Worst of the Worst 2004-2009 #1 – 2006(7) Topps Paradigm Football

Its here, the moment you have all been waiting for, the worst product in the countdown of the worst of the worst. I do think it needs to be said that this product could actually be one of the worst of ALL TIME, not just of the last five years. It is so bad on so many different levels, that I cant even think how another set could beat it out. For god’s sake, this product was so bad, it actually got a nickname to reflect it – Paracrime. Yes, 2006(2007) Paradigm football sits a top this list, and I will try to do it the justice it deserves.

First, some background is needed, especially to at least give you an idea of how Paradigm came into being. Back in 2005, Exquisite was first released for Football, and people went fucking nuts. In 2006 Donruss signed on to make National Treasures to compete, and Topps wanted to try their hand at super high end as well. Reggie Bush’s Exquisite rookie patch auto was slated to be the most valuable modern card in decades come the end of 2006, and Topps needed to get a set out to match the hype. The problem is, as good as Exquisite is, it is also incredibly expensive and time consuming to make. Its usually started almost a full year in advance, which provides time for all the on card signatures and awesome design elements. With Paradigm, I doubt it got more than 2 months, thus leaving us with a product equal to a maimed rotting carcass of a raccoon on the side of the road. In 2006, Exquisite was released near the end of december, and Paradigm was so far into 2007, that many collectors didn’t even consider it to be a 2006 set. The season was far over, and Exquisite was rocking, as usual. That was just the beginning.

At over 400 dollars a pack, the product was 100% sticker autos, with cards printed on the brightest rainbow foil that topps could find. If you think all those horrible Panini sets were bad, this was a fucking abomination. The design was awful as well, as the foil was so hard to deal with, that many of the cards looked like they were designed by a guy who hadnt graduated high school. Plus, white borders on foil never really work, especially when you are using a lot of white jersey pictures as well. Then you have the stickers, which were beveled into the design much like Triple Threads, and jersey windows that just didn’t make sense.

The worst part of this set were the jumbo patch autographs, where the card was basically a thin white border, with a large swatch and sticker auto right smack dab in the middle. Yes, this was the basis for the Topps Lettermen atrocities, as the cards had no pictures or any other info. It was like taking a swatch and mangling it beyond recognition. Many people were left tilting these cards in the light to find out the name of the player they pulled.

Since Triple Threads had yet to be done for football, Topps used the triple relic and sticker auto design for the one per pack “Performance Highlights Autos.” These cards were basically a checklist of great to horrible players put into a horrible design with diecut windows of player stats. They were one per pack, and were responsible for 90% of the total value of the box. If you pulled Antonio Gates, the break was basically unsalvageable. People were so angry with many of these cards that they regularly sell for pennies on the dollar.

Even the high dollar pulls were terrible, and when I say terrible, I mean it in a Charles Barkley “turrable” sense of the word. The Dual NFL logos were possibly the worst cards of the worst set, as they featured absolutely no player picture on the card. Not that there wasn’t room for a picture or two, because the logos were done in such a way that there was more negative foil space on the card than needed. I wasn’t able to find a picture of one, but I did find a single one, where you can see what I mean. Just imagine the card below with no player pic and an extra logo blob on it. Its almost like they planned for the full equipment logo and ended up cutting it down without adjusting the card.

In all honesty, Topps Paradigm’s worst feature was its price, costing almost as much as a box of National Treasures and Exquisite. Topps had to compete with those products, and sadly they performed equal to expectations for Topps products costing more than 100 dollars. They took the easy way out for design and content, but took the high mountain drive on the price. Collectors were literally shocked by what they got out of their boxes for that price, and many even sent letters to the company. Even today, the value in the box would be looked upon with contempt, even more so if Topps decided to try it once more before the end of their license.

It would be one thing if Paradigm was one and done, but it gave birth to two products that are on my honorable mention list. The first is Topps Performance, which replaced Paradigm on the calendar after the horrible sales of the product. Performance was a scaled down version of its father, with equally horrible white designs and some of the worst looking relic cards of all time. Although Performance guaranteed one Adrian Peterson auto per case, those autos continue to be the cheapest licensed Peterson autos on the market, selling for less than 70 dollars in some cases. After Performance was axed, it was replaced with Topps Rookie Progression, which continued the Paradigm legacy well into the crapper of 2008. It reminded me of my Uncle’s house in the 70’s from those pictures you see in the family albums, lots of bright oranges, blues and browns. Just plain sucky.

That’s it folks, my worst of the worst. I am going to start working on a best of the best, and I hope I will have as much fun as I did with this countdown. I actually laughed out loud a few times when searching for the bad cards from these products, and I cant wait to compile it for a possible internet release to collectors who are getting back into the hobby. Hopefully this countdown shows how important it is to the companies that laziness will not be tolerated, but with Topps owning the top three spots, we may not have as much of a problem any more.

Here is the complete countdown, honorable mentions will be coming soon.
EDIT: Here is the Dual Logo from reader Kevin. Gaze with awe upon its glory.

Worst of the Worst 2004-2009 #2 – 2008 Topps Lettermen Football

Over the last five years, there have been quite a few products that havent lived up to billing. Whether its shorted hits, bad design, or lack of content in a box, there were more than I can count. Here is my countdown of the worst of the worst, and I will go into a little of what makes them so bad. Of course, for some, the shittiness extends beyond mere words, but ill at least try to capture it with each post.

The number two worst of the worst, 2008 Topps Lettermen, was so bad that it actually crossed the barrier between sports blogs. Blogs that usually commented only on Baseball or other sports picked this up because no one could fathom why Topps would ever put out a product like it. Back when this came out last year, letter hype was at an all time high, with many products trying to capitalize on the signed manufactured letters and how popular they had become. First being released in Basketball, Topps took letters to a whole new crappy extreme by creating a product that was exclusively focused on signed letters. The price was astronomical, the cards were horrible looking, and the concept reeked of Topps rushing to capitalize on a fleeting fad.

Then they decided to bring it to football, and I am still shocked to this day what ended up happening. Unlike Basketball’s autographs signed directly on the letters, Football incorporated the worst looking cop out of autograph technology in the history of this hobby: sticker autos on manufactured letters. Let me repeat that so you don’t have blood shoot out of your eyeballs. STICKER AUTOS ON MANUFACTURED LETTERS. This means that instead of doing letters in a way that at least made this product stomachable for many collectors, they decided it wasn’t worth their time to even get the prime focus taken care of correctly. This horrible idea took cards that already looked like boring and unimaginative shit and made them 1000 times worse.

Oh, but wait, it gets better. They also created manufactured number patches and manufactured logo patches where the sticker wasn’t even put on the card in a normal place. Instead of going across the manupatch like the stupid letters, they were put off to the side and affixed vertically. The results were visual abortions. I have to say though, my favorite part of this whole thing was when they took all the different craptastic designs and X-fractored them to create hundreds of needless parallels. As if having stickers on your letters werent bad enough, now you had more parallels than Triple Threads, all numbered for each individual letter. Fucking gross.

Lastly, as with all Topps high end products, the price was just as much of a drawback as the product design itself. This pile of two week old camel shit cost about as much per box as a Matt Ryan SP Authentic Rookie Patch Auto. Yes, instead of buying one of the best cards of the year, you can have a 200 dollar box of turds. I have never said this in my life, but I would actually support you buying a box of Triple Threads over this. I cant tell you how much I laugh at the people who bought cases of Lettermen and thought they were getting “OMG SIKX MOJOZ!!!”

When it comes down to it, I just cant imagine who decided this was a good idea. Im guessing it was the same people who created Triple Threads, Sterling, and all of the rest of the products that triggered the golden rule of Topps. Now that Topps football is gone, we can all rest easy, but I have a feeling that Baseball is going to feel the brunt of this blow. My condolences to those fans.

Worst of the Worst 2004-2009 #4 – 2007 Upper Deck SP Chriogrpahy

Over the last five years, there have been quite a few products that havent lived up to billing. Whether its shorted hits, bad design, or lack of content in a box, there were more than I can count. Here is my countdown of the worst of the worst, and I will go into a little of what makes them so bad. Of course, for some, the shittiness extends beyond mere words, but ill at least try to capture it with each post.

Here is number four, enjoy.

When it comes to the worst of the worst, 2007 seems to have been a banner year for Upper Deck, with number four being SP Chirography. This set was bad for more than just design, and that is why it is on this list. Its rare that you see a product that epically fails in multiple areas, and Chirography is definitely in that category. It was also a late release, much like SP Signature Edition this year, but unlike Signature Edition, there were not many people willing to buy it.

The First major issue with this set was the design, leaving many collectors with a bad taste in their mouths. Because many of the other sets in 2007 were looking much better than normal, to have a bland set like Chirography was a complete killer for this product. Each pack may have contained an autograph, but the autographs looked the same 90% of the time. In fact, the only difference in the auto design from the base design was just a plain old sticker slapped on with some foil numbers. That’s it. Sure there were some auto subsets, but the design was actually ten times worse, especially a few of them that had more text on the front than most card backs usually have.

In addition to the horrible design, the title of the set was incredibly off putting. No one knew how to say it, and it always weirded me out when I saw some 12 year old on video, busting one pack, and calling it “Ichiro-ography.” Honestly, the title isnt that big of a deal normally, but when more than half of the people have to pull out a dictionary to say “I want a pack of Chi-rog-raphy,” it’s a bad marketing move. I guess that’s why most people just said, “Ill take SP Authentic instead.”

Speaking of people only being able to bust one pack at a time, we have come to the main reason why this product sucked so hard: PRICE. If you are thinking that a crappy product like this would cost 100 bucks a box, you are dead fucking wrong. A box of Chirography cost in upwards of 250 dollars upon release, with many boxes delivering less than 10 dollars in value. Im guessing the cost of putting 8 autos in a box was the reason for the high cost, but honestly, three Antonio Pittman autos and a few Tony Hunts are not going to get you where you need to be. Its almost like buying 8 boxes of 2009 SP signature edition, and hoping that you pull a 300 dollar card.

I know I know, some of you are probably wondering why SP Signature Edition didn’t make it to this spot instead, and its because it only costed 40 bucks a box. This costed at least 6 times that amount for what you would normally get in a box. When you combine a horrid format with a bad design, you beat out a sticker dump product that most people knew about prior to release.

Funny enough, when I first spoke with Upper Deck in the original interview, I brought up the shittiness of this awful product. Even THEY thought it was donkey poop, and apologized. Since when has that ever happened in this industry? I think that alone says something about how bad this product is.

If you would think it could not get worse from here, I would tell you to bring a barf bag from now on.

Worst of the Worst 2004-2009 #5 – 2007 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection

Over the last five years, there have been quite a few products that havent lived up to billing. Whether its shorted hits, bad design, or lack of content in a box, there were more than I can count. Today I want to start my countdown of the worst of the worst, and go into a little of what makes them so bad. Of course, for some, the shittiness extends beyond mere words, but ill at least try to capture it with each post. Ill do one per day, five total, and it will also allow for each of you to get your comments in.

Ill start with the fifth worst product of the last five years, 2007 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection. If you arent familiar with how bad this set really was, consider yourself lucky. Really, when you look at what Ultimate Collection brings to the table each year, it has really gotten fairly stale and over priced ever since memorabilia cards lost their overall value. 2007 was supposed to be the beginning of a new product configuration, and instead all we got was one of the biggest design and content cop outs in history.

First, this product was doomed from the beginning because of all of the added signatures that would be needed for it to be completed. Upper Deck touted throughout the card year that Ultimate would have much more added content, which got people talking that the packs could actually be bought at their intended $100 MSRP and still be worth it. Unfortunately, they were dead wrong. The packs contained a couple extra hits, though most of them turned out to be less than adequate players featured on horrible looking cards.

Instead of going through and designing extra subsets with better looking designs, Upper Deck instead decided to reuse the same template for the cards in each and every one. Outside of the normal draw, the rookie signatures, this product was filled with cookie cutter-ed crap meant to fill the other packs in the box. Each of the non-rookie autographs (3 per box) were cheap sticker autos on this template under different names. Many times, collectors who bought multiple boxes would get the same guy over and over again, but with a different title on the card. Players like Adrian Peterson were included in these subsets, but that type of pull was so rare that many just gave up on buying boxes, with many giving up on buying cases. It was so bad, that UD switched the format once again, this time coming out with better looking cards, but in a much different formatting style. Thanks to the abomination in 2007, Ultimate Collection was almost axed in 2008, even after the format change. Its kind of like Batman and Robin’s effect on the career of the people in the movie.

Here is a few pics of the different cards from the set, notice the similarities. There are other autos, but most were a Panini-like busy mess like this. Then when you think a box of this cost almost 400 dollars in some shops upon release, it becomes clear why this is one of the worst products of the last five years.