Unanswered Questions About Upper Deck

Whenever a company leaves a sport, there tend to be a ton of questions that people are having about the future of their collections. Whether it be redemptions or products or whatever else is related to the future offerings of a particular company, questions will abound until the official line is stated. The issue is, where does the official company line on any situation deviate from what is actually going to happen? Im going to discuss a few different questions that I have, and how it will effect the general collecting populace.


There have been a lot of speculation on what is going to happen with the number of redemptions that Upper Deck has been forced to issue in recent products. On their facebook page and through my contacts with them, they state that the player contracts will be honored and they will continue to pursue the unsigned cards from the products that have been released. Personally, I can only take this at face value because of the turmoil caused by the recent news. I would expect they will try, but honestly, I don’t see them putting full effort behind it due to the amount of work they now have to do in order to revamp the entire football line. I have two Harvin redemptions waiting to be signed, and I am one of those people who will wait it out not knowing if the cards will ever be produced. If I were in a buyer’s shoes, I wouldn’t buy any of the redemptions until I see that the cards are live. Funny enough, redemption prices have held steady past the news of the last week, and I am actually pretty shocked that they have. The Shonn Greene redemption from exquisite even seems to be going up a little. Percy Harvin is holding, the dual autos like the bookmarks are holding, and even the Ultimate stuff is holding, which means people still have faith in Upper Deck’s ability to get these cards done. Im not sure I would, and that is my personal opinion.

Future Products

As far as I can tell, everything is cancelled that requires an NFL license. Legacy is done, UD football is done, and from the looks of it, the calendar will either be drastically reduced or switched over to a complete NCAA focused product line. Per UD’s Twitter page, Exquisite was the last NFL product for a long time, unfortunately. Upper Deck does have the ability to produce NCAA cards, which means Sweet Spot is still likely to happen. If you preordered cases of anything else, start hoping for your money back.

Card Shops

This is where things can get pretty hairy. Im not sure many collectors have really thought about what this will mean for the shops that depend on wax to make rent. Singles are a pretty much dead retail market, and Upper Deck products are usually some of the most popular on the shelf. They are also some of the most expensive to stock, so maybe it will be a trade off. Personally with a loss of UD and Topps in football, and a loss of UD and Topps in basketball, how much revenue will be able to be gained from new product. There is one manufacturer in each sport now, and with Topps and UD out of two of them that’s a total of more than 50 products that will be shelved. With many of the shops already hurting, im worried about what could be happening in the future for many shops.

Value of Existing Cards

Even if Upper Deck goes completely bankrupt, their cards will still hold value. Due to the quality, rarity and prestige of the autographs and memorabilia, I don’t think there will be any drop in many of the cards. When Fleer went under, things were a little different due to the quality and rarity of the cards, as well as the number of autos at the time it happened. With Exquisite, SPA and the like, people will continue to bust the boxes and buy the cards long after anything has been announced, so I really wouldn’t go cleaning out your UD cards from your box. It’s a different hobby now.

Creating Logo-less NFL Products Like Prime Cuts Baseball

We still havent gotten final words on UD’s plan for their football line, which is a completely different situation than the baseball brands. Because of a number of factors, UD still has a possibility of going that direction, but I assume they will just continue to produce cards based on their exclusive NCAA license. For people like me who scoff and Press Pass and the like, this will not be acceptable and it looks as if I am going to be without a new box of cards in my house until things change with Panini.

Overall Prognosis for Upper Deck in General

Im not sure what to say, even though I have some info from non-UD sources on what was needed to keep them afloat when the still had this license. Now that the license is gone, there is going to be some major changes in Carlsbad. Most of the speculation over the loss of their license centers around money issues, and those issues will grow exponentially if they are unable to establish a good NCAA brand. Because that is so unlikely without being able to create cards of current NCAA stars, I think the hourglass is emptying quickly. McWilliams wont stick around forever, and I think they need to find viable alternatives before things go south. Baiscally, they are playing with borrowed time and borrowed money, and I doubt Hockey (now that Panini has infringed on their exclusive), UDA, UDE and any of their other brands will be able to sustain a company the size of UD.

Im sure news will constantly stream from every imaginiable source in the coming weeks and months, and with the cancellation of some Hockey products already, things are not looking good for Upper Deck. Regardless of how you fee
l, that’s a lot of families who will be without jobs, something that is never a good thing.

Best wishes to all of those people who are in jeopardy.

The End Of An Era – My Reaction To Upper Deck’s Departure From Football Cards

Now that everything has officially been announced and commented on by Upper Deck, I want to put a little perspective on this whole situation. The reason is that there seems to be two sides of the aisle on whether or not this is good, and I think its time to go over what this truly means for the industry and for the hobby. The reason I separate the two is because of their intrinsic makeup of the people that populate each group. In the hobby, the majority of the population is collectors who would collect regardless if there is an industry or not. They just want to better their collections, and in some cases make the most money off said collections. This part will probably live on for many years to come. The industry, on the other hand, is made up of manufacturers and hobby media whose sole purpose (aside from producing the cards) is to make as much money for their company and shareholders, all while keeping the hobby happy at the same time. This part has a limited lifespan, now possibly made shorter by Upper Deck’s inability to secure an NFLP license for their cards.

Now that we are familiar with the players, its time to talk about the game.

Basically, Upper Deck’s departure from football and baseball cards now puts some people, like myself, in a pretty ginormous predicament. As we saw with the first time this news was brought up a few weeks ago, there are a lot of people who love what Upper Deck puts out every single year. Those people are now left with a void that is unlikely to be filled with cards from Panini and Topps due to any number of reasons. Because Upper Deck was the only company that focused as much on design and layout as they did on set makeup and product development, we are now entering an age where stickers and poorly conceptualized sets will reign supreme. In fact, products with on card signatures of veterans and stars just went from 5 complete sets (Philadelphia, Black, Ultimate, SPA, and Exquisite) to a big fucking goose egg. Of course, Panini will lead you to believe that their signed manupatches are on card, but they are not, and we are left with 100% stickers for the foreseeable future. Sets that feature on card rookie autographs went from 5 complete sets and 9 partial sets, to 3 partial sets if Classics still features those terrible School Colors paint pens shit and Contenders comes back with the bubbly shit. National Treasures, if everything remains as is, will be the only set that features signed memorabilia cards, and they will be 100% rookies.

I get that there are people out there who don’t care about on card sigs, or even that the industry has basically regressed to the dark ages of 2004 and 2005, but this is absolutely terrible for those of us that live for them. Even if Topps were to come back on, they bring a product slate of huge foil stickers and triple threads. How does that replace a set like SP Authentic? It doesn’t. Basically, for the collectors who care as much about the way a card looks as they do about the relics or autos, we are left with one or two sets that I could see being a viable target for purchasing singles. I have a feeling that this may shrink the base of collectors who buy current stuff more than people think.

Another factor is the outstanding redemptions from a company that needs to issue them due to said on card signatures. There are many collectors out there who have a ton, and its very plausible they may get screwed on ones that they pulled or bought. That is not a good sign for anyone, although it is still possible that they may continue to pursue athletes to sign their outstanding cards. Basically, if you have some you have been waiting on, I would start an email campaign to get them replaced while you have the chance. Although there has been little comments on this from UD themselves, its better to be safe than sorry. If you are going to purchase UD redemptions, I would definitely think twice before doing so.
Most importantly, unless Topps is reinserted into the mix, the lack of competition for an already inferior Panini brand could result in a black hole of innovation and creativity. Remember, this is a company that puts out at least 5 sets (absolute, elite, prestige, gridiron gear, and limited) that are practically the exact same as the year before. Before they at least had to compete with both Topps and Upper Deck for industry market share, but now there is not a single reason to break away from their formula. Where else are people going to go? I understand that they have tried to improve upon content with adding minor amounts of on card stuff to sets like Contenders, but in just about every case, they have failed harder than a beginner skater on a high rail. Get ready for year after year of rehashed product with little more to offer than the previous year. It was the reason I hated Triple Threads originally, and its now one of the main reasons I wont need to buy any set from the official card manufacturer of Rainbow Foilboard City.
Upper Deck may have made some awful mistakes that probably cost them the company, but they never ceased producing cards that people went ape shit over. They were so many miles ahead of anyone in mid to high end, that it made Topps and Panini look like they were working with a team of five year olds. If you compare products from Topps and Panini side by side with what Upper Deck offered in practically every god damn set, the difference in quality was unfathomable. Topps may have low end cornered with the chromes and their flagship set, but they are still gone from the market as of now. When it came to everything above the low end price point, Upper Deck won every single race by multiple lengths due to their ability to secure on card signatures and create innovative ways to get fans what they wanted. Whether it was the introduciton of crazy amounts of player inscriptions, ridiculous 1/1s, or even something as simple as social media from a manufacturer, they took it to the next level. Say what you want about their business ethics, but its hard to deny that their shit was the Bentley of the collecting world. Sadly we are left with a Chevy now.

Adding to the plight of the collectors in this hobby, I don’t think this bodes well for the industry, either. When you practically chop off one of its appendages, it puts more strain on the other ones to maintain control. Though Topps and Panini have large companies behind them, those companies just lost an advertising vehicle that brought people back to the hobby or introduced them to it for the first time. Its not unlikely that someone hooked on cards would buy from all three companies, and now that they only have one company to choose from in each sport, there will be a drop off. Plus, if recent trends continue to be status quo, the quality of the products they can choose from will be sub standard to where they were just one year ago.

Basically, if you like busy designs, stickers, and foilboard on top of foilboard on top of foilboard, this is your football golden era. Have a blast with all the crap coming down the sewage line. I havent bought a box other than Chrome or Upper Deck in almost two years, and now I will be left to existing Upper Deck products to fufill that itch. Hopefully, Panini stops using the stock backgrounds on photoshop for once and turns it around soon. Then people like me will have something to buy again. Prestige, Prestige Chrome, Classics, and also Rookies and Gridiron Limited Treasures will not keep me interested.

I sincerely believe that the industry will find a way to trudge on in the landscape post Upper Deck football, but it will not be at an elite level any more. The cards that got me going and kept me salivating are gone and in most probabilities, will never be coming back. I will have to come to terms with that fact, but I doubt it will happen unt
il one of the other companies decides to pull their head out of their ass and deliver at the level that UD did. Upper Deck may continue to produce NCAA licensed cards, but I think my feelings on Press Pass and SAGE will supercede any shot I would give those products.

People, this is the end of an era, practically 20 years in the making. Thanks for the Memories Upper Deck.

DEVELOPING STORY: Upper Deck Loses Their Football License?

Well, I have some bad news for football collectors, news that I have been expecting for a few weeks now. I got word from the peanut gallery that Upper Deck is losing their football license due to non-payment on the fees or something to that degree. Although this news is speculative at this point, and very much unconfirmed, I have a feeling we will get the news later this month or early next month. After recent troubles, speculation on lack of funds has run rampant, and this should only add fuel to the fire.

With UD possibly leaving football for the foreseeable future, it leaves an open spot for Topps to return to the fold, which may be the other side of the announcement. It may also spell the end of a company who has produced the best looking cards of anyone in the football market in the last few years. With their baseball and basketball arms all but severed, Im not sure how much longer they will be able to stay viable. Football was a profitable brand, and Exquisite is looking to be one of the best products in a long time. As this news would suggest, it’s the last product they will make in the football market, something that makes me a very sad panda.

I cant really fault anyone but the top brass over at Upper Deck, as the management of the company has been piss poor lately. Where UD had finally started to build a good reputation among people, that construction was mostly destroyed with the news of the Konami lawsuit. Though Topps may return with fan favorites like their base set and the Chromes, we are also going to have a hole where Upper Deck’s MO of great looking cards and on card sigs usually fit. Its rare that a company has as many problems as Upper Deck has had in the last few months, especially with so many of them stemming from unethical and unsound financial behavior. I guess this is the nail in the coffin.

For me, if this situation turns out to be true, im pretty much done buying current football cards unless Panini and Topps change their tendencies to match my tastes. I doubt that will happen, so that makes me feel extra cynical about the future of what I will buy in the upcoming years.

Hopefully, I am wrong.