2014 Upper Deck Shows Promise for New Rookie Class

Each year when Upper Deck FB is released, we get an even better picture of which of the rookies are the top in the class when it comes to value. This year’s class is so deep, that we are looking to be in for a very nice treat in 2014. Some of the bigger hits are already selling for over 100 bucks, which is VERY good news after last year’s rookie disaster.

Base Auto SPs

There is no doubt about it, with such a big checklist, the top guys will be very tough pulls. When you are looking at players like Bortles and Manziel, the hype is so big right now, that many collectors are just wanting to get in before the draft hurts or helps the card’s stock. Other players like Sammy Watkins and Jadeveon Clowney are also looking great to be top picks. Its really too bad their autos are tough pulls.

2014 Upper Deck Johnny Manziel Auto Base SSP

2014 Upper Deck Sammy Watkins SSP Auto – Love this pic!

2014 Upper Deck Derek Carr SSP Auto

UD Authentics Autos

These cards are easily some of my favorites of the young 2014 card year, and are a retro homage to autograph cards that came out back when hit content in packs were just getting started. Because these cards are hard signed, they should automatically carry larger value than the stickers used on the base. The nostalgia factor will obviously increase things as well.

2014 Upper Deck Johnny Manziel Authentics Auto On Card

2014 Upper Deck Blake Bortles Authentics Auto On Card

Letter Autos

I am NOT a fan of signed fabric, as they never look good and they never stand the test of time. Although it looks like UD used some VERY high quality pens on these, I really wouldnt waste my time with these, but collectors go nuts over trying to spell shit with the ones they can find. One thing to keep in mind – the numbering is for that particular letter, not the whole run. UD looks to have spelled the team name and player name this year, so Johnny Manziel’s letters will be more common than you might expect.

2014 Upper Deck Teddy Bridgewater Letter Auto /15

2014 Upper Deck Teddy Bridgewater Authentics Auto

Non-RC Autos

There is a surprising amount of non-rookie content in this year’s set, as I saw a Rice and a Brees auto pulled yesterday. Although these cards will rarely sell for as much as the licensed stuff once the new pack smell wears off, it is still nice to have them in the product. I can see its hard to find pictures of older guys though.

2014 Upper Deck Joe Namath 1994 Auto Retro Throwback

2014 Upper Deck Earl Campbell 1994 Auto Retro Throwback

With Five Star coming out next week, now is the time to sell. If you are looking to buy a box or two, its a REALLY fun rip.

2014 Upper Deck Football is Live

The first truly licensed set of 2014 has arrived, and though UD Football isnt sanctioned by the NFL, it will carry value with college collectors looking to buy their school’s players. Personally, I think this set should have been out much earlier to compete with unlicensed products, but UD doesnt seem to concern themselves with that.

I am pretty happy with the design this year, more than previous years:

2014 Upper Deck Johnny Manziel On Card Auto

2014 Upper Deck Johnny Manziel Letterman Auto

2014 Upper Deck Teddy Bridgewater On Card Auto

2014 Upper Deck Blake Bortles Auto SSP

2014 Upper Deck Sammy Watkins SSP Auto

My biggest complaint with this set is the abundance of stickers, which I wish would not be an issue with a pre-draft product that can practically be sent out immediately after the previous season for on card autos. That being said, the autographs do look really nice, and the photography on the cards is about as good as it gets. There are a few on card auto sets, but not enough to make me happy. Many of the top rookies will be beyond SPed in any autographs on the checklists, but the base cards are excellent for sending out TTM autos early on.

I have always been a very big fan of the retro cards in this set, and for the third year in a row, they have really come through on these. I think that we need to start seeing a bit more variety, maybe folding in some of the inserts that would be saved for the Fleer Retro set that is WAAAY too late in the year to make a difference. Can you imagine the Metal Gems cards during this point in the year in a larger set? HUGE. Hell redo them later on with updated checklists.

The letter signatures have never been something I like at all, but the design is a lot better this year. I cant support signed swatch cards, as they never turn out well.

Other inserts like photo variation SSPs and Predictors are cool cards, and I think UD did a good job keeping this set relevant along the way. Overall, UD can be a fun bust for some cheap thrills, even though the value will tank as the year moves on. Cheap thrills are still fun this early in the year.

Novel or Nothing: Leaf Unopened Edition and Johnny Manziel Draft Packs Are Live

Brian Gray is no stranger to trying to recreate the wheel, and in the last week, he has tried to do bring these new types of ideas to the Leaf Brand.

With the release of 2014 Leaf Unopened football, we have one of the first products that is a repack of unopened wax. As if that wasnt enough, Gray is also offering packs of cards online that try to capitalize on Manziel Mania. These packs feature cities of all 32 NFL teams, to be exchanged if you pull the team that eventually drafts Johnny Football.

Here is where you can buy them:

2014 Leaf Johnny Manziel Draft Exchange Pack

I am a big fan of online exclusives like this, and I think this is a pretty novel idea. For 9.99, its worth a 1:32 shot in pulling the team, especially if you can trade it in for an autographed version of the card. Manziel will be the hottest rookie in the class, at least for the pre-season, and this is a fun way to build on that.

As for Leaf Unopened, I am not as big of a fan. I just dont see the appeal of buying a box of cards whose main draw is that it has another box of cards inside, combined with a bordered slabbed cut auto. From the early breaks, there are a lot of 2007-2011 boxes in the product, including duds like Prestige and Elite from down years.

Although I have seen a box of 2008 NT come out, and a box of Museum Collection FB, the majority of this product is not fairing well for the cases I have seen online.

Leaf has made a name for themselves in the repack business with their “Best Of” products, but with those its a bit different. It is also worth saying that I am not a fan of the bordered cut autograph cards that are required to be in each box.

This product just isnt my thing, although I can see the appeal for someone who has money to burn. I have heard there are boxes of 2000 Contenders and 1998 SP Authentic included. Those would be a fun rip.

2014 Masters Championship: The One Day a Year I Love Golf

Today, everyone is a golf fan, Sunday of the Masters in Augusta. I rarely watch golf, but I have watched this part of the tournament each year for a very long time. Even though Tiger Woods is out of the tournament this year, here I am in front of the TV. Bubba Watson is likely going to win his second green jacket in 2 years, putting him in pretty elite company. All that being said, it just isnt the same without the big dog in the mix.

Tiger remains one of the most expensive autographs in sports, something that should be shocking considering how few people there are that actually follow golf cards.

2014 SP Authentic Gold Tiger Woods On Card Auto

2013 Tiger Woods Master Collection Tourney Used Shirt Booklet Auto

2014 Industry Summit Tiger Woods/Rory McIlroy Dual Auto 1/1

I have always been a Tiger supporter, even after all the hullabaloo that unfolded a few years ago. Without seeing him on Sunday wearing red, its not going to be as special. He continues to be a controversial figure in sports, but he is no doubt one of the biggest athletes on the planet. For a golfer, that is an enormous accomplishment.

Upper Deck recently released SP authentic Golf, a set that I think hearkens back to the earlier sets of the 2000s, where Tiger’s cards eclipsed the prices of guys like Lebron James and Michael Jordan.

Check out some of the cards, they are really nice:

2014 SP Authentic Golf Rory McIlroy Auto BGS 9.5

2014 SP Authentic Golf Tiger Woods SP Chirography Auto

2014 SP Authentic Golf Fred Couples Auto Shirt Relic

2014 SP Authentic Golf Jack Nicklaus Auto

As if you shouldnt be surprised, Bubba Watson has also had his fair share of autographs since his win in 2012, and those are cards that are likely to spike over the next few hours. He is the type of golfer that will gain a cult following, and though he may not ever come close to people like Nicklaus and Woods, he has personality which will get him more value in the hobby.

This is a day that I always have nostalgic feelings and I think with all the different things that UD and Leaf have been doing as of late, Golf is certainly here to stay.

Success of Sports Memorabilia Industry Should Serve as a Source of Potential For Cards

Sports memorabilia and autograph memorabilia is a big deal these days. Such a big deal that memorabilia collectors are some the largest whales in any hobby – not just collectors from this type of an arena. If you think people spend a lot of money on cards, people spend 10-15 times that amount per capita in memorabilia. To capitalize on this huge group of people, companies have started to creep into the space slowly but surely, as we have seen with Upper Deck authentic and Panini authentic. They arent even the big dogs, and there might even be a new big dog in the game now that Fanatics has decided to go after a growing number of people who love to get signatures from their favorite teams and athletes. They are even getting extra creative at bringing collectors closer to the game.

Check out these awesome examples:

1972 Miami Dolphins Team Signed Stadium Chairs

Yasiel Puig Full Sized Signed Home Jersey

Colin Kaepernick In Focus Signed Print With Inscription

Companies like Fanatics, Tristar, CSA, GTS and others will take their connections and build entire conventions and shows around the high profile guests they schedule to attend. Its actually pretty impressive, having attended quite a few of them. One of the more recent shows had most of the living members of the 1985 Bears, all signing in one place at one time. That is awesome, no matter which way you slice it. The National Convention may have thousands of tables selling sports cards, but just as many people also go to meet the hundred or so players that are signing throughout the weekend. When attending, its fun to watch all the different items people bring to have signed.

Although these shows give people like me a great chance to meet their idols, its not going to come cheap in any way, shape or form. This isnt a place that anyone should go and bring some cheap cards to sign. That is just not cost effective. Shows like I am describing are for those people looking to get their collection centerpieces marked by the athlete with no questionable authenticity.

The market is not all about autographed photos and items either, as game used memorabilia is easily the tip of the top of the mountain. Collectors will go nuts trying to acquire rare items from their favorite players, eras and teams. Whether its jerseys or equipment, its all worth chasing to many of the people who live and die by these pieces. Some of the golden age memorabilia can sell for millions of dollars, especially for people like Babe Ruth and other titans of the game.

Just talking with some of these bigger collectors makes one feel like small potatoes. Cards are just not the thing that is worth anything compared to the absolutely stunning items that I have seen sold at the bigger gatherings over the last few years. Rarely does a card make news the way a signed piece of game used memorabilia can.

We always talk about the hobby thinning out, but the strength of the memorabilia industry should be a breath of fresh air. If I were the card companies, this is the market I would be chasing.