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:
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.