Upper Deck announced that Lebron James will be making an appearance in one of their highly anticipated card releases. Not a big deal, right? Well, as we have all talked about ad nausea, Upper Deck doesn't possess a license to print the product that would feature King James. They hold no authority to offer a card of his likeness sporting an NBA franchise, let alone an autographed one. So how are they going to pull this off? It's going in The Cup!! (check out the pack out photos over on the Upper Deck blog, some are great, some not so much).
When I first read about this a month or so ago on another "cards off the grid" kind of site, I was confused, baffled, a little tired, kind of hungry, but mostly confused. Of course The Cup isn't the first product to mix sports in the same release. It has been done, time and time again. But for a premium product like the Cup to inter-twine what I would consider a "novelty" amongst $300-400 per pack/boxes? This just seems crazy to me. It's not just Lebron either. They have Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, too since they are exclusive autograph signers for Upper Deck. Now I may be blowing this a bit out of proportion since I have yet to see a checklist and don't know if these are the only three non-hockey subjects but to me, this is a feeble attempt at keeping it known to the collecting public that they have the power to issue any release at any time and shove their exclusivity licenses down our throats. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
Despite it's hefty price/card, The Cup is arguably one of the most anticipated sets for the hockey collector's each year. I however, have been unimpressed by The Cup as a whole and have never bought into the hype. Admittedly, the price tag is what scares me. I don't care if all the cards are numbered under 100. I don't care that each has a signature or swatch/patch on it (or both). I don't care if there is some infused DNA strand embedded in the card that someday can be extracted and used to clone super-athletes that will take over the world (What? That could happen). To me, I'm about getting the most bang for my buck and getting something that I think will fit in my collection somehow without having to dip into my retirement fund to obtain. I have to be this way, with a wife and two kids and countless other ventures that exhaust me both mentally and financially. In my entire collection, I possess three cards out of The Cup sets. 3! And they are all base cards I ended up with through trades or bulk purchases.
Premium products like The Cup price many of the "everyday Joe" collector's like me right out of their products because there is really no perceived intrinsic value in participating in a futile practice of obtaining 5-8 cards at $75-100 a piece. Of course, this is one person's opinion and I can see how you can easily find reasons to disagree with me. And you probably should.
(obviously an older image from a few years ago, from my.hockeybuzz.com)