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  1. #1

    Exclamation This is so true! Long Read, but well worth it!

    Cut and pasted from a Beckett forum, thought some may like this!

    "Each month, we are reminded in Beckett magazine about how Exquisite products are constantly going up in price and how they're quickly drying up. Exquisite is the talk of the Hobby indeed, but the same product that is simultaneously the darling and the current bread-winner of the Hobby, is also on the verge of destroying the Hobby.

    Upper Deck has always had an eye focused on the higher end collectors, but they never pandered to these collectors like they do these days. Remember 91-92 basketball? This was before the days of powerful spokespeople, and Upper Deck was just another product competing against fluffy Fleer products and boring Hoops sets. Upper Deck boasted superior photography though, and their first product was viewed slightly superior over the gaudy effects of Skybox, the bland, stodgy Hoops, and the downright repulsive 91-92 Fleer efforts. Upper Deck's first move to Hobby hegemony was when they signed Michael Jordan to an exclusive deal. Signing Jordan meant that Upper Deck had an ace in their pocket...Someone who they could bank in on even well after his retirement. By having Jordan (and eventually Bryant and even further down the road, Lebron), Upper Deck saw a prime opportunity to cash in.

    Collectors fell head over heels with Topps Finest in 93-94, and Finest represented serious Hobby innovation, my friends. It sparked a new evolution in trading cards with attractive, glossy cards that seemed futuristic, and were indeed affordable as well. Sure, a seven card pack of Finest would cost a couple extra bucks over the base Topps brand, but the majority didn't scoff at the minor price jump. Upper Deck was still rather under the radar at the time, as their products, including the amusing-but-underappreciated 3D Proview cards, failed to rattle the Hobby's richter scale. So come 94-95, they released SP, a classy set that was moderatley priced, and proved to be a decent rival to Finest. At this point, UD was still releasing products for all demographics, and their products, while not supplying the visual aesthetics of Fller products or the name recognition of Topps, were all considerably decent.

    It was shortly after this point though, that UD began to use the card that they had saved for a rainy day, and that was their use of Jordan autographs. Going into 96-97, UD never had a reason to falunt their MJ Muscle, but the introduction of 96-97 Fleer/Skybox Autographics meant a change in Hobby interests. No longer were 1 in 37 pack insert chase cards fixtures of the Hobby, but it was now autographs. And while Fleer would produce respectable graphs of Grant Hill, Jerry Stackhouse and Scottie Pippen, UD had the ultimate autograph in their products. Collectors were faced with the following paradox: A box of Hoops with the great chance of pulling a less-than-stellar auto of Joe Wolf or Vincent Askew, or, put down an extra $20 for UD SP, with a chance to get an MJ? While Fleer still had the more successful line of autographs in that particular year, Upper Deck had already planted the seed, and it was only a matter of time until collectors would see what they really had to offer. Even more interestingly, Topps had created the biggest hit of 96-97 with their Chrome product.

    I've always credited Upper Deck for their innovative move by creating the first game-jersey cards in their 97-98 Upper Deck base product, but the real winner of that year was the influx of numbered cards with Legacy and Precious Metal Gems bringing in major dollars. These products were beautiful offerings to the Hobby as they were quite visually satisfying. Upper Deck was still releasing average products at this time, and the rest of the Hobby could thrive and release progressive sets because the competition wasn’t one-dimensional. All three companies were competing indeed, but there wasn’t a runaway favourite at the time. Jordan’s retirement would give Upper Deck the opportunity to release a bevy of MJ autographs at a rapid rate, and rather than throwing their money into hiring a decent creative team for their products, they would dump more money to MJ, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Garnett. The pairing of those 3 was a clear-cut indication that Upper Deck was more intrigued with beefing their own bankbooks than progressing the Hobby. While they were certainly trying to strive as a business, there is a certain responsibility and a legacy with the Hobby that Upper Deck clearly disrespected. Five dollar packs, while by no standards extreme price points, became common for Upper Deck, and their company remained stable while the competition began to scramble. Fleer decided to play the spokesperson game by signing Vince Carter and they even released memorabilia cards of their own. Fleer was actually more creative than Upper Deck actually, by offering Game-Used Net and Draft-day hat swatches. Even a Vince Carter army jumpsuit piece, although extremely excessive, also added some zest to their products. Topps, meanwhile, was still a consistent product. Chrome, Stadium Club and Finest were perennial faves, and they needn’t make any drastic changes at this time because the competition was still so balanced.

    Upper Deck would eventually revolutionize the rookie card. They took Fleer’s seeded rookies one step further by serial numbering their 98-99 SP Authentic attempt, and by 99-00 Spx, the rookies were to be autographed plus numbered. 00-01 Spx included rooks that were numbered, signed, and christened with a game-used swatch. This design would be the benchmark for premium rookies from this point on, and the only change would be a patch swatch versus an ordinary jersey piece come 02-03. Spx and SP Authentic now dominated the Hobby, and Upper Deck rode these products and their simple concepts while Fleer began to toil in mediocrity as they attempted to keep up with UD. Thus, the innovation faded from Fleer’s overall scheme and many of their products became compromised vehicles for Vince Carter opposed to well-rounded products. By 03-04, Fleer’s repertoire consisted of endless parallel cards and classless jersey cards. A shame really, because these concepts that strived in the Hobby’s heyday, were quite tired by this point in Hobby History. A new beast was on the horizon though…

    After years of $5 dollar packs, Upper Deck had created Ultimate Collection in 00-01. This product had a $100 SRP but it wasn’t quite the hit UD had expected. So they made the autographs more obtainable in the 01-02 set and they used the strong draft class of 02-03 to turn Ultimate Collection into a legitimate contender. It had just enough support that Upper Deck decided that they could try out their latest experiment. But the timing had to be just right to release Exquisite. Enter LeBron James, a player Upper Deck was probably trying to sign up when he was only watching Saturday morning cartoons, and an intriguing class of 2003 left Upper Deck with little hesitation to release Exquisite. The product had a preposterous $500 price tag. It was a gamble, as Upper Deck needed to find thousands of well, suckers, to drop half a thousand on 5 cards in a cherry wood box. The power of their triumvirate spokespersons sold this product and the emergence of Dwyane Wade only further stimulated the product. Now, if someone would of asked me back in 1993 what kind of cards a $500 pack would produce, I would of assumed the cards have some sort of magical powers…Cards that could speak, read off statistics, or even show video clips. And even though those expectations can be viewed as a tad farfetched, Upper Deck still cannot be forgiven for the generally sub-par Exquisite. Visually, the set is trite, and nothing new or innovative in the slightest. Big patches? Been done. Low numbered rookies? Been done too. My point is that Upper Deck didn’t need to put exemplar effort into the product because the design wasn’t the selling point. The big ticket here was the rookie cards and the ability to own the rarest of the rare LeBron rookie card. A mere 99 copies were created, which was a move designed to create an elitist air within the Hobby. Not counting the hoarders, 99 people could own such a bombastic card and the rest of the Hobby? Well, the rest were intended to consume the leftover scraps, and watch the wealthy bid upwards $10,000 on the card whenever it’d pop up on eBay. Exquisite was created for people who don’t quite know what else to do with their money…The same people who’ll throw ungodly sums of money on cards because they want investments down the line. The problem is that Exquisite broke all the sacred Hobby commandments by exclusively pandering to an elite bunch and taking the Hobby ultimately out of card shops and placing it instead in terms of assets and safety deposit boxes. The Hobby, as a result, will appear to be on a healthy track financially, bu****trives solely on the heels of the trendy aristocrats who’ll buy anything Upper Deck offers.

    Basketball cards are more expensive forever, and it is quite ironic, because we, the consumers, aren’t paying for anything new anymore. The Hobby has dried up of new innovative touches. Long gone are the days of Avant Cards or Skybox Thunder’s Flight School. Instead left in its place is a Hobby that is governed by the endless pockets of an elite minority who are more obsessed with industry versus innovation. Ideas no longer represent the backbone of our Hobby. They have been replaced under Upper Deck’s regime as cardboard emperor and the empire they have carefully built is based solely on the bottom line…On creating a sure sell. Many of us buy packs, but we’re never pleased unless we net a money card that can translate into instant cash. Of course, anyone who knows anything about Upper Deck products should never complain if they understand the logic behind their products. A couple of stars and an endless selection of vagabonds on their autograph rosters. Thus, the prices of their products cannot be justified.

    The point of this article is to explain the dilemmas that Upper Deck has caused in the Hobby. Surely, they cannot be blamed for trying to climb industries ladder, but what they cost the Hobby along the way is unforgivable from a Hobby purists point of view. Teamed with the rumours of backdooring that is could certainly be rampant in UpperDeckVille and one is left to shake their head, and try to remember the happier days of the Hobby. Only Topps stands as the only roadblock to Upper Deck’s inevitable monopoly and while Topps won Dwyane Wade as a consolation prize and their products are still decently priced and well put together, one can only wonder how long they can last and succeed in Upper Deck’s shadow. Calling Upper Deck an evil empire may or may not be fair, only each individual can come to such a conclusion, but one thing is for certain concerning Upper Deck’s place in the Hobby annals: They are not pioneers in this Hobby, more like lumberjacks, and the roots of the Hobby are quickly on the verge of becoming endangered."

    "its very surprising on how much my spending limits have changed in the past years...$40 dollars to $800?"
    "Exquisite is a reflection of a society built on Capitalism. It was bound to happen"
    "When I go to shows or card shops I see more DADs than kids "
    "How many kids do you see collecting cards anymore? Very few, it's just not affordable for them"

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  3. #2
    Amen to that. And the sad thing is UD can make whatever crap they want, it doesnt matter anymore. The card business has in fact become a monopoly, and they know you have to buy from them to get those good players. Honestly, its not easy for kids to stay in the hobby anymore. Im almost 16, and its tough for me with a job. There pack prices just continue to increase, when quality almost seems to decrease. I cant tell you the last time I saw a 10 yr old buy a pack of cards, because they cant afford it.

    Upper Deck is making kids go from card collecting, to all those silly card games they produce. Ik I once turned to Yugioh, just for the simple fact it was so much cheaper. But there even raisin price on those. UD needs to be taught a lesson, IDK how, but they must.

  4. #3
    Im almost 24 and have invested (sunk) god knows how much in the past 2 years (when I got back in to collecting) $5000-10,000? I work my ™™™ of and take care of my family, run, play baseball, and buy baseball cards. I dont think I've EVER seen a kid under 15 buy a pack of cards, EVER! Its always us "old guys", hanging out in card shops, handing over the debit card, like holding a tab at a bar!
    The sad thing is that UD isnt making anything but crap, nothing new, just the same old song and dance. Donruss / Playoff will be missed by me, even with there dizzying array of parallels!

  5. #4

  6. #5
    i am 13 and buy whatevers in the shop, i dont pay any attention to companies, i look at the product,i happened to have liked ud's last few baseball sets
    but i think topps is the one constant in sportscard history they will never die

    UD:well i guess well c....

    we could boycott them, or put anti UD logos/slogans in our sigs/avys

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by sneekc
    "its very surprising on how much my spending limits have changed in the past years...$40 dollars to $800?"
    Why do people always do this? I mean not everyone is paying $800 a pack and I thought it was $500. Did it go up $300?

    How about this one?

    Back in 1990 you could buy a pack of cards for 99 cents and you'd get 15 cards and a stick of gum. Fast forward 16 years and for 99 cents you can still get Topps with the chance to get an autograph/game used/insert/#D/etc with basically the same amount of cards minus the gum. Even if you don't take inflation into account the "value" is a lot better than anything people were buying almost 20 years ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by sneekc
    "When I go to shows or card shops I see more DADs than kids "
    "How many kids do you see collecting cards anymore? Very few, it's just not affordable for them"
    When where there EVER more cards in a card shop than adults?

    As long as I've been going to card shops there has always been more adults buying cards than there were kids. That's because adults have more disposeable income than kids. Plus kids do things like video games and whatnot that people over the age of 40 really don't care about.

    And its BS that kids can't afford cards.

    Kids can afford cards as they have money to buy Ipods, Game Boys, Video Games, etc. Hell going to the movies costs more than packs of cards yet you always see kids and teenagers going to the movies every week.

    Quote Originally Posted by vikingfan101
    Amen to that. And the sad thing is UD can make whatever crap they want, it doesnt matter anymore. The card business has in fact become a monopoly
    Card collecting WAS a monopoly for about 30 years with Topps being the only card maker around from the 50s up to the 80s.

    Quote Originally Posted by vikingfan101
    Honestly, its not easy for kids to stay in the hobby anymore. Im almost 16, and its tough for me with a job. There pack prices just continue to increase, when quality almost seems to decrease.
    Buying packs != card collecting

    Quote Originally Posted by vikingfan101
    I cant tell you the last time I saw a 10 yr old buy a pack of cards, because they cant afford it.
    90% of card packs are under $5. Most people can afford $5 and like I said you don't have to buy packs to collect cards.

    Infact the price of cards has come down (thanks to eBay) so people can afford more cards. The reason why packs have gone up is because people are sheep and they continually buy packs when they should be buying who they want.

    I am just so sick of people whining and predicting doom and gloom for cards. They have been doing it ever since the late 80s and guess what cards are still around. In another 15 years people will be saying that the sky is falling and that cards are done for. They've been around for almost 150 years and they will be around for a lot longer people.

    If you don't like the pack/box prices THEN DO NOT BUY PACKS/BOXES.

    Why don't more people see that there is more to the hobby than buying packs and boxes?

    Twenty years ago the majority of people bought the cards that they wanted and for the most part they were happy. Now it seems that the majority buys packs/boxes which drives the costs up and then all they do is complain.

    And another thing I'm sick and tired of hearing about we need to get more kids involved. There is no business in the world (other than the cigarette industry and beer companies) that want more kids involved. They all want the 18-35 demographic because they have tons of money. Seriously why would anybody think that more kids would "save the hobby"?

    I mean when I was a kid I didn't know anything about cards and how to take care of them and whatnot and if I would have spent a lot of money on buying packs and getting a lot of cards it would have gone to waste because I just wasn't ready to handle it. All my cards from when I was a kid are all damaged. Kids and keeping things nice don't go well together.

    It would be better to get a kid started with cards and see if they like them and then in a couple years if they still like them then they can collect seriously. Kids have an attention problem where they jump around to something new every minute. So its better that they make decisions with money when they are actually old enough to get a grasp on the real world and have the mentality of knowing what to spend their money on.

    I mean I can see where the guy is coming from that wrote all that but you could have written that in 1989 with Upper Deck baseball or in 1993 with Topps Finest where people were screaming that the industry was too expensive, there weren't enough kids, and that the ride was going to be over for card collecting and it would be. Its the same broken record all over again.
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  8. #7
    Im not going to argue, but number 1, I dont agree with the 1 card company around being a monopoly. Im talking 1 company basically forcing the others out. And 90% of card packs under $5?!?!? I dont think so man. I can go to the card store, and rarely if ever find anything decent for under 5-6 bucks. Most around in the 7-8 range. And if people didnt buy the packs and boxes, the cards wouldnt be in circulation! So ya gotta bust sometime.

  9. #8
    Honestly, I have no problem whatsoever with Upper Deck.

    IMO, they offer enough products and a variety of cards to satisfy the hobby, from RCs to parallels to GUs to Insert to Autos, and even base.

    Who cares if they released Exquisite and they are making tons of money off of it, it is for people who have that kind of money, get over it.

    As for not being able to afford it, there are still an ample amount of, nice, affordable Upper Deck Products out there to buy and that hold value.

    I really don't see what UD is doing wrong, they are doing what they feel necessary to make money.

    If you dont want to buy high-end products, then don't! Buy what you specifically want on ebay, or buy packs for $3-5 dollars apiece.

    I'm 14 and I have no trouble with UD or afffording cards :)

  10. #9
    You guys are awesome!! Thats why I love this forum.
    Personally I buy the $100 and up packs and small boxes only. Enjoying the gauranteed game used / autos and hoping for the BIG PULL sometime.
    When I was a kid, there was only kids in the card shop. I hung out there untill they told me they were closing. Watching people break, trading, playing POGs. Remember that stupid game? PWALDO...your points make a great argument!

  11. #10
    im 15 and i buy a $20 dollar box once a month thats it my collection is running dry right now but buying isnt the only way to expand your collection trust me its about trading and isnt it funny we are on a TRADING site??? its sad the fact we complain that UD is making too nice a product! haha

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