Sunday, May 17, 2015

Retail Review #152 (13/14 UD Black Diamond Blaster)

Oh boy... it's Black Diamond... one of my least favorite products to open in terms of retail. It's an expensive product that is very difficult to get anything good out of. I got this blaster for a very nice price, so the pain isn't so bad if I strike out, but I don't know how anyone could pony up the full retail price for a blaster of this. 

Price - 

Packs - 6
13/14 Black Diamond Blaster Packs

Black Diamond has a product structure that just doesn't work anymore. In the past, getting double, triple, and quad diamonds of the base cards was a good thing. Collectors actively went for them. I really can't say that collectors look for those anymore. It really doesn't matter too much if a card is a single, double, or triple diamond. Many collectors think of them all as the same... just plain 'ol base cards. A quad diamond card may still get some hobby love, but it's' not what it once was. Quad diamond cards used to fetch tens of dollars each. Now, you'd be happy getting five to seven dollars for a quad base card.

Apparently, Upper Deck hasn't figured out yet that the diamond tiering in Black Diamond has gone the way of the dinosaur already. If this was fifteen years ago, twenty dollars for a blaster of Black Diamond might be ok - especially if you got a triple or quad diamond card. That simply isn't the case anymore.

I'm not sure what Upper Deck can do about Black Diamond at retail (and at the hobby level for that matter). The entire line just has to be re-vamped at this point. Let's just start it all over again with something new!

While I patiently wait for that to happen, let's check out this blaster:

Review -
Well, what I thought would happen, happened. This blaster box was full of stuff that I would just as soon throw into my common pile. I did get a double diamond card and a triple diamond rookie, but neither card is especially appealing to me. The only good thing I can say about this particular year's Black Diamond release is that the base cards look pretty good. They have a sleeker look than previous years of Black Diamond - which is really saying something because all Black Diamond releases tend to look the same.

Here's the top three for this week:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Dan Boyle Card No. 42
I'm going to go single, double, triple diamond in this top three. Dan Boyle was one of my favorite Sharks of all time. I was very sad when the Sharks parted ways with him last year. Glad to see he's still in the play-offs right now though!

#2 - Grant Fuhr Card No. 117
Card number two is my double diamond card. It's Grant Fuhr with a pretty sweet goalie mask on. Of course Fuhr was the goalie during the Oiler's heyday, so he definitely gets love from that.

#1 - Scott Laughton Card No. 192
Top card this week goes to the card with the most diamonds on it - a triple diamond rookie of Scott Laughton. Is this a great card? No! But it's probably the best from this blaster. I'd say a toss up between this and the Fuhr.

Overall Value -
Even at eight bucks this blaster was a pretty supreme disappointment. This is why am so scared to open Black Diamond. Maybe this product would be worth it for four dollars? I really don't know!

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!

Friday, May 15, 2015

2014-2015 Upper Deck Masterpieces Review

Like old fashioned art? Well, Upper Deck has a set just for you! It's the just released Masterpieces set that features all-painted images of NHL players new and old. This art concept isn't anything new, but it's been a few years since Upper Deck has had a full-on release of cards of this type. I, for one, was surprised they chose to bring them back. Let's go ahead and critique some of this artwork, shall we?

Base Card Design -
As I stated before, this release is packed full of classical looking art images. If you're a fan of the look, I guess they're 'ok', but for me the design is dated. Upper Deck had a release like this a few years back that I think was actually done better than these. The Masterpieces cards come in both vertical and horizontal orientations. No matter which way they go, the left and right edge of the card is lined with an ornate gold foil. This golden border reminds me of an old picture frame - one of those you might find at an old lady's garage sale. It's just an old look that seems to belong in the past. And I'm not talking retro either. This set feels like it could have been a marginal release 7 or 8 years ago. If the art was better on the cards I think the design issues may not be as crucial, but sadly the art doesn't impress much either. It's just all very bland.

The back of the base card is strong. Definitely stronger than the front design in my opinion. The back of the card features some nice information about the player on a shiny silver background. While the front of the card looks stuck in the past, the back has a past feel with a modern look. In terms of ease of reading, the back works nicely. All the information and stats are placed in a way that makes sense. While I do like the card backs, it's sad that I like them better than the fronts.

The rookie cards in Masterpieces don't do a whole lot to stand out from the crowd. They simply get a 'Rookies' label underneath their name to designate their status as a first-year player. I am guessing that the rookie cards may be a bit more short printed than the standard base card as I only received a few in the box I purchased.

Rounding out the base set are the B&W Portrait cards. This subset is my personal favorite looking card of the entire set. The simple all black vignetting and gold foil are perfect here. I would have been very happy having this be the base card design. It's a classy look that Upper Deck could have really capitalized on. Man! The set would have been great like that!

Base Cards Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
The box states that collectors can find three autographed or game-used memorabilia cards per box. That works out to a hit in every five packs. Most likely you'll find one autograph and two jersey/patch hits. Boxes run around $100, which is sort of the standard for that amount of hits. Collectors will also encounter parallels and some insert cards as they bust their packs.

Wire Photo cards are an insert type that Upper Deck has released before. Though the photos used on their cards come from a more modern era of hockey than their first release, these cards have a bit of an older feel to them. I think it's because Upper Deck chose to go with a black background on the written part of the card. It just makes the entire think look too dark. There's not enough contrast. When looking at these cards, I sometimes have a difficult time seeing what's going on in the photo. I loved these cards in their other release, but these have taken a step back.

Textured red bordered parallel cards serial numbered to 100 are also in the packs. These are just a parallel to the base set, but are distinguished by a red cloth border along the golden foil sides. The foil and red border are raised to give the card a more three-dimensional feel. The backs of the cards are also in red. Black leather parallels also can be found. These cards are serial numbered to just 50.

The regular jersey card I pulled out of this box was of Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. The card appears to be a parallel of the base set with a spot on the card cut out for the jersey piece to be inserted. Rather than having a gold border, these jersey cards have silver ones that actually look better to my eye than the gold did. The back of the card states that the piece was game-used, which is nice.

The Shane Doan patch card shown above is black ramed leather prime memorabilia numbered to just 35. It is much thicker than the regular jersey, but has the same basic look as the rest of the base set parallels. The patch in the card is very unique, and has an interesting texture to it. This Doan card is probably my favorite card out of my box.

The autograph I pulled was an on-card auto of Brendan Gallagher. Like the regular jersey card, this one has a silver border as well. The autograph is in blue ink and is not serial numbered at all. Some autographed cards have been short printed in comparison to others, and collectors can find autographs on the B&W Portrait cards as well.

Most of the insert, memorabilia, and autographed content in Masterpieces is a parallel of the base set or its base insert. If I were to be able to pull any card from the set, I think I would like a Wire Photo autograph. Those cards, even though I don't think they are as nice as before, are still cards that appeal to me.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
The Masterpieces brand is one that I think Upper Deck could have left out of this year's line-up of cards. These cards definitely have a different flavor than anything else that has been released thus far, but I just don't see these cards having a lasting appeal. I got my box for about $100. I know that my three hits from this box will not get me close to what I paid for it. Actually, I'm not sure if much will get you close to what you pay for this box on a regular basis.

If you're like me and have to try everything once, I'd just go ahead and get a box. But if you're ok with missing out on a product here and there, this is one you can probably skip.

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of 14/15 Upper Deck Masterpieces:

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Retail Review #151 (09/10 Upper Deck Champs)

Champs has been a retail product that has treated me quite well recently. I hope that this box delivers that same amount of awesomeness that the others have given me. I'm always happy to open Champs as it is full of fun things to see and find. You never know what will come out when you open this fun product!

Price - 

Packs - 12
09/10 Upper Deck Champs Blaster Packs

Eclectic is the word I would use to describe Champs. While the short side of the blaster shows a photo of Ovi, the taller front side has no hockey images at all. In fact, the box shows a dinosaur! Champs doesn't even look like a hockey product! And that's probably one of the reasons I like it so much. It's just weird!

Champs is a product that comes with mini cards in it. In fact, all the rookies in Champs are mini cards. Aside from those, there are a ton of different parallel variations of all the cards. It would be a nightmare trying to get a master set of this product. I wonder if Upper Deck created champs to be a set to collect in that way. I would love to know of any collectors going for a master set of Champs. I would be impressed if they even came close to it!

I'll go ahead and open up this Champs blaster and see what's inside:

Review -
Another impressive blaster of Champs! I'm very happy with this blaster as I got some cards that I actually like as well as a pretty good hit. I definitely don't have any complaints here.

Besides my favorite cards out of this blaster, I got a bunch of cards that I enjoyed pulling. The mini cards were particularly cool. One of the best mini cards must be the Patrick Roy mini. Pulling Roy out of products has always been a cool thing, and I still get excited when I see him come out of packs.

The Great Barrier Reef was a crazy card to get. The image of it on the front looks so benign - it's almost like there was supposed to be something there but it went missing. Cards like this are amusing to me and are a large part of what makes Champs so enjoyable.

Here are my top three cards out of this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Joe Thornton Card No. 84
Jumbo Joe has been a huge part of the Sharks for many years now. I'm always glad to pull him out of packs. The team and he have been a bit rocky in their relationship recently, but I think fans still think very highly of him.

#2 - Antti Niemi Card No. 105
It's pretty sweet to pull a Nemo rookie out of this product along with the Thornton. He hasn't been as popular with the fans as compared to Jumbo Joe, but he has had some good moments with the Sharks during these last few years.

#1 - Nicklas Lidstrom Card No. MT-NL
Lidstrom is an all-time great player, and it's very cool to be able to get a hit of his from this blaster. The mini jersey cards from Champs look great - I have nothing to complain about here!

Overall Value -
This was another awesome value in terms of buying Upper Deck Champs. The blasters are really fun to open and getting quality cards has not been difficult. I would happily purchase many more of these blaster to open up whenever I can.

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 3, 2015

Retail Review #150 (13/14 Panini Prizm Blaster)

This week for Retail Review I'm opening up a blaster of 13/14 Panini Prizm. Prizm is a brand I really want to like at the retail level. The cards have a great look to them, and there are definitely interesting parallels to pull. But I just haven't done well with this product the last couple times I've opened up. Hopefully that will change today!

Price - 

Packs - 7
13/14 Prizm Packs

Prizm is a product that I think non-collectors would really enjoy opening. The cards are shiny, thick, and look very futuristic - it's not your normal cardboard. Unfortunately, Prizm cards aren't regarded as super-premium in the hobby and the cards aren't particularly worth a lot. I even hesitate when thinking of buying Prizm at the hobby level. There just isn't anything that's incredible in it. For all its glitz and glam, Prizm is actually pretty ordinary. Upper Deck Series 1 and 2 would be much better overall buys than this.

That being said, it is fun to open something a little different, and I haven't opened Prizm in a while. Prizm should deliver some nice parallel cards I'm hoping. At the very least there should be a bonus parallel pack included within this blaster.

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

Review -
Sadly, this Prizm blaster didn't change my mind about its value. The best that came out of this blaster were some insert cards... and there was only one colored parallel in the pack portion of the blaster. Any hope of redemption in the cellophane extra pack was dashed as I pulled players that I just wasn't interested in.

All-in-all I ended up with four red parallel cards and three inserts. This was definitely not a satisfying blaster. If I recall my last Prizm blaster, I felt underwhelmed... and so it continues here with this one.

Here were my top picks from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Evgeni Nabokov Card No. ND-5
Look, it's Nabby! The former Sharks goalie is always a fun little pull for me. It's always strange to see him in another team's uniform, but that's the biz I guess!

#2 - Justin Schultz Card No. II-12
I'm pretty sure I have a few of this particular card in my collection already. Maybe this particular card is following me around.

#1 - Jonathan Huberdeau Card No. PP-12
I don't have a lot of Huberdeau cards in my collection, so I guess it was good to get this card in my blaster. He was one of the better rookies to get in the dual rookie class year.

Overall Value -
I can't say that I'm liking Prizm too much. For collectors who enjoy a nice looking card at the retail level this could be an option, but from what I've seen come out of these there are much better choices to buy into than this.

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, April 26, 2015

Retail Review #149 (13/14 Upper Deck Series One Blaster)

Here's a product from the much anticipated NHL double rookie class. Well, I guess that that was a bit over-hyped. Still, there are some quality cards and products to find from the year after the NHL lockout. When UD1 came out that year there was a lot of excitement about the Young Guns and players available to find.

Price - 

Packs - 12
Upper Deck Series 1 Blaster Packs

Upper Deck Series 1 is almost always a pretty solid buy because of the Young Gun potential. This year's biggest Young Gun was Nathan McKinnon. I don't happen to have one so it'd be nice to change that situation with this blaster today. I'm not crossing my fingers though... getting the best Young Gun from a particular year has always been a tough proposition for me. I do, sometimes, get the second or third best Young Gun though!

Unlike UD2, UD1 is a little less interesting when it comes to the variety of cards you can find in it. I expect to get a lot of all-base packs when I open up this blaster.

Let's check and see what comes out:

Review -

I think this blaster was definitely above average... I've definitely gotten worse. I didn't get McKinnon, but I did pull a decent Young Gun out. A got a couple of MVP base cards including John Tavares -which was pretty good. My canvas card was of Brian Elliot, and my lesser Young Gun card was of Lucas Lessio.

I find that I have been lacking in the area of big canvas card pulls for whatever reason. The canvas cards I tend to get are of players that aren't the big named guys or rookies even. A canvas Young Gun would be really sweet out of a blaster.

My top three cards were:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Joe Sakic Card No. 48
I just really love the look of this card. The black and white with the border color scheme makes this card really stand out. I know this card isn't worth much, but it definitely shines in the good looks department. This is how MVP base cards should look!

#2 - PK Subban Card No. D10
Foil cards are always enticing to me as I grew up in the 90's when foil inserts were all the rage. Subban is definitely one of the better defensive players to get out of this set, so I'm pretty happy with this pull.

#1 - Sean Monahan Card No. 242
This was a pretty good Young Gun to get out of a blaster. The Flames are an up-and-coming team, and Monahan has been a part of that. No complaints about this pull.

Overall Value -
For about ten dollars this blaster was good. A Monahan Young Gun card is about that much on eBay currently, so I got my money's worth. I definitely will be getting more Upper Deck Series One (and Two) products as the Retail Review continue. They are a no-brainer buy when searching for a good amount of hockey cards and a nice chance at some cards of value.

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!