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)