Product Review: 2009 Philadelphia Football

Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of watching a case break of Upper Deck’s first retro football product in a long time. Philadelphia hits stores today, and it should be a pretty popular release, a la O-Pee-Chee in baseball. Collectors love retro products, and this one should get them pretty excited, mainly due to the way the boxes are structured. Even though my friend’s case wasn’t great, it was enormously fun to open, which from early reports, seems to be the case (pun intended).

Design/Creativity

Starting off, the cards look good for a retro set, something that is evident in the original Philadelphia design. They incorporated uncropped game shots into the base cards, which is always a good thing, preventing the players from looking like they are fatheads stuck onto a wall. The border design is also very simple and is not a focus of the card in general, just the way I like it.

I also think that the National Chicle minis and normal sized cards are EXTREMELY well done. They look great, and really capture the essence of the originals. These are going to be a popular set for people to collect, and I think UD got that when creating the cards. Even though the set itself is sparsely populated with non-set collector offerings, these cards should be pleasing to everyone.

As good as the National Chicle cards look, its pretty ridiculous that non-auto’ed cards of the rookies still show them in their college uniforms. Its now August, and we still havent had a post-premiere product from upper deck, despite multiple sets from both Topps and Grilled Italian Sandwich. I understand that when you do everything hard signed, the NFL uniforms are pretty much impossible at this point without breaking stalker laws, but the other stuff is about as inexcusable as it can get.

When it comes to the rest of the product, I couldn’t help but get a little bored with everything. To someone like me who has no clue why retro sets continue to be produced, I just don’t get why this product isnt just an insert set in base UD. Topps has taken their base product and ramped it up with things that made it more worthwhile for collectors, why not do the same thing with the awesome looking cards from this set? Put the National Chicle minis at one per box, with an auto per case, put the base cards as one per pack or something. No need to waste a spot that something like SP Game Used edition could have taken. Set collecting in baseball is much, much, much, MUCH different than set collecting in football, mainly because of the history of the hobby. Football doesn’t have as large of a history, and I don’t like it being forced on me.

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Autograph Cards

Before I go into anything, I want to say how great the autograph cards in this set look. If you think about the Goudey ‘Graph set in baseball, this is very similar. The autos are all on card, signed on full game shots or national chicle cards, and I think I may buy a few – even if I don’t collect the players. UD has also taken notice of people like Albert Haynesworth, who hasn’t had autographs ever (I think), as well as Jared Allen and the like. For this I give an ovation to the checklist people, because defense is a forgotten side of the ball in this sport. If you arent a rookie linebacker or top pick, you don’t have many cards outside of your rookie year. People like Haynesworth and Allen are primed to be two of the most popular players on their respective teams, which means that autographs in products are definitely warranted.

The National Chicle autographs are also ridiculously cool, and were a big focus of the coverage at the NFL Rookie Premiere. UD took on card signatures a step further by adding great inscriptions and making those cards some of the most collectible of the year. When we busted the case last night, we were hoping to pull one, but alas, our Vontae Davis was not inscribed. Regardless of the signature inscription, it was still one of the better signed rookie cards I have seen in a long time. I cant wait for some of the Sanchez and Stafford ones to pop up, as their inscriptions were pretty extensive.

So far, Philadelphia has been the best looking product in terms of autographs this year, and it didn’t take any manu-letters, no gimmicks, no graffiti under a bridge design. Its just a photo on card, signed by the player. That’s all it takes.

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Relic Cards

Philadelphia promises a relic or two per box, and they are pretty good looking for relic cards. They don’t have floating swatches as far as I can tell, and even play to the set collector side of people by doing them the way they did. Instead of naming it some ridiculous name like other products in the past, they just took the base design and added the swatch. Because of this, the Philadelphia Fabrics subset looks better than 99% of the rest of the jersey cards out there. Good for them.

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Value to the Collector

I have said a million times that on card signatures will always be valuable for any collector, especially ones that are as good as the ones in Philadelphia. Add in that this will be the set collector’s dream set, and you make the SPs and everything similar in the set that much more valuable. As Philadelphia is already pretty cheap, I can see the box prices staying put or even going up as time passes.

The autographs with the inscriptions will also hold their astronomical value, without a doubt. Anytime you can get extras out of a player with low numbered outcomes, you will have a card that will not lose value, even though they
are not in pro uniforms.

I would say, if you have the choice between buying a box of jumbo Topps, a box of classics, and a box of this, Philadelphia should pull out a convincing win. There is a lot to chase in this product, and it should hold at least until Mayo comes out. Then once people see the sticker autos on mayo, it will become evident how important this set is for retro collectors.

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Overall Impressions

Philadelphia, as far as retro sets go, is an exercise in less is more. A simplistic design, a deep auto checklist, and a good price will give staying power to this product. It looks as if this will be that one product that people go back to when the lull hits in January. Although it has some major issues with rookies, and a little bit of boredom for people like me, the hits make everything all better.

I wouldn’t say rush to the store to buy a case, but definitely set your snipes on eBay. It’s a great way to get some auto cards from your favorite rookies that look amazing, and collecting the set for the set collectors should be a blast.

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2009 Product Leaderboard (SO FAR)

1(t). UD Philadelphia Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). Topps Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). UD Icons Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). UD Heroes Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). UD Draft Edition (3/5 GELLMANS)
6(t). Donruss Classics (2/5 GELLMANS)
6(t). Donruss Elite (2/5 GELLMANS)
6(t). Playoff Prestige (2/5 GELLMANS)
6(t). Bowman Draft Picks (2/5 GELLMANS)
10. Score Inscriptions Football (1/5 GELLMANS)

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