NBA Cards: A Look at the Year Ahead
by Paul Angilly
September 28, 2004
Continuing from where I left off last week, here’s a quick look at Upper Deck’s and Topps’ plans
for the remainder of the season:
The newest 2004-05 NBA trading card set was due out late last week as Upper Deck’s popular SP Game-Used
brand made its return, with one autograph or memorabilia card in every pack.
There is one autographed or memorabilia card numbered to 100 or less per box, along with one or two
rookie cards. Also featured are Rookie Exclusives autographs numbered to 100, plus 1-of-1 NBA Logo Men
patch cards and 1-of-1 dual Logo Men cards.
On Oct. 13, Upper Deck will release its second retail-preferred product of the season -- Pro Sigs. With
a $2.99 suggested retail price, the product will include one signature per box.
The wood-textured Hardcourt brand will return in late October, including two memorabilia cards per box
(one regular and one which includes a wood piece). Two out of every three boxes will include an autograph,
which may be found on a die-cut acetate card, on a card including a laser-etched piece of wood or on an
entirely laser-engraved wood card. Every box will also have a minimum of two rookies numbered to 1,999 or
The company’s flagship Upper Deck brand will be out Nov. 19 with a $2.99 SRP. Along with its top-notch
photography and Star Rookies found 1:4 packs, the set will include two memorabilia cards per box, with every
case producing an autographed jersey card numbered to 100 or 25 copies. This year’s release will also mark the
debut of the "Upper Deck Immaculate Collection," a super-glossy parallel of the base set found one
card per case. Also making their debut will be "Master Press Proofs" press plate cards of 42 different
top players, all autographed and numbered as 1-of-1.
Sweet Shot will be released during the first week of December, featuring "Signature Shots"
autographed cards found 1:12 packs (one per box) -- twice as frequently as in past years. Also included will
be the familiar Sweet Spot autograph cards with the signature on a simulated leather baseball piece, found
1:180 packs. In every box will be a rookie card numbered to 1,250 or 499 copies.
Upper Deck’s new retail-preferred R Class brand is due out in mid-December, with SPx and Finite to follow in
Representatives from the company did not want to discuss any releases due out after December, but it’s a safe
bet that collectors can expect some of Upper Deck’s most popular brands such as SP Authentic, SP Signature
Edition and Ultimate Collection to return during the early months of 2005.
Next up for the Topps company is Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects, with both regular and Chrome cards in each
pack, due out on Oct. 18. "It was a very, very strong product, one of our strongest products when we
introduced it last year," Topps spokesman Clay Luraschi said.
Topps will follow that issue with its Bowman Signature brand on Oct. 25. First introduced two seasons ago, the
brand features one autographed card per pack and focuses on this year’s rookie class.
Included in that set is what is expected to be the first NBA trading card for Yuta Tabuse, who recently signed
with the Phoenix Suns. The 23-year-old Tabuse looks to be the first Japanese-born player to make the NBA, and
Topps recently announced that it has inked an autographed trading card deal with the 5-foot-9 guard. He will
have an autographed rookie card in Bowman Signature Edition.
Topps Pristine is scheduled for a Dec. 15 release, once again featuring the pack-in-a-pack-in-a-pack concept. "That’s another very popular product," Luraschi said.
Designed for younger collectors, Topps’ Bazooka brand will return this season with an early 2005 release date
and $1.99 SRP. Like this past season’s inaugural set, it will once again include fun elements such as stickers
and mini cards, along with autographed and relic insert cards. "It’s a lot of fun (at a) low price point," Luraschi said.
Not surprisingly, the ever-popular Topps Chrome set, which parallels the regular Topps brand but includes
additional short-printed rookies, will return for its ninth straight season in early 2005. "Chrome is
always a big product every year, because it always features some of the biggest rookie cards," Luraschi
Another hobby staple, the Topps Finest brand, will return for its 12th consecutive season with a release
scheduled for around draft time of next year. Just as the 2003-04 Finest set included redemption cards for
players taken in the 2004 draft, the 2004-05 set is expected to include similar redemptions for the 2005
Although Luraschi would not give details about any sets other than Topps’ returning brands, he said,
"We’re actually working on a couple new products we’re planning to introduce this season."
Fleer signs deal with Wade: Fleer Trading Cards recently announced an exclusive trading card deal
with Miami Heat standout Dwyane Wade.
The contract allows Fleer to utilize Wade for autographed cards, along with game-used memorabilia cards for
the 2004-05 NBA season.
Wade averaged 16.2 points in his rookie campaign, which made him the highest scoring rookie in franchise
history. In the NBA Playoffs, Wade became one of only three NBA rookies in history to lead his team in points
per game (18.0) and assists per game (5.6) in a single postseason. Additionally, Wade trails only David Robinson
as the top rookie playoff scorer since 1984.
Along with autographs and game-used memorabilia cards, Wade will also be featured on selected Fleer NBA
packaging, sales and advertising materials. He will also make an appearance on Fleer’s behalf. Details of
this appearance will be announced at a later date.
About the author
Paul Angilly is a sports reporter for The Bristol Press in Connecticut, and
has been collecting sports cards and memorabilia for 30 years. He is not a
dealer, nor does he make a profit from buying and selling cards. His weekly
sports card and memorabilia collecting column appears each week in The
Bristol Press and several other
daily newspapers in
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