Monday, February 1, 2010

What Happens After Upper Deck?

Its been a long January for Upper Deck, one that includes losing millions on a lawsuit that never should have been an issue. The offense was a needless and stupid risk, and it put the entire company in jeopardy. Now with a pending lawsuit from the MLBPA, is Upper Deck hoping to go down in a blaze of glory? Ultimate Collection baseball was a big middle finger to the licensing agreement, and considering the logos mean little to a set like Ultimate, it just becomes more needless money down the drain.

Now, I hate the exclusives more than anything, I hate that one company has a hold on any one player/league/brand. But, I will say that once the damage is done, you gotta nut up or shut up. That means bend the rules when you have the means to do it, and sit on your hands when you don’t. When you have a multimillion dollar suit stamped on your company's wikipedia page, you don’t fuck with the law. Its that simple. Even if you are on the verge of bankruptcy, you don’t help it along. Those are the expectations, and UD decided to piss on the flames. It aint gonna put them out, but it does leave you with a urine soaked mess when everything is said and done.

Upper Deck produces the highest quality cards on the market, bar none, as evidenced by their great ideas in years of SPA, Exquisite, and others. They don’t produce gold with every release, but their huge amount of on card autos, lack of foilboard, and amazingly great design puts them high above companies that put out a never ending stream of visual diarrhea. They have built a huge hatred among collectors for any number of terrible offenses, but many of them continue to buy because of the way the cards look with every product. Personally, I will not have much to buy if they go under, that should be obvious by now. However, I know a lot of other collectors out there feel the same way from the emails I get daily. I don’t get "countdown to Absolute" emails like I get "countdown to SPA" emails, that’s how much people love the products they put out. Yet, many don’t seem to understand how that will affect the industry.

Because Upper Deck is doing everything in their power to go out with a bang instead of trying not to go out, we are left holding the short end of the stick. Although nothing is certain at this point, its becoming clear that there is going to be little that UD can do to come back from this disaster. What I find interesting is that Ultimate Collection has obviously been in production for a long time, and there was no effort to curtail the logos on the cards. Remember, the first lawsuit is only a couple months in progress.

Regardless of the way everything shakes out, Upper Deck's eventual exit is not good for anyone. Already, Topps has sunk to a laziness in producing baseball cards, and Panini has no chops in producing football. That means there will be a huge hole in the collecting wants of the general public, and I for one, will not buy the drivel that seems to be commonplace outside of UD's stuff. Granted, its not like they didn’t get what they deserve, but that doesn’t soften the blow when dealing with a neverending sea of Triple Threads.

If UD does bite the bullet, there will be much rejoicing among people who don’t know any better. They cant/wont understand the destruction it will cause, and it may take years to recover. This is not a plea to get you to support UD or condone their practices, but it is a reminder of what will be missed when they leave. From a cards only perspective, things would be a lot worse off without their presence. That’s indisputable.


  1. Not good since they hold the only licensing to the NHL. I will have nothing to collect.

    Maybe Pro Set will come back from the grave.

  2. Well said. I have never looked forward to releases other than those of Upper Deck (recently) and Dunruss and such back in the day. Topps and Bowman just do not do it for me, designs beat to death, pretentious foil board bullshit (09 Tribute) and all the other cud we've been forced to swallow from other companies. UD must have decided to go big or go home, but sadly, they're likely going to have to do both.

  3. @dog

    ITG has been pretty solid; their version of The Cup, Ultimate Memoribilia, is a fantastic set.

  4. from a baseball perspective, not a lot will change with UD gone. Sure, we'll be missing some great sets, but A lot of collectors in baseball live and breathe Topps, so the effect will be a ripple.
    Where the big wave will be is in Football and Hockey. Take a look over the past three years worth of sets and find me something to collect in football that isn't UD related.
    And while In The Game produces quality product time and time again, it is unlicensed, and there is no guarantee that with UD gone, Topps won't get another exclusive.

    And that, is one scary concept.

  5. I will miss Upper Deck if they go out. However, I don't think they are going out. I think they might have some sort of master plan here. I don't know what, exactly, but it's hard to believe they would commit suicide. If they do go out, I believe/hope the NHL license will get shopped around elsewhere.

  6. I've liked UD since it's inception 20 years ago.... and with this recent case and settlement, my eyes have surely been opened! I was very surprised by UD's Press Release last week considering the blatantly obvious facts concerning this whole blow up. The whole "Tone" of the press release was the total opposite of what I would've done and leads me to believe that this release came straight from the top. To come out and say that the rulings sent "Konami and it's attorneys into retreat as Konami's case was disintegrating" was a blatant lie! If this were truly the case UD, why didn't you stay in the legal fight and 'plead the fifth' during a few depositions?? The only way UD can recover, if at all possible, is to make changes, and that starts at the top!

    Did anyone else find it ironic that the day of the settlement, an email was sent out inviting people to save 30% off purchases over the next 48 hours? I certainly didn't, they need the cash to pay Konami!!

  7. First Topps loses its license, which means no more Bowman Chrome. Now it's possible UD is out, too? What would there be to collect? Without SPA's autos and Bowman's refractors, I might as well stop buying football cards.

    In other words, I'm really hoping UD figures this out and keeps producing great football cards.

  8. I'm all for choice, so the loss of any card company is a bad thing. If I don't like a set, then I don't buy Favre singles from it.

    That being said, and I'm sure I am in the minority here, if a card company does have to go under I personally would probably choose Upper Deck (though Topps is a close second). The reason is simple, over the last year they have only produced 1 set with decent Favre auto and/or jersey cards, Exquisite. When they axed Premier football, they got rid of a set that for 2 years had produced quality jersey and auto card and did not replace it with anything.

  9. I definitely agree with you on Premier, I really liked that as an early year high end set with great looking cards. Even the cards in UD base this year were awesome, I went out and bought a few. They were expensive as case hits, but still cool looking.

  10. After 2007 National Treasures, 2007 Premier was my favourite set. 2008 Premier was also good, but there were no Favre Premier cards in UD base this year.