Upper Deck has produced a variety of football products over the years dedicated to the pro and college game and sometimes even focused on one program in particular. When 2014 Upper Deck Conference Greats Football arrives in stores however, it will mark the first time an entire football conference is the featured subject of a trading card release.
Through Upper Deck’s exclusive agreement with the Collegiate Licensing Company, the new Conference Greats Football set will “Wow” fans in the southeast and beyond with cool memorabilia cards, autograph cards and unique manufactured patch cards. Recently we were on hand to run quality testing and we were able to get some live images of the product. Take a look and get ready for a very special set featuring the stars of Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.
When 2014-15 NHL® Upper Deck Series One arrives in stores this November it will mark the fourth consecutive year the company includes special Day with the Cup insert cards showing champion players enjoying time with the Stanley Cup off the ice. And when the Los Angeles Kings or Anaheim Ducks win the Stanley Cup, sometimes we can convince our good friend Phil Pritchard, the Keeper of the Cup, to make the trip down to San Diego.
Today was a special day for Upper Deck employees and their families as they were afforded a very rare privilege of getting to spend a “Day with the Cup” as well. As the exclusive provider of licensed NHL® and NHLPA trading cards and as a sponsor of the Hockey Hall-of-Fame, it was a thrill for staff who put so much into making the world’s greatest hockey collectibles to get to see the world’s greatest trophy up close! It was truly a day to remember. It is only fitting we will be releasing 2013-14 NHL® The Cup next week!
Special thanks to our friends at the Hockey Hall-of-Fame and in particular Phil Pritchard for making it such a special day for the Upper Deck team. Here are some fun facts he shared with me about the Stanley Cup:
- It is 36” tall, weighs 35 pounds and contains a lifetime of memories.
- 70% of the names on the Cup have won it more than once.
- The Cup is celebrating its 121st birthday this year.
- Jean Bellieveau’s name appears on the Cup the most times (17).
- This summer along the Stanley Cup visited 7 countries (USA, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Russia).
- Going through customs with the Stanley Cup can be “interesting,” according to Phil Pritchard. “When you get a customs agent who is a hockey fan though, it’s a breeze!”
Once a year, gamers instinctively flock to Indianapolis for GenCon which is truly a Mecca for tens of thousands who make the pilgrimage. Gamers gathered at the Upper Deck booth on a Friday morning to participate in the Marvel Legendary™ 10K National Championship Tournament with hopes of winning the grand prize and taking home the Iron Man trophy.
We were fortunate enough to have participant Calvin Patten document the entire event from start to finish and we wanted to share the experience with Legendary™ fans who may wonder what it is like to compete in such an event.
“I Woke up and started the day just like any other big event day. Planned ahead, knowing that the tournament starts at 10:00 am. After breakfast I made my way back to the room to get a little prep work with the Villains set. So many things to take into account for the tournament. I have had my share of bigger events. Last year I had the chance to play in both of the Gen Cons 5K tournaments. I was able to make the top 10 the first one and top 25 the second one. This event is a little different as it is only (1) event and it is for $10,000. While coming in the top 5 would be great, I was really just looking to have fun as that much prize money brought out some serious gamers.”
“After looking over the table, the breakdown that they went with for the entire 10K was the following…
Dr. Strange: Commander Build an Underground Mega-Vault Prison: Plot Adversaries: Defenders, Avengers, Uncanny X-Men, Asgardian Warriors and S.H.I.E.L.D. Assault Squad. The Allies Deck: Venom, Sabretooth, Kingpin, Magneto, Juggernaut and Green Goblin.”
“The pairings go up and everyone is split into tables of 5. I was at a table with four other guys that have not played the game a whole lot, but had played many other Deck Building Games (DBGs). I decided to try a different strategy for this round that I had experimented with at home. I decided to use my recruit points to buy the “New Recruits” cards which will allow you to keep your deck small and get anywhere from 3-7 attack a turn. Playing in a giant tournament it can only take 1-2 victory points to win. So if you are using 3-7 attack a turn it is very possible to get enough points to win the game before it runs out. After taking into account those strategies I was able to get first place in game one and earn five points. I was able to walk around a bit and see many of the same people that played in last year’s event, and see how they were doing. Most of them won the first round and will look to keep that momentum going into the next 6 rounds.”
“They kept the same set up and decided to keep it all day long. The strategy I used in game one seemed to work well but it was a little too close for comfort. I decided to use a different strategy this round and use the recruit points to get additional points to buy the “New Recruits” faster. Looking at the people that we got to us, Kingpin did assist in the recruitment and attack of those cards. We had five people at our table and after the dust settled the new strategy did not do me well. I was able to squeak out a thirdplace finish this round so I am sitting at seven points total. Not a bad start, but would have loved to be sitting at 10 points at this time.”
“This time I decided to go back to the original strategy and see if I could right this ship. We did not even make it around the table four complete times and the game ended on turn 18. Good was able to clear the “Bindings” Stack quickly and we had the game over within eight minutes. I was not able to get out anything to kill so I ended this round in fifthplace for a total of zero points. Then we went to a showdown for third, fourth and fifth place, where each player still in it draws a new hand and then plays it out like normal, but you add the “Recruit Stars” and “Attack” on each card played. The play with the highest total gets next and so on. If there is another tie, then you showdown again with the remaining players. So after three rounds I am sitting at seven points still.
“Looking into this round I knew that it was only a matter of time that we would run into a table of 4 people. I was able to pull off a quick kill early on after drawing into the first position. That helped as the game only lasted 13 turns total. I was able to come in second that game with two VP. This was the second fastest game that I have seen or played this tournament. I was able to bring my total points up to 10. “
“This round did not start out well for me. I had horrible draws and I had to go last out of everyone. This is not a good place to be if you are fighting for your tournament life. On to round six as I got zero points for this round.”
“I needed to get in the top two every game from round five on to make the top 25. This game went quickly as the set up they used allowed the game to go very fast and not linger. I finally figured out that a five cost Juggernaut is very good when you are able to pull him off. I was able to win this round after going to a showdown and winning to bring home the final Dr. Strange Commander card.”
“The final round and the game lasted a total of 7 minutes. We hit every bad situation that we could and the bindings went away too quickly. We ended our game before most people made it around the table once. I came in fourthplace this time and overall it was not bad. “
“Looking back on the last seven rounds it was a fun way to spend 10 hours. The event was run really well and it seems like players and Upper Deck are getting more comfortable with these events. The judge staff worked very hard this year and did everything they could to keep the event running smoothly. The tournament finally got the Top Five cut. I decided to stick around for the final five finish where savvy players who performed well in previous tournaments assembled to do battle once again.”
“The final table all decided to split the prize money so that each player walked away with $1800.00. The trophy was a very cool Iron Man trophy and did light up as well. Over all the event went very smoothly and everyone had a blast. Thanks to Upper Deck for a fun event and I look forward to taking part in it again next year. See you in Indy! “
St. Louis Blues fans will notice something different about forward Jaden Schwartz this season. No, the young star hasn’t really made any changes with regard to his game, and at first glance, the change may not seem like a big deal, but to Jaden it most certainly is. In a touching, heartfelt tribute to his late sister (Mandi) Jaden Schwartz changed his number in the offseason to #17. It’s the same number Mandi wore when she played for the Yale University women’s hockey team.
A promising prospect for Canada’s national women’s hockey team, Mandi Schwartz passed away from acute myeloid leukemia in 2011. She was 23.
On opening night, in his first official NHL® game for the St. Louis Blues wearing #17, Schwartz scored a goal.
Last year Upper Deck created a special Heroic Inspirations game-worn jersey card of Mandi Schwartz that her charity (The Mandi Schwartz Foundation) is currently offering as a gift with donations. Upper Deck used additional patch pieces to create two other unique collectibles to share with the Schwartz family. Both were blow-up versions of her cards the company had framed. Her parents received a blow-up with the “Y” patch for Yale and her brother Jaden of course received a blow-up with the “17” patch. Since the family donated the jersey to Upper Deck, we just felt it was appropriate to do something special for them to help have a memorable keepsake from that jersey.
Recently Upper Deck was able to get an exclusive interview with Jaden to talk about the role Mandi played in his life and how her legacy lives on in with the Heroic Inspirations Upper Deck game-worn jersey card.
Q: When you think of having watched your sister in a #17 jersey, what comes to mind?
Jaden Schwartz: I watched Mandi play hockey her entire life and I always noticed how hard she worked and how dedicated she was. She always wanted to get better and improve, I really looked up to her. I’m extremely excited to wear number 17 for her, it will be emotional but a special moment for me and my family.
Q: What are your fondest memories of you and sister related to the sport of hockey?
Jaden Schwartz: My sister and I were really close so we spent lots of time playing numerous sports together, including hockey. Mostly, it was at the rink in Wilcox, Saskatchewan, but we also spent hours on the backyard pond at our house as well. Mandi loved being active, whether it was working out, spending time outdoors or spending time in the rink, she was always happy.
Q: If your sister ever helped you with your hockey game, be it in a technical or philosophical sense, what lessons or advice did she give you, or how did she help you?
Jaden Schwartz: Mandi always helped me whether she knew it or not. I always admired how focused and determined she was. She helped me in school when I needed it and she helped me in hockey, but I always learned from her by just watching and being around her.
Q: Can you describe the dynamic of relationship with your sister, and in what ways you were close with her outside of sharing the common interest of hockey? What other shared interests did you have?
Jaden Schwartz: Mandi and I always had the same interests and we spent lots of time together, along with our brother Rylan. Family was always very important to us so we were always close. Whether it was sports, school, vacation time or just relaxing most of the time we did it together.
Q: What would she think of these Heroic Inspiration cards of her, and how would she react if you were able to give her one of her own cards?
Jaden Schwartz: Mandi was always a humble, hard working person who earned all of her achievements and accomplishments. She wasn’t always the most talented, and maybe didnt have the most skill but she was always the most dedicated and always went the extra mile. Mandi would be all smiles and it would make her day if she was able to see one of her hockey cards.
Q: What was the significance of No. 17 to Mandi?
Jaden Schwartz: Mandi wore number 17 for a long time in hockey, including Notre Dame and Yale. When my brother Rylan and I were growing up we wore number 17. Mandi switched and decided to wear it as well because she was our biggest fan and wanted to be like us.
Q: How does it make you feel that her game-worn jersey card from Upper Deck outsells your game-worn jersey cards?
Jaden Schwartz: I am really happy that her card has been selling and people want to buy them because it’s for a great cause. The Mandi Schwartz Foundation has, and will continue to help families in need. Going through something that our family went through is the hardest thing that anyone could ever go through. I have learned so much about cancer awareness since Mandi got sick, and I hope to raise more awareness for other people.
When 2014-15 NHL® Upper Deck Series One releases on November 5, 2014, it will mark the 25th consecutive season of Young Guns rookie cards appearing in products. At Upper Deck, we think that is something worth celebrating so there will be some special 25th Anniversary content in packs of the 2014-15 NHL® Upper Deck Series One release, but some of the coolest items will be found at the 2014 Fall Sportcard & Collectibles Expo.
Twice a year Upper Deck attends this fan friendly show to spend time with die-hard NHL® collectors, some of whom travel all the way from Europe to attend the show. It is important for us to say, “Thank you,” to our collectors both personally and with great promotions and giveaways. And for our 25th Anniversary, you better believe we are going all out to provide some great programs for our fans!
There will be a variety of interactive elements and events that will make this show very special for attendees that we will be sharing soon. One component of the event that every collector gets excited about however is Upper Deck’s Priority Signings wrapper redemption autograph cards. Fans can bring select new boxes to Upper Deck’s booth that are purchased from authorized dealers at the show to get one random Priority Signings autograph card for FREE. This year the design is drastically different to years prior as we pay homage to the iconic 1990-91 NHL® Upper Deck Young Guns rookie design. What’s more, we also sourced for imagery of all the players from their rookie seasons where available giving the cards a very unique Young Guns-like feel to them. Take a look:
And for case breakers, there will be special black-bordered editions of these cards available of all the top NHL® stars and legends. None of these cards will be numbered higher than five copies.