Got an Extra $15,000.00 Hanging Around…

Upper Deck All-Time Greats Master Collection Logo

Upper Deck All-Time Greats Master Collection Logo

If you are not going to buy a car, why not spend it on a box of baseball cards. Why the disbelieving face? Yes, yes I’m serious. It launches early this year, and it’s care of Upper Deck. Called 2016 Upper Deck All-Time Greats Master Collection, it’s UDs way of sticking it to the regular Joe. Another in a long list of cards that will hit the market which will be out of reach for the average consumer, 2016 Upper Deck All-Time Greats Master Collection will have some amazing collectibles inside it, but wasn’t it always better when a card gained its high price tag through time. It meant that when it was released everyone had a shot at having it in their collection. Sports Cards, once the patches and swatches and 5/5’s and 1/1’s entered the market, began their journey into the realm of social class.

According to Beckett Media, here is what 2016 Upper Deck All-Time Greats Master Collection is:

Limited to just 200 boxes and with a five-figure price point, Upper Deck proclaims that it will be “blurring the boundary between trading cards and artistic collectibles” with this product. Each box will contain over 50 cards and the roster of signers could be one of the most impressive ever assembled. Even the box itself is being touted as a collectible as each one is numbered and has an autographed acrylic box topper in the lid.

For starters, 2016 Upper Deck All-Time Greats Master Collection has a 25-card base set where each card is signed by a notable or legendary athlete. As expected, longtime Upper Deck spokesmen Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, LeBron James, and Tiger Woods are featured. They will be joined by the likes of hockey’s Bobby Orr, Mark Messier, and Mario Lemieux, football’s Joe Namath, Jerry Rice, Peyton Manning, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, and John Elway, baseball’s Ken Griffey Jr., Mark McGwire and Nolan Ryan, and basketball icon Larry Bird. Rounding out the checklist are golfers Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus along with boxers Oscar De La Hoya and Mike Tyson, NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, tennis star Maria Sharapova, retired UFC star Georges St-Pierre, and skateboarding legend Tony Hawk.

The autographs are split into several tiers (Silver, Gold, Red, Copper, Green, Blue, Purple, Sonic Blue, and Clear) and are limited to just 20 copies each.

There will be dual autographs called Masterful Pairings that are seeded once per box. The regular version these pair up two living athletes which are produced in varying quantities while the one-of-one Masterful Pairings Autograph & Cut Signature takes one of these talents and combines them with a vintage cut of a sporting icon from the early 20th century.

As a throwback to old-school trading card sets, 2016 Upper Deck All-Time Greats Master Collection has a Master Collection puzzle made up of 30 cards. Depicting multiple athletes together, there are three tiers to collect with the basic Logo Collection puzzle being numbered to 125 while the Silver version is limited to 50 and just 25 Gold puzzles will be made.

Upper Deck’s long-standing relationship with Michael Jordan has produced many desirable cards over the years, but this time, their Jordan Diamond Legacy cards are an instant classic out of the box. Every set will have one of these cards and they will have three (/30), four (/15), five (/5), or even six (one-of-one) diamonds embedded into them. Every 2016 Upper Deck All-Time Greats Master Collection box also contains a one-of-one Artistic Renderings card, which features autographed original art.

Perhaps the most compelling inserts of all are the Mystery Redemption cards. These cards can be exchanged for some hobby treasures such as game-worn uniforms, championship rings, autographed uncut sheets, game-used equipment from Hall of Famers, and premium signed items from Upper Deck Authenticated or even a motorcycle signed by Michael Jordan.

I’m trying to figure out the point of this product. Is it trying to further create a niche market for collectible cards? Is that niche even create-able? If I were a rich man, and liked to collect memorabilia, are there not things much more desirable and not in anyway artificial than this product? Let me see if you follow my logic…

Except for the redemption cards which will get you some great memoriabilia, the rest is just added fodder to an already crowded marketplace for autographs and patches and game-used equipment cards. If you are an autograph collector, what is the difference between an auto in this set and one in another? Nothing really, even if it is a 1/1 or 5/5 etc. If you want a Griffey Jr. auto, that’s what you want, Where it comes from doesn’t really matter as long as it authenticated.

Here is a Griffey Jr. auto sold on eBay for less than $60.00:

Ken Griffey Jr. Signature

Ken Griffey Jr. Signature

There are many others selling in the $50.00 to $1000.00 range. A Griffey Jr. signature is not a rare thing. I’m not sure why anyone thinks that just because the signature is put on a card that is a 1/1 or 5/5 it changes value. It is still a Griffey Jr. signature. It’s very sad yet quite humourous that people are spending money on these gimmicks. Let me give you a hypothetical example to prove my point.

Let’s say I’m a card company, and I’m thinking up a way to sell my boxes of cards for more money. Not because they will cost much more to print, but because I want to make more money per box or per card I print. Let’s say my budget is 1 million cards. And let’s say there are 500 players to print cards for. The simplest way is to print 1 million cards of 500 players. But the sales point for this set in a box might only be $30.00.

I want a higher price. Well one way is to add specialty cards inside. So let’s hire Griffey Jr. to sign 1000 of the 1 million cards. we take 1000 of his base cards and have him sign them. Now we can sell a box for $50.00. But wait, how about we change the border of 10% of the 1 million cards to a gold colour. Now we just made our cards tiered at no extra cost in printing (it’s just changing the amount of colour of the inks in the same process).

Now the Griffey Jr. auto is two-tiered as well. The gold parallel signature is now only 10% as common as the base card signature. It will be worth theoretically ten times as much, which means I can market that in the sale of my boxes: “Find the Griffey Jr. Gold Parallel signature card” and now sell the box for $100.00. Yet the gold or regular version of the card cost exactly the same to print. Now what happens if I change 1% of the 1 million cards to a border colour of platinum, now the Griffey Jr. signature is worth 100 times more that the base signature again at no extra cost.

Do you see where this is heading? Now add a print run number to the card (costs nothing as you have the different images on a computer, the printing stays the same, the image just changes). Now for a tiny tiny change where the print number is stamped… and so on and so on.

These gimmicks which in the creation of the cards cost nothing or very little, turns cards that were once worth $30.00 a box to $100.00 a box. Wow you now have a Platinum parallel Griffey Jr. signature card and I have the base signature card. Dude it’s the same card, but not even that, Dude it’s the same signature for God’s sake.

If I was rich, and wanted true memorabilia, I would hunt down signed bats, signed balls, game-used equipment and uniforms myself, I wouldn’t need Upper Deck to give me a lottery chance at getting it. Because essentially that is what this product is, a $15,000.00 lottery ticket with some cards thrown in in the process. I’m not sure of the cost of the diamonds they will be using in some of the cards, but I’m sure they aren’t going to be worth what it cost to the buyer in getting them, if they did it would be much easier to sell the diamond itself than the card with the diamond embedded in it. It’s why, back in the day, the Mint stopped minting silver and copper coins because people were melting them down to sell at a price higher than the face value of the coin itself.

Memorabilia is memorabilia, Card companies do not need to artificially create it in their cards. Players will be wearing uniforms, using bats and gloves, without card companies involvement. Card companies already have memorabilia, it’s the cards themselves. There is no need to complicate the process by mixing the two together.



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