Wednesday, September 6, 2017

2017-2018 O-Pee-Chee Review

And just like that there are now two Upper Deck releases for the 2017/18 season! As typical, O-Pee-Chee comes second out of the gate and brings its retro charms along with it. Boxes of OPC tend to have a huge variety of inserts and parallels to find when breaking them. I'm sure this box break will contain a huge stack of cards to go through and enjoy.

Base Card Design -
The O-Pee-Chee base cards this year have a more modern, clean look than in previous years. I like the use of white for the border colors. The lines used in the design scheme are clean and no nonsense. Upper Deck has come out with a very nice look for a modern OPC card this year. The photos also look a bit better this year as well. Flipping through my stack of cards, I enjoyed the action photography choices. This is a very solid outing for this classic card brand.

Though the front of the card has a more modern spin, the backs continue the tradition of having the brown cardboard backs. I, for one, never want to see OPC change the brown backs of the cards. These backs are a callback to the old days of card collecting. I do have to say that the font on the backs are very small. There is ample space left for stats - especially for younger NHLers. I would have liked to see a write-up or fun graphic used to fill in the big gap. This would be especially good since OPC features many players who don't show up in other cards set that have a smaller card count.

Popular in these larger sets are subset cards. Old sets like Score would have Season Highlights and team cards. OPC is no different. The Season Highlight cards this year showcase special moments from the 16/17 NHL season. It's a nice way to remember the previous year. The write up on the back is both in English and in French - a nod to the way OPC has always done things.

Team Checklist subset cards have a similar look to the Season Highlight cards. Another callback to years gone by, Team Checklist cards are mini checklists of all the players found on a certain team. These used to be useful to team collectors looking to complete just the team that they want. Team collecting is definitely still a thing, but these Team Checklist cards have really gone the way of the dinosaur.

Rounding out the non-rookie subsets are the League Leader cards. These cards celebrate the best of statistical achievements from the previous year. These cards are a great way to include more cards of the best NHL players. Getting another card of Connor McDavid in the set can't be a bad thing in Upper Deck's eyes.

Marquee Rookies are back again as the OPC rookie cards. In design, they are very similar to the other subsets save for the golden yellow hue on the border. All the rookies found here are holdovers from the previous season. Upper Deck claims that this holdover class is very strong. Only time will tell if that is the case! Usually we have to wait until Upper Deck Series Two before we can find the hottest OPC rookie cards inserts in that release.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Boxes of O-Pee-Chee come relatively cheap. It's funny how the products that give you the most amount of cards are the least expensive. But that's the way it is! That being said, though you get a lot of cards and packs per box, the chance of getting a hit or something of big value is much smaller here. This set focuses more on the challenge of putting a large amount of cards together. Hit collectors should probably look elsewhere.

Mini cards have been inserted into O-Pee-Chee this year. These smaller versions of cards have been popular in other products, and they makes sense in a retro brand like OPC. The mini cards are not simply smaller version of the base cards as their design is unique. In the past, OPC had stickers, pop-up cards, and other mini card variations. Cards like these are what make OPC a fun buy.

Of course the mini cards have to have their own parallel variations. There are quite a few different mini variants of the mini cards. The most common have to be the black rainbow foil cards. I pulled a gold bordered card, but other types have individual serial numbering and are very rare to find.

Speaking of variations, the OPC Retros make their return again. As I mentioned in my video review, I am a bit disappointed with the design this year. I would say that the design is clearly retro-inspired, but the cards look generic to me. There isn't anything that is special or outstanding about them that would make me excited to pull one. I think OPC needs to really think about making the retro cards something that excite collectors again.

The Retro Rookie cards are at least a little better than their standard Retro counterparts. The Retro Rookie design is horizontal and has a look all its own. The team checklist cards also look nice. It's just too bad the designers dropped the ball with the base Retro cards.

Want more parallel cards? Didn't get enough yet? Well, OPC has more for you! The rainbow and black rainbow foil cards have returned. These cards are good looking with a smoother surface finish than in previous years. I think these cards have stepped up in quality - they just look better! In my opinion, the OPC foil cards were some of the lowest quality foil cards you could find.

One of the fun inserts from previous years has been the playing cards insert set. You can literally make a deck of playing cards from these. It's a unique idea that I find really awesome. I'd love a set of these! It would, however, be a very challenging set to put together. The Patrik Laine card I pulled is a foil variant. The standard cards do not come on foil.

OPC is not without its bells and whistles and hits. Getting a hit in OPC is rare and difficult. This year patch cards have returned and will be a huge challenge for fans to find. It would have been really awesome to pull one, but alas, it was not to be in this box!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Value:
In terms of price, O-Pee-Chee is one of the most affordable card brands to buy. Unfortunately, this brand will not net you hits if that is what you are looking for. The challenge of OPC is to build sets and collect it the way you want to. There are plenty of collecting challenges to be had with this release.

As a collector, I know that I am in it mostly for the hits, autographs in particular. If you're like me, you may want to steer clear of OPC and wait for a release later on in the season. But if you enjoy the purity of collecting sets and the challenge of putting a large amount of cards together, this is definitely for you.

OPC this year offers up collectors a fun set of cards. For a certain collector, this set is great. I'm glad sets like OPC are still around. Its retro nature is definitely something different among the huge amount of modern era cards. If you're into it, I suggest diving right in as OPC will give you exactly what you want!

Overall Score:

Check out my box of 17/18 O-Pee-Chee:

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Retail Review #272 (16/17 Upper Deck Series Two)

I've been doing these Retail Reviews week after week for 272 weeks! It's time to take a little break. I'm not ending the series, just putting it on pause for a bit. The last blaster before the break is this 16/17 Upper Deck Series 2 blaster. I think it's nice that this product is a bit newer than the stuff I usually open.

Price - 

Packs - 12
16/17 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster Packs

Though this product is pretty new and has a retail price of about twenty dollars, you can find these on discount at for just thirteen bucks! I jumped at the chance to get a current year product at such a nice reduction in price. So often for Retail Review I have to go back years and years to get retail boxes at a discount.

Speaking of buying older boxes, one of the reasons I'm pausing my Retail Review series is because a lot of the older retail card boxes/blasters are harder to find now. I was afraid this day would come, but there just isn't that much out there to get my hands on affordably.

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

Review -
What a great blaster to end on! This blaster had some amazing pulls. It started out pretty good as I hit a rainbow foil OPC rookie card right away. And then it just got better from there. The two Young Guns out of the blaster were awesome, and I even got a canvas version. To top it all off I pulled a nice rookie portrait insert as well. There was just too much to like in this break. Like I said in my video... I should stop Retail Review more often if this is the kind of stuff I get in the end!

Here's the top three of the week:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Timo Meier Card No. 479
This Young Gun rookie card might not be the most valuable of the lot, but he is the lone San Jose Shark out of my break. I always love pulling Sharks out of my boxes so Timo is a welcome sight for me.

#2 - Ivan Provorov Card No. C239
It is so rare for me to get canvas Young Guns! I thought this would be the best card out of my blaster... good thing I was wrong! But this is still an excellent card to pull in any case!

#1 - Patrik Laine Card No. 451
Wow, just wow. I can't believe I pulled a Laine Young Gun. It was totally and completely unexpected. As it stand now, this card is scorching hot and is worth some serious cheese! This is a great card to pull before my Retail Review hiatus.

Overall Value -
A current year product at a discounted price with some amazing hits inside? YES PLEASE! This blaster was really awesome and I'm so glad I was able to get it and save it for today's break. Upper Deck Series One and Two are always a good buy, and sometimes you get lucky like I did today and pull some really nice value out of 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:

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Retail Review #271 (14/15 Artifacts Retail Box)

Artifacts is one of those retail products that I would steer anyone far away from, however, these 14/15 retail boxes were actually quite good. In past Retail Reviews I've been able to pull both memorabilia and autograph hits from them. I'm back at it once again with this box. I hope I get something good out of it!

Price - 

Packs - 10
14/15 Upper Deck Artifacts Retail Packs

I'm not sure why Upper Deck decided to produce this type of retail product for Artifacts. It was definitely a different configuration than the standard blaster. Perhaps it was to specially promote their upcoming Ice product line. Each of these boxes have an Ice preview card inside. In any case, these boxes seemed to have much better odds of getting a hit or serial numbered card inside.

Unlike standard Artifacts blasters, these blasters did have a retail price of $5 more than the $19.99 price of a regular Artifacts blaster. You did get 10 total packs to open though. When breaking a box of this, you get a nice stack of Artifacts base and a few nice inserts sprinkled within.

Let's open up this box and check out what it has to offer:

Review -
I was able to pull some serial numbered cards out of this box, but sadly it did not have a memorabilia or autograph hit. This box also disappointed in that it was missing the Ice preview card! I'm not too heartbroken over the missing Ice preview... but it was supposed to be there. It is not a good look for a company when something that is supposed to be there, isn't. The box states in large font that an Ice preview card is inside, so if I were a collector looking forward to that I probably would be pretty upset that it wasn't there. On a positive note, I did get some great base cards in the box. Artifacts is a smaller set so pulling the big NHL names isn't too difficult.

Here are my top cards from the box:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Joe Thornton Card No. 16
I pulled three serial numbered cards out of the box, but I chose to omit Kyle Turris' card for Thornton's because I'm a big Sharks homer. Jumbo Joe was the only Shark I pulled out of the entire box!

#2 - Brandon Gormley Card No. 131
I suppose that this rookie card was the 'hit of the box' as Artifact rookie cards are pretty hard to come by out of retail. I was actually pretty surprised to see a rookie card out of this box, but I would have preferred some memorabilia or ink.

#1 - Steve Yzerman Card No. 74
My favorite card out of the box was this Yzerman numbered to 599. Stevie Y was a legend and getting his cards are always good. The red foil on the card goes well with his Red Wing colors making this card look especially appropriate.

Overall Value -
I've had better when it comes to these 14/15 Artifacts retail boxes. This particular box was missing the Ice preview card and didn't have a hit in it. You definitely can't win them all, and this one wasn't that great, but I wouldn't dissuade anyone from trying these out though. Overall I think these may be the best Artifacts retail boxes you can 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, August 20, 2017

Retail Review #270 (12/13 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee)

I'm excited for some retro goodness out of O-Pee-Chee this morning. OPC blasters give you a nice amount of cards with interesting inserts, parallels, and subsets. The old cardboard feel of the cards is a welcome change from the modern style of most products out today. This should be an enjoyable break!

Price - 

Packs - 14
12/13 O-Pee-Chee Blaster Packs

Past O-Pee-Chee retail blasters can be found for heavily discounted prices. These blasters are not laden with hits or high value cards, so the market has adjusted accordingly. If you're not too concerned with finding autographs and jersey cards, OPC might be a good option as there are a lot of fun cards within the blaster boxes. I particularly like the sticker inserts that were found this year. The bright old school design really pops.

Let's open up this blaster and check out the cards inside:

Review -
This was a so-so break of O-Pee-Chee. I've definitely have had better boxes broken before. The blaster gave me what I expected in terms of non-base cards, but overall star power of the player selection was a little lacking. This shouldn't be much of a surprise though because of how large the OPC set is. Getting stars out of this huge collection is difficult. 12/13 OPC has been kinder to me in the past, so it probably was time to get a more disappointing box.

Check out my top three cards from the blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Checklist Card No. 497
Yep, that's right! When there isn't much in the blaster I go a bit off the rails with my choices! I chose the checklist because these types of cards aren't common in sets anymore. Back in the day I used to get a ball point pen and check off all the players I had on the list. Old checklists are some of the most valuable cards to find in good condition!

#2 - Dominic Moore Card No. 421
Moore was not a Shark for very long, so you may be wondering why he's on my list. I chose this card because OPC includes players that are not hobby favorites. You'll find guys from all the lines on the hockey team. Moore hasn't had much cardboard so this card is actually a nice one to find for Sharks fans looking for more variety in their players.

#1 - Jaromir Jagr Card No. S-72
As I've stated before, I really enjoy the look of these sticker cards. Jagr was one of the best players out of the blaster and him in a Flyers sweater is an interesting look.

Overall Value -
This particular blaster wasn't the best, but it still delivered what it was supposed to. You definitely win some and lose some - no matter what level of the hobby you are at. Opening up OPC is still a fun thing to do, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a budget break. Collectors coming back to the hobby from a long time ago may enjoy the look and feel of these cards. OPC is certainly a unique brand in today's modern hockey card world.

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!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

2016-2017 Upper Deck Premier Review

Nope! 2016/17 isn't over yet! Premier was just released and the Cup will be coming... probably much later (as always). Upper Deck always saves its big releases for the very end. The last 16/17 release was the high-end Ultimate Collection set, but now we have Premier which is an even more premium and even pricier product than that. Each pack comes in its own metal embossed tin to make the breaking experience that much more exciting!

Base Card Design -
The Premier base cards come on a thick card stock and are serial numbered to 399. The primary colors of the card are white, black, and grey highlighted by silver foil. Premier boasts a modern design, but nothing that really stands out or catches the eye. If anything, I'd say that the base cards are very safe. Nobody will complain about the way they look, but they are garner much excitement in the design department.

As plain as the front design is, the backs are even more plain! Upper Deck really went with a no-nonsense look for this set. The backs have no pictures save for the team logo at the bottom of the card. There are also only one stat line for the player. Thankfully, the cards have a nice write-up to read. Often times I prefer this to complete stats as I find the information more interesting. 

Some of the rookie cards in the main Premier set feature an autograph. The autographs are on-card and numbered to 399. In terms of design, these cards follow the cue of the base cards in that there is not much fanfare on the card. The most outstanding design element of the card is the foil 'Rookie Auto' section below the signature. Most of the rookies in this rookie subset tend to be second tier rookies that don't have much hobby significance.

The Rookie Auto Patch set is where most of the key rookies reside. These cards stand out with their slick acetate front, large patch, and on-card autograph. Though the design is very much on-par with the rest of the set, these cards look much better because of the patch area. A nice patch could really make one of these cards stand out in a big way. There are two tiers of rarity within these cards. Most of them are numbered to 299 while the top of the class rookies are numbered to just 199.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Being a high-end product, collectors expect the best when purchasing a tin of Premier. Each box comes with just one big fat pack of cards. In that pack are autographs and premium materials. At nearly $300 USD at the time of release, there better be some good stuff to find!

The Premier Rookie insert looks like it came out of the base set, but these cards are indeed an insert set of its own. Like their main set counterparts, these cards are either serial numbered to 199 or 299 depending on the player. These cards aren't too exciting, they are really just another way Upper Deck could put in more rookie content for the set. I don't see these cards as being too popular or sought after.

This Jamie Benn jersey card is a jersey parallel of the main set. These cards are direct parallel cards with material embedded in them. These cards have a medium sized amount of jersey and are numbered to 199. Some of the retired players in the set have been short printed. Very rare neckline and tag variations of these cards also exist. Those cards are numbered to /6 and 3/ respectively.

The Premier Swatch insert set is another way to get jersey swatches out of Premier. These cards utilize a horizontal design and have varied numbering depending on the player. I prefer these cards to the base jersey parallels because this set has a design that is a bit more eye-catching. Patch variations of these cards also exist.

The best card out of my tin of Premier was this Premier Mega Stick triple relic hand-numbered to just 5 of Al MacInnis, Theoren Fleury, and Lanny McDonald. It's a pretty awesome card in that the game-used material takes up a good majority of the real estate. I also like the hand-numbering aspect of this card. Pieces like this are what collectors look for out of products like Premier. Though I'm not a Flames fan, I do appreciate this card very much!

Premier is chock full of amazing content. Getting that content can be pretty difficult. Each tin of premier should have something nice in it, but the case hits are what collectors will be keeping an eye out for. For those looking for the top rookies, there are a few rookie retro insert sets that will definitely be hot items. Last year I was lucky enough to pull a Connor McDavid retro rookie. Similar cards are again in this year's release that I'm sure will be much desired.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Upper Deck Premier is a really interesting product. As a high-end offering, there is a lot to love about it - especially the rookie content. 16/17 had a very good crop of rookies, so getting any autographs from them would be a nice score. That being said, many of these rookie autographs have a higher serial numbering than those found in Ultimate Collection or The Cup. It makes me wonder how the long term values of these cards will do in comparison to its high-end brothers. They will definitely have good value, but will they stand side-by-side with those cards or be a notch down? We'll just have to to see.

The large memorabilia insert cards like the triple stick in my tin are great finds in Premier. These cards have high interest and look amazing in-hand. I was very happy to find my Mega Stick hit and I'm sure collectors who find similar cards will be equally as happy.

As with all high-end products, Premier is a risky venture. With its very high price tag, not all collectors will be able to enjoy a tin of it. While Premier is a very good product, its place in Upper Deck's high-end line up may not justify its cost. I guess if it were up to me, I would get a couple boxes of Ultimate Collection or just wait for The Cup. If high-end is your thing though, Premier is a great hold over until Upper Deck's biggest release.

Overall Score:

Check out my tin of 16/17 Premier: