Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Product Review: 2009 Upper Deck Football

In the battle for set collectors, Upper Deck is pretty late with their flagship product this year. The thought is maybe to go up against chrome, which could be possible with the type of product that this set is shaping up to be. For many, Chrome is king, including football, so UD has added a few elements to add some strength to their competition.


As with previous years, Upper Deck's base design features full fledged game photos, something that makes this set pop. Instead of looking like fatheads pasted on a background, these players almost jump off the cards, which puts them miles ahead of sets like classics and prestige. Topps has also opted to use photos like this for their chrome and flagship sets, but the photography UD chooses for their cards tends to out do many of the best cards from their competition.

The base design is great regardless of the photography, and lends itself well to both horizontal and vertical orientations. It gives more opportunity for "HD picture box" like cards, and still focuses on simplicity rather than weirdly placed shapes and lines. I think if I was a set collector, I would love putting together this set just for the opportunity to flip through these cards.

They also included some throwback 3D cards like back in the day with Score and stuff, which as Kris described was "cool but cheesy." I think its an interesting addition to the set, but not something I would go chase. Well, at least its not more of the same. Ill admit, I did have some fun taping about 8 of them to a piece of paper at the shop and tilting them back and forth to see the different pictures.

As for adding Premier into this set at one per case, it could not have been a better idea. The premier cards look great and should really be a chase for people like me who buy this product. I loved Premier as its own set, and now that it is being used to bolster the prowess of this low end set, I am pretty happy. Having them look like they are printed on footballs is a cool idea, and using gradients and foil in just the right way make these cards look ridiculously cool. I had some money set aside for a Harvin Chrome auto, but I may just go after a Premier instead.

When you think about the content of this product, its actually pretty nuts. Cuts, Premier cards, Rookies, Autos, and amazing looking base cards round this out pretty nicely.

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Autograph Cards

The autos in this product have major ups and major downs. First, the Premier cards, as I have said, are beyond cool. They feature rookies and vets, which bring everything together nicely, but they are only 1 per case which makes me kind of feel left without a line. The iconic cuts havent changed since last year, but do feature some pretty cool subjects. Again, 1 per case.

The cards that are 1 per box, usually, are pretty awful looking, thus bringing this awesome train to a screetching halt. The signature shots this year look like they are produced with the wrong orientation, and the wrong way facing autos add an awkward twist to some awesome cards from last year. I think that if these cards had a better checklist and a better design, like the Premier ones, this set would attract that many more collectors. Instead we are left with a lazily designed card that will most likely grace the box you buy.

I know that every box cannot be a winner, but at least give me a card that features some of the fantasitc designs and photography from the base set.

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Relic Cards

I really am not feeling the relic cards in this product, as the design looks very weird and forced. The rookies are in their NFL jerseys and we have swatches matching that, but the whole thing looks bad when put together. I would have liked a better attempt at these cards, but at least it isnt floating swatch city.

On the other hand, the UD Game jersey cards look pretty good, but again, just another plain swatch card in a sea of plain swatch cards. The design isnt bad, but its forgettable. At least with some of the other ones, there is a design you could pick out from miles away. If anything needs reinvention in this hobby, its swatch cards, and this is a perfect example.

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Value To The Collector

If you are a set collector, this set definitely provides you with a great task to complete. It will continue to have value to those people regardless of the value of the autographs or relics. For everyone else, there really isnt much value here, other than the SP rookies and the extremely rare case hits. I would say that it would be much, much better to just go buy the singles of your favorite players, but really, it may be worth your time to wait for products like black and ultimate, which will give you more of what you want.

As a low end product, there is a specific audience that will love this set, though I give UD credit for at least throwing more shit in there for the people who fall outside that audience. However, the one good thing is that much like Chrome, the base RCs will definitely hold their value if you do end up with a good one, so a box wont be a total waste.

I think if you appreciate good, cheap, well designed fun, go buy a few boxes. Otherwise, just wait for a product that caters more to your type of audience. This isnt for hit collectors, and you will find that out when you pull a junk auto and two junk jerseys out of your box.

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Overall Impressions

When you take in the product as a whole, its very well done with all its aspects. However, there are some glaring holes in my opinion, some holes that maybe a low end cannot fill. We will see with Chrome next week, but so far, it’s a pretty good showing.

If we take away nothing else from this set, its that a good design goes a long, long way. Pull up the checklist with pictures on the site and really see what I mean. It’s a very good education for companies that refuse to spend the time on putting a good offereing out there, and rather just stuff their cards full of needless relics.

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2009 Product Leaderboard (SO FAR)

1(t). Upper Deck Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). UD Philadelphia (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). Topps Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). UD Icons (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). UD Heroes (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). UD Draft Edition (3/5 GELLMANS)
7(t). Donruss Threads (2/5 GELLMANS)
7(t). Donruss Classics (2/5 GELLMANS)
7(t). Donruss Elite (2/5 GELLMANS)
7(t). Playoff Prestige (2/5 GELLMANS)
7(t). Bowman Draft Picks (2/5 GELLMANS)
12. Score Inscriptions (1/5 GELLMANS)
13. Leaf Rookies and Stars (0/5 GELLMANS - NR)


  1. Great product at the pricepoint, eventhough 3 jerseys per box is a bit of overkill. Alas, it's a fun product to open at the very least.

    A few huge problems though. It seems like all the Premiere's were assembled by Vikings fans that'd rather sniff the glue than use it to fasten jerseys into the correct spot. Most of them have at least one letter "off". So it goes.

    My big problem is the "certified event worn" even for the veterans. At least panini doesn't fuck you around and tells you the jersey came from a game or the rookie premiere.

    "Congratulations, You have received a trading card with Anquan Boldin Event-Worn football memorabilia. The memorabilia has been certified to us as having been used in an event"

    You understand that Richard P. McWilliam wearing an Anquan Boldin Jersey to KISS concert would satisfy these terms, right?

  2. McWilliam at a KISS concert. Classic Line. Very funny Kris!