Saturday, October 30, 2010

Upper Deck Replaces my Damaged Card

So a couple of months ago when I was trying to complete my 09/10 Upper Deck SP Authentic set I was into buying a lot of Future Watch autos on eBay. It was going very well until I I bought card number 253 - Michael Sauer of the NY Rangers. As I was buying on eBay, I realized that the best way to get the Future Watch cards at a better cost was to buy them all from the same seller if possible so I could save on shipping. I would look up lots of FW autos or I would see that a seller listed a bunch in a row and would try to get all the ones that I was missing. So instead of paying, say, $3 per card extra for shipping, I'd pay $3 for the initial card and maybe $.50 extra for each additional. I was happily completing my set and purchasing the FW autos until the Sauer card arrived to me damaged.

The card was not damaged because of the mail service or bend corners or anything, it was damaged most likely through the packaging process at wherever Upper Deck seals their card packs. The top of the card looked like it got caught in a pack sealer - basically, the whole top looked like the top of a sealed pack would look. It was a card that was damaged from the factory.

Now, in my haste, I did not read the seller's description carefully. I just saw that they were selling a Michael Sauer FW auto along with a bunch of others and decided to just hurry up and get it. Well... when it arrived I saw the flawed card and I was a bit upset. I though, man, this seller just sold me a damaged card. The seller has over 45,000 positive feedbacks and a 100% rating - and I'm the one who gets jipped! I went back to the eBay listing and finally noticed that there was a picture of the card (w/damage - though kind of hard to see on a white background SPA card) and the damage was described in the description. I realized what that I was a bonehead! Shoulda read the item description more carefully!

Anyways, I contacted Upper Deck via their customer service and told them about the card. They promptly gave me a case number and I sent the card in to them. Yesterday I got the replacement AND an extra Future Watch auto!

I've heard that Upper Deck has bad customer support, but my experience has been a very positive one. Their service might have been bad in the past, but my case worked out very well. Thanks UD!

Here's a picture of my two replacements - Chris Butler (939/999) and
Michael Sauer (167/999) along with my 30 year old stuffed animal dog Doggie!

(Boy, two positive UD posts in a row! I'm not a UD homer... really!)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This is Why I Like Upper Deck

So there is a lot of negativity amongst collectors now concerning Upper Deck. And that's rightly so, I've heard of a lot of things that UD has done that have made people unhappy. For some reason though, that stuff doesn't bother me so much. What has always been great about Upper Deck to me is their card design. In my opinion, UD makes the best looking cards out there. And I have to stress this is just my opinion. Take the above Sidney Crosby card for example, some people might find this card plain, but I think it's a very sharp looking card. First of all, it's very bright and has a nice modern color scheme. The image of Crosby sticks out very well. There is a nice place to put the signature, and the card is highlighted by tasteful foil touches. Although this card has no memorabilia pieces attached to it or anything, I really think this card, and cards like it really highlight UD's great design team.

I actually just got this card on eBay. At a really great price too! On a side note, I was actually very surprised at how low I was able to pick this card up for. UD releasing 09/10 The Cup so late really didn't help the secondary market prices... but it helped me pick up this great card for my personal collection. It's my current favorite card that I have!

I'm bummed that UD can't make licensed cards for any other major sport. Actually it's one of the reasons I decided to get back into hockey card collecting. It was the only sport that had Upper Deck!

Now, hopefully with Panini in the mix, it'll force Upper Deck to step up their game and not only make great cards, but have a great company that consumers want to buy from and are happy with.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

2010-2011 Panini Certified Hockey

Steve yzerman Mirror Gold Immortals card numbered 8/25

Base Card Design -
Well, here come Panini back into hockey! First of all, I'll have to admit I am and have never been a fan of Panini, but, I'm always willing to give new products a chance and I was excited to break some of this product. The Certified base cards look very good. They have a pretty modern design and have plenty of flash. There are geometric shapes all over the place. The entire card is foil board and has a sleek finish to it. The front features the player's name clearly at the bottom as well as their team.

The photo of the player seems to just pop out at you. The photography doesn't really feature action shots, but rather nice clean looks of the players during a game. I wasn't expecting to like the base card look, but it's good looking in person. Everything about the look of the base cards says clean, precise, and worthy of a high mid-end product.

I do think Panini could have done better in some aspects of their base cards. For one, the cards are very thin and are prone to curving. I would love to see Panini use a thicker cardboard for their base cards. I feel that I have to put a book on top of them or pack them together really tightly to keep them from bending. Topps Chrome type products also have this problem too. The other complaint I have about the base card is that I feel I have to sleeve all of them as well. They are very easy to get fingerprints on. The silver foil on the sides of the card especially make fingerprints easy to see.

If I could change one thing about the look of these cards it would be to make the Certified logo foil on the top. As of now, it's just a plain gray printed part at the top of the card. Putting that logo in some foil would make it stand out more and give the card an even higher-end feel to it.

The back of the cards are standard Panini fare. They look very much like the back's of their products from other sports. For Certified, there is one line of stats and a blurb of information. Not really a great back. I feel like they just phoned it in on them.

Base Design Score:

Inserts/Game-used/Autos -

Certified has a lot of inserts, game-used cards, and autographed cards. First, I'll talk about the standard insert card. The standard insert card from Certified feels a lot like the base cards. They have the same thickness and bendy-ness. Some of the designs are better than others, but none that I have seen so far make me want to collect them. These cards remind me of cards that they used to put into the regular set as season highlights or all-star cards. Since they have the same feel as a base card, I really think they could have just been a part of the regular set. This actually might make them more collectible as many people do like collecting sets and would make the base card set bigger and more challenging. Here's an example I pulled of an insert that I like... but don't like enough to collect them all. It's called Certified Champions and features players who have won the Stanley Cup. By the way, all the inserts are numbered (I think). It's a nice feature, but since these cards aren't really that rare, I don't see a need to number them. I think they'd trade the same was as a non-numbered insert from Upper Deck would.

One thing Panini likes to do is parallel everything to the high heavens. If there a card, there's probably a good amount of parallels for it. The base cards feature many variations in different colors as well as some with game-used pieces. Here's a Evegeni Malkin I pulled:

It's kind of hard to see, but there are two pieces of jersey on this card flanking the photo of Evgeni. This particular card is numbered 29/150. I also got a Michael Del Zotto parallel base card numbered 141/150.

The inserts also have levels of parallel cards too. Some cards feature a jersey while others might have a piece of patch on it. I bought a box of Certified from The Hobby Box and Chris pulled me a Big Men on Campus Patch/25 of Michael Cammalleri. Check it out in my video at the bottom of this review.

The standard game-used card from Certified is called Fabric of the Game. Obviously these cards will feature game-used pieces on the card. I pulled a Matt Duchene/250. The one I got here is pretty standard. It features a small square of jersey in a single color. I have seen other cards where the piece of jersey spell out NHL or the player's jersey number. The patch on this card looks a little lonely. It's a little square of patch on a huge white area.

I've noticed that Panini does this quite often, they will produce a card so that the design can be recycled to fit many needs. I think it hurts the design a bit when you know that there are much better looking versions of the card out there. Like, I know that there is a Matt Duchene Fabric of the Game card that will have the whole white part filled up with jersey or patch. I wish I had that one! But too bad, I have this one.

Overall in terms of inserts, I think if you aren't too picky and just like getting game-used, serial numbered, and autograph stuff, Certified will fulfill your need just fine. Most of the these hits will not be very satisfying though in terms of wow factor. That's how I felt when I got mine. Most will just have very small pieces of jersey on bland to 'ok' designs. It's nice to get hits, but I wish they were I were more fulfilled by them.

Inserts/Game-used/Autos Score:
Overall Rating -
Panini does a respectable job out the gate with Certified. I think there was a lot of hype and hope coming with this release. I don't think Certified blows Upper Deck out of the water with this release, but they come out with a solid offering at a decent price point. Knowing Panini from other sports products, this product falls into line with all their others.

I'd recommend buying some of this product and see how you like it. Boxes that I've seen broken have been very hit or miss. I personally think I got hosed on my second box, but it's still a fun product to open. Let me know what you think of it!

Overall Rating:
(not an average)

Check out the video from youtube of my first box of Certified opened at the Hobby Box:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Dominator (1991 Score Canadian Dominic Hasek)

So I decided to look at some of the old cards that I used to collect back in the 90's. Wow, haha, I can say that they are worth hardly anything anymore! Well, that's obviously because of the super high print runs and lack of auto/game-used type cards that they have now. Since they are so readily available, I might as well pick some up for old times sake. There are some great rookie cards of great players from the 80's and 90's.

One of my favorite players from the 90's and 2000's was Dominic Hasek. They called him The Dominator - and for good reason! He was a spectacular goalie for the Sabres - and then later for the Red Wings. I really remember him as a Sabre because I used to play those old NHL games on the Sega Genesis and I would always play the Sabres for some reason. I don't live near Buffalo and have absolutely no affiliation with that city, but for whatever reason I liked using that team - well, probably because I won a lot using them.

On a whim, I checked Beckett for some pricing on his rookie card. I found that all his rookie cards are under $5. They come from these mass produced and cheap Score sets. Well, I could just get his card for pennies on the dollar, but since it's not that much anyways, I might as well get the best condition one that I could. And that's how I came to get one in PSA 10 condition. Now, I didn't pay $5, but not $50 either. The card was $12.50 including shipping costs. I thought that was alright and decided to purchase it. I think I'm going to look into getting other great rookie cards of NHL stars of the 80's and 90's. I'd be awesome to have a collection of high grade rookies from that era. Of course, I know they'll never be worth a lot - but that's ok, it's just for fun anways.

Now one more thing I'd like to add... I was reading on a sports card forum about pricing of cards. It was brought up that Canadian hockey players are always worth more than other nation's players. I've definitely found that to be true. The point was brought up that Canadians primarily collect hockey cards and so they drive up the prices of the players they like. I can definitely see evidence of this with Hasek. His cards pale in comparison to other goalies and stars of Canadian origin. It's not a bad thing, just an interesting observation. Trying to get a Martin Brodeur Score rookie card will cost quite a bit more than Hasek did in gem mint 10 condition!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Finished the 09/10 Upper Deck SP Authentic Set!

I have always liked the Upper Deck SP sets. I remember when they first came out. I was in high school and my dad took me to a small local card show in San Francisco. I saw the packs of '93 baseball SP there and bought a few for $3 a pack. I thought, wow, these are really nice and clean looking cards with great photography! As the weeks went by, the prices of these packs sky rocketed as Derek Jeter and other stars of that year became more and more popular. Upper Deck released a similarly designed football set and hockey set as well. The hockey set, though, was special. It came one per pack in regular Upper Deck packs. I remember getting as many packs as I could. Back then I could never afford to complete the set but luckily I was able to pick it up years later for a really great price on eBay.

SP Authentic hit the marked and was a booming set as well. Collectors loved it! The limited rookies really made these sets shine. When I collected basketball cards, the Vince Carter rookie was always high on my most wanted list. Packs of that stuff were upwards of $20-$30 each back then. On a college budget, they were far out of reach for me.

Now that I'm back into collecting, I'm finding that SPA has become sort of a mid-level product. It's still a VERY highly collected set, but not the top dog in terms of value. Really high-end products have taken over the market. Products like The Cup and UD Black, as well as SP Game Used. SPA remains, though, a beautiful set with a great rookie selection. The autographed on-card autographs are still a huge draw. And they are what drew me to this set.

I began by buying one box of SPA. I got a Victor Hedman Future Watch Auto and Ray Macias FW auto patch. I really loved the clean and crisp design of the cards. The mostly white design really makes the autographs, photos, and patches pop out. I didn't think I could complete a set, but I thought I'd give at least part of the set a try.

The base set was pretty easy to complete, it came with my box! I ended up getting the entire Essentials set on eBay for $40. The non-auto Future Watch cards were picked up via eBay one at a time. And finally, the Auto Future Watch cards. It took me a few months... but I did it! I had to watch a lot of eBay auctions and do a bunch of last second bidding and also bargaining, but I completed the FW auto set! My last card, Tom Wandell redemption, came in today. It was also, one of the most expensive cards from the set. I'm not sure what the deal is with the redemption cards, but they were crazy amounts of money. I spent almost $40 on Luca Caputi and over $50 for Wandell. Crazy! Hopefully Upper Deck will get their cards signed and sent out sometime soon. For now, their redemption cards are sitting in as place holders.

Other cards that cost a lot were John Tavares, Matt Duchene, and Antti Niemi. I couldn't pull these cards out of packs so I had to bid on them. I think I got JT for a good deal. I put in a best offer for the card on eBay and the seller accepted. James van Riemsdyk was another card I think I had to put a best offer in for. It was either him or Duchene... I forget! Doesn't matter now though, I have my set!

The funny thing is that whenever I watch SPA box breaks I always see Tavares getting pulled. One guy pulled like 9 or something like that. That is just nuts! Super lucky. Hopefully for all of us Johnny T. will be an NHL superstar. If not, well, then I guess that guy wasn't that lucky and I overpaid for mine. Haha.

I guess I could go for the Future Watch patch set now... but that would be REALLY pricey. For now, I'm holding on to the FW patches I have, maybe I will collect them. Who knows?!?!

On this post I've put up scans of my FW Auto set. I really like them! Enjoy the scans and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

2009-2010 Upper Deck The Cup

Base Card Design -

I've already posted pictures of my break in the post below, so I won't bother posting them in my review. Feel free to scroll down a little bit to check out what this year's most premium cards look like.

This year's Cup design is lackluster in my opinion. I feel like The Cup's base design is neither very pompous or regal - signaling some attempt to make the cards 'fancy' - nor is it clean cut or very modern. It's sort of just there... If I were to see some of these cards and not notice the numbering or how thick it was, I don't think I'd be very impressed with it. I usually really like Upper Deck designs, but the base cards need to just look better. UD should either go for a classy look (think Crown Royal without the die-cut, thin card stock, and cheesy look) or ultra modern and sleek like some of the inserts that you can find in The Cup this year. I think it'd be awesome to create a base card that is just as desired as the rest of the product. These limited base cards go for a decent amount on eBay, I bet they'd be more if they looked better. I mean, come on! There are only 249 of each base card. These things are so much more limited than many serial numbered insert sets. I guess we can all wait and see what they come up with next year in terms of regular base.

The rookie card base design is much better. The card is very clean and feature a patch from clothing that the player wore. Unfortunately, these patches come from photo shoots and are not game worn pieces. That kind of sucks and makes them a bit less cool, but at least they look good. Haha... I wonder if UD will dress up the future rookies in unis that are just covered in patches. That'd be a nice cost cutting measure and provide for a bunch of cool patches... oh well final score:

Base Design Score:

Inserts/Game-used/Autos -

Similar to all the other high end products, The Cup is less base cards in a pack and more insert. And there are a TON of inserts in this year's Cup offering. Many of the inserts are back from the past with a few new additions as well. In my 2 tin breaks I got a Stanley Cup Signatures, Cup Foundations jersey card, Limited Logos, Signature Patches, and a Rookie Masterpieces printing plate.

The general design of most of the inserts is a very clean, mostly white, look. I like it. I like it a lot. These cards have a distinct look to them that really separate them from other inserts from other Upper Deck products. Like I said earlier, I wish the base cards would look more like the inserts.

The design of The Cup allows for large chunks of jersey or patch, but still has enough room for a nice photo of the player. I really appreciate this because I am a firm believer that there should be a picture of the player on the front of the card, unlike those Premier Stitchings cards out of OPC Premier. The cards have a nice modern, uncluttered look to them.

One of the cards that really stood out when I pulled it was the Stanley Cup Signatures card of Bobby Hull. This card featured the full foil treatment and came with a lot of flash. It's a beautiful looking card, and I know that having a complete set of these would look really awesome.

The only cards I don't really like are the 1/1 printing plates. I pulled one and was not overly happy with it. It's kind of neat that it's a 1/1... but why do I not feel that these cards are not that special? Some of the printing plate cards have autographs on them, and I guess that's better... but I just feel underwhelmed with the printing plates. They don't really look that good. Putting these plates in to the packs is an interesting idea, but that idea is getting old. I suggest pulling back from these, or making them truly difficult pulls of the hobby's most select favorite players.

Unfortunately, I have not seen all the different inserts in person, but I've seen many breaks of the cup on line and I can confidently say that I really have enjoyed seeing all the different inserts this year. Kudos to UD on great insert designs. I'm impressed!

Inserts/Game-used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -

If you can afford to get some of The Cup, then GET SOME OF THE CUP. It's the most exciting product to open hands down. I know that it can definitely break your heart if you get nothing good out of a tin, but that's just the way the hobby is. When I bought my tins, I was prepared to get nothing - but I was happy with some solid hits.

I heard that recent sell data shows that many cards from The Cup (except for the highest end rookies and most limited print run cards) are not selling for outrageous amounts on eBay, and that's OK to me. I just enjoy having these really cool looking cards in my collection. I hope that other mid-level collectors like myself can save up and get some short term excitement from these tins. And hopefully one day pull a card of a lifetime.

Overall Rating:

Two things to end this post. First, I'll leave you with a couple of pictures of the tin that the cards came in. The cards come in a sealed box inside a big metal tin. I always wondered what it said on the back of the little box that held the cards. Did it have some really cool description of the product? Something that hypes up the product so you want to tear the box apart and see what's inside? The answer... no. It just says that the redemptions have time limits on them, and that you better get them redeemed on time. Also all the legal information is on it too. Boring.

And finally, Chris over at D & P cards shot a video of my break. Check it out: HERE!

My 09/10 Upper Deck The Cup Break Results

As promised I'm going to put up scans of my break of 09/10 Upper Deck The Cup. Today I got my shipment from the Hobby Box that you watched get opened for me on video last Friday. The package actually got to me yesterday, but I wasn't home to sign for it so I had to go to the post office today to pick it up. Wow, that was fast shipping! Very impressed. I also got an email from my local card store (D & P Sports Cards in Sacramento) saying that they got The Cup in so I drove over there and picked up a tin. Here are scans of my results! I think I got a solid two boxes. What do you think?

Tin 1. (From the Hobby Box)

Tin 2. (From D & P Sports Cards)

Tyler Myers has been following me around ever time I buy a high end product from D & P. I pulled a Ultimate Patch /25 from Ultimate collection, an Ultimate Signature, and now his rookie card from The Cup. I'm definitely going to keep my eye on that Sabre!

I have really enjoyed opening up these tins of The Cup. I know that they are expensive, but they are sooooo much fun. I'm done for this year with this product. I could only budget in for 2 tins - but I know that's 2 more tins than a lot of other people. I'm pretty glad at what I got. I'll probably put some up for trade and possibly sell some, but I'm really in this hobby to enjoy the cards. I will most likely keep the Kane and the Myers, along with some of the other rookies and have some fun following their progress in the NHL this year and for years to come.

Thanks for reading. A review of the cup will come soon!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Cup Cometh!

Upper Deck has just released their last set of 09/10 - and it's a doozy - The Cup! The price of this product is pretty much insane. Tins of this product are about $350 each. I've been watching box breaks of this product on line and also seeing breaks of this product on The Sports Card Forum and the cards that have been coming out have been really nice.

Though it's really pricey, I saved some money specifically to get some of this product. My local card store told me they couldn't get any in until next week so I did the next best thing... I bought them online! This guy named Chris has a store on the east coast. When you buy from him, you can have him film your box break on video the same day. It's really cool. So I bought a box of The Cup from him and got to see him open it for me on youtube after I got off work. Now I know it's definitely not as good as holding it in your hands and opening it yourself - nothing can beat that - but this was pretty cool still. And it was exciting to watch the video of my tin being opened. Also cool is the comments that people make of the break.

Here's the video of my break!

I was decently happy with my break. It wasn't the best break with a stunning hit or anything, but I think it was a very well rounded and solid break. When I get the cards in the mail I'll do some scans and also write a review. I'm really interested in checking out the Evander Kane patch. It looks like a nasty one! Some people have contacted me about selling or trading for it. Kane is not one of my players I collect so I'd be up for selling it, and possibly trading it for the right card.

If you want check out more box break videos from Chris, click here! You'll also find a link to his card store. He has some good prices! Check him out.