1–8, but that haven't been verified in all eight numbers, so some adjustments may be necessary.
If Midnight Flyers interest you and you want to see the full list, visit the Flying Disc Museum’s Facebook page (if you’re not a member, just join) and click on the Files link. Once there, look for the Midnight Flyer Reference document. If you have something that isn’t listed or can confirm a change needed, please post a reply to this article so that the information can be updated. Together, we should be able to compile a truly complete list.
About the Author:
Kevin Fuller is one of the founders of the Flying Disc Museum and a mediocre disc player. Once upon a time he was decent, played ultimate at UNH in the '70s and then with Boston Aerodisc in the '80s. He competed in and helped organize local overall tournaments and was TD for the 1978 and 1979 NH States and the 1978 MA States.