SCU Go-Live Report: 2015 Upper Deck Football

Today marks a sad day, as this will be the last licensed version of Upper Deck football to be produced. That’s not saying it wont continue in some way in thew future, but for right now, this is it. I remember back in 1991 trying to rip through Upper Deck packs with my allowance to pull the triple exposure Joe Montana card, and every year since then, I have always cracked a few packs of the product. Now that the cards are live, its very bittersweet.

Here are some of the cards already listed so far:

2015 Upper Deck Jameis Winston Letter Auto

2015 Upper Deck Jameis Winston Die Cut Auto

2015 Upper Deck Marcus Mariota RC Auto

2015 Upper Deck Hines Ward Die Cut Auto

The main thing that Upper Deck has always done well is the photography for the set. Their photo choice has always been nothing short of dynamic, and this year is no different. Each card has a cooler photo than the next, and as a connoisseur of fine game shots, this product is always a treat. Although I dont think this is as strong a look as it was in 2014, the base still looks pretty good.

Here is what I dont really get, in regards to the use of stickers instead of going for hard signed autographs over the product. With Inscriptions being as awesome as it was, I would have really liked to have seen UD go all out for this set and get the autographs on card. Also considering that the autographs can literally be obtained the MOMENT the prospects sign with an agent, why not have every card done ahead of time so that no stickers are even needed?

There are hard signed cards in the product in the signed letters and a few other cards, and it goes to show that the opportunity was there. My favorite cards in the whole product are the SP Authentics on card autos, which were incredible last year too. These are retro themed inserts, and they strike all the right notes in all the right ways. Some of the better pre-draft cards that exist, even more so than some of the ones from Inscriptions.

Im not a fan of signed swatches in any way. The ink bleeds, and the cards rarely look good. This year is no different, even though the letters are a bit larger in thickness. I wish that they had taken a page from basketball, and layered the cards with acetate, so collectors can still try to spell out all the weird shit they love, and you dont have to deal with all the issues from signing so small on little pieces of fabric. They have also had rookies sign the side of the card too, either works better.

Overall, I still wish Upper Deck had their NFL license. I still wish Panini hadnt bullied their way into a CLC (NCAA) exclusive to take over what UD has built over the last few years. UD still makes great looking cards, and this is a shame we cant have them in the licensed market in some fashion.

Your Watch List of Hobby Items: 2015 MLB Collecting Storylines

Over the last few years, I have become more and more engrossed in the NFL with each passing year. However, I still love baseball, and I still pay pretty close attention to what happens each year. It helps that Topps Bunt is around as well, as my interest level has spiked since going full scale into the digital world of collecting. That being said, there are a few story lines to check out, and they have hobby implications along with them.

Watch List #1 – Rookie Crop Takes Center Stage

Whether its some of the new Cuban players to come over to the bigs, or some of the bigger prospects that are going to finally get their shot, the 2015 crop is strong. Rusney Castillo got a taste of the show last September for the Sox, and he projects to be one of the top guys this year for cards as well. Of course, there is also guys like Jorge Soler for the Cubs, and Joc Peterson for the Dodgers, who will all have to compete with young masher Kris Bryant – should he be called up. All of these guys have had cards for a few years, and they will be making MLB fun for all the prospectors out there.

2014 Bowman Chrome Kris Bryant Orange Refractor Auto

2012 Bowman Chrome Joc Pederson Blue Refractor Auto

2015 Topps Heritage Rusney Castillo Real One Auto

2012 Bowman Chrome Jorge Soler Orange Refractor Auto /25

Watch List #2 – Will Jose Abreu and Jacob deGrom Be Sophomore Sensations?

If you opened a box last year, it was likely you were looking for one of these two ROYs. They both had some great stats as they exploded onto the scene in 2014, and there will be many watchful eyes as they try to replicate success from last year. Abreu put up some gaudy numbers for a team with very few other bright spots, and now that they have added some FAs around him, maybe this year he can find his groove again. Interestingly, deGrom really didnt have much until later in the year, but then Topps got him into a few sets. This year, the Mets need a big year, and deGrom will have to be the man on the mound again.

2014 Bowman Chrome Jose Abreu Red Refractor Auto BGS 9.5

2014 Topps Chrome Jose Abreu Gold Refractor Auto

2014 National Treasures Jacob deGrom Rookie Auto Patch

2014 Topps Supreme Jacob deGrom Rookie Auto

Watch List #3 – How Will Madison Bumgarner Follow Up His World Series Domination?

There was no bigger performance of the year in 2014 than what he was able to do in the World Series. It might have been one of the best pitching performances of all time, and collectors really took notice of what he did. However, without more of a dominating stat line during the regular season to match his post season winning tendencies, he may not get the continued love from the hobby that he definitely deserves.

2008 Bowman Chrome Madison Bumgarner Auto RC Refractror

2014 Topps Tribute Madison Bumgarner Auto

Watch List #4 – How Will Yasiel Puig, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout perform?

In the grand scheme of things, Trout is a much bigger deal than Puig. In the hobby, Puig may have more to prove as well, especially when Topps flooded the market with his cards two years ago. So, with Trout now an exclusive for Topps and Puig entering another year, will both continue to perform on a level that makes them among the hobby elite? It would be easy to say that Trout should have no problem putting up another MVP caliber season, but there is no such thing as a sure thing. Puig, a midst questions of his maturity, will need to step up. As for Bryce Harper, he is the one of the three that I am just not sure about. The thing is, he is SO young, that his career hasnt even hit the beginning of his prime. Harper has had his moments, but never really filled the shoes that were put in front of him to this point.

2008 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Blue Refractor Auto BGS 9.5

2013 Topps Chrome Yasiel Puig Gold Refractor Auto

2011 Bowman Bryce Harper Auto RC PSA 10

Watch List #5 – What Will Life Be Like Without Derek Jeter?

I was never a Jeter fan. I hate the Yankees. I also respect a lot of what Jeter is all about. With the Yankees losing another huge piece of their dynasty team from the 1990s, will they find a way to be relevant in 2015? It is almost a bit unclear, because they have a number of question marks in their lineup and their pitching staff. Although Masahiro Tanaka looks to be back, his elbow issues last year should be a huge concern. Without someone stepping up to take the place of their departed legend, the Yankees are in rough waters ahead. Although Jeter hasnt had autographs in a product in years, his cards were still a big part of Topps’ plan last year. This year, someone else will need to take up the mantle.

2014 Topps Derek Jeter Framed RC BGS 9.5

Even though my favorite team is on pace for another massive losing season, I cant help but be excited for the new year of baseball. With Topps already knee deep in their product line for the year, we will finally have the opportunity to see how it plays out on the field.

Is Kris Bryant the Next Big Thing?

If you havent been following along with Spring Training, you are missing some fireworks set off by the newest rookie phenom Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs. Hitting home run after home run has made a significant statement as the Cubs battle their way to opening day. As someone who has been among the top prospects in the league for a number of years, collectors have been on the bandwagon for a while. However, since the bombardment began, his prices have gone through the roof. Even his non autograph base refractors are going for nutso prices.

Check out some of these ridiculous prices:

2013 Bowman Chrome Kris Bryant Orange Refractor Auto /25

2014 Bowman Chrome Kris Bryant Auto RC

2014 National Treasures Kris Bryant Silhouette Auto Patch /25

2014 Bowman Inception Kris Bryant Auto RC

Here is the thing, I get prospecting and I get why Bryant has a ton of value. What I dont get is why he is worth more than guys who have won MVPs and World Series titles. Its clear Bryant has provided a spark in Spring Training, but it is just that. That really isnt what prospecting is all about. Prospecting is more about finding the diamonds in the rough, not buying the diamonds at Tiffany’s. There just isnt a ton of room, especially when he isnt even likely to be on the Cubs opening day roster.

Could Kris Bryant be the next Mike Trout? Possibly. However, possibly is a very large risk to be dropping the price of a used car on his rare Bowman autograph parallels. What started with Albert Pujols back in 2001 and continued with Trout, Puig and Abreu over the last few years has likely found a new torch bearer. As I have warned hundreds of times before, if you arent in now, you have likely missed the boat.

Bryant is a pretty prolific signer, much like we saw with Abreu and Puig, which means his autographs could get flooded as the year progresses. Yet, I completely understand when people would still put the Bowman Chrome above any other autograph out there. Just be careful when dumping money into other cards that arent his Chrome auto.

We have seen a lot of players come and go, some turning into perennial all stars, others still marinating as they try to make a name for themselves. I have never been a fan of paying through the nose unless comparative value is in tact. Right now, that is not the case, so watch out.

On the Radar: 2015 Topps Inception Football

I love me some Inception. Its one of the first REAL higher end products of the year, and has a ton of on card content that looks REALLY good. Panini has taken cues from this set and tried to replicate elements in other products, but have mostly failed. Inception is the top of the mountain, and in one of my previous posts, I still say the inscription autographs are some of the best cards of the year.

Here are some of my favorite Inception cards from previous runs:

2014 Topps Inception Teddy Bridgewater Nike Logo Auto Patch 1/1

2014 Topps Inception Odell Beckham Laundry Tag Booklet Auto /5

2011 Inception DeMarco Murray Silver Signatures Auto /25

2012 Inception Andrew Luck Auto Red /25

2012 Inception Russell Wilson Silver Signatures Auto /25

The set even made a transition to baseball a few years ago too:

2013 Bowman Inception Yasiel Puig Gold Auto RC

2013 Bowman Inception Kris Bryant Green RC Auto

As we have seen in previous years, the design and look/feel of the cards rarely goes off the reservation. Inception has worked very well now since 2011, and there is no reason to switch it up during the last year of the run. This may even be one of the main products that Topps might be able to keep doing, even after the loss of their license, but that is yet to be seen.

Inception delivers some big boppers in a time where there are literally no cards to compete. This includes on card booklet autograph logos, inscriptions, and all sorts of amazing looking stuff that is better than any other product that is released during the pre-premiere timeframe. Although the box breaks can be hit and miss, the design never disappoints.

This year’s stuff looks good, and I really cant wait to see how everything turns out once the cards have NFL uniforms on them after the draft. Remember, these are just mockups:

The Chase is On: What Are the Best 1/1s of the Year So Far?

There are a lot of reasons why the 1/1 still remains the chase that many collectors strive to build their PCs around. They are the top of the mountain in value, and in a lot of ways, they are the cards that many products are built around. So, with that, here is a breakdown of what I think are the best 1/1s released so far this year.

Topps Chrome Superfractor Autos

Even through the box breaks were brutal, Topps Chrome Superfractors are still going to be the most valuable chase cards for top rookies. Player collectors and team collectors fawn over them, and they continue to outsell even the best of the high end products. Cant beat consistency.

2014 Topps Chrome Kelvin Benjamin Auto Superfractor 1/1

2014 Topps Chrome Odell Beckham Superfractor Auto 1/1

2014 Topps Chrome Teddy Bridgewater Superfractor Auto 1/1

Immaculate Shield Auto 1/1s

These cards come in two flavors and both are pretty good. Although I am not a huge fan of the white space for the signature, the on card autographs and design still look as nice as any other logo this year. They havent sold as well as I thought they would, but definitely some of the top on card autographs of the year. Considering that Flawless had no logo 1/1s, it made these even more of a quest.

2014 Immaculate Odell Beckham Auto NFL Logo Shield 1/1

2014 Immaculate Sammy Watkins Auto Logo 1/1

2014 Immaculate Russell Wilson Auto NFL Logo 1/1

Topps Supreme Logo Booklet Auto 1/1s

I am not a huge fan of sticker autos, but supreme has a knack for making it work well. These cards feature giant swatches of team logos and other logos, and they are a sight to be seen just like they were in 2013. Because Supreme has only been out for a few weeks, only a few have surfaced, but when they pop up, they look awesome.

2014 Topps Supreme Teddy Bridgewater Auto Logo Booklet 1/1

2014 Topps Supreme Paul Richardson Auto Logo Booklet 1/1

Black Gold Shield Auto 1/1 Sizeable Signatures

Although the product is train wreck for design, these cards are amazing. because flywire makes the collar tough to display, using a vertical orientation works very well. Usually that means that the player gets left behind, but Panini found the best possible way to make it work.

2014 Black Gold Eric Ebron Auto Logo Sizeable Signatures 1/1

2014 Black Gold Mike Evans Auto Logo Sizeable Signatures 1/1

Inception Inscription 1/1s

I never expected a pre-premiere product like Inception to be as popular as it is, but man these cards are so freaking cool. The ones out of 10 are nicknames, but the 1/1s are more focused on whatever the player wanted to write.

2014 Inception Blake Bortles Drawn Play Inscription 1/1

2014 Inception Marqise Lee Inscription Auto 1/1

2014 Inception Tom Savage Inscription Auto 1/1

Museum Collection Jumbo Patch Auto 1/1s

A sleeper hit over the last few years, these cards have really been quite jaw dropping in the logos combined with an on card auto. Adding in the simple design has worked REALLY well.

2014 Museum Collection Mike Evans Jumbo Patch Auto Logo 1/1

2014 Museum Collection Sammy Watkins Jumbo Patch Auto Logo 1/1

Any Acetate Auto 1/1 from Topps Strata

Sadly forgotten again, despite some of the better looking rookie cards of the year, Strata’s cards remain a beast in the 1/1 department. Doesnt matter if they are the clear cut version or the shadowbox version, the cards look really cool.

2014 Topps Strata Jimmy Garoppolo Logo Auto Clear Cut 1/1

2014 Topps Strata Kelvin Benjamin Gloves Parallel Auto 1/1

2014 Topps Strata Bishop Sankey Logo Auto Clear Cut 1/1

2014 Topps Strata AJ McCarron Nike Logo Rivet Shadowbox 1/1

Becin that there are so many products released every year, I am sure I am missing a few. Either way, these are the ones that made an impression with me off the top of my head.