Base Card Design -
SP Authentic cards have always been on a white backdrop enhanced with graphics in the back. And guess what... Upper Deck has kept it the same. But there's good reason to as the cards look extremely sharp and attractive. These cards are of high quality with a design that is fresh and modern. I absolutely love the look this year as these cards proudly carry on the tradition of what SP Authentic is all about. The base cards subtly highlight each player's team with the team's colors in the backing graphic. The foiling is minimal, but adds a premium quality to the card. Sadly, base cards are always thrown to the wayside nowadays, but I would plead with collectors to enjoy these beauties!
The back of the SPA base cards are equally as nicely done as the front. Rather than having something plain, these cards continue on the sweet graphics used on the front. This time, however, they have been smartly utilized around the smaller player photo. This little design element shows a deft hand at creating a back that has some thought put into it. It's also good to see that each player in the set has a little write up for collectors to read. Like I said before, there is much to enjoy about these cards.
The Authentic Moments subset has been around for a few years now and adds a splash of color to this mostly uniform set. Though the cards are designed nicely, I feel that these cards don't fit the overall SP Authentic theme. These cards look like they would belong more in Upper Deck's Series One or Two flagship collection. Perhaps some collectors would enjoy these, I just don't as much.
The signature rookie set for SPA are the Future Watch cards. This beloved set is the staple of the product. This year's FW design does not disappoint. The elements of the card come together very nicely. There is not a lot of dead space on the card - it's just balanced so nicely! This year's look has to be one of my favorite for SPA in a few years. Future Watch cards come in autographed and non-autographed forms. Most of the big name rookies will be autographed.
Base Card Design Score:
Boxes of SP Authentic come with 18 packs, and every pack has something to look forward to. Collectors can hit big with an on-card autograph or pull an update card to the main Upper Deck set. Each box guarantees at least two autographed card to find.
Above is a Spectrum card of Mitch Marner. It's basically a parallel to the main set. Interestingly, these Spectrum cards have a scratch off component on the back. If you collect an entire set of these you can scratch them all off to get a Bounty Award card. The first 50 people with a complete Spectrum set also receive a gold version of the set as well. It's an interesting way to make these cards interactive. I'm not sure I have the patience or the money to complete a set for myself... but I'm sure there will be those to go for it!
Silver Skates are inserts cards named after one of Upper Deck's best insert sets of the 90's. These cards are a nice way to get more star and rookie content into packs of SPA. These cards don't really have much going for them to keep me interested. I wish there was a die-cut or some design element that made these stand out. As they are, they just add some filler to the overall SPA product line. Thankfully better variations of these cards exist with autographs and limited numbering.
Looking to finish that Upper Deck set? Well, here's your chance! SP Authentic packs have updates to Series One and Two. I'm not sure what to call this... Series Three??? Anyways, these cards add a final chapter to the main Upper Deck line. You'll get standard updated base, season highlights, and new Young Gun rookie cards!
Each box of SPA is guaranteed to have at least 2 autographs (down from three in previous years). The autograph besides the Future Watch auto was this Sign of the Times card of Matt Murray. Sign of the Times is a classic SPA autographed card. The set of Sign of the TImes isn't as large as it once was, but the design featuring a nice large autograph is still there. I really like the large bold autograph on this card.
With only two guaranteed autographs per box, you'd have to buy many boxes in order to see the range of different hit content there is to find in SPA. Just as always, there is a huge amount of spectacular content in SPA... it's just hard to get!
Overall Rating -
SPA is a great product that all collectors can drool over. The cards look great and the on-card autographs are icing on the cake. Most collectors can get on-board with what SPA has to bring to the table.
The only qualm I have with this set is the drop from three autographed cards to just two. For collectors who buy by the box, getting one less autographed card for a little less money per box isn't the best thing. It would have been awesome if there were still three autographs per box. I can see a lot of collectors not liking this.
That being said, SPA does have a lot of cool things to offer. I really wonder how this bounty program with the Spectrum inserts will work out. Hopefully it does catch on and creates a type of card that is very popular (and valuable) for collectors.
Check out my box of SPA: