Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Upper Deck in a World of Hurt

News just came out indicating that a major death blow may soon befall card manufacturer Upper Deck. For the Baseball fan and collector this is major news.

Was it because Upper Deck lost its licence to produce NBA cards? How about the announcement that Topps would be the sole licenced manufacturer of MLB cards; thereby leaving Upper Deck without the business that started it all for them? Did Tiger Woods do it? (Tiger has an exclusive hobby deal with the company)

No, on all accounts.

The reason for the possible sudden death of one of the greatest innovators in sports collectibles is due to Yu-Gi-Oh! Yes, that Japanese comic that has burgeoned into a multi-million dollar industry that includes cartoons, cards, movies and video games may soon kill Upper Deck.

Upper Deck is accused has already been found guilty (only the damage assessment remains) of manufacturing counterfeit Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. In other words, after completing their contract to produce collectible cards for the franchise Upper Deck decided, in their ultimate wisdom, to turn the printing presses back on and sell Yu-Gi-Oh! cards out the back door. They made extra cards and seemingly decided to pocket all the profits.

Sounds familiar doesn't it? It's something many collectors in the know are all too familiar with.

As the story goes, back in 1989, when Upper Deck first came onto the scene, they produced a groundbreaking Baseball set that included one of the hottest cards the hobby had ever seen. Ken Griffey Jr's 1989 Upper Deck rookie card was on everyone's wish list and soon commanded over $100.00 right after its release. Then, the greedy Chief Executive Richard McWilliam, angry that he could not personally profit from the rising value of that one card, turned on the presses and reproduced the card. They were subsequently sold through the backdoor, garnering him a nice tidy profit. (UPDATE: It was also more populary known to have happened to the Dale Murphy Error Reverse Negative card. I also suspect other cards were reprinted over the coming years.)

Now, he does it again and the group that gets ripped off decides to sue. Woe is me.

Do I feel bad for them? Not at all. Unethical business practices was a part of Upper Deck from the beginning and, ultimately, it will be their end. I think the hobby, considering their past, will benefit greatly from their disappearance. The schemers and scam artist are bad for the hobby. Read a bit more about this current court action here.

Go here for even more info.
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