Saturday, January 29, 2011

2009-2010 Upper Deck ICE (Retro Review)

I haven't blogged a box break in a while since neither Upper Deck nor Panini have come out with any new products as of late. So here's a retro review until the next new product comes out!

Upper Deck ICE came out last year before I started collecting cards. It is a product that is known for its Ice Premier rookie cards that feature see through acetate in its design. Unfortunately, this year UD has dropped ICE from its main line-up and has sneakily included it as a side bonus pack scattered throughout UD products. After getting my hands on a box of 09/10 ICE, I really wish it was a fully realized and released product this year rather than an aside. Black Diamond would have been my choice to put in as a bonus if I called the shots over at Upper Deck.

I got my box of ICE from the Hobby Box. Chris, the owner, is a great card retailer and has many followers on Youtube that watch him break boxes. I've gotten a few boxes from Chris now and have been very happy with his service.This video above is him opening up my box of 09/10 ICE.

Base Card Design -
It's funny when I think about the base cards for this set. Before this box I had NEVER seen what the base cards looked like. I had no clue. I had seen the Ice Premier rookie cards because they are always a hot ticket item, but never a base card. I had heard an opinion of them a while back that they were on cheap cardstock... so in my imagination, I had a picture of a very plain and boring card design on OPC-type stock. When Chris started breaking the box on Youtube for me I was totally surprised at how vibrant the base cards looked. They are very sharp and eye-popping. The above example of Patrick Marleau is a very pleasing card to me. The foil scripted first name is nice as well as the blue color scheme. On top of that, the cards have a textured front to give it a more three dimensional effect. Unfortunately, there is a red color scheme that I feel does not look nearly as good as this. If all the card were this blue color I would have been extremely pleased with ICE base cards, but they don't. And I guess that's ok since it's just my opinion... maybe other people out there like the other color schemes, but I think since this product is called 'ICE' there should be a cooler motif to compliment the name of the product.

These Ice Premier rookie cards are a short printed part of the regular set. I think for most people this is THE reason to purchase ICE. The rookies come in different rarity levels with the best being a low print run of 99. Rookie cards limited to 99 sell for big bucks! I recently was watching Ice Premier rookies of Logan Couture and they were easily going for around $150. You get a handful of Ice Premier cards per box, but getting a 99 one is pretty difficult.

I really like the design of the 09/10 Ice Premiers. The acetate is a great touch because it fits in so nicely with the ice theme of hockey. The blue colors pair perfectly with these cards. I think they are just great looking cards - a really impressive effort by the UD design team.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Aside from the Ice Premier rookie cards, there are no themed inserts in ICE other than game-used and autographed cards. This is nice because it means this product gets right down to business. Don't get me wrong - I think creatively themed inserts are great, but many people often go straight for the hits.

Here is a typical memorabilia card out of ICE. It is hard to tell, but the area around the jersey swatch is in a subdued foil. Nothing too special here. Just a very generic jersey card. I think I'd be only happy to get these cards if they were of players I liked or of a star player. This one that I got I really don't know what to do with except to put in a box and take up some space. Maybe if I'm really lucky someone would want it in a trade. Hear that Luca Caputi fans?!?! This ones for trade!!!

Sometimes you can pull some really sweet stuff out of ICE. There are memorabilia cards like this one that are very limited in number. This particular card is number 13 out of just 15 made. It features a nice sized piece of patch. I like this design much better than the Fresh Threads card above it. The design is more interesting and having the team color of the side makes the card stand out a bit more. I guess I was pretty lucky to land one of these cards. They are a rare find.

I also pulled this Dion Phaneuf Frozen Fabrics jersey card. You can see how the team color helps the highlight the card.

My final hit in my ICE box was a Jennifer Botterill autograph card. This card is not technically an ICE insert card (UD put it throughout some of their 09/10 products), but it counted as my auto hit for the box. Many people do not like these cards because they do not feature NHL players. They actually feature figure skaters, Olympic athletes, and female hockey players like Botterill. But I actually like them. I think they are interesting cards and I like collecting them whenever I pull one. I'd rather have this than a no-name player for sure!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
I guess I got a pretty good box of ICE. My box had some pretty sweet hits in it - but according to people I talk to on the hockey card forums - this is not usually the case. I still think ICE is a very nice product. I really enjoy the thrill of seeing what Ice Premier rookie cards come out of boxes. I also like the fact that you can get some pretty rare memorabilia cards in ICE. I am very temped to get another box of ICE. It's a nice looking product that I feel is reasonable for its price. Boxes are less than $100 and who knows... maybe you'll get one of those Ice Premiers limited to just 99!

Overall Rating:
(not an average)

Friday, January 14, 2011

More Logan Couture!

I decided to be ridiculous and bought a whale of a card for myself. When I saw this card I knew I had to have it and I wanted it SOOOOOO bad... but I wasn't sure how much it would cost me or if someone else would scoop it up first. Well, after assailing this seller with emails, we settled on a price and I was able to complete a rainbow of The Cup Logan Couture cards. Here they are in all their magnificent glory!!!

The Black 1 of 1 is amazing. It looks super sick and it features a thick black outside border. It is one bad mama-jamma of a card. Love it! It's definitely the centerpiece of my Couture PC. Duh! Unfortunately, the Sharks are not doing so good right now. As I write this entry, they have lost 6 straight... their worst losing streak in 15 years. AND to top it off, Logan was injured while playing the Leafs the other night. I hope he returns soon to the ice with a VENGEANCE. The Sharks totally need him!

Check out my complete Logan Couture PC here: My Logan Couture PC

Friday, January 7, 2011

2010-2011 Upper Deck SP Game-Used Review

Base Card Design -
This year's SP Game Used base card design leaves me unimpressed. The base cards feature the team color on the left hand side as a border and the player's name in foil on a hard to see black/dark gray right-side border. To me the cards just looked a bit too cramped. The base cards also have a darkness to them that makes the entire set looked subdued. I think it's the combination of squished borders and also the 'lining out' of the background contributes to this.

SP Game Used cards have always been thin, but I think Upper Deck should look into making them a bit more premium. Packs of this product cost upwards of $30 for just a 3 card pack. And for about $175 for a 6 pack box, I'm figuring there should be some really high quality cards here. Instead, we get some pretty thin cards. I guess UD thinks that the base cards in this set are just filler for the game-used stuff... and well... they're probably right. But come on! Give it some effort please! Then maybe some people would actually want to collect the base set. As of now the price and the design prohibit this base set from being desirable.

As for the rookie cards, they are serial numbered to 699 with some numbered to 99. I like the design of these cards even less than the base card design. I think what bothers me is the hideous gray shade that was used for the background. I think this design choice really hides the card and makes it boring. Last year, the rookie cards were very clean and very bright. I think SPGU took a big step back here. Time to start on next year's design I guess!

Base Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
For a product with 'game-used' in it's name, there should definitely be some memorabilia in it. And of course, SPGU delivers exactly what it says it does. Each (very expensive) pack of cards has a memorabilia card in it. I would say that the standard g/u cards are the Authentic Fabrics. These cards feature a good-sized swatch of jersey from the player on the card. Here is an example of one:

Unlike the base cards, these cards are bright since half the card is white. While I like the lighter look of the card, the design is still boring. Unfortunately for me, I got a box full of only this type of insert so I am very aware of what these cards look like - and I am not a fan. I can't look at these cards for too long because I just get bored.

According to the sell sheets, there are actually some pretty nice loooking inserts to be had in SPGU this year. Lettermark inserts make a return and there is also an insert called Supreme Sticks where you get a huge piece of hockey stick on the card. Maybe you'll be luckier than me and pull one when you buy some SPGU. I'll cross my fingers for you!

My favorite card from my box was the Rookie Exclusive autograph card. This is one card that I think looks better than last year's. The blue colors on this card make it look very modern and the design just works! It looks like a step in the right direction in terms of this particular insert.

Inserts/Game-used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
So here's another hit or miss product on the market. I for one totally missed with my box of SPGU. I spent a good amount of money on this box and I'd be lucky to get $25 for all the stuff I pulled from it. I know I got a far below average box, but even the average box would have a hard time covering the cost - or even coming close. If the design of the cards were better, I might have thought about buying some more, but the cards just don't look that good. You get a bunch of Authentic Fabrics per box and they are uninspired, boring cards. Also, pulling anything good from the base cards or rookie cards is very difficult. At three cards per pack and a lot of rookies... good luck pulling a big name.

I was really looking forward to SPGU this year and I must say it has been the biggest let down as of yet. I'll definitely let other people bust open the boxes so I can pick up what I want from this set on the cheap.

Overall Rating:
(not an average)

I'll finish off with the box break video of SPGU. For more box breaks, please check out my Youtube page. All the cards I pulled are available for sale or for trade.