Upper Deck has been forced to rely on their few remaining licenses from other professional sports leagues and the entertainment industry. One only needs to look at 2010 Upper Deck The Cup for an example of this. However, Upper Deck has tried to stay afloat and compete in the football and basketball trading card market by producing NCAA licensed product with mixed results.
To say that 2010 Upper Deck Greats of the Game and 2011 Upper Deck Ultimate Basketball were disappointing is an understatement. Greats of the Game was a nice idea, however, that idea was poorly executed. Ultimate did have some nice hits, especially the Ultimate Legends on-card auto'd set, but the berage of sticker auto's turned off many collectors including me. I will say that the preview images for the March release date of 2011 SP Authentic do look promising, but then again, all preview images look great. Maybe the transition from cards featuring professional stars to former collegiate greats can account for the lack of success in these products, and we'll start seeing better hoops stuff from Upper Deck.
The first few basketball releases from the new Upper Deck might have missed a bit, but the football products are right on the mark. Recently released 2010 SP Authentic looks good and is selling well on the secondary markets. Even more impressive are the preview images of 2010 Upper Deck Exquisite Football released on Upper Deck's blog recently (click here). Again, every product looks like a winner when you see the preview images, but Upper Deck's Exquisite product line has the reputation to back up any claims and preview images. Upper Deck also did a nice job by including collegiate stars in the Shadow Box inserts (click here) for their 2010 SPx Football product.
Upper Deck has traditionally been a collectors' favorite as they have consistently produced high quality designs and products. The change from professionally licensed product to NCAA licensed product is a drastic one, but a change that Upper Deck needed to make if it wanted to at least keep it's head above water. Even still, it's any ones guess as to whether Upper Deck can remain a viable company as many rumors persist as to UD's demise and/or future success. So the question is…
Will you, the collector, buy new Upper Deck product featuring NCAA licensed cards or does the lack of NFL, NBA and MLB licensed products turn you off from the Upper Deck brand?