If you havent been an avid reader of this blog, I am a big fan of the pre-2010 versions of SPA. In fact, I am about as big a fan as one can be. After 2009 and the loss of the NFL license, Upper Deck has still made SPA relevant, which is a big step considering they are functioning with only NCAA uniforms for all rookies. They previewed some of the autographs that will be live in SP Authentic when it releases later this month, and I must say, even I am excited.
Now, 2011 was a terrible year for SP Authentic, in my opinion. I thought the design looked cheap, the cards didnt fit together well, and I had no qualms about ditching my interest for NFL products released around the same time. In 2010, the patch design was on par with previous years to the point where I wanted to buy a few packs, and I believe that 2012 occupies a very similar space.
Here are the examples from the last few years:
Doesnt compare to the amazing look of previous years:
The main issue with Upper Deck products this year just got a lot bigger with the injury of RGIII, as Andrew Luck will not be a live card in this product. Due to Press Pass’ horrible exclusive of Luck’s non NFL cards, Upper Deck cannot put his name anywhere in SP Authentic or Exquisite anytime in the near future. With RGIII, Russell Wilson, and others to carry the banner, it would have been fine with one tent pole of value instead of having both Luck and Griffin, but that isnt so as much any longer. Dont get me wrong, RGIII’s cards will still hold a high value, just not as high as it would have been 2 weeks ago. That is always a problem.
My biggest suggestion for Upper Deck centers around the release of this set. NO WAY should this set be released to compete with high end offerings from the big two. This should be a product that is offered in the beginning part of the year, when Topps and Panini are still struggling to get their products off the ground. It would capitalize on a huge hole in the calendar, and rake in the people who just want something nicer than this junk.
Overall, I think SP Authentic is awesome looking this year, as UD’s design team continues to prove they can make lemonade out of lemons. If only we still had the opportunity to purchase NFL cards from them, as I honestly believe they could easily compete on any level with Panini’s horrible design habits at the minimum. Granted, UD has showcased that they can carve out a niche from collectors who love college football, or those that dont care about licensing, but they are definitely missing out on a larger appeal. This SPA would have been that much more appealing to people like me. Valiant effort regardless.