Friday, December 24, 2010

Logan Couture PC Update


Logan Couture Printing Pate from 09/10 The Cup 1/1
(Acquired from a trade from Dogg on SCF! Thanks Dogg!)


So a while ago on my blog I announced that I would be starting a PC (player collection). I was wondering who to collect when I started noticing Logan Couture of the Sharks. I thought he would be a natural player for me to collect for these reasons:

1. I'm a Sharks fan.

2. I started collecting cards again in 09/10 and his RCs are all coincide with that making it sort of a natural fit.

3. He was pretty affordable (more on this later)

4. He's a great young prospect.

5. He really reminds me of my old housemate Alex (who happened to be from Canada). Really nice and has a goofy smile.

Well, it all started off well and good. Logan Couture's cards were CHEAP. I was able to pick up his UD Young Gun for like $3 delivered from eBay. His SPA Future Watch Autos were also readily available for under $10. And his The Cup rookies were also not that bad... maybe around $60 or so dollars on average about a month and a half ago. Well guess what... Couture got hot. In fact, he was probably the only reason the Sharks were winning games. He scored and played good defense - a real 2 way player this kid is. Well, now he's getting a bit more national recognition and his card prices on eBay reflect this. His Young Gun is now around $15 or so, His FW Auto is near $30 and his Cup rookie is around $150 depending on patch. I definitely got into a few bidding wars recently where the prices just sky-rocketed with seconds left in auctions. (If you tried to win some higher-end Cup Couture cards recently and the price jumped a lot... that might have been me... sorry!)

The good thing is I started collecting just before the prices went up for the most part. Now is probably not the best time to get his cards because they are all bloated. I guess if I sold my collection I could probably triple what I paid and get a profit... but I'm not going to do this. Haha... collecting cards isn't really about making a profit.

Hopefully Couture will continue to do well and lead the Sharks to the promised land. And I'll have a gem of a collection! If not... c'est la vie...

Let me know if you have any Couture cards for trade. I'll definitely trade for the or even buy them outright if I don't have them. Oh yea, one more thing... I only collect Couture cards with him on them by himself (no dual, triple, or quad player cards) and only with him in a Sharks uni. If you have other good sharks cards I'd also be interested in them as well. Right now I'm trying to pick up some Ryan Clowe and Jason Demers stuff. Lemme know! If you're on SCF my username is blacksheep.

For now, I'll leave you with this. Today (Christmas eve) I got three packages in the mail from eBay. I'm expecting some more, but this will definitely tide me over until after Christmas!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010-2011 Panini Limited Review



Base Card Design -
So I've been excited to get my hands on the first premium product of the year in Panini Limited. The box/pack price is around $85-$100... so it's a lot... but hopefully you can get a lot in the box you buy.

In my box I got 2 regular base cards. I actually thought I had three, but it turns out that the other one was a parallel that I didn't realize I had gotten until later. Anyways, the base cards are all numbered to 299. They feature a very shiny foiled finish on thin card stock. It surprises me that the cards are so thin. They actually remind me of the Certified base cards. Usually with a higher end product like this I expect the cards to be thicker for a more premium feel.

In terms of design, the cards feature a nice, simple design. It's pleasing and unobtrusive. The graphics on the card are subdued and look classy. The bottom of the card features the player's name in sort of an ice-y/marble-y looking section. The player on the card is popping out of the faded out background and is prominent on the front of the card.

Often times I feel that the products logo clashes with the card design, but in this case, the Limited logo looks great and fits in nicely.

The rookie cards are called Material Phenoms and are a part of the base set. Here's what mine looked like:



Yep... dreaded redemption card. According to the checklist this should be Philip Larsen.

The Material Phenom cards feature a manufactured patch of the player's team on the front. There is a large white patch area that the player signs in. Go ahead and check some pics out on eBay to see what they look like if you haven't seen them yet.

I will say that I am not a fan of the manufactured patch cards. To me the little team logos don't look that good and there isn't much meaning to a manufactured patch. I said the same thing about the OPC Premier patches as well. I am just not a fan of them. I do think Panini thought outside the box to come up with this unique design, but I'm just not a huge fan of it - just my own personal taste. BTW, these types of cards may be new to hockey collectors, but they have already been introduced in Panini basketball and football products. Didn't like them in those, don't like them in these. As of now I'm undecided whether or not to redeem the one I got. It's definitely up for trade though. Let me know if you want it.

Base Design Score:
8.5/10

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Just like other super high end products like OPC Premier and Ultimate Collection, there are a ton of inserts, and these cards are the backbone of the product. In my box I received 5 inserts. Three of the inserts were base card parallels. Here they are:







I thought the Kovalchuk card was a regular base card until I looked at the back and realized it was numbered to just 10. It also says 'Spotlight' on the front down the two lines that converge on the Limited logo. The Kovalchuk I received came in bad condition. There were crinkles in the foil. That's really too bad. I'm going to send it back to Panini for replacement. I'm not sure I'll get the same card back since it was such a low numbered card. I'll just have to wait and see. I'll let you guys know what they do for me.

The Doan is a jersey card numbered to 199 and the Varlamov is a PRIME (which means cooler patch type card in Panini vocabulary) piece numbered to 25. These cards remind me of how Panini stuck game-used pieces onto the Certified base cards. I would have loved to get different types of inserts rather than just game-used on base, but that's ok. The cards themselves are nice, but the swatches are just placed where the player's photo is. Maybe some more thought could have gone into swatch placement here.

My other two inserts came from the same family. They are both members of the Retired Numbers insert set. One features a jersey piece while the other is the non-game-used version.



This is a nice way to sneak retired players into the set. The idea is a good one and the design is pretty nice. Having the the years the player played on the front is a great feature and the banner is also a nice design element. This is a nice looking insert card. Now, you see that Blackhawks logo floating there in the middle? That's where the jersey swatches go! Check it out!



And here's the jersey version. This card features a small piece of jersey (bigger would have been nice) on the insert card. I think this particular card looks fine, but again, my complaint comes in that the jersey piece is not integrated into the overall design of the card. It's just THERE. Also, many of the inserts that I have seen have big blank spaces where you know there should be an autograph or memorabilia card. This is just not pleasing to the eye.

The checklist reveals that there are many other inserts. Many of them look great. I especially like the classy look of the Select Signatures. Hopefully I'll pull one one day!

Inserts/Game-used/Autos Score:
8/10

Overall Rating -
The box of Limited I got was not that great. In fact, pretty terrible. I spent $100 on it and I'm pretty sure I could have gotten all the cards in my box for under $30 delivered. Like all products like this, they are very hit or miss. I may choose to buy one more box of this... but I am reluctant. The cards are fairly nice, but I'm just afraid the value of this product will not hold up.

I also have seen MANY redemptions come out of this product already. When I was at my LCS, the owner opened a box and got a redemption card. I got a redemption card... and there are many more in box breaks that I have seen. This is just not cool. I think Panini may be the new king of the redemption cards.

So in the end, I might just have to set my limit of Limited at two boxes. I've already gotten box one. I might get another box next month... we'll just have to see. Keep reading to find out!

Overall Rating:
7/10
(not an average)

Here's the video of my break of Limited:



Check out the rest of my Youtube videos here:
http://www.youtube.com/user/blacksheep217

Busting 10 Packs of 10/11 OPC Hockey

I got my hands on this year's O-Pee-Chee late. My LCS had it in last week but I couldn't get any until today. Because Panini Limited came out, and since I've been shopping for a lot of Christmas gifts, I decided to just get 10 packs for now and get more if I like it. Here's a video of me breaking 10 packs. Chck it out, I pulled a Kobe Bryant! Hahaha!



I've decided I like it and I'll be getting more when I can. Check out my review of 2010-2011 OPC Hockey in the post below!

2010-2011 O-Pee-Chee Hockey Review



Base Card Design -
This year's OPC base card design is unremarkable to me. I feel that the designers did not use the card's space effectively. Much of the space on the card is devoted to geometric lines and graphics leaving room for only a small photo of the player. Above is an example of Sidney Crosby's base card. You can see how small the photo is. Also, for such a superstar player, the photograph is very pedestrian. I'm sure that UD has a TON of great shots of Crosby, but yet they chose this photo. Why UD, WHY?!?! Many of the other base cards photographs are like this - BORING.

I will say that I did like a few aspects of OPC regular base though. The cards are printed on thin cardboard. It's not very glossy like Victory was. I think it gives OPC a nice old school tactile feel that I kind of like. It's the feeling of cardboard! Most cards are so slick and modern feeling nowadays - these ones remind me of OPC cards from the 80s. And that's pretty cool.



Rookies and Legends also comprise the base card set. The designs look almost identical. The only differences are that the rookie cards say 'Marquee Rookie' and the legend cards say 'Marquee Legend'. Since they are basically the same I'll include them both in the same review here.

The rookie and legend cards are trying to go retro as is the trend nowadays, but as with the regular base design, I am not a fan of it. The cards have a boring design with a lot of wasted space. The graphics used for Marquee Legend or Rookie is just ugly. I'm not sure who came up with the rainbow color scheme, but it just doesn't work. The photos feature closer shots of the players, but again, there is nothing special here except for a standard image of the player. Yawn.

Base Design Score:
4/10

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
OPC offers a slew of inserts in their product. A couple that I received were Winter Classic and Team Leaders inserts. These are standard insert cards that are pretty easy to get. They come 1 in every 4 packs. I enjoyed getting both of these inserts because they brought something different to the table and were different looking and feeling compared to the base. I mention this because this was my big beef with Score inserts. The Score inserts were printed on the exact same card stock as the base. These cards are printed on slicker stock and are glossy. They are obviously different than the base and cannot be confused with being a subset of the main cards.



As done by OPC in previous years, retro cards come one per pack. The retro cards are a parallel of the base set but feature an old school design.



I like these cards much better than the regular base set. Even though there is so much space taken up by design elements and the photos are close ups only, the card definitely has an old feel to it. I could definitely see this card as being from the 60s or 70s. It's a fun design. I think having a set of this in a binder would be cool to look at. Good luck collecting them all though... there are A LOT of them.

To go along with the retro inserts are retro parallel cards. There are many levels of the parallel cards from OPC. There are rainbow foil, black rainbow foil/100, and blank back variations of the retro cards. Here's an example of a black rainbow foil I pulled numbered 56/100.



I really like the foiling on the retro rainbow cards. They really are shiny and make the cards pop. Player collectors won't have too hard of a time getting these cards as I've seen many on eBay at affordable prices.

Autographs and memorabilia cards can also be pulled, but they are difficult. Getting one is 1:144 packs as stated on the wrapper. In Action cards can also be pulled at a rate of 1:36. SP of In Action come 1:360.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:
8/10

Overall Rating -
I like OPC this year. I do not like it for it's base cards or rookie cards, but I'd buy the box to get all the retro cards and for the chance of getting a signature or memorabilia card. This product is very affordable and can potentially be very addicting to buy. Even though it costs a little more than Score, I'd compare OPC to Score rather than Score to Victory. OPC and Score are more similar. OPC has some good value possible in boxes, and it's always exciting to get the parallel retro cards. The retro cards definitely have the old school feel but the foiled versions bring it up to the modern age. Getting any of the harder to get inserts is just some nice icing on the cake!

Overall Rating:
8/10
(not an average)

Friday, December 10, 2010

2010-2011 Donruss Hockey Review



Base Card Design -
Here comes Donruss Hockey! Panini has brought back the Donruss brand this year with a retro feel to it. The old Donruss logo is pretty bad a$$. But unlike Score, I didn't collect any Donruss when they were around last so it's not a product that is nostalgic or familiar to me - at least in a hockey sense, I did collect Donruss baseball cards in the 80's though.

The base cards are on thin/glossy card stock. The predominant color scheme is white with team colors featured in lines traveling down the card. I like the white color scheme. I think it goes very well with hockey and ice. It gives the set a very bright feel to it. These cards are practically glowing after opening the box of Black Diamond last week.

In terms of design, the Donruss base card looks a little cluttered to me. It makes me think of many 90's card releases where there were lots of graphics all over the cards. To me this design has that kind of feel to it. There are lines on the card, but they do not come off as very clean or straight. The lines come down at angles and have different thicknesses and seem to meander through the card.

I think having some sort of foil or texture would really help this card more. The Donruss set can be compared with Upper Deck Series One. They are both in the same price range and are in fact very similar products. The UD1 set's base design has nice touches of foil on the base cards. The foil adds texture and layering to the card whereas the Donruss cards are just flat looking. Nothing on the card jumps out or pops out. So for me, the base design just doesn't do it for me.

Also to compare Donruss to UD1 again, the photos featured in UD1 are much larger. Upper Deck put the name of the hockey player featured in foil directly on the picture. In Donruss, the white name plate takes up a big chunk of real estate at the bottom of the card making the picture seem much smaller.


In terms of rookie cards, Donruss has brought back their old Rated Rookie subset cards. Rated Rookies used to look exactly like regular cards except for the words 'Rated Rookie' in big graphics on the card (well, at least in 80's baseball cards). In this set, the rookie cards have a different design, but they definitely have the same feel and theme as the regular base card set. I feel the same about these cards as I do about the standard base. They're just 'eh'.

Man, I wish Donruss would come back with some really awesome designs. Some of the old baseball cards really stood out among the pack. Examples are 1986 Donruss Baseball and 1987 Donruss Baseball - check those out if you don't know what I'm talking about. Those designers came up with a really outstanding border for the Donruss cards that are memorable. You knew exactly what year Donruss card you had by just looking at the card's border. These cards, I feel, don't stand out and will not stand the test of time. I think if Panini wants to make Donruss come back strong, they should really take a look at how Donruss started in baseball and take their cues from those base set designs.

Base Design Score:
5/10

Inserts/Game-used/Autos -
There are A TON of inserts to be found in Donruss. In terms of value for the box, this is where the goods are. Donruss features a myriad of different and unique inserts that make the box worth getting.



Donruss features: Base Set Proof Cards (#'d to 100), Base Card Die-Cuts, Ultimate Draft Cards, Les Gardiens, Ice Kings, Tough Times, Elite, Line of the Times, Fans of the Game, Boys of Winter, and a game-used/autographed versions of many of the inserts.



Buying a box of Donruss is fun because you really don't know what you'll get when you open the 24 packs up. In my box, I got 2 memorabilia cards from the Boys of Winter set, a couple Fans of the Game, a couple Tough Times, one Les Gardiens, one proof, and an Ice Kings card.


The themes that Donruss uses for their inserts are pretty well thought out. I feel they all make sense and feature unique players. The Les Gardiens set is especially cool looking to me. It features goalies on a see-through acetate card. The word "Les Gardiens" is in the language of where the featured goalie is from. Sweet! Ice King cards also feature a nice matte textured feel to the card. I think the idea here was to make the card feel like an art piece. Both of these techniques have been done before with other companies and in past sets, but it's still cool and makes for a nice change of pace and feel.



The rest of the insert cards that I got have the same feel and thickness as the regular base cards. Different design, but no extra foil or anything help to make these cards feel different. Put them in a stack of base cards and they are the same. This sort of reminds me of the Score insert cards.



As I said earlier, most of the inserts have some sort of jersey/patch/auto variation. If it does, the card will feature a circle cut piece of game-used memorabilia or an autograph. While it's nice to get these cards, I still wish Panini would do a better job of integrating their jersey pieces and autos onto the card. The jerseys pieces are just 'there' - and have barely any sort of design integration. They may add value to the card, but don't add much in terms of visual appeal. Most autographs come on sticker, and a lot of the stickers are just pasted right onto the front of the card. Panini should take some tips from Topps and Upper Deck. Even though they use stickers, they do it in a way that integrates it with the rest of the design.


So with the inserts, I give huge props to Panini for making such varied types of interesting inserts, but they can still take it up to the next level in terms of how they execute their jersey and autographs. All in all though, finding all these different inserts is very fun and rewarding.

Inserts/Game-used/Autos Score:
8/10

Overall Rating -
Donruss makes an 'ok' return to the hobby. It is definitely a fun break at a great price point with unique and interesting inserts - but I think it won't stand the test of time because of it's forgettable design.

Though the cost to buy Donruss is pretty much that of Upper Deck Series 1, I can't see the rookie cards matching the value of the Young Guns in UD1. So for Donruss, the values lie mostly in what cool inserts you can fish out of the boxes. And yes, there are some good ones!

I'd purchase a box or two to try my luck and have some fun, but that'd be the end of it.

Overall Rating:
6.5/10

(not an average)

Want to see me open up a box? Check out this video below!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

2010-2011 Upper Deck Black Diamond Hockey Review



Base Card Design -
Black Diamond cards have always had a distinctive textured foil look to the cards - and this year it's no different. The Black Diamond base cards come on thin card stock and are mostly covered in foil. The players on the front of the card 'pop out' because they don't share the same effect as the background. I have to say that I have never been a huge fan of Black Diamond's M.O., but it is what it is and this brand of card will not likely change anytime soon. That being said, the cards are pleasing to look at and don't get all bendy like Certified tends to do.

The base card set is split into 4 levels. There are single diamonds, double diamonds, triple diamonds, and quad diamonds. I guess these levels correspond somewhat to how 'good' a player is. The quad diamonds tend to have all the star players. Having this tiered system can make Black Diamond a challenging set to collect. There are very few triple and quad diamonds in a box. The rarity of these cards help make the base set have more value though.



As with most hockey products, the rookie cards are also included in the base set, but are more limited. The rookies also share the tiered system. The rookie cards look very similar to the base cards in that they have the same textured look, but the texturing of the background has a diamond pattern to it. The rookies in Black Diamond are called Rookie Gems. Unlike many of the more recent hockey sets, these cards are not individually serial numbered.

Black Diamond's base cards continue on the tradition of the line. It would be nice for Upper Deck to come up with something a bit more different, but I think they are happy with how the product has been doing so they'll probably stick with what works. Overall, I think the Black Diamond base set would be an 'ok' set to collect, but I don't see anything in it that really stands out from any other year's offering.

Base Design Score:
7/10
Inserts/Game-used/Autos -
Black Diamond offers an array of inserts. One of the nicest inserts I've gotten in a while is from the box I opened. It was a Hardware Heroes card of Brian Leetch. This card features a really nice rainbow foil effect (sorry, you can't see this from the scan), a clear window with an image of Brian, as well as some nice die cutting. This insert reminds me of older insert cards when companies really relied on superior design to sell cards and make people want inserts. I was very impressed by this card and I know that there are other die cut inserts besides this in Black Diamond.





On the other side of things, Black Diamond averages two game-used cards per box. The Quad Jersey insert features 4 pieces of jersey. I got Carey Price and Nathan Horton in my box. To be frank, I do not like the design of these. To me they are very un-Black Diamond. Let me explain. Black Diamond cards are dark cards. The foiling of the cards and the overall color scheme of the product is dark. The Quad Jersey inserts are very bright colored and have no artistic tie-in with the Black Diamond set other than the BD logo placed in the center of the jersey pieces. These jersey cards look like they belong in Upper Deck Series 1. I would recommend to Upper Deck that they use the foiling they use for the base cards on their jersey inserts. It would tie in much better and actually look like a part of the rest of Black Diamond.


Ruby card parallels can also be found in the packs. These are red themed parallel cards to the set. Each card is serial numbered to 100. Furthermore, Black Diamond has gold and platinum versions of base cards as well as quad jersey parallels too.

I'd like to mention that when buying a box of Black Diamond, you will receive a bonus pack of UD Ice cards. Upper Deck is not coming out with Ice cards this year so they are releasing them in other UD sets throughout the year. In a typical bonus pack there are 5 cards - 4 ice base cards and an Ice Premiers rookie card. Ice Premier rookie cards have always been a pretty hot collectible. It's nice to get them like this. I like the look of both cards from Ice this year. Here is a scan of a couple cards I got from my bonus pack.


Lastly, I did not pull any autograph cards out of my packs, but you can get Gemography autos at a rate of 1:60 packs.


Inserts/Game-used/Autos Score:
8/10

Overall Rating -

Black Diamond is a set that doesn't stand out too much for me. I am sure there are fans of the product out there, but I don't find as much excitement opening it as I do for other products such as SP Authentic and even UD Series 1. Even though Black Diamond is a really established brand, it is a product that just comes and goes without making too much of a splash. Upper Deck needs to re-evaluate this product and make it interesting somehow.

Value-wise, you can get some good things out of it, and there are some nice hits... I just wouldn't get too much of it. I'd wait for bigger and better coming soon!


Overall Rating:
7/10
(not an average)

You want to see me open my box of 10/11 Black Diamond??? Check out my video below!


Friday, December 3, 2010

2010-2011 Black Diamond is LIVE! Here's a video box break!

10/11 Black Diamond Hockey came out a little bit later than I thought it would. The schedule said it'd be out on Nov. 30th, but it took a few more days before actually making its appearance. I'll get my hands on a box myself tomorrow. My local card store said he just received his shipment. I couldn't wait so I decided to hit up the Hobby Box once again and see a video of what I got. Here's my first break of this year's Black Diamond. Tomorrow, I'll have a review up of it as soon as I can! But for now, here's this:


Also, if you'd like to check out any of my box breaks, I'm posting them on my Youtube channel here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/blacksheep217

Feel free to subscribe and friend me. I'll do the same for you!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My New Player PC - Logan Couture



So last weekend my wife and I went to our first NHL game. It was sooooooooooooo exciting! I've always loved watching NHL hockey on TV, but never had the opportunity to go to an actual game. We got to go to see the Sharks play the Blue Jackets at HP Pavilion in San Jose. We spent a ton of money there buying 2 jerseys (one for me - home teal - and one for here - away white) and food as well as a few other nick-nacks. Unfortunately, the Sharks lost and were shut out 0-3 and I had the displeasure of sitting next to a Blue Jackets fan... but neither of those things ruined a fun first NHL game for me and the missus. I can't wait till the next time!



Anyways, since starting up collecting again I've been wanting to start a player collection. My favorite team is the Sharks, but honestly, I'm not a huge Joe Thornton fan. There are cool players on the team like Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, and Dany Heatly, but I wanted to start with someone new and fresh with hopefully a long career still ahead of them. And so I came to Logan Couture. He's been getting some solid playing time this year and has done a good job scoring goals so far for the Sharks. His cards also first started coming out in 09/10 which is the year I came back to the hobby... so I felt he would be a great player to follow and collect. I've been looking and buying all sorts of Couture cards that I can. I just got the most awesome Couture card yet this morning. It's his 09/10 UD The Cup Rookie Draft Board Card. It's numbered 3 of 25 and his autograph is sitting on top of a piece of the draft board that was at the actual NHL draft. Soooo cool! Check it out!




So if you have any Logan Couture cards, I'd be happy to trade for them. Check out my trade bucket here:

I also have a few more cards that are not on the trade list that I might be willing to trade for harder to find Couture cards.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

2010-2011 Score Hockey Review



Base Card Design -
So Score's been out for a while now but I haven't been able to get any until this weekend. My local card store chose not to get any in so I thought I wouldn't get any of it at all, but lo and behold, my local Target had some blaster packs on the shelf! This is really surprising since I live in Woodland, Ca... not a hockey mecca by any stretch of the imagination.

To celebrate it's 20th anniversary and re-release, the good people over at Panini/Score based their design on what they came out with in 1990. The cards are similar but not the exactly same - they are
cool, though, because the cards bring back a lot of nostalgia from the past. There were a lot of collectors in the 90's (including me!), and seeing these cards brings back the days when I'd spend every cent of my parent's money buying cards.

The base card design features an action shot of the player on white background. Two red lines border the top and bottom of the card. A little picture sits in the corner of the card and tells you what position the player plays. The team logo is also on the front. All the standard stuff with nothing missing! Well, it doesn't tell you the player's number...

But I think that Score's design is perfect for what it is. It is not overly ambitious, and it's pretty much what I would expect paying about a dollar a pack.

In terms of the photography, it's hit or miss. Some of the action shots are really great and unique, but most are boring shots of the featured player.



The Score base includes a subset of rookie cards with a different design. These cards remind me of a cross between Upper Deck Victory and Artifacts. The cards feature some 'rad' graphics and have the player's image sitting on top of a cloudy background. I have mixed feelings about these cards. I can't decide if I like them or not. I guess I neither like them or dislike them. That's not good. One good thing about them is that they short printed a select few rookies. This is good for collectors because it will give those rookie cards a bump in value and make the set a little more valuable.

One more subset of the base cards are the Season Highlight cards. Obviously these cards detail a special moment from last season. These types of cards used to be standard in base sets. It would allow card companies to put multiples of star players in the set. I do like that these cards are here; they are an interesting read!

Base Design Score:
7/10
Inserts/Game-used/Autos -
There are many inserts in the Score set and they come at widely varying rates. Some are very common while others are very difficult to pull out of a pack. I was not able to get any, but there are some pretty rare autograph cards as well as cards shaped like a snow globe.



I was only able to get some of the more common inserts in my box break. And to be honest, I was pretty disappointed in them. The insert cards have a different design from the base cards, but other than that, they could easily be mistaken for a card that was a subset of the base set. They are printed on the same card stock, not glossy, and have no foil highlighting that could set it apart. Some of the sets, like the Net Cam insert set, do feature some really cool photography though. This is the saving grace of the inserts. Design wise, I do not feel that the inserts stood out though, and I was not excited to get them in my break.



As with just about every Panini product out there (including the other sports, or course), Panini features parallel cards in this product. Panini should just change their name to Parallini. You get one glossy base card per pack and 20th Anniversary cards are randomly inserted. The glossy base cards are ridiculous. These cards have a barely noticeable glossy front on them. There is absolutely no other change in the card. No different color. No special stamp. Nothing. This is actually one of the most uninspired parallel cards I've ever seen. I would have just left them out if I were at Panini. I've seen eBay auctions for these cards and sellers basically say you have to trust them that it's the glossy version. Haha.


Inserts/Game-used/Autos Score:
6.5/10

Overall Rating -

Although I feel like I have been focusing on negative aspects of Score in this review, I must say that Score is a really good value for a hockey product. Unlike Upper Deck Victory, Score has cards in it that could really have a high value and desirability. It's awesome that you have a chance to pull out an autograph, short printed rookie card, or a die-cut card in a pack that only costs around $1.

I would definitely recommend buying some Score, and I personally will be getting more the next time I visit Target.


Overall Rating
:
8/10
(not an average)

Check out my blaster box of Score from Target in the Youtube clip below. For other box breaks, keep checking back on my homepage! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2010-2011 Upper Deck Series One Box Breaks

I went to my local card store in Sacramento and picked up 2 boxes of Upper Deck Series One today! One video is a recap of what I opened in the store and the other is of me breaking a brand new box. Thanks for watching! Please see the post below for a full review of UD1.

Recap Video:



Box Break Video:

2010-2011 Upper Deck Series One Review



Base Card Design -
Upper Deck's signature line of hockey cards is a model of consistency. When I left the hobby earlier this decade, UD Series 1 and 2 featured awesome photography and clean design. Now that I'm back I have found the same to still be true. The Upper Deck cards look great. You can definitely tell that they are a standard high quality UD card. The cards are made on nice glossy stock and the design is uncluttered and simple. The player's name is highlighted below their photo in silver foil. Below the name is a bar that corresponds to their team's color. A smaller photo of the player's head is also featured near the name along with team and position information.

The photography in Series One is excellent. Many of UD's other products feature great artistic designs, but Series One's best attribute is the great photography. There are many great action shots of the players but also unique poses and moments captured with the camera. I have a lot of fun just flipping through the base cards and taking them all in. Sometimes I wish UD would use more of their stunning photography in their other releases, but for now we'll all have to be content with what they put into their main line of cards.

Also part of the main base set of cards are the Young Gun rookie cards. These cards are sought by collectors year after year. At a rate of 6 per box and having a lot of rookies, getting the top ones can be a challenge. These cards always seem to retain a good value and are a solid pick up for rookie collectors. This year's offering prominently features the Young Guns logo at the bottom in foil. Compared to last year's 'modern-future-y' design, these cards have a more 'western-y' feel to them. I really think it's the lettering and foil highlights that make me feel this way. So far, I'm undecided if I like the look of these. As of now, I prefer last year's look for the Young Guns. In my two boxes I pulled a Brandon Yip Young Gun! Check it out!



Base Design Score:
9/10
Inserts/Game-used/Autos -
Upper Deck Series One has a good amount of insert cards to chase. One of the most exciting inserts this year are the 20th Anniversary variation cards. Upper Deck has gone back to their initial hockey set and made cards that share the same design. You get about 6 of these 20th Anniversary variations per box. I thought they would be EXACTLY THE SAME as they were back in the 90's, but they only look the part. When you have one in your hand, it really feels like a flimsy paper thin trading card. Now, I remember the cards back then and the card stock they were on. This isn't it. Nonetheless, these are pretty cool cards, and I don't mind having some in my collection. I can see many people trying to chasing after this parallel set. There's even a super rare Brodeur card included as a special insert. They call it the 'missing link' since UD didn't have a rookie of him back then, they decided to make a card that he might have had if they had done one - a really cool concept. It'd be awesome to pull one, but at a rate of 1:2500, I don't think I'll be getting it anytime soon. Here's an example of one of these 20th Anniversary cards.



Another parallel card in Series One are the Exclusives inserts. These cards are the rare versions of the base cards. They come with a special gold foil stamp and are numbered to 100. There is also a spectrum version offered that is numbered to just 10. I was lucky enough to pull three in two boxes - one even being a Young Gun. Here's what these cards look like.



I'm not sure how popular these cards will be, but it's always nice to get a low numbered card of a star player. With the set being so large, star players can be a tough pull.



Just like last year, you get 2 game-used or autographed cards per box. The game used cards come much more often than autographs. In my boxes I pulled four game used jersey cards. These cards have a very pedestrian design and the piece of memorabilia looks really small when cut into a circle and among a mostly white background. I guess you can't expect the design team to come up with a killer design for everything, but I think this set deserves better.

Other inserts in Series One include The All World Team, Acetate Die-Cuts, and the Steve Yzerman Hockey Heroes set.



The All World Team insert set took a step backward in design this year. I really like having a nation's flag on trading cards and last year the flag had a prominent role on the front of the card. This year, the flag takes up a small space at the bottom of the card. These cards, like the game used cards, feel like they were just phoned in.

Unfortunately I did not pull out any Acetate Die-Cuts. These are traditionally difficult pulls. If I get one I'll post it up on this blog. They come at a rate of 1 in 288 packs. Not as hard as the Brodeur missing link card, but still a very difficult pull.

And finally, this year's Hockey Heroes inserts feature Steve Yzerman. The cards look the same each and every year. I've never been a huge fan of these cards, but I guess they do have a following so UD keeps pumping them out. This year I pulled the 'header' card. Here it is! This one looks pretty nice, I have to admit.



Upper Deck Series One gets a 7 for overall score in terms of inserts. It could have definitely been better if UD put more effort into their game-used cards and All World Team inserts. What really pulls UD1 up are the retro variation cards. They aren't perfect, but they have a great old school charm to them that makes them desirable.


Inserts/Game-used/Autos Score:
7/10

Overall Rating -

Upper Deck Series One is a set that everyone should buy some of. It's a great set of cards to collect for both the awesome hockey photography and for future value. It's definitely a fun product to bust boxes of because of the varied types of cards in every box. For the past few months I have been busting higher end stuff... and you just don't get that many cards per box. You DO get a lot of cards in each box UD1. I'm just not sure you can go wrong with buying this product. It gets a very high overall recommendation from me.

Overall Rating:
9/10
(not an average)

Monday, November 8, 2010

2009-2010 Upper Deck Black Break

Upper Deck Black is a product that I didn't get a chance to break a whole lot of last year (actually, none) since it came out before I started collecting cards again. Also, I probably wouldn't have broken a whole lot of it anyways since it's so darn expensive! But I'm definitely a sucker for products like this and decided to buy a box from Dave and Adam's Card World last weekend since they had a sale. My package finally arrived today from UPS and so I got to break it! SO EXCITED. I had to temper myself a little though because with all products like this, they can be really hit or really miss with most times being really miss.

I won't do a full review of this product, but I must say I really love the design of these cards. The black backgrounds are really classy and the different card types all look really good. I was hoping to get a Pride of a Nation insert card, but I knew going in that probably I wouldn't. I'm sad that I won't get a chance to get any Black for 2010 since it's not on the release calendar. But it's cool that at least I can still get some of last year's stock and maybe even 2008 if I really want to.

With this box of 09/10 Black I also shot my first box break video! Take a look at me opening the box or just skip down below to see the hits that I got.



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Taylor Chorney 68/499


Matt Beleskey 111/499


Marian Gaborik 98/99


Mario Lemieux Black Ice AUTO 16/25!!!!!!

so sweet.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2010-2011 Upper Deck Artifacts



Base Card Design - This is the second product out of Upper Deck this year, and it comes hot on the heels of Certified. This product is definitely a good match for Upper Deck to put against Certified as the product, while looking very different, has aspects that are similar to Panini's first release.

I wasn't sure what Artifacts was going to be like, actually. Since this is my first year back in the hobby, I didn't have any experience with Artifacts during the 09/10 campaign. I was very surprised when I got the cards that they had a very premium card feel to them. The cards have a nice glossy and thick feel to them. They are not thin and don't bend like Certified cards, and the gold foil accents are very shiny.

On the message boards, people have had very mixed reactions to the design. Seeing the cards in person has really swung my opinion in a positive direction. The cards have a very artsy feel to them. The pictures of the players are 'ghosted' out at the bottom and they are set amidst a steam/cloud background. Now, what do clouds and steam have to do with hockey? Maybe all the ice in the rink melted... but other than that, I'm not sure. It does look pretty cool to me, but I can see why people may be turned off to this design.


Another part of the main set are the rookies and stars numbered cards. Both of these sets are numbered to 999. These cards remind me of collecting SP Authentic last year. There were limited rookie cards and a set of limited star player cards as well. These cards continue the cloud design, but for some reason I don't like them as much. I think they player looks too small on the Artifacts Star card and the rookie cards are very plain to me. Though the rookies are numbered to the same amount as in SPA, they are not autographed so that doesn't help their cause and will hinder their hobby value.



Base Design Score:
8.5/10

Inserts/Game-used/Autos -

I mentioned earlier that this product and Certified had some similar aspects. The similarity comes in that both products feature a heavy amount of parallel cards. There are many versions of the same card at different print runs. I have never been a fan of having tons of parallel cards. If it were up to me, there might just be one parallel card and one regular card - think Topps and refractors when they first came out. But here in Artifacts there are lots and lots of parallels. Here is a card that I got in my box. It is a Henrik Sedin base card parallel numbered to just 35. Wow... 35 sounds like a low number, but I know there are other versions with an even lower print run. I actually didn't know this was a parallel card until I looked closely at it. The foil on it is just a little different than the regular base cards - it has a lighter gold foil as opposed to the more bronzen regular foil.


My box also came with three memorabilia cards. I received two Treasured Swatches inserts and one Tundra Tandems card. I'll talk about the Treasured Swatches first. In terms of design, they are very clean, but also very dark. They have almost a muted quality to them. The Claude Giroux seems especially dark since his card came with black jersey pieces. The Tomas Plekanec I got was a bit better since it featured brighter colors and a pretty nice rainbow of colors on the patch. These designs seem to be standard Upper Deck fare. Definitely not bad, but definitely not inspiring either. These are not cards I'd go on eBay trying to find, but I won't complain getting them in a box.




The Tundra Tandems card I got was very limited - too bad they were not hobby stars with great value. Oh well. I received a Bernie NIcholls/Bill Ranford dual jersey numbered 1 of 10. The Tandems card does not stand out to me in design. It features some nice artistic elements, but like the Treasured Swatches, the overall look is very dark. They players are not in full color; they are in a two-tone sort of color scale. And the players are also very small on the card. I had a hard time telling who I got when I first glanced at the card.


Each hobby box comes with an autographed card as well as the memorabilia cards. I received Jordan Staal. The coolest thing about the card I got was Staal in the blue Pens jersey. The other design elements of this card did not impress me. I think Upper Deck could have done much better with these. This was just an uninspiring and plain design. When I look at these cards, I feel like I'm looking at a big oval mirror... like the one from Snow White. The autograph comes on sticker. Though the sticker is kind of cool with it's own holo-foil look - it's still an on sicker auto, not on card.


My final insert from the box was a rookie redemption card. This is a card that can be sent in for a rookie that didn't make it in the set because it's too early in the season. Most people will get a team's rookie redemption... say... the Sharks or the Kings. I ended up getting the 'wild card'. I'm curious as to who I'll get with it! I'm definitely going to have some fun with it and redeem it - not trade it off or sell it.




Inserts/Game-used/Autos Score:
7/10

Overall Rating -

Artifacts was a really fun product to break. With a hobby box, you get a nice mix of memorabilia cards, rookies, and an autograph. I personally like the design and look of the cards, though some could be better. I think I would have a very tough time choosing between a box of this or a box of Panini Certified. Both products feature 10 packs per box and a slew of hits. I'd probably lean towards Artifacts, but really it could go either way. I'm giving both products the exact same overall score, an 8. I'll probably be buying one more box of Artifacts when my local card store gets some in. I'll let you know what I get. Thanks for reading!


Overall Rating:
8/10
(not an average)