Every year, there are three main super high end sets in Football. So far this year, both National Treasures and Five Star have all delivered their best examples ever. Exquisite is late to the party, but from the first few cards I have seen, it looks as if the cards themselves meet the same standards set by Topps and Panini for their biggest sets of the year. That, my friends, is a huge win for Upper Deck.
For the second year in a row,my favorite cards are the Exquisite Dimensions cards, which function in a shadowbox style layered presentation. Although they dont have the same look as they usually do, this new style looks even better than it had in previous years. The only issue, as it was previously, is that the cards dont show the complete presentation unless you see them in hand. Considering this is an internet culture, the fact that you have to possess the card to truly appreciate it? Not a good thing.
The other major improvements come to the Lustrous cards, which I absolutely hated last year. This year, the design is miles ahead of where it was in 2012. These cards are among my favorites of all time when they were a part of the 2009 UD Black Set, but this year is definitely a nice continuation of the brand. This type of card is eye catching, so much so that Panini felt the need to rip it off completely in a set of their own. Even Topps has taken the brand in their own way as well, including Bowman Black cards across two sports.
Aside from my complaints on lack of swatch quality, there are a few cards in this set that I dont really feel are at the same level as the ones mentioned above. The main hits of the box could have been A LOT better if the way the design looked focused more on the player. They tried to maximize the size of the patch, and as a result, relegated the player to a tiny space on the side. They ghosted the area for the signature way too far up the side, which cropped the player that much more. This could have been great, but instead its just mediocre.
I feel the need to mention that I find it extremely problematic that Upper Deck could not work something out with Andrew Luck’s camp in time to get some redemptions into this product. To think that the best player in the draft class will not have the opportunity to have an Exquisite auto or card is ridiculous. Although there might be some trade cards in the 2012 product, there is still no confirmation that they will be Luck. That is truly unfortunate.
Exquisite will continue to draw because of the name and previous reputation. Upper Deck has ensured that Exquisite continues to represent the best of the best. The issue is that without a league license, they will continue to play second fiddle to Panini and their substandard, sticker filled National Treasures set. That is beyond unfortunate.