Thursday, June 18, 2009

Product Review: 2009 Upper Deck Heroes Football

UD heroes is live now, everywhere, and I even had a chance to buy some myself. I think the set has a lot to offer in terms of all the aspects of the hobby, and I think its one of the better products, so far, that has been put out. Its still not going to be on the same level as some of the post-premiere products, though this particular offering has many things that people will love.


I really like the base design, as the cards feature an unbalanced photo area that works well with how the players are put into those boxes. They kind of run out of the card design, the borders not holding them in. Considering that design has been a MAJOR fail this year for many products, its good to see that when you take a set that has been around since 1991 or earlier and give it an "injection" as some may say, it still works.

Another part of heroes is the subsets, and this year's are improved over last year. The painted cards are an extreme improvement, as last year I thought the whole set looked miscut. With Masterpieces being discontinued, these may be some of the only painted style cards we get, and im glad they werent ditched. Im a fan of sports art, all the way through to Leroy Neimann's golf prints, and I love seeing cards that feature artistic representations of the players.

As I learned from my pack breaks, guitar and music heroes were not the only non-sports part of these sets. I dislike this anytime that it is put into a set, though it seems to be a very popular part of many other sets that are out there. When I see that Vincent Van Gogh and company are added as parts to this product, it seems as though it was an attempt to extend the collectibility of the base set for the same type of people who build the retro sets. Considering that Philadelphia is next on the calendar, it should have been in that product instead. Im not a fan.

When it comes to the hometown heroes set, I love it. I think it’s a great idea for collectors to have the opportunity to pull combined cards of people from multiple sports. Considering that it is a city by city theme, I love it even more. I know there are dual autos and dual jerseys from both of the parallels, and I think that many of us would love to have either. I know if I was a person from Detroit and I saw a Gordie Howe/Barry Sanders dual, I would go nuts. I know there are people out there who really dislike this type of subset because of the multiple sports, but I also think that many people out there will love it.

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Autograph Cards

I think that having on card autos in this set make it more relevant than it normally would be. I also think that its great to see that the players used quite a bit of the signing area on some of the cards, as that is ALWAYS a plus. Also, considering that many of this year's class have big autos to sign, this could not have been a better situation.

The one problem I did see with some of the auto pulls, including my own, is that some of the sigs turned out kind of streaky instead of being bold. I think it has to do with a lot of things, not necessarily anything that UD could have prevented, but its worth mentioning.

As for the Painted cards being signed, as well as the hometown heroes, it adds some variety to the normal set. Most products just have signed parallels of their subsets, but the stickers don’t normally fit onto a paralleled card. Most of the time with the stuff I saw from heroes, the autos looked very good on the subset cards. It didn’t look forced. It also wasn’t in big giant silver paint pens, so that’s good too.

Lastly, as I have explained before, I collect autos more than cards. For a period of my life, I collected a lot of music autos, and it makes me happy to pad that collection with some of the music autos in this set. However, as a non-supporter of non-sports in sports sets, a lot of the music cards seem out of place. I think in Baseball's Spectrum of the 80's hair metal stars, the idea was a fail and a half. Here, there are actually some autos worth your time, right Tom Morello?

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Relic Cards

For some reason, there just arent many Relic Cards that look good to me any more. The ones in heroes look much, much, MUCH better than Prestige Chrome or Prestige itself, but they still don’t look right. I think the parallelogram windows stay out of the way enough, but they still look like they are wierdly forced into the design. Its like UD knew they HAD to have them, and did their best to put them in without looking like the designers were complete idiots. I think they accomplished that, however this may be the time where we let the jersey parallels die. If a card doesn’t have a jersey all the time, just don’t make it. Enough with the parallels, we arent buying it. Save it for retail.

On the dual jersey cards, I did see that some of the players had to be covered up out of necessity. When it gets to that point, we need to re-evaluate our need for relic cards altogether. Again, these cards are no where near as much of a fail as Donini's horrid attempt, but its still something that needs to be addressed.

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Value To The Collector

Every time you have on card autos of a player, its going to hold value - especially with every single Donini product being mostly on stickers. I think at this point even I would rather have a college uni on card auto of a player rather than an NFL uni sticker auto of a player. That goes against every bone in my body, but I have NO FAITH in Donini's design team. That fact alone raises the value of this set in my mind.

Still, as many early products do, this will fall as the year drags on. Because Donini uses the middle of the year as their toilet, products like the stale LCM will still overshadow this product. The one product that I will predict to be immune is Philadelphia, because retro sells. ALWAYS. Unfortunately, heroes will not be immune despite the fact it features things that retro sets thrive on with non-sports inclusions.

Price is another major factor, because when other mid end products like Gridiron Gear and the rest of Donini's mid year "show up and throw up" have the same price point, this will look very expensive for what you get. At least you get a guaranteed 2 autos per box, as it would be pretty awful to pay 100 bucks and end up with one auto.

People, its pretty simple. When there are many products on the shelf, many of which have been around and in our hearts for years, sets like Heroes wont be your first choice. That's all I have to say about the value of this set. However, the on card autos and some of the other autos may buoy the ship a little.

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Overall Impressions

This set was a horrible edition to the late year calendar last year, but this year, it holds some water. I like the ideas they used for this set, though it will not have the clout of something like SPX or Limited. Considering that, it’s a good spot for it right here, though something like Masterpieces would have been SOOOOO much better.

I would have liked to see 3 or 4 autos in a box and forget the jersey additions to the set, or at least a lower price point. I may buy some singles from this set to add to the 10 packs or so that I opened personally, as the RC autos do look very good.

My take is this, it’s the best of the year so far, but it’s a minor league set in the major league of post-premiere products. When you compare it to Prestige Chrome, it seems great, but when compared to SPA and others, it falls short. I think that’s understood, but a good filler until we get to the later products.

Average Rating =

2009 Product Leaderboard (SO FAR)

1(t). 2009 UD Heroes Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). 2009 UD Draft Edition (3/5 GELLMANS)
3(t). 2009 Donruss Elite (2/5 GELLMANS)
3(t). 2009 Playoff Prestige (2/5 GELLMANS)
3(t). 2009 Bowman Draft Picks (2/5 GELLMANS)


  1. As far as early releases go, I dig the design, but there's one element that I can't overlook: The logo. It's too big and too cartoony. The font alone brings what otherwise would be a sharp, clean look into the childlike realm.

    Sure, it's a nitpick, but with a cleaner, more "mature" logo, I think these would be a much nicer, cleaner, more minimal design that I might be interested in.

  2. I applaud UD's effort in getting on-card auto's into so many recent products. Especially with the sticker autograph scams that are out there, UD on-card auto's should hold their value much better than the stickers used by other companies.