I was somewhat interested in UD’s baseball Icons release. I saw a lot to like — small (100) base set, the option to totally disregard the numbered, short-printed rookie set, and design that hearkened back to 2005-era UD designs. There’s also plenty to dislike, such as the ridiculous hobby price point ($80-ish; 10 packs/6 cards per pack) and ridiculous lettermen checklists (Jeremy Piven? Seriously?).
After seeing a blaster review over at Crackin’ Wax, I get the feeling that UD is beyond mailing 2009 in. There’s absolutely nothing redeeming about any 2009 UD release to date. Boring design — turns out the 2005-era references are pretty mild — and more of the seemingly ubiquitous printing defects guarantees Icons is DOA before it reaches wide distribution.
Furthermore, what’s up with the box configurations? Hobby ($80-90) and retail ($20) both have 10 pack/six cards per pack configurations? While I can appreciate making the retail configuration more attractive, doesn’t this pretty much eliminate the need to buy a hobby box — unless of course you absolutely NEED that Jeremy Piven letterman?
UD had a great mid-summer product in 2008′s Baseball Heroes. They didn’t bother this year. While I haven’t seen any Icons in person, this looks like a complete dud of a mid-summer product. And while I imagine they’re putting most of their eggs in the Goodwin Champions basket, I have to wonder — are they going to eliminate the hobby box incentive there too? Comparing it to last year’s Masterpices, the retail and hobby configurations were different enough. But aside from the ridiculously-seeded short prints, there wasn’t any incentive to waste money on a hobby box when a blaster would result in far more productive experience for set-builders.
I don’t mean to go off on a Goodwin tangent — but for as much as I’m looking forward to that release, the effort UD put into Icons concerns me. I get the feeling that UD has a chance to finally make a statement in 2009, and they could very well fail again. We’ll see in September, but given their track record so far this year, is anyone expecting anything different from Upper Deck?
Topps has been absolutely killing it, so to speak, with their releases this year. And with Allen & Ginter overshadowing a mediocre Icons, will the much-ballyhooed Goodwin Champions pull enough attention away from Chrome and Ticket to Stardom?