Product Review: 2009 Upper Deck Black Football

When I first saw the announcement that UD black football was coming, my mind jumped at the possibilities as to what they could work with. Now that we have seen what the product was, to say that there are mixed reviews is an understatement. The people who busted the boxes are angry at the content of what they paid for, while the singles buyers are salivating at the top pulls from the set. Although I fall under the latter part of the divide, I see the merits of all the complaints that have been lodged.


Off the bat, I want to say that I absolutely love the design of this product. I love the looks of the cards, especially some of the more creative ones like the film strips, and I think that it could be the best of the year so far. My favorites of the set are probably a tie between the Lustrous patch autos, and the quad patch autos, though many of the cooler ideas are threads among all the cards. The black background makes everything that much brighter and cooler, and it reminded me of the Vizio commercial where they put blacker blacks on their TVs to make the colors more vivid. At the time I thought that was crap, but it is present here I believe.

As for another major point of contention in the set, the rookie autos, I love the look of them, but I see the validity of the complaints for why they don’t work. First off, College Unis in this type of product is a problem, and a lot of people have a right to complain, especially with pro logos for team designation. I think if this product was a few months later, it would have been great to have a rookie style Lustrous patch auto. Then you march into the territory of SPA and Ultimate, so I see why they went with it the way they did. At least the cards look good enough in most of the cases to look past the short comings to a cool little card, but again, I am not missing the forest for the trees.

Another great example of a cool idea is the signed swatches that are sparsely included in the sets. They look beyond awesome, and though the autos arent as clear as they should be at points, the design and look of the cards are awesome. Its been years since we have had signed GU stuff in football sets, and I am glad to see it back. From what I remember, it should be making a comeback in Exquisite as well.

Moving on to the flag base cards and signed parallels, I have no complaints, though I have heard mixed reviews. Some people love them from their Basketball black collections were happy to see them included, others just thought they were dumb and unnecessary. I think it’s a cool idea, and would maybe even buy a few of the unsigned ones. The signed ones are crap shoots, as there usually isnt enough room for the players to sign. Some are good, some are bad, and that’s where things get dicey. I think moving the name would have been a good idea, and expanding the space to sign is essential.

Lastly, the cuts in this set are awful. Plain and simple. No pictures, high numbering, bad checklist, poor design. I would say that they are some of the better ones of the horrible cuts we have had this year in Classics, Limited and otherwise, but lipstick on a pig don’t make it a woman.

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Autograph Cards

The signed portion of this product I like a lot because I am a sucker for on card signatures, and because the design looks great. I think better pens were needed in some cases, but in most, they look fine. As said above, the Lustrous cards are some of the cooler cards I have seen in a long time, and the film strip cards are a gimmick that actually works. The dual auto jersey cards are awesome, and the quad jersey cards are even better. That being said, the flag autos are mostly bad, the cuts suck, and the rookies are college style. A weighted scale for sure.

The part that may offset the rookie college unis are the duals, triples, and quads that look amazing. The pairings are pretty good for the most part, and having quad signed cards are awesome additions to a set that lacked in its rookie element. I got a very distinct feeling that the Pen Pals cards are not going to be that good looking this year after seeing some of the previews, and these multisigned cards make the Pen Pals look like prestige junk.

Overall, I think the autographs live up to black potential, but there are no shortage of bad parts for sure.

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Relic Cards

There are no relic only cards in this set

Value To The Collector

First off, let me say that there is no way in hell I would ever buy a box of this unless it was a drastically reduced price. Those people who were complaining have it mostly right. Unless you get lucky, you are going to pull two rookies and two flags and be done with your 175 bucks. To have a shot at the good stuff, you have to break multiple boxes, and for this price, it almost isnt possible.

However, if you do manage to pull something besides a rookie auto, there is a lot of potential in some of the cards. Many of the Adrian Peterson, Peyton Manning, and others are selling above the cost of a box, which is good, and there are a few cuts that people do want. The good rookie autos are selling reasonably higher than most of the others out there, and the Lustrous cards do very well. You shouldn’t be buying these boxes to make money anyways, and I think if you go into it with those expectations, you could come out happy.

The cards themselves will hold their value, especially some of the rarer subsets, which will be good for the singles buyers, but the drawback of busting a box is still going to prevent a lot of people from enjoying this product.

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Overall Impressions

I would say this set is the first in about 3 months where I want multiple cards from multiple players. The others I just buy the Harvins or the Petersons and be done with it. This one is different. For that I think there are a lot of other people out there like me. However, there are just as many people who got a swift kick in the baby maker when busting this product, and they are out for blood.

Personally, I don’t see how this product is performing any different than past years, yet for some reason, the stigma is definitely poor. I would say that if we got pro uniform rookies and some guarantees on case content, you would have seen a much different reaction.

Also, considering this set is all live with no redemptions is particularly awesome. That is an accomplishment unlike anything we have ever seen before, and I think that bears repeating. When was the last time that a set with all hard signed stuff was put out with no wait on any of the cards? Never.

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2009 Product Leaderboard (SO FAR)

1. Topps Chrome (4/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Black (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Donruss Limited (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Bowman Chrome (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Donruss Certified (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Upper Deck Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Philadelphia (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Topps Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Icons (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Heroes (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Draft Edition (3/5 GELLMANS)
12(t). Topps Finest (2/5 GELLMANS)
12(t). Upper Deck SP Threads (2/5 GELLMANS)
12(t). Upper Deck SPX (2/5 GELLMANS)
12(t). Playoff Absolute Memorabilia (2/5 GELLMANS)
12(t). Bowman Sterling Football (2/5 GELLMANS)
12(t). Donruss Threads (2/5 GELLMANS)
12(t). Donruss Classics (2/5 GELLMANS)
12(t). Donruss Elite (2/5 GELLMANS)
12(t). Playoff Prestige (2/5 GELLMANS)
12(t). Bowman Draft Picks (2/5 GELLMANS)
12(t). Topps Mayo (2/5 GELLMANS)
22(t). Score Inscriptions (1/5 GELLMANS)
22(t). SP Signature Edition (1/5 GELLMANS)
24. Leaf Rookies and Stars (0/5 GELLMANS – NR)

Could Small Sample Size Be A Factor?

UD Black was released for the first time in football yesterday to much fanfare, as well as much criticism. Although people’s box/case breaks may not have turned out very well (some with over 11 base rookie autos per 10 box case), there are definitely no shortage of awesome cards. Really, I think this product has definitely come up short in terms of value per box, no doubt, but I am not going to say it was a total disaster, a la 2007 Black Baseball.

I think we had grand expectations for this product, I know I did, especially after seeing Michael Jordan, Lebron and Kobe all over 2008-09 Black Basketball. However, there really arent players like that in football, ones that command humongous prices per card. Thats where basketball is special. Baseball suffers a similar fate in most of its high end products, especially ones like Black. Football does have a few rookies that could break the $100 per card barrier, as well as a few players like Manning, Peterson, and others, but nowhere near Jordan territory.
Regardless of capabilities of ROI, the product does have some amazing looking cards. The rookies may be in college unis, but the sigs are almost all on card, and the design is ridiculously cool. I have been monitoring stuff that has been popping up, and I am liking as many parts of this set as those I hate.
I think the dual Jersey auto cards are awesome, and some of the combos are proving to be pretty interesting. I also really like the Lustrous cards, as cards featuring PETG elements have always been a soft spot for me. Also, though the cuts are pretty much crap, at least UD didnt use the crappy phone cards for their Payton cuts. Those phone cards, which Donruss bought in bulk for little to nothing are stupid as shit, and have been all over their products for the last few years. This is much better.
Dont get me wrong, I am the first condemn a product for shitty design and horrible ideas, and this product has its share. However, I dont think its fair to throw the baby out with the bathwater in this case as it does have a lot of redeeming cards. Although the money making aspect of a box is low to none, the singles from the good boxes are some of the best of the year so far. That is more than a lot of other products can offer.

Box Break Reports On UD Black Are Grim

I have gotten a few emails from different readers, including AR Platinum of youtube fame, who have busted their boxes of Black with very unfortunate results. I could have told you up front that the Black box breaks were not going to be a money making venture, as they never are, but I will stand by the box breakers who look to be getting hosed on their breaks. For a product like this, there really needs to be some value in breaking boxes.

Those awesome memorabilia cards seem to be seeded at less than one per case, and the rookie autos have some questionable people on the checklist. I think collectors are going to quickly learn their lesson regarding pre-ordering products like this, especially at 100 per pack with a hit or miss type of configuration.
However, I will say this, for those of us who stick to buying singles, I think there are a lot of really amazing cards. Yet, those singles will never see the light of day if more than the fair share of boxes contains nothing but crap. People will avoid buying the boxes until prices drop, and at that point, the singles drop too. Black Baseball from a few years back was a huge casualty of that reality, now selling at a 50% clip from its MSRP.
Although I think there is enough cards to keep the box price above that level, its going to be a rough go at it if a lot of the preliminary breaks turn out like AR’s.

UD Black Is Live, Looks Cool

UD Black is live and so far it looks pretty good. There are going to be some ups and downs with this product because of the price to bust a box, but for those of us that dont bust for profit (or at all), its going to be great based on these images. Although I hate the fact that the rookies are in their college uniforms, and that some of the paint pens dont look all there, I think these cards more than make up for it:

Plus, in all seriousness, these rookie autos really do look very good, despite the college uniforms. I am not going to go rush out and buy a set of them, but if I pulled this Harvin, it wouldnt be the end of the world. The only thing is, how much cooler would these be with pro unis?

Here is the first quad auto, looks pretty awesome with all the hard signed rookies.
They did end up putting cuts into this set, but they broke the ultimate cut rule and used other cards. That fucking sucks, and I really dont get why they have totally ditched the cuts with player pictures in this industry.
Here is a cool looking dual auto, but the signatures look like stickers.

UD Black Is Shaping Up To Be Utterly Ridiculous

Earlier on friday, Upper Deck released a pretty shocking statement about a product that features completely hard signed signatures. UD Black will have no redemptions. Let me repeat that, because it definitely bears repeating. In a product year where Panini is issuing redemptions for signed stickers of fucking rookies AT THE ROOKIE PREMIERE, Upper Deck is going to release a completely hard signed product with no fucking redemptions. This is also the same year that Panini touted their no redemption product for Prestige, but this is a set that features the same unprecedented claim for a hard signed product. Amazing.

As we saw in previews, the look of UD Black looks amazing, and the content looks to be the best so far this year. I have a feeling that when all is said and done, this could be one of the best boxes to buy around, as you know you are not going to have to wait for any of the cards you pull.
Here are some more of the preview images, count me in for at least one box. Man, those Lustrous cards look fucking awesome.