Always the innovators in technology, Upper Deck has once again taken sports cards to a new level with this year’s release of SPx. The all new Shadow Box cards have been creating quite a buzz amongst collectors since the first images were released months ago. 2009 SPx is being sold in cases of 10 boxes of 10 packs of 3 cards each (follow that?).
The 150-card base set is comprised of 90 veterans and 60 rookies (#/799). Beyond the base set are quite a few inserted memorabilia, autograph, and parallel cards, along with the Shadow Box set. Autograph cards include: SPx Rookie Auto Jersey and parallels (#’d up to 549); SPx Rookie Signatures and parallels (# up to 299); Super Scripts, Super Scripts Duals, Trios, Quads, Six, and Eights (Varied #); X Factor Signatures; Rookie Materials Auto Patch (Varied #); Winning Combos Auto Patch (Varied #); Winning Trios Auto Patch(Varied #); and SPx Shadow Box Autographs (Varied #). Memoribilia cards without autos include: Winning Materials and parallels (# up to 249); Rookie Materials and parallels (# up to 249); Winning Combos and parallels (# up to 99); Winning Trios and parallels (# up to 50); and Fantastic Foursome and parallels (# up to 20). There are also parallels of the SPx rookie base cards (# up to 399). Also, don’t forget that the shortprinted 2009 Upper Deck flagship cards of Michael Vick and Brett Favre are also being randomly inserted into SPx.
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Per Box Breakdown: 10 packs of 3 cards each (30 total cards) including: 6 memorabilia cards and up to 4 autographed cards, including 1 Rookie Signature Triple Memorabilia card. Shadow Box cards are inserted at a rate of 1 per case and there will be at least 3 autographed memorabilia or multi-signed cards per case. Boxes are currently selling in the $150 ballpark.
My first thought is excitement. I have been looking forward to seeing these Shadow Box cards ever since Upper Deck first gave us a glimpse at them. I think it is a really cool concept and I applaud UD for trying something new in what has become a rather stagnant pool of releases. Football collectors have been lucky to receive some of UD’s best efforts in recent years, and after losing their NBA license, which had been UD’s forté, that trend should only grow stronger. I am a bit leary of this product though. Partially for the price point. As a collector who does not have the resources to drop top dollar for cards, $150 for 30 cards ($5 per card) is a bit high. But what really concerns me is that once again we see a mid-to-high end product that, other than those Shadow Box cards, is depending on relics and autos to move boxes. I know a lot of other collectors and bloggers have brought this up before now, but I would like to second the opinion that it would be nice to see a very well designed set not fall into the same relic/auto rut as all other products are in right now. I think the Shadow Box cards are moving in the right direction, I just hope we can get to that point soon. My last concern about SPx is the parallels, which are not fully explained in the product description. This is another trend I don’t particularly like. It was cool when companies started making gold parallels of cards and I even liked the bronze/silver/gold/platinum idea. But nowadays, it seems like every non-flagship card has multiple parallels of various names, serial numbers, and gimmicks. I’m not saying we need to go back to 1984 Topps and just have one base set and that’s it, but it would be nice if the companies could focus and exercise a bit of self-control. Overall though, I will say this product looks pretty nice. It is certainly not in a ridiculous price range and the cards look good and should do well in the secondary market, especially the highly-hyped Shadow Box cards. Hopefully I’ll get to see one of those in person some day!