Thursday, July 18, 2019

2019 Panini Donruss Optic Review



Donruss Optic brings the shine to the standard Donruss trading card. The basic card designs are the same as 2019 Donruss with an added coat of metallic chrome to make the cards really pop. Optic is a mid-tier product that won't break the bank when buying packs or boxes of it. Boxes usually run a little less than a hundred dollars and give you a fun rip with plenty of colored parallels to enjoy.

Product Thoughts
Optic is a really fun break. It's as plain and simple as that. There is so much variety in the product that ripping open each pack is a whole lot of fun. Panini kind of went crazy with the amount of parallels they have placed in the product, but you just don't see the sheer amount of prizms, different borders, or different designs in anything else - especially out of Topps.


Donruss has always been a favorite of mine since the eighties. Their designs are classic to me and give me a huge amount of nostalgia. Panini capitalizes on this by straight copying old designs and chrome-ifying them. They also have the Rated Rookies back with autographed versions. It's a great way to bring what we loved from the past into the present. Is it cheap to just rehash the old stuff? Well... maybe... but I'm not complaining about it! In fact, Panini is probably going to get a lot more money from me because of it!


If I did have one complaint about Optic, it would be that the packs only contain 4 cards each. I get that this is exactly the way Topps does it with their Chrome products, but I don't see why Panini has to follow Topps' ways here. Four cards is just so few - especially for a mid-tier product. I think 5-6 cards would be an appropriate amount of cards to get per pack.


My box turned out to be a Hot Box with a ton of prizm and colored parallel cards in it. I didn't realize it at first, but it was pointed out to me later by a viewer of my Youtube channel. See... this is what sets Panini apart from their competition. There are multiple Hot Boxes per case. Some Hot Boxes have extra autographs and others like the one I got were full over colored parallels. These Hot Boxes aren't too hard to come by and make the breaking experience so much fun. Hot Boxes don't seem out of reach when purchasing the product by the box, and they are a joy to open.


My only real complaint is that Panini cards aren't licensed and don't hold the value that Topps cards do. In my opinion, Panini has done a stand-out job with just a player's license, but it's hard to overcome the lack of official team logos on the cards. This fact makes the Panini cards less desirable in general to collectors. And though it's awesome to have tons of amazing parallels and inserts, by having this many, each type doesn't feel as special because of the sheer amount of them. It's a double edged sword that Panini's wielding! They allow you to get a lot, but Panini cards suffer in terms of their monetary value because of that.

Positives:

  • Hot Boxes are relatively easy to get.
  • Many colored parallel cards create a dynamic opening experience.
  • 2 Autographs on average when you break a standard Optic box.
  • Boxes are short of the $100 mark.

Negatives:

  • You only get 4 cards per pack.
  • The value of the cards are less than their Topps counterparts.
  • There may be too many parallel cards available.
  • No team logos.


Overall Rating:

8.5/10

2019 Topps Allen & Ginter Review


Allen & Ginter is a fan favorite set that has a bit of everything in it. Not only are there baseball players, but you will also find cards of pop culture stars and even cards of people who aren't really that famous to begin with! It really is the kitchen sink when it comes to baseball cards. Hobby boxes will contain three hits and a large amount of base cards.

Product Thoughts
Allen & Ginter is a mid-tier product aimed at collectors that enjoy the retro look and feel of baseball cards. These cards certainly have their own unique look as the images used are all painted renditions of the card's subject. These cards also have a smooth, matte cardboard feel that give them and old time texture that you just don't see in many other products.


The box opening experience is pretty fun in that you get 24 packs to open up. That's a good amount of packs and a good amount of cards. You'll end up with a nice stack to go through and enjoy after you're all done busting everything open. As the box is opened you can expect to find three hits. Considered hits are autographs, memorabilia cards, rip cards, printing plates, and book cards. There is, however, no guarantee to hit any sort of fixed mix of these cards.


For example, some boxes can just have three common memorabilia cards, which would be somewhat disappointing. Looking at the back of the pack for the odds, you'll see that big interest hits are extremely difficult pulls. Go online and watch breaks of A&G and you'll see that getting something spectacular from a box just isn't that common.


Collector interest in mini sized cards is pretty mixed. I, for one, am not a huge fan of them as they provide storage problems. I just don't know what to do with them in my collection. I understand that there are rare mini cards and there are those that do enjoy them, but I'm just not sure the appeal of them. I do, however, like the framed versions of the mini cards as they extend the card's size to what the standard card dimensions. Besides the mini cards, there are also over sized box loader cards as well. Again, these are take-them-or-leave-them type collectibles. Since they aren't a standard size I often find myself not knowing what to do with them. I don't think they have a great look to them and are a burden on storage.


Though Allen & Ginter is an odd set, I find myself attracted to it. There are plenty of really high-end cards available to find, and that is enough to tempt me to purchase it. Boxes run about $100 each and are readily available. I'm sure there will be plenty of blaster boxes at retail to purchase as well and I'd love to break a blaster for Retail Review.

Positives:

  • Relatively low price-point that most collectors can afford.
  • Lots of packs and cards per box to enjoy.
  • Three hits per box as well as a box loader and mini cards.
  • A chance at some very rare and valuable cards.

Negatives:

  • Many non-baseball related cards with a few very strange subjects.
  • Rare hits have odds that are astronomical.
  • Not a great product if you don't like cards that are not standard sized.
  • Only last names on the base cards with a non-conventional stat layout.


Overall Rating:

8.5/10

Back After OVER a Year!


Dear Cardboard Review Readers,

The blog has been sitting silent for over a year. After my photo hosting site changed their policies, I decided to put the blog on hold indefinitely. Well... indefinitely is OVER! Though all of 2018 was pretty much lost in terms of card reviews, I am starting up again with an emphasis on both hockey and baseball. A future goal would be to add basketball and football, but I don't see that happening yet due to the high cost of collecting even just one sport! Thank you all for your patience. And if you've missed me... I'M BACK!


-blacksheep217

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

2017-2018 Upper Deck SP Authentic Review

SP Authentic has always been a collector's favorite. In fact, for a long while it was my personal favorite set to collect. The clean design and opportunity to collect on-card rookie autographs were a big draw. SPA still has many of the hits that collectors know and love, but over the years it feels like Upper Deck has decreased the number of hits you can find in boxes of the product. SPA is still a great brand, but I wonder if the value is really there.


Unlike many of Upper Deck's recent products, SPA has remained very similar in terms of how it comes to collectors. SPA comes in a longer box configuration with three columns of packs. There are 18 total packs in the box with Upper Deck guaranteeing 2 autographs within it. With 18 packs to choose from, getting the hit would take a hot hand if buying by the pack. Two hits, with one of them guaranteed to be a Future Watch rookie, seems like less than what you used to get when buying SPA. In past iterations of this brand, I remember getting around 3 autographs per box. And that didn't seem like enough back then. Getting just two is just bogus!

While I feel that there should be more hits in SPA, the look of the cards are still top notch. The cards retain their elegant simplicity. I love the subtle team colors incorporated in the background of the card. The amount of foil is just right. These cards may not be the flashiest produced, but there is just something about them that absolutely screams quality. The backs of the cards are also quite nice. They are in full color and provide a good amount of stats and a write up to read.

The main draw of SP Authentic are the Future Watch Autographs. Hitting a great rookie from this set is like striking gold. It's a great feeling. Getting a rookie patch autograph would be even better! The only issue with this is that getting that one spectacular card is very daunting. With only one FWA per box, trying to land a top tier rookie is tough. And like I mentioned before, I remember getting about two FWAs per box just a few years ago. Getting just one is definitely discouraging.

While the hits have seemed to fall off in recent years, the number of subsets and inserts have gone up. One of the more unique inserts are the Upper Deck Bounty cards. They have a special scratch off plate on the back that reveals a code. Collect these cards and they can be redeemed for a limited set from Upper Deck.

Pink parallel cards are also found in packs along with Upper Deck updates and Milestones. All the cards look very nice (especially the Milestones), but they fall shot because of the lack of hits per box! I just want one more hit per box!!!

And I guess that's just it. Getting one more hit for the price of a box would have made this product very good, if not great. As it stands, I still think SPA is worth a buy, but it does seem less of a value than it used to be.

Overall Score: 9/10

Thursday, April 26, 2018

2017-2018 Upper Deck Ice Review

Upper Deck's acetate-a-licious brand comes at collectors with on-card autographs and the chance to land one of the coveted Ice Premier rookie cards numbered to just 99. Ice has been a favorite among collectors for years because of its unique design and rare inserts. Let's see how Upper Deck continues the Ice tradition in this year's release of the product.


When it comes to the base cards, Ice has some of the best around. The all-acetate cards look great. The acetate has a blue tint to it so it is not completely clear. The player's name, team, and position are all collected on the left side of the card. On camera, the foil made the player's name a bit difficult to see but in standard lighting there was no problem reading it.

The back side of the card is well done as typically acetate cards leave little room for much. But Upper Deck has the experience now to make sure the backs of these cards don't look like an afterthought. They've done a nice job with the limitations an all acetate card can bring. Great job to the designers of this card as it comes together very nicely.

Since going to the all-acetate formula a few years back, the Ice Premier rookie cards have lost a little bit of their thunder in terms of their uniqueness in the set. I thought it was cool that the rookie cards stood out as the only acetate cards in the main set. As they stand now, though their design is different than the standard base, they don't really pop out of the set as they once did. I'm sure the big rookies will still be worth their weight in gold... but from a design perspective I think there is a little less luster here.

Boxes of Ice only come with 6 packs, and you only get 4 cards per pack. There really isn't much you get when buying a box. I feel that Upper Deck has really refined the product. Sometimes I miss the larger box with more cards, but in the end, I think the modern collector will be alright with having higher quality (but less) base cards.

In terms of hits, each box of Ice has an on-card autographed card and either a memorabilia or Exquisite card. I love that the signatures are on-card. The blue ink on the acetate imparts a sweet look. I am, however, a little bummed at the decision to make the Exquisite card a possible substitute for another hit. Their are Exquisite hits available, but my box had a plain old Exquisite base card - and that wasn't a very exciting pull.

Overall, Ice is a fun product to break with some very nice looking cards to collect. There are a ton of hits to find, but not a lot of hits when buying at the box level. Ice is a moderately priced product that can be attained by most collectors. I'd definitely give it a try as Ice is one of Upper Deck's better brands.

Overall Score: 8/10