Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Product Review: 2008 Ultimate Football

2008 Ultimate football is live, and this leaves 2008 Exquisite as the only remaining football set of 2008. If you take out your personal crystal ball and look back to mid 2007, you would see ultimate as a stale product, badly in need of a revamp, put together as an afterthought. The cards were cookie cutter-ed and basically slapped with hundreds of worthless stickers. The design was ridiculous, and the product just plain sucked. Hell, even upper deck knew they had a stinker on their hands when they look back on it. Fast forward to Uitimate Baseball 2008, and again, you have a cookie cutter-ed set with not much variation or value in the cards. It had some cool ideas with the signed jersey pieces, but to make an entire set out of that is boring and lame. 2008 football is much different, with a brand new approach, a brand new case system, and some kick ass cards. It has its issues, but we will get to those in a second.

The Good

I always liked Ultimate because it was the first 100 dollar per pack item on the market that was available to everyone. Of course, when it first came out, Jerseys were not that common, so it was okay to put that price tag on things. Now, its really tough to justify that price tag unless you have some nice hits. Luckily, Ultimate does have some nice hits. Not only that, but it has a very sleek design for just about all the subsets, and I am a big fan of any set that has a nice design (See Premier 2008).

I really like the dual inscriptions cards, as they are dual autos with inscriptions, both on card, with a cool design as well. This part of any set is usually forgotten, but these cards are awesome. I think its always cool when you get something in addition to the autos, especially when its two players on a card, with two extra inscriptions. I saw one with the two manning brothers, both inscribed with their super bowl MVP years. Call me a JC, but I think that’s awesome.

As for the 1997 legend sets updates, I think it is an awesome idea. The original set is collected by people like the Piece of History 500 home run club set for baseball, and to finally get an update is beyond awesome. The design still holds as one of the best ever, and to have Favre, Elway, Faulk and others added to it is a really, really good way to draw people in. Some of you may not like the set checklist selections, or the design, but for those of you who were around the first time, will no doubt love these as I do.

Aside from the designs or the legends, having a complete set with on card autos is really deserving of a great ovation. I don’t think you guys really understand what it takes to get a bunch of stickers signed, let alone all the actual cards. It’s a great feat, and I think to have 3+ full sets with all on card autos is a huge step away from stickers. It shows the planning, execution, and follow up that most of us crave in a manufacturer, and I will be the first to give my applause. You may say that I have my head up UD's ass, and you are probably correct - but at least the sets are worthy of that. DLP and Topps have churned out a few good ones this year, but nothing like the horrid mid year releases that were LCM and some of the other high end diarrhea that Topps put out. UD has had a pretty solid calendar, and I am not afraid to admit that I have a little man crush on some of the 2008 sets they produced.

The Bad

Im kind of pissed that they added a jersey swatch to the RC autos this year. If you look at 2006, they were some of the simplest, yet coolest card I have seen in a while. 2007 weren’t great, but they surely werent bad either. This year, I like the design, but I feel like they cheated a little by tossing in a swatch. As a subset, those autos would be pretty fucking cool, but as the base RC autos, Im feeling a little slighted. That’s just me.

Im still not sold on the pack configuration, as I told Gregg, mainly because there is just no guarantee anymore that you will get any of the previous year's box hits in your packs that you buy. Although Gregg assured that the ratio of duds to scores is very low, I cant put my seal of approval on it until I see more breaks come Wednesday.

The Ugly

Although Ultimate is vastly improved over last year, I still don’t think its justified to keep around as a set. It doesn’t have the niche to me that SPA does, and Exquisite is in a different league, though the box prices used to be similar. With the rising cost of producing a set, Ultimate may just be better as left on the cutting room floor. It used to be THE set, but now its just lost in the shuffle. Honestly, did any of you even remember that Ultimate wasn’t released as normal this year? I forgot until about a week ago. I think most of us would rather have another mid end product rather than another shot at a high end one. Maybe Im alone on this, but Im sure there are better uses of this slot.

Overall, Ultimate is a really good end of the year offering this year. Although the set is not really needed a month before Exquisite, it does have its merits to prevent it from being completely irrelevant. I would say it may be worth your time to pick up some singles and maybe a pack or two in place of your normal 100 dollar purchase for the month, but I think with Exquisite on the horizon, I might just think twice before plunking down any money.

1 comment:

  1. Those rookie autos look a little too much like SPA to tell you the truth. I really like the dual inscriptions cards, so long as the players actually go together. Too many times have cards been slapped together and you get two random players who probably haven't ever even said a word to each other.