Thursday, July 2, 2015

2014-2015 Upper Deck SP Authentic Review

It seems as if there has been quite a gap between releases recently, but the time has finally come for one of the most anticipated brands of the year, SP Authentic. SPA has been a staple product for Upper Deck for many years now. Just like they do every year, collectors will be clamoring to complete their Future Watch autographed sets - a tough challenge, but one that can definitely be accomplished.

Base Card Design -
Although these SP base cards retail their traditional white card stock, there's a lot more going on with their design. This year's base cards add quite a bit of color and movement. As you can see, there are lines crossing the card's background dynamically along with foil highlighting the player's name and position. I personally prefer a simpler design, but I can appreciate the fact that Upper Deck is trying to change up the feel of the cards a bit. This year's base remind me of the SPA base cards of the mid 2000's. I mention that fact in my video break of my box of it. Perhaps we're just back to that point in the design cycle!  Overall it's a look that definitely falls in line with the look that SP Authentic has gone for - a solid effort this year - just not my personal cup of tea.

The back of the base card is instantly recognizable as SPA - you can really just tell. Here the design is simple and easy to follow. Upper Deck includes all the relevant information needed as well as a short write of below the player's stats. The back of the base card goes well with the front, and the same photo of the player ties the two together well. Is this back super exciting? Well, not really, but it certainly is functional and neat. No complaints, but nothing that wows either.

Last year Upper Deck started putting cards that featured full-bleed photography in the set. This concept returns with their 'Moments' subset. These cards highlight different important moments in NHL history. There are moments that span all through the history of the NHL. The cards look very nice, but have a distinctly non-SP feel to them. They are more in line with the standard Upper Deck Series 1 and 2 sets. These cards mix it up in terms of the basic set, but still feel a little out of place.

Just like in every other year, collectors will find b oth autographed and non-autographed versions of Future Watch cards in their boxes of SPA. The non-autographed versions of these cards are numbered to 999 and feature a design that I would say is even more dynamic than the base cards. The lines on the card make it look like the player is speeding along on the ice. It's a pretty sweet effect.

The autographed version of the FWA cards lose a bit of the speedy effect because the space for the autographed has been left blank for the player to sign. These cards are also numbered to 999 but feature an autograph in blue ink. These cards will be popular again as they always are. I do, however, find myself liking the non-autographed look a little better than the ones with a signature though.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
The box states that collectors will find three autographs inside with at least one being a Future Watch Autograph. In my box, I happened to get all FWAs as my hits. Boxes come with 20 packs in a configuration that is very similar to the UD Series 1 and 2 box. It definitely feels weird with that configuration. I liked the three rows of SPA packs!

Retro cards have been a huge point of emphasis for many card companies, and that trend continues here as retro SP cards can be found in SPA boxes this year. These cards look like the old '94 SP cards with their gold foil side-border. It's a very accurate representation of what the cards used to look like! Prospect cards are also available in this same design as well with a special prospect stamp on the front. Die-cut and autographed versions of these cards can also be found as well.

I was surprised to find UD Update cards in my box of SPA this year. Yes, Series 1 and 2 have already come out, but Upper Deck has given collectors an even more updated collection of cards for their sets. These cards really round out the Upper Deck set and act almost as a Series 3! It's nice to get both Young Guns and Future Watch cards in the same box. Pretty cool.

Sadly, I didn't get any other types of hits in my box of SPA. I would have loved to get a Future Watch Patch card, but that didn't happen. Marks of Distinction and Immortal Inks are back along with Chirography and Sign of the Times cards - although it looks like this year's SOTT autos are actually pretty tough pulls! That's certainly different! It would have been really nice to at least get one different hit in my box, but that's just the way it is sometimes!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
SPA is pretty much the same reliable product that you can get every single year. If buying by the box, you're really taking a gamble on getting something good (as you could see by the box I got). Cases will yield much better results. If you're a collector who wants the FWA set, I definitely suggest just going for singles. Many of these rookie cards can be found for well under $10.

SP Authentic is a solid set with nice potential and a great heritage. I definitely would recommend giving SPA a try. There are quite a few different hit types to get as well as some older re-inserted hits as well.

All-in-all, you know exactly what you'll be getting with SPA - a solid product, on-card autographs, and a chance at some very sweet hits.

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of 14/15 Upper Deck SP Authentic:

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Retail Review #158 (10/11 Panini Pinnacle Blaster)

10/11 Panini Pinnacle has been a staple product for me to open on Retail Review. It's always readily available, and each blaster comes with a hit (usually a jersey card). The consistency of the product is one of the things I most appreciate about it. There's always something to look forward to in these blasters.

Price - 

Packs - 8
10/11 Pinnacle Packs

I remember the 2010/11 collecting season very fondly. In fact, I'm not sure if there has been a better season for collecting hockey cards. The whole community was abuzz with the arrival of Panini and with the amazing rookie class that year. Pinnacle was a mid-season release if I recall correctly, and I remember being fascinated by it's bold black and yellow packaging in a very strangely designed box.

Pinnacle wasn't a huge hit and the prices of it plummeted. I wished that better things happened for the brand since it was one of my favorites as a kid, but Panini sort of dropped the ball on it.

I'll still buy these blasters though! Like I said earlier, the blasters are a fun little rip and are great to have a little fun with. It seems as though there is plenty of it still around... but I wonder for how much longer.

I'll go ahead and rip into this blaster and see what comes out of it:

Review -
This was a good break of Pinnacle. It was a lot of fun checking out all the stellar photos on the cards, and it was cool finding a few different inserts in the box. I got a total of three Ice Breaker rookie cards with one being a NuFex parallel card.

I still find it a little surprising that after all these years, I still have trouble pulling the big name rookies from any 10/11 product. The likes of Hall, Eberle, Subban, and Seguin always seem to elude me.

In the end, I did end up with a big stack of base cards to enjoy. It's cool that Pinnacle doesn't seem to skimp in terms of quantity. For the ten dollars I spent on it, I feel pretty good.

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Bob Kelly Card No. BK
It was a toss up whether to choose the Ice Breakers NuFex card or this one, but I chose this Tough Times insert because I just like the design and theme of these cards. 

#2 - Cam Fowler Card No. 232
Fowler has turned out to be a strong rookie from the 10/11 class. His cards probably won't rise too high because he plays D, which is too bad.

#1 - Artem Anisimov Card No. AA
The Threads jersey cards are pretty sweet looking jersey cards. The design fills up the card well and the colors on the card work great as they always match the team colors.

Overall Value -
I definitely recommend buying blasters of Pinnacle if you can find them in the ten dollar price range. They are a fabulous deal and will net you an enjoyable opening experience along with a few nice cards for your collection.

Let me know what you thought of my break in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Retail Review #157 (2014 UD Goodwin Champions)

It's time for some Goodwin again, and you know what that means... variety! Here I go opening one of my favorite brands because of the huge amount of variety you can find in it. The cards offer nice renditions of players from many different sports and keeps things interesting by throwing in a few other notable non-sport names as well. 

Price - 

Packs - 12
Goodwin Champions Blaster Packs

Though I love the brand, purchasing these blasters at the retail level leaves a lot to be desired in terms of getting hits. You can certainly find hits in these blasters of Goodwin... but they are very few and far between. It's a good idea to just get discounted hobby boxes of Goodwin rather than any retail blaster of it. But at a little under eight dollars, it's not a too terrible buy.

Goodwin blasters usually give collectors who buy them a handful of mini cards along with one insert card. In the past, I remember getting a whole bunch of military themed inserts. I'm not sure what they have in 2014 Goodwin. Has Upper Deck kept the same configuration? I'll just have to open it up and see!

Let's go ahead and find out what in this blaster of 2014 Goodwin Champions:

Review -
I have to say that I was pretty surprised at the amount of hockey players I got in this blaster. Usually there are just a sparse few of them, but I found that there were hockey player after hockey player here! The cards this year are definitely good looking. I enjoyed the feel and look of the base cards. The artwork again was on point.

I didn't pull an autograph or memorabilia card, but I did get quite a few mini cards - including 2 Lady Luck backed cards. The insert this year wasn't a glossy military card - thank goodness! Rather it was a retro styled card that really fits the theme of the set. Good job to Upper Deck on those!

Here are the top three cards from this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Peter Forsberg Card No. 35
I definitely wanted some hockey representation in the top three but it was a bit difficult to choose between the players I got in the blaster. I ended up with Forsberg here because of the image. It's just so intense!

#2 - Ken Griffey Jr. Card No. 89
This is a fantastic card of Griffey. I love the image they used for it as it is certainly different than most. Notice the card number? I love it when Upper Deck pulls that kind of stuff!

#1 - Edgar Martinez Card No. 10
Great idea to include Goudy retro cards in Goodwin over the Military Machines inserts! These cards are bright and really pop. I'm definitely happy with finding these in the blaster box!

Overall Value -
I really didn't pull anything too crazy in this blaster, and if I paid the full price of twenty dollars, I'd probably be pretty unhappy. But for eight dollars it was an ok risk. There were cards I definitely enjoyed getting here. Don't ever pay the full price for a Goodwin blaster, but if you can get them for ten dollars or less, it might be a decent buy.

Let me know what you thought of my break in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Retail Review #156 (14/15 O-Pee-Chee Blaster)

I've opened a fair amount of OPC blasters in Retail Review, but I think this may be the first time busting a blaster of the 14/15 release. I'll have to go back into the archives and check.... but I don't remember ever opening up one of these! Though OPC is a low end brand, it definitely has its own charm and is fun to open.

Price - 

Packs - 14
O-Pee-Chee Blaster Packs

OPC is a brand that isn't too far away from its hobby counterpart when it comes to what you find in the product. Of course, the hobby version does have a few exclusive cards as well as easier odds on hitting autographs and hits, but in general, this set is for set collectors... and a blaster will provide collectors with plenty of cards to add to their build.

I have always loved the fact that OPC is still printed on good old fashioned cardboard. For this fact alone I hope they never stop making OPC. There's just something about cardboard that is RIGHT.

I'm can't expect too much in terms of big value cards here. In fact, I don't expect any big hits at all. This is not the place to look if that's what you're going for. What I hope to find is some fun inserts and cards to enjoy. If I do happen to get a hit I would be very happy though.

I'll take my time and see what come out of O-Pee-Chee:

Review -
Nope, nothing huge as I expected, but I always have a good time with O-Pee-Chee. These cards definitely remind me of the times when I'd buy packs and packs of Topps, Fleer, and Donruss and get close to the sets little by little.

I'm pretty sure I got the normal allotment of insert cards to come out of a blaster. There were parallel cards, rookies, legends, and a die-cut. All in all there were plenty of cards to enjoy. I especially liked finding players that I never really ever get to find in card sets. So often you just see the same guys over and over again in sets like UD SP, Trilogy, and even Ultra. It's refreshing to see a set that really stuff itself full of many of the NHLers in the league.

Here were my picks for top three this week:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Ryane Clowe Card No. 247
You guys know that Ryane Clowe was one of my favorite Sharks players ever, so getting his cards in my packs is always a plus. I totally miss his toughness and crazy antics he used to pull on the ice! Remember that time he hit the puck while on the bench against the Canucks and the refs didn't see it? Good times.

#2 - Claude Giroux Card No. S-41
I called this a die-cut in the review, but it's more of just a mini square card rather than die-cut. Anyways, it's a cool card to find in the blaster. These cards may night be the easiest to store, but I like it when card companies mix it up a bit with things like this in products like OPC.

#1 - Evgeni Malklin Card No. 416
25 years ago I would have been ecstatic to pull a parallel card of a star player like Malkin. Today, I'm just mildly happy with it. Still, getting great parallel cards out of a huge set like OPC is pretty cool.

Overall Value -
For about ten dollars collectors can enjoy a fun breaking experience. OPC gives you enough packs to really draw out the time you spend opening cards. I really enjoy the OPC cards, and I can see why people still try to collect the entire set. I'm looking forward to my next blaster of OPC in Retail Review!

Let me know what you thought of my break in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Retail Review #155 (13/14 Upper Deck Series Two Blaster)

It has been a good while since I've opened up a blaster of 13/14 Upper Deck Series Two. Since it's been so long, I don't really remember what to really expect from it. But being an Upper Deck Series Two product, there should be update cards from other brands in here to discover.

Price - 

Packs - 12
Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster Packs

Just as with any Upper Deck Series One or Two blaster, this one should be holding at least two Young Gun rookie cards. I love Young Guns because of their popularity among collectors even though they don't have an autograph or memorabilia affixed to them. There are some of the most popular cards in the hockey world!

Like I mentioned earlier, it has been a while since I opened one of these blasters. I used to get these at my local Target store at the full price of $19.99. I probably won't ever be willing to pay full retail price for one of these anymore, but I'm ok with the current $9.95 price I'm finding online.

Hopefully something nice will come out of this blaster:

Review -
If not for a couple home team rookies, this blaster may have been a big disappointment for me. But I'm glad to have pulled a couple of nice Sharks rookie cards. Other than that, this blaster had the standard of what Upper Deck blasters have - a couple rookie cards and a few special update and insert cards.

When I was buying these blasters at my local Target, I was really hoping to find a hit... even if it was just a jersey card. Unfortunately, that didn't happen here either as hits of any kind are super hard to get inside blasters.

I can't complain too much about this one though, anytime you can get cards that you enjoy out of retail that's a pretty good thing.

Here are the top three cards from the box:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Rasmus Ristolainen Card No. 78
Upper Deck always surprises me with the MVP rookie cards from this year. They have a great look to them that I really enjoy. I am usually not a fan of MVP at all, but sometimes their simple rookie designs are just so darned well done! Oh, yea, and Ristolainen's name is just fun to say!

#2 - Matt Irwin Card No. 496
I'm always happy to get a Sharks Young Gun out of a blaster even if it's a Shark that isn't worth a ton in terms of hobby value. Matt Irwin plays defense, and I've seen him in person a number of times. Glad to get another one of his Young Gun rookie cards.

#1 - Tomas Hertl Card No. 625
Yay Hertl Power! I really don't have much of Hertl in my collection so this pull was sweet. He came out of the gates blistering hot as a rookie but has since cooled. It may be time to get a few of his cards as they are more affordable.

Overall Value -
With a couple of nice Sharks cards I'm glad to have this blaster. Sure, it wasn't the best in terms of overall value, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. At half the price of its original price, I'm pretty sure I'll be sure to track down a few more of these blasters to open up in the future. Maybe one of these days a hit will come out!

Let me know what you thought of my break in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!