We arrived at the GAMA Trade Show on Monday afternoon to set up our booth and start interacting with attendees.

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On Tuesday morning, we ran the first session which covered everything Upper Deck is currently working on as well as what the future holds for us. The room held approximately 200 retailers and media for each of the four sessions and it got packed. Once I started the presentations it was surprising to me to see some attendees were forced to either stand or sit on the floor.

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The main topics that I discussed were trading cards, gaming and Organized Play. While the overall feel of the room was focused on all things gaming, many people were simply in awe over three specific products; Legendary Encounters: A Predator Deck Building Game, VS. System and Upper Deck’s first Original intellectual property, “Bring Out Yer Dead.”

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The fact that we are bringing one of the most industries most beloved trading card games back in the VS. System to players who have continued to support it years after the last release caused a lot of excitement.  Follow that up with the announcement for a sequel to one of 2014’s Best Games of the Year (Legendary Encounters) and you get a room full of excited retailers on our hands.

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To go one step further, the buzz for Bring Out Yer Dead was so good that not only were our customers flocking to the booth to get a demo, but so were GTS Distribution, Universal Distribution and Southern Hobby Supply, all of which want to carry the game immediately.

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Overall the show was good for business and very good for Upper Deck in terms of where we are heading as a gaming company. The future looks bright as we continue to bring you the best in terms of movie, comic and gaming cards & games.

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When we first saw young Liam Fitzgerald in his fist-bumping video where he gave knuckles to his favorite Boston Bruins players, we thought he was just adorable. As we dug into Liam’s story further however, we also found out he was a very brave and courageous young man. Liam, who was born with Down Syndrome in 2006, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in 2009. His family supported him through aggressive treatment that lasted four years. Liam battled through endless ongoing treatments, infections, fevers, seizures and multiple trips to the emergency room while working hard to get better.

In May 2013, Liam took his final chemo treatment and proclaimed to the world he had “kicked cancer’s butt!” And after that, together with his family, they worked to create a fundraising campaign to help find a cure and ensure access to treatment for those suffering from the disease. The goal is to use the popular fist bump to “Bump Out Cancer.” You can donate to Liam’s cause through his page here: http://www.mwoy.org/pages/ma/ma15/lfitzgeral

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We first engaged Liam with one of Upper Deck’s Random Acts of Kindness packages where we sent him a variety of hockey cards (mostly of his favorite team the Boston Bruins), signed pucks and more. He was thrilled when he received them!

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At Upper Deck we wanted to do something even more special to honor Liam’s courage and we felt he was a perfect candidate for Upper Deck’s Heroic Inspirations campaign. In the past we have honored courageous youngsters involved in sports who battled through adversity like Jack Hoffman, Mandi Schwartz, Jaclyn Murphy, Jack Miller, Sam Tageson and Lauren Hill. Adding Liam to the mix just made perfect sense.

We worked in conjunction with Liam’s family and the Boston Bruins to surprise Liam on the same night Upper Deck would offer a team pack giveaway to fans in attendance. During the first time-out of the game, the team recognized Liam with the card.

There were some great images courtesy of Steve Babineau of Getty Images from the event as well. Afterwards we heard Liam couldn’t stop touching the big card. He couldn’t believe he had his very own trading card and he was thrilled to sign some copies for fans at the team store.

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Responses to the card on social media have been nothing short of amazing.

davidamesse – I love this, and I’m a Hab’s fan

Billy Feliciano - Very classy Boston, very classy…. (And that’s coming from a due hard NYR fan).

Joel Rogers - That makes me a Hockey fan!

Jesse Kurtti - Great job Boston. This is why I love this game.

Susie Lilley - Goosebumps!!

Trice Powell – I think I’m getting soft in my old age because every time I see beautiful stuff like this I cry… That was super awesome

Chris Malboeuf - From a Red Wings fan, very classy Boston!

Donald Schneider – I want his card, what a dude!

Cesare Montefusco - Only in the NHL!!!!!!

Tian Carney - Crying

When is a trading card more than a trading card? When it has the power to change lives and inspire others. We believe Liam’s first Upper Deck rookie card is sure to be a collector’s item that every fan should want to add to their collection. His mother shared, “We believe Liam has a higher purpose in life, one in which during his journey he makes a difference in the world.” There are a limited amount of Liam’s Heroic Inspirations cards remaining and they will share details on how fans can score those soon!

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The O-Pee-Chee name has been a staple of the trading card hobby for decades. Upper Deck felt it was time to bring the brand into the 21st Century by producing a more premium edition using a variety of cutting edge technologies. To run us through that, we sat down with Upper Deck Director of Product Development, Grant Sandground for a behind the scenes look at what it took to build the new 2014-15 NHL® O-Pee-Chee Platinum trading card release.

Question: Why has the O-Pee-Chee name been so important to the hockey trading card market over the years?

Sandground: “The base O-Pee-Chee brand provides hockey collectors each year with the most comprehensive checklist of players for any product we produce. It’s the perfect set for hockey fans to build every year. It’s history as a brand,  dating all the way back to the 1930’s, also makes it unique in the hockey market, providing memories of hockey trading cards for collectors of every age.

“With the all-new O-Pee-Chee Platinum brand, because the refractive parallels are so popular and such an integral part of the product, there are several pretty stunning parallel sets to chase. To that effect, we shrunk the base set down to 200 top stars (150 veterans and 50 rookies) to create the right balance for set builders and players collectors.”

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Question: This marks the first time in several years where collectors have been able to get a hockey card product on metallic foil board. Was this something you heard that collectors wanted to see from Upper Deck?

Sandground: “We’ve heard from dealers and hockey collectors alike for the past several years who have been clamoring for Upper Deck to produce a trading card set on metallic foil board. We wanted to take the time to do it right by providing a 100% hard-signed product with an array of eye-popping parallel sets.”

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Question: You did take a lot of time to bring this set to life for collectors by working with a variety of vendors to get the product right. What did you think of the final result when you started to see samples come in?

Sandground: “We had high hopes that the array of substrates, patterns and colors featured across the base set and parallels would provide O-Pee-Chee Platinum with some serious excitement from hockey card collectors, and we were blown away with how nice the finished cards turned out.”

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Question: Unfortunately scans and pictures do not really do these cards justice, you really have to see them in person to judge their beauty. Which cards do you think turned out the most stunning?

Sandground: “The 1-of-1 Golden Treasures are disgustingly awesome. I’m also smitten with the Blue Cubes (serial #’d of 65 copies per card).”

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Question: There are some pretty awesome die-cut inserts in this product, can you walk us through those?

Sandground: “There are three different die-cut Insert sets in Legends, Stanley Cup Champs and Superstars. Each insert features 20 subjects with seeding ratios of 1 in every 60 packs (cumulatively resulting in one die-cut insert per 20-pack hobby box).

“The Legends insert focuses exclusively on retired stars and the Superstars insert exclusively features active stars. The Stanley Cup Champs insert blends active and retired stars, featuring iconic moments from 1983 to 2014. All three insert sets feature 100% hard-signed autograph parallels limited to 10 or fewer serial #’d copies per card including signers like Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Steve Yzerman, Patrick Roy, Mark Messier, Martin Brodeur, Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar, Jarome Iginla, John Tavares and Carey Price.”

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Anze Kopitar shows off one of his Stanley Cup Champs signed insert cards from O-Pee-Chee Platinum.

Question: The investment Upper Deck makes in a set like this isn’t all about autograph cards or memorabilia cards, but rather, very impressive parallel cards on different foil board. Explain why some of these cards can be more compelling than a jersey or autograph card for example?

Sandground: “Many collectors love shiny cards and the new O-Pee-Chee Platinum product provides some of the most beautiful cards we’ve produced to date. Other collectors just get tired of another memorabilia card and this offers diversity for them. Though autographs and memorabilia continue to be primary elements in most modern era products, we never lose track of our focus on trying to provide hockey card collectors with beautiful and different cards. The variety this product offers should be a breath of fresh air for a lot of collectors.”

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Question: There are however autograph cards in the product and they are all hard-signed. How difficult a decision was it to have this be a hard-signed product rather than using label autographs?

Sandground: “For us here at Upper Deck, it was a very easy decision to produce this product with 100% hard-signed autographs because we never even considered any other option. Putting sticker autographs on this metallic substrate is like putting a bumper sticker on a Rolls Royce. We challenged our Athlete Relations team to track down athletes for signings everywhere, including at events like the NHL All-Star Game. The end result is a product that provides collectors an opportunity to chase some of the nicest autographed hockey cards ever produced. When you couple the aesthetics with a lineup of signers including Upper Deck spokesmen Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr aside top rookie stars like Johnny Gaudreau and Aaron Ekblad, you’ve got a formula for a winning product.”

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Tyler Seguin shows off his hard-signed O-Pee-Chee Platinum autograph card.

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Shea Weber obviously likes the look of his O-Pee-Chee Platinum autograph card!

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Question: Sometimes sets with various different parallel cards give “player collectors” a panic attack. What do you think is the best way for a “player collector” to attack 2014-15 NHL® O-Pee-Chee Platinum?

Sandground: “As a company, we’re very aware of the effect that too many parallels can have on the market. We try to pick and choose well thought out spots in our hockey calendar for ‘parallel-focused’ products like Artifacts and now O-Pee-Chee Platinum. With Artifacts, the parallels are based upon providing a rich array of different memorabilia, upgrading in quality as the print runs get scarcer. With O-Pee-Chee Platinum, it’s based on the stunning aesthetics provided by the refractive substrates, patterns and colors inherent to the metallic rainbow stocks.

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“Obviously, the 1-of-1 Golden Treasures cards seeded within O-Pee-Chee Platinum pose the most difficult challenge a player collector can tackle, but many veteran player collectors have created sensible guidelines for how to build their collections by putting ultra-rare cards (typically #’d of 10 or less into a ‘wish list’ bucket whereby if they happen to stumble upon a copy and the price is right they scoop it up. For cards with print runs of 25 or more copies, we’ve seen an approach by many of these same collectors to ‘complete the rainbow.’ To that effect, though OPC Platinum provides a great chase for players collectors because the majority of the parallels feature print runs of 25 copies per card or higher.”

Question: Why is now the right time for Upper Deck to release a set like this?

Sandground: “I wish we could have done it sooner, but we wanted to make sure we produced a quality product that wasn’t rushed to market. We set our standards high for the aesthetics of the parallels and the delivery of the autographs (being 100% on-card). Our hope moving forward is that O-Pee-Chee Platinum becomes another of our benchmark brands in our hockey calendar.”

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Don’t miss 2014-15 NHL O-Pee-Chee Platinum when it arrives in stores on April 1, 2015!

The staff here at Upper Deck couldn’t be more excited about the release of 2014-15 NHL® O-Pee-Chee Platinum, but we want to hear what you think about the product. Share with us in the comment section below the element of the product you are most looking forward to. We will select one of our fans at random who leaves an approved comment to receive a FREE box of 2014-15 NHL® O-Pee-Chee Platinum as part of our Random Acts of Kindness program. The fan selected will be contacted on Monday, March 30 at approximately 10:30 a.m. PST. Open to fans in the United States and Canada only.

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When you think NCAA basketball, you think of the colors blue and white. You think of prestigious programs. You think Wall and Rose. Cauley-Stein and the Harrison twins. All are names, which are synonymous with the University of Kentucky. You would have had to be living under a rock the last few months to not know of the seismic accomplishments that this UK squad has amassed this season. I’ll just leave this here: they’re a perfect 36-0 and now sit a mere 160 minutes away from a historic finish. The target on their back has ballooned and the No. 5-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers are salivating at their opportunity to burst the Wildcats’ unblemished season. It’s March. It’s the Sweet Sixteen. Anything can happen. We’ll see you in Cleveland tonight.

With that being said, how well do you know your Kentucky basketball? In our latest “Throwback Thursday” installment, we retreat to the 1964-67 seasons, which featured the starting unit of Larry Conley, Louie Dampier, Thad Jaracz, Tommy Kron and one Pat Riley. Although Riley is predominantly recognized for his NBA career, his time in Lexington should not be forgotten. So let’s put up a throwback card and see if our fans can come up with some great captions for the card! Please share your comical caption to this card for a lucky fan’s opportunity to each score 10 packs of 2014-15 March Madness Collection Basketball!

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Important Promotion Guidelines:

  1. You can only submit one comment per email address so think about it before you post.
  2. Comments are moderated so keep them clean and in good taste as we have a lot of youngsters on these pages. Comments deemed inappropriate will not be posted or eligible to score card set(s).
  3. Make sure to review other caption before you post. If you have the same comment as someone else or make slight improvements to it, the credit will go to the first person who posted the comment.
  4. You have until Friday morning, March 27th at 8:00 a.m. PT to post your caption before this promotion is closed.
  5. Upper Deck will review the captions posted and select one (1) fan who most skillfully shares a comical comment to coincide with this card.
  6. Only the customer selected to receive the card set will be contacted via email, so please make sure to provide an accurate email address when you leave your comment.
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Upper Deck had a lot of amazing items on display at the most recent Industry Summit, but the cards that got the greatest response were the 2014-15 NHL® Black Diamond Quad Rookie Gems cards. Collectors have the opportunity to score one of these cards by finding one of 25 exchange cards in packs of the 2014-15 NHL® Black Diamond.

There are a number of factors that make these cards so compelling:

  1. Each card is a one-of-one card. These are the only copies that exist.
  2. Every card is incredibly thick with a shadowbox type of display that includes four actual one carat diamonds.
  3. The cards will only be available through an interactive draft event which means anyone who pulls and redeems one of these cards has the same ability as any other customer to get the first pick in the draft and choose the player they want. Check out the event from last year:

  1. These cards are so unique and compelling, that they are in HIGH demand with collectors, usually going right into private collections. When they do make an appearance on auction sites, the prices for them are right in line with authentic high-end jewelry. Take a look at these links for two cards:

Morgan Rielly 2013-14 NHL® Black Diamond Quad Rookie Gems card

Nail Yakupov 2013-14 NHL® Black Diamond Quad Rookie Gems card

  1. What is most compelling is that less than 10 of the 25 cards have been redeemed so far which means there are still plenty more waiting to be discovered in packs of 2014-15 NHL® Black Diamond. Collectors have until April 9, 2015 to get their redemptions entered to participate in the interactive online draft event.
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Find and redeem one of these special Draft cards from 2014-15 NHL Black Diamond by April 9 and you will be invited to participate in the Diamond Draft event to score one of these one-of-a-kind cards!

Take a look at the incredible cards available in this event.

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Which player would you take first in the draft???

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