Ripped off is such a harsh term. Let's call it an homage. Last year's Goudey was comprised of a few different '30s designs all mashed up into a sort of awesome Frankencard, this year is a little different. UD is following the 1934 Goudey design for their base cards fairly closely but don't capture the same level of detail as the '38 Heads Up cards from the '07 set. Let's begin at the beginning shall we? Here are a couple of base cards from the '08 set:
Here are a couple of the base cards. They are a standard 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches this year. The original size mini cards have been relegated to a parallel. Such a shame. One improvement this year is that retired players pepper the base card checklist instead of being all short printed. Bobby Doerr is a nice addition to a Red Sox team set. The front design mirrors the 1934 Goudey cards fairly closely. The picture of the player is a painting this year, possibly rotoscoped (or whatever the non-animation term is for painting directly from a photo) as I recognize a few of the pictures from other sets. For example the 2008 Goudey Phil Niekro has the same picture as his 2005 Origins card. The backgrounds are brightly colored and have baseball line art on them if space allows. The bottom features either Derek Jeter or Ken Griffey Jr. More on that later. Here is an original 1934 card next to a 2008 mini card for comparison.
A pretty good copy of the original design if you ask me. The main differences are the slightly smaller font for the name, the added team and position and the replacement of Lou Gehrig with Derek Jeter. The Derek Jeter has confused some people who are not familiar with the original set, so here's the scoop: In 1934, Goudey used Lou as their spokesman for this set and put his picture on most of the cards in the set with a "Lou Gehrig says..." line on the bottom. In addition to being the spokesman he supposedly made some comments about each player. Let's check out the back.
If you look at the original card, you'll see the text is all in quotes and has Lou's facsimile signature signing off on it. "I'm Lou Gehrig, and I approve this message" Also notice that these quotes are "by arrangement with Christy Walsh", who was one of the first successful ghostwriters in the sports scene. To Lou himself was most likely not responsible for that very dry, bland text on the back of the card, disappointing as that may sound. The 2008 version doesn't bother with the artifice, but does keep Jeter's mug on half the cards in the set. Why only half? Let's look at a couple more cards for the answer.
Here's a 2008 Corey Hart mini and a reprint of one of the tough hich series '34 cards I don't actually have in my collection. For the high series in 1934, Goudey let Phillies star Chuck Klein get into the action. Chuck "wrote" the copy for the National League Players while Lou retained the job for the American Leaguers. Upper Deck kept up the conceit, and Derek is on every AL card, while Ken Griffey Jr. is on the National League cards. The stripe on the bottom is blue for the AL and red for the NL. Marty and Corey also share the same baseball diamond in the background of their cards. While the mini cards have only text, the full size cards add stats. You can see the back of Scott Rolen's card here in my pack break. Ah, lovely stats.
One more thing on the mini cards... As you can see the back of Hamilton's mini card is red. Scott Rolen's base back is green. The large size cards have green backs for the base cards and black for the short prints. There are no red/green variations in the large size cards like last year as far as I can tell. HOWEVER... I've already seen red back, blue back and serial numbered minis numbered to 88, 34 and 8. So the parallel weirdness is confined to the mini cards this year. Which is the same as last year in a way, since every card was a mini card, but I digress.
There are 130 short prints in the set. Yes, 130. No one said this set was going to be easy. I've only pulled two short prints so far (I've only bought two packs, actually) so here they are:
Yay, more president cards in an election year. Just what we need. I think we can all agree on this card... Ugly as sin. It's a shame too, because Upper Deck had an excellent opportunity to rip off the 1932 US Caramel Presidents set here. Actually as I look at it, the design is a little similar, but they blew it by using a black and white background. Slap on the bright red of the '32 set and you have an interesting looking card instead of this mess. For some reason a few of the cards are in color. I'm not sure why they didn't go for the consistency of making them all color or all black & white. It makes the set look a little cheap, if you ask me.
Here's a Sports Royalty card of the Horse Faced Bronco, John Elway. The bulk of the short prints are Sport Royalty cards, which were a boxtopper in last year's product. A bunch of these are autographed too, so look closely at those cards. Subjects include players from all sports, there are even a few baseball players in there. Imagine that! Here are the various short print subsets:
Short Print Base 201-230
Goudey Presidents 231-250
1936 Goudey Black & White 251-270
Sports Royalty 271-330
More detail can be found in an earlier post... Long story short, the base card SPs are just that, base cards. Presidents are presidents and also unnecessary. Black & White cards are copying the 1936 Goudey set. Sports Royalty consists of starts from all sorts of sports.
Unlike last year when all the inserts were extremely short printed boxtoppers numbered to 15 or less, Upper Deck let us peasants in on the action this year with a mini card set. They're actually inserted into packs this time! Hooray! Here's an example:
These are the "Hit Parade of Champion" cards that are based on the 1951 Berk Ross set of the same name. You can see an original "Jet" Jethroe card on the left. The '08 Reggie is a black & white photo, but most cards in the mini set are in color like the originals.
Here's the back of these cards. About as similar as you're going to get since today's cards require an eighth of the card to be chewed up by legalese. I like the set, and I'm glad there's something to chase in packs other than jerseys and autos now.
The set's not perfect, but it's pretty damn good. If you're hopelessly intimidated by a 330 card set full of presidents and Olympians and black & white cards, my suggestion is just to shoot for the base set plus the 30 SPs. It would make life a whole lot easier for a set collector. If/when I get a box of this stuff I'll go into more detail on the relics and insert ratios and stuff. Right now I'm still trying to figure it all out.