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.