Let me start by saying I am sad that 2015 products are already being solicited, as it is the last year that Football will exist in the same manner before Panini's unwelcome dominating presence takes over all aspects of the game. 2015 Upper Deck football will likely end up being one of the last licensed Upper Deck products to exist in Football, ending a long run of over 20 years.
Here are some highlights from the last few years of Upper Deck Football:
Upper Deck was put in a tough position to end 2014, as CLC opted to stay UD exclusive at first, before Panini hit the war path. Basically, from what my sources told me, Panini was offered a non-excluive CLC license, granting them privileges to produce college uniform cards along side Upper Deck before the beginning of Q4. However, from what I had heard, they overplayed their hand, lobbying to prevent UD from producing any CLC licensed cards after the draft, as the players became "NFL property" instead of "NCAA." Upon being turned down, Panini slowly extended their middle finger to the license and started working with schools to opt out of the CLC partnership for trading cards. This allowed them to sign an exclusive deal with individual schools and eventually forcing CLC to renig and grant them full exclusive rights last week.
What this means is that Upper Deck is out of NCAA, and is left with no licensing in football for the forseeable future. This doesnt mean they are without the ability to produce cards, its just not the same methods. They have relatively become the new Leaf in that respect, and there is nothing wrong with that from what Brian has been able to do. Some collectors would already argue that UD already operates in that capacity since 2010 anyways. 2015 Upper Deck football is going to be one of the final ones they make with NCAA uniforms and logos in tact from what the solicitation looks like.
I have always liked Upper Deck football, even though the box breaks havent exactly been favorable over the last few years. Because of a LARGE checklist, its hard to pull the big rookies, but having a licensed opportunity prior to the draft is a big deal, and always signals the beginning of the new card year.
Im not going to say there arent big hits to be had from this set each year, as Upper Deck has always found a way to make their pre-draft sets very collectible. Based on what we are seeing here, the usual format will return for this next year.
The design itself is very much akin to what the previous sets have shown. Foil embellishments on a full bleed style presentation, with some great action shots in place. This is why collectors continue to love this set, and there is a high probability that it will remain this way even when they have to start retouching the logos.
Now, I hate autographs built around signed pieces of fabric, as it is clear that these cards never look right or stay preserved. Upper Deck Football has offered letter cards per box over the last few years, and they have remained pretty popular. I really dont like the cards, but collectors love them. Its not a surprise to see they are back. I guess people just love spelling shit out.
To close this out in a way that people can understand – 2015 is the beginning of the end for Football’s viability as a competitive marketplace. Panini will take over everything, and they will use their money to bully competition out of the landscape of things. I have said it before, this is not a good thing. Based on historical evidence in Basketball, Panini will not do anything that will reinvigorate collector interest in football, and all boats will be impacted by that lowered tide.
Ill pour one out for this set, because its seems more like a swan song every day.