Saturday, March 31, 2012

2011-2012 ITG Captain-C Review

"Captain-C" = "Captaincy" - Get it? Nice play on words ITG! Perfect for a set like this composed of only players who have earned the coveted position of captain for their teams. With this set ITG has once again provided hockey collectors with fun and specifically themed cards to add to their collections. By only including captains in this set, collectors can rest assured that the players they find will be a solid group of individuals who have the prized 'C' on their sweaters.



Base Card Design -
With recent ITG one-pack-box products like Enforcers and Canada vs. the World, the base cards have been more insert oriented. Captain-C brings back the standard base card in a shiny, spectacular form. ITG has given the base cards a foil background treatment - something really only seen on some of their higher-end products in the past. Scans of the base cards really don't do them justice. There is a streaking effect to the shimmer that must be seen to be appreciated when looking at these cards. I've been watching many breaks of Captain-C, and over and over I have heard collectors praising the way the base cards look. While I enjoy the foil on the base cards, I am less a fan of the rest of the base card graphics. I feel that some ITG products have moved forward in terms of having modern designs. The design ITG uses on these base cards though is a bit too plain for my liking. The solid starkness of the colors is what makes this design dated.  And while it's great that Captain-C features pretty large photographs on the cards, a few of the older looking photographs clash a bit with the foil background.


So while I am a huge fan of the glimmering foil, the rest of the base design leaves me wanting. Each pack of Captain-C comes with 3 base cards. Though not stated on card, these cards are limited to only 150 of each according to the ITG website. Gold versions of the base cards can be found one per pack.  These are limited to only 50 copies of each.

Base Card Design Score:
8.5/10

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Each box/pack of Captain-C comes with a mix of five game-used cards and autographed cards. Some of the autographs and memorabilia cards are more short printed than others. Consult the ITG website for more information on which cards are short printed. As usual, most cards do not show a print run and are not individual serial numbered. It is important to visit ITG's site and find out the rarity of the cards you pull.


The standard autographed card in Captain-C is just like the Patrick Marleau shown above. You can certainly tell it is an ITG autograph card design. Though it has the Captain-C brand name featured on the left side of the card, it shares similar characteristics of all ITG autographed cards that run throughout their product lines. As usual, the autographs are on stickers but blend in very well with the card so it is difficult to tell it is a sticker-autograph rather than an on-card auto. These cards also do a nice job of featuring the team colors of the player so they look great alongside licensed NHL cards. I also like the photos that ITG used on these cards. They have been very good about hiding the fact that they don't have an NHL license. As you can see with Marleau, you can definitely tell he is with the Sharks even though there is not a Sharks logo to be found.  Slick job ITG!


The standard jersey and patch cards in Captain-C are like this Lemieux card shown above. I am a big fan of these cards. They are very bright and show a sense of modern card design. The graphics on the card are vibrant and do a great job of showcasing the team color. I also love the fact that the level of the card (silver or gold) is in foil. I always feel that a tasteful touch of foil on a card does a lot - and it certainly looks great here. And just like the autograph cards, the photos here also mask the fact that ITG doesn't have an NHL license. A quick glance at the Lemieux definitely gives off the impression of the Penguins. On the back of the card, it clearly states that the material on the front of the card came from a game-used jersey that Mario Lemieux wore during a Pittsburgh Penguins game - impressive.


Not all of the players featured in Captain-C are NHL captains. ITG takes the opportunity to get some younger players into the mix as well. Here we have a card of Cody Eakin when he was captain of the Swift Current Broncos. It was a great idea to add in captains of junior teams to the product so the player pool could be more diverse.

Some other great inserts can be found in Captain-C as well. ITG has included cards with game-used sticks as well as the actual captain's 'C' from a game-used jersey. Because the 'C' is so large, they have been broken up into 2 cards. Collectors can have fun chasing both parts to put together an amazing piece of memorabilia.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:
9/10

Overall Rating -
Captain-C from ITG is definitely a winner - just like the players it features. ITG has stated that it has only produced a very limited number of this product... and I believe them! Many of the places I go to purchase cards have sold through their initial stock of it, and ITG has stated that it has sold out of it on their end. The base cards look very nice and the game-used memorabilia cards are spectacular as always. If you're looking to try ITG for the first time I would say this is the product to do so. It's definitely one of my favorite ITG products that has come out recently. Get it while you can! This stuff might dry up quickly!

Overall Rating:
9/10
(not an average)

Check out my box of 11/12 Captain-C from D & P Sports Cards in Sacramento, CA:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Box Rippers Contest (Free Limited Eberle RC Auto)

Contest is now over.  Thank you to all who joined in!
Keep an eye out for the next one!

How would you like to win this?

So as many of you know, I am partnered up with Box Rippers. Box Rippers is a forum site for sports card (mostly hockey) discussion as well as group box breaks. The guy who runs Box Rippers is Tiger, a respected person and real class act in the hobby world. People who have been involved with group breaks with Tiger can surely attest to that. He is super generous and fun to talk to. Anyways, I've been trying to help Tiger get traffic to his site - to participate in the forum discussions there. So to generate some traffic and interest, Tiger has generously given me a 10/11 Panini Limited Jordan Eberle autographed to give away! There's not much to the contest, but people who want to win the card will have to put in a little bit of work... fun work though, I promise!

This is what you have to do in order to be in the contest:

1. Join up on Box Rippers (free and easy!). Just create an account. Click here to get to the site.
2. Watch this video on Youtube and enter your Box Rippers username along with "I'm in" in the comments section.


3. Make 50 posts on the forums. But please don't spam posts, those won't count. The mods will be watching (oh yea, I'm a mod on there!)

That's it! I know 50 posts seems like a lot, but we're really trying to get the forum booming with lots of talk and discussion. I have actually recently become a lot more involved in the forums. I've started numerous threads to get the discussion going. Please go check them out and participate - make Box Rippers a site that you are an active part of!

One last thing as a side note. One thing that I really appreciate about Tiger and Box Rippers is that he doesn't put any pressure on anyone to join in on his group breaks. They usually fill pretty easily, but he (and I too) would just like collectors to have a place to go and talk about our favorite hobby and to grow the hockey card hobby as much as we can!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section. Thanks and good luck.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

2011-2012 Upper Deck Series 2 Review

The second part of Upper Deck's signature card set hit the hobby world this week! This set usually fills in all the gaps and cleans up all the loose ends that Series 1 left behind. This set certainly does that... and a whole lot more. Not only does it finish UD1... but also Victory, MVP, and OPC as well. Let's check out the mash of cards that is UD2.


Base Card Design -
The base cards in UD2 are exactly the same design as in the first series so there is no need to go into detail about what's here. I will say that it was a great pleasure to browse through the set once again though. Upper Deck has chosen to represent the NHL in eye popping, high quality photographs. I loved seeing many of the players that have gotten more frequent playing time on their teams such as San Jose backup net minder Thomas Greiss, as well as players that have been traded to other teams in their new colors. Upper Deck has done a very nice job of tidying up.


Now it's not all perfect though... the NHL trade deadline obviously came after the checklist of this set was finalized so there are some players who are not currently up to date. One example is Dominic Moore. He is card number 285 and is shown in his Tampa Bay uniform - not his newly acquired Shark's one. Also, Cody Hodgson, one of the biggest rookies in this year's product is not to be found in his new Sabres jersey. But of course it's hard to fault Upper Deck too much for this. I'm just glad we have an Upper Deck product out! Seems like many from the Upper Deck line of cards have been delayed.


The Young Guns share the same design as before so I won't re-review them. The base cards and the Young Guns score the same rating as they did when they were released last year. In case you don't remember what I thought, or don't want to search for the UD1 review, here are a few things that I was critical about regarding this year's set of cards.

- The 'globe' design at the bottom of the base card seems a bit recycled from an earlier Upper Deck release.
- Some of the base card backs left a lot of space that could have been used more effectively.
- The Young Gun design seemed a bit muted this year.

Base Card Design Score:
8.5/10

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Much can be found in each box of Upper Deck Series 2. In fact, I don't think there was a single pack that only had UD2 base cards within it. Upper Deck has loaded up boxes with insert cards ranging from updates to jerseys to autographs.


Most of the inserts in packs are updates to O-Pee-Chee, MVP, and Victory. In year's past UD2 had always put Victory Update cards in to round out the Victory rookie cards. This year Upper Deck has stuffed even more sets in. I have already reviewed all three of the sets mentioned, so please check back and re-read my reviews of them if you like. I would like to mention, however, that I am very, very happy to see the MVP rookie cards here in Series 2. MVP was an insert into Victory boxes this year and I thought that Upper Deck wasn't going to have the cards continued on. To my surprise, they showed up in UD2. Not only are there the standard base cards, but the beautiful black bordered rookie cards are here. I was crossing my fingers for a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins MVP rookie... and it's here! Kudos for the inclusion Upper Deck! To go along with these sets, collectors can also find inserts from OPC and MVP as well. OPC retro cards are in the boxes as well as autographed MVP inserts.


Each box of Series 2 will contain two jersey cards on average. In Series 1 collectors usually found two UD Game Jersey insert cards. Here, they will find one of those and also a Rookie Materials jersey card. These cards have been a staple of UD2 for some time now and again they are back this year. The Rookie Materials cards have a horizontal orientation with a jersey swatch in the shape of an 'R'. It's not a bad design, but it's not a card that I particularly find appealing either. These rookie jersey pieces are stated to have come from the rookie photo shoot.  Fans of the rookies will definitely want to pick one of these up just to have as a part of their PC, but otherwise they shouldn't be too appealing to most collectors.


Rookie Breakouts also make a return to UD2. These acetate cards are limited to only 100 copies each. I appreciate these cards because they add a different element to the set. I am very happy to see that there are less inserts like the All World Team in this release. I guess those spots were taken by the updated cards. To find out all the details about what exactly is in UD2, Upper Deck has released all the information you could ever want regarding it. This is not a typical Upper Deck practice, but I'm very happy to see that they did. Click here for a run-down of Series 2 and all it's secrets! Because of all the different elements put into UD2, this series actually gets a higher rating from me than the first.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:
9/10

Overall Rating -
Upper Deck Series 2 is a great product to sit down and open. The word is definitely 'fun'. I loved seeing all the different things that the box had to offer. For collectors who like variety, this is a product that will keep you occupied!

In terms of value, I see that there are some great positives. As usual, the Young Gun rookie cards should prove very popular. The group of Young Guns in Series 2 may not be well known, but you never know when one will break out and be a star. Also, the Victory, MVP, and OPC rookie cards will still yield all the big names from the first series so there is definitely some added value there in terms of rookie cards.

Last year Upper Deck did not produce a lot of Series 2. Boxes of last year's product is very hard to find and expensive if you find it. I'm not sure about this year's production run, but I would go out and get a few boxes just in case!

Over, under, or just-rightly produced... this is a product I would recommend busting into.

Overall Rating:
9/10
(not an average)

Here's a box of 11/12 Upper Deck Series 2 opened at D & P Sports Cards in Sacramento, CA: