Sunday, February 7, 2016

Retail Review #190 (11/12 Panini Certified)

This week I'm moving on to the next year of Certified. Last week it was 10//11 Certified and this time it's the 11/12 version. I liked the inaugural year of Certified the best, but this is still a solid product to open. These blasters are guaranteed a hit so that's always a good thing!

Price - 

Packs - 3
11/12 Panini Certified

It's been really fun opening up these Panini products in Retail Review. When Panini and Upper Deck made cards, I always preferred UD, but now that Panini is gone, I can see the value in what they did. Panini really pushed the envelope and actually made UD improve their game. Since Panini has left the fold, UD seems to have settled a bit with their card innovations.

As always, I'm looking for autographs when I purchase these blasters. Well... either an auto or a nice patch. The most common thing to find is obviously the plain jersey, but the great thing with these blasters is that autographs and patch cards do come out frequently.

Let's see what comes out of this particular blaster box:

Review -
Three thin packs means one of two things. One, the blaster has an autograph card in it... or two, the blaster is missing a hit. Because I checked to see if the Panini seal was on it (and it was), I was pretty sure the hit would be an autograph.

Busting through this box was very quick and fast. Out of the three packs one had a hit, the other a parallel, and the third was all base. It's a pretty standard formula for Certified, I think. If anything, Panini was consistent with their collation!

Here were my three top cards this week:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Taylor Hall Card No. 63
I was surprised at the lack of bigger named players in this blaster. I chose Taylor Hall as my third best card as he was the hottest rookie the year before, and it was still cool to pull his second year card early in the then young 11/12 season.

#2 - Mikhail Grabovski Card No. 6
Mirror Blue parallels are more rare than their Red counterparts. The Blues are numbered to just 99. The cards have a nice shiny look to them. I just wish I got a player that I like more. Oh well!

#1 - Michael Cammalleri Card No. 16
I definitely hit some gold here! This Cammalleri gold auto is numbered to just 25. This is the type of card you would more expect to find at the hobby level, but being available here in a blaster is very cool.

Overall Value -
I've opened up a lot of retail Certified blasters and I keep going back to the well to get some more. It's a strong product that has help up quite well. I am very impressed with the pricing on these blasters, and I think they are an absolute steal. Get them while you can!

Let me know what you thought of my 11/12 Panini Certified blaster box down in the comments below. Have you ever gotten anything good from a Certified blaster? I'd love to know!

Overall Value Score:

Every Sunday look out for another exciting installment of Retail Review!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

2015-2016 Upper Deck SP Game Used Review

Last year Upper Deck's SP Game Used brand got a complete make-over. This year, Upper Deck builds upon what they did for the 14/15. Like last year, SPGU now comes in a one-pack configuration. Originally it was a product that contained one hit per pack with boxes having five to six packs. SPGU is now condensed into one giant pack with multiple hits.

Card image above taken from the Cardboard Connection 

Base Card Design -
Sadly, I did not get a base card in my pack... and no, it wasn't because Upper Deck goofed. The base cards in SPGU are actually pretty tough pulls. Each base card is limited to the player's jersey number, and that's all there are. In fact, there is a base card numbered to just 1, so it is only possible for one base set to be completed in the entire world. To me, that's really weird, but SPGU is not about set building. It's really about collecting the players that you want, and now base cards are actually tough cards to get a hold of. I know I'll be trying to track down Logan Couture who only has 39 base cards. Though some may not like it, I applaud Upper Deck for going this route. They are thinking outside the box and turning something like the lowly base card into something that could possibly be chased. It's a bold move, but this is the direction I can see the hobby going as it becomes more of a niche market catered to people with deep pockets.

To add to the chase, the card with the player's jersey number (so in my case 39/39 for Logan Couture) will be autographed. These autographs are really one-of-ones as they are the only base cards that exist with an autograph on it.

The score I'm giving the base cards considers the difficulty to get of the card and the look of the cards I've seen online. In terms of the way they look, the base cards look very much the standard for SPGU. Even the italicized serial numbering is a shout out to previous installments of the brand. It's not a great or memorable design by any means, but that's not what matters here.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
The front of the box says that collectors can find 5 autograph, memorabilia, or other premium hits per pack. In all likelihood, most of the hits will be jersey cards with maybe a patch and an autograph accompanying them. Base cards would be considered premium hits as they are now in rarer territory.

Though this is just a triple jersey card, I like it as it displayed three different jersey colors on it. SPGU contains quite a bit of all-star memorabilia from last season's game, and this is an example of that. Having SPGU come out right as all-star fever is at its highest was probably a good move for Upper Deck as fans may still be hyped about it. Actually, if it had come out last week it may have been even better. Oh well!

This medium sized jersey card is also from last year's all-star festivities. The jersey piece is presented on a pretty standard looking card for SPGU. The entire card is clean, but not very memorable. The muted grey colors don't help much... especially with plain jersey pieces. Thankfully, these cards also come in rarer patch variations. Having a killer looking patch on this card would work well as the dull background would help set the patch off more.

I got two of these Authentic Rookie jersey cards in my pack, the Eichel shown above and also Nikolaj Ehlers. Each cards comes with a pretty small piece of rookie photoshoot jersey as well as numbering to 399. Unlike the other SPGU cards, these ones stand out a bit more with its bronze look and foil highlights. It's just too bad they are regular jersey cards that probably won't be sought after too much.

The best looking card from my pack was an Inked Rookie Sweater card numbered to just 49. The patch on my pull was pretty nice and helps the card look a bit better. Though the card has a sticker on it, Upper Deck has done a nice job of making it hard to see. Overall, the look of this card is top notch with the patch. I just wish I had gotten a more notable player.

The pack I opened had some very standard hits in it. And that's too bad for me as I know there are some pretty spectacular looking things to find in the product. One of my favorites - Supreme Relics -  features a very large piece of patch. There are also pieces of nets used in NHL events as well as puck cards.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
My box of SPGU wasn't particularly great. For well over $100, I basically got 4 jersey cards and a patch autograph of a lesser known rookie. That certainly doesn't make me very happy. But I do understand that SPGU is one of those very hit or miss products... and it always has been. Even when it was a different configuration, SPGU was a huge gamble for collectors.

I actually still feel in a way that I am buying the old SPGU as I am still getting a bunch of jersey cards. I never bought SPGU by the pack anyways, so getting all the hits at once is pretty much the same opening experience. The only good thing is that the box price is a lot easier to swallow. Remember when SPGU was upwards of around $200? Yeah, crazy!

There is certainly the potential to pull some great things out of SPGU, and I like that the base cards have added value by being pretty rare, but I just can't recommend SPGU as a very good product. The box value just isn't there. You'll just feel ripped off way too often than you'd like with this brand. Moving on!

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of SPGU:

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Retail Review #189 (10/11 Panini Certified)

I've said it before, but it is still true... Panini Certified is one of the best retail products that you can buy. The high quality combined with getting a guaranteed hit is great - especially at the price you can find it at now. I love opening these and I'm excited to bust into this blaster today!

Price - 

Packs - 3
10/11 Certified Packs

These blaster boxes have dropped in price dramatically since they came out. They began as thirty dollar blasters and then went down to about half that over the years. This blaster was even lower than that! For the price, this is one of the best deals out there.

2010/11 was probably my favorite collecting season ever. I was buying a lot of hockey cards and it seemed like everyone else was too. There was just so much excitement about hockey. I guess that's why I like buying and opening products that came out during that time period, because it reminds me of that great time.

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

Review -
Here's a pretty typical blaster break of Certified. With only three packs the experience is over pretty quickly, but I'm satisfied with what came out. I even got a little lucky and got a card that is of my favorite team.

The base cards are great looking. It's just too bad the Heatley card was damaged so much. It's just a base card, but it always sucks when cards come out in bad condition straight out of the pack.

Here's the top three cards from this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Matt Duchene Card No. 38
I picked Duchene as my third card out of the top three because the year before he was a pretty hot rookie to get a hold of. I remember trying to get his SPA rookie for the longest time and then giving in and getting it on eBay.

#2 - Antoine Vermette Card No. 45
Vermette gets the two spot because of the limited number on the card. Mirror Red cards are numbered to 250 each and a have a special red foil and shine to the cards.

#1 - Patrick Marleau Card No. PM
It was great to get this Patrick Marleau card even if it was just a jersey. This is a card I am definitely putting into my personal collection of Sharks cards. It's always great to get a hit from your team.

Overall Value -
There wasn't an autograph or low numbered patch, but hitting the Marleau was very nice for me. I hope that I can continue to find these blasters for a long time more as I really do enjoy opening them up. I suggest you try some as well if you haven't yet. They are a great deal at the moment!

Let me know what you thought of my 10/11 Certified blaster box down in the comments below. Have you ever gotten anything good from one of these? I'd love to know!

Overall Value Score:

Every Sunday look out for another exciting installment of Retail Review!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Retail Review #188 (14/15 Upper Deck MVP)

Going with a blaster of last year's MVP for today's Retail Review. Though MVP is a lower end brand, I think Upper Deck has done enough to it to make it a fun break. MVP contains 12 packs to open and even a chance at a hit!

Price - 

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

Blasters of MVP originally price at twenty dollars - the same cost as Upper Deck Series One and Two. It's certainly not of that caliber, but it can have its own positive merits going for it. These blasters have 12 packs in them, which give a satisfying break for those looking to open more than just a small handful of packs. Thankfully, prices of MVP have come down to prices that are much more realistic. Though this blaster had a discount sticker on it that said $9.99, I was actually able to pick up this box for just under eight dollars.

I never really liked MVP back in its original release. I always felt that there was absolutely nothing worth finding. I don't feel that way about the current MVP brand. Upper Deck has done some good things with it. They have made the product more diverse in terms of what you can find in it. Though hits may be hard, it's nice that they are there to even begin with. I'd be awesome to find an autographed card or other hit in a blaster of these.

Let's open this blaster up and see what comes out:

Review -
This blaster of MVP definitely delivered in terms of parallel cards! I got quite a few Silver Script cards in this blaster. I've said in the past that I enjoy the look of the Silver Script cards. The silver border with the foil facsimile signature looks really nice. For a lower end card, these stand out in a really good way.

Besides the Silver Scripts, I also pulled a Gold Script and an insert card featuring The NHL's 3 Stars of the week from March 3-9 of 2014. I'm never really a fan of multi-player cards, but I do like Upper Deck's thought process in featuring this aspect of the NHL season.

Here were my top cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Pavel Datsyuk Card No. 289
I really enjoy pulling Datsyuk cards out of packs. He's a very smooth and classy player. Though I've never been a huge Detroit fan, it is very hard not to like Datsyuk and the way he plays the game. He also has a pretty sweet looking sig!

#2 - Wayne Gretzky Card No. 300
The Great One is also always a good pull out of packs. Though this is a checklist card, it still features the greatest hockey player of all time... and it's a Silver Script parallel to boot!

#1 - Patrick Sharp Card No. 269
The funny thing is... I've pulled this exact card before in my last MVP Retail Review! Of course it's a different number out of the 100 made, but I got Patrick Sharp's Gold Script last time. What are the odds of that?

Overall Value -
For just under eight dollars, this was a fun break that I would definitely do again. For whatever reason, I hold onto the hope that I will get a nice hit out of MVP one day. Until then, I can enjoy the Silver and Gold Script cards that I have gotten already from these blasters.

If you're looking for a cheap and fun break, MVP is a brand that you should consider!

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!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Retro Review: 1991-1992 Pro Set Series II

A student of mine said they had some old unopened hockey cards lying around in their garage so they gave them to me. It turned out to be a box of 91/92 Pro Set. Pro Set was produced during a time of extreme overproduction, so these cards can't be called rare. That's too bad, because these old boxes can contain legendary players like Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Mario Lemieux, and the like. These boxes could probably be found for five to ten dollars sitting around at a hobby shop collecting dust. It's a relic that nobody really wants, but since I have my hands on one, I might as well check it out.

Base Card Design -
The Pro Set base cards have a simple and plain design. Unlike modern day cards, there is no foil or texture on the card - I think the best way to describe these cards is 'flat'. The cards are also very thin, no flimsy at all, but thinner than I remember cards being (my reference being the old Topps baseball cards). If the Pro Set logo and player name had some sort of texture or foil, I think these cards would be much nicer, but as they are they don't really add much to enhance the cards. Photography wise, I was pleasantly surprised to find some quality photographs used on these cards. It's no Upper Deck Series One, but pretty impressive for the very early 90's.

The back of the Pro Set cards are pretty interesting. First of all, they are horizontal rather than vertical. I'm not usually a fan of changing orientation, but I do like these particular backs. They are bright and clean... and in full color! That must have been a nice touch back in the day since many card then had cardboard backs. These may have felt a bit more premium and in line with what Upper Deck was doing. The Pro Set seems to be a brand right in the middle in terms of card quality with Topps being a little lower and Upper Deck being the high-end product.

Base Card Design:

Subset Cards and Inserts -
The early 90's didn't have much in terms of inserts... and autographs were virtually unheard of. Game-used memorabilia cards were also nothing that anyone could have imaged even existing. The best that cards had to offer were subset cards within the base set. Often times this would allow card companies to sneak in extra cards of star players and also have special looking cards that offered a bit of a different look from the standard set.

Captain Cards were a great way to do just that. Above is a Wayne Gretzky Captain Card. These look just like the standard base except with the added 'Captain' designator above the team logo on the card. These cards also show a different photo than the regular base card. Subset cards like this were usually less valuable than the standard base card as they were seen as a player's 'other' card that year.

Rookie Cards had special designations just like the Captain Cards. Having the word 'Rookie' on the card was helpful so that collectors would know what they were getting. Many rookie cards of the 80's didn't even have that. Pro Set had a few nice rookie cards in this set. I was able to pull the Niklas Lidstrom card shown above as well as rookies of Hasek and Bure.

Play Smart cards ditch the standard design and don't even feature the player's name on the front of the card. Collectors would have to turn the card over to see who the card was of. Once they did, though, they would get a little blurb from the player about why education is so important. These cards were sort of a public service announcement type promotion. Definitely an interesting idea as back then collecting was almost a purely kids endeavor. Yep, no Ultimate Collection or The Cup back then!

One of my favorite cards from this set were the sepia toned cards depicting the NHL's past. These cards gave collectors insight into the sport's history. Out of all the cards I feel like these stand out the most and are the most unique from this product.

Subset Score:

Overall Rating -
Pro Set is not a product I could really recommend. There's not much thrill in opening up a box of this because there's pretty much zero hit potential and the cards are extremely plentiful. My only reason for opening this product was because I was given it for free. If you're looking to get some history of NHL, maybe I can see you picking this up for a few bucks, but this really is just 'junk wax' as they say. It's hardly worth the paper its printing on.

I'd say just enjoy the video of me opening this box and save your money for products that are much more worth your time and money.

Overall Rating:

Check out my break of 91/92 Pro Set: