Sunday, July 26, 2015

Retail Review #162 (12/13 Certified Blaster)


Last week wasn't a great break... in fact, it was one of the worst breaks in all the Retail Reviews I've done so far. I'm hoping to reverse that this week with this blaster of Certified. At least with this blaster, I know that I"ll be getting a hit. 



Price - 
$12.95

Packs - 3
12/13 Certified Hockey

Certified is almost never a bad break, it's quick and feels good to open up a quality product. Even though there are only three packs per blaster, there is excitement in the fact that a hit is waiting inside. Usually the hit is just a jersey card, but for some reason inside retail blasters those types of hits are still fun to get. Getting an autograph would be even better, but I'm not going to hold my breathe on that. Getting autos seems quite a bit more difficult than the swatch hit.

Rookie-wise, 12/13 doesn't have too much to offer so it'd be great to pull a nice card of a veteran player. You can usually find 12/13 products a significant discounts. It might be a good choice to go mining for some nice veterans with boxes and blasters from this year.

Let's see what come out of this little three-pack blaster:


Review -
My initial thought when seeing the packs of this blaster was that I must have gotten an autograph hit. Normally, you can tell that one pack is thicker... and that pack has the jersey card in it. I had to guess at the hit-pack, and I thought it was funny that I got it right and opened it last.

This wasn't a phenomenal blaster by any means, but it sure does feel that way compared to what I got last week. There were mostly base cards, but I did enjoy the insert and hit that I found here. The cards are also very nicely done with copious amounts of shine to dazzle me with.

Here were my three favorite cards out of this blaster:

Top 3 Cards


#3 - Steven Stamkos Card No. 91
Stammer is always a nice pull out of packs. He's a gifted scorer and the hobby seems to really love the guy. This was probably the best base card in the blaster.


#2 - Bobby Clarke Card No. I-6
This insert card is numbered to just 250. I am a fan of retired players having cards that are more modern... it's a fun juxtaposition that I find interesting looking. 


#1 - Mat Clark Card No. 169
I'm glad to have gotten an autographed card from the blaster. It's been a while since I've gotten one. It's not a great hit, but an autograph is an autograph and I'll be happy with it.

Overall Value -
There is some really good value in these 12/13 Certified blasters. At their current price of just over ten dollars, you are guaranteed a hit. These blasters are just like buying a hobby pack of Certified except with out the guess work. I definitely think they are a strong value and should be picked up if you are given the opportunity to do so!

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:
7.5/10

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Friday, July 24, 2015

2014-2015 Upper Deck Premier Review

Upper Deck comes strong at collectors with a 'new' product in UD Premier. I put new in parenthesis because it is a product that Upper Deck has come out with in the past, but has now re-released. Premier is one of those one pack affairs that packs quite a wallop both in hit content and in entrance fee. Looking at the gorgeous previews of the product has gotten me excited about what this product can bring to collectors. Now it's time to open up a box and see if it lives up to the excitement around it.


Base Card Design -
The UD Premier base card comes on thick card stock similar to that of what Ultimate collection base cards have. They are about the thickness of a regular jersey card. As with most card sets, thicker card stock denotes a more premium product - and UD Premier is certainly premium. Each base card is limited to just 249 copies. The cards have a modern design with geometric shapes that border the player. Silver foil highlights the card and adds some shine that makes the card pop a bit. The design is typical for Upper Deck. It's nice, but doesn't stand out meaningfully.


UD Premier goes the acetate route with their Premier Rookie cards. They actually remind me a lot of the National Treasures rookie cards from last year. These cards come embedded with a large swatch of patch right in the center. The patch is highlighted by a foil border. Above the patch is the player photo, and below is a place for an on-card player autograph. It's a clean looking card, but again doesn't scream greatness at me. I do like these rookie cards better than the standard base design, but it's a bit plain for me still. Rookie cards are either numbered to 299 or 199 like the Jonathan Drouin card above.

Base Card Design Score:
7/10

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
A box of UD Premier only comes with seven cards. I have found that most boxes will have two base cards in them - which leaves you with five hits. Premier has its fair share of amazing hits. Collectors will find giant patches and autographs of the NHL's best.


The rookie cards come with plain jersey parallel cards. These cards have a nice shiny rainbow foil with a spot on the card for the player's event-worn jersey patch. These are most definitely just filler cards in the product. I'm not sure how many hard core collectors would get excited over these. That being said, if you're a player collector these are nice and easy cards to find and add to your collection.


Dual jersey hits like this one of John Tavares and Ryan Strome are marginally better than the single jersey hits. I do like the design on these much more since it's pretty different than the base design. These actually remind me of the OPC Premier dual jersey cards from 09/10.


I'm pretty sure it's safe to say that all collectors enjoy on-card autographs, and that's what UD Premier has. The clean look of the Legendary Signature cards is nice and there is ample room for the player to leave a nice large signature. Unlike some of the other cards in set, these are not serial numbered.

The best card in my box was the Jonathan Drouin rookie card, and I'm quite happy pulling that! But there are many other sweet cards to be had in UD Premier. I'm sure collectors will especially appreciate that huge hand numbered patch cards that can be found here. These patch cards are like the ones that Panini used to put in Prime when they made cards.

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

Overall Score -
UD Premier is an expensive product... upwards of $200! It is certainly a high risk, high reward type of brand. For the collectors with big pockets it is a break that is super fun. It's always great looking in packs and seeing what amazing pulls come out. For collectors that find it to be a bit too expensive, it might be wise to hold off on a box of this. My advice to them would just be to find singles on eBay as they will be a significantly cheaper option.

Upper Deck has done a nice job in bringing back UD Premier. Part of me is a little underwhelmed by it, but it still has cards in it that are absolutely jaw-droppingly awesome. But I guess that's just how these pricey product are nowadays.

Overall Score:
8.5/10

Check out my box of UD Premier:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Retail Review #161 (14/15 Fleer Ultra Blaster)


My last box of Fleer Ultra wasn't too bad, but I expected more out of it. Fleer Ultra is a shout back product to the 90's when insert cards were all the rage. This year's version of Ultra should come packed with interesting insert cards and parallels. I really hope this is a fun break with cards that look cool because I'm not expecting to get an autograph or memorabilia card in here.



Price - 
$9.95

Packs - 8
8 x 14/15 Fleer Ultra Blaster Packs

This blaster box wasn't too expensive. I'm not sure how I would feel paying the full $20 retail price, but half that is okay. You get a total of 8 packs when you purchase a blaster, and hopefully some nice cards come out.

One thing that I'm not really looking forward to are the base cards. These base cards remind me more of regular old Fleer cards rather than Ultra. Ultra was always known to be more glitzy and glamourous. The boring white borders of this year's base set are totally uninspired.

Autographs are possible hits in this blaster, but they are extremely rare. Like I said, I won't expect that, but a nice die-cut insert would certainly make my day!

I'll go ahead and check out what's inside this Ultra blaster:


Review -
Ummmm... what happened here??? This was seriously a worst box of the year type of break. As I opened the packs and get base packs and more base packs, I was more and more discouraged. It was definitely not fun going through the cards and finding nothing really of interest. My only 2 non-base cards were my gold medallion base parallels... and they were not anything special.

I am thoroughly disappointed with this blaster of Ultra - it definitely feels like a wasted effort. I just can't say anything exciting - event the least bit - came from this blaster box. Really, there's nothing else to say about it.

Top three from this week are all base cards, that definitely tells you something:

Top 3 Cards


#3 - Jaromir Jagr Card No. 108
Maybe Jagr was the biggest name in the blaster? Maybe.. but I really just picked this card because its horizontal orientation stood out to me more than most of the other cards in these packs.


#2 - Patrick Marleau Card No. 157
Alright, well, might as well show some Sharks homer-ism by picking the only two Sharks I got as my numbers one and two. Patty gets two because his photo here is just oh-so-forgettable.


#1 - Joe Thornton Card No. 158
Jumbo Joe's picture is a little better as he is a bit more bold on it, plus he's sporting that cool looking Sharks third jersey.

Overall Value -
Terrible blaster! I would probably have not even had to pay a dollar for all those cards if I were to get them at a store or card show. This was definitely a bad blaster and a negative breaking experience. I sure hope next week's is better!

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:
1.5/10

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Retail Review #160 (11/12 Upper Deck Series Two Tin)


Last week I opened up some 11/12 Series One, so naturally this week I'm going to open up some Series Two. Instead of fat packs, this Retail Review will feature a Series Two tin. I don't open tins up too often in Retail Review, but they are a very popular retail product among my readers. I'm always getting suggestions to open them up! Well, here ya go!


Price - 
$12.95

Packs - 12
11/12 UD Series 2 Packs

I don't think 11/12 Series Two was all that memorable. While Series One had the big gun of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, this second set just didn't have the huge pop that collectors were looking for. I remember that there wasn't that much excitement over it upon its arrival. The good thing was, though, that you could still find Ryan Nugent-Hopkins rookie cards in the form of OPC and Victory update cards. Sure, they are worth a fraction of the price of his Young Gun, but they are still a nice little pull if you get one.

Upper Deck tins are hard to find at actual stores in my area, so I had to order this one. I think the tin concept is a good one and I enjoy opening them up. Tins add a slightly more enjoyable experience when opening them up - plus they make a nice little keepsake or card container for people to use.

Let's crack open the lid to this tin and see what cards come out of it:


Review -
I was definitely impressed with the amount of content that came out of this tin. I think every pack had some sort of insert or update card to enjoy. Besides the array of special cards, I also got three Young Guns in the tin. I can't remember if that's the normal amount you find in one of these, but that's definitely better than the standard two YGs you get in regular blasters.

None of the cards I found were big value cards, and I didn't get any RNH rookies, but I felt that this tin had a strong amount of variety and kept me interested as I opened it up.

Let's see the top three cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards


#3 - Tomas Vokoun Card No. C206
Ahhh, the sweetness of the UD Canvas card photographs! This photographer got really up close and personal with Vokoun and the puck he was trying to stop. What a great capture!


#2 - Mark Sheifele Card No. 136
Sheifele was one of the rookies to look for in 11/12, but has since been forgotten by most collectors. That doesn't diminish my opinion of this great MVP rookie card design though.


#1 - Taylor Hall Card No. OS6
Taylor Hall was the big rookie card to get the year before, and now I pull his big base card. These giant sized cards are cool to find and to enjoy. I'm not sure how it'll fit in with the rest of my collection though.

Overall Value -
For under $15, this tin was a great deal. I had a ton of fun opening up the packs from 11/12 Series Two and seeing what was inside them. I can't really recommend this series if you're trying to find huge value. I mean, you might land a rare Canvas Young Gun card, but the chances can be pretty slim. If you're looking for interesting and fun cards, this just might be the retail product for you!

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

Overall Value Score:
7.5/10

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Retail Review #159 (11/12 UD Series One Fat Pack Lot)


Today's Retail Review is a bit different than most. Rather than opening up a blaster box of a product, I have twelve 11/12 Upper Deck Series One fat packs to open up. I got these packs as a lot at dacardworld.com. The standard price for these according to their site was over seventy dollars! I got all these packs for under twenty. They turned out to be just over a dollar per pack.


Price - 
$17.95

Packs - 12
11/12 UD Series 1 Fat Packs

Honestly, I try to avoid these packs when I see them at the store. They normally cost around five dollars, and you just end up getting a ton of base cards. And in today's collecting world, base cards are not what people are after so much any more. Surprisingly though, I think the odds of finding Young Guns in these packs are better than the standard ones... so I guess if you can get them at a great price, they may be worth it.

I opened up a lot of 11/12 Upper Deck when it came out. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was the rookie to get that year, and his cards were on fire! It was a pretty big deal to pull any of his rookie cards, and his Young Gun was definitely a card that held some good value. Other rookies that year didn't come close to what people were willing to pay for RNH. For rookies, he was the one to find.

This will probably take me longer than a standard blaster break, let's see what comes out:


Review -
Wow, did you see that huge stack of base cards at the end? I really did end up with a ton of them. That might be good if I were trying to go for the base set, but at this point I don't really need a big stack of base cards. I sort of feel that they are waste.

As for hits, there weren't any autos or jersey cards, but I did find inserts and Young Guns. My Young Guns were decent - especially from that year. I didn't pull a Nugent-Hopkins, but the guys I did get were pretty good pulls in 11/12.

I enjoyed the insert and parallel cards I got. I with I had some bigger names, but I can't complain too much - there really isn't much to expect when breaking these packs.

Top 3 Cards


#3 - Brad Marchand Card No. C9
I was debating whether or not to include this card in the top three, but I did. I just like the way the card looks. The horizontal orientation and photo quality is top notch. 


#2 - Jaroslav Halak Card No. AW13
I forgot all about these All-World Team insert cards. This isn't my favorite design from this set, but I always appreciated these cards whenever they got pulled.


#1 - Cody Hodgson Card No. 245
CoHo was a pretty hot rookie at points during the 11/12 season. Currently, you can pick his Young Gun up for under five bucks, but he was someone to watch back then. He's still young and hopefully will find hobby love once again.

Overall Value -
Since each pack was just over a dollar, I really can't complain too much about the purchase. I was disappointed to see how low the values were of the rookies I pulled though - especially Hodgson. I guess it just shows how quickly players and go up and down in the minds of collectors.

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

Overall Value Score:
6/10

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

2014-2015 Upper Deck SP Authentic Review

It seems as if there has been quite a gap between releases recently, but the time has finally come for one of the most anticipated brands of the year, SP Authentic. SPA has been a staple product for Upper Deck for many years now. Just like they do every year, collectors will be clamoring to complete their Future Watch autographed sets - a tough challenge, but one that can definitely be accomplished.


Base Card Design -
Although these SP base cards retail their traditional white card stock, there's a lot more going on with their design. This year's base cards add quite a bit of color and movement. As you can see, there are lines crossing the card's background dynamically along with foil highlighting the player's name and position. I personally prefer a simpler design, but I can appreciate the fact that Upper Deck is trying to change up the feel of the cards a bit. This year's base remind me of the SPA base cards of the mid 2000's. I mention that fact in my video break of my box of it. Perhaps we're just back to that point in the design cycle!  Overall it's a look that definitely falls in line with the look that SP Authentic has gone for - a solid effort this year - just not my personal cup of tea.


The back of the base card is instantly recognizable as SPA - you can really just tell. Here the design is simple and easy to follow. Upper Deck includes all the relevant information needed as well as a short write of below the player's stats. The back of the base card goes well with the front, and the same photo of the player ties the two together well. Is this back super exciting? Well, not really, but it certainly is functional and neat. No complaints, but nothing that wows either.


Last year Upper Deck started putting cards that featured full-bleed photography in the set. This concept returns with their 'Moments' subset. These cards highlight different important moments in NHL history. There are moments that span all through the history of the NHL. The cards look very nice, but have a distinctly non-SP feel to them. They are more in line with the standard Upper Deck Series 1 and 2 sets. These cards mix it up in terms of the basic set, but still feel a little out of place.


Just like in every other year, collectors will find b oth autographed and non-autographed versions of Future Watch cards in their boxes of SPA. The non-autographed versions of these cards are numbered to 999 and feature a design that I would say is even more dynamic than the base cards. The lines on the card make it look like the player is speeding along on the ice. It's a pretty sweet effect.


The autographed version of the FWA cards lose a bit of the speedy effect because the space for the autographed has been left blank for the player to sign. These cards are also numbered to 999 but feature an autograph in blue ink. These cards will be popular again as they always are. I do, however, find myself liking the non-autographed look a little better than the ones with a signature though.

Base Card Design Score:
7.5/10

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
The box states that collectors will find three autographs inside with at least one being a Future Watch Autograph. In my box, I happened to get all FWAs as my hits. Boxes come with 20 packs in a configuration that is very similar to the UD Series 1 and 2 box. It definitely feels weird with that configuration. I liked the three rows of SPA packs!


Retro cards have been a huge point of emphasis for many card companies, and that trend continues here as retro SP cards can be found in SPA boxes this year. These cards look like the old '94 SP cards with their gold foil side-border. It's a very accurate representation of what the cards used to look like! Prospect cards are also available in this same design as well with a special prospect stamp on the front. Die-cut and autographed versions of these cards can also be found as well.


I was surprised to find UD Update cards in my box of SPA this year. Yes, Series 1 and 2 have already come out, but Upper Deck has given collectors an even more updated collection of cards for their sets. These cards really round out the Upper Deck set and act almost as a Series 3! It's nice to get both Young Guns and Future Watch cards in the same box. Pretty cool.

Sadly, I didn't get any other types of hits in my box of SPA. I would have loved to get a Future Watch Patch card, but that didn't happen. Marks of Distinction and Immortal Inks are back along with Chirography and Sign of the Times cards - although it looks like this year's SOTT autos are actually pretty tough pulls! That's certainly different! It would have been really nice to at least get one different hit in my box, but that's just the way it is sometimes!

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

Overall Rating -
SPA is pretty much the same reliable product that you can get every single year. If buying by the box, you're really taking a gamble on getting something good (as you could see by the box I got). Cases will yield much better results. If you're a collector who wants the FWA set, I definitely suggest just going for singles. Many of these rookie cards can be found for well under $10.

SP Authentic is a solid set with nice potential and a great heritage. I definitely would recommend giving SPA a try. There are quite a few different hit types to get as well as some older re-inserted hits as well.

All-in-all, you know exactly what you'll be getting with SPA - a solid product, on-card autographs, and a chance at some very sweet hits.

Overall Rating:
8.5/10

Check out my box of 14/15 Upper Deck SP Authentic: