February 19, 2008
1990 - 1994 Countdown: #29. 1994 Upper Deck
It’s a funhouse mirror? The misguided beginnings of a Fibonacci sequence? Oh wait, I’ve got it… It’s a waste of precious real estate! It’s as if Upper Deck’s design team, by 1994 in the middle of the pack in terms of overall design (1. Score/Pinnacle; 2. Topps; 3. Upper Deck; 4. Fleer; 5. Puke; 6. Donruss; that’s right, ‘Puke’ boasted a better overall design than Donruss prior to 1994), all ate brown acid in the photo lab and embarked on a bummer of catastrophic proportions, only to commemorate it with a bizarrely skewed Mini-Me photo in the lower left. Don’t worry, they told themselves. Ain’t nobody gonna care ’bout a little old photo.
Well, I care, and not only because I’ve been stumped by its significance for almost 14 years. I care because it ruined a pretty great design, and ruined a possible four-year run—from 1992 through 1995—of great design that rivals anything any of the other sets had put out since 1976. (But, ah, let’s put the little black and white photo to bed. It’s tired. And it’s gotten me all riled up…)
As for the rest of the design, it’s a winner. Full bleed photography on both front and back, silver foil logo and player name on front and copper metallic typography on the back. Not to mention ample statistics and no clutter. What can you say? Upper Deck rides again.