Examining The Effects of Upper Deck’s Exclusive NCAA License

Starting this past month, Upper Deck took over the exclusive license for all NCAA related likenesses and images. This meant that sets like Press Pass and SAGE were left without a way to picture the players in their uniforms or helmets. What you may not know is that sets like Prestige and Elite will also have to adjust pretty drastically, and that’s where things get pretty hairy.

As we have seen from previews recently, the Prestige rookie cards look god awful. When I say god awful, I mean that I would rather look at a bloody corpse in some cases. The design is terrible, the horizontal orientation makes the cards look weird, and the final product looks like it was built with the auto in mind. The right half of the card looks way too wide open, like there should be a sticker there, but someone forgot to put it on. Then your eye gets to the player picture and im sure that many of you had a “WTF?” moment just like I did.

See, because of the Upper Deck exclusive contract, Panini had to picture the players without any logos or likenesses regarding the schools they went to. In previous years, the players were pictured in full college garb, and actually looked like they should. This year, they are pictured helmetless and close up, and for some players, saying that they look goofy is an understatement.

It would be one thing if this were baseball or basketball, because for those sports, the player’s likeness centers around their face, because that is the way we see them on the field. The uniform is secondary, and many baseball and basketball players have made lots of money on that fact alone. In football, many player’s persona centers around their helmet and uniform, because that is the way the fans get to see them so much of the time. When cards feature players up close and personal, they get a much different reaction due to the way that people expect to see their favorite players. I couldn’t tell you what Ndamukong Suh looks like without his helmet on, but if I saw him in full uniform, I could point him out in a crowd.

When you also factor in that Donruss Elite is going to have to find a similar workaround, it becomes more and more likely that a lot of collectors are not going to like the way the cards look. If you don’t believe me, compare the cards from the Press Pass set that was out before the exclusive with the one that was released after. Its no comparison, especially when considering the look of the card.

Upper Deck may have made a dent in the first few releases of the year, but I wouldn’t say that it is something so big that people wont be able to get over it. For people like me, having helmet-less players on the cards is an immediate deal breaker, but not everyone is like that. Regardless, it has forced Panini to switch up their game, and so far, the results have been horrid. Point made, Upper Deck. Point made.

Product Review: 2009 Donruss Elite Football

We are four products into 2009, and Elite is the first product that actually holds some value for the collector in the long run. However, while looking at the final product, there were a few major questions looming that I may not have been able to get past. I was able to view a whole case broken by my friend, with disasterous results, but I am not going to focus on the pulls. Just the cards.

Design / Creativity

This year’s Elite is basically Prestige Chrome, and from my review of Prestige, you can pretty much get the feelings I have about this product. First, the set looks eerily familiar, or rather very close to last year. There is also an ugly addition to the base cards with the electrical storm that seemed to be present at the printing of these cards. In the words of my friend “What the fuck is this? Are they on the set of Crank?” Ha.

The subsets have also dropped considerably in terms of looks from last year. The throwback threads is a perfect example of how bad this has gotten. Last year, the cards were so good looking, I actually went out and bought my first non-auto jersey card in a year. This year, they look stupid to me, mainly because the jersey looks like an add on piece rather than part of the design like last year.

The staple of this set, Passing the Torch, has been updated – I guess for the better. It is no longer a front and back card, making it much easier to display. I don’t think the design is awful, but I don’t think it lives up to being THE cards from this product. Plus, when you look at every other company, not many have their crown jewel cards available in millions of parallels, unless you look at Topps High End. But that doesn’t count.

Also, im not sold on this mirrorfoil they have coating each card. In previous years it has become extremely succeptible to pack fresh damage, and my friend’s case definitely felt the brunt of it. Many of his cards were damaged, and though they werent too important, its frustrating. I think they need to get rid of this practice of using condition senstive materials to produce their cards. That is the one thing Topps has down with chrome and finest.

Lastly is the diecuts, something I used to like a lot. However, as a result of the coating on the cards, I saw a lot of damaged diecuts in my friend’s case. Some people love these cards, but I am indifferent, something you could attibute to my lack of love for the base cards. I don’t think it’s a win on these, but its not a fail either.

Rating =

Relic Cards

The floating swatches are back, and Donini fails to incorporate the windows into the product with any sort of good ideas. Most of the time the windows look like add ons, as said before, Im guessing because of how many parallels they have of each card. See, with UD, most jersey cards are designed to avoid the floating windows, most likely because the jersey window is incorporated into the design, and the sticker is added later. With Donini, it seems like they just try to fit everything onto a pre designed card. This leads to cards that have floating and out of place jersey windows that don’t fit into the overall feel of the design.

I am continually disappointed with Donini relic cards, they never do favors for my eyes. After the Prestige debacle where cards were designed that covered up the players with swatch windows, I thought things would get better. They didn’t.

I mentioned above that I didn’t like this year’s throwback threads set. Chain reaction and Prime Targets are worse than those, and you have to look hard to find a good looking relic card in this product.

Rating =

Autograph Cards

I am a big fan of paralleling the base cards with auto’ed versions, but its tough to find the autos in this set with the time travel residue, the dark cards, and the black marker that was used. I think when it comes to designing auto cards, you have to figure that a special light space needs to be present. On Bowman chrome last year, Topps did a higher half circle. On many other cards from last year, a light picture with a background included is used so that the stickers don’t blend in. None of this consideration was used for Elite.

As for the College ties autos, the cards look completely unbalanced. The autos weigh down the cards completely on the bottom and things look out of place when you throw a sticker on card designed as a base insert. Same thing tends to happen with many of the other subsets with auto parallels, and I think its scary that people think this shit is “cool.” Have we gotten that complacent?

As said above, I liked the PTT autos not being front and back this year, but I still hate all the parallels. I didn’t like that they switched to two tiny pics on the side, however, when you get into duals on one card, its tough to avoid. The PTTs are still the best cards of the product, but for this set, its not saying much. I sincerely hope Classics is much better. Yet, with that school colors preview we got, I am very, very scared.

Rating =

Value to the Collector

This is the first set of the year that minimally holds its value, especially in the low numbered diecuts and autos. I think its possible to make some money on a break of this stuff if you get lucky, but if you are looking to keep what you pull – wait for later sets. The PTT autos are some of the more valuable Donini duals, and have been the focus of many collectors who have liked the set.

The rookies arent going to hold too much value unless they are low numbered, but the diecuts and status cards should hold well over the months. I call this set Prestige Chrome, and its funny that the parallels of the RCs really fit this mold.

Lastly, I think its within your best interest to buy the singles as the price of the box is most likely not going to be eclipsed by what you pull. Still not an awful product to buy if you are looking for cards that wont be hurt by the release of the post premiere sets.

Rating =

Overall Impressions

I am very disappointed by Elite, I think this could have been done a lot better, especially if they had thrown in a few new concepts. See, with many other products, creativity factors into new subsets and better designs on the existing cards they are remaking. When you don’t change a thing and you throw it out there just to throw it out there, I am going chide you for your laziness. SP Authentic is the set to buy each year because they do a great job of combining the old with the amazing ideas they have for the new. This does absolutely nothing of the sort, and to me that is very frustrating. At that rate, you should just update your set each year with new cards, a “living set” as I saw someone suggest on one of the boards, mainly because I am so bored with stale concepts.

Average Rating =

2009 Product Leaderboard (SO FAR)

1. 2009 UD Draft Edition (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t) 2009 Donruss Elite (2/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). 2009 Playoff Prestige (2/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). 2009 Bowman Draft Picks (2/5 GELLMANS)

Prestige Chrome Hits eBay, Leaves Me Wondering Who Designed It

Well, we have a few preliminary cards up on eBay from Donini’s recent offering of Elite, or as I call it, Prestige Chrome. See, Prestige was a gross product this year, an abortion of weirdly placed swatches and stupid concepts all for a price that wouldnt hold even if every card was numbered under 50. Elite, built on pretty much the EXACT same idea, is really just Prestige on foilboard. You know, I never get why foilboard is such a favorite of DLP. I used to think it was cool (ooooh, shiny!), now I think its lame and played out.

I am about clean and practical designs. Elite’s staples, the RCs and base, are busy and ugly. What? What is that you say? Is Knowshon running into an operating Tesla Coil and causing an explosion? Is there some sort of electrical storm? Is he time travelling? He must be lightning quick, if you catch my drift.

Here is a great suggestion for Donini, take a look at the foilboard Topps uses for Chrome and Finest and find out what they do differently than this crap. That way, it wont look fucking ridiculous, there will be less chipping and damage when pack pulled, and I dont have to look at my ugly mug everytime I admire the card.

I will say this, the PTT autos look a little better than last year with both players now on the same side of the card, but they should have taken a page from UD and not released 5 billion parallels of the card WITHOUT autos and then one parallel with the auto /25. I can never understand why companies do that.

I am not going to be buying a product with one, yes ONE, redeeming subset in it. Ill wait for Classics to get my Donini fix for the year. I did say year, that was not a typo.

I LOLed.

This was great from the Beckett douches: “We’re not going to tell you what we had to do to get it, but we’ve managed to procure a box of 2009 Donruss Elite Football almost a full week before its official release date.” Im guessing it went a little something like this:

Donini Brand Manager: Hello you got the big guy, talk.
Hackler: Hey baby, how YOU doin?
DBM: Oh, hi, didn’t realize it was you! Im doing great!
Hacker: So, I was wondering if I could come over later, grab a few boxes of Elite, and maybe help you “relax.”
DBM: God, I love when you do that. Id give you a case for your talents.
Hackler: I only have eyes for you Donini, ill be over later, light some candles.
DBM: Oh, almost forgot. Remember the deal. You LOVE this product, and we continue to help you scoop the misinformed cesspools.
Hackler: Wont be a problem.

Well, since Donini loves Beckett like a fat kid love cake, they got a box of Prestige Chrome a full week ahead of time. They may not have pulled anything, as this was obviously NOT a hand seeded product, but you can bet this solidifies that I am going to have a very hard time supporting Donini products this year. Either way, it shouldn’t be too hard if the cards look as shitty as they did in this video.

You can already see the poorly constructed cards with the Maroney being ass backwards with a swatch in no man’s land. Plus, the weird ghost starburst looked ridicu-stupid on the base cards, im not sure who thought that looked good. So far, Ill be passing on this product faster than Donini can say “I heart Beckett.”