Tuesday, October 8, 2013

2013-2014 Upper Deck Artifacts Review

One of the most solid products released year after year is Upper Deck's Artifacts. This product has consistently given collectors beautiful cards and sweet hits out of hobby boxes. Each hobby box yields ten packs. All boxes contain at least one autographed card, and many boxes will have a patch card to look forward to along with other assorted serial numbered cards. If Artifacts is anything like it has been these past few years, it should be a huge hit once again!


Base Card Design -
The Artifacts base cards get a lot of things right. The designers over at Upper Deck know exactly how to produce a classy looking card. First of all, the base cards do a great job of carrying on the Artifacts look. Even if the product name was somehow missing from the front of the card, you could tell these are Artifacts base. This year's base have a tan, picture frame type motif. Each card is highlighted by silver foil on the corners as well as with the logos. The embossing on the foil is particularly intricate, which is especially impressive. Though it looks as if the player image is simply on an artist designed backing (which was the case with past Artifacts lines), the background design is in fact the actual background of the photo. The result of this are cards that vary in terms of their look - no card has the exact same background. I personally love this slight design change from previous years. It shows that though there are many nice consistencies in Artifacts, it is taking steps of improvement and change as well. The Artifacts base set features NHL players from both the past and the present. I thought it was interesting to feature some players with their All-Star gear on for their primary base card like the Malkin shown above.


The great design elements continue with the backs of the Artifact base cards. Upper Deck utilizes the space very well as there is very little white space. Aside from the usual stat lines and vitals, each base card has a little write up about the player. One thing of note is the player photo. Many companies will simply use the same image, but cropped, on the back. That's not the case here. Each base card features two unique photos - one on the front and one on the back.


Base Goalies and Base Team Canada cards serial numbered to 999 are subsets that follow the base set as part of the main set. I didn't pull a Base Goalie card, but I did get a Team Canada Evander Kane in my box. These Team Canada cards look very sharp. The deep red color along with the sliver foil is oh-so-awesome! I immediately took a liking to this card once I saw it. I would think that Team Canada collectors would love adding these beauties to their collections.


Rounding out the main set of cards are the rookies. As in years past, the rookies have serial numbering. Unlike the standard base cards and Team Canada cards, the rookie cards didn't grab me as much. I think it's because of the very light tan color they used on the card. Somehow, it just doesn't stand up well to the rest of the set... the tan is too soft, so it seems weaker when compared to the bold colors of the other cards. The rookie logo also left me a bit wanting. The font doesn't exude the classiness of the rest of the cards. If anything in Artifacts leaves me a bit disappointed year in and year out, it's the rookie cards. This is definitely one area Artifacts could improve on.

Base Card Design -
9/10

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Hobby boxes of Artifacts will yield three memorabilia hits with one being a dual or triple piece. Collectors will generally find one autographed card as well. Many boxes will have a patch card, but not all. Serial numbered cards and rookie redemptions round out the break.


One of the things Artifacts is known for is the parallel nature of the set. There are many variations of the base cards to find. The most basic variation are the different colored foil cards without memorabilia. The general tiering of these from most common to most rare is: ruby, emerald, sapphire, spectrum foil, and black. My box came with an emerald Paul Stastny numbered to 99 (shown above) and a ruby parallel rookie card of Nicklas Jensen numbered to 299.


Memorabilia versions of the main set are also very prevalent. These cards will feature jerseys, patches, autographs, tags, and a even a mixing of different materials like the Petr Mrazek I pulled out of my box above. The better the material combination, the lower the numbering. I believe it's these cards that have made collectors really enjoy Artifacts over the years. Trying to complete a player rainbow of all their different parallel variations is quite a fun challenge for many.


Tundra Tandems and Trios return again. These cards come back with a fresh new look. I have traditionally been pretty indifferent with the Tundra Tandem cards, but I really do like the new look they have this year. The icy-blue color they used on these cards is a big step up. Like with the parallel base cards, these cards also have some very rare parallel variations to find. I know I'll personally be on the look out for a Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau Black Tag 1 of 1! Let me know if you find it!


The most common type of autographed card in Artifacts are the Autofacts cards. If you're going to have an Artifacts set, you gotta have Autofacts in it! These cards are sticker autographs with a pleasing design. The color scheme goes very well with the base card design. But to be honest, you don't want to find one these when you buy a box (unless it's like Gretzky, Orr, or someone like that). If your box doesn't have an Autofacts card, it probably means you may have gotten a base variation autograph or one of the new Top 12 Rookie Signature cards (inserted at a rate of 1:1000!).


One of the packs in the box will have a Rookie Redemption card. These cards can be redeemed for players who have not stepped on the ice as of Artifact's printing. It's always fun to speculate who the redemption will be for. With this year's double rookie class, it should be particularly exciting!

One box of Artifacts will never give you a good enough sampling of all the content that can be found in Artifacts. This year you will find popular inserts like the Autographed Rookie Redemption cards and new things like memorabilia cards that feature the tape from a player's stick. I am really looking forward to seeing the huge amount of new Artifacts memorabilia cards hitting the market!

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

Overall Rating -
Collectors know what to expect out of Artifacts... though I have noticed a slight difference between this year's product and past iterations. With the double rookie class in full effect, it looks like the skew between current/veteran players and rookies favors much more rookie content. If this double rookie class pans out, that could be a very good thing for this product. I picked up on this because in looking at the checklist, I noticed some pretty big omissions from the current player selection. My team, the San Jose Sharks, has only one player representative in the base set - Patrick Marleau. That means no Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, or Antti Niemi. Players like Patrick Kane and John Tavares are also noticeably missing! Without base cards, these players also do not have base variations either. Some may have a split card in another memorabilia insert set like the Couture/Marleau I mentioned already... but that's it! Well, that's ok with me, I guess... it will literally save me hundreds of dollars trying to track all those down this year.

Anyways, in my opinion Artifacts is rookie heavy. And like I said, that may be a very good thing. Collectors seem to be abuzz about the new rookie cards, and with Artifact's track record, it looks like this product will be a very successful and popular one once again. I highly recommend getting yourself a box or two! A case even! Or for those strapped for cash... a pack!

Let me know if you hit it big!

Overall Rating:
8.75/10

Check out my break of Artifacts from D&P Cards in Sacramento, Ca:

40 comments:

  1. Ok... I was a huge fan of the 12-13 Artifacts and was pumped for this year! but to be honest I am not really digging the design. Still nice but liked last years way better and most designs than this year!

    youtube: iCollectBoston

    ReplyDelete
  2. wow. great break cant wait to break my box tomorrow!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Really love this years basecards but overall the last years product was better! Glad you atleast got a really great break. Ericsson autograph is nice!

    Youtube: MrThendro

    ReplyDelete
  4. Artifacts this year look really great as always
    Youtube-Ralfs Virkstenis

    ReplyDelete
  5. Looks really great this year, love the new rookie jerseys and patches, going to join a few group breaks

    43kadrirocks

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't know what it is about artifacts but I just love it! Not overloaded with hits or autos but maybe that's a good thing. I am a fan of the redemptions and the parallels! 13-14 should be a great product!

    YT:thesens8

    ReplyDelete
  7. Year after year artifacts is a great looking product, however, the design this year doesn't wow me. Still a solid product, but I think that tundra tandems card could have been done differently. Also, I agree with you that if Upperdeck wants to make a big deal about the rookie cards this year they should have done something to make them stand out more. Something I really like is the foil on each of the corners. I think that it really gives Artifacts more of a premium feel.
    -danboyle13

    ReplyDelete
  8. Looks like shift back to the 11/12 design, but even better, I really like it. Just a shame its so rookie heavy and light on the established players. Takes it from a no brainer to a bit of a gamble.

    - reebz0r

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a great summary! I never wanted it to end. I can't name anything I disagreed with when it comes to what you said. Artifacts is great and very well liked. I can see we both agree on that.

    One thing that always pops out at me with Artifacts is that its value is not fully dependant on the rookies. There is a lot more to hit giving it a nice full circle value. It's not one of those boxes where if you don't get any good rookies, you're practically screwed. I think this is a very good aspect to the product. Not to mention the variety. Although Artifacts is a tad predictable in the sense that it has it's labels given such as there being a patch and rookie redemption. However, that may be the case (not always with patches) there are so many other kinds of hits that you can acquire. I believe Artifacts is one if not the most ambitious or creative product that comes from Upper Deck. I say this because there are sticks pieces, wonderful patches, tags, and so many attributes on just one card (Patch Tag Auto)! On top of that, Artifacts went ahead by creating six-way cards featuring all sorts of material. The fact that Artifacts added more of a variety gives it a whole new level. It is very impressive.

    As for the design, you can really tell that they build off of each year the product is released. They seem to take from their errors and strong points. This really does the product well. One of the best things about the product, base cards in particular, it manages to be modernly classy if there is such a thing. Whether that's realistic or not, I think everyone would know what I mean by saying that after seeing the cards.

    All in all, Artifacts continues the streak of being a solid product and very reliable! It's done me well, I can tell you that, and so can tons of other people who bust it.

    Thanks for another spectacular review, Luke!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks for the very insightful comment!

      Delete
  10. Every year Artifacts is a big hit, especially for me because it is one of my favourite products. The only thing that I really dont like is how some of the jersey cards arent numbered.
    Youtube: Graboguru

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love artifacts and to me it looks like this years product is better. I find there are a lot more parallels and i really like the base card design.

    Youtube: andicardsnstuff

    ReplyDelete
  12. artifacts is always a great product i really like the new base cards really nice
    -CANUCKSCARDS

    ReplyDelete
  13. artifacts is a nice product this year

    Youtube: jtayl132

    ReplyDelete
  14. I don't know if I like this product I haven't opened my box yet, but by the looks of other boxes, it just looks mediocre. The tundra sixes and rookie jersey patch variations are the only changes that I can see. Still a solid product though. thanks for the contest!

    yt - ryannturnaa

    ReplyDelete
  15. Artifacts is always a great product with good looking insert.

    YOUTUBE lfou998

    ReplyDelete
  16. best artifacts ive seen very great break so many hits and very cool base cards great product 9/10
    youtube josh k

    ReplyDelete
  17. nice break great job thanks for the contests
    youtube canucks rule

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love artifacts from last year and this year I gotta go pick up some of this product this weekend :D
    YT mncards22

    ReplyDelete
  19. Best look I have seen from artifacts ! Love the team Canada stuff ! Great rookie crop with rookie auto's , jerseys and patches !
    YT - CJ Jansn

    ReplyDelete
  20. Awesome break! Seemed like a Red Wings box, haha I should pick up a box sometime soon.

    YouTube: Brennan Osinski

    ReplyDelete
  21. NICE PROUDUCT like the cards cant wait to get it the cards look sick
    YT:TheHockeyCardCollector

    ReplyDelete
  22. Very clean product once again. The design is amazing. It looks like a much higher end product just based on the design.

    My favourite part of the product is the Rookie Redemption cards. I don't know what it is but there is something about them that stands out for myself and other fans as it is such a surprise until the list is released.

    ReplyDelete
  23. very big fan of the base insert and rookie cards they are very clean. the hits look great as always with artifacts. Great box if you were a red wings fan!
    YouTube: Kirk Shepard

    ReplyDelete
  24. Artifacts always looks awesome. YT- CUB3Jsg22

    ReplyDelete
  25. As always I really like the look of Artifacts. I know I am going to have a tough time chasing all the Nicklas Jensen cards I need!

    SCF: Deschneid

    ReplyDelete
  26. Like the design this year! ! I don't know about the rookie jerseys and autos, but they seem cool. lots of parallels being and even some extra hits in all the boxes I've seen so far,
    nice break.

    PS: Did you get the stuff I left for you?

    thx, Daniel - DeadlineTV2

    Im also looking forward to SPA, UD Ser. 2 and RC Anthology if they come out at reasonable prices (or at all) this year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yep, got the stuff! i have a video of it in one of my recent vids.

      Delete
  27. Great break!

    YT: desarge44

    ReplyDelete
  28. I like it, got lucky in a group break and got a parise patch and a parallel,
    Yt:Christian legault

    ReplyDelete
  29. That was a cool box. My favorite part this year about artifacts is the base card design. YT BHawksFan45

    ReplyDelete
  30. It was a nice box for sure... Love the Design on the bases, also love how they have rookie jerseys and such now.. also the Tundra Sixes are pretty nice... I say its a pretty good looking product and maybe Ill have to pick myself up a box :) Yt: Daazelwurm

    ReplyDelete
  31. Your one of my favorite youtubers and I read all your reviews before I buy a product. Thanks and keep doing what your doing. Artifacts is AWESOME!!! Youtube Riley Thomson

    ReplyDelete
  32. Love the product! Cant wait to grab some for myself!
    YT-crazyroyal12man

    ReplyDelete
  33. Artifacts have been my probably favourite product from Upper Deck for a long time now, and this new edition doesn't disappoint me either. I think the design of the cards is great as usual, and every single card are great looking, stand out from the others but still make you know that they are from Artifacts. This is great!

    Youtube: Majlfp

    ReplyDelete
  34. Really like the new design of Artifacts. Last year, they didn't focus on the rookie class, this year you will find a TON of rookie cards as it states on the wrapper lol. Really like the variations you can find in your box, some good,some bad. Great review Luke!!

    YT- bmurphy1325

    ReplyDelete
  35. I love this years artifacts and I am FOR SURE going to be getting a hobby box. With the guaranteed auto and the possibilities of getting the first Nate Mackinnon rookie card, you can't go wrong! Spuds CardCollections

    ReplyDelete
  36. Artifacts are very nice this year with nice touches. Great review as usually!
    Youtube: CanuckTony13

    ReplyDelete