Product Review: 2009 Upper Deck

This review was a long time coming. I got three hobby boxes of my favorite annual product right after it came out, promptly ripped through all 60 packs, and then immediately pushed off writing the review for about a month. My bad. Since I did bust three complete boxes of 2009 Upper Deck at the same time, and because of the vast quantity of cards, I am going to do this review a bit differently by giving a per box breakdown rather than a per pack breakdown. The boxes each contained 16 packs of 20 cards for a total of 320 cards (so I got 960 total). I paid $197.97 for all three boxes from, which breaks down to around $0.21 per card — not bad for a brand new set.

2009 Upper Deck Hobby Box
Click image for a full sized scan

The base set of 325 cards consists of 200 veterans, 100 star rookies, and 25 short printed star rookies. Star Rookies fall 4 per pack while short printed Star Rookies fall 1 per 4 packs. Also available are 3D Stars inserts (2 per box), various memorabilia cards (3 per box), and various autographed cards (1 per box). To see more set information, please see my Product Preview of this set.

This is the first time in First and Goal’s short history that I have previewed a set on its release date and then reviewed actual purchased box(es) afterwards. So without further ado, here is the per box breakdown:

BOX 1:
Veterans (1-200) — All pulled except for #63 (40 doubles, 0 triples)
Star Rookies (201-300) — 64 unique cards (64%)
Short Printed RCs (301-325) — 4 (Malcolm Jenkins; Jeremy Maclin; Aaron Maybin; B.J. Raji)
3D Stars — 2 (Josh Freeman; Lee Evans)
Memorabilia Cards — 3 (Eddie Royal – Game Day Gear; Josh Freeman – UD Rookie Jersey; Ronnie Brown – Game Jersey)
Autographed Cards — 1 (John Niland – America’s Team)

BOX 2:
Veterans (1-200) — All pulled except for #63 (40 doubles, 0 triples)
Star Rookies (201-300) — 64 unique cards (64%)
Short Printed RCs (301-325) — 4 (Chris “Beanie” Wells; B.J. Raji; Hakeem Nicks; LeSean McCoy)
3D Stars — 2 (LeSean McCoy; Aaron Curry)
Memorabilia Cards — 3 (Randy Moss – Game Day Gear; Ramses Barden – UD Rookie Jersey; DeAngelo Williams – Game Jersey)
Autographed Cards — 1 (Donnie Avery – Signature Shots)

BOX 3:
Veterans (1-200) — All pulled except for #63 (40 doubles, 0 triples)
Star Rookies (201-300) — 64 unique cards (64%)
Short Printed RCs (301-325) — 4 (Malcolm Jenkins; Jeremy Maclin; Mark Sanchez; Aaron Maybin)
3D Stars — 2 (Adrian Peterson; Randy Moss/Tom Brady)
Memorabilia Cards — 3 (Earl Bennett – Game Day Gear; Pat White – UD Rookie Jersey; Marvin Harrison – Game Jersey)
Autographed Cards — 1 (Joe Flacco – Signature Shots)

Click images for full sized scans

1st Down, Design: This might contain a little bias because I like the annual flagship Upper Deck set each year, but I really liked this design. There is no needless border to get chipped, the name and team logo bars do not distract from the amazing photography, and the gold foil stamping works well (even if it doesn’t scan well). Overall, you have a very clean and classy set, which is important for a large, set-collectors’ product. The photography was not as memorable as 2008’s set, which captured some of the lasting images of the 2007 season, but it is by no means lacking. The entire set just exudes a crisp feeling and is a great binder-worthy set.

2nd Down, Inserts: As an obvious set collectors’ product, 2009 Upper Deck does not offer a lot of inserts, but the ones included are worthy of attention. I did not know how I felt about the 3D Stars insert replacing the Starquest insert when I wrote my product preview. I feared a bad relapse to the Sport Flix sets of the mid 90s was inevitable. As it turns out, I sorta like the outcome. It really works well for the Moss/Brady multi-player card and for the rookie cards as you can see the college and pro unis and logos on the same card. It would have been nicer to see away and home jerseys for the single player veteran cards, though. The memorabilia cards I pulled were nice. They featured clean design elements and vibrant colors. Since they were designed specifically as relic inserts (not base parallels), the swatch windows are well placed and do not hinder the overall look. The autographs are great, too. I would naturally prefer to see on-card autos, but with a lower end set, that’s just not going to happen. But if you look at the scans, you can barely see the stickers and it is obvious the design team took sticker placement into consideration here. Despite the label, it is still a clean autographed set. The higher-end inserts I did not pull also have great appeal and appear to be very nice.

3rd Down, Collation: When busting a large set that comes in high quantity packs, the first thing I demand is set completion. I was very happy with the results of these three boxes. I received all 200 veterans (#63 obviously does not exist while there are two #36s – read this for more discussion on that) in each box. Doubles were inevitable with the vast quantity of cards in the box, but I did not receive any triples in any box, so that was a definite plus. The rookies and inserts were pulled exactly per stated odds, so that is also hard to argue with. I was NOT happy about getting 4 short printed doubles in my boxes, leaving me to track down 13 on my own. However, this was a matter of pulling cards from different boxes, and there is no guarantee that blowoutcards pulled three continuous boxes or even three boxes from the same case. So while I felt I got a bit jipped in that department, it does not appear to have been a collation problem on Upper Deck’s behalf.

4th Down, Overall Value: This is a bit hard to gauge for this product. 2009 Upper Deck is obviously going to appeal to set collectors (it is the one set I assemble each year), so obviously there is some trade value in all those doubles you will get in a hobby box. The top rookies are short printed, which, while annoying, definitely adds value to them. I haven’t decided if I want to bother tracking down the other short printed cards, including the additional Michael Vick and Brett Favre cards. So that Mark Sanchez may find its way onto eBay just for that value reason. As the market becomes more and more inundated with autos and relics, there is very little value to the “hits” in this set, other than for player/team collectors or people like Joe who can’t pass up colorful relics. This year, Upper Deck did add some value with the higher-end premiere inserts. I was unable to pull any of those, so I am not able to pass judgment on them, but I trust they will do well on the secondary market, especially for the big name veterans and rookies.

RED ZONE RESULTS: TOUCHDOWN! (MISSED PAT) Finally, a product that found paydirt when lining up so close to the goal line for four consecutive downs. As I said before, there may be some bias in this review because this is one of my favorite basic sets each year, but 2009 Upper Deck did not disappoint. The base cards look great and will make for a nice binder addition to my collection (once I get around to buying a binder and inserting all 300+ cards into pages), and the inserts, while not my focus for this product, are pretty nice. Even if I decide not to keep them, they will be good giveaway material, trade bait, or possibly worth a dollar or two on eBay (if I ever get around to selling things on eBay in the first place). I was a little surprised Upper Deck kept the 16 packs of 20 cards format this year, given the downturn in the economy and obviously the Hobby. Turns out, they did cut a few corners, which is why they missed the PAT. The cards feel like they may be on ever so slightly thinner card stock and rather than insert those dummy relic fillers into packs that do not contain relics, they simply put fewer cards into relic packs. Each relic card obviously counts as 3 cards in Upper Deck’s world as each relic pack I opened only had 17 cards. You owe me 18 base cards, Upper Deck! It appears they also got rid of the “hot boxes” from last year (I had one!). Either this was another way to cut back on production costs, or they put the extra money into those higher-end inserts I talked about.

Overall though, I was very happy with the set. With the short print doubles, I could have gone with just two boxes, but now I have more ammo for trades. So seriously, if you are a team collector or are trying to build this set with just some trades and retail blasters, let me know. I have at least three of every card #1-200 and I think I have at least doubles of the RCs #201-300. I only need 1 of each. Help me clean out my card bins!


2 Responses to Product Review: 2009 Upper Deck

  1. I finally got around to busting my two boxes… mind helping a guy out with a trade or two???

  2. CPAdave says:

    I have broken a lot of my doubles into team sets and have listed them on eBay, so I may be a little limited to what I can give up in the rookie department (201-300), but I have PLENTY of extra copies of all of the veterans (1-200) that I will gladly send your way. Also, I have doubles of 4 short printed rookies (B.J. Raji, Aaron Maybin, Jeremy Maclin, and Malcolm Jenkins) that are yours if you need them. Shoot me an email and I’ll see what I can do!

    Also, do you still need any 2008 Upper Decks? I am in the same many-doubles boat with that set as well.

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