Friday, April 9, 2010

Unanswered Questions About Upper Deck

Whenever a company leaves a sport, there tend to be a ton of questions that people are having about the future of their collections. Whether it be redemptions or products or whatever else is related to the future offerings of a particular company, questions will abound until the official line is stated. The issue is, where does the official company line on any situation deviate from what is actually going to happen? Im going to discuss a few different questions that I have, and how it will effect the general collecting populace.


There have been a lot of speculation on what is going to happen with the number of redemptions that Upper Deck has been forced to issue in recent products. On their facebook page and through my contacts with them, they state that the player contracts will be honored and they will continue to pursue the unsigned cards from the products that have been released. Personally, I can only take this at face value because of the turmoil caused by the recent news. I would expect they will try, but honestly, I don’t see them putting full effort behind it due to the amount of work they now have to do in order to revamp the entire football line. I have two Harvin redemptions waiting to be signed, and I am one of those people who will wait it out not knowing if the cards will ever be produced. If I were in a buyer's shoes, I wouldn’t buy any of the redemptions until I see that the cards are live. Funny enough, redemption prices have held steady past the news of the last week, and I am actually pretty shocked that they have. The Shonn Greene redemption from exquisite even seems to be going up a little. Percy Harvin is holding, the dual autos like the bookmarks are holding, and even the Ultimate stuff is holding, which means people still have faith in Upper Deck's ability to get these cards done. Im not sure I would, and that is my personal opinion.

Future Products

As far as I can tell, everything is cancelled that requires an NFL license. Legacy is done, UD football is done, and from the looks of it, the calendar will either be drastically reduced or switched over to a complete NCAA focused product line. Per UD's Twitter page, Exquisite was the last NFL product for a long time, unfortunately. Upper Deck does have the ability to produce NCAA cards, which means Sweet Spot is still likely to happen. If you preordered cases of anything else, start hoping for your money back.

Card Shops

This is where things can get pretty hairy. Im not sure many collectors have really thought about what this will mean for the shops that depend on wax to make rent. Singles are a pretty much dead retail market, and Upper Deck products are usually some of the most popular on the shelf. They are also some of the most expensive to stock, so maybe it will be a trade off. Personally with a loss of UD and Topps in football, and a loss of UD and Topps in basketball, how much revenue will be able to be gained from new product. There is one manufacturer in each sport now, and with Topps and UD out of two of them that’s a total of more than 50 products that will be shelved. With many of the shops already hurting, im worried about what could be happening in the future for many shops.

Value of Existing Cards

Even if Upper Deck goes completely bankrupt, their cards will still hold value. Due to the quality, rarity and prestige of the autographs and memorabilia, I don’t think there will be any drop in many of the cards. When Fleer went under, things were a little different due to the quality and rarity of the cards, as well as the number of autos at the time it happened. With Exquisite, SPA and the like, people will continue to bust the boxes and buy the cards long after anything has been announced, so I really wouldn’t go cleaning out your UD cards from your box. It’s a different hobby now.

Creating Logo-less NFL Products Like Prime Cuts Baseball

We still havent gotten final words on UD's plan for their football line, which is a completely different situation than the baseball brands. Because of a number of factors, UD still has a possibility of going that direction, but I assume they will just continue to produce cards based on their exclusive NCAA license. For people like me who scoff and Press Pass and the like, this will not be acceptable and it looks as if I am going to be without a new box of cards in my house until things change with Panini.

Overall Prognosis for Upper Deck in General

Im not sure what to say, even though I have some info from non-UD sources on what was needed to keep them afloat when the still had this license. Now that the license is gone, there is going to be some major changes in Carlsbad. Most of the speculation over the loss of their license centers around money issues, and those issues will grow exponentially if they are unable to establish a good NCAA brand. Because that is so unlikely without being able to create cards of current NCAA stars, I think the hourglass is emptying quickly. McWilliams wont stick around forever, and I think they need to find viable alternatives before things go south. Baiscally, they are playing with borrowed time and borrowed money, and I doubt Hockey (now that Panini has infringed on their exclusive), UDA, UDE and any of their other brands will be able to sustain a company the size of UD.

Im sure news will constantly stream from every imaginiable source in the coming weeks and months, and with the cancellation of some Hockey products already, things are not looking good for Upper Deck. Regardless of how you feel, that's a lot of families who will be without jobs, something that is never a good thing.

Best wishes to all of those people who are in jeopardy.


  1. Another great post. Thanks for your insight.

    Any chance Topps might be able to get their NFL license again? Or do you imagine that the NFL will stick with one card manufacturer?

  2. You aren't taking into account the amount of "backdoor" stuff that went out of Fleer. The same thing will happen with UD stuff if they go under, it can't and won't be prevented. You think things are bad now with fakes ... just hope that UD doesn't go totally under. It will be open season on fraud.

  3. Couldn't they make a high end Mayo type set? Meaning, helmet-less players? I know without the helmets, it's sort of stupid, but it could still sell.

  4. If there are layoffs at UD as a result of lost sport licenses, they have no further that to look to the man upstairs for blame.

    No, not the one the created the universe.

    The other one, who thinks he did.