Tuesday, September 6, 2011

2010-2011 Upper Deck The Cup Review

The moment that so many hockey card collectors wait for all year has finally come upon us... The Cup has arrived... and it absolutely does not disappoint.

Base Card Design -
This is definitely the year of stark and cloudy looking Upper Deck base cards.  From the blue and yellow background clouds in Artifacts, to the faded out players in SPA, to the black and white Ultimate base, and now to The Cup... Upper Deck has certainly maintained a definite theme for the year.  And they all look GREAT building it up.  

I feel that this year's UD cards all have a certain seriousness to them.  They seem to all say, "We mean business, and we will stomp on all other cards this year!"  This certainly rings true for the Cup base cards.  Each base card is very thick - as thick as a patch card in any other product.  The card features a classy silver foil bottom edge with silver foil The Cup logo.  The numbering is placed just above the player's name and team, and each card is limited to just 249 copies.

The design is not as simple as last year's, but is still very simple and elegant.  I have to say that I prefer this year's to last.  The bright background really highlights the player image very well, and the black bottom gives the card a nice contrast.  You end up with a very sharp looking card as opposed to last year's where the base cards held a middle ground color-wise with its beige tones.

The autograph rookie patch cards are stunning this year.  I did enjoy last year's bold modern design, but these cards meld older cup design with new.  The cards remind me of SP Authentic's Future Watch cards - but with a more regal look.  The cards feature a deeper red border and plenty of foil to highlight the patch that is included in the card.  One qualm I have with the card is that the place for the autograph seems a little limiting, but other than that, there is no wasted space on the card.  Most of the rookie cards are numbered to 249, but the top rookie cards are limited to just 99.  Cards with only an autograph and no patch are numbered to 199.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
The Cup is all about the themed memorabilia and autographed issues.  There are a ton of sets to chase in The Cup.  It would be difficult to write about each individual insert set, but I can highlight some of the best cards from my break as an example of what you can get when buying a tin of The Cup. 

The Limited Logos set is back this year and better than ever.  This year's design changes the window form a traditional rectangle to a shield look.  Only in a product like The Cup can you get crazy looking patch cards like the Anze Kopitar shown above.  Everything about the Limited Logos card just works.  The autograph placed under the player next to a huge patch looks awesome.  The simple colors do not take away anything from the beauty of the autograph and memorabilia... they only enhance it.  I cannot stop staring at this card in person!  Disappointingly, there are some Limited Logos that feature a full one color patch.  I guess those are truly limited - limited to just one color!  Hopefully you won't pull one of those. 

The Cup Foundations cards also make their return this year.  Instead of a horizontal design they have gone vertical.  It's a nice change from last year.  These cards are great to try and complete a 'rainbow' of.  A 'rainbow' is a the complete set of cards of a player from each print run tier.  There are Foundation cards that feature just jerseys or just patches, and there are some that feature a combination of autographs and memorabilia.   It's definitely a challenge to put together because the auto/patch combination is limited to just 5 copies!  The plain jersey cards are pretty affordable though and nice to add to any player collection.

Scripted Swatches is a cool memorabilia card to get.  These cards feature the autograph of a player on a cut out patch.  So it sort of marries the two types of chase elements.  Sometimes the autographs on these cards can get a little blurry because the ink soaks into the fabric, but here on this Taylor Hall it works beautifully.  Each Scripted Swatch card is limited to 35 copies.

Above is an example of the extreme rarity of some of the cards you can get in The Cup.  This Gretzky card is limited to only 5 copies and features a very unique set of patches.  Each patch on this card came from a jersey that Gretzky wore in an all-star game.  The photos reflect which all-star game it came from.  This is a very unique collectible, and you can pull stuff like this out of The Cup!

The Cup does have it's own set of parallel cards.  Above is an example of a rookie patch auto parallel.  The Cup has always had these types of cards - they are numbered to the jersey number of the player featured.  This one is numbered to 65.  This year Upper Deck chose to have hand-numbering on these cards.  I really like it.  It adds a bit more uniqueness to the card.  Although these cards are great, often times even though they are more limited than their regular/249 counterparts, they do not sell as high since they are not considered a true rookie card.  Obviously, if the print run is ridiculously low then it probably would.  I'm thinking that the Taylor Hall numbered to only 4 would be worth more than the one to 99.

There are many, many more inserts in The Cup.  It is definitely worth cracking a tin and seeing what unique things you will find!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
This product delivers in a BIG way.  There is hardly anything more exciting in the hockey card collecting word than opening a tin of The Cup and seeing what's inside.  Yes, The Cup can be a huge risk - especially if it is not a product you can afford.  For those on limited budgets, I would say save up for a tin and give it a go or wait until some of the excitement has died down and purchase singles.  No matter what you do, cards from The Cup hold their value well.  This year's Cup carries on the torch from its predecessors.  And it's a strong legacy.

It is the greatest product thus far, and will be difficult to topple.  Dominion from Panini will come out soon and it will be very interesting to see how it compares to UD's best.  Here comes a good fight!  Stay tuned for my Dominion review!

Overall Score:
(Not an average)

Check out my Cup Break!  Huge thanks to Chris from The Hobby Box and Chris from D & P Sportscards for carrying The Cup!  Both are amazing hobby stores!  Check them out!


  1. Love the Tokarski rc, and I believe that Wayne card is one of the greatest I have ever seen!

  2. Wow beauty Gretzky! But is the top right hand corner patch missing or just thin? Nonetheless awesome cards and as always awesome reviews!

  3. Hey Michael, the Gretzky has some great patches except for the one on the top right. It's just an all white patch. Wish they could have had a better on there to fill it out!

  4. Tip: to open card box like that without damaging it (just like opening a old NES box without damaging it) is to try to pull it out, not from the middle, but by using a finger on left and right part and pulling it together. It is pretty smooth when you get it.