Saturday, February 28, 2009

Missing the Signs - A Response To Wax Heaven

Mario, sadly, has finally jumped on the train with the rest of the "UD is going downhill in baseball" gang. Im glad he is getting it now, it will save him a lot of heartache in the future. Its disheartening that UD is starting to alienate even their biggest fans, like Mario, especially without regard for even trying. Here is what he wrote about the newest previews for UD 2009 Baseball products (my response is in between the paragraphs):

Take a look at the images below. You are gazing into previews for 2009 ‘X’, Spectrum, SPx, Icon, and a Piece of History. I have to say this right now before my head explodes: FIRE WHOEVER IS IN CHARGE OF DESIGNS!

Dude, obviously the pics are similar because the sets werent that good to begin with. I know you love SPx but the product has been on its way out since bowman chrome started doing their thang. Now that Bowman Chrome has all the RCs in a set more than a year ahead of SPX, this set becomes about the autos on the checklist. The bad part is, despite the fact that BC is beating them to the punch, the product is still filled with "40 man" RCs or the guys who have already made their debuts on the roster. Trust me, those guys cant carry a $20 per pack set. 

On the other side, we all know X and Piece of History are just ridiculous products. They are just bad on all sides. Did you really think UD would waste their time on these?

Not counting the good showing of U.D’s flagship brand, you are looking at three brands with almost identical designs and two which look like Update versions of 2008 products. Where did the creativity go? You are fucking Upper Deck for Christ’s sake, you can do a lot better than this. Don’t believe me? Buy a box of ‘08 Ultimate Collection or ‘07 Sweet Spot.

Wow, did you really put Ultimate Collection in this category? Cmon man! Ultimate 2008 was one of the most lame, boring, and unimaginitive products of the year! Every box had the same thing in it, and if you were lucky you got Grif, Jeter, or Ripken. If you didnt, you were fucked. In my mind, the set was only the jersey signed autos and one or two other subsets. It was beyond uncreative. 

Sweet Spot 07 was just as awful as UC, mainly because of the crapfest checklist, the high price, and all the fucking parallels of those signature cards. Purple and Green stitching on a baseball is supposed to make this more appealing? Fuck that. On top of all that you had those eye sore RC helmet cards which were again just the "40 man" RCs of the year. Hell, wasnt Delmon Young in there too? I would not support the idea that 07 Sweet Spot was a high point for UD. 

Please don’t take this as anything more than constructive criticism. It’s almost 4 in the morning and here I am staring at your 2009 designs in Photoshop wondering how you could possibly let something like this happen to your company. Right now is not a good time to get complacent, look no further than your basketball department for proof.

I agree 100%, UD should never have let this happen. But it has everything to do with set structure, not set design.

You guys know Topps’ flagship and Heritage completely took you to school. With no Masterpieces or Sweet Spot slated for 2009 it’s starting to look like an unfair fight. Please, for the love of the Hobby… get this train back on track before it’s too late. I have been supporting you guys since the beginning of Wax Heaven but I cannot hold my tongue any longer.

Topps and Topps  Heritage are completely different types of products than those you are comparing them to. Sweet Spot is pretty much high end for baseball, much like the grossly out dated SPx, and so to compare it with the two lowest end products of the year is way too off base. Personally, I liked 09 UD better than 09 Topps because its a better design and a better set structure to do well with baseball collectors. The problem is that it doesnt have a Topps logo on it. This is the same reason why UD destroys topps in Basketball and usually in Football - they made the playing field for those sports and therefore hold the exclusives and the set structures to make themselves better. 

Mario, I dont mean this post in a destructive way, I just think you are approaching it in the wrong fashion. I know that you love UD, I do too, but the fact is that UD is about to only have FB as its only sport because they dont have the tools or the contract to compete in BB and BKB. Its sad that they have to go, but, alas, thus is the nature of the beast.

Here is the article on Wax Heaven, go check it out.


  1. I wasn't comparing Topps and Heritage to Sweet Spot and Ultimate, just pointing out two popular products from two popular UD releases of the past two years.

    I know you personally don't like those two products but it's just one opinion. Many collectors in the blogoshere, YouTube, and message boards are still raving over '07 Sweet Spot and Ultimate.

  2. I really dont see a lot of love for Ultimate or sweet spot, but yes, that is just me. I will give you that both Ultimate and Sweet Spot are popular in some circles, but i dont think they are popular enough to carry the manufacturer.

    Funny enough, I think that if you buy sweet spot in singles, it isnt that bad, but the overall checklist is one of the weakest I have ever seen. SPx isnt that much stronger either.

  3. What suprising to me is that anybody is suprised by this. Anybody who has read "Card Sharks" knows that Upper Deck has been horribly managed from the getgo. Richard McWilliam would have been fired many years ago at any other company.

    Add to that the fact that Upper Deck has 43 Vice-Presidents and gone through two rounds of layoffs in the last six months, and you start to realize that this is a poorly managed company in complete disarray.

    And as a general rule, companies in disarray generally do not produce high quality products.

  4. I fail to see how Upper Deck doesn't have "the tools or the contract to compete in BB". The only Topps products that they can't really compete with are the Bowman pre-rookie cards. They have no excuse to turn out so many ugly, pointless products. Upper Deck is clearly capable of producing nice cards, but they choose not to.

  5. I think Dave's point of choosing not to needs some additional elaboration. The reason they choose not to is becasue they don't have to. They know that this Hobby borders on compulsive obsession and that 8x out of 10 we are going to continue to purchase what they spoon feed the masses. If modern era collectors collectively boycotted a singular product for 1-year I GUARANTEE the brand would change the following year. UD is in business to make a profit, obviously. If they know they can sell out a collector favorite like Sweetspot or UC why would they change it?