Sunday, May 29, 2016

Retail Review #206 (14/15 Upper Deck MVP)

MVP isn't a product that is going to attract collectors only interested in hits, but it is a good product to start off with if you're a newer collector. MVP is full of fun stuff to find and gives a satisfying pack opening experience as there are twelve packs to bust per blaster. Even though MVP is a lower-end brand, there's just something about it that I find very charming.

Price - 

Packs - 12
12 x 14/15 Upper Deck MVP Blaster Packs

Though I have liked MVP in recent years, that has not always been the case. Earlier versions of MVP were extremely lackluster and boring breaks. A few years ago Upper Deck changed the configuration around and added more to find in the brand. Since then I feel that it fits nicely into the lower-end line up that Upper Deck provides.

Though not as large of a set as O-Pee-Chee, MVP does have a lot of cards in it to collect. The standard set has 300 cards to find. For people who aren't into the retro look of OPC, MVP does great in filling in as a modern set for collectors to build. For a pretty big challenge, collectors can opt to try and get the Silver Script version of the set. These cards look much better the regular base and would look awesome put together.

Let's check out what this blaster of MVP has inside:

Review -
No hit in this blaster, but that was to be expected. Instead I was able to find some pretty nice parallel script cards within this blaster of MVP. Like most blasters, this one also had a Three Stars insert card. The one I got featured Jeff Skinner, Brian Elliott, and Ryan Suter. I was also happy to find three Sharks in the box - Tomas Hertl, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Pavelski. I'm always up for pulling cards of my favorite team!

Here were my top three cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Jason Pominville Card No. 218
Blasters of MVP usually have one Gold Script parallel numbered to /100 in them. It's cool that these blasters have serial numbered cards as it makes the box more worthwhile to get. The Gold Script cards don't look too shabby either!

#2 - Evgeni Malkin Card No. 207
Malkin is definitely one of the top tier players in the NHL, so getting his card is a solid pull. As a kid I always loved getting parallels of star players, and that feeling still lingers to this day!

#1 - Wayne Gretzky Card No. 300
There is really on greater NHL player than The Great One, Wayne Gretzky. Pulling his cards is always a highlight of a break, and a parallel card is never a bad thing with him. I did, however, pull this exact same card in a previous MVP break!

Overall Value -
For a low-cost, modern set, collectors can always look toward MVP to deliver. It may not have been a very good product in the past, but in recent years it has really improved. The designs are nicer and now you can actually find hits in the product, though chances are pretty slim. MVP is a good product, and I'd recommend it to those just starting out in the hobby with no hesitation.

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!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

2015-2016 Upper Deck Ice Review

Upper Deck Ice has had an interesting journey through its brand's lifespan. It started off as a a nice mid-range product, but the Ice Premier rookie cards numbered to 99 really took the brand to another level of collectibility. After a brief hiatus when Panini came into the card making game, Ice returned and has continually gotten better by the year. This year's Ice could be the best yet!

Base Card Design -
Opening up my first pack of Ice was quite the surprise. I totally forgot about my experience with Ice last year when they made all the base cards acetate. For whatever reason I still feel that the Ice base cards should be on standard cardboard. But that's just my bad memory coming into play. These base cards look absolutely fantastic. The blue tones used on these cards are perfect for the brand name, and I love the modern graphics used to enhance the photo. Like with many Upper Deck products, there are both current and retired players in the set. It's kind of cool seeing Terry Sawchuk in a black and white photo on this modern acetate card.

The only bad thing about acetate is the what it does to the back side of the card. There is a lot of dead space that is created because of the acetate and the way the card is designed. Backs are limited to just one small stat line with all the vital information shoved onto one side of the card. I suppose it was the best the designers could do with it though.

To me the Ice Premier rookie cards have always looked great. This year isn't any different, but because the standard base cards look so good, I think it takes away a little bit from the uniqueness of the Ice Premier rookie card. They feel a little underwhelming to me in comparison to years past. Perhaps Upper Deck will have to find a way to make these even better in the next Ice iteration. Maybe they could be on thicker acetate? Here's an idea... have the better tiered rookie cards be on progressively thicker stock. Put that idea in the bank!

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Boxes of Ice promise one hard-signed autographed card and a memorabilia card. Other packs may contain Ice-Premier rookie cards, Exquisite Collection cards, or other inserts. With only eight packs per box, each pack should have something in it besides base.

I love the fact that Ice has some insert cards in it. Insert cards seem to be diminishing in products, so every time I see them I get a little happy that they are still around. Global Impact cards feature the player in front of their country's flag. If you've been reading my reviews for long, you know that I love cards with flags on them. And it's no different here. I am a big fan of this card and this set. I'd love to get some more of these.

World Junior Championship cards are a way to add more cards of young talent into the set. These cards also have a country themed look to them as well as serial numbering. The design of the insert here is a bit busier than I prefer, but the card still looks great and holds up well to the other cards featured in this set.

My jersey pull from the box was a Rookie Relic Jumbos card numbered to 299. Though this card doesn't have any 'see through' parts, it is still made with glossy acetate. Though the swatch on the card is relatively large, I'd hesitate to call it a jumbo swatch as many manufactures use jersey pieces bigger on a regular basis.

I was fortunate enough to pull a nice player autograph of Dylan Larkin... but unfortunately it was on a redemption. The Glacial Graphs are typically all acetate cards with an on-card autograph. This was definitely my best card from the box and it was a very good card to get. I'm quite happy with this card.

The Exquisite card in the box was this base card of Bobby Orr. Exquisite cards are the cream of the Upper Deck crop. Upper Deck has sprinkled Exquisite into products before, and it's nice to see them here in Ice. These cards should be very popular as Exquisite is on-par with cards from The Cup.

This hobby box yielded a nice rookie autograph, a standard jersey card, and a nice Exquisite base. I think I did pretty well, but those who are able to find patch cards or Ice Premier rookies numbered to 99 would be doing even better!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Ice really packs a punch this year. It is a bit pricier than most mid-range products, but Upper Deck has put some very good quality into this product. Ice has definitely been my favorite product of the year so far. The cards look great and it truly is an exciting product to open... and that says a lot, actually.

Many of the products I have opened this year have left me feeling 'meh' afterwards. And no, it's not just a lack of getting anything really great. The products overall have just been middling, and it feels as if Upper Deck is just sitting back and not trying very hard to improve its products. But Ice has given me some hope. I really do like it this year and would love to be able to get my hands on some more of it. I definitely recommend this product even with its steeper-than-other-products price.

Overall Score:

Check out my box of Ice here:

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Retail Review #205 (14/15 Upper Deck Series Two)

Today I'm going to be opening up a blaster of last year's Upper Deck Series 2. I don't think that Series 2 from 14/15 is as strong as Series 1, but it should still be a fun break. Upper Deck has recently done a good job of including things in Series 2 to make it more worthwhile as a product. I'm eager to see what I get in this retail box.

Price - 

Packs - 12
12 x 14/15 UD Series Two Blaster Packs

Upper Deck Series One and Two are the ultimate in terms of a baseline set of cards. It's a set that all collectors can get into and enjoy. The quality is very good and many of the cards you find in the sets hold some good value.

Series Two doesn't just finish up the standard Upper Deck set, but it also updates O-Pee-Chee as well. Having OPC cards available is a nice added value here as collectors can find the rookie cards that they missed when OPC originally came out. Often the best OPC rookie cards will be found here in Series Two.

I'll go ahead and bust this blaster and see what comes of it:

Review -
Overall this was a very interesting blaster - certainly not a typical one. In these blasters I expect to find two Young Guns rookie cards, a canvas card, and some OPC updates. This blaster did not come with those things. Here I just got one Young Gun with no canvas card and a a couple OPC rookie updates. That makes it sound like this blaster was a dud, but what I did end up getting was a nice jersey card hit! And it was of one of my favorite players to boot. That definitely covers up for anything I felt was missing from this blaster.

Here's the top three:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Marko Dano Card No. U40
Well, this type of card is familiar! I recently opened up a blaster of 14/15 OPC, so these Marquee Rookie cards are still fresh in my mind. 

#2 - Colin Smith Card No. 459
This wasn't a great Young Gun hit, but a Young Gun is a Young Gun, I guess! And since this was my only Young Gun it gets the second in the top three.

#1 - Dominik Hasek Card No. GJ-HA
This was a great hit for me as I am a huge Hasek fan. I was very surprised to find this card in the blaster as getting even jersey cards like this are difficult. This was one of the last cards I got in my blaster so it didn't look like I was going to really do well with this box. So glad this came out when it did!

Overall Value -
I got a hit of a player that I really like, so of course this blaster was a success for me. The price of these blasters is half as much as they were originally priced at so in terms of value they are a solid buy. Upper Deck is a good and stable product that is fun to open at just about any time. Do I recommend getting a blaster of 14/15 UD Series 2? Sure!

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, May 15, 2016

Retail Review #204 (14/15 O-Pee-Chee)

This morning I'm going to open up a blaster of O-Pee-Chee. This product is geared toward collectors who want a retro-style break. OPC really does a good job of giving collectors a taste of what it was like to buy cards in the 80's and early 90's. It's not a product that will net you a huge hit, but it is a product that will give you a fun pack busting experience.

Price - 

Packs - 14
O-Pee-Chee Blaster Packs

OPC has been around for a very long time and is known for its enormous sets. In fact, the packaging boasts that the set is 600-cards large. That's a huge set! Being that big, the set is a challenge to build and some collectors make the effort to put it together. For older collectors that may be returning to the hobby, OPC will bring back a nice, familiar feeling.

It's not that OPC is not without its hits. It is advertised that you can find signature cards inside the product. A quick look at the odds is a little discouraging though. Signature cards come 1:800 packs - those are pretty long odds. So it's pretty unlikely that you'll find ink the the standard blaster of OPC that you pick up.

Rather than hope for a hit, I suggest enjoying the variety of inserts and parallels found inside OPC. The brand is packed with mini cards, stickers, and parallels to find. Many of these cards have fun designs that are really appealing to the eye.

Let's take a look into this blaster:

Review -
This OPC blaster gave me pretty much what I expected. By far my favorite cards out of this break were there sticker cards. I was able to pull some names that I really liked out of of the box. My parallel cards - both retro and foil - were nice too. With a huge set of 600-cards, it can be hard to get parallel cards of star players. It was sweet to get an Erik Karlsson retro card and a Henrik Zetterberg foil out of this break.

Other highlights from this blaster was a retro rookie card and a foil standard rookie card. The box also put out a nice variety of legend cards and rookie cards. Unfortunately, OPC is a product that comes out before the start of the season, so none of the big name rookies from the 14/15 season are included. Collectors have to wait until Upper Deck Series 2 to find those cards as updates.

Check out the top three cards this week:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Petter Granberg Card No. 528
My reason for picking this card in my top three is solely for its good looks. The blue foil on this card really shines nicely in light. This year's Marquee Rookies have a great design, and they look much better with foil. Also, it's interesting that Petter is spelled with two T's.

#2 - Dominik Hasek Card No. 583
The Dominator is one of my all-time favorite goalies, so getting his cards is always good for me. I prefer him in Sabres blues, but he had a lot of success as a Red Wing so I understand why many of his cards have him in those colors.

#1 - Arturs Irbe Card No. ST-91
Another favorite goalie of mine is Irbe. He was the goalie for the Sharks when I started following them way back in the 90's. This card has all sorts of win for me as the colors and retro-ness of it is oh-so-appealing. I just love this card!

Overall Value -
Going into this break I didn't expect much, and with those expectations, OPC over-delivered a little by giving me a really fun box breaking experience. As a collector that really focuses on hits, I am reluctant to purchase OPC a lot of the times, but every time I bust open a box, I never really regret it. If you haven't gotten some OPC in a while, I think it'd be fun to crack into some just for kicks. OPC is a quality set with a good deal of fun within it.

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, May 8, 2016

Retail Review #203 (13/14 Upper Deck Black Diamond)

I just realized that there won't be any more Black Diamond at the retail level since Upper Deck changed the fundamental configuration of the product. Black Diamond is now a premium product and comes with a hit-centric focus. Every year before this though, Black Diamond was a consistent brand that stayed tried and true. At the retail level, Black Diamond was also tried and true - it never ceased to frustrate collectors with its lack of anything good in it!

Price - 

Packs - 6
13/14 Black Diamond Blaster Packs

It's kind of funny looking back at 13/14. Both Upper Deck and Panini that year really took the hype level of the double rookie class into the stratosphere. As it turned out, there really wasn't a game changer in the whole lot! That's too bad, though, as many collectors felt underwhelmed and let down. This year's rookie class is in fact much stronger than that one was - and subsequently the hobby is doing better.

My last blaster of this year's black diamond didn't have much to it. If I recall, my best card was a triple diamond base card. That's sad. I hope this blaster has a better result than that one.

I'll go ahead and see what's in this blaster of Black Diamond:

Review -
As Black Diamond blasters go, this one was definitely better than average. Average for Black Diamond is crap. At least in this blaster I was able to get a quad diamond card of a nice player. That alone really put this blaster above others Black Diamond blasters I have opened in the past. My only complaint about this particular blaster is that there weren't that many super star base cards to be found. This may have been before they began making the biggest names the single diamonds though.

Here's the top three for this week:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Daniel Alfredsson Card No. 111
My third card this week is a double diamond of Daniel Alfredsson. There was a triple diamond in my break as well, but in terms of a player I like better, it's gotta be Alfredsson.

#2 - Johan Larsson Card No. 193
Larsson certainly isn't a household name, but I included him here because he was the only Rookie Gems card I got. Larsson is a triple diamond - meaning he wasn't considered one of the top tier rookies by Upper Deck. Though he may not be a highly sought after player, I still love the design of this year's Rookie Gems. It's very Transformers-like!

#1 - Mark Messier Card No. 213
I actually really like this Messier card. First of all, it's a quad diamond. That used to mean a lot more years ago rather than now... but it's still cool. This card reminds me that quads were once a darling of the hobby and they made the black diamond set a real challenge to put together. Secondly, Messier looks really cool in his Eastern Conference All-Star jersey in this picture. This is a very nice looking card.

Overall Value -
This blaster of Black Diamond didn't cost much to buy. If you're gonna get a taste of Black Diamond at the retail level, I guess the price is decent and not too risky. Hopefully not too many people paid the insane $20 asking price for this blaster. Spending twenty bucks on this would be a hard pill to swallow!

Let me know what you thought of this 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!