Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cardboard Commentary #14 (In The Game Cards)

Non-licensed card products have rarely gained a foothold in the hobby. Often they are treated as second-class citizens when compared to their fully licensed counterparts. One company in the past was able to gain some collector interest - Classic. But that brand petered out and faded away. More recently, companies like Press Pass, Leaf, and even Panini (with baseball) have made some significant strides in the realm of non-licensed products. One company, however, has really led the way in peaking collector interest with high quality memorabilia and unique set ideas; that would be In the Game, or ITG for short. ITG has, for years now, been producing cards that have strong collector (particularly in hockey) appeal. Though Panini and Upper Deck hold the official license, ITG can hardly be called an outsider when it comes to hockey cards.


Though ITG does not have official NHL licensing, the company is able to put out steady and unique sets of cards throughout the year. In fact, in this lock-out shortened year, I believe ITG released more products than either Upper Deck or Panini put out individually. That's pretty impressive. Today I'm going to highlight some areas of strength in regards to ITG as well as an area where I believe they could improve.

One of ITG's biggest strengths comes in their prospect driven products. Heroes and Prospects is a line that delivers cards of the hottest young talent before they even have an official rookie card. ITG is able to give collectors game-used material and autographed cards of these players. The goalie-centric Between the Pipes does the same, except with a greater legend and current NHL player mix. Even ITG's highest-end lines of Ultimate Memorabilia and Superlative have young prospect cards available for collectors to get their hands on. Savvy collectors who can forecast young talent could possibly get some great cards at bargain prices if they predict correctly.

On the other end of the spectrum, ITG also shines when it comes to hockey legends. ITG has a good grip of the history of hockey (pun, not really intended here!). They have relic pieces of former players that I have not seen from Panini or Upper Deck. ITG really digs deep when it comes to adding legendary content into their cards. For collectors who love the historical aspect of the hobby, ITG really gets the job done.

Speaking of history, many of ITG's sets have celebrated the history of the NHL in special ways. Many recent ITG offerings have focused in on specific teams. These team-themed sets have been great tributes to the franchises they represent. I'm sure fans of the represented teams were all over those releases when they came out. I'm just crossing my fingers for when ITG does a San Jose Shark special set (yeah... right!). Besides these team sets, ITG seems to always have a theme in mind when releasing cards. The History of Hockey release was all about hockey's past, present, and future; last year's Enforcers set put hockey's toughest players in the limelight; and Superlative was all about a book... ughh... well, I guess that really didn't have a theme - but Superlative was AWESOME this year.

And finally... the memorabilia. I don't think any other company puts as much care into their memorabilia products than ITG does. When I pull a boring, standard jersey from Upper Deck or Panini, I don't really think twice about it. For some reason with ITG it's different. Maybe because the back of the card tells you exactly where the piece came from. That could be it; but I'm not sure. I just know that memorabilia is treated more reverently with ITG than with the others - at least that's my feeling. From the simple one color jersey watch to the ridiculously large take-up-the-entire-card patch - ITG gets memorabilia right.

Though ITG does a lot of things very well, there is one huge aspect of ITG that needs improvement - the card design. ITG has made great strides in this area, but their designs really pale in comparison to anything from Upper Deck or Panini. Upper Deck still firmly holds the title of best looking cards. And ITG is way down at the bottom. ITG releases seem to be stuck a decade or more back in terms of design. Everything from the way the cards look to the card stock they are printed on could use a bit of a make-over. The good people at ITG probably don't want to hear this (I think it's a bit of a sore spot), but collectors want more from them in the area of design. I'm not sure how this can be addressed or changed, but this is one area that I think ITG loses collectors. Sorry, but looks count. I would actually suggest looking at how Panini did their non-licensed baseball line. Their designs were pretty outstanding (from Prime Signatures to National Treasures; all their non-licensed baseball cards were just spectacular).

When I first got back into collecting, I went straight for the licensed brands. I knew ITG was there, but a few factors held me back from buying it. First, it was the way they looked compared to Upper Deck. I just didn't think they were up to par. Second, was the licensing. But third was the availability of ITG. My local cards store (D and P Cards) occasionally stocked ITG, but not every product was available on the shelf. ITG was hard to get my hands on; to get it I would have to order online and wait for it to come. That was definitely a factor why I didn't take to ITG initially. And even now, I know I haven't gotten to review products from ITG because of their availability to me. You'll notice no review of ITG Ultimate Memorabilia or the new Draft Prospects. Will they be reviewed? I hope so... but it may be much later when I finally put another order in at dacardworld - which may be months away.

There are definitely collectors on both sides of the fence when it comes to ITG. I'd love to hear your thoughts on ITG. Let me know what you think of them and their cards. For the ITG haters out there, please let me know the reason for your passionate hatred. There must be a reason. For the ITG lovers, what makes them a company you enjoy getting products from? Tell me in the comments below!

48 comments:

  1. I think that if you were to be a hockey card company, the least you could do is to get the licensing rights for the biggest hockey league in the world. I'm not saying that their products are bad, I'm just saying that having the license AND using all their ideas on specialized sets would put them over the top. With the license they could have a major design overhaul on their products and bring them into this century.

    YT:Thesens8

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    1. i think itg would love to have an nhl license, but the nhl will not give them one. just as in baseball, topps is the only manufacturer; panini with basketball; football with topps and panini; and of course hockey only allows ud and panini a license.

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  2. In my opinion, ITG is the best in the business. It's a shame they don't have an NHL license. They have great customer support and their cards are top notch. The quality and value they give is well worth it in their products. They listen to the collectors and are passionate about the hobby. Hopefully they will get an NHL license one day, as they deserve to have one.

    Youtube: Hockeycardfan1000 now David P.

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  3. hey i really like ITG and if they did get a license i think they would bump up the price and i like the price how it is right now lol and as you said the patches in this product are crazy even the jersey cards look good i really like this product and i like it with out a license. great review keep it up Luke love the vids and i love this website i hope i win the contest
    - CANUCKS CARDS

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  4. ITG is an exceptional card company. It gives you much more then a memorabilia / autograph card . You get a case with it to keep it safe. It has relative information to the photo unlike licensed brands which give you totally random information which is relative to the photo. It is a really big bummer that ITG doesn't have a NHL license.They totally deserve too and one day this will defenitely happen
    Youtube username is Erik Karlsson

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  5. In my opinion I do not like itg because when you don't have a liscence u are limited to the pictures and to tje designs of the cards and it just makes it look bad.
    Bradzonghetti

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  6. I love the product but I just don't like that they don't have an nhl license.
    -crazyroyal12

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  7. I personally really like ITG because the cards and sets are so unique and they really put the time info making nice cards, and you really forget about all the licensing problems. A top notch product right up there with upper deck and panini!
    YouTube: MrCardCollector97

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  8. i think itg is ok i like there products especially heros and prospects. but i am not a fan of the big cases they come in i like to put my cards in toploaders and ontouches.that is my opean i give itg a 7/10.

    youtube: canucks rule

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  9. I love itg especially heroes and prospects but there are some cards I dislike but that's like every product there's always something u don't like but I give itg 8/10 rating
    YouTube: Josh
    U can't reach me from there email: kristiansenjosh@yahoo.com

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    1. YouTube is actually Josh k sorry

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  10. itg is cool. my favourite product is between the pipes. I wish the nhl would give itg the license.
    NotSo CasualGamer

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  11. i think itg is a decent company and some good products and one of my fav itg products is hnp and i think if itg got nhl liscence it would make the whole company better and help all products out a ton

    yt:alwamwejwemw breaks

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  12. In my perspective ITG isn't my favourite card company but at the same time I don't hate it. As we all know it is not a licenced card company, therefore it's products aren't that expensive. In regards to Upper Deck and panini they are well above ITG, but ITG patches/jerseys won't top Upper Deck or Panini.
    Youtube: Graboguru

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  13. ITG, something I do not think I would never buy. I do have ITG cards in trades I have made for Redwings cards. But It just doesn't seem many people are into ITG, and there cards don't go for much when they sell on ebay, or other forums. I like how they really take care of the jersey cards, but when I see a plain jersey card in artifacts, upper deck, certified. etc. I don't really think of expensive card (unless it's a start player) as I do with autos.

    Youtube - Datsyukify

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  14. I like panini and upperdeck alot but ITG gives alot of variety,example: drafts and prospects,Enforcers,Between the pipes.thats why i like ITG in the way of creativity but since there not licensed,i like panini and upperdeck better. also think your review was great.

    Youtube:superryan3

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  15. upperdeck has always been the top company in my eyes. over the years, i feel itg has learned from their mistakes and have listened to the consumers needs. they have put out some amazing products with many memorable sets. hopefully they continue to grow as a successful company producing many more great products

    yt: 3jackjohnson3

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  16. In The Game has wow'd me with what I got from their products on a more consistant basis than Upper Deck or Panini. I got 2 1/1's, a Jagr autograph, a Sakic auto, a Mike Modano auto, a Pavel Bure auto, a Nail Yakupov auto, a Grant Fuhr auto, there's just something that I feel they try to make their boxes come with a bang. Or maybe it's just my luck.

    I can see how some of their products how they come in one contained turned off some collectors who don't want to fork over $100+ bucks in one go, for only "1 pack." But I think they deliver 4 times out of 5. For me anyways.

    Thanks for the contest!

    yt: ryannturnaa

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  17. Even though ITG doesn't have a NHL Liscense, I am still very impressed with their wide variation of rookies and their large amount of jersey cards. Great review Luke! Youtube XXOpTiMUsSMuRFXx

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  18. Itg is a very interesting company. I am a big fan of some of their products, especially heroes and prospects, but I also dislike some of their other products that are team specialized like Motown Madness. I'm on the fence about UM 12
    and History of Hockey because of the cost. I dont think 129 is a reasonable amount for 3 cards. I also find it odd that they put their higher end cards in a toploader. My username is beast37171611

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  19. Hey Luke here is my review on its products
    I was never able to try some of there products because of the price but I have tried a few like HandP and between the pipes and I thought those were okay products... And the higher end cards they made I loved how they put the cards in those buy back cases I think those are really awesome way to keep a card safe. I think itg is an ok brand and I don't mind there products
    Hope you like my short review

    YouTube name: JDjrtv

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  20. Hey Luke!

    I think ITG has really made a name for themselves after pretty much having no name at all without a license. I've never been a fan of the design to be honest but I love the concept. I like that there are prospects before they enter the NHL. It really gives us collectors some knowledge of who is going to be big and who is the guy to get. It is really great. I like that about ITG.

    Thanks for another great review!

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  21. I like ITG, its a pretty good product, I love the cases the cards come in also. If they got an NHL licence though it would make the company a lot better.

    Great Review as Always!

    Youtube: ColossalCollector

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  22. I really enjoy the consistency of ITG with putting out great products every year. I think that they should get a NHL license but, I will continue buying ITG even if they don't have a license. YouTube: Spuds CardCollections

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  23. ITG is very very good company for having no License. They have great promos the like cross canada tour 1/1 cards. No redemptions either! I personally love Heros and Prospects, one my favourite sets year in and year out. Thanks for the contest luke!

    YT: Alex Parr

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  25. I really love itg because when I was a little cards collector I went a bought a couple of pack and I really loved the base cards and the prospect cards now I don't buy it as much but I still like the product thanks for reading.

    youtube :simon anctil

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  26. Youtube username: andicardsnstuff
    I personally like ITG a lot. They are always focusing on new on exciting set ideas that haven't really been explored. Like you said i like how you can get cards of stars from now in products from '09. I personally hit a stamkos jersey out of 30 from an 06-07 heroes and prospects box. (worth over $100). I also think they have the most game worn jerseys and patch cards in all of the hockey card manufacturers.

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  29. ITG is a great I like them a lot I like that they don't have redemptions they put nice card in there boxes I puled a red and white patch out of heroes and prospects

    youtube: TheHockeyCardCollector

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  30. Itg is a great product for Heroes and Prospects I absoulutly love it. But when it comes to Canada vs the world and between the pipes it slides off a bit. They are great people and will help you lots. There patches are definitely amazing on cards. That feeling when you pull a jersey from series 1 is like ok it's a jersey with a small piece and porbably 1 color. When you have a heroes and prospects pack the patches are the same size as jerseys so you never know and I love that. but in itg you see u got a jersey and your really excited because some seams on thos cards are unreal like the niedereiter. I love it and I hate it. Go Luke!!! GO SHARKS GO.

    Youtube name: Riley Thomson.

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  31. Having many junior teams in the OHL within driving distance i love being able to collect ITG heroes and prospects and all the prospects before they become big stars their prices are good for what you get. except for ultimate lol
    Ryanjohnston198710

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  32. Great Article!! The only thing I don't like about ITG is that some of there products come in one big clear box, instead of indivual packs. It makes me feel like there is no surpise.

    YT: money426

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  33. Good article! You're right, some people like ITG and some people don't. I think that ITG would be a better company if they were licensed by NHL. Also I think that they should also have NHL players in their products. Personally, I like ITG and their doing a good job in making cards even though they don't have a license, just like Panini making baseball cards with no MLB lisence.

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    1. Oh, and yt name is kolong192

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  34. ITG is something nice to buy as a product because the Greats of the game is a nice insert and some patches are sick!!

    The base cards are a bit bad but still cool.


    Hockey card colect131

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  35. ITG often do the best of the situation and produce great auto and especially memorabilia cards. Therefore a product like last years Canada vs the World, where they actually could use national flags, works very well today. But still, many collectors like me, want NHL cards, and that's something ITG can't afford today. I would love to replace UD with ITG as the licensed company. I think that would have lead to even greater cards!

    Youtube: Majlfp

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