It’s been a long time since Upper Deck lost its basketball, football, and baseball licenses. Unlike Pacific Trading Cards, a company that suffered a similar fate in the early-2000s, Upper Deck has managed to persevere. It’s gotta be tough having a reputation as one of greatest and most innovative baseball card manufacturers of all-time YET have no choice but to sit out an entire decade while Topps’ monopoly runs rampant in the world of baseball cards.
What’s even worse, Upper Deck still owns the rights to both Fleer and Skybox. Can you imagine the Topps monopoly coming to an end and collectors once again having Upper Deck, Fleer, and Skybox baseball products that are fully-licensed? It would not only boost collector’s morale after “Topps Burnout”, but the competition alone would drive up creativity in all baseball card products moving forward. This is something we need.
Unfortunately, since the monopoly is nowhere near the end, Upper Deck continues to issue a set here and there. Production and total yearly releases are nowhere near Topps’ figures but the company who conquered the baseball card market in Year One in 1989, continues to surprise collectors every now and then. One such surprise came in the form of the completely out of left field release of 2017 Skybox Clerks.
Clerks was the directorial debut of Kevin Smith. If you were a fan of Smith around 1994, your childhood was likely awesome thanks to amazing flicks like Clerks, Mallrats, and Dogma. If you’re from a later generation, you probably only know Kevin Smith as the guy who was kicked off a plane for being too fat to fly or the guy who burns bridges at every turn, including Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis.
These days, Smith’s films don’t even receive your typical movie releases. Kevin has now gone the route of fan screenings with interactive Q & A sessions after the film. Smith assures everyone who will listen that this is the way he likes his movie to be experienced but that’s like me saying I don’t want to win the lottery because I may become spoiled and buy things I don’t need. Also, it’s safe to say that Kevin Smith is artistically bankrupt and has been since around Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was released way back in 2001.
Thankfully, we can still enjoy his earlier works and Clerks is arguably his the best effort to date. Mallrats was more more commercial and accessible but there is no denying that Clerks is the flagship Kevin Smith film and the one most heavily celebrated among his legion of ageing fans. It should be noted that Clerks 3 is finally in the works but if the Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is any indication of Smith’s remaining talent, it’s likely that film will just continue to tarnish the once great reputation of Smith’s View Askew Universe.
All that being said, 2017 Skybox Clerks is an absolutely brilliant product from Upper Deck! For starters, there’s no color in the set except for the sketch and relic cards. Upper Deck has left off the depressing screen-used materials and I’m perfectly okay with that decision. The autograph checklist is absolutely LOADED and features all the main characters such as Dante and Randall, as well as Silent Bob and Jay. Upper Deck also included important supporting characters like Veronica and Caitlin, including a must-have dual autograph of the two unknown-to-each-other enemies.
Upper Deck even went into the “deep cuts” and included autographs for the “Milk Maid”, played by Kevin’s mother, Grace Smith, and even the customer who “manually masturbates caged animals for artificial insemination”, who was played by Virginia Smith, Kevin’s sister. I absolutely love everything about this set. It’s a shame I missed out on it in 2017 as I was on a 4-year hiatus from collecting but will be looking for it in the wild of my local card show circuit in Southwest, Florida.
Upper Deck has unopened boxes on their website in stock for $99 dollars, which will yield two autographs and the possibility of rare sketch cards, manufactured patches, serial numbered parallels, and even printing plates. Shockingly, there are no unopened boxes of 2017 Skybox Clerks on eBay, which is a testament to Kevin Smith’s popularity, even in late-2019. One has to wonder what type of print run this product had that boxes are so hard to come by just two years after its release.
My favorite cards in the entire set are the several that feature the late Lisa Spoonauer, who played the promiscuous ex-girlfriend of the main character, Dante. Lisa didn’t have a large role in Clerks but made every appearance a memorable one. I won’t spoil it for you but her character was retired at the end of the film. Let’s just leave it at that. Unfortunately, Lisa passed away at the young age of 44, the exact year this set came out meaning that her debut on cardboard will very likely be her very final appearance.
Upper Deck has another Kevin Smith project that is scheduled to drop in late-December, early-January. This time around, it’s a Skybox set based on Smith’s critically acclaimed film, Chasing Amy. While I don’t have any inside information, the budget for this one appears to be much smaller as there are only five autographs to chase with two (Jay & Silent Bob) already having been released in 2017 Skybox Clerks.
The good news? This new set will include autographs of Ben Affleck and Jason Lee, a former professional skater who made his film debut in Kevin Smith’s Mallrats but is best knows as the lovable title character from the show, ‘My Name is Earl’. One has to wonder if one or both of these actors is the reason Skybox Chasing Amy has been delayed. Both are considered to be controversial figures in their industry, to say the least.
While Jason Lee’s Skybox autograph will be his first appearance anywhere, Affleck made hobby headlines when he was included in Leaf products in 2018. Affleck also made a return appearance in 2019 Leaf products. Low-numbered versions of his autographs can reach into the low three digits. It appears all of Ben’s Leaf autographs are stickers. No word yet on his Chasing Amy autographs but 2017 Skybox Clerks was 100% on-card so it would be fantastic and a step above Leaf if Upper Deck could get Ben to hard-sign all his cards in Skybox Chasing Amy.
Chris Carlin, Senior Manager of Customer Experience at Upper Deck has promised to provide me with final images of Skybox Chasing Amy during the pack out phase which should come very soon. I will be posting those images here on the blog and on my Twitter account so make sure to stayed tuned. You can also expect a video box break of 2019 (or ’20) Skybox Chasing Amy with a big giveaway contest included.
One final note: I was told that Chasing Amy will have a smaller production run than 2017 Skybox Clerks. My hope is that Upper Deck sells out completely so that we may come close to seeing Skybox Dogma and/or Skybox Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Those sets could potentially include autographs of Chris Rock, Alanis Morissette, Matt Damon, Salma Hayek, Judd Nelson, Will Ferrel, Mark Hamil, and many more.
The possibilities are truly endless …