Now that I have had a few days to digest Exquisite, I have to say that I am intrigued as to how Upper Deck was able to pull this type of product together, delay or no delay. It does have a pretty nice checklist, with more on card veteran autographs than Panini has had in the last 5 years. Additionally, the look of the card is on the level of where Exquisite has been in the past, including massive improvements to portions of the set that were less successful last year.
Exquisite Black Signatures
Im a sucker for silver signed cards on the black backgrounds, even more so when the overall design is as striking as it is for these cards. Black was a very cool product back in 2009, even if the rookies were in their college jerseys. To bring it back for a product like Exquisite fits well, and I really like the sharp and striking contrast presented by the game shot photos on the black cards.
Dual Jersey Auto Booklets
Last year, these cards were a complete disaster, as the rookies were asked to sign on swatches instead of on cards. This year, they are signed on cards, and the results are a million times better. The benefit to releasing a product so late in the season is that the pairings of players can be more thoughtful, and that is something that rarely has an opportunity to bake completely. These cards are really well done.
Rookie Auto Patches
I really like the design of the cards, but I just cant get over the low quality swatches that are present in this entire product. Basically, I understand that authentic jerseys for college programs are almost impossible to find in the amounts that is needed for a season’s worth of cards, but that is where I hoped to see a bit more innovation. My idea was to buy generic jerseys with sewn on patches in the team colors for the players, purchase logo patches, and have the players wear those instead of the replica ones. Since no one sees the full jersey, it wont matter that they aren’t actually of the player themselves.
Exquisite Choice Signatures
Im actually surprised it took this long to determine that this was an option, and I think that we have a great start here for a cool innovation. Although the windows are way too small to fully appreciate the slot idea, the overall result should open this up for more interpretation. One of my biggest gripes about multi-signed cards is that there is rarely any examples where one player doesn’t drive down the overall appeal of the card. This way, you can build your own!
2012 Rookie Class XRCs
Last year, these cards were special surprises that were hugely sought after by collectors, and still are. The idea returns this year, and the design is not only one of the best Exquisite base cards of all time, they are ridiculously valuable. Not only do these cards carry the Exquisite brand name, but they are really the first SUPER high end cards of the 2012 class. That makes them chase items for a bunch of people who wouldn’t normally chase them. Add in the college fan aspect to things and you have a winning combo for sure.
Because of the delay, many collectors and industry personalities were ready to write off the potential that Exquisite had. Now that the final results are on shelves, I think it has earned its late arrival. Seeing the successful design elements this product has makes me sad that UD is not licensed in any sport but hockey. Hopefully the eventual realization of what they used to be returns.