Since 2010, Upper Deck has done everything in their power to carve out a new niche for themselves as the premiere provider of licensed college cards. Over the last couple of years, they have slowly ramped up products into a full blown calendar that includes many of their former products in new configurations.
Back in 2011, SPX was one of the first historical products to get axed from a standalone iteration of the collector favorite, but collectors wanted it back so much that UD was happy to oblige with a new version in 2012. In 2011, the SPX box topper packs were added to boxes of SP Authentic, which confused me signficantly. However after a stronger showing in 2012, it made the cut again for 2013, and is the first real higher end product from them so far in 2013. The set has some intriguing retro elements to it, but it also has some extremely disappointing parts of the set as well. So disappointing that it might sway me away from buying a box.
Here are some of the big ones already up:
2013 SPX Tyler Bray Auto Logo Patch 1/1 – pretty cool card.
The first and arguably biggest blow to the product is the design of the shadow box cards. Even though they added dual player shadowboxes, the design is less than adequate. Not only is it extremely boring, but it doesnt have the same pizzazz it usually does for a product like this. On the dual shadowboxes, the top layer player is much smaller than the secondary layer player, which only further highlights how little is actually going into the overall composition of the card. The metal style borders and plain backgrounds dont do much for the cards.
The second let down is in the non-autographed relic cards, which have some major design issues. Borrowing a page from 2008 Panini products, Upper Deck chose to only use one set of printing plates for the autos and non autos in their relic cards, which make for examples that look like someone forgot to affix the stickers on the autographs. Its extremely detrimental to the overall design.
The main box hits did turn out pretty nice, as did the throwback cards to the original holoview cards used in the beginnings of the brand. The UD Premier box toppers add a level of added value to the boxes, and look nice for the first time in a long time. If there are on card signed versions of the holoview cards, count me in. I have always said that this was a piece of nostalgia we definitely need to bring back around.
SPX has shown that it IS deserving of its own set, but the execution definitely needs to improve. If Upper Deck wants to compete among the big dogs, perfection in the little things can mean the difference between a loyal customer and someone who moves on. Its that simple.