Upper Deck’s Silence Is Deafening

We’re now into December, just a couple of months away from the first baseball releases of 2010 and something is just not right. While Topps Company has already showcased their designs for the flagship brand and Heritage, Upper Deck has been surprisingly tight-lipped.

Sure, they’ve released information, but without images it’s hard for collectors to decide just how much of their money will go into purchasing Upper Deck baseball products. By early November last year, we already had images of their flagship brand, posted exclusively at Wax Heaven.

Here’s what we know: Although U.D. won’t be able to use any Major League logos, they are filling their product with tons of goodies for collectors who chase that “big hit”. So far they have signed popular retired players like Greg Maddux & Jose Canseco, plus legends like Roberto Clemente, Roger Maris, and most recently, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

So while it’s apparent that Upper Deck is going to load their products now that they don’t have to pay M.L.B.’s extortion fees, we still need something, anything to go on in the design department. Will they follow in the footsteps of Tristar, who produced their best-looking release ever only after losing their MiLB license?

My biggest fear is that they will continue to phone it in like they did with their uninspired 2009 releases like ‘A Piece of History’ and the once great ‘SPx’. Upper Deck made a giant splash in 1989 by introducing “high-end” to the baseball market but entering 2010 without logos, all it will take is one or two mediocre efforts for collectors to turn their back for good.

Here’s hoping the Carlsbad, California company can find a way to create more historic cards and technology in 2010 because coming into next season, they will be up against an almost unstoppable, rejuvenated Goliath who has just about everyone on their side.

Upper Deck has slayed Goliath more than once. Will they be able to do it again?



  1. The 30 something crowd is gonna love Maddux/Canseco and retired player hits. I’d pass out if I landed either auto.

    Bring the Base, UD! WOW us!

  2. Not sure that UD is really a David, in this stone-slinging situation. Twenty years ago, sure, but certainly not now.

    Maybe a really buff David.

    UD and Topps seem more like Cain and Abel, really. Just not sure which is which—I guess that is a matter of opinion.

    Topps doesn’t exactly seem rejuvenated quite yet either. MLB threw them a lifeline (albeit a very thick one), and with all other three major sport licenses out of their stable, they’re really going to have to show some serious business throughout the year, beyond base flagship baseball.

    I have hope.

  3. That was the old Upper Deck, with there big hits they are really not selling cards but memorabilia. If they really innovative, they would lower there pricing points on there cards and produce a lot less of them. They could put up a battle if say they sold there base brand for say .99 cents a pack for 15 cards. Instead, of trying to squeeze every single dollar out of the collector, maybe they could compete with Topps by becoming a loss leader. Cheaper Cards could help them increase market share (and the collector will benefit)

  4. It’s not about making the cards cheaper that will never happen, it’s about the quality of the chase card. Signing Canseco, and the older players is making UD standout, their history in the industry like them or hate them has been the top of the mountain. So they lost logo’s, they have something up there sleeve that will have collectors buying there product, there UPPER DECK. Given all the high end releases over the past 10 yrs UD knows what they are doing. Next year is going to be exciting just to see what can be done with out a license.

  5. I like UPPER DECK but I’ve decided against buying non-licensed product.
    I just don’t see the value.

    If you are looking for a maddux or Canseco autograph, their are plenty to choose from previous UPPER DECK releases. Why buy one without the MLB license?

  6. The same can be said about Sport Kings … less produced and high end so obviously the price is through the roof.

    What about other 2008 Donruss products like Threads and Sports Legends? Not exactly big sellers.

  7. Charlie – I did check for “prime cuts” and ” 2008 prime cuts” on ebay.
    for example, one want to buy a cal ripken auto from prime cuts.
    My point is why not just choose from 2004 or 2005 prime cuts (with MLB license)?
    I know I would prefer 2004 prime cuts over 2008 prime cuts.
    anyway, 2004 prime cuts look much better than 2008.

  8. Relics and autos are now so overdone that any product that relies on them is probably going to fail. As Graham pointed out, virtually every player out there already has tons of auto and relic cards…new ones are going to have to be pretty special in terms of design to catch people’s attention.

  9. Not any more or less than “base” brands from other companies.

    However, compared to those other “base” brands at similar price points,
    those 2 products had STELLAR g/u and auto checklists.

    Nolan Ryan, Al Kaline, Mike Schmidt, Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, Billy Williams, Willy Mays, Hank Aaron, Lou Brock, Duke Snider.

  10. I just don’t get it. UD, you lost the baseball license but you obviously still want to produce baseball cards. Instead of making a set that looks like it was out of a package of Jimmy Dean sausages circa 1990 (and, yes, I’m talking about airbrushed hats and uniforms), why not go in a totally different direction?

    Studio has done portraits of players and I recall many of the rookies from ’92 Bowman were in street clothes. I say run with it. Approach this from a totally different direction and see what happens. I think it could make for some really interesting results!

  11. I’ve collected the Upper Deck base set every year since they started in 1989. I’m really sad that 2010 will not be the same. Not seeing the player with his team logo will be like those cards you find in Pepsi packs or a box of cereal. I hope UD can pull it off, but I’m not expecting the same joy as before.

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