Review: 2009 Upper Deck Series 1
I’ve opened three hobby boxes of 2009 Upper Deck Series 1 Baseball so far, and I guess I’ve gotten pretty lucky because I’ve pulled more autographs and relics than promised. Each hobby box contains two memorabilia cards and one autograph card (on average, of course). Each of the first two boxes I tore into (bought from different dealers) included four serial numbered double-swatch relics, one autograph/relic card, and one regular autograph. The third box included one game-used, one triple game-used, and one autograph. I’ve also gotten a few gold parallels numbered to 99 and a bunch of other inserts. I don’t have a complete base set yet, but for the first time in a while I’m actually interested in getting there. Here’s why:
Design: Upper Deck’s base cards in recent years have looked a lot like 2.5″-by-3.5″ photos with chrome labels on them. This year’s set maintains that emphasis on glossy action shots, but adds some design details that make these looks more like baseball cards and less like mini-photos. I particularly like the silver-foil team logos in the bottom left-hand corner of each card. Sure, slapping a team logo in a box and adding the player name and number in foil isn’t a dramatic design step, but it’s fairly clean and classy–and a serious improvement over the design of the last few years. If I wanted to collect small glossy photos, I’d do just that. These cards at least–finally–offer something more for the eye.
Inserts: As usual, this set includes a host of insert cards. Yet while the dual- and triple-swatch cards I mentioned above look great–and I’m not usually a fan of any relic cards–most of the other inserts are downright boring.
The regular game-jersey cards are stale and ugly. The Starquest cards look good, but they don’t excite me. There’s also a 30-card Rookie Debut set, a 25-card Stars of the Game set, and a 64-card Documentary update set. Yaawwwn.
Upper Deck is making the most of it’s O-Pee-Chee brand, though, with a 50-card set of cards that mimic the look of the 1975 O-Pee-Chee. Being a fan of old-school and retro looks, I’ll be collecting these and the mini versions that measure about 2.25″ by 3″.
Oh, and of course, the Yankee Stadium Legacy cards make a return, with more than 80 new cards commemorating the final season in the House That Ruth Built.
If all that wasn’t enough, Upper Deck has also rolled out another huge subset. This time, it’s the 2,500-card Upper Deck 20th Anniversary Retrospective Set.
The set features highlights, if they can be called that, from the last 20 years in the worlds of sports, pop culture, politics, history and technology. I don’t know why anyone would collect this set, or why it exists. If you have an idea, please shoot me a comment. Same for the Historic Firsts and Historic Predictors inserts. (That “Dow Reaches 15,000” card looks pretty silly, by the way…but then there’s a “Bigfoot is Discovered” card too. Who’s making these predictions?)
Overall Value: Based on the boxes I’ve opened, I’d say the value here is pretty solid. On the other hand, if I’d only gotten a few regular relic cards and autographs of Joey Gathright and Erick Aybar, I wouldn’t be too happy. Topps seems to have the upper hand when it comes to inserts, but if I’m building only one base set this year it’s Upper Deck.