Friday, August 31, 2012

2011-2012 Panini Prime Hockey Review

Panini comes out swinging with a brand new brand of hockey cards - Prime. Not for the faint of heart, Prime delivers amazing amounts of player-worn gear and autographed content. The sell sheets and previews of the product were amazing... so much in fact, that when I found out the product was delayed a couple more days than I was expecting, I could hardly stand it! Well, it's out now... and boy, this is the stuff that card collectors dream of.


Base Card Design -
It can be a bit difficult to tell from scans, but the Prime base cards are of the highest quality. When I initially saw them, they reminded me a bit of Topp's Inception cards. But these cards have a generous amount of foil added to them that make them feel that much more premium than those from Inception. Each base card comes on a very thick cardstock (about jersey card thickness, not The Cup thickness) and is numbered to just 249. The design of these cards are pretty unique to hockey. Many hockey cards use a predominantly white background and scheme. It makes sense since the game is played on ice, but these cards don't figure white into the color scheme at all. Rather, Panini goes with golden hues with team colors as highlights. Very classy move... and very unexpected. I have to really give it to Panini this time. The base cards stand out from other hockey cards in a big way.


The card backs pair very nicely with the fronts. Mirrored from the front is the golden background but in a lighter shade. It provides the backing for the players bio and season stat-line. I get the sense that just as much effort was put into making the back as the front. Check out the the how well laid out the entire card is from top to bottom. Starting at the top is a beautiful (different from the front) photo of the featured player. And it's not that Panini just pasted in an extra photograph - see how the player is in full color while the background is set in a sepia-type color palette. That's some extra photo editing work there. And as you move down the back, you can just see how neat and elegantly everything flows - from the written bio all the way to the player's NHL totals. The whole thing just looks great.


The rookie cards found within Prime all feature four pieces of player-worn gear along with an autograph. The Raphael Diaz shown above is not the standard rookie card - it's the parallel version numbered to 50 featuring prime swatches of jersey - but you can get a sense of the general design of the rookie cards by looking at it since it shares the exact same design as it's all-jersey brother. And these cards look amazing. Though in concept they are reminiscent of Upper Deck's O-Pee-Chee Premier rookie cards of the past, these cards have a more higher-end feel to them than those. The thickness of the cards and the generous amount of foil make these cards feel closer to The Cup than anything else. And if these cards are comparable to The Cup... that's really saying something!

Base Card Design Score:
10/10

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
With all super-premium card products, opening a box is all about the hits found inside. And you will find pretty much all hits besides the base cards within each one. Though the packs state only five cards are found within, there really are seven from what I've seen of boxes being opened - two base and FIVE game-used or autographs cards. Getting more than stated on the packaging is always a sweet deal!


The 'standard' and most common types of cards found in packs of Prime are the Prime Combos and Trios cards. These cards feature two to three players per card and carry with it swatches worn by those players. I have never been a huge fan of the multi-player swatch cards, but these cards are done pretty well. The designers at Panini have come up with some pretty clever letter combos for specific players. One of my breaks featured Zack Kassian and Cody Hodgson on the same card with the word "SWAP" - pretty cool. Though the card above doesn't have a very zany name, the patches on it are really out of this world. Those two middle patches are NAS-&-TEE!


Prime Namesakes are letterman cards that feature player autographs. Though these aren't 'real' letters found on the backs of player sweaters, they are fun to put together. And actually, these types of cards command pretty high prices on the secondary market. It would seem that collectors actively try to complete the nameplates as best they can. Putting them all together is really impressive - especially if the player you complete has a long name. Prime does also have genuine game-worn letters packed in as well. Check out my break from Chri5784 in the video below. He pulls me an autographed Phil Kessel game-worn letter patch. That might have been the best card out of the entire case.


Prime Time Rookie cards showcase very large pieces of material from this year's rookie class. The enormity of the patch is only rivaled by the even larger Prime Colors Patch cards that literally can be put together to create the entire logo from a player's jersey. If you want to see a couple of those, again, I'd refer you to the video break below. Look for Prime Colors of Cody Hodgson and Bobby Ryan.


Perhaps less exciting, but equally difficult to get, are the base card parallels found in Prime. The parallels come in silver, gold, and black variations. The Andrew Ladd I pulled is the silver version numbered to 25. Though probably difficult to see in the scan, the foil is a silver holo-foil. It really makes the card pop - even more so than the already foil-y standard base cards. These will be a great challenge to track down for player collectors. Gold cards are limited to only five, and the Black versions are the elusive one of ones.

As you can see there is quite a bit of variation to be found in Prime. Collectors can find the entire spectrum of hits - from base parallels all the way to patch pieces that take up the entire card. Incredible.

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

Overall Rating -
I love Panini Prime. I was a little hesitant to like it too much for fear of disappointment before it came out, but it has lived up to my expectations - which is a rare thing to do nowadays. The cards are absolutely gorgeous in design and the variety of things to collect is just mind blowing. I really don't know how Panini can follow up a product like this!

And it's not only me... I've seen a hugely positive response from other collectors about Prime already. It's definitely a quality product. Even though the price per pack is pretty darn high - it'll set you back $200 - I feel it's worth the bust. If you can do it... DO IT!

I have to admit I was only going to get one case and one box of the stuff... I couldn't help myself and ended up getting one more box than I had planned to. It's just too much fun to open! Now I have to go on eBay and find all the singles I need... and sell all the singles I don't.

Prime. Go get it. Perfect score!

Overall Rating:
10/10

Here are my breaks of 11/12 Panini Prime:



Sunday, August 26, 2012

Retail Review #11 (09/10 UD Series 2 Blaster)


In somewhat of a surprise to me, 09/10 Upper Deck Series two was chosen by the views as the box to open up this week. And I'm more than happy to give this blaster a rip. 09/10 products will always hold a special place in my heart as they were the first cards I bought upon returning to the hobby. For an extremely reasonable price, I was able to pick up this box with tremendous rookie card potential.


Price - 
$7.95 at Dave and Adam's Card World

Packs - 12
09/10 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster Packs

There are some great cards that could possibly come out of 09/10 Upper Deck Series 2 blasters. Logan Couture, Brad Marchand, Braden Holtby, James Reimer, Michael Grabner, and Jonas Gustavsson all have Young Guns from that series. In addition, Victory rookie cards of John Tavares, Matt Duchene, Evander Kane, and Antti Niemi can also be found here. I'm not sure why these blasters have been discounted so heavily at Dave and Adam's Card Word... but it's an awesome value for any hockey collector who's looking for solid cards at a modest price.

Let's see what I got in my 09/10 Upper Deck Series 2 blaster:


Review -
The Upper Deck Series 1 and 2 blasters are always fun to open. Part of this has to do with the fact that they contain 12 packs to bust. After opening up blasters with significantly less packs (like TWO packs per Be a Player blaster), this seemed like a much more substantial break. I knew going in that I would most likely get a few inserts, some Victory cards, and two precious Young Guns.

Unfortunately, the Young Guns I pulled were pretty lame - Ryan Stoa and Ryan Keller. For a second I almost read Keller's card as 'Kessler', but obviously that couldn't be the case. It was a little disappointing to get these two players, but that's always the risk in any product you buy. At the very least, though, they were two Young Guns that I did not already have in my collection. And design-wise, these cards look great to me. I am a big fan of the 09/10 Young Gun design. It's so very different than any other type I've seen from Upper Deck. I mention in my video that they look 'quasi-futuristic'. I like that term and I'll stick with it when describing the 09/10 Young Gun cards.

Two designs in this break that I wasn't as fond were the Captain's Calling insert card and Victory rookies. The Luongo Captain's Calling card looks to of had little to no effort in thinking of the design. It's very generic, and I can't see collectors ever wanting to build a set of these boring cards. And somehow the Vicory rookie cards have also gotten the generic treatment too. The 'Victory Rookie' logo and the grey borders don't do the card any favors.

All-in-all, even though I didn't get anything mind-blowing-ly awesome, the break was fun for nostalgic reasons. For my top 3 this week, I've chosen the three cards that really brought me back a few years to when I returned to the hobby.

Here are the top 3 gems of this week's break.

Top 3 Cards


#3 - Dustin Byfuglien Victory Card No. 262
I remember seeing Byfuglien's name and being like... how the heck do you pronounce this? I mean, if you saw his name without knowing him, you would have absolutely no clue. I think most people would see his name and read it: by-foo-guh-lee-in. Well, the real way to pronounce Dustin's last name is: BUFF-lehn. And it's cool that Victory cards have how to pronounce the name on the back! Pretty neat. Did you know that? Check it out if you have some old Victory base around.


#2 - Jean-Luc Brassard Card No. CH-JB
These 'Champions' cards were cards that dealt with winter sports. They had a focus on skiers, figure skaters, and others of that ilk. Most people didn't like getting these cards, but I did. In fact, I ended up collecting the entire set of the autographed versions. Jean-Luc Brassard didn't have an auto in that set, so seeing this card was surprising to me. Here's my collection, some of the cards are worth quite a bit of $$$: Click Here.


#1 - Tyler Myers Victory Gold Card No. 303
Ahhh, Tyler Myers... the memories! Myers haunted my 09/10 breaks in a big way. And that was a good thing because he was an outstanding defensemen and rookie of the year! My two biggest pulls of his were his UD Ultimate Rookie Patch Auto/25 and his Cup Rookie Patch Auto card/249. I still remember the day I bought my first pack of Ultimate Collection and hitting that patch/25. I didn't know who Myers was at the time, but was very happy to find out he was a player of some quality. Though I sold and traded most of my Myers cards from that year, I still take a double take whenever I get his cards.

Overall Value -
This blaster box was a bit of a dud, but at $8 it's still a steal! I would have no problem recommending these at the price they are currently at Dave and Adam's Card World. I think 09/10 UD Series 2 is a bit of a sleeper still with some great players of quality to be found in the Young Guns set. Go and get some with your spare change!

Let me know what you thought of my 09/10 Upper Deck Series 2 blaster box down in the comments below. Have you ever gotten anything good from one of these? I'd love to know!

Overall Value Score:
6.5/10

Every Sunday look out for another exciting installment of Retail Review!


And help me figure out what to open up next Sunday! Here is the list of remaining products. You can tell me what you'd like to see in the comments section.

- 08/09 Be A Player
- 10/11 O-Pee-Chee
- 09/10 Champs
- 08/09 UD Series 1
- 09/10 UD Series 2
- 10/11 UD Series 1

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

2012-2013 Score Review

With Upper Deck's opening salvo of O-Pee-Chee last week, Panini had to respond with something of their own. And they have.  Score, Panini's first 12/13 product, has hit the store shelves. Much like Upper Deck's OPC, Score is Panini's lowest-end offering, so it'll be very interesting to see how the two products compare head-to-head. In the previous two years, Score has overachieved and provided superb quality at a very modest price point. Will it deliver the same this go-around? Let's see!


Base Card Design -
Buying a box of Score will get you a ton of base cards. And breaking pack after pack, I have to say that the design underwhelms a bit. I find the cards to be neither here-nor-there. In fact, the word I would have to use to describe them is bland. To give some perspective, I need to bring up the previous two years of Score Hockey base cards. When Score first returned in the 10/11 season, they had a throwback retro design that many collectors instantly felt nostalgic about it. It felt familiar but new at the same time. Last year's 11/12 design brought a newer take on the Score base. The design was fun, crisp, and modern. This year's set doesn't feel nostalgic nor modern. It actually reminds me of the forgettable Score sets of the late 90's and early 00's across all major sports. That era of Score is not fondly remembered, and somehow this year's base cards have tapped into that feeling exactly. Not to say these cards are completely horrible - the design is clean, and some of the photos are great for a low end set... but this year Score just felt a bit off and a lot less fun.


The backs of the cards are well done. There is a bit of showiness to the backs that the front lacked. Though it may not be the most ideal place to put the numbering, I do like how the card numbers look at the top of the card. Nice clean lines and rectangular shapes frame everything on the back into an organized and simple presentation - very sweet. Also, along with full statistics, many of the cards feature a full write up for the player - something noticeably missing in OPC.


Season Highlight and Award Winner cards can also be found in the base set. They look exactly like the standard base save for a small banner at the bottom. I actually like the Award Winner cards quite a bit. It's nice to see the players in their suits with a big 'ol trophy.


Hot Rookie cards again feature the newest crop of young NHLers. These cards have had a bit of a make-over. Gone are the computer generated backgrounds that these cards used to sport. The rookie cards now show the player on the ice in an action shot. The rookies found in Score are players that were not included in last year's Panini sets. Unfortunately for them, the Hot Rookies this year share the same fate as their base card brothers - they just don't look that good. The design is a bit generic, and this year I'm a bit at a loss as to who I'm looking to pull from this grouping. Last year had Cody Hodgson, and the year before had P.K. Subban. Maybe it's Chris Kreider of the Rangers this year... but the new rookie hype doesn't seem to be there.

Base Card Design Score:
5/10

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Boxes of Score will come with a big pile of inserts. There are quite a few different inserts sets for hobbyists to collect and build. For collectors who are looking just for hits, Score is not the place to look. While there definitely are hits to be found in the product (in the form of rookie and veteran autographed cards), they don't come easy.


Though I didn't get any autographs in my box, I got some really classy looking cards featuring some stunning photography. The Team Score cards feature players in their All-Star jerseys posing for the camera. Though this is not a new concept, and it's something Score has done before, it is something that just works in a nice way. These cards are super simple and not overly thought out. They let the image do the talking... and that's really enough.


Net Cam cards also use unique photography to make a cool card to have. I really like this Carey Price card above. This card is all sorts of awesome. So much is going on in this photo! If the folks at Panini continue finding shots like this for their Net Cams, I can see them continuing this set on and on as long as they make the Score brand. These photos, no doubt, are what keep collectors coming back and building the set.


There are two types of The Franchise insert set to be found when busting packs. One type features the Original Six hockey teams. The color scheme of the card definitely brings up an older era of hockey. This Bower above is particularly cool as it shows him playing goal the old-fashioned way... sans mask!


The modern Franchise inserts have a futuristic design that is quite nice. I was actually very surprised when pulling this card out of the pack. I'm not sure how many Score cards have this, but these cards have silver foil on them. I can't tell you how much that blows me away! I didn't think Panini would ever put foil on their Score cards, it's just not something they do, but yet here it is in all its shiny glory.


This year collectors will not find glossy parallel cards. Instead, Panini has inserted one Goldrush card per pack. The cards are differentiated by their golden border color. I didn't care for the Score glossies much, so for me these are a step up. For people who collect rainbows of players, these actually work really well because there is an actual difference in the look of the card. The glossies looked just like base when placed in penny sleeves so it became difficult to tell them apart. Making a return this year are Black Ice parallels too. These are much harder to find, and will be a tough challenge to find specific ones you may want.

There are more inserts to find in Score such as First Goal cards and Team Futures. They follow in the same vein as the basic inserts described above.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:
6/10

Overall Rating -
I'm not sure what it was, but opening up the box of Score this year just didn't cut it for me like it did last year and the year before. Though there are some great looking inserts to look at and find, it wasn't enough to make me excited when opening up the box.

In the battle of low-end products, I have to say the winner goes to Upper Deck's O-Pee-Chee. OPC is a pricier product than Score (I think by double... one dollar versus two), but I think I'd still rather get one pack of OPC over two packs of Score. The base cards, parallels, and inserts found in OPC are just stronger by far. For the past two years Panini has really stomped on Upper Deck's Victory as king of lower end. Upper Deck has taken that mantle back this year through OPC.

I would only recommend buying a few packs of Score to test it out and chase some of the better inserts (like Net Cams and Team Score/Futures). It's hard for me to recommend buying boxes and boxes of it - the value just isn't there and to be honest, I think you'd get tired of it very quickly. I say just stick to lose packs and blasters... that's probably the best way to go (unless you're a set collector... then go nuts with boxes).

Overall Rating -
5/10

Check out my box of 12/13 Score:



And here's a video review of a box Panini sent me:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Retail Review #10 (10/11 Black Diamond Blaster)


This week there was a tie between 10/11 Black Diamond and 08/09 Be a Player as to which one viewers wanted to see opened first. So if you watch the video, you'll see me flip a coin between the two products. Fun stuff! Obviously Black Diamond came up the winner so here we go with a retail blaster box of it. I never expect much from Black Diamond... and that's good... because when I actually get something out of it, it's all the better and more rewarding.


Price - 
$9.95 at Dave and Adam's Card World

Packs - 6
10/11 Black Diamond Blaster Packs

My last blaster of Black Diamond was pretty good. I had beaten the odds and gotten an autograph out of it. I didn't think lightning would strike twice so I was just hoping for the best. Since I got this blaster via Dave and Adam's Card world, it came at half what it would have cost me at Target or Wal-Mart. The $10 price tag is a reasonable price for the 6 blaster packs inside. That works out to less than $2 a pack. Of course, I'd still be wary to purchase any retail Black Diamond product over the hobby version. The difference in the odds of hitting anything are just far too great for my liking.

Let's see what I got in my 10/11 Black Diamond blaster:


Review -
Black Diamond cards are very thin, so when I first took the packs out, I tried to gauge whether or not one pack could have been thicker than the rest, meaning a jersey card. To my touch, the packs all seemed the same size - not that a jersey card would have been that great anyways. An autograph is almost always superior, and in Black Diamond they come on the same thin card stock as the base cards. So I was still hoping for a chance at one since all the packs had an equal girth.

As it turned out there was no autograph, but that was definitely 'ok' with what I pulled in the blaster. All-in-all I was able to get one double diamond, a triple diamond, a triple diamond rookie card, and a quad diamond rookie - very nice for a blaster. It was definitely cool to get the gamut of diamond cards available - even better that my quad diamond rookie card was one of the best ones available in 10/11.

Looking at the Rookie Gem cards reminded me of how nicely they were designed last year. The cards are stunning. It's a shame that Black Diamond rookie cards are not highly sought after when compared to Young Guns. But hey, that's just one of the quirks of our fair hobby.

Here are the top 3 gems of this haul.

Top 3 Cards


#3 - Nicklas Backstrom Card No. 134
My only triple diamond standard card of the break. I'm not a huge Backstom fan, but in terms of rarity of card I had to choose this one over the double diamond Lecavalier also pulled from my blaster. Backstrom had an off season last year, hopefully he can rebound and get things going again next season.


#2 - Dana Tyrell Card No. 176
Tyrell isn't a big name rookie from last year, but it's always nice to pull rookie cards. Tyrell is still young so this card could have a possible future at some later date. And as I said earlier, the design of this card is quite nice.


#1 - Jordan Eberle Card No. 220
I was absolutely thrilled to pull this card from my blaster. Given the choice of Hall or Eberle, I would pick Eberle. He's an extremely solid player that made the all-star team last season. He has consistent play and has plenty of flash, as he can pull off some pretty fancy goals. He was downright scary last year at times when I watched him take on the Sharks. One of my current favorite non-Shark players at the moment.

Overall Value -
Man, I'm going to have to start recommending Black Diamond blasters after my recent luck with them! But in all sincerity, if you can pick up a blaster of Black Diamond for $10, I'd say go for it. You'll most likely get a smattering of different diamond rarities, and have the chance at pulling a nice quad diamond rookie like I did today. At $20, I'd be a bit more wary. I'm sure Dave and Adams has quite a few at a good price still in stock though, check them out or round out your order with some instead of paying full retail at the big box store.

Let me know what you thought of my 10/11 Black Diamond blaster box down in the comments below. Have you ever gotten anything good from one of these? I'd love to know!

Overall Value Score:
9.5/10

Every Sunday look out for another exciting installment of Retail Review!


And help me figure out what to open up next Sunday! Here is the list of remaining products. You can tell me what you'd like to see in the comments section.

- 08/09 Be A Player
- 10/11 O-Pee-Chee
- 09/10 Champs
- 08/09 UD Series 1
- 09/10 UD Series 1
- 09/10 UD Series 2
- 10/11 UD Series 1

Thursday, August 16, 2012

2012-2013 O-Pee-Chee Review

So now that all the 2011-12 hockey products have been released we can now move on to 2012-13 products!!! Wait a minute... 11/12 product have not all been released yet... despite still having last season's biggest card sets still to come, Upper Deck has released the first product of the 12/13 season - O-Pee-Chee. There's no more UD Victory this year (thank goodness) so this should be Upper Deck's lowest-end offering. Is OPC a worth buying? Let's take a look at what it has to give us.


Base Card Design -
If you like base cards, O-Pee-Chee has them in spades. This massive 600 card set is Upper Deck's largest offering of the year. It's also Upper Deck's most comprehensive. You're going to find players that often time never get their images on cardboard in other sets. Take Thomas Greiss for example. Greiss is San Jose's back-up goaltender. I'm pretty sure I won't see any of his cards in Artifacts, Black Diamond, SP Authentic, or the like this year. And that's what makes OPC a neat set of cards. It's nice to be able to find players on your team that don't get the spotlight too often.

In terms of design, the cards are standard OPC fare. It's pleasing enough, but doesn't stand out significantly. I do like the faded yellow retro-feel the cards evoke though - the cards are playful and will be enjoyed by collectors who like the old school cardboard feel. The graphics and images used in OPC are sharp too. I'm a fan of the little hockey dude in the yellow circle giving you an image of what position the featured player plays - very sweet. Because the cards are on actual non-glossy cardboard, the base cards would be perfect cards to get in-person or TTM autographs on.


You can really see the cardboard on the back of the base card. It's very cool to know that at least one set will have this tie to cards of old. In fact, a football collector I was talking to at the card shop mentioned that he wished there were modern football cards that had the cardboard feel that OPC does. Other than the cardboard back there is not much else of note. The backs have plenty of room for entire career stats, but UD chose not to include any written information - probably because the set was so big. The rookie card backs, however, do have more information about them as well as their draft statistics.


The Marquee Legend cards are back again this year as part of a subset of the main set of cards. These cards can be found in every two packs of OPC. Rather than being completely black and white, the photo image looks to be almost sepia in nature. The orange and yellow color scheme works well with the image process and the fonts used definitely evoke a retro feel here. These cards won't be worth much in value, but they are new cards of former players for collectors to get their hands on.


The Marquee Rookie card subset has a green and blue color scheme going for it. The color choice is obviously to give these cards a sense of freshness. And it does. The rookie cards are bright in nature and the design plays well off the standard base as well as the Marquee Legends cards. All the cards together make a cohesive set that works well form a design standpoint. The Chris Kreider card shown above may be one of the more desired cards to find from this sets group of rookies.

Base Card Design Score:
8/10

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
As O-Pee-Chee is a lower-end product, it is difficult to pull out hits (memorabilia or autographs) from the product. Collectors will only a few hits per case. There are, however, many inserts and parallels to be found in every box of OPC. They can range from very common to very rare.


The most common insert found in OPC are the retro cards. You can find a retro parallel in every pack. Retro cards in the past have ranged from extremely cool and desirable (check out 08/09 - those were amazing) to bland and pedestrian. Unfortunately, I'd have to categorize this years as the latter. The retro cards come with the player image on a completely white background and a bit of information in a colored text box at the bottom. Not a design I'm jumping up and down for. Imagine a binder full of these cards - it's just not appealing. I'm not sure why anyone would go for these (unless you're a collector who does the set every year, and in which case... good luck.) The legend and rookie cards have a bit more flair to them... but not much. Let's hope for better retros next year.


Sticker cards are a new addition to this year's OPC set. They are pretty common to find, and collectors will find quite a few of these per box. The stickers have a design that is actually quite retro. I would have rather had this design than the one on the actual retro card. As for the cards being actual stickers, I'm not sure who would actually peel these cards and stick them somewhere. I've never been a fan of stickers the size and shape of trading cards. It's just not a good size for a sticker in my opinion - it's a bit awkward and large. But as cards they look pretty good, and I enjoy them as such.


Another new card to find this year are the 'pop-up' cards. I put 'pop-up' in quotes because these are not truly cards that pop up. When I think of a pop-up, I think of a card that stand up or folds to have a 3D effect. These cards are just die-cut cards... plain and simple. These cards also bear a retro design. And it may be the design I like the most out of all the cards they put out in the set. The faded red and blue on yellowed cardboard is visually very pleasing.


Modern technology comes in the form of foil parallel cards. There are standard foil cards as well as black versions serial numbered to 100, though two of the black versions I found was missing the serial numbering where it should have been. These foil parallels can be found in every year of the modern OPC brand. They are nice and shiny and will be popular among player collectors who want to put together all the cards of their player's rainbow.


Also back are the blank-back parallel cards. Check out the beautiful back design on this bad boy above. These are the toughest cards to pull in OPC and are a nightmare for player collectors to get their hands on. You will know you got a blank back card because... well... it has a blank back. Only the retro cards have this variation so don't bother looking for them on the standard base cards. I have heard it speculated that print runs of blank back cards could be as low as 10. Most likely a bit higher, but probably not close to even 50.

Though I didn't pull any in my box, there are actual autograph and memorabilia cards in O-Pee-Chee. One of the popular autographed sets are the Team Canada autographs which feature players in their Team Canada jerseys. Those always get a fair amount of money on eBay. Speaking of eBay money, there are very limited Ovechkin and Crosby buy back cards to be found this year. Those cards are the rarest of rare to find in OPC and would bring in a killing on eBay. You just hit the jackpot if you pull on of those.

Manufactured patch cards are also new this year in OPC. Upper Deck has had great success producing some very nice patch cards in other of their products. Though I didn't get one, if these cards look as nice as their brethren, I'm sure they will be a hit with collectors. They range from pretty difficult to get to extremely difficult to get.

One last thing I'd like to mention about OPC is the wrapper redemption program this year. You can redeem wrappers of OPC to trade in for special red-bordered packs of OPC. Each of those packs will have a few red-bordered cards and a special all-star card. The redemption program is only good in Canada.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
6/10

Overall Rating -
O-Pee-Chee is Upper Deck's newest low-end product. Is it better than Victory was?

FOR SURE.

OPC has a variety of interesting things to find within it... from fun insert cards all the way to cards of great value. There are hits, parallel cards, buy backs, and more. OPC is just a far superior product to Victory in every way, and I'm glad they decided to have OPC anchor the lower product line.

That being said, O-Pee-Chee is still the lowest-end product. Don't expect to find card of great value in your standard hobby box. Boxes of OPC cost around $65 so it won't set you back too much. You get a ton of packs to open and enjoy. This was definitely one of the products that took me the longest to open and then sort. But that was fun, it brought me back to when I used to do just that as a kid.

I recommend getting a box or two just to try it out. If you're a big set collector, this may be the set for you. There is a huge and challenging base set and near impossible parallel sets to go for here. Just have fun with this set with however much you choose to buy of it, whether that be one box or many, many, many boxes. Best wishes in your pack busting!

Overall Rating:
7/10

Check out my box of 12/13 O-Pee-Chee:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Retail Review #9 (07/08 Be a Player Blaster)


Thanks to everyone who reads and keeps up with Retail Review! I really appreciate it. And special thanks to those who chimed in using the comments section in the last review to help me decide on the retail break for this week. Up today is a blaster box of 07/08 Be a Player. Be a Player is no longer a product that is produced now, but when it was, it was a set of cards that gave casual collectors access to NHL autographs without having to face staggering odds. I'm sad that it's gone now, but I am happy to review a blaster I was able to get at a very nice price.


Price - 
$9.95 at Dave and Adam's Card World

Packs - 2
07/08 Be a Player Retail Packs

I have always felt that the package size of a blaster for anything less than 5 packs was a bit excessive... and that's the case here with the Be a Player blaster. It's just so big for 2 packs! But I guess blasters all have a uniform size, and the companies just wanted to keep that standard no matter how few or many packs there are within. In terms of value though, many Be a Player blasters will beat blasters of Pinnacle, Ice, and even UD Series 1/2 because of the guaranteed autograph card inside. Basically, whatever you pay for the blaster is what you pay for the autograph hit - all else within is just gravy.

Let's see what I got in my 07/08 Be a Player Blaster:


Review -
As fast as my last blaster break was (UD Ice), this one was even faster. It really does take little to no time at all to bust into just two packs. Opening the packs and fanning them out a bit, I was able to tell that each pack had 'something' in it. Obviously there was an autograph there... but I wasn't sure which pack had what by just looking at the border of the cards. In my mind I was hoping that I would be lucky and get 2 autographs, but that wasn't the case.

As it turns out the first pack I decided to flip through was the one with the autograph in it. The auto was of Andrew Peters from the Buffalo Sabres. Definitely not a huge name or anything even close... so that was a bummer, but an auto is an auto. I actually was a bit more impressed with the rest of the cards in the pack. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice, glossy, and thick the base cards were. Though the autographs are the main draw in Be a Player... Upper Deck didn't skimp on the design of the base cards here. So even though my auto was pretty scrubby, the quality of the product left me feeling a bit better.

My second pack yielded a Be a Player rookie card. The sweet thing about these cards are their rarity. These rookie cards are numbered to only 99. Star player Be a Player rookie cards do sell for a nice bit of coin on eBay. Of course, if you get the player I got, it may not be sold for any amount of coin... but it's better than an all base pack or a non-numbered insert. I'm actually surprised to get a serial numbered card in a blaster. So often companies don't put serial numbered cards into their blaster boxes. The fact that the card looks great is another 'plus'.

Here are the top 3 cards of my Be a Player break:

Top 3 Cards


#3 - Alexander Ovechkin Card No. 195
Ovi was definitely the biggest star in the two packs I broke with this blaster. Too bad it wasn't the autograph! Still, it's nice to get an Ovechkin card. There are a lot of cards in the base set so pulling any star is always a good thing.


#2 - Tyler Weiman Card No. 228
Weiman is following me around my breaks! A few retail reviews ago I actually pulled his UD Young Gun card out. And now I have his /99 BAP rookie card. If only a rookie that was a ton better than him were following me. Alas...


#1 - Andrew Peters Card No. S-AP
To sum up why it's number one: it has an autograph on it.

Overall Value -
For the price you pay you get one autographed card. Is it worth it? Well... maybe! I think the price I paid at Dave and Adam's Card World for this blaster was right on the money. I paid $10 for the blaster that could have gotten me a star auto, a dual auto, a triple, or even a quad! I didn't get any of those, but $10 to chance is not a bad proposition. I'd definitely do it again just to see if I could pull out a big name card. And like in my break today, there is always the chance of getting a good serial numbered rookie card as well.

Let me know what you thought of my 07/08 Be a Player blaster box down in the comments below. Have you ever gotten anything good from one of these? I'd love to know!

Overall Value Score:
6/10

Every Sunday look out for another exciting installment of Retail Review!


And help me figure out what to open up next Sunday! Here is the list of remaining products. You can tell me what you'd like to see in the comments section.

- 08/09 Be A Player
- 10/11 Black Diamond
- 10/11 O-Pee-Chee
- 09/10 Champs
- 08/09 UD Series 1
- 09/10 UD Series 1
- 09/10 UD Series 2
- 10/11 UD Series 1

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

2011-2012 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Review

As we close in on the final products of the 11/12 hockey collecting year, collectors can now expect the big guns to come out. Ultimate Collection by Upper Deck is certainly one of the big guns. At $100 for a 4 card pack, the cards are on the super-premium side of things. Ultimate has always been a favorite of many collectors and it's easy to see why. Everything from the design of the cards to the packaging has a distinct premium feel to it. Let's rip into a box and see what it holds.



Base Card Design -
As with all years of UD Ultimate Collection, the base cards come on nice, thick card stock. The girth of  the cards say, "I am a higher-end card". Upper Deck tends to use thick card stock on their best products. And I like that they do that - it makes sense to me - thicker card = more expensive product. Of course, The Cup comes in with the widest of all base cards. But that will be for a later review. Besides the thickness of the card, these Ultimate base cards have a lot going for them. The design is absolutely the cream of the crop. Upper Deck has always come up with modern, crisp designs... and this year's Ultimate showcases that fact nicely. The players on the front really pop out of the card - and this is by genius design. The background of the cards are actually a flat, matte finish. The players are glossy. The glossy player image on the matte background creates an amazing effect that really highlights the featured player. Wow, stunning. I could go on and on about how nice these base cards are, but you really have to just see them in person to appreciate the quality there. Oh, and each card is serial numbered to only 399.


Though the back of the Ultimate base cards do not feature any player images, they are still of the absolute highest quality. The background design of the card back uses the same color scheme and background design as the front. All the relavant information is there, and there is ample space for player stats. So often in the high-end product statistics are left by the wayside. It's nice to see Ultimate Collection provide career spanning amount.


As for rookie cards in Ultimate, there are three varieties - non-auto/399, auto/299, and auto/99. The non-auto rookie cards look very similar to their base card counterparts. Just about everything about them is the same except they trade the Ultimate Collection gold header for an Ultimate Rookies side logo. The non-auto rookie cards even share the same serial numbering as the standard base cards. Though pulling these rookie cards may not be too exciting, there are some gems to be found here like Carl Hagelin and Brendan Smith.


The autographed rookie cards feature a special logo and a slightly wider space for autographs at the bottom of the card. I really like the look of the autographed rookie cards. Some may say that the space for the autograph is a bit small, but in this case I think it works very well. The autographs are more compact, which in a way is more elegant. So from a design aspect, the smaller autographs work very nicely. Autographed rookie cards numbered to 99 come about one per 15 box case - not an easy pull! And there are 20 of them. Good luck getting the one you want!

Base Card Design Score:
9.5/10

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
There are so many things you can possibly get in terms of memorabilia cards and autographs when you purchase a box of Ultimate. Looking at the checklist, it is amazing to see the variety of hits there are. Each box will only come with two hits from that staggering list, so to really get a taste of what Ultimate Collection has to offer, you really need to purchase either multiple boxes or just get a case or two of the stuff.


In my box of Ultimate, besides the autographed rookie card, I received this Phil Esposito Ultimate Jersey card. Looking at the card makes me happy because it is so connected to the base design in Ultimate. I just love it when companies make the cards within their products truly cohesive in terms of design. And it's so much greater when the design kicks @$$. I appreciate that the Esposito features a jersey swatch that has multiple colors on it. So many jersey cards are just plain one color swatches now that they are boring to look at. These pieces definitely have some personality to them... and in person they have an old feel to them. You can tell these pieces came from something from another era. SO cool.


I wish I had a bigger sampling of hits to show off, but when you only get a box or two of Ultimate, you really don't get a ton of cards to check out. Trust me though, Ultimate Collection has some of the coolest and most desired cards of the year. Rookie NHL shield cards anyone? Droooool.

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

Overall Rating:
Ultimate Collection is a beautiful set of cards. If I had the money I would definitely get as much of the product as I could... because that's the only way to find the great cards in Ultimate Collection. For people who can spend thousands of dollars on this product (and yes, there are many who do this), I would recommend purchasing Ultimate by the case. Each case is guaranteed to have some pretty nice cards within. But each case has a whopping 15 packs. And that's what makes it a hard buy for collectors like myself who only have a couple hundred to spend on boxes of products when they come out. Buying 2 or 3 boxes out of a case is very risky, and the odds are slim in hitting the case hit. In fact, there are many boxes that are just plain awful within each case. And the odds of getting one of those is actually pretty good.... sadly.

So I like what Chris at D&P cards said to me today. He said getting a case of Ultimate is like getting a box of something else. He likened the case of Ultimate to a box with 15 packs in it. And thinking of it that way made a good deal of sense to me. Ultimate Collection is a high roller's product. For people like me, I'll take my chances on a box or two... but I know what I'm getting into in terms of risk when I purchase Ultimate. I have to prepare for the ultimate let down... but I could get the ultimate joy! But that's one of the reasons we do this whole card buying thing, isn't it?

Overall Rating:
9/10

Check out my box of Ultimate From D&P Cards in Sacramento, Ca:

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Retail Review #8 (09/10 UD Ice Blaster)


If you've been keeping up with my Youtube channel, you should know that I bought 10 retail blaster boxes of various products through Dave and Adam's card world. I figured this would help me save money, and also help me have a variety of products to open as my local retail chains have pretty much dried up. First up from that 10 blaster box shopping spree is 09/10 Upper Deck Ice. I asked my Youtube viewers to help me decided what to open first and this was what they chose! You can help determine what my next blaster will be at the end of this post.


Price - 
$19.99 on box ($7.95 at Dave and Adam's Card World)

Packs - 5
09/10 Upper Deck Ice Blaster Packs

Upper Deck Ice is a product that has made its home in other Upper Deck products for the past 2 years. They have come in the form of bonus packs inside boxes of Black Diamond and SPx. Collectors have always loved the acetate rookie cards found in the product. The rarest, numbered to just 99, are always sought after and always command a very premium price. Of course, getting an Ice Premier rookie card numbered to 99 is no small feat. The cards are notoriously hard to find. And purchasing a blaster box of Ice guarantees the buyer absolutely nothing. I knew to prepare myself for the worst as I began ripping into my blaster box.

Let's see what I got in my 09/10 Upper Deck Ice Blaster:


Review -
The rip was a quick one as there were only 5 packs to open. Opening the packs up I was impressed with the base cards. The base cards made superb use of the player's team colors and even had a textured burst etched into them. But other than being impressed with the quality of the base design, I was really left with nothing to show in terms of hits or rookies. And in these days of collecting, that is what collectors are really looking for when they put down their money on a product.

I bought this blaster for only $7.95 from Dave and Adam's, so I didn't feel like I lost too much. For $7.95 you can barely buy a mid-level hobby pack, but I know I would be very upset if I had paid the full $19.99 asking price that's printed on the front of the box. At least when buying an Upper Deck Series 1 or 2 blaster there are a couple rookie cards guaranteed to be found. With this blaster it is a complete gamble... and actually a gamble with very poor odds of getting anything of consequence.

The odds state that an Ice Premier rookie card can be found 1 in every 15 packs. That works out to 1 in 3 blaster boxes. Now, that doesn't really mean much if you think about it. That's not getting you a John Tavares, Evander Kane, Matt Duchene, or Logan Couture rookie card. It really means getting a level 4 no-name rookie numbered to 1999. And that's not a card that would be worth the $20 the blaster cost. Even harder are the jersey and autographed cards which fall 1:24... and veteran collectors know that finding a scrub auto or jersey card in Ice is a very common occurrence.

So for my blaster of Ice today I was disappointed. I got absolutely nothing... but knew what I was getting into when making this purchase. But you know what? One day someone will buy a blaster of this stuff and pull the big one out. And that's why we drop coin on these things. Just for that chance.

Here are the top 3 cards in the blaster. With all base cards, I just selected the players I liked the most:

Top 3 Cards


#3 - Owen Nolan Card No. 84
It's great to get cards of the former Sharks captain. Sad to look at the back and see all the teams he moved from after being a Shark though - Toronto... Phoenix... Calgary... Minnesota.


#2 - Evgeni Malkin Card No. 13
Malkin is a big dude... but an awesome hockey player. Amazing to see him win the MVP of the league this past season!


#1 - Marc-Andre Fleury Card No. 15
I'm a big fan of 'The Flower'. This former overall number one draft pick is a player that I have a PC of.

Overall Value -
Ice is a product that is extremely high risk and extremely high reward. But for stuff that is like that, you are more likely to lose all your hard earned money on it rather than get anything back from it. I hope you saw this break of mine and appreciate the difficulty of pulling anything good out of Ice. It doesn't mean that you can't, but it's a product that is too easy to throw money away on. Better off just buying the card you want out of it on eBay. That'd be cheaper for sure.

Let me know what you thought of my Ice blaster box down in the comments below. Have you ever gotten anything good from one of these? I'd love to know!

Overall Value Score:
2/10

Every Sunday look out for another exciting installment of Retail Review!

And help me figure out what to open up next Sunday! Here is the list of remaining products. You can tell me what you'd like to see in the comments section.

- 07/08 Be A Player
- 08/09 Be A Player
- 10/11 Black Diamond
- 10/11 O-Pee-Chee
- 09/10 Champs
- 08/09 UD Series 1
- 09/10 UD Series 1
- 09/10 UD Series 2
- 10/11 UD Series 1