The Las Vegas Industry Summit Continues to Serve as a Source of Inspiration for the Hobby


I was in Las Vegas and I couldn’t sleep. Not because I was eager to wake up and visit a world-famous buffet the next morning or to hit the tables in hope of making big bucks, but because I was excited about trading cards. I guess that means I am officially a dork, but that is what happens at the Las Vegas Industry Summit. You are thrust into rooms with some of the most successful people in our business and it is just truly inspiring. As I tried to go to sleep each night, I frequently woke up to write down a different idea for a new product or program that had stemmed from conversations throughout the day. And over the past two days I’ve been trying to organize them while planning meetings with key staff members to hopefully bring some of these ideas to fruition.

Upper Deck had a Home-Base booth with all sorts of cool items on display like new Michael Jordan and LeBron James signed items from Upper Deck Authenticated. We also had a huge display of Entomology and Animal Kingdom Patch cards from Goodwin Champions. Even some of the Civil War memorabilia and press sheets from 2012 Goodwin Champions were on display and shop owners loved what they saw!

We got some great feedback during those Home Base sessions with the hundreds of retailers in attendance and had the chance to give back to them with a special raffle on Tuesday night where we gave away twenty items they could use to run promotions in their shop!

Here's the big winner from the Tuesday raffle who scored a 2011 NHL Rookie Showcase signed helmet!

The big day for Upper Deck however really took place on Monday when we were able to present to close to 200 Certified Diamond Dealers in attendance. We shared information about the success of our new distribution program that allows these shops to compete on service instead of price. Additionally we ran through slides of several of our new products and there were “Ooooohs” and “Aaaaaahs” from those in attendance as they saw new products revealed like 2011 Exquisite Football, 2011-12 Exquisite Basketball, 2012 Upper Deck Football and 2012 All-Time Greats Sports Edition. You can look for more details on those soon!

For me it was exciting to share some new marketing ideas for those in attendance that would hopefully allow them to create more awareness for their business. My favorite moment however was when I awarded the Steve James Award to Wayne Wagner, the owner of Wayne’s Sports Cards in Edmonton, Alberta. Steve James owned The Bullpen and was a very creative hobby shop owner who did a lot of great things for our industry. When he passed away, we felt it was important to do something to keep his memory alive. There were a lot of shop owners in that room that deserved an award for their efforts in serving as positive ambassadors to our products. In the end, Wayne modeled a lot of the great behaviors that made Steve James such a positive role model in the industry. It was a special moment and I think Steve would have approved of our selection.

Wayne Wagner of Wayne's Sports Cards was awarded the annual "Steve James Award" from Upper Deck.

We concluded the meeting by sharing a random autograph card with those in attendance crated specifically for this show. These Las Vegas Industry Summit cards are extremely rare with no card having more that 30 copies. There were also rare dual signed cards as well featuring Michael Jordan paired with Wayne Gretzky, Adrian Peterson with Gale Sayers, Wayne Gretzky with Bobby Orr and LeBron James with Magic Johnson. Shop owners were like kids as they pulled their rare Upper Deck autograph card from a special black UDA pouch. Take a look!

There were a variety of panels throughout the week that really served to help educate and inspire. I really enjoyed visiting with others at their Home Base booths discussing ways we could potentially help each other. Grant Sandground (one of our key product managers) and I took some time out to appear on Cardboard Connection Radio which was a lot of fun as we went through some new products and programs with fans.

We left inspired with a variety of exciting new programs we hope to reveal in the coming weeks. Actually, I just shared one of them yesterday. If you are a hobby shop owner that made it to the event, let us know what inspired you about the show in the comment section below.

And for those of you who didn’t make it, here is your opportunity to own a rare Las Vegas Industry Summit autograph card of Gale Sayers. The whole event is really about how to make the hobby better, how to put out better products, offer heightened levels of service, etc. So since you couldn’t be there to share, we want you to share right here. Please leave a comment below with your great idea to help make the hobby better. It can be an idea about our products, our programs, our staff, pretty much anything. We will select our favorite idea on Monday, March 26 and reward the Sayers card to that customer. You can submit more than one idea if you like, just don’t copy another fan’s idea.

Share your great idea to help make the hobby better and you may just add this Gale Sayers autograph card to your collection. Add your idea to the comment section below!

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I would like to see in jersey cards dates the jersey was worn and if the player did anything such as score a touchdown during the game. This will add more value to relic cards and interest.


I always have loved your product. If i could give u any advice i guess it would be, this. I love your manufactured letter autos and most of the time the auto is directly on the letter but sometimes they fade or just dont stand out enough. I loved how u guys put acetate over the letter in your Greats Of The Game Basketball 2011 product!! I think you should do that from now on on all of your letter autos. Also i think you should bring back your game-used helmet cards with the autos on them like you guys did awhile back in your earlier Exquisite Football products. I havent seen it done by you guys or any other company since then. Other than that you guys are doing a good job.


‘Hero cards’ Dual auto or dual GU. A player, not known as an ‘elite’ player, nominates who their favourite player or hero was, make a dual auto/GU out of it. Would be great for PC collectors of non-elite players, would be most valuable card in their collection…


My idea doesn’t have as much to do with the actual cards as the packaging. Make your retail packs un searchable. There aren’t many hobby shops around me and retail is how I get most of my cards. Pack searchers are ruining it. I understand the odds being worse in retail than hobby but when packs are searched those odds drop to zero. Thick inserts don’t work, can you go back to tightly wrapping the cards like in the old wax packs?


I absolutely love your football products, and Exquisite is my favorite football product hands down. I would be extremely pumped to own a Sayers card, especially one this rare and sweet. I appreciate the chance to win and please pick me!


I love your hockey products. I don’t think any other companies compare to the products you put out.

One suggestion I would ideally like to make can encompass all sports Upper Deck deals with. Maybe make more players on the teams available beyond the star players and rookies.. not that I am complaining about that. I would love to see sets available of just the teams. I have seen one year for the OPC cards in Canada, where I was able to get almost 80% of the Canucks.

I have also wanted to suggest that higher end cards be available online for orders, like the SP Game Used sets. I love supporting my local cards shops but there are some sets like that, that they simply don’t get because there isn’t enough local interest in them.


So we can look forward to this type of festivities at the National in Baltimore?


Hi Chris,

Although Sports Cards Plus (San Antonio) has been in business for 20 years, this was only my second Summit. In our 20 years, we’ve had good business years and some not so good. We also own a retail gift store business for the last 15 years. I feel that I have a good understanding of retail business in general. The way trading card product was distributed and sold was counter to good business sense.

Over the years, I would try to explain to whoever (distributors and manufacturers) would listen that the old way of doing business was leading to a “loose-loose” result. No one seemed to believe me. I went to last year’s Summit with hopes of effecting some improvement. The policies announced and implemented by Upper Deck have gone a long way toward strengthening our great hobby. I went to this year’s Summit to say thanks to Upper Deck for your fortitude in holding the line and doing what is best for our hobby. I also went to the Summit to learn “best practices” from my fellow shop owners and strengthening my relationships with the manufacturers and distributors.

I really enjoyed talking with you, Mr. Philips and Dianne. Thanks for listening and for all you do for the card shop. What I found most inspiring about The Summit was the accessibility of all the manufacturing leaders. You all listened and engaged in meaningful discussions. I left The Summit with the feeling that we have turned a corner and 2012 will be a great year for card shop owners and hobbyist.

I totally agree with Upper Deck’s efforts to encourage card shop growth. The card shop is the face of the hobby. The card shop is vital to the goal of bring new hobbyist and helping the hobbyist achieve their collecting goals.

MY IDEA IS THIS: Upper Deck, please take the lead to encourage the other manufacturers to host a “Trading Card Business Seminar” for people who want to open a Trading Card Store and current owners who want to improve their way of doing business. Too many people who love this hobby think they can open a shop and be successful without any knowledge of what it takes to run a business. Such a seminar would be key to a business starting on the right foot, giving a formula for success and would inform the new business person what is expected of them by the manufacturer.

I believe Trading Card Shops should run our business as though we were an extension of the manufacturer. Much like a “franchise,” we should represent the manufacturer to the public and offer customer service to provide instant gratification for product problems. The last thing my customers want to hear is “You need to call the manufacturer’s customer service,” or “Go to their web-site.” Especially in the case of the NEW hobbyist, this leaves a bad taste.


hi i would like to see in the cases of big hits put a redemption card of players to trade in for it like a real jersey card or signed puck or basketball so on that would be the best thing instead of waiting for these players to sign there items like autograph, nothing like getting a real players jersey.


As a lifelong KU fan, even football, I’d love to see even more college mixed into the regular product. Some of my favorite cards are ones from college years.


Personally, if it could ever be accomplished,I would love to see a card with signatures from perhaps the two most famous people associated with the state of Illinois; Michael Jordan and Abraham Lincoln.


I believe the next step in memorabilia is the decals / stickers on helmets. Many are rare and can have significant meaning to them. Players / owners pass away and are honored throughout the season. Every sport honors them and it is time Upper Deck does also.


I would like to see an autograph or jersey card set that has each of the three nominees for each trophy in the NHL each season. This can apply across all sports but it would really look nice in the Hardware Heroes set in Black Diamond. Keep up the great work UD!


For hockey, a Stanley Cup Winners set, where players/teams/coaches/owners of winning teams are featured.


A Tiger Woods Master Collection set like the Wayne Gretzky set from 2000 would be awesome. Also I love the video cards from UD Football and World of sports this year but I think an autograph variation of the video cards would increase there value a ton.


I would like to see you bring back the rare and hard to pull inserts. Jersey cards have become dime a dozen, but really well designed hard to find inserts are still really sought after even from the late 90’s. Things like the shadow box cards have been a huge success and more like these will drive collectors crazy ( in a good way).


Collecting cards by buying packs is a great way to enjoy the hobby, but I often give up buying packs when I’ve got too many common cards. I would love to see a program where I could send my common cards into the manufacturer for exchange for a more “rare” cards. How about a “Common Card Reclamation” program?

I also like Marty’s idea – my son and I have caught people at the local store “feeling” packs to find jersey cards. When it looks like the box has been rummaged through we may just skip buying the cards altogether.


So my son had asked to submit his idea too. Here it is –

How about letting collectors submit pictures/bios into a website that is used for inserts into packs for the next year’s run? You could ask the collectors to send in 50 common cards to register.

Here are some stats that he would put on the back of his card –

Nick Name – FireAnt
Favorite Sport – Football
Favorite team – Vikings
Best Upper Deck Card in Collection – Ken Griffey Jr Rookie (thanks dad)
Where he buys cards – Target


I enjoy collecting cards by buying the individual packs and wind up with tons of common cards and duplicates. I would like to see a program where I can send in my common cards/duplicates for a chance at a more rare card in the set. How about a “Common Card Reclamation” program?


So my son had asked to submit his idea too. Here it is –
How about letting collectors submit pictures/bios into a website that is used for inserts into packs for the next year’s run? You could ask the collectors to send in 50 common cards to register.
Here are some stats that he would put on the back of his card –
Nick Name – FireAnt
Favorite Sport – Football
Favorite team – Vikings
Best Upper Deck Card in Collection – Ken Griffey Jr Rookie (thanks dad)
Where he buys cards – Target


To expand on my previous comment, how about a set based on the College World Series. More than just the little bit that’s been done before. There isn’t a dedicated set for college baseball and I believe you are missing out on a big market. Oh, and I’d love to own that Gale Sayers card.


My thought is to have “Where It All Began” insert cards for legends/stars of the game. The card would have a photo of the athlete from their younger days (youth league – college) with a current photo, providing some background on the player before they became a professional athlete on the back. Could be a signed insert as well.
Another thought too would be for an “In The Community” card that would identify player activities/causes outside of the sport. That type of information is generally not promoted enough and probably should be.
Otherwise, your products always look great – keep up the great work.


Collectors often dream of the opportunity to one day meet their sports heros. Game used items and autographed memorabilia do a great job of bringing us closer to our idols. A great idea would be to offer redemption cards in packs that give collectors the opportunity to actually meet their sports heros. During this meet and greet, collectors can get an autograph, a picture taken, and spend some time with the athlete. This unique offering will bring us avid collectors closer to your products and closer to the game.

Thanks again for all of your great products…


The hobby needs to get more interactive. Card company reps should be at the ballparks…talking to kids and collectors, handing our freebies, setting up trading events. Co-exist with the professional teams…have them make announcements during games. Also, take full advantage of social media and websites…the card company web pages are AWFUL…use experts in community engagement…get into the schools…digital media is all about gaming now.


More college please. Especially in baseball. There is a wealth of talent in the college ranks and I know there is a market for sets specifically around the Collge World Series. (I’m a huge KU fan too, and that Gale Sayers card would be a sweet addition to my KU collection.)


hi there I think that limiting the amount of jersey and patch cards in your releases making them a little more wantable by collectors it seems you an get these cards for a dollar now a days makes them a write off almost . Make collectables collectable by not having so many of them. Just my opinion thanks


If you want to develop a new generation of fans, and reach out to kids, you also need to reach out to those who drive them to stores, or who fund their start in collecting.

The National Trading Card days are nice, but still requires the parents to find out about them, and to get the kids to the stores.

More interaction with players, past and present, at NTCD events can bring life to the program, and get more people interested. You don’t need a player to sign 500 autographs, but if he hands out 500 cards, poses for a few photos, and you have lotteries for autographed memorabilia, you capture the attention of the audience.

You also need to get the product where the kids are, such as little league opening days, or other large gathering events. Have giveaways, a small kiosk with items for sale, information on local stores (retail and hobby), and demo items such as high-end insert cards that can appeal to the parents.


I have been collecting cards since I was about 5 in the early 90’s. The ammount of changes I have seen in cards in the past 20 years is absolutely amazing. My only comment is go back to the old ways with the players. When I pull an autograph or a relic card and its not a superstar its a little depressing. Its cool to get them but it almost feals like a waste when its just a common guy. With that said that said thanks for 20 yrs of awesome cards and changes or not I will keep on buying.


hello, just wanted to say i really like collecting rare cards, my idea is i think i t would be awesome to have a product that is strictly autographed cards, maybe 4 autographs no base maybe patchs for $125 or so…..i think i lot of people would eat it up :)


Kids , its all about the kids getting involved in Trading cards – We need more events like National Hockey Card Day to bring more exposure of cards to the youth of North America . National commercials would be a nice example during some of the premier sporting events .


I think you guys are already on bthe right track with working on eliminating redemptions from packs. Id love to see some of the rarer mem on cards like back in the day facemasks, shoes, helmets etc


id like to suggest making soccer cards for European players and worldwide. This way it would make soccer more recognizable to the US market, plus it would create awesome rookies for stars such as Messi, Beckham, Ronaldo, etc.

Also, having black and white cards would be cool too.

Hope to win the awesome Gale Sayers card!


I would like to see more collector’s reach out to the younger generation and open them up to the hobby. It seems like the hobby has become a older crowd. We need to come up with unique and innovative ideas to get kids more involved in sports cards. Maybe reach out to Boy’s and Girl’s clubs. Share all the knowledge that we have acquired through the years. Give away not just commons but game used and autographs. Watch a game with the younger generation and show them that player on a card or a signed item by him or her. If we don’t reach out to the next generation ours will be a dying hobby.


Thanks for the chance to win that sick, sick card first of all. And all of my ideas are to help the hobby and help Upper Deck :)

But I think what needs to happen is the emphasis must be improved on getting kids into the hobby. They are the future. We all know no matter the product, us long time collectors are going to collect. But the kids, we really need something to appeal to them.

When I was younger and first getting into the hobby. Products like Collectors Choice should be brought back. And maybe a few of the base Fleer brands. Collectors Choice was very kid friendly. It caught my attention with its glitter (MVP’s, Crash the Playoffs-which in its self was a great program) its photography and just the overall kid appeal and the price was perfect. Some of the Fleer Brands brought that as well. Fleer Tradition and Fleer Platinum. But mostly I would emphasis on the Collectors Choice. For younger collectors, its not always about the jersey cards and autograph cards and sometimes that kind of stuff makes it too complicated and they lose interest.They will toss all other cards aside if its not special. I think we need to bring back a basic 90’s brand. Thats something no card company has. One that doesn’t have all of that kind of stuff. Keep the kids collecting and they can afford it as well.

2nd item, I think you guys should do a wrapper program like Topps does. We all know how much most of us hate Topps and their customer service. But a lot of collectors buy Topps for that program. Why not pick up that program for yourselves with your products and great customer service. If you guys have us mail in a certain amount of wrappers from hobby or retail (maybe up the retail amount, but give the same reward in return whether that be a pack of cards or a pack of special cards that has randomly inserted stuff. Topps doesn’t do anything for retail purchases from my research. You could be another up on them. And it could help recycling as well)

3rd, You guys need your licenses back!!! But great job with the NCAA and NHL products!

4th, put those fillers in there with the 10% off UD store. That will help your sales there and get rid of those bland white fillers.

5th, to go back on the kids collecting. Another thing you guys don’t have is a sticker collection. Great idea!! Put your NHL and NCAA licenses into sticker cards!!

6th, this one is for me! Bring back holograms. Holograms of players faces in base cards were terrific!! I absolutely loved the 96 and 97 base cards for Spx football and baseball. We need that. Base cards are so boring. We need to bring excitement back to it!!! Make collectors want to put a base set together.

7th, is a compliment. Great job with fan interaction with Volunteer Alliance, Hockey Card day, and tons of giveaways on the Facebook Page. And for being the only Facebook page that answers fans questions.

These are some ideas I have. I hope you guys do not select me, you at least select a few of my ideas. Thank you for letting the collectors voice!!!


I think if you were able to do direct promotions at sporting events, on all levels, that could really go a long way. Especially with the younger generation. Place a card in their hand, or a pack. Give them something tangible to remember, and maybe they’ll look for the product in a store or visit a hobby shop.


Dear Friends at Upper Deck,

I think there is a good way to make the hobby better.

The first way to make the hobby better is to offer an economical friendly option for the young kids to allow them to purchase sports cards to become more involved in the hobby.

The 2nd option to make the hobby better is to offer more sports cards and memorabilia of a wide variety of sports such as world wide athletes who participate in the Olympics.

The 3rd idea to improve the hobby is to integrate sports cards/memoribila with video games. Create a collectible “video game” sports card that is playable in popular video games systems. The “cards” could show highlights of the given player.


Love upper decks products (especially college) i think that ud should include some full size memoribilia redemptions in the college products. I would be pumped if i pulled a ud authentic cam newton autographed full size football even more than pulling an autographed card. I love being able to display my collectibles and what better way than pull some of them from packs! Keep up the good work ud!


Other than that full jersey redemptions, redemptions to meet player and go to a game. More competition for sports so collectors can have options on what auto they want of that player, Sets they are going to want. Redemptions for a create your own card with a certain amount of autos available. And not just picking your autograph also designing the card for instance have an online card maker so if you want it die-cut or base style whatever. Think if these are made one of one they are not multi-different color one of ones sitting around the market they are actual one of a kind someones creation. I can go all day but i will leave it at that.


Minimize the parallels of jersey and or auto cards. As an example, if I pull an Ovechkin jersey/auto /75. I don’t want there to also be a /50 & /25 & /10 & /5 of the exact same card even if the swatch is better as the numbering goes down. Keep up the great work UD!!!


get better photographers-have more deals set up to get pictures from other sources-


How about sports coins like they did back in the day except to make them a success by short printing some, making some with silver or gold, different color variations and of course pieces of game used memorabilia on some of the coins. This would interest not only sports fans but coin collectors as well.


Since hockey isn’t as big in the US as in Canada, how about a National Football or Basketball giveaway day. Or even a National trading card day with a mixture of all sports?


Continue to strive to produce products with no redemptions and more (or all) on card autographs. Build in longer production times so products are not delayed. Continue your excellent support of Hobby Stores.


I remember back in the day when you brought out the Master Collection sets. I think a redemption card for your favorite team in each sport, spread out through your various products for a complete master set produced that year. Example, say you like Green Bay. If you got the Master Set Redemption, it would be redemable for a set that would include a special 1/1 of every Green Bay card prduced the following year (minus of course the standard 1/1’s in each product). You could do it with each sport. The individual would decide what team he wanted in that sport. It would give a chance for someone who liked a less collected team to build a unique one of a kind personal collection. And I think it would be the most sought after redemption ever produced by any company! And could actually reviatalize the industry. You could even offer 3-4 redemptions per sport inserted in the various products for each sport. Think of the pack busting that would go on for the chance to get one of those redemptions!


I would love to see a redemption trade type system on the Upper Deck website for people with unclaimed redemption. This would be a great place to showcase and have the opportunity/possibility to trade with other collectors with unclaimed redemptions who would want a different player/item. I am not sure how to regulate this but I think this would generate a lot of interest and use!


Randomly inserted “Golden Ticket” awarding tickets to big sporting events. I.E. NCAA Tourney, Super Bowl or World Series. Also, meet and greets with UD athletes.


The video evolution cards are a fantastic idea, but how about expand on those a little. Make a few parallels of them, with some of them autographed, and after they are signed, add that portion to the video at the end. As a collector, seeing the reactions of the athletes when they pull their own cards are quite cool. Even better if it was a video card of themselves. Have them, sign it, and then make the parallel of that. Do it as a 1/1, and have them use a silver or gold metal pen, as those look fantastic on cards.


I think what fans want most of all is to get rid of redemptions. I know sometimes it’s hard to track down athletes and stars for autograph signings but fans hate getting redemption cards for autographs that sometimes take years to fulfill. Also bring back VS System….lol


GREAT feedback fans! Thank you to everyone who contributed. Our teams are reviewing this feedback and we are going to see what we can do with regard to incorporating some of this feedback into new products and programs.

Congratulations to Thomas Young for being selected to receive the Gale Sayers card. The “In the Community” set is really interesting, thanks for sharing!


Hello Upper Deck, I have an easy suggestion. Update older sets you have released with autographed buyback versions. I know you made Dream Team sets in the past but NEVER had a Dream Team Jordan Autograph/Jersey set. If you can put this as the hit in one of your products, I guarantee it will sell and be an epic card to any Jordan collector.

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