Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Worst of the Worst 2004-2009 #1 - 2006(7) Topps Paradigm Football

Its here, the moment you have all been waiting for, the worst product in the countdown of the worst of the worst. I do think it needs to be said that this product could actually be one of the worst of ALL TIME, not just of the last five years. It is so bad on so many different levels, that I cant even think how another set could beat it out. For god's sake, this product was so bad, it actually got a nickname to reflect it - Paracrime. Yes, 2006(2007) Paradigm football sits a top this list, and I will try to do it the justice it deserves.

First, some background is needed, especially to at least give you an idea of how Paradigm came into being. Back in 2005, Exquisite was first released for Football, and people went fucking nuts. In 2006 Donruss signed on to make National Treasures to compete, and Topps wanted to try their hand at super high end as well. Reggie Bush's Exquisite rookie patch auto was slated to be the most valuable modern card in decades come the end of 2006, and Topps needed to get a set out to match the hype. The problem is, as good as Exquisite is, it is also incredibly expensive and time consuming to make. Its usually started almost a full year in advance, which provides time for all the on card signatures and awesome design elements. With Paradigm, I doubt it got more than 2 months, thus leaving us with a product equal to a maimed rotting carcass of a raccoon on the side of the road. In 2006, Exquisite was released near the end of december, and Paradigm was so far into 2007, that many collectors didn’t even consider it to be a 2006 set. The season was far over, and Exquisite was rocking, as usual. That was just the beginning.

At over 400 dollars a pack, the product was 100% sticker autos, with cards printed on the brightest rainbow foil that topps could find. If you think all those horrible Panini sets were bad, this was a fucking abomination. The design was awful as well, as the foil was so hard to deal with, that many of the cards looked like they were designed by a guy who hadnt graduated high school. Plus, white borders on foil never really work, especially when you are using a lot of white jersey pictures as well. Then you have the stickers, which were beveled into the design much like Triple Threads, and jersey windows that just didn’t make sense.

The worst part of this set were the jumbo patch autographs, where the card was basically a thin white border, with a large swatch and sticker auto right smack dab in the middle. Yes, this was the basis for the Topps Lettermen atrocities, as the cards had no pictures or any other info. It was like taking a swatch and mangling it beyond recognition. Many people were left tilting these cards in the light to find out the name of the player they pulled.

Since Triple Threads had yet to be done for football, Topps used the triple relic and sticker auto design for the one per pack "Performance Highlights Autos." These cards were basically a checklist of great to horrible players put into a horrible design with diecut windows of player stats. They were one per pack, and were responsible for 90% of the total value of the box. If you pulled Antonio Gates, the break was basically unsalvageable. People were so angry with many of these cards that they regularly sell for pennies on the dollar.

Even the high dollar pulls were terrible, and when I say terrible, I mean it in a Charles Barkley "turrable" sense of the word. The Dual NFL logos were possibly the worst cards of the worst set, as they featured absolutely no player picture on the card. Not that there wasn’t room for a picture or two, because the logos were done in such a way that there was more negative foil space on the card than needed. I wasn’t able to find a picture of one, but I did find a single one, where you can see what I mean. Just imagine the card below with no player pic and an extra logo blob on it. Its almost like they planned for the full equipment logo and ended up cutting it down without adjusting the card.

In all honesty, Topps Paradigm's worst feature was its price, costing almost as much as a box of National Treasures and Exquisite. Topps had to compete with those products, and sadly they performed equal to expectations for Topps products costing more than 100 dollars. They took the easy way out for design and content, but took the high mountain drive on the price. Collectors were literally shocked by what they got out of their boxes for that price, and many even sent letters to the company. Even today, the value in the box would be looked upon with contempt, even more so if Topps decided to try it once more before the end of their license.

It would be one thing if Paradigm was one and done, but it gave birth to two products that are on my honorable mention list. The first is Topps Performance, which replaced Paradigm on the calendar after the horrible sales of the product. Performance was a scaled down version of its father, with equally horrible white designs and some of the worst looking relic cards of all time. Although Performance guaranteed one Adrian Peterson auto per case, those autos continue to be the cheapest licensed Peterson autos on the market, selling for less than 70 dollars in some cases. After Performance was axed, it was replaced with Topps Rookie Progression, which continued the Paradigm legacy well into the crapper of 2008. It reminded me of my Uncle's house in the 70's from those pictures you see in the family albums, lots of bright oranges, blues and browns. Just plain sucky.

That's it folks, my worst of the worst. I am going to start working on a best of the best, and I hope I will have as much fun as I did with this countdown. I actually laughed out loud a few times when searching for the bad cards from these products, and I cant wait to compile it for a possible internet release to collectors who are getting back into the hobby. Hopefully this countdown shows how important it is to the companies that laziness will not be tolerated, but with Topps owning the top three spots, we may not have as much of a problem any more.





Here is the complete countdown, honorable mentions will be coming soon.


EDIT: Here is the Dual Logo from reader Kevin. Gaze with awe upon its glory.

14 comments:

  1. Yikes! I've never seen those before and I guess I was lucky in that sense. Those are fugly beyond all belief. I'm just thrilled to have Topps as the only licensed manufacturer in baseball!

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  2. Quick, somebody get them a bailout.

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  3. (Bonus points for the Barkley "turrable" ref.)

    I luckily avoided this fiasco, as it came out during my "hobby hiatus" but I was not so lucky to escape the turrable Topps Performance. If it's any consolation, I got the box at almost 50% its original price. One of these days I need to blog my break of one of those boxes. Yeesh, that was bad news.

    These have been fun to read, thanks for the laughs. Looking forward to the good stuff.

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  4. I made a lot of $ on Paradigm in recent years when the price fell like a rock. Singles did very well and wax was extremely cheap.

    It's not all about foil board and stick autos - it's about ROI. Look it up, kiddies.

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  5. As terrible looking as most paradigm cards are, I still think they look better than 90% of UD Black football cards.

    And as McB said, once the box price dropped, there is actually a decent chance of getting some return on your investment because there are a number of good players who have Career High (not performance highlights) autographed jersey cards, with and there was a decent number produced - a silver version generally out of 99 and a gold version out of 25. Players include Favre, Elway, Marino (out of 56), Montana, Namath , Peyton (2 cards out of 99), Aikman, Bradshaw (2 cards out of 99), Brady, Romo, Barry (2 cards out of 99), Emmitt (out of 99 and 23), LT(out of 62 & 61), Rice (2 cards out of 99). Compare this to Upper Deck Crap football, where the few cards of decent players are usually numbered to some small amount, like 25 or 5.

    There were also the rookie cards, whose value has dropped somewhat (more so for some players) including Brandon Marshall, Marques Colston, Greg Jennings, Addai, Leinart, Young, Bush, Williams and Holmes. These rookies were also in some other auto sets too.

    So while Paradigm was a bad product, especially from an initial box buying perspective (which hasn't stopped me from buying specific singles, including a Favre/Vick Dual Auto logo card), it isn't the worst set by any stretch of the imaginsation. That honor should go to either 2009 Upper Deck Black football or 2007 Topps Co-signers football, both of which in 95% of cases have so little value in them that you may as well buy packs of 1992 Fleer football with your money because you'll probably get the same value.

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  6. See, thats where the comments are misguided. My blog has always looked at things from a design and content perspective rather than a rip and flip perspective. I think the design and content of this product is so incredibly terrible that the box price is ridiculous even at 100 bucks. Though some of the rookies may still have value, its not because they are good looking cards.

    I think from my perspective of looking at this product for what it is, a horribly overpriced shitty version of Exquisite.

    Now, I get you hate UD Black and think its the worst product, but I cant disagree with you more. There are quite a few good looking cards in that set, and though the box value is crap, the cards look great. As for Co-signers, it is on my list of honorable mentions, but its not because of the box value, its because its a shitty looking set with no redeeming values.

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  7. C'mon, you have looked at things from a rip and flip perspetcive - remember saying this in your article:

    "Since Triple Threads had yet to be done for football, Topps used the triple relic and sticker auto design for the one per pack "Performance Highlights Autos." These cards were basically a checklist of great to horrible players put into a horrible design with diecut windows of player stats. They were one per pack, and were responsible for 90% of the total value of the box. If you pulled Antonio Gates, the break was basically unsalvageable. People were so angry with many of these cards that they regularly sell for pennies on the dollar."

    From a purely design persepctive Paradigm isn't that bad , with the base rookies being the exception. You may not like die-cut windows for jerseys, but I, like a lot of people, am sick of the standard square, rectangle or circle window. That is why I and others don't mind Triple Threads and singles from paradigm - because the jersey windows are different and there are a number of them. That is why I have 5 jersey/auto cards from the set: the Favre/Vick dual auto logo (which I will admit is the worst looking of the 4 Favre logo cards I own), 2 of the silver Career High Triple Jersey auto cards, a gold triple high jersey auto card and a Dual jersey Numbers Auto which I would rate as being one of the nicest non-patch Favre cards I own.

    Now, even if you didn't buy Upper Deck Black to rip and flip, it still has major problems. When you buy a box you have 90% chance of getting 2 Flag cards and 2 auto cards of low round rookies. All the good cards of good players are numbered to something ridiculously low and as such rarely show up on the market, which means it is difficut for player or team collectors to buy any singles of these good players without paying an arm and a leg. It is a product purely designed for the gambler, and not the player, team or set collector. It is that, as well as the design and lack of value in the box that makes the product so terrible.

    The same with Topps Co-Signers. The design wasn't great, and the value wasn't there, but the lack of a fair number of decent players for player and team collectors again makes it a terrible product.

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  8. I've been out of the hobby for over 5 years, so this list of yours was very helpful as to what POS sets to stay away from.

    CFTA

    Phil

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  9. "From a purely design persepctive Paradigm isn't that bad"

    I completely disagree. Almost EVERY part of this set looked awful. Look at those logo cards, the bordered swatch auto, tell me those are not the worst thing ever. If you honestly think they look fine, be my guest in buying as many as you want. You will be one of the only people who will.

    "Now, even if you didn't buy Upper Deck Black to rip and flip, it still has major problems. When you buy a box you have 90% chance of getting 2 Flag cards and 2 auto cards of low round rookies."

    Again, for those of us that dont buy the boxes, this makes no difference at all. I said in my previous comment that the boxes suck, but the cards look good.

    As for my comment you quoted at the beginning, I dont think you looked at it the right way. I was saying that those cards were responsible for most of the boxes value (both monetary and emotional), but they looked horrible, they had a shitty checklist, and if you pulled a bad one, you really had no way to come away happy on a box.

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  10. "I completely disagree. Almost EVERY part of this set looked awful. Look at those logo cards, the bordered swatch auto, tell me those are not the worst thing ever. If you honestly think they look fine, be my guest in buying as many as you want. You will be one of the only people who will."

    I agree that the bordered swatch auto looks terrible - which is why I would never buy one. But the Dual Logo, while not the best looking isn't attrocious. And I'm obvioulsy not the only one that thinks so - if they were so bad they should be easy to find for sale on ebay because no one would buy them (and my one would have been much cheaper) - but they're not. However, as you said, 90% of the box value came in the career high auto/jerseys. These actually look quite good to me and many other people and still sell quite well for the big stars. So again, I'm not the only one buying them or the only one who buys them - there are plenty of others out there.

    "As for my comment you quoted at the beginning, I dont think you looked at it the right way.I was saying that those cards were responsible for most of the boxes value (both monetary and emotional), but they looked horrible, they had a shitty checklist, and if you pulled a bad one, you really had no way to come away happy on a box."

    That describes Upper Deck Black perfectly. 90% of the value is rookie autos. But they look horrible, have a shitty checklist and if get a bad one (which is the case in 90% of the boxes) you walk away unhappy. Hell, Phil Simms is a "hit" in Upper Deck Black.

    And again, when you are talking about it's monetary value, why would this be an issue? Because you are going to sell it? So again, potential sale value is something you acknowledged in your post on the card.

    "Again, for those of us that dont buy the boxes, this makes no difference at all. I said in my previous comment that the boxes suck, but the cards look good."

    How can it not make a difference when there are so few out there of the "good" looking cards or superstars? It means that the few that actually see the light of day sell for way too much because they are produced in ridiculously small quantities. It is a huge "Fuck you" to player and team collectors and set builders by Upper Crap, and is only designed for the gamblers.

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  11. Meh, most of the products now aren't designed (most, not all). It's like a graphic designer is 2-3 years behind on web design trends. I mean Panini is using Photoshop grunge brushes yoinked from free brush sites and deviantART. I find that even products like Exquisite to be way too busy and foily for a product of that caliber. Even ITG uses some questionable design elements and I'm a slut for their products. That said, I collect 1978 Topps sets, so my arguments might be invalid.

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  12. I never and seen these before. You are right. This is crap!

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  13. Holy sheepshit That's much worse than I thought it would be., I had a Greg Jennings RC auto /149 that I sold for under 10bucks on the bay. It is rare that I regret selling, but I had no idea how bad the rap for this product was, and with good reason.

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