Friday, May 30, 2014

2014 Panini Prizm Baseball Review

Panini has really been hitting the Prizm-bandwagon hard these past few years. It seems like I just reviewed a Prizm baseball product not too long ago, but here we are again with yet another new Prizm offering. The cards continue to use the a similar etched foil look, and again this Prizm features plenty of parallel cards to chase down. I'll be interested to see how the product has changed since the last I saw it.


Base Card Design -
The standard 2014 Prizm Baseball design has undergone a few tweaks since last year, but it is still undeniably Panini Prizm. I have often said that these a foil/chrome type cards will always have a difficult time really looking different from each other because the thick metallic look makes everything look kind of the same - especially with this silver metal look. That being said, the base cards are nice looking and have a sweet slick sheen to them. The etching on the card gives the card a nice texture to offset the mostly smooth look on the card. The only distracting thing on the card is what's missing - and that's the official team logos. It's just strange seeing blank hats and uniforms. I credit Panini for choosing photos that do their best to hide this and not make it an issue, but it's just too hard not to notice.


The Prizm backs have a great appeal to me. I really like the photo used for the top portion of the card. It was a great design choice to have it sort of fade as it went down towards the relevant stats. The photo gives the feeling that it continues down towards the bottom end of the card - it just feels larger than it actually is. There aren't too many stats to look at on the card, but that's pretty standard for Prizm. The good thing is there is plenty to read about the player as Panini has provided a good amount of space for a player write-up. I've got to give Panini credit for these card backs, they have been well done.


The Prizm rookie cards have a different design than the standard base, but the overall feel of the set stays the same. Panini has elected to use more of the bottom portion of the card to add in the team the player plays for separate from the player's name. It's an odd choice for me because by doing this, the player photo gets scrunched down a bit. I wouldn't have noticed this if every card was like this, but it's very apparent wen putting these rookie cards side-by-side with the other base cards.

Base Card Design Score:
7.5/10

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Panini really condensed Prizm this year. Instead of giving collectors 20 packs, there are now only 12 in a box. Less packs doesn't mean less stuff though! There are still two autographs per box with even more Prizms than last year. So all-in-all, a very good thing for Prizm collectors out there - there is more to find in fewer packs. That's definitely a winning scenario for collectos.


Collectors will find more Prizm parallel cards like the Chris Archer Blue Mojo version shown above in their boxes of Prizm than they did last year. Panini upped the Prizm insert count considerably - they state on the box that there are six per. Each Prizm variant has a different numbering. The Archer is serial numbered to 75. The Gold Prizms numbered to 10 are usually some of the most popular versions of these cards. They are very low numbered, but not impossible to get a hold of. Finite 1/1 Prizms are great as well and also have good value to them, but can often be less popular due to the virtual impossibility of collecting them all.


One of my favorite Prizm parallels have been the Orange Die-cuts. It looks as if Panini is starting a tradition with this color! The 2014 Orange Die-Cuts are serial numbered to 60 and feature a very modern and industrial looking cut from the card. These cards would have a great appeal to those who are looking for something unique but also easier to collect than some of the really low numbered cards. Using die-cutting with the parallel system is a great idea, and I hope Panini keeps this going in their Orange Prizm cards for a very long time.


Standard insert cards are pretty prevalent in 2014 Prizm Baseball. These inserts have the same thickness and feel of the base cards, but have unique designs that convey different themes. These inserts cards are great for younger players who want to add more cards of their favorite players in an affordable way. For more seasoned collectors, these sets also have undergone the parallel treatment and have hard and harder-to-find versions of themselves.


One of the few places you will find a non-Panini logo on the cards are with these USA Baseball inserts. Panini has wisely chosen to include USA Baseball themed cards in their products. These cards look great as they don't have any hindrance to them. You can see how great these cards would look with nothing held back.


The box states that it will contain 2 autographed cards. Sadly, I only found one when I opened up this box of Prizm Baseball. Panini is usually very good at rectifying situations like this, but it's still disappointing to not get what is expected and stated on the front of the box. That being said, I do like the autograph that I pulled here. The Purple Prizm looks really nice, and the on-card autograph really pops.

Prizm has a great deal more inserts and autographs to find in it than what I have shown in this post. Check out my video below to see some of the other inserts that can be found! In terms of autographs, Prizm has a wide-range of players. Collectors can expect to find the newest and youngest stars all the way to retired legends.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:
8/10

Overall Rating -
The new 2014 Panini Prizm Baseball is a very strong effort from Panini. They have really distilled the product down quite a bit from the past. I love the fact that boxes contain less packs but have more inserts in them. It's definitely a good value as boxes can be had for around $60 or so.

Collectors who have enjoyed Prizm in the past will definitely like it again here. It's a brand that Panini seems to be very invested in year in and year out. Collecting Prizm is affordable, and there is potential in the product for some really valuable and rare cards - like the Gold and Finite Prizms.

I would recommend this product to fans of baseball. Though there aren't official team logos or names, the cards are of high quality and are well-made. I believe Panini has once again done the most of what they could with the limitations set forth on them without the MLB license.

Overall Rating:
8/10

Check out my box of 2014 Panini Prizm Baseball:

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Retail Review #102 (13/14 Upper Deck Series 1 Blaster)


It's been a while since I've done an Upper Deck Series 1 blaster. I've been trying hard to get someone good out of Series 2! Well, I'm giving Series 2 a break today and going back to UD1. I'm convinced that UD1 is a stronger product than two. We'll see what comes out of this blaster, hopefully something good!



Price - 
$19.99

Packs - 12
Upper Deck Series 1 Blaster Packs

I've had very poor luck with Young Guns out of blasters... I just can't seem to pull the big names! Still I haven't gotten a Mackinnon or Hertl from a pack (in hobby or retail). Maybe they'll finally come out for me when the higher-end products hit the shelves. Well, I can only hope.

Upper Deck Series One doesn't have all OPC cards and all of its parallel variations in it... and in some ways that's a very good thing. Those cards can water down the set, and usually, rookie cards out of those sets cannot compare to the ones from the standard Upper Deck set. MVP base cards are here though, but that's ok.

So far this year there has not even been a jersey card pulled from an Upper Deck Series One or Two blaster for me. It's been a pretty big dry spell in terms of getting hits. One day this has got to change!

Let's go ahead and see what comes out of this blaster:


Review -
This blaster felt better to open than the Series Two blaster I have recently gotten. Upper Deck Series One just feels like a tighter product. I didn't get a whole lot of inserts and extra cards, as has been the norm for 13/14 Upper Deck, but I enjoyed the break and the cards that I pulled. This particular blaster had quite a bit of D-men for me to see. In fact, you'll get to see them all in the top three this week.

Here it is, an 'all-D' top three:

Top 3 Cards


#3 - Erik Karlsson Card No. D3
I like these foil card inserts found in Series One. These types of inserts is what Series Two is missing. I feel that Upper Deck has definitely done less and less of these original looking inserts in the main line in recent times. Cards like these are great!


#2 - PK Subban Card No. 23
I always enjoy getting cards of players I collect or used to collect. Subban is definitely a polarizing player in the NHL, and having interesting players like that is good for the sport. 


#1 - Jacob Trouba Card No. 237
Trouba is a top defense young player, and I'm glad to have his Young Gun. Usually defensemen hockey card values are low... but hopefully that trend will change as it has a bit with players like Karlsson and Subban recently.

Overall Value -
This blaster box was one that I was happy with. I was able to get some decent cards out of it, even though it wasn't a home run kind of a box. Home runs are definitely few and far between when it comes to retail products. But I'll settle for a box like this most of the time... some solid stuff out of here!

Let me know what you thought of my break in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:
7.75/10

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

2013-2014 Panini Crusade Basketball Review

Panini brings Crusade back for another year, but with time with a very different product formation. In its initial offering, Crusade was a one-hit-per-pack type of product. This year though, collectors will find just two hits per box (rather than six) - but boxes will contain quite a bit more of the Crusade inserts and parallels that the products is named after. Will collectors be on a crusade to chase all of these cards down? Let's see what 13/14 Crusade basketball brings to the table.


Base Card Design -
Panini goes with the classic white-themed look that worked so well for them in many of their releases. These base cards are a bit busy, but everything on them comes together well as none of the elements on it are distracting. With a name like Crusade, people expect something with a medieval theme, and that is exactly what collectors get with the product. Crusade is a bit like a tone downed Crown Royale. This product doesn't have the flamboyant die-cut and excessive use of foil, but rather it goes down a much more subtle route to get a similar feel and effect. The base cards are well executed and are visually nice. My only issue with the base cards is that they feel a bit out of place when opening the packs. You actually won't find many base cards in the product... they are outnumbered by the Crusade inserts and other hits in the packs. Compared to those other cards, these thin base cards seem like 'toss-ins'. If these base cards were printed on thicker stock they would have held up better against the other cards included.


The back of the base cards has a strong design. Like the front, the back has a lot going on, but the designers at Panini have gotten it so that nothing on the card distracts - which is hard to do! I am a big fan of the upper half of the card containing the team logo and player photo. The use of team colors for highlights where the card number and stats are is also appreciated. These Crusade card backs impress me - strong effort here Panini!


The rookie cards in Crusades don't get much special treatment. They are simply given the standard rookie card logo in the upper corner and flip-flop the Crusade logo and player name. Collectors will find the the player's college stats on the back. The rookie cards come in the middle of the Crusades base set, and retired player cards follow the rookie cards to round it all out.

Base Card Design Score:
8.75/10

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
I found it curious of Panini to dramatically alter the format of Crusade. I guess by doing so, it is now a more affordable product for people to get their hands on. Rather than six hits like last year, this year collectors will find just two - one autograph and one memorabilia card. The insert card count has risen by quite a bit though. It looks like Panini is banking on the Crusade insert cards to really carry this brand.


These foil Crusade inserts are what this product is all about. You'll find three of these per pack, usually a couple standard blue versions like this Ben McLemore above, and a numbered parallel as a third card. These cards have are thick, etched foil cards with a rainbow shimmer. Panini could have just had these cards be the base cards and gotten rid of the main thin-stocked base card set. I think many collectors would have been ok with that, but perhaps Panini wanted to keep these cards as an 'insert', which is why they were so popular in the past.


The Crusade set is quite large at 300 cards, and the set has an abundant amount of parallel cards to find. Each parallel of the set has different serial numbering, and one of the parallel sets features die-cutting. This set will be quite a challenge for player collectors as cards are numbered as low as ten, five, and one.


Regular base-card-like inserts have also been included into Crusade. The Nobility card of Paul Pierce shown above is an example of one. I don't really see a point to having these type of insert cards other than to just add more cards of certain players. Panini has also given these cards the parallel treatment. There aren't as many parallels to be found with these, but still, collectors have to be on the look out for one-of-one copies out there.


The memorabilia card I pulled out of the review box was this Kevin Martin Quest jersey card numbered to 99. The card itself looks amazing. The silver with the black and white main color scheme makes this card really look classy yet modern. For a jersey card, this looks really great. I also like the fact that the card is numbered to 99 as so often companies don't serial number their regular jersey cards anymore. The back of the card also states that the material is game-worn... which is a very nice addition. Sadly, these cards will not command high values despite all the great things going on with the card. Collectors are just worn out of plain jersey cards. Prime versions of these cards will have better collector attention though.


The autograph that came out of this box was the legendary Magic Johnson. This was the silver version numbered to only 10. It's an amazing card to come out of the product. I definitely wouldn't say that this is a typical pull, but it does show that getting these types of bigger hits are possible. I don't know anyone who wouldn't be happy pulling a Magic auto out of a product!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score
7.5/10

Overall Rating -
Crusade Basketball this year gives collectors an interesting product choice. If you're someone looking strictly for packs with hit after hit... this isn't for you. Crusade packs only two hits per box, so there are other products out there that would satisfy the hit collectors better. But for collectors who want to chase the Crusade parallel set, this is an awesome product.

Unlike many of the other sports, parallel cards in basketball have tended to to better than others. And I think that's what Panini is really going for with this product. Getting the really low parallels could make the boxes really worth getting. And Panini has done of fine job of making the foil parallel cards in this set look outstanding. Those who enjoy a shimmery look to their cards will have to get a hold of some of these.

Currently, boxes of Crusade can be found for under $70. So in the crowded market place of boxes, Crusade is on the lower-end spectrum of products. And this is mostly because of the low hit count. I think Crusade is worth a buy. The cards are certainly nice looking, and if you can somehow pull a nice low-numbered parallel or autograph, the price would definitely be worth it!

Overall Rating:
8/10

Check out my box of 13/14 Panini Crusade Basketball:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Retail Review #101 (13/14 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster)


Today I decided to give Upper Deck Series 2 a chance once again. You probably know that I have not hit anything good out of one of these blasters. I basically had to get one because there were no other hockey products to be found on the shelves besides re-packs... and I'm a bit tired of those! Will something good finally come out? We'll just have to see!



Price - 
$19.99

Packs - 12
Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster Packs

Most of the time with Upper Deck Series 1 and 2, one of the sets comes up clearly on top. I'm beginning to see that the upper hand is probably going to be with Series 1 for 13/14. I have just had no luck coming out of this stuff. It'd be nice to at least get a nice Canvas Young Gun card... something, right? I've just really struck out on these so far. I have, though, seen others pull some nice cards out of these blasters. I just wonder when that will be me!

Here goes! Let's open up the blaster and see what I get from it:


Review -
So as you saw, I didn't get anything really great out of the box, but this blaster was far from the worst I have gotten. Actually, this blaster was probably one of the better UD2 blasters I have gotten. There was a lot of rookie content to be found in this box. I was able to get Young Guns, OPC regular and retro rookies, as well as an MVP rookie card.

My Canvas card was of Ben Bishop and my Decades insert was of Ed Belfour, neither of which were particularly exciting for me.

I'm still waiting for that great Upper Deck Series 2 blaster! Will it ever happen?

Let's see the top three from this week:

Top 3 Cards


#3 - Patrick Marleau Card No. 262
I really like this photo of Patty Marleau. It is a bit bittersweet though seeing him here. It's a reminder of the epic collapse the Sharks just had in the playoffs.


#2 - Valeri Nichushkin Card No. 634
Nichushkin is definitely following me in my breaks. I keep pulling him all the time! I like this card for it's super colorful retro design scheme. You can't miss it!


#1 - Filip Forsberg Card No. 451
Forsberg is a talented rookie with a lot of upside to him. This has to be one of the better Young Gun cards I have pulled from Series 2 this year thus far.

Overall Value -
I think the overall value of this break was ok. I was decently happy to get all these rookie cards in the blaster. It's always fun to wonder and speculate if the rookies found in the packs will someday be the next big thing in the NHL.

Let me know what you thought of my break in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:
7/10

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Retail Review #100


Hey! I can't believe it's Retail Review number 100! I guess I've done quite a few of these, yeah? Reflecting back on these retail breaks I can definitely say... STICK WITH HOBBY!!! Hahaha... no joke. When I started this whole thing I wanted to see how long it would take me until I got something good. Well, check out Retail Review #4 and you'll see something nice, but I'm not sure I've equaled that since then. Let's see what break #100 will give me!



Price - 
$12.99 (2012 Rookie's and Stars)
$9.99 (2014 Bowman Baseball)
$7.99 (Target Re-Pack)

Packs - 15
Assorted Packs

I decided to get three boxes today for my one-hundredth episode of Retail Review. I thought that number was good as it matched my usual top three cards that I pick each week. This time, rather than going for the best overall three cards, I decided to pick one from each box I opened.

I chose to go with the Rookies and Stars blaster because of its price. At $12.99, it was probably the best deal of the bunch. 2012 was a great year for football cards, so this product was a no-brainer for me. The Bowman three-pack blister intrigued me because it is a relatively new product. I don't get to open baseball too much, so it was something that just wanted to give a try. Being a product with lots of prospects, it'd be good to have some cards that could possibly rise dramatically in value sometime in the future. The Target Re-pack was something I had to get in the mix simply due to it being a hockey product. I wasn't about to skip out on hockey for this one-hundredth episode!

Let's crack all the boxes open and see what cards come out:


Review -
So this wasn't the best break ever, unfortunately. The best box by far was the football blaster. It had a hit as well as numerous inert cards to pour over. If the football box was the only one opened, I think it would be a pretty good episode of Retail Review. Great value, fun cards!

But I did end up opening two more products. The baseball product was actually a nice rip too. It was just three packs, but it was cool seeing that '1st Bowman Card' logo on some of the cards. The three-card bonus purple parallel pack was a nice addition. I love it when companies do these types of things for retail products.

Sadly, the most disappointing box was the hockey one. There was just hardly anything of note in the entire thing. I found myself hoping and hoping that something would come out of the O-Pee-Chee packs, but that wasn't to be. My best card from this break was actually out of the 50-card extra box!

Here are my top cards from each of the three boxes:

Top 3 Cards


#3 - Jaromir Jagr Card No. 22
This was my favorite card out of the entire hockey break. If this was 15 or so years ago, I'd consider this a nice pull. Base cards were still alright at the time, and this one looks pretty nice. It's definitely not of any great value now, but I like it.


#2 - Mookie Betts Card No. BCP109
Baseball is the sport that I am least knowledgable in. I know a good amount of the current players and stars, but ask me about prospects and I'm pretty clueless. I checked up on Mookie Betts, and I found that his cards do have some decent value to them. Though this card doesn't have an autograph, it is numbered to just 500 on the back.


#1 - Justin Blackmon Card No. 21
My only hit of the break came out of the football blaster. I'm glad I got at least one hit out of all the products I broke today. The card is well-designed, with nice touches all-around. If this were a more normal Retail Review, I think the entire top three could have been from the Rookies and Stars blaster.

Overall Value -
Counting all three blasters, this was not a good value. I spent upwards of thirty-some dollars on a bunch of cards that are mostly insignificant. My suggestion is to buy retail products only in smaller amounts, or get blasters that are known to have something in them - you'll definitely feel better about them!

I hope you enjoyed this episode of Retail Review, I hope there are many more to come.

Let me know what you thought of my break in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:
7/10

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Retail Review #99 (2010 Upper Deck World of Sports)


Alright guys, you know I can't resist getting World of Sports when I see it on the shelves! So for today's break I'm going to be opening up a blaster of it I got at the discounted price of $12.99. This blaster contains a variety of athletes from a handful of different sports. 



Price - 
$12.99

Packs - 11
2010 UD World of Sports Blaster Packs

My first ever blaster of this product was pretty good... so that kind of set the bar pretty high for World of Spots. Since then, the bar has not been reached. Every time I buy one of these, I hope that the box will at least match the content in that first one. I've been disappointed after opening these last few World of Sports blasters. I hope the trend doesn't continue here today.

I'll go ahead and open this blaster and see what comes out:


Review -
Though I didn't get a hit out of this blaster, at least this had a numbered insert card that came out very early. Though this box didn't really give me anything of note, the insert was something... and something is better than nothing. So maybe I'm on the up and up with these blasters!

The smattering of athletes across many sports was again fun to see. I did end up getting two Larry Bird cards - but they were different from each other. One had a lower number in the set while the other one was pretty high. I wonder what the reasoning was for including duplicate players in the set. I'm not complaining, though, as getting Larry Bird is pretty good for a base card.

Here were my choices for top cards:

Top 3 Cards


#3 - Jesse Ventura Card No. 252
I was definitely a bit surprised to see this card come out of my blaster. Jesse Ventura was a professional wrester, but later on took on governorship of Minnesota. It's these kind of cards that I think make the set really fun to open and collect.


#2 - Brian Leetch Card No. 318
Leetch was one of my favorite defensemen when I collected hockey cards in the 1990's. He played for some very good New York Rangers teams. It was pretty cool to pull a card of his here as I had a minor PC of his when I was younger.


#1 - Gary Gait Card No. CC-36
I have to be honest and let you know that I have no idea who Gary Gait is, but I do like the fact that this card is printed on acetate and serial numbered. It's not really a 'hit' in terms of an autograph or memorabilia, but this card is special enough with what it has.

Overall Value -
So I just got an insert card in this blaster... worth the money? Well, no. But this one was a decently fun break, and the insert card did catch my attention. At $12.99, i find these blasters a great value, and I would pick them up again if I ever see them re-stocked at my local Target store.

Let me know what you thought of my break in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:
5/10

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!