2004 Upper Deck Vintage Review

It’s been our customary couple day lag between posts [unfortunately – this time I was shooting a new sketch for www.itsnotabook.com (follow us on twitter as well, because we need more followers, oh, and on facebook)], so you’ve had a chance to let your eyes adjust to the bright reflective surfaces of Ionix.  Almost all cards are up for trade, so let me know if you’re interested in anything, and I bet we can find a way to make a deal.

Same thing goes for these.  This was the last box I opened for the Community Break, but the second I’m featuring in written form.  Mostly, this is because it was a smaller box and I want to save Masterpieces for last.  This is also the most disappointing box for one specific reason, which I’ll get into shortly.

24 packs per box, 8 cards per pack

Can you see what's wrong yet?

Main Set
There weren’t many Cubs to found in this box, either.  Just like Ionix, I got a Kerry Wood, but he’s doing that lame pitching thing.  Probably thinking about how he’s going to injure himself next.  Come back to the Cubs, Kerry!

I’m not much of a card historian (yet, I’m willing to learn, but will need a lot of time to get there), so I don’t know if this design is directly referencing something or if it’s just set up to look like a simplistic little thing that would have been Upper Deck’s set if they were around in the era this is supposed to be from.  Whatever the case may be, it works.  I don’t get the orange/peach coloring for the Chicago team (practicing for losing their license?), but the bold white text over the black diamond compliments the tiny splashes of color out of the corners.  The pictures across the set feature waist-high action shots, which are surprisingly varied and visually interesting more often than not.  The Wood is not an example of this.

Don't call it a comeback! Please...don't.

The Prior checklist card is a reasonably good example of a solid photograph.  I think he dislocated his shoulder and elbow on the pitch, but at least the shot is dynamic.  That Play Ball on the right is one of the SPs.  I’ll get to those in a second, but I want to direct the attention of the class back up to the Aramis Ramirez card back.

Plenty of dead space to accommodate a long career.  Very few players fill this up.  I don’t know why they decided to squeeze a little stat blurb up at the top instead of utilizing the bottom, but they did.  Can you see what else is wrong with this card back?  The people that watched the video already know this, but take a look at the bottom of the card.  I left some white space on the image crop to accentuate that it is in fact the card back that’s miscut badly and not anything I did with the scan.

I didn’t scan the front, but it’s perfectly centered.  It’s just the back that’s way off.  I also noticed that the only ones that were miscut (either on the top or the bottom) were the cards found behind the decoy.  So, I don’t know if that means that the entire production run for certain card numbers are like this or what?  Does anyone have experience with this product that can let me know?

This is what made the break so disheartening to me.  I felt bad for the people that bought in and got this miscut cards.  Still do.  I guess if there’s one positive to draw from it, it’s that the short prints were all before the decoy and were unaffected by this problem.

Vintage lenticulars not from the 80s

“Inserts”
This set doesn’t really have inserts, per se.  They have SPs instead.

Play Ball! Still not an insert!

Here’s the rest of ‘em.

Even though I’m not building this set, I wish these were inserts instead of subset SPs.  The Play Ball cards are listed on the packs as previews (1:5).  They certainly look different enough to warrant insert status, yet the backs show that this is not the case.  Prior, for instance, is card 302.

I can understand the World Series highlights (1:7) and the traded players (1:5) being SPs, because they look like they’re part of the set.  Sure, they’re horrible subjects for short printed cards, but still, design wise it makes sense.  I enjoy the blurbs on the traded cards, however.  Nice touch.  The 3-D Sluggers (1:12), which are touted on the front of the box as the hot shit to get, simply does not fit into the design scheme whatsoever, and should not have any business housing a number over 300 on its back.  They look great.  I love the cards, but they are inserts my friend.

Everything you see above except for the Pedro and Myers (which were sent) are up for trade.

In a word - Stellar

Hits
You only get one in the box, and it’ll either be a Signature (1:600) or Stat Men Jersey (1:24).  There are certainly worse people I could have ripped out of the box.  I would like to see a little more differentiation between the background and Nomo.  The silver gradients on top of silver doesn’t play well, and you have to hold the card at the right angle to tell who you have.

By the way, this card is not up for trade as it is already either in transit or in house with a certain nocturnal blogger.

Conclusion
I wanted to like this set so much more than I did.  I think the miscut backs really ruined the whole experience for me.  Although, I love non-gloss on my cards, and easy-going, basic designs are my pal, so I wouldn’t be too shocked if I dabbled in a different year of Vintage in the future.  I think I’m 04 Vintage’d out.  With better execution on the QC front and with converting SPs to inserts and reducing the set size, this would be a very, very solid product.  As it stands, I’m only mildly impressed.

Once again, most of the teams weren’t taken in the break, so if you’re interested in anything you see, or in stuff from a team, inquire within.  I can give you a list of a team’s cards if you’d like.

Design – ****
Set Collecting – *
Inserts – N/A
Hits – ***
Overall – *** (0ut of 5)

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