Sunday, August 27, 2017

Retail Review #271 (14/15 Artifacts Retail Box)


Artifacts is one of those retail products that I would steer anyone far away from, however, these 14/15 retail boxes were actually quite good. In past Retail Reviews I've been able to pull both memorabilia and autograph hits from them. I'm back at it once again with this box. I hope I get something good out of it!



Price - 
$6.95

Packs - 10
14/15 Upper Deck Artifacts Retail Packs

I'm not sure why Upper Deck decided to produce this type of retail product for Artifacts. It was definitely a different configuration than the standard blaster. Perhaps it was to specially promote their upcoming Ice product line. Each of these boxes have an Ice preview card inside. In any case, these boxes seemed to have much better odds of getting a hit or serial numbered card inside.

Unlike standard Artifacts blasters, these blasters did have a retail price of $5 more than the $19.99 price of a regular Artifacts blaster. You did get 10 total packs to open though. When breaking a box of this, you get a nice stack of Artifacts base and a few nice inserts sprinkled within.

Let's open up this box and check out what it has to offer:


Review -
I was able to pull some serial numbered cards out of this box, but sadly it did not have a memorabilia or autograph hit. This box also disappointed in that it was missing the Ice preview card! I'm not too heartbroken over the missing Ice preview... but it was supposed to be there. It is not a good look for a company when something that is supposed to be there, isn't. The box states in large font that an Ice preview card is inside, so if I were a collector looking forward to that I probably would be pretty upset that it wasn't there. On a positive note, I did get some great base cards in the box. Artifacts is a smaller set so pulling the big NHL names isn't too difficult.

Here are my top cards from the box:

Top 3 Cards


#3 - Joe Thornton Card No. 16
I pulled three serial numbered cards out of the box, but I chose to omit Kyle Turris' card for Thornton's because I'm a big Sharks homer. Jumbo Joe was the only Shark I pulled out of the entire box!


#2 - Brandon Gormley Card No. 131
I suppose that this rookie card was the 'hit of the box' as Artifact rookie cards are pretty hard to come by out of retail. I was actually pretty surprised to see a rookie card out of this box, but I would have preferred some memorabilia or ink.


#1 - Steve Yzerman Card No. 74
My favorite card out of the box was this Yzerman numbered to 599. Stevie Y was a legend and getting his cards are always good. The red foil on the card goes well with his Red Wing colors making this card look especially appropriate.

Overall Value -
I've had better when it comes to these 14/15 Artifacts retail boxes. This particular box was missing the Ice preview card and didn't have a hit in it. You definitely can't win them all, and this one wasn't that great, but I wouldn't dissuade anyone from trying these out though. Overall I think these may be the best Artifacts retail boxes you can buy.

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!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Retail Review #270 (12/13 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee)


I'm excited for some retro goodness out of O-Pee-Chee this morning. OPC blasters give you a nice amount of cards with interesting inserts, parallels, and subsets. The old cardboard feel of the cards is a welcome change from the modern style of most products out today. This should be an enjoyable break!



Price - 
$6.95

Packs - 14
12/13 O-Pee-Chee Blaster Packs

Past O-Pee-Chee retail blasters can be found for heavily discounted prices. These blasters are not laden with hits or high value cards, so the market has adjusted accordingly. If you're not too concerned with finding autographs and jersey cards, OPC might be a good option as there are a lot of fun cards within the blaster boxes. I particularly like the sticker inserts that were found this year. The bright old school design really pops.

Let's open up this blaster and check out the cards inside:


Review -
This was a so-so break of O-Pee-Chee. I've definitely have had better boxes broken before. The blaster gave me what I expected in terms of non-base cards, but overall star power of the player selection was a little lacking. This shouldn't be much of a surprise though because of how large the OPC set is. Getting stars out of this huge collection is difficult. 12/13 OPC has been kinder to me in the past, so it probably was time to get a more disappointing box.

Check out my top three cards from the blaster:

Top 3 Cards


#3 - Checklist Card No. 497
Yep, that's right! When there isn't much in the blaster I go a bit off the rails with my choices! I chose the checklist because these types of cards aren't common in sets anymore. Back in the day I used to get a ball point pen and check off all the players I had on the list. Old checklists are some of the most valuable cards to find in good condition!


#2 - Dominic Moore Card No. 421
Moore was not a Shark for very long, so you may be wondering why he's on my list. I chose this card because OPC includes players that are not hobby favorites. You'll find guys from all the lines on the hockey team. Moore hasn't had much cardboard so this card is actually a nice one to find for Sharks fans looking for more variety in their players.


#1 - Jaromir Jagr Card No. S-72
As I've stated before, I really enjoy the look of these sticker cards. Jagr was one of the best players out of the blaster and him in a Flyers sweater is an interesting look.

Overall Value -
This particular blaster wasn't the best, but it still delivered what it was supposed to. You definitely win some and lose some - no matter what level of the hobby you are at. Opening up OPC is still a fun thing to do, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a budget break. Collectors coming back to the hobby from a long time ago may enjoy the look and feel of these cards. OPC is certainly a unique brand in today's modern hockey card world.

Let me know what you thought of this 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!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

2016-2017 Upper Deck Premier Review

Nope! 2016/17 isn't over yet! Premier was just released and the Cup will be coming... probably much later (as always). Upper Deck always saves its big releases for the very end. The last 16/17 release was the high-end Ultimate Collection set, but now we have Premier which is an even more premium and even pricier product than that. Each pack comes in its own metal embossed tin to make the breaking experience that much more exciting!


Base Card Design -
The Premier base cards come on a thick card stock and are serial numbered to 399. The primary colors of the card are white, black, and grey highlighted by silver foil. Premier boasts a modern design, but nothing that really stands out or catches the eye. If anything, I'd say that the base cards are very safe. Nobody will complain about the way they look, but they are garner much excitement in the design department.


As plain as the front design is, the backs are even more plain! Upper Deck really went with a no-nonsense look for this set. The backs have no pictures save for the team logo at the bottom of the card. There are also only one stat line for the player. Thankfully, the cards have a nice write-up to read. Often times I prefer this to complete stats as I find the information more interesting. 


Some of the rookie cards in the main Premier set feature an autograph. The autographs are on-card and numbered to 399. In terms of design, these cards follow the cue of the base cards in that there is not much fanfare on the card. The most outstanding design element of the card is the foil 'Rookie Auto' section below the signature. Most of the rookies in this rookie subset tend to be second tier rookies that don't have much hobby significance.


The Rookie Auto Patch set is where most of the key rookies reside. These cards stand out with their slick acetate front, large patch, and on-card autograph. Though the design is very much on-par with the rest of the set, these cards look much better because of the patch area. A nice patch could really make one of these cards stand out in a big way. There are two tiers of rarity within these cards. Most of them are numbered to 299 while the top of the class rookies are numbered to just 199.

Base Card Design Score:
7/10

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Being a high-end product, collectors expect the best when purchasing a tin of Premier. Each box comes with just one big fat pack of cards. In that pack are autographs and premium materials. At nearly $300 USD at the time of release, there better be some good stuff to find!


The Premier Rookie insert looks like it came out of the base set, but these cards are indeed an insert set of its own. Like their main set counterparts, these cards are either serial numbered to 199 or 299 depending on the player. These cards aren't too exciting, they are really just another way Upper Deck could put in more rookie content for the set. I don't see these cards as being too popular or sought after.


This Jamie Benn jersey card is a jersey parallel of the main set. These cards are direct parallel cards with material embedded in them. These cards have a medium sized amount of jersey and are numbered to 199. Some of the retired players in the set have been short printed. Very rare neckline and tag variations of these cards also exist. Those cards are numbered to /6 and 3/ respectively.


The Premier Swatch insert set is another way to get jersey swatches out of Premier. These cards utilize a horizontal design and have varied numbering depending on the player. I prefer these cards to the base jersey parallels because this set has a design that is a bit more eye-catching. Patch variations of these cards also exist.


The best card out of my tin of Premier was this Premier Mega Stick triple relic hand-numbered to just 5 of Al MacInnis, Theoren Fleury, and Lanny McDonald. It's a pretty awesome card in that the game-used material takes up a good majority of the real estate. I also like the hand-numbering aspect of this card. Pieces like this are what collectors look for out of products like Premier. Though I'm not a Flames fan, I do appreciate this card very much!

Premier is chock full of amazing content. Getting that content can be pretty difficult. Each tin of premier should have something nice in it, but the case hits are what collectors will be keeping an eye out for. For those looking for the top rookies, there are a few rookie retro insert sets that will definitely be hot items. Last year I was lucky enough to pull a Connor McDavid retro rookie. Similar cards are again in this year's release that I'm sure will be much desired.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:
8.75/10

Overall Rating -
Upper Deck Premier is a really interesting product. As a high-end offering, there is a lot to love about it - especially the rookie content. 16/17 had a very good crop of rookies, so getting any autographs from them would be a nice score. That being said, many of these rookie autographs have a higher serial numbering than those found in Ultimate Collection or The Cup. It makes me wonder how the long term values of these cards will do in comparison to its high-end brothers. They will definitely have good value, but will they stand side-by-side with those cards or be a notch down? We'll just have to to see.

The large memorabilia insert cards like the triple stick in my tin are great finds in Premier. These cards have high interest and look amazing in-hand. I was very happy to find my Mega Stick hit and I'm sure collectors who find similar cards will be equally as happy.

As with all high-end products, Premier is a risky venture. With its very high price tag, not all collectors will be able to enjoy a tin of it. While Premier is a very good product, its place in Upper Deck's high-end line up may not justify its cost. I guess if it were up to me, I would get a couple boxes of Ultimate Collection or just wait for The Cup. If high-end is your thing though, Premier is a great hold over until Upper Deck's biggest release.

Overall Score:
8/10

Check out my tin of 16/17 Premier:


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Retail Review #269 (99/00 ITG Millennium Signatures)


I've had a blast opening up these little gems. This is my fourth and final break of ITG Millennium Signatures. Who knows, maybe I'll purchase some more in the future, but for now this is it! I really hope I end on a high note. Each pack break so far has been better than the last!



Price - 
$6.95

Packs - 1
99/00 ITG Millennium Signature Series Pack

I really shouldn't have my hopes too high with this pack. My last pack had a rare blue parallel card numbered to just 100 plus a nice autograph and some good players. At the very least I will get a nice on-card auto out of this. And that's what I've really been after by purchasing these packs. This is a really fun product to break that I'm sure would bring back a lot of memories to people who loved hockey during the turn of the century!

Let's see what comes out of this old pack:


Review -
Not bad! I'd have to say that my last pack of Millennium was better... but just slightly. This week it was actually difficult to come up with the third card in my top three as I think each of the cards in this pack could have been a contender for that spot. Stu Grimson and Jason Arnott were the base cards that I chose to exclude. Grimson's card is awesome as it features him without his helmet on. And as for Arnott, he was one of the ageless wonders of the NHL and only retired a few years back.

These were my top cards:

Top 3 Cards


#3 - Chris Pronger Card No. 202
Pronger was not a well-liked hockey player, especially by his opponents, but he was a force to be reckoned with and a tough minded D-man. I know he's had a tough time in recent years due to the impact hockey has had on his body and mind. Wish him the best!


#2 - Anders Eriksson Card No. 58
It was awesome to get another parallel card this time around. These red parallels are not as rare as the blue. While those were numbered to only 100 each, these are to 1000. Still, it would have been a very good pull back then.


#1 - Jeff O'Neill Card No. 51
Of course the autographed card gets the top spot. O'Neill's signature is on-card and nice and clean. I like how he signed the card with an upward sweeping motion. It's a very nice autograph here!

Overall Value -
These old Millennium Signature packs have been awesome. I hope this little series on them have spurred some of you readers to find some and break them yourselves. Hopefully the supply of these cards has not completely dried up. I'd definitely dip back into the well for some more if given the chance.

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!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

2017-2018 Upper Deck MVP Review

It's that time of year again, the start of the new hobby card year! MVP kicks off the 17/18 collecting season with a new set of cards in this long-running brand. Seasoned collectors will immediately be familiar with what MVP has to offer. There are intriguing inserts, parallels, and hits for new collectors and old to find when opening up this product.


Base Card Design -
Guess Upper Deck didn't get the memo... Patty's on the Leafs now! But you really can't fault Upper Deck for now being totally up-to-date. These cards were designed and made before some of the most recent trades and moves. So while MVP is a 17/18 product, many of the cards in the set will not reflect the current status of players because of its early release. That being said, the MVP design this year is on-par with what a lower end product should be. These cards have a cheap glossy feel to them, but overall the look is nice. The slanted line element behind the player has a little shimmer to it and gives the card an interested look. I also like the bits of mist on the borders of the card, it does a good job of making the player stand out.


The back of the MVP base cards are very plain, I'd say more plain than usual. There is quite a bit of unused space throughout the back of the card. Upper Deck could have utilized the space better. I suppose they could have been going for an extremely clean look, but I wouldn't say it's especially clean either. The graphical design of the back is a little muddled and confused... more than it should be for some basic informational elements.


Rookie cards stand out from the base set with a black and blue color scheme. It's a nice look for the rookies. It's about as good as it will get for a card that doesn't feature foil to highlight aspects of the card. Like the standard base, these cards come off just a bit flat. The rookies featured in this set are those that skated last year but never had a card made for them.

Base Card Design Score:
8/10

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Hobby boxes of MVP come with 20 packs with 8 cards in each. There are a variety of inserts and hits that are available for collectors to find. Because MVP is a lower end brand, getting an autographed hit is pretty difficult. 


When I was opening up my box of MVP I thought these were black parallel cards. Nope! These are the Silver Scripts! Silver Script parallel cards have been a staple in MVP for a very long time and I have generally liked them quite a bit... but this year I'm mixed about them. In terms of the positive, I like the darker look of the card. It reminds me a lot of the way the Rookie cards look. My issue with these cards is the 'silver' script that adorns the front of the card. Sure, it's silver-ish... but in the past the silver was a bright shiny foil embossing. Upper Deck really skimped when it came to this particular parallel set. That's really too bad!


Puzzle piece cards make a return this year. These come one in every four packs and can be combined to create a large MVP card. Cards like this may be fun for younger collectors, but I don't see a huge appeal to putting together this set. I would be very impressed if anyone were able to get a large card put together (especially a younger collector) as these puzzle cards parallel the entire MVP set. You would really have to put in some effort to get one of these puzzles put together.


The Colors & Contours foil set looks great. This set of cards looks really nice but can be very confusing to collect. There are different colors and rarity tiers. Tracking down which cards are what can pose a challenge. The easiest to find come one per fifteen packs, but the most difficult pulls come one per every four hundred! If you're into these cards, be sure to become familiar with the different levels as that will help you when putting these together.


My favorite inset out of MVP this year are the Player Credential cards. These cards look like a membership card that someone might have. In this case, it's membership into the NHL! These cards have rounded corners and a shimmery look reminiscent of a drivers license or identification card. These cards even say to report the loss of these cards immediately. Funny stuff! Hard-to-pull autographed variations of these cards exist as well.

Hard to find inserts are the rookie redemption cards, printing plates, and low numbered script parallels. Most of these types of cards are considered case hits. If you are able to get one in your pack or box, consider yourself very lucky!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:
7/10

Overall Rating -
MVP is a low end set, but it's great to see Upper Deck inserting harder to find cards for the higher end collects to chase. It's also really cool if you happen to get an autograph or redemption card in a cheap pack. It's totally possible in this year's Upper Deck MVP product.

In terms of the cards, they are definitely your low end fare. In general the cards have a cheap, low end feel to them, but thankfully the design isn't too bad looking. It's a nice set for a beginner to put together. There is a slight challenge to it as the high numbers have been short printed.

MVP has some really sweet looking insert cards that make the opening experience fun even if there is no hit in the box. There are tons of colors and unique cards that makes this years MVP a slight step above previous offerings.

MVP is a fun product that doesn't put a huge dent in your wallet. It's worth a look if you want to open up a box very early before the 17/18 hockey season begins.

Overall Score:
7.75/10

Check out my box of 17/18 Upper Deck MVP:

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Retail Review #268 (10/11 Panini Zenith)


This morning I'm opening up a blaster of Panini Zenith. Zenith came out when Panini returned to the hockey hobby in 2010. Wow, that was seven years ago! Time flies! Let's see what comes out of this old box today!


Price - 
$10.95

Packs - 3
10/11 Zenith Blaster Packs

I really appreciate products like this that give collectors a guaranteed hit. I especially think the idea is great at the retail level as it gives new collectors something to get thrilled over. It's pretty awesome opening up a box from the local store and getting an autograph or piece of jersey. If I were new to collecting cards, that first jersey or autograph would be extremely special to me.

This blaster used to be a thirty dollar proposition. That was too high. As the years have gone by and the market has adjusted, I think the current price on these blasters is definitely reasonable. If these were available at the price they are now in stores, I bet they'd be sold out in a heartbeat!

I'll go ahead and see what hit I get in this blaster:


Review -
This is a pretty nice blaster. Each pack had something to look forward to. One pack was obviously larger than the others so I saved that one for last. If you get three thin packs, that means you either got an autograph or a tampered with blaster box.

Aside from the special insert cards, I was happy with the selection of players from the base cards I pulled. I got some solid names Like Malkin and Gilmour amongst others. If I were just a casual fan purchasing this blaster I think I'd be pretty happy with it.

These were my top cards out of the box:

Top 3 Cards


#3 - Richard Bachman Card No. 149
I didn't realize that this card was a rookie card until I went back through the stack of cards when I stopped recording. It has a special foil RC designation at the top and is also serial numbered to 999!


#2 - Tim Thomas Card No. 13
I'm not a Tim Thomas fan, but this is a pretty nice looking card of his. Many hockey collectors enjoy cards that depict the Stanley Cup. This Chasing the Cup insert has a classy design that works well.


#1 - Magnus Paajarvi Card No. 10
The Rookie Roll Call inserts are full foil. The addition of the jersey piece in the middle is a nice touch. Paajarvi was pretty hot when he came onto the scene in 2010, but has since cooled significantly in terms of the hobby. I'm still happy with this pull though.

Overall Value -
This blaster was pretty decent for the price. If I were to get this blaster back when it was released, it would have been a winner because of the serial numbered Bachman RC and Paajarvi jersey. Blasters from the Panini era seem to be drying up significantly. We'll see how many I can still get my hands on in the future!

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!