Every once in a while you stumble upon something that completely surprises you. Im going to admit that it happens more than it should for me, but after today I am glad it did. Let me also say that I miss league licensed Upper Deck products more than you could ever imagine. For the last few months we have gotten what could be possible with the Upper Deck master collections of Jordan and Tiger, but I had no idea how deep the rabbit hole went.
Back in 2000, UD actually released a number of Master Collection sets, spanning multiple sports including football and boxing.
2000 Upper Deck Dodgers Legends Master Collection Sandy Koufax Auto Jersey – If only I had the money, wow.
2000 Upper Deck Muhammad Ali Master Collection Auto Glove Swatch – Pure awesome.
After reviewing some of the examples from the awesome sets, I am downright depressed that UD is unable to explore this more thoroughly under an official release. Lets just face it – NCAA doesnt have the same pull as a league licensed set. It has SOME pull, but the potential is capped. Tiger woods was a great example of the true execution without limits, and in my opinion it was absolutely gorgeous. The Jordan MC failed to live up to expectations, mainly because collectors seem to be more disconnected from his days at UNC. They want officially licensed MJ Bulls cards, and though the collection was nice, there were automatic comparisons to the existing set released back in 2000 under the NBA umbrella. Its not saying the 2013 Jordan set wasnt nice, because it was. Its just saying it could have been THAT much nicer.
Looking back and seeing a Brooklyn Dodgers set, a Muhammad Ali set, a Yankees set, among others, I hope that Upper Deck wont be the only company willing to take a shot at this. Topps definitely has the design team in house to make this type of set incredible, and I would definitely clamor for cards of players I collect should they choose to go this direction.
Even back in 2000, where Exquisite was but a twinkle in the eyes of the collecting world, this stuff was top notch. The cards were gorgeous, the set was rare, and its obvious that super high end was a welcome addition to the calendar. Sets like this paved the way for Exquisite and Five Star, which all owe their enormous success to the concept that people would pay multiple thousands of dollars for a modern card.
I get that UD doesnt exactly have a friendly history in this hobby. They didnt become controversial for sound business practices, lollipops and rainbows. They made their bed and they have to sleep in it. However, that doesnt mean that people like me wouldnt welcome them back with open arms. They knew how to impress, and had high end down to a science.
National Treasures is great an everything, but its measured against a lower standard now that Upper Deck is no longer making NFL or NBA exquisite. Its a shame really, and unfortunately for us, it doesnt look to be changing any time soon.