2009 Upper Deck Philadelphia Football Review

Hey Guys.  Remember football?  It seems like only yesterday I was watching it….

This review and the upcoming, corresponding box break video were done a while back (before the new year).  Yeah, the product has been out for a long time at this point, but if nothing else this is giving us more practice to give you better box break videos and reviews.  Read on, won’t you?  Oh, you won’t?  Then see you next time!

Main Set
The 400 card regular set is the most enigmatic aspect of the release for slap-you-in-the-face obvious reasons and for sneak-up-behind-you-and-flick-your-ears reasons. The big slap is that there are 200 main cards and 200 short prints that one would need to complete the set. As soon as you shake that off, let me hit you with a couple of subsequent slaps. You only get about 15 SPs in a 20 pack box (which would be an amazing ratio if the total you’re looking for weren’t so high). Oh, and of those 200 short prints, 51 cards are completely non-sport related.

Comprising the 51 non-sports SPs are: The Story of Obama (25), Woodstock (5), Vietnam (10), and The Election Years (11). For the record, the other SPs include 75 rookies, 25 retired players and 49 NFL Stars in Action.

Now, I understand that including non-sports cards in a retro product is en vogue right now, but Upper Deck should have realized that most collectors are probably “Never Gonna Get [A Complete Set]” because who gives a crap about some of these cards? I’m actually in favor of non-sports cards to a limited extent, but this is pure overkill. 25 Obama cards? I get that his picture seems to be mandatory in just about every set manufactured this year, but this subset plays out like a pack of Knight Rider cards. The only thing it’s missing is the phrase “the story continues on card #___.” The Stars in Action subset is simply redundant and can’t really be seen as anything more than filler. The main cards have the players in action shots, so all it’s doing is creating a harder to find regular card (granted with no identifying info on the front) for player collectors to hunt.

Here’s a perfect example of the ridiculousness. In the two boxes we busted, we pulled two different cards featuring politician Henry Cabot Lodge. One of those was an insert (more on that to come) and the other was an Election Years card. If you’re going to flood my sets with cards, make them A) easier to pull, B) not part of the master set or C) make them of subjects we might actually want to see on cardboard. History in my wax is fine, but I don’t need to know about VP races or who ran against whom for various nominations 40-50 years ago. That is what books are for and these annoying cards are not making me want to look at those.

All of this could go away with a very simple fix. Hit the major historical points in a 5-10 card subset (including Obama, if you have to), scale back the filler and you have a much better 300 card set with 100 SPs max (which is still too many, but it’s progress).

This should be the extent of the non-sport SPs. (clockwise from top left) Exciting action shot of the Prez at work, exciting action shot of people either getting high or coming down while pretending they can see the stage, LBJ and the aforementioned Cabot Lodge, an actually exciting action shot of Vietnam.

On to the ear flicks. If you’re a player collector, then these won’t matter to you. If you’re a set collector, this set features a couple of quirks that I could have done without. The cards are organized and numbered alphabetically by team – for the most part. The exception comes in off-season trades. I noticed that Jay Cutler’s card says Chicago on front and back and features the Bears’ logo, but the card number is in the Denver block. Same for Kyle Orton. If you’re organizing and numbering these cards specifically to match up with their team, and you obviously had to change the card to accommodate the trade, why can’t you also change the card number? It makes no sense.

Check out this block of cards for the other minor gripe.

A Red Sea of jerseys surrounded by the other Froot Loops colors.

I’m not very familiar with the original Philadelphia sets so maybe this is UD being faithful, but I think it would have been nicer to see the text and fill color match the team colors instead of this rotating randomness. Switch it up if you’d like, but it can’t be too hard to keep it within the 3-4 colors for each club.

Alright. That’s out of my system. How about a little praise? I really love the look of this set. The design certainly has that vintage look to it, but toss some gloss on these bad boys and they would still play well as a modern minimalistic design. The card backs don’t have any stats to speak of, but that’s okay. Including a factoid and a trivia question instead allows Philadelphia to stand out in a positive way. The card stock is pretty thin, but remains sturdy. And of course, like all vintage sets, these would be great for in person or through-the-mail autographs.

You would think that the white borders around the cards would leave the set vulnerable to centering issues, but I don’t see any problems whatsoever with any of the cards that came out of our two boxes. The only issue I really found with sizes are in the game used cards. The heights of those cards do vary.

The photography in the set is crisp and does a great job of featuring only the named player. This unfortunately means that some of the action shots aren’t the most exciting moments ever captured. The NFL Stars in Action subset tries to correct this, but instead pulls out a little too far leaving a lot of empty space so as to incorporate a full body shot. (Hmmm…thought I was done complaining….)

This is where collectors get the tiniest of breathers. There’s only one insert set, National Chicle. “That’s not so bad,” you say. Well…but that insert set is 100 cards long and guess what. “What?” It’s full of non-sports cards, too! “Muther—!“ In fact, it’s half and half players and other. The set looks nice. I enjoy the solid backgrounds and the MS Paint adjusted pictures. And who wouldn’t like square mini cards? But as I said in the main set, this needs to be consolidated. I don’t need a “Blue Train” insert or 49 others like it. Throw a couple in with the players if you like, but reduce the number by half and we’ll talk.

Now do this 49 more times!


Before I get to the autographs and jerseys, I’m going to warn any of you buying individual packs. Pack searchers are going to have a field day with this one. Not only are the fabric cards various sizes and often slightly shorter than the rest of the pack, but we were lucky enough to pull a buyback in one of our boxes (something of a case hit, 2-3 per case) and it came out of the pack already in a sleeve. You can’t tell me that “The Deck” has a decoy for that.
The good news is that the buyback is in amazing condition and UD doesn’t stamp them. The sleeve also contains a congratulations card. If you get a decent enough player, you can easily sell/trade it as if you’ve had it for 40 years. I can’t say if all buybacks will look as nice as this one, but it is encouraging and hopefully means that they weren’t just buying any ol’ cards.

The Philadelphia Signatures and Philadelphia Fabrics both integrate very well into the overall look and design of the product. The signatures are on-card, which needless to say is a plus. The Fabrics are all located in the bottom left-hand corner in a cut out “P” shape. It’s not so obtrusive to draw attention away from the rest of the card, but stands out enough to remind you of what it is.

Bringing the hits. One of these is a Super Bowl MVP

This is a product designed to attract vintage collectors and set collectors alike. Vintage player or team collectors can’t go wrong, but any type of set collector might get a little too annoyed tracking down all those random short prints. Out of our two boxes, we were able to assemble the full 200 non-SP set with plenty of doubles to spare, so if you’re the type that cares not for SPs, the set will be very easy to put together.

There was a lot of complaining in this review, but they virtually all stem from the set collector’s perspective. The visual side of the product is solid and something that’s at least worth exploring if any of the pictures catch your fancy. The hits are a nice surprise as well, pulling three quality cards out of a 20 pack box, including one on-card auto. Not too shabby for around $50.

Design – ****
Set Collecting – **
Inserts – *
Hits – ****
Overall – *** out of 5

4 comments to 2009 Upper Deck Philadelphia Football Review

  • IF, and that’s a strong “if” I was one of those larger set collectors (I still to small oddball sets), I would be in love with this set for some of the reasons you dislike it. I LOVE the non-sports stuff. It reminds me of a lot of sets from the 50s and 60s that were a mish-mash of history/current events/sports.

    • Wombat, I’ve got some Post cards from the late 80s with your name on them!

      Like Jon, I think the non-sport stuff is getting a bit overdone. I wouldn’t mind so much except that I’m such a completist- if it’s part of the set I’m collecting, I’ve got to have it! So I can’t just send those hamburger and Ferris wheel cards to someone who appreciates them. It’s my burden to bear as it were.

  • Oddly enough, I prefer the real photo postcards from 1905-1940. My dad used to be one of the largest vintage postcard dealers on the east coast during the 80s, hehe. I understand where you’re coming from, I do. I guess people are attracted to the weird in their sets these days, though? The stuff sells. Oddly enough, the ones that don’t pan out are the ones that don’t include the weird stuff – like Murad basketball.

  • […] and I had totally forgotten who we got! Here's the brief breakdown. in-depth review and pictures on the blog. 2 boxes 2009 Philadelphia hobby (40 packs total) Cabinets: Archie Manning, Jim Kelly (really […]

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