Archive for January, 2011
Each month Upper Deck spotlights one of its valued collectors to showcase their collection. The great thing about sports collectors is that they are all very different in what they collect, how they collect their items, and what they do once they have them. We first met Alexander Sipos through the Upper Deck Facebook page through normal interactions about where he frequently posted card images or was asking questions about his favorite player, Kevin Durant.
One of the cool things about Alexander is that he is a collector from overseas. It’s not easy for collectors to get trading cards abroad, but one thing we’ve noticed through our Facebook page is just how much international support we have. Of our more than 9,000 fans, over 500 are from Europe, 300 are from the Philippines, over 250 are from Asia and over 175 are from Australia. So while it is not uncommon to be a collector outside of the United States and Canada, it’s not exactly easy. We wanted to hear Alexander’s story about what it is like collecting overseas and here he is to share:
My name is Alexander Sipos and I live in Bensheim, Germany, right next to Frankfurt. I’ve always been a huge basketball fan and I really love watching the NBA. If I’m not working on adding to my collection, you can find me on the court practicing and playing basketball with friends.
“As a passionate basketball fan, it made sense that I would get involved in collecting basketball cards and I started my collection in the mid-‘90s. The Chicago Bulls had a huge following here in Germany and like so many others around the globe, I was a huge Michael Jordan fan and loved the thrill of finding new MJ cards.
I lived in Darmstadt when I was I kid, right next to the U.S. military barracks, in an area called Lincoln Village. I thought it was cool to hang out around the military bases in Darmstadt, Heidelberg and Mannheim because it made it easier to get great soft drinks, junk food and, of course, packs of trading cards. They carried mostly Upper Deck stuff and once I started opening those packs I was hooked.
We would trade with the kids on the basketball court, and although my English wasn’t perfect, I was still able to negotiate some great trades which was really a lot of fun.
I made a lot of great friendships with the American servicemen and have fond memories of celebrating some fun U.S. holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving with my American neighbors.
When the time came where Michael Jordan finally retired, I stopped collecting. Without Jordan I just lost interest in the sport and the hobby so I sold my cards and pursued other interests. Even our television stations stopped broadcasting NBA games after Jordan retired. My passion for basketball was not entirely lost, it lay sleeping inside me. I still played the game, but just didn’t watch as much or collect.
After 9-11 the safety restrictions at American bases got much more strict and we were not allowed to go in those areas anymore. More Americans were transferred to the Middle East during that time and sadly I ended up losing touch with many of my new friends.
During my studies in Frankfurt, I discovered a wonderful website called eBay. As I was browsing around, I started looking after card again. That was in 2005 and it didn’t take too long for me to spend time on that site before I purchased my first box. It was a 2005-06 Upper Deck Hardcourt Basketball box and I remember pulling a Chris Paul autographed rookie card from the last pack. At the time I really didn’t know who he even was because they just didn’t broadcast many of the Hornets games over here, but I was thrilled when I found out he was the #1 pick in the NBA Draft and later became the Rookie of the Year.
That experience helped reignite my passion for the hobby and I spent the next two years buying and selling trading cards again on eBay for fun, but also to make a small profit. As time went by I really wanted to start a personal collection (PC). I liked LeBron James, but his cards were already too expensive at that point and I wanted to focus on rookie year cards. So I was left wondering, who should I collect?
A few weeks before the 2007-08 NBA season tipped off, I recognized a guy named Kevin Durant. I began watching YouTube videos from his outstanding play at the University of Texas. I’ve always loved clutch players with a great shot who play the game like Mike so I made the decision to start collecting Kevin Durant. As I watched him play I really thought he could be one of the best to ever play the game because he just keeps on getting better every season.
Upper Deck had always been my favorite card manufacturer and with Durant being an Upper Deck exclusive spokesman, it was safe to say that I spent almost all of my money on Upper Deck cards. I’m grateful to Upper Deck for helping me find my passion not just for collecting again, but for basketball as a whole. Upper Deck came out with some amazing Durant cards in his rookie year and I spent a lot of my free time trying to collect them all.
As Durant emerged as the best prospect, I was so excited I had chosen the right player to collect as many people thought Greg Oden would be the top player in that year’s rookie class. As the season progressed and Durant established himself as a dominant NBA player, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw how much his rookie cards were selling for. It’s been awesome to see my personal collection of my favorite player appreciate over time.
Being an international collector is not as easy as making a few clicks on eBay, however. There are quite a few aspects that make collecting abroad a challenge. The biggest issue is high shipping costs and customs clearance. It is more than a little frustrating having to pay about 30% on top of the original price of a card just to get it.
One nice new element that has come up over the last few years is online trading card communities where like-minded collectors can share the hobby online and help each other track down cards. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the German community dascardboard.eu and HobbyKings.com. If you’re on those message boards and sitting on some Kevin Durant cards, contact me under my usernames Durantula and KD35.
It was a sad day for me when I heard Upper Deck would no longer be producing NBA-licensed cards. I was hopeful that since Panini was a European company that we would see the hobby grow over here with trading cards a little easier to find in stores, but that hasn’t happened. Their Basketball products aren’t even available in Italy. I tried a few of their boxes, but the feeling of opening packs just isn’t the same as when Upper Deck was producing NBA cards. If you don’t have the opportunity to pull a Michael Jordan or LeBron James autograph card, the thrill of opening a pack is greatly reduced. I’ve been an Upper Deck fan since I started collecting in my childhood and that will never change. My favorite brands are SP Authentic (I’m already exited about the new 2010-11 release), UD Black and, of course, NBA Chronology. How can you not love these products?
I intend on continuing to grow my Kevin Durant PC and increase the size of my rookie year collection for years to come. I’m planning on holding on to all my Durant cards as I continue watching him grow and hopefully become the game’s best player. Thank you Upper Deck for being a huge part of my life and for making my PC a very special one. I’m so proud of it!
You should be proud of your collection, Alexander. It’s amazing to see what you’ve been able to amass so far of Kevin Durant. We at Upper Deck love the game of basketball so we’re excited to see what the future holds in terms of potential licensing changes and new opportunities for us. We wish you all the best and we look forward to hearing more about what you add to your collection on Facebook!
PGA Pro Tour member Bubba Watson has an easy name to remember. And after his exciting victory in yesterday’s Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, his name will be even harder to forget.
The 32-year-old from Bagdad, Florida, bested a competitive field of 155 other golfers on his way to a single-stroke victory over fellow lefty and hometown favorite, Phil Mickelson. After posting a final round score of 67 (five strokes under par), Watson had outdueled the best of the best on an overcast, drizzly day at Torrey Pines South. And the really cool thing about Bubba is that he has his very first licensed trading card appearing in Upper Deck’s 2011 Goodwin Champions set that’s scheduled to release in mid-June. The launch date just happens to coincide with the 2011 U.S. Open, which Watson should be competing in at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. Although we had Bubba on our trading card radar last year, it wasn’t until he reached out to us on Twitter that we got even more serious about making the relationship a reality.
Yesterday’s PGA Tour win was just the second in history for the lanky, 6’ 3” linkster. After missing the cut at last week’s Bob Hope Classic, and finishing tied for 25th in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on January 9, Watson put together four impressive rounds of golf at Torrey Pines (71-65-69-67) totaling 272. A 12-foot birdie putt on No. 18 was the deciding stroke as runner-up Mickelson needed to hole a wedge shot from 72 yards out in order to force a playoff, which he nearly wound up doing.
Watson is expected to have autographed cards in another Upper Deck set later this year: “Ultimate Champions.” In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for the 2011 Goodwin Champions release. It will be here before you know it.
The 2010 calendar year was not a good one for Tiger Woods. It was the first PGA Tour campaign in which he failed to win a single tournament. While he stayed competitive in practically every tournament he competed, his bid for titles last year came up empty.
With a New Year, however, brings new chances and new opportunities. And Tiger Woods is resolved to get back on track with his links career and regain his rightful position as the world’s No. 1 golfer. As one of Upper Deck Authenticated’s exclusive signing partners, Tiger’s signature is one of the most sought-after in the collectibles marketplace. We have shared just how valuable his signature is here before. Ultimately his performances out on the course largely dictate how sought-after his signature really is.
There’s no disputing his universal appeal however. Since partnering with Tiger Woods, Upper Deck has featured him in MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, Golf and even collegiate licensed trading card releases. Tiger is included in these sets because we’ve found there is huge demand for his trading cards, and especially autograph trading cards, from every type of sports fan. He is an athlete that truly transcends his own sport. Recently he took some time out of his bust schedule to sign his 2009-10 NHL The Cup Autographed Retro Rookie Patch cards. With a swatch of tournament-worn memorabilia embedded on each card, these are sure to be a hit once they find their way to the hands of collectors.
This year – this weekend, in fact – Tiger is battling in his first tournament of the 2011 campaign: the Farmer’s Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego. In yesterday’s opening round, he shot a three-under-par 69 with three birdies and no bogies and found himself five shots off the lead. Today, highlighted by a 27-foot put on No. 5 and four straight birdies, he made the turn with a 32. Now, having completed his second round of play, he remains in contention, but finds himself trailing tournament leader Bill Haas by five strokes.
Tiger’s march back to the No. 1 spot will not be easy. But Upper Deck Authenticated will be there to commemorate his next major tournament championship. His last major triumph occurred at the 2008 U.S. Open. You may recall he battled Rocco Mediate in an exciting playoff round on Monday that decided the title. The win marked his 14th major overall, placing him just four behind Jack Nicklaus’s all-time mark of 18 majors. It’s a hallowed mark that will not be broken without complete concentration, a little luck and a lot of perseverance on the part of Tiger.
As the 35-year-old readies himself for the fast-approaching Masters in April, Upper Deck wishes Tiger all the best this weekend as he competes in our backyard. To celebrate his return, we would like to offer up five FREE 2011 Upper Deck Authenticated calendar to fans visiting this site. Just leave a comment as to why you love to watch Tiger Woods play in the comment section below and we’ll randomly award these to five fans on Monday morning.
Much has been made about Sidney Crosby opting not to participate in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game so Upper Deck felt it was necessary to make sure he was at least there in spirit. We packed up a life-sized Sidney Crosby figure and shipped him from Carlsbad, California all the way to Raleigh, North Carolina as a great photo opportunity for Crosby fans in attendance.
It was an action packed day for Upper Deck staff as the team got to work in Raleigh setting up for an exciting week. We’ve already shared the details for what we have in store for the 2011 NHL® All-Star Fan Fair, but it was exciting seeing it all start to come together today. The booth is all set up and ready for action!
One of the best parts about NHL All-Star Weekend is grabbing the players for a bit to sign autographs for new trading card releases. Today we had quite a few players come through our Athlete Relations signing suite. Check out Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Phil Kessel signing away.
Then we had a visit from Boston Bruins star rookie, Tyler Seguin who signed trading cards and pucks for Upper Deck.
Then it was a visit from the No. 1 NHL Draft Pick and star rookie of the Edmonton Oilers, Taylor Hall! We had Taylor signing a variety of cards for 2010-11 NHL SP Authentic in particular and some other items as well.
It should be a fun-filled weekend and we’ll be sure to provide more updates, images and even video from everything happening throughout the weekend. Check back for more!
The NHL’s Rookie SuperSkills competition, part of this weekend’s NHL All-Star Game festivities, will be held on Saturday evening, January 29, at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, home of the Carolina Hurricanes. Only this time around, an eight-year-old from North Raleigh will be serving as the evening’s designated “Stick Kid.” His name is Devin Ybarra and he’s excited, to say the least, about his newfound responsibilities.
“I can’t wait to walk into the Hurricanes locker room and meet all the All-Stars,” said Ybarra, a third-grader at nearby Brassfield Elementary School. “Going in the locker room, I want to see all the Hurricanes lockers and then just being able to sit on the bench because I’ll get to see [‘Canes Team Captain] Eric Staal up close.”
Ybarra, a diehard ‘Canes fan, is the older brother of four-year-old Kailey and the son of Robert and Michelle Ybarra, who are both native Californians. He earned the right to serve as stick kid during the first half of the Rookie SuperSkills competition by submitting a written essay in Upper Deck’s recent “What I Love about Hockey” contest. His entry was selected from several as the grand prize winner.
“He’s extremely excited about Saturday, but I think his duties are more of a privilege than a responsibility,” said his mom, Michelle. ”He’ll get to take a tour of the locker room, meet the All-Stars and have them sign his All-Star jersey, and then, of course, get to sit on the bench with them during the SuperSkills event. He’s there to make sure they’re comfortable.”
While he’s not a competitive youth hockey player yet, Devin is currently enrolled in a “Learn to Skate” hockey program at the Polar Ice House in Wake Forest. A quick study in sports, he has been playing organized Pop Warner youth football for the past two years and helped his team – the North Raleigh Bulldogs – post an undefeated (9-0) record last fall.
As it turns out, Devin’s mom shares her son’s enthusiasm for the ‘Canes and the sport of hockey. In his essay he wrote: “Hockey is a cool sport. They get to check and do fake passes. Whenever you score, the crowd goes crazy. After I do my homework, I like to play street hockey with my mom. I want to play in the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes.”
Devin’s grand prize package includes a free pass to the NHL All-Star Fan Fair all weekend long; the opportunity to meet Hurricanes rookie center Jeff Skinner and receive an authentic NHL Hurricanes jersey on Friday at the Upper Deck booth; a VIP pass which will help him get to the front of any line for players’ autographs; and the right to visit the All-Stars locker room on Saturday to have his jersey autographed by as many players as he can find.