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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Defending Goudey

I'm not going to do the pack rip tonight. I don't have enough time to do it properly for one. But mainly because I need to set the record straight on this set. I've read a bunch of the early reviews of this set and so far they are not what you'd call positive. I want to make something perfectly clear.

The 2009 Upper Deck Goudey set is NOT ugly.

No, I'm being serious. '09 Goudey is not ugly. Let me explain. This is the very first '09 Goudey card I got out of the pack I got today.

Curtis Granderson. Great player, the card itself is kind of... odd. The design looks almost the same as last year's set just without the Jeter/Griffey stripe and the figures in the background. The picture is sort of, well, bad, and has the fuzzed out fake painting quality on it that works ok on some cards and is horrifying on others. There's a weird outline around the photo. Overall, the whole thing looks bland. No, not just bland, flat out ugly. BUT... check out two originals from the 1933 Goudey set:

Now, what do we see here? Same exact puke green background. Same red band across the bottom just with different ad pitches. Same style of low detail painting used for the photo. Same thick black line around the picture. See what I'm getting at? Let's look at one more.

Oh my Lord, look at the mug on that guy. Now compare that to the Dave Concepcion Horror that is more or less universally hated by fellow bloggers. Both are pretty freaky unsettling. You see, this is not a bug, this is a feature. The 1933 Goudey set is supposed to look like that. In fact I'd go as far as to say that

The 1933 Goudey set is Ugly as Sin.

I'm sure there are a couple of people out there reading that whose mind just got blown. Mr. Vintage here thinks an old set is ugly?? A classic set like 1933 Goudey? Ugly??? Dayf thinks the very first modern card set is ugly??? How can this be?

The '33 Goudey set is just ugly, folks. It's not the set's fault. This was 1933, the country was in the middle of a deep depression so money was tight and printing technology was light years behind what it is now. These cards were trying to sell bubble gum. They didn't really have to look good. They just had to be somewhat recognizable and in color. That right there put them head and shoulders above most of the competition. Still, to today's eyes, they're kind of ugly.

I remember when I first had the revelation that '33 Goudey was ugly. I was looking through my vintage stuff and I came across #124 Earl Whitehill. That was one of the very first Goudey cards I ever got and I just liked it because it was old and a Goudey. Then one day I really looked at it. The card is awful. Bland picture, bland background, bland design. Just awful, especially compared to sets like T206 and 1953 Topps. But it's 1933 Goudey so who cares?

Now don't get me wrong, some of the individual cards in the set are absolute classics. No Babe Ruth card released in his lifetime can ever be considered less than fantabulously gorgeous. But take some time and look over the whole set. There's some good looking cards and a whole lotta bland. Check out Dick Bartell, Dib Williams and Joe Moore (fielding) for some real horrorshow cards.

Now, I've established that '33 Goudey is ugly. But what about 2009 Goudey? It's ugly too right? No, it's simply a very faithful retro set that happens to be based on an ugly set. It's not '09 Goudey that is ugly, but the original '33 set that it takes its design from. As far as a retro set goes, it's a pitch perfect replica of the original. But the '07 and '08 sets actually looked really good, why doesn't this set look as good as them? Because the '07 and '08 sets got their designs from the 1934-36 Diamond Stars set and the 1934 Goudey set, respectively. And both of those designs are superior to the '33 Goudey design.

So if you still think the 2009 Upper deck set looks ugly and you hate it and refuse to buy it forever, that's fine. It is pretty weak looking especially when compared to the past few Goudey and Heritage sets. Just understand that there's a reason behind the ugly, and Upper Deck actually got the ugliness right on this one.


beardy said...

you're right... they're both ugly.

maybe making the 09 set with the smaller card design ala '33 & '07 goudey might have helped? that way there wouldn't be so much dead space in the background.

Grand Cards said...

I agree and disagree. 09 Goudey attempts to stay true to the original, but it falls short. The color, design and dark border are all faithful representations. What fails on many cards are the actual paintings/pictures of the players. The worst offenders attempt to give more dimension that the completely 2-D, cartoon Fred Leach by adding some shadow. Doing so washes out the players and flattens their features in a way that makes them look cadaverous. This was a mistake. They attempted to crate that flat look, but the shading on the jerseys and elsewhere betrays their faces. On the flip side, the Cantwell card is ugly because Cantwell himself is ugly. Here the detail is extreme. You can see every wrinkle and crag in his face. There is nothing like that in 09 Goudey. Instead, it is again the lack of Cantwell-esque detail that hurts this set. Not all of the cards are like this, the Granderson, much to my pleasure, is very nice looking. But the cards that are being described as ugly aren't ugly because they are faithful mockeries of an ugly set--but because they are unsuccessful mockeries of an ugly set, where an attempt to make players look flat and vintage was foiled by a simultaneous attempt to add dimension and shadow. The result is a perspective that doesn't match up to the eye and the unappealing, flattened faces are the result. At least that's my take.

night owl said...

I'll say it, too: Yeah, you're right. They're both ugly. I knew what UD was doing. Still don't like it.

Covered in Wrappers said...

They are both ugly, however the 2009 set is a good representation of the original and that is really the point of these. People that like great artwork, or great photography shouldn't buy this set only to complain about it. I happen to like the nostalgic looking sets more than the newer ones, and think those are the more fun sets of the year.

The only thing that stinks about Goudey are the mini cards look weird in my binder (at least to me they do).

dinged corners said...

dayf, point taken that the cards recreate the spirit of '33 Goudey. However, that Cantwell is a masterpiece of artistic effort compared to the dashed off DS9-like Concepcion. This year's Goudey just doesn't, at least for us, capture the detail or earnestness that was mixed in with the ugly of '33. We haven't bought any (to complain about or otherwise), but rather copped the pics from eBay, as noted in our post. I doubt we'll buy them until the end-of-year Kmart Goudey markdown...but who knows.

deal said...

This yrs Goudey is also larger in dimension which works against the design since it accentuates all that green, which is the designs worst feature

Dubbs said...

Good arguement, but you contradict yourself. Let's take a page from Thomas Aquinas' take on Aristotelian logic.

If A is B
and B is C
Then A is C.

A is represented by '09 Goudey.
B is represented by '33 Goudey.
C is represented by "ugly set".

If '09 Goudey is based on the '33 Goudey set, and you admit that the '33 Goudey set is ugly, then it logically follows that the '09 Goudey set is ugly.

I don't personally think it is, at ALL, I think it rocks! But your arguement doesn't really work bro.

Nice '33 Goudeys by the way.

dayf said...

Well, my original thesis was that '09 Goudey wasn't an ugly set, but a faithful recreation of an ugly set. Of course I blew that by not adding 'set' to the end of my very first bold jumbo font statement. Eh, things like that happen when you're writing at 11:00pm while procrastinating.

Dubbs said...

Kudos to you for even being able to write at 11pm. The best effort I could put forward would be to drool as little as possible trying to stay up. You're a man among boys.

mfw13 said...

I don't think the set is horrible looking, but I do think that it (along with most everything else) is overpriced. I'll probably buy the base set on Ebay (usually about $20) instead of ripping any wax.