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!