Sunday, October 16, 2016

Retail Review #226 (08/09 UD Legends Masterpieces)

You know you're going to get some of the most legendary names in hockey when you buy a box of Legends Masterpieces. The name of the product basically tells you what you're going to find. This product has artistic renditions of the very best from the NHL's storied past. The cards are beautiful and can be enjoyed by just about anybody who likes hockey.

Price - 

Packs - 8
08/09 UD Legends Masterpieces Retail Packs

Legends Masterpieces is a product that stands out to me because it's something Upper Deck just had for one release season... and it made it to retail store shelves! Common products like Upper Deck Series One & Two as well as Artifacts, Black Diamond, and MVP can always be found. Masterpieces is definitely a different sort of card set, some I'm drawn to it whenever I get the chance to purchase some.

I'd love Upper Deck to offer more one-off sets like these as it shows creativity in the hobby. Some collectors have complained that without another card company pushing Upper Deck, the cards can get repetitive and stale. Well, if UD can produce more like this, I think collectors' minds can be at ease when it comes to that issue.

What's in this blaster of Legends Masterpieces? Let's see:

Review -
Like the last few times of opening Legends Masterpieces, I didn't get a hit. This blaster had all base cards save for one brown bordered parallel. Usually that would be pretty upsetting, but with the quality of these cards and the great names coming out, I don't feel as bad. It's hard to get too sad when you're pulling multiple Gretzkys and other huge NHL names from a blaster box.

I mentioned quality... and I want to bring it up again. These cards are really great, especially at this price point. Each card has a canvas texture that feels really nice. The artwork is superb. This set oozes with quality. It's just a guess, but soon after this set came out Upper Deck started doing canvas cards in their main UD1 and 2 sets. Perhaps this was the inspiration for those cards.

Here were the top three cards from my break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Mr. Hockey Card No. 85
I think it's pretty awesome that Upper Deck put 'Mr. Hockey' on this card. What a great looking image of Gordie Howe with a couple of very coveted trophies around him. 

#2 - Bobby Orr Card No. 34
This card captures one of the most iconic moments ever in the NHL. The image on the front of this card is a replication of a photograph that captured Orr after scoring a goal. 

#1 - Dale Hawerchuk Card No. 18
My only insert in the blaster was of Hawerchuk sitting in his locker with the Calder trophy. It would have been better to get a hit, but I can live with this card for sure.

Overall Value -
I think I'll always enjoy breaking UD Legends Masterpieces. It's just so much fun to see the amazing history of the NHL put on canvas. The product is pretty affordable. The only thing I'm afraid of is that it might run dry sooner than later. Hopefully I'll be able to get a few more blasters of this stuff before it is gone forever!

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!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Retail Review #225 (2013 Goodwin Champions)

I'm a big fan of Goodwin Champions. It's a quality product that I personally think is under appreciated as a brand. There's lots to like with these cards. The look of the cards is always unique and the autographs and memorabilia hits available are top notch. If you like a variety of different sports, Goodwin Champions may be just the product for you.

Price - 

Packs - 12
2013 Goodwin Champions Blaster Packs

There are twelve packs of cards per blaster, which is a nice amount to open up. Collectors who buy this will have a nice stack of cards to enjoy. And these cards are definitely enjoyable as you'll find a wide array of sports figures in the mix. Though I primarily collect hockey, I love the fact that there are other very well known athletes that can be found here.

It would be great to get a hit from this blaster, but that's a tall order here at the retail level. It's not impossible, but the odds are stacked against you. Unlike many lower-end products though, getting an autographed hit can be great as those are signed on-card. Upper Deck really loves to entice people to purchase the product with pictures of both Jordan and LeBron autographed cards on the box art.

Will something amazing come out of this blaster? Let's see:

Review -
There wasn't a hit in the blaster, but I was pretty happy with the names that came out of this box. For a hockey collector like myself, there were plenty of cards to enjoy. In fact, I was able to pull some of the biggest legends whoever played in the NHL out of this blaster. These cards make great additions to my hockey card collection as they stand out from the rest.

Besides hockey I got some great baseball and football players as well as Michael Jordan himself! Jordan is always a good pull - even if it's just his base card. I was also able to get the guaranteed 5 mini cards and an insert from the break.

Take a look at the top three cards this week:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Galaxy Cluster Abell 520 Card No. WT-40
Goodwin being Goodwin means that there are going to be cards that are out of this world... literally. This Wonders of the Universe card highlights some geeky space science stuff which I find fascinating.

#2 - Wayne Gretzky Card No. 1
Just like with Michael Jordan, getting Wayne Gretzky is always good. This card features him in Canadian red colors and looks like it could be a painting hanging up in someone's large mansion somewhere.

#1 - Bobby Orr Card No. 137
My favorite mini card from the blaster was of Bobby Orr. Orr is one of the most legendary players who ever skated in the NHL. This card gets the nod over Gretzky because it is a parallel mini card rather than just standard base.

Overall Value -
I had a really fun time with this blaster of Goodwin Champions and I would definitely try my luck at it again. Blasters like these don't cost too much but bring a lot of enjoyment to them. I haven't hit much when it comes to Goodwin Champions, hopefully one of these days a hit will come out for all of us to see on 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!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

2016-2017 Upper Deck Artifacts Review

Now that we have a couple of lower-end products out for the 16/17 hockey season, it's time for something a bit more premium. Artifacts has been a collector favorite for years because of the hits that collectors can find in the product. It used to be that each box had memorabilia AND autographs in it, but since last year, there is no guarantee of an autograph. Let's see what this hobby box of Artifacts holds.

Base Card Design -
Upon first glance, the Artifacts cards remind me of the super-premium Premier cards that came out not too long ago. The look is definitely similar... and that's a good thing. Many collectors enjoyed the look of Premier so I'm sure they'll like these. Actually, Artifacts has always done a really great job with the base cards. They've always been a step up in terms of card quality and design. The foil is generous and the overall look is clean. I particularly like that the base cards has modern tones and graphical choices. Upper Deck has a very nice looking base card here.

The back of the base cards are appropriately designed so that they match well with the fronts. I love the borders and backgrounds used here. The backs are colorful with a useful amount of stats as well as a nice written piece about the player. I really can't find much to fault here. The back of the Artifacts base are very well done!

Legends of the NHL get special treatment in Artifacts with limited serial numbering on their cards. Each legend card is numbered to just 499 and has a similar design to the standard base save for a golden background. The legend cards are tastefully done. I've got to give props to Upper Deck for making this particular set look very classy.

The standard rookie cards out of Artifacts have a similar look and feel to that of Artifacts rookie cards from the past. The rookie cards have a bright white look to them with the rookie between two pillars of foil. Unfortunately, most of the rookies found in this set will not be the highly sought out ones from this season. Those guys are found in the form of a redemption card.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Each 8-pack hobby box of Artifacts guarantees collectors three autograph, memorabilia, or aurum cards. It's important to note that there is not a guarantee of anything in particular, but we all know that three autographs are not coming out of a box of Artifacts. The aurum cards are new. I've seem them and they look very nice with their all-gold sheen. Sadly, I didn't get one of those in this particular box.

Parallel cards are prevalent in all Upper Deck products, but Artifacts seems to be on of the most heavily paralleled brands. The base cards, like the Tyler Seguin card shown above, have multiple colored standard parallels... but so do the memorabilia versions of them as well. Each step higher in the parallel tier has more exciting memorabilia or autograph and lower serial numbering. Going for a full rainbow can be done, but it is extremely difficult and costly. But don't let that stop you from going for one!

Like I mentioned, base cards have memorabilia parallels. The dual jersey cards have to be the most basic of those types of cards. Artifacts has been churning cards that look like this for years now, so the dual window design is familiar with seasoned collectors. The Cam Talbot dual jersey card I pulled was nice because the jersey pieces were actually different colors. This card is numbered to 125.

A staple of Artifacts has to be the rookie redemption card. The folks over at Upper Deck know that Artifacts releases earlier than the regular NHL season so it can't get the popular rookies in the set. Well, they can with the use of these rookie redemption cards. Each team will have a redemption card that you can redeem for a new rookie that hadn't skated yet at the time of Artifact's release. Wild card redemptions, like the one I got, don't specify a team so the player is a real mystery.

Luckily for me, I pulled an autograph (of sorts) out of this box. It came in the form of a rookie redemption card. There are a number of these cards and I'll have to wait for Upper Deck to release the checklist at a later time in order for me to know who I got. This is the first of of these autographed rookie redemptions that I have gotten, so I'm pretty happy with it. I really wonder who it will be!

One box of Artifacts will not even scratch the surface of what the product has to offer collectors in terms of hits. But if you have been familiar with Artifacts in the past, you'll know what the brand puts out - and this year is really not that different than of other years.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
I've always enjoyed breaking Artifacts, and I still do. Upper Deck is giving us a tried and true product that has some very good hit potential at a decent price. I was able to get my 8-pack hobby box for well under $100. That being said, there is a little less excitement with Artifacts because autographs are now no longer guaranteed per box. I've always said that ink is better than cloth, and when I buy anything, I'm always hoping for autographs. This year I was fortunate enough to the the autograph redemption card, but last year I remember not getting an autograph and being unhappy about that.

This year's Artifacts set looks great and is a fun break. For its price, I'd definitely recommend that collectors get a box or two and open up some packs. There really is a lot to find in the product. I know for sure that I'll be chasing down cards that I want. Hopefully, lots of collectors will be breaking Artifacts this year so that we can trade or buy and sell easily on eBay. I'll be looking for some of my favorite Sharks autograph and memorabilia cards this season!

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of Artifacts here:

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Retail Review #224 (14/15 UD Artifacts Retail Box)

Artifacts has always been a product to steer very clear from when it comes to retail, but these unique retail boxes of 14/15 Artifacts have proven to a decent place to find some nice cards. The original price of this box was about $25, but I paid just a fraction of that cost. These boxes may be the best Artifacts you can find aside from the full-blown hobby version.

Price - 

Packs - 10
14/15 Upper Deck Artifacts Retail Packs

Though I've had some pretty decent luck with these retail Artifacts boxes, getting anything is far from a guarantee. And since it's Artifacts we're talking about here, that makes me even more skeptical that I'll get anything good. I guess what I'm saying is... my expectations are pretty low for this break.

The one thing to look forward to in this box is the Ice preview card. These cards are done on Ice's signature acetate and they look really nice. If there's absolutely nothing in this box, at least there's that.

This box has 10 packs in it, which is quite a lot for a product like Artifacts, no wonder it costs more. Let's see if there are more than just a bunch of base cards out of this box.

Let's open it:

Review -
The beginning of the break was pretty rough as pack after pack turned out to be all-base. I honestly was starting to lose hope. Good thing there were so many packs to go and things got better towards the middle! All-in-all I was able to get three special cards out of the box - the Ice preview, a serial numbered parallel, and a dual jersey. That's pretty good! I also got a ton of base cards with some nice names like Crosby, Thornton, and Ovechkin.

Here were my three favorites:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Jonathan Bernier Card No. P-4
The Ice preview card I got was of Jonathan Bernier. It's a very cool looking card and definitely different in feel than the Artifacts cards it came alongside with. 

#2 - Marcel Dionne Card No. 67
Serial numbered cards are nice, and they are even nicer if they aren't the best card in the box. This Dionne card is really cool to me though because of the Team Canada red and the red foil. They go well together!

#1 - Corban Knight Card No. 136
I was pretty surprised to actually get a jersey card from this box - and a dual jersey card to boot! There was a time when Artifacts put single jersey hits in retail, which made those cards have a dumbed down feel. Knight isn't the best card ever, but pulling a hit out was very cool.

Overall Value -
This box was a solid deal made sweeter by the fact that I was able to get a jersey card out of it. I think I'll always be pretty gun shy with Artifacts at the retail level, but I'll still pull the trigger when the price is right. This boxes price was definitely good and I'm glad I got this box. 

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, September 25, 2016

Retail Review #223 (14/15 Upper Deck Series One)

With my recent good luck with UD Premier, I decided to stay with Upper Deck products this week. This morning I'm going to try a blaster of 14/15 Upper Deck Series One. Series One is always a fun break since it's filled with great looking cards and the opportunity to pull Young Guns. The quality is certainly high with this product. Let's get to opening up this blaster!

Price - 

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

I'm happy to buy these blasters for about half their original price. If there's one thing that happens in hockey cards, the prices will come down to what they should be otherwise a product will not sell.

For about 10 bucks, this blaster sits at a nice price. I like that these blasters provide collectors 12 packs to bust when opening them. It gives the person who bought it a real breaking experience. Nowadays it's very common to only have a few packs in retail... and even in hobby. To have a good number of packs in a blaster is a blast to the past that's pretty sweet.

I wonder what we'll get in this one. I'll open it to find out:

Review -
I'd say this was a solid blaster of Upper Deck Series One. I was able to pull some nice insert cards as well as a couple strong Young Guns from this year. The Young Guns are probably the hottest thing going for Series One, so getting a good one is always great.

I also really enjoyed the base cards from this break. I was able to see some killer photos on the fronts of the cards and there were a number of San Jose Sharks. I'm always happy to pull Sharks out of packs - base or otherwise!

These three were my favorite of the bunch:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Vladislav Namestnikov Card No. 243
The Young Guns are always a big draw when buying Upper Deck Series One and Two. Namestnikov isn't a huge name, but he's one that I know, and that's better than getting a complete no name player. 

#2 - John Tavares Card No. C56
This Tavares card is really awesome. I love the photo and I love that the card is done in a horizontal fashion. It just shows so much of what has just happened in the game. This card really stood out to me among the rest.

#1 - Evgeny Kuznetsov Card No. 248
Kuznetsov was a very nice hit for me in this blaster. He's a very solid player and his Young Gun commands a pretty decent price. I'm very happy with this particular pull from this blaster.

Overall Value -
This blaster of Series One was a winner. Sure, there weren't any hits or anything like that, but the cards I pulled were very solid pulls and the opening experience was a lot of fun. Upper Deck is never a hard recommendation for me to give anyone looking to get a nice value at the retail level!

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!