Is My Upper Deck Conspiracy Hogwash?

31 08 2009

I’ve been saying for a long time to anyone who will listen that it appears to me that Upper Deck puts in way more effort into their other brands than they do for baseball.

For example, I’ve never once had the urge to watch the N.H.L in my life let alone buy some hockey cards but have busted some amazing U.D. hockey brands that left me contemplating dumping baseball once and for all.

Another example would be Upper Deck’s basketball line, which of course has now been taken away. Not only did Upper Deck produce great basketball cards including wonderful high-end products, they actually put to good use some beloved Fleer properties such as Fleer Skybox Metal.

Today I spent my morning bustin’ open 2009 Upper Icons Football & Baseball. While organizing all the cards in preparation for their respective reviews I came across Hanley Ramirez and Ronnie Brown base cards. As you can see from the side by side, front and back comparisons… it appears one got a little extra boost in design.

Am I paranoid or does the football version look much better?

(thumbnail leads to a larger scan)




14 responses

31 08 2009

The football version would be considered an insert by design in a low cost baseball product! …no you are not paranoid…! :>

31 08 2009

Upper Deck football has the best stuff on the market, hands down, which leaves me questioning why they didnt put the effort into baseball as well. I dont think you are very far off base.


31 08 2009
Jeff W

I’ve accepted the premise as truth a long time ago. This is without a doubt the perfect example. Although on the other end, Topps leaves football collectors high and dry by focusing on baseball. I think 08 flagships are also a great example. I liked Topps base more than you in baseball, I thought it was good, but what a joke for copying it in football. They are profoundly different sports and it was clear Topps designed for baseball. UD flagship was just pictures. While it was good photography, it doesn’t do anything for me in baseball. In football, it popped. Huge players in pads, action shots, it was very cool.

31 08 2009
Matt F.

I agree. I’m not a big Icons fan but the Football version is much better.

31 08 2009

its sad… everything about the football version is better. I could name about a dozen things that make the football stand out but everyone gets it.

31 08 2009

the companies need to realize collectors look at more than just 1 sport..

they think they can make footbal base better? and then they also put (2) old inserts sets in their football.. never thinking just once that maybe someone that collects both baseball and football is sick of it?

that ring of honor inserts is kind of just a ripoff from a 1998 donruss update insert I just got a bunch of.., called spirit of the game.

31 08 2009
McCann Can Triple

..It does. I do still like the baseball set, but the football just looks more spiffy.

31 08 2009

I agree with one exception: the UD Icons logo placement and size on the football card. Very distracting.

31 08 2009

UD also doesn’t make those silly sets like Timelines, X, and A Piece of History for football. Even for something like Masterpieces, baseball got shafted. Compare the baseball version with hockey and hockey wins hands down.

31 08 2009

Part of it could be that baseball always gets the first go-around for designs. With football sets coming out later, they can get some more tweaking. Also, how do the checklists compare? From my experience, football sets are usually smaller than baseball sets, so few cards allows for more design time on each one. Just some thoughts, but yes, the football Icons card is much better than it’s baseball brethren.

1 09 2009


You should come over to the dark side. Baseball is a great sport, but there is no sport better than hockey. Go to a live game (you shouldn’t have any problem getting Panthers tickets, and they have a great arena) against a good team and you’ll walk away a hockey fan guaranteed.

Hockey has the most passionate collector base – by FAR – of any sport. There’s someone out there who wants all the parallels of even the biggest loser in your box.

1 09 2009

Could it be that it’s cheaper for Upper Deck to purchase game-used memorabilia and autographs from the NHL and NFL than it is for them to purchase the same quantity/quality from baseball, so they put more “effort” into their NFL and NHL products? I mean, it stands to reason that since there are far less superstars in the NFL and NHL and a bigger pool of good-but-not-great players it would, in fact, be cheaper for Upper Deck to gather more memorabilia and autos from those sports. I mean, you could write an entire piece around that argument (which sport is the most collected sport and why).

1 09 2009

NHL teams wear two sets of regular-season jerseys and one set of playoff jerseys during the course of a season. So, a player will wear – at most – nine jerseys in a season. Several teams have contracts with resellers, meaning that UD has to buy them on the open market if they want to insert them into product. Some teams don’t release them at all.

It might be cheaper to get autos in hockey, and that’s probably true. Memorabilia? Not so much.

The NHL has a huge pool of good-but-not-great players. Probably 65-75% of the league would fall into that category.

1 09 2009

Not everything about that Ronnie Brown is better. It does have more visual appeal, but I indeed am tired of super-lazy designs that use the exact same photo over and over on the same damn card.

Woo! You can haz Photoshop filterz plz?

UD is guilty of this constantly. Topps and Donruss are a little different, in that they’ll use the same photo across different sets of the same player, and try to tell you it’s new or different. Even old-school Topps in the 1960s would sometimes even re-use the previous year’s photo in the current year’s design, for whatever reason. Maybe the player got sick on picture day.

Once in a while, either cropping or placing a filter on the same image can be held up by the overall design (’08 UD Documentary Seasonal Signatures comes to mind), but usually, it’s lazy-ass rubber-stamp looking crap like this Ronnie Brown that makes me gag.

If anyone making cards needs a lesson, look at 1983 or 1984 Topps baseball, or 2001 eTopps (any of the four sports) for how it should be done, if you opt for more than one photo on a card for the design that year.

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