Archive for March, 2013
Upper Deck has long been thought of as the “Collector’s Choice,” but a major focus for UD in the last few years has been to become the “Military’s Choice” when it comes to trading cards. Being that Upper Deck is based in San Diego, adjacent to a variety of military instillations, our leadership believes it is important to do everything we can to show appreciation for the men and women who serve and defend the U.S.A. Whether it be through donations to organizations like Operation Gratitude or just by sharing military themed packs at local parades, Upper Deck is dedicated to be the trading card company that best supports our troops.
And as we engage more and more military fans, we come to find how meaningful trading cards can be to those who serve. For those who serve, trading cards can be a distraction, an activity to help families grow closer or an investment. Trading cards can trigger memories of great sports moments and provide our troops with a meaningful piece of home while they serve on the other side of the world. Upper Deck trading cards have been all these things to Mark Wardlow of Farmington, Missouri. Mark served three tours of duty with the U.S. Army in Iraq and as an organization we would like to thank him for his service. Here is his story:
“I recently started collecting again now that I have the free time to do so. One of the main things that I enjoy about collecting cards is all the stories I have tied to so many of my collectibles. Almost every card has a story and ties to a nice memory so while values on trading cards are always fun to check out, there is a sentimental attachment to many of the cards you can’t really put a value on. I still remember the first cards I ever purchased. While they may not be very valuable to most collectors, they are almost priceless to me.
“While deployed I found there are a lot of people in the service who love collecting sports cards. We would talk for hours over there about our favorite cards, players and sports. It was fun discussing the cards we had and the cards we wish we had. It was also a bit nerve racking for some hoping their families were taking good care of their collections while they were away.
“Beyond the sentimental value, I really appreciate the overall beauty and appeal of the cards. Still to this date, my favorite cards Upper Deck put out were the Diamond Vision cards from the late ‘90’s where the players actually moved across the thick lenticular cards. The Michael Jordan cards from that set are my favorite with Shaquille O’Neal running a close second.
“I also think the UD Black cards are very appealing to the eye. They are just beautiful and I was very excited when I pulled a gold autograph of Jerryd Bayless and D.J. Augustin limited to just five copies and a Richard Jefferson autograph limited to just 25 copies. My best basketball pull of all-time would be from SP Game-Used Basketball where I scored a Jordan/LeBron/Magic triple memorabilia card numbered to 25.
“I collect a bit of everything from all the sports. I love some of my UD Marion Barber autograph and memorabilia cards and my all-time favorite is the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card. I have two right now, but wouldn’t mind picking up more, they are an all-time classic!
“While I was deployed in Iraq you have a lot of time where you are just alone with your thoughts. Thinking back on the fun I had while collecting was a really nice escape as different events from recent pulls to collecting while I was a kid passed through my head. Visiting my local card shop and getting grab bags the hobby shop owner put together along with my mom were some of my best memories for sure.
“If you are in any branch of the service, I would highly recommend you get involved in collecting Upper Deck cards. Not only will you enjoy the hobby as you collect, but it is really cool to have a nice legacy of awesome collectibles to pass on to your children or loved ones some day. It is a hobby you can also enjoy with your kids.
“Nothing can erase the great memories you make while collecting cards. Making good memories is something I don’t take for granted these days. Something the service has taught me is that life is short so it is important to make lasting memories while you can. I’m appreciative to have a great wife who understands my passion for the hobby. I’ve got a whole room in our home dedicated to my collection which is pretty awesome. I am very blessed to have found a partner who is supportive of the hobby, now if I can just get her collecting…
“Thanks to Upper Deck for allowing me to share my love for the industry and I hope you continue to keep making great cards for all my favorite sports!”
Upper Deck came into the 2013 Las Vegas Industry Summit with some big news to share with the industry. It was also a great time for the company to thank Certified Diamond Dealers who represent Upper Deck’s products in their shops for all their hard work. Being able to spend time and share ideas with these industry influencers was very important for the Upper Deck team. We returned to headquarters excited to help succeed by delivering collectors great products with huge value.
The show began on Sunday and Upper Deck had an impressive booth at the front of the show floor with a bevy of cool items on display like a complete set of the 2012 Upper Deck Football Mascot Patches, a complete set of the 2012 Goodwin Champions Animal Kingdom Patch cards, a selection of the “Wild West Museum Collection” artifacts that will be found in 2013 Goodwin Champions and autograph gloves, a draft hat and puck from Edmonton Oilers top draft pick for this season; Nail Yakupov. Also on display was an impressive collection of Upper Deck Authenticated memorabilia.
Upper Deck had Jeff Mullen, the CEO of Dynamics Inc. on hand to talk about the company’s new credit card platform and Upper Deck rewards functionality. Many retailers shared they had already signed up and had enjoyed using the ePlate technology. And the first 150 shops who signed up to attend the show received a three-card set of special Upper Deck Infinite cards featuring Tiger Woods, LeBron James and Robert Griffin III which have been performing well in the secondary market.
Sunday was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and colleagues at the show and one of Upper Deck’s Authorized Distributors, Sports Images, hosted a welcome reception that evening that was a lot of fun.
Come Monday it was time to get down to business for Upper Deck with a busy day of activities. First up was Upper Deck’s Expired Redemption Raffle which went smoothly. And then it was off to a meeting with the top hockey retailers about the Double Rookie Class coming next season to the NHL. Upper Deck has already begun promoting the NHL Double Rookie Class and has created a variety of assets for shops like bags, posters and clings they will be receiving in the coming weeks to help create awareness for this special event. It was great to get ideas from these top retailers on how we can make the most of this unique opportunity and create awareness for it.
That afternoon was Upper Deck’s opportunity to present to 200+ Certified Diamond Dealers at the show and share a few very important messages. The first thing Mike Phillips shared was that Upper Deck is not going anywhere. The company has solid ownership and a strong executive team looking to take Upper Deck to new heights in the years to come.
Next up came my opportunity to shine a light on a dealer and recognize him “For tireless efforts in engaging customers with interactive programs and improving the hobby for future generations,” by honoring one of them with the Steve James Award. Steve was a retailer who ran The Bullpen and unfortunately passed away. He was incredibly progressive with regard to engaging his customers with fun in-store events so we wanted to keep him memory alive with the award. This year we recognized Mike Fruitman with the honor of Mike’s Stadium Sports Cards.
Mike really idolized Steve James and shared a story with the massive audience about how he used to chase Steve down at this annual show for advice and pointers on how to run a great shop. Upper Deck selected Mike predominantly based on how much fun his customers say visiting his shop is. Mike also really came up with an out of the box idea to attract interest in his shop and the industry by purchasing the Balloon Boy saucer and having it on display in his shop for some time. What really touched us though was learning that when Mike heard about the Hurricane Sandy disaster he went to Costco on his own and purchased supplies for retailers out there to help them weather the storm. Those who know him in the industry know he is very deserving of this award and Steve would be happy to know he received it.
At that point in the program Upper Deck’s Grant Sandground got into the nuts and bolts of the company’s new releases for the remainder of the year. And there were plenty of moments where retailers where blown away by what Upper Deck had in store for their shops and collectors. Here is just a snapshot:
2012-13 NHL Fleer Retro – With six autographs and four ‘90’s inserts in every box, shop owners definitely saw the value of this newly established brand.
2012-13 NHL SP Authentic – Shop owners seemed to like the new “Authentic Moments” cards autographed in gold paint pen. Also the enhanced content with 100 Upper Deck Update cards being found in packs to help collectors finish off their Series One set and the SPx bonus packs found in every third box on average with an autograph card in every pack.
2013-14 NHL Trilogy (NEW!) – Upper Deck will be kicking off the season with a high-end trading card release with the return of Trilogy Hockey in July! Inside each box will be three mini-boxes which house three packs. Each mini-box will include two autograph cards and a memorabilia or new UD Crystal card. New technology cards like UD Signature Pucks will debut here. A new rookie card structure will be present as well. UD will only feature the top 33 rookies and each will have three different autograph rookie cards numbered to 699, 399 and 49. Shop owners were fired up about this new product.
2013-14 NHL O-Pee-Chee – This hobby staple will return with more great content and polarizing designs. In particular the Retro variation seemed to have dealers talking along with the Black Bordered Marquee Rookies.
UD made a variety of big announcements here, but we will share details on many of those later. Here are some things shops and collectors can expect in the immediate future:
2013 Upper Deck Football – UD has scored autograph deals with all the top draft picks and has been working to get as many as possible to sign a variety of autograph content for this set including hard-signed Letterman and Ultimate Collection rookie cards.
2013 SPx Football – The product is totally revamped with every pack yielding some type of compelling insert, collectors are going to love this product. It is loaded with the top rookie talent for the season and will boast three autograph cards and one memorabilia card in every box on average. It will be a pack opening experience like you’ve never had with SPx so get ready for a lot of thrills once that foil starts to fly!
2013 Upper Deck Notre Dame Football – The Domer fans have been so excited to see what Upper Deck will bring to the table with this release! Tuesday at the show Upper Deck brought in former Notre Dame superstar Raghib Ismail to sign autograph blow-up cards from the Notre Dame set for fans in attendance. He also posed for a picture and everyone was blown away by how personable and down to earth “Rocket” was.
2013 All-Time Greats Basketball – We are getting very close to the release of this highly anticipated set that will feature autographs from a variety of new signers this season like Dennis Rodman, Jason Kidd, Allen Iverson, Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Isiah Thomas and Reggie Miller.
2012-13 SP Authentic Basketball – Given the fact UD has produced less basketball products than in recent years, there is a huge demand for exclusive signers like LeBron James and Michael Jordan. UD is careful with how much of their autograph content we put in the market, but a product like SP Authentic Basketball will definitely be a great release to try to pull cards of those two superstars along with big names like Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Julius Erving, Allen Iverson, Reggie Miller, Karl Malone, Grant Hill and Chris Paul.
Michael Jordan UNC Master Collection – Perhaps the biggest news of the show was that Upper Deck would be bringing back the Master Collection sets with enhanced content around legendary spokesman Michael Jordan. With four autographs in every set and tons of unique chase, it is a set sure to excite hardcore collectors.
2013 Goodwin Champions – Collectors love hard-signed autograph cards and Goodwin Champions sure delivers there with a tentative checklist of new top-notch signers like Tony Hawk, Mario Andretti, Dan Fouts, Oscar de la Hoya, Allen Iverson, Reggie Jackson, Bam Margera, Mark McGwire, Rory McIlroy, Joe Namath, Danica Patrick, Mats Sundin, Bart Starr and many more! Of course there will be a variety of interesting and unique content like “Art of the Ages” hand painted cards and “The Elements” booklet relics for example.
2013 SP Authentic Golf – Coming this summer is for sure one of the most anticipated releases of the year with Rory McIlory’s first-ever rookie golf card. Rory’s rookie card in the set will be hard-signed and numbered to just 299 copies. With three signature cards in every box it should be a really fun break for golf fanatics.
By far the biggest news of the day, and perhaps the entire conference was that Upper Deck was back in the baseball business. As many found out this week, UD has secured a deal with the MLBPA to produce two new sets for this season. At the Las Vegas Industry Summit, those in attendance were excited to see Upper Deck’s innovative trading card concepts would return to the baseball market.
2013 Fleer Retro Baseball – The brand has established itself as one that delivers strong value for collectors so Upper Deck will expand it to baseball. With six autographs in each box and a strong assortment of beloved Fleer inserts mixed in as well, it should be a home-run for hobby shop owners and collectors when it hits this summer.
The meeting concluded where some lucky fans got to get a taste of Upper Deck’s return to baseball as the company created a special thank you pack for retailers in attendance. Inserted randomly into some of these packs was a Mike Trout Fleer Precious Metal Gems promotional card. Every pack held an autograph card from top UD athletes and shops in attendance sure seemed excited as they cracked them open!
Tuesday at the show Upper Deck brought in legendary slugger Frank Thomas to sign Fleer Retro blow-up cards and take a photo with attendees celebrating Upper Deck’s return to baseball. Michelle Steele of ESPN’s Mint Condition grabbed interviews with Raghib Ismail, Frank Thomas and me to talk about the exciting events of the day for future episodes.
Another big event Tuesday was the annual NHL lunch where Upper Deck was able to share how the National Hockey Card Day event continues to help grow the trading card market through meaningful sampling at hobby shops. Upper Deck also unveiled plans to help retailers promote the 2013-14 NHL Double Rookie Class by showing off the new logo the company created to appear on a variety of promotional signage.
Wednesday finished up the memorable event and I was privileged to be a part of the show’s new Tech Academy sessions designed to help retailers maximize their use of social media. It felt great to be able to share some ideas with these shop owners who are working to harness the power of these platforms to their advantage.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, if you are a shop owner this is an event you have to be at. Start saving now for the 2014 Las Vegas Industry Summit and do everything you can to be there for the next event. Not only will you walk away with great giveaways and tips for how to improve your business, you’ll leave with great memories and new friends as well.
Every year Upper Deck wows attendees at the Las Vegas Industry Summit with the company’s special gift packs for dealers who attend the company’s corporate address. This year was certainly no different as UD pulled out all the stops to make a memorable pack for attendees. In each of these black packs was at least one single signed autograph card, but there were also some packs with an additional Mike Trout Fleer Precious Metal Gems promotional card celebrating UD’s return to baseball (red, blue and green variations available in packs).
A full checklist of the autograph cards that could be found in packs is listed below:
|Bobby Clarke||#d to 30|
|Bobby Hull||#d to 30|
|Bobby Orr||#d to 30|
|Doug Martin||#d to 30|
|Steven Stamkos||#d to 30|
|LeBron James||#d to 23|
|Alexander Ovechkin||#d to 21|
|Landon Donovan||#d to 20|
|Vince Carter||#d to 20|
|Hulk Hogan||#d to 17|
|Mike Tyson||#d to 10|
|Tim Tebow||#d to 10|
|Michael Jordan||#d to 5|
|Wayne Gretzky||#d to 5|
|Joe Namath||#d to 4|
|Tiger Woods||#d to 2|
|Joe Namath/Roger Staubach/Dan Marino/Joe Theismann||#d to 2|
|Wayne Gretzky/LeBron James/Michael Jordan/Tiger Woods||#d to 1|
And check out these videos of retailers opening the packs and reveling in what they find:
You’re probably thinking, “That’s great, but how can I get one of those packs?” This show was all about helping hobby shops grow and thrive. If you’d like a chance to score one of these special black packs, we’d like to ask for your help in doing that. Just visit an Upper Deck Certified Diamond Dealer sometime between now and Tuesday, March 26 at 5:00 p.m. Take a picture at that shop holding an Upper Deck pack and email it to us at UpperDeckMarketing@upperdeck.com. Include just one sentence about why you love this particular shop and/or Upper Deck products. The customer who most skillfully shows they are enthusiastic about Upper Deck and that hobby shop will score a FREE 2013 Las Vegas Industry Summit black pack.
For those customers who do not have a shop nearby them, we will have another giveaway next week for another item from the show you can qualify for, but for these packs we want fans to get out and visit a shop this weekend.
When you think about the best college basketball programs in the country, you immediately think of North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky and UCLA. For the Bruins there have certainly been an abundance of alumni who went on to have amazing professional careers, but without a doubt one of the all-time greats was Reggie Miller.
At UCLA Reggie Miller put up a staggering amount of points during his four-year Bruin career (1984-87) ending his run as the school’s second leading all-time scorer right behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Miller went on to have huge successes in the pro ranks with the Indiana Pacers and was a standout member of the USA Olympic team winning gold in Atlanta, GA. On Wednesday, January 30, the Bruins took a moment to pay tribute to Reggie by retiring his jersey at Pauley Pavilion and staff from Upper Deck were on hand to capture some of those magical moments.
The next day we were able to do something with Reggie that no card manufacturer has been able to do in years; get him to sign some trading cards. That’s right, for the first time in a LONG time, Reggie Miller will not only be appearing in Upper Deck basketball products, but he will have SIGNED trading cards included as well. Being able to score authentic autographs of this all-time great is a real source of pride for Upper Deck as we continue to deliver fans the most collectible athletes in the game. Look for the first Reggie Miller autograph cards in 2012-13 All-Time Greats Basketball releasing on in April, 2013.
I collected cards as a kid and spent hours with them all sprawled out on the floor, yelling at anyone who dared walk into the living room. I look back fondly on those times where I organized, sorted and even priced cards in my collection. Collecting taught me a lot and it was a fun way for me to get closer to my dad and the sports he loved.
In my time working with Upper Deck it has been great to see the role that trading cards have with parents and their children coming closer together. At Upper Deck we try to interact a lot with our fans and through that we became aware of how Autistic kids and children who have Asperger’s Syndrome enjoy collecting as it takes them to “their happy place.” I thought that was really cool and wondered if trading cards could help any other special needs kids, but didn’t actively research anything as I became busy with normal job duties.
And then came National Hockey Card Day which is a day in particular where Upper Deck encourages families to collect together as we provide free hockey packs to fans throughout the U.S. and Canada. We asked fans to share images of their adventures during the festive day and one photo stood out to me in particular that just kind of warmed my heart. I reached out to the mother of this collector to see if we could put together a care package together for him and she happily agreed. We began some back and forth dialogue and I found out more about her son Brandon and his fledgling collection.
Here is what his mother shared:
“I am using the cards to teach him the players, putting names to faces and their numbers. So far he likes to flip through the pages and stare at each card like he’s taking in all the detail. He will say the players he knows (Quick and Kopitar) like he was at the game. I use things like that to help him remember. Quick because we have the empty Quick Championship milk bottles so I show him Quick on the bottle and then Quick on the card where he’s holding the cup in the air.
“It’s the hands on with the visual and verbal that gets his brain ticking. Once he saw the Stanley Cup in person and was able to touch it, that’s when he really started paying attention to the sport. These cards are another piece in the NHL puzzle for my son. It helps him bring it all together.”
And then we heard about another collector with Down syndrome.
“Shannon’s brother Brian was a long time collector and Shannon started when she was about 8-years-old. Since she grew up in Anaheim it naturally made sense she began collecting trading cards of Angels players. When she was in elementary school she would always take her baseball cards when it was her turn to at show & tell. She also went to card shows and got autographs of several players.
“This hobby helped her interact with others. Her brother took her to see the Angels when they were in the World Series with the Giants. She was really jazzed when they won. At 28 she still likes to go see softball and baseball at her former high school and may go to an Angels game once in awhile. Today she is more into her acting as a career, but she still has her cards and other baseball memorabilia with fond memories of them.”
Today, Thursday, March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day. It is a day to raise awareness about Down syndrome and celebrate how special many of those are who have it. Most everyone knows a family who has someone in it with Down syndrome. We encourage you to share some trading cards with them. The results may surprise you, but more than anything you may find it to be another bridge to help them relate to sports, the world and you!
If you have any stories as to how trading cards have helped someone you know who has Down syndrome, we would love to hear your story!