2015 Topps Tribute Recalled Due To Autograph Issues

I dont really talk about baseball that often anymore, but I really like Tribute every year because of the on card autographs and chrome style cards. This year, something went very wrong somewhere along the production line, and many autographs had some huge issues with quality.

Here are some examples of the way the cards turned out, where you can see the odd streaks and scratches in the signatures:

2015 Topps Tribute Mike Trout Auto /75

2015 Topps Tribute Ken Griffey Jr Auto Gold /25

2015 Topps Tribute Pedro Martinez Auto Purple /10

2015 Topps Tribute Lou Brock Auto Gold /25

Topps has issued a full recall of the product due to these issues, and I have to applaud them for taking this step. That being said, I am curious as to how they are going to execute a product recall, as this type of thing has never been done as long as I have been around the hobby. They have done make good bonus cards before on old redemptions, but this is a bit different.

Bascially, if you still have the autographed cards from Tribute, you will be able to exchange them for a card of similar value, plus a make good card. If you have a box that remains unopened, you can return for a full refund. Pretty nice all things considered. Then again, if you have a nice autograph in hand, are you going to want to give it up because the autograph is a little off? Tough choice.

My main concern has to do with processing the opened packs, as you would guess there is going to be a ton of people waiting to return their cards and get them exchanged. I reached out on Twitter to find out if there will be extra reps on staff, but have not yet gotten a response.

Even though Topps has promised a make good on these cards, I am curious if this is going to slow down the business to a point where customers waiting on other redemptions and other replacements will be forced to deal with the massive amount of Tribute cards that now need to be processed.

As someone who bought a few packs, I think I would be happy with this announcement. As someone who has other stuff I am waiting on, I am a bit concerned as to the ripple effects.

Here is the full statement from Topps:

“Dear Valued Topps Collectors and Customers,

Topps has been investigating complaints regarding the quality of the autographed cards in the just-released 2015 Topps Tribute Baseball and has confirmed that many autographed cards are damaged due to a UV contamination on the card.

As a result of our investigation and to rectify the situation, Topps is initiating a complete recall of the product.
Those in possession of unopened boxes should return them no later than Friday, March 27, 2015 to the authorized distributor or store from which the box was purchased for a full refund.

In addition, between now and June 30, 2015, anyone in possession of a damaged autographed card (not in pack) can exchange the card by contacting Topps Customer Service. Exchanges will be made for another card of equal or greater value, plus a bonus autographed or relic card (valued at the company’s discretion).

Topps appreciates your understanding in this matter. We stand firmly behind all our products and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

On the Radar: More Info on Contenders Draft Picks Football

Despite the fact that Contenders has produced some of the worst looking modern cards I can think of, it has a legacy as the first product to really focus on RC autos. Collectors have a nostalgia attached to the product, and Panini has already taken the opportunity to exploit that legacy for the first product of its NCAA exclusive.

Yesterday at the Panini adver-talk at the Industry Summit, they previewed some of the cards from the upcoming product. To say I was shocked by their decision making is something that should not come as a surprise. Not only did they decide NOT to create a new design for the set, but they chose to go with stickers from what it looks like. This is after Upper Deck had already released a stellar product in UD Inscriptions that was live before the summit began.

Check out these UD cards:

2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions Jameis Winston Auto RC

2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions Marcus Mariota Auto RC

Compare to what the Contenders mock ups look like, at what seems to be an identical price point:

panini-america-2015-contenders-draft-picks-football-season-ticket-preview-9panini-america-2015-contenders-draft-picks-football-season-ticket-preview-41Capture

In my opinion, Panini has lofty standards to meet when releasing pre-draft products while competing against companies that offer nothing but on card autographs. Seeing that this product could potentially be stickers for the rookies is a disaster. Secondly, they could have made a statement by creating a bold new look for the first of many NCAA collegiate based products, but instead they pooped out a retread of one of their ugliest versions of Contenders to date. Someone (or many of the people) at Panini just doesnt fucking get it.

We already saw some incredible work from Upper Deck and Leaf with their first products of the 2015 draft class, and we havent even seen previews from 2015 Trinity yet. To see that Panini isnt taking this seriously is a slap in the face to all the collectors who loved Upper Deck’s college products over the last five years.

For the umpteenth time, Panini has used daddy’s money to bully their way into an exclusive they didnt deserve, which only hurts collectors in the process. I hate exclusives, but at least if you make the best products and get it, its better than making inferior products and receiving the reward. Panini’s stuff is already looking like a watery pile of shit, and its only going to get worse when their NFL exclusive kicks in before the 2016 season.

Hopefully they can get some butter to lube up the opening, so that someone can forcefully remove their heads from their own asses. Im guessing that will be someone from UD or Topps that they can lure away to design better looking cards, and not make horrible decisions in regards to the company’s most important brands.
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Upper Deck Scores Major Win With Long Term Deal for Michael Jordan

Over the last few years, Upper Deck has done pretty well creating products under their exclusive for the NCAA. Since 2010, most of their success in basketball has been tied to one of two things – the first is their brand names, which are the best in sports, and the second is their long standing exclusive deal with Michael Jordan. Even though Panini has held the exclusive in the NBA for years, they cannot reach their full potential without the biggest name in all of Sports Cards.

Here is what Michael Jordan is capable of:

2009-10 Exquisite Michael Jordan Auto Patch /15

2005-06 Exquisite Michael Jordan Auto Dual Patch /23

2006-07 Exquisite Michael Jordan Auto Patch

2007- 08 UD Black Michael Jordan NBA 50 Greatest Auto

It doesnt stop with cards, as UD Authentic can still sell Bulls Jerseys and other licensed gear:

UD Authentic Michael Jordan Signed Jersey

UD Authentic Michael Jordan Signed Game Used Floor Piece

The Industry Summit has a deserved reputation as a colossal waste of time, but Upper Deck did make the most of it this time around. Today, they announced that they have managed to complete a new long term deal with Michael Jordan, something that I was personally shocked to see. Rumors had been flying around that Jordan hated signing autographs, and that he was ready to put down the pen and not sign for anyone any longer. Now that Upper Deck has found a way to keep him around, what does that mean now that Panini has taken away their exclusive?

Upper Deck has overused Jordan in recent years, mainly because he was worth so much to the success of their products. Coupling Jordan with their concurrent exclusive deal with Lebron James, and using them ad nauseum in their products is going to be a winning formula, especially considering how enormously unsuccessful Panini has been in cultivating brands of their own in the basketball space compared to UD.

Now that Jordan is back in the mix with autograph content, Im curious if this is a way to get the fish back on the hook in a potential sale of the company and its assets to Panini. Right now, Panini has only managed a few marginally profitable years in their run as the exclusive NBAlicensed trading card company, and it has a lot to do with collectors choosing to stick with Upper Deck, even if it means buying and selling only older products.

If Jordan is part of Upper Deck’s assets, getting him, the Exquisite brand (among others), and Lebron James in a deal for the company would be a humongous addition to the over-payment they have committed to the NBA for the exclusive deal in the first place. Jordan has not had an officially licensed new NBA card for almost 7 years, and collectors are literally foaming at the mouth for new stuff. If Panini could make that happen, all of a sudden they become much more able to market to people who have since sworn off their terrible looking and horribly conceived basketball products. Even existing Panini collectors would kill for officially licensed Jordan cards, and that makes this long term deal even more important.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and Upper Deck has found a way to keep themselves relevant in a new era without any licensing. For as long as I can remember, Upper Deck has always produced some sort of licensed card during the year, but this is now a different era. Even though Panini does not produce the best cards in any sport, they will soon own the exclusive in all but 2. Now thanks to this deal, they will have to do it without their biggest target.

I am someone that despises exclusive licenses, and I still think part of the solutions to the hobby’s woes is encouraged competition among all brands for all players. But I completely understand why this deal is important for UD.

Panini and the Signing of NFL Player Exclusives – End Times Ahead?

Today, something big happened that some of you out there may have missed. I want to talk about it here, because it is something that could spell enormous changes in football cards starting in 2016. According to the Panini blog, Panini has signed the first player exclusive to be included in their new NFL exclusive license starting in 2016. Starting then, Dez Bryant will only sign with Panini.

You might be saying, “Well shit, Dez isnt THAT big of a player to take away!” However I think its more about the practice of signing player exclusives rather than the player who signed them. Panini will be doing more and more of this as the year progresses, with targets like Richard Sherman, Andrew Luck and other Panini Authentic signers likely joining the slate. This has never been allowed under the current licensing situation, but now that Panini has the full boat, they can pretty much do what they want.

There could be a huge change coming for sets like this as well:

2015 Leaf Metal Draft Jameis Winston Purple Refractor Auto /25

2015 Leaf Metal Draft Marcus Mariota Auto Blue Refractor

2012 Exquisite Andrew Luck Auto RC

2014 SPX Premier Odell Beckham Quad Relic Auto

Regardless of who joins the evil empire from the current slate of NFL stars isnt as big of a coup as it will be when they start signing rookies. Once the 2015 year is over, start to watch for the rookie deals being signed. If Panini performs the way they do in the NBA, I would guess none of the main draft picks for 2016 will ever be available for anyone but them.

This is where the true method is applied to the madness. With an exclusive CLC (NCAA) License, combined with the growing potential of draft picks being exclusive as well, no one else will have an opportunity to make a viable draft product any longer. Companies like UD and Leaf, who have carved out a very sizable niche in this part of the year, will be unable to build their products the way they did in the past.

Right now, I am speculating as to how this is going to go down, but this signing today is likely indicative of their plans in my opinion. I sincerely hope they dont go this direction, but a potential monopoly type lawsuit may be in the cards if they do. I can definitely see that happening. Im not sure how it is going to go down, but this is something you should feel very uneasy about if you like any sort of competition in the Football space.

Side note: I found it a bit hilarious that someone with an autograph reputation like Dez Bryant is the person they chose to be the first exclusive. Just saying.

Is Upper Deck Inscriptions the Best Pre-Draft Product in Recent Memory?

Im going to be completely honest when I say that it is very difficult to make a pre-draft product that looks good and can hold value once the real licensed stuff comes out. Without the use of NFL teams or licensing, many collectors will tune out any set that they cant latch onto. Upper Deck has found ways in the past to keep things interesting, as for the last five years, they have been the only company to have college jerseys available for their use. Now that the license is transferring to Panini, they are going to have to start all over. That is not only terrible for the hobby, but showcases how Panini’s manifest destiny will continue to force out the best people.

When I saw Inscriptions, I was pretty intrigued by how Upper Deck decided to close out their license with NCAA. To aim to release a set that is so focused on on card autographs with added content is never going to be bad, and this has played very well as a result. Inscriptions is not only filled with some great cards, but they look better than anything I have seen in a pre-draft product, maybe ever.

Check out these cards:

2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions Jameis Winston Gold Wave Auto

2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions Marcus Mariota Auto

2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions Melvin Gordon Gold Wave Auto

2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions Amari Cooper Black Prism Auto

2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions TJ Yeldon Red Auto

Each card has any number of varioations on what the players wrote, and continues to showcase that Upper Deck has not given up on their place in the hobby, even at the end of their time in licensed football cards. With autograph content being so common, there are no longer very many ways to keep content interesting and unique. For pre-draft products its even more difficult because collectors havent been able to identify with players quite yet, unless they are projected top picks. Adding inscriptions into the mix will add a lot of incentive to break boxes and buy singles, as the autographs are on a new level.

Some rookies take the signing a bit further than others, but overall this looks like a great group of signers. I am seeing some really nice prices for both Winston and Mariota, with guys like Amari Cooper, Melvin Gordon and others all getting some major attention as well. Upper Deck has a great set on their hands here, and I cant even begin to describe how angry I am that Panini has used their money to bully UD out of the marketplace in the second sport in 10 years.

As mentioned earlier, Panini is going to release two pre-draft products of their own, which will likely not even touch what UD managed to do with Inscriptions. In fact, Panini will have to prove that they know how to pull their heads out of their asses, because it is becoming more obvious by the day that they almost enjoy the comfort of their own rectum.

Bravo to Upper Deck, as this one is a winner.