Thursday, June 28, 2012

2011-2012 Panini Rookie Anthology Review

Here comes something very interesting out of the Panini camp - Rookie Anthology! After a very successful and collector approved product in Titanium, could Panini come up with another winner so soon? We'll find out as we delve into a box of Rookie Anthology and see what kind of cards come out... and yes, there will be quite a selection of different cards to be found within this unique product.

Base Card Design -
Has Panini been reading my card reviews? Well, it sure seems like it! The Rookie Anthology base cards are great looking for many of the reasons I have stated before. These base cards are clean, crisp, and modern. The first thing I'd like to mention is the perfect use of foil on these cards. The product logo, team logo, player name, jersey number, and position are all highlighted with gold foil. The use of foil is restrained and not over the top. It does a brilliant job of imparting a premium feel to the card. I also love the white background and team color scheme on the front. The cards have an overall brightness to them that help them really stand out. Job very well done here Panini!

The back of the base card is pretty sparse compared to the front. Whereas the front is full of eye-catching design elements, the back is somewhat lacking - there just seems to be a lot of dead space on it. I also am not a fan of the card number placement. As you can see, the card number is placed in the dead center of the card. This would make a bit harder for set collectors to sort and put together in my opinion. In terms of design, it's unique... in terms of functionality... not so much.

For a product called Rookie Anthology, you'd think the entire focus of the set would be on rookies. Well, aside from the base cards, pretty much the rest of the set is rookie focused whether it be this year's rookie crop or highlighting veteran players' rookie seasons.

The standard rookie card in Rookie Anthology are the Rookie Treasures cards. The design on these cards (especially the logo) harken to the National Treasures or Timeless Treasure lines in Panini's other sports offerings. Though the Robert Bortuzzo card above is a short printed patch variation of the Rookie Treasures, you can see the basic design scheme of the card. There are two pieces of player-worn material along with an autograph. There are three levels of rarity when it comes to these cards. The top tiered rookies are limited to 99 copies, the next tier is to 199, and the last tier is to 499. All the patch variations are limited to just 15. In terms of look, these cards are very classy. Everything about this card is elegant and worthy of being a super premium card.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Rookie Anthology is unique in that it 'updates' sets that Panini has already released. You will find rookie cards from Limited, Certified, Pinnacle, Contenders, and Crown Royale in this set. For the set completers out there, if you thought you were done with your Panini set from earlier this year... think again! There are now more cards to chase and add to your set. Panini has included Luxury Suite cards within boxes of Rookie Anthology too. Though they did not release Luxury Suite as a stand alone set, it's neat to see it a part of this mash-up of products.

Aside from the rookie update inserts, Rookie Anthology has it's own branded sets of inserts. The Rookie Rivalry player-worn dual jersey cards is an example of this. Here Panini features two players who may have a rivalry with each other. Reading the back of this card doesn't really make it apparent why these two particular players would have a rivalry though. I think these cards are just an excuse to get a couple of jerseys on a card and feature some of the rookies. Maybe one day there will be an actual rivalry between these two guys! Who knows?!? In terms of card design, the card is nice, but nothing special. Though a limited short printed patch variation of the card would potentially be pretty cool... there isn't one in this case. These cards only come in jersey form.

A more veteran focused jersey insert is the Draft Year Combos set. In this jersey set, two players from the same draft year are put together on the same card. Each card features game-worn material from each of the two players. I personally prefer this to the Rookie Rivalry set. It's always nice to see players from the year that they were drafted - many of them have grown-up and changed so much in such a short period of time. As for card design, the top/bottom look works well here. I like how the draft position is clearly labeled on the front of the card. Having the draft year die-cut for the jerseys was also an appropriate design choice.

Aside from these two inserts, collectors will also find the popular Private Signings autographed cards, Pinnacle Starting Six jersey cards, and even bonus autographs in boxes of Rookie Anthology.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Panini's Rookie Anthology is a really fun break. I was skeptical about Titanium and I was skeptical about Anthology, but Panini really surprised me in a good way with both products. With Anthology, you get one insert/hit per pack along with a bonus pack per box. There definitely seems to be value to be had here. The base cards are nice and this product will be a must for collectors who want to finish off their Panini sets.

At a price of about $100 per box, I think it's about right. The only drawback of this product is the extreme focus on rookies in a year when there just isn't a large crop of top tier guys to collect. But that being said, there are still some amazing cards of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, and the rest to be found. I bet any collector would be happy with a Rookie Treasures or Luxury Suite card of them!

Overall Rating:

Check out my break of 11/12 Rookie Anthology at D&P cards:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Retail Review #2 (11/12 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster Box)

Here's another exciting Retail Review! This week I went to the local Target store and picked out a blaster box of 11/12 Upper Deck Series 2. There wasn't really a great selection of hockey products so I just went with my gut feeling and took this box off the store shelf. There were two UD2 blasters and both looked like someone had sat on them... but I figured it would still be a safe bet. Yup... all the cards were 'ok'.

Price - 
$19.99 + Tax

Packs - 12
11/12 Upper Deck Series 2 Retail Blaster Packs

Upper Deck blaster boxes are not the cheapest things in the world. It costs $20 for basically 2 Young Gun cards and a few inserts if you're lucky. Being a retail product, there is obviously no chance at getting any of the cooler hobby exclusive cards such as Exclusives inserts or autographed cards... and there's only a slim chance of pulling a jersey card. So I usually shy away from UD blasters unless there is a strong crop of Young Gun cards... sadly 11/12 Series 2 is not the place to get the best Young Guns.  So why did I buy this box? Well, there are some marginally exciting Young Guns in Series 2 like Zack Kassian, Louis Leblanc, and Carl Hagelin, and there's always the possibility of getting nice Canvas or MVP/Victory rookies of guys like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Gabriel Landeskog. But yeah, this year's Series 2 blaster is not so good value-wise... especially knowing that I could pick up a hobby box at Dave and Adam's card world for $59 (the price of 3 blasters) and get more stuff out of it. Oh well, that's retail for you!

Let's see what I got in my 11/12 UD Series 2 Blaster:

Review -
I would have to say that this particular blaster box was pretty good in terms of the rookie names that were pulled out. I obviously didn't hit the big two for the year, but there were solid guys in the product - and that's why I actually like opening up UD2 this year. Because UD put updates of Victory, OPC, and MVP into UD2, the product actually has a bunch of stuff to look forward to when busting packs. It was nice to pull out cards of Sean Couturier, Mark Scheifele, Zack Kassian, and Mika Zibanejad all in one blaster. It made the box feel like it was actually worth it. Of course... checking eBay I found out that adding all those guys together along with my 2 Young Guns would only cost me around $10 to buy sobered me up from those good feelings :(   ...oh well... I think that there will be people at least interested in trading for some of these cards so that makes things a little better.

For my top 3 cards this week I will not focus on value. Instead, I'll focus on the cards I liked the most in terms of photography. Upper Deck Series 1 and 2 always without fail has some of the best photography in the hobby. So for my top 3 I've chosen my favorite cards featuring the puck and player!

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Ryan Smyth Card No. 383
What a great shot of Smyth eying the puck as it is about to go into the net on Pekka Rinne. This card makes it look like things could have happend pretty slowly or that this could have been a grinding type goal by Smyth, but the actual play that this shot is from was the finish of an amazing pass by Shawn Horcoff. Check it out here: I Think it's interesting to see the video and compare it to the still shot. Man, the NHL is a fast game!

#2 - Mike Richards Card No. 368
One of Upper Deck Series 2's jobs is to show players on their new teams... and this is nice example of that. Mike Richards left the Philadelphia Flyers and joined the LA Kings for the 2011-12 season. Here he is in his new Kings uniform with an intense focus on the puck during a face off. The look he has is priceless! HE WANTS THE PUCK! Marc-Andre Bourdon on the other hand doesn't seem to want it as much.

#1 - Curtis Glencross Card No. 426
I'm a big fan of hockey cards that show moments that occur outside of the actual game's timeframe. There are so many things that go on with players before and after games that are of interest. I'm glad that card companies are now focusing some cards on these moments. Not to say I would like a card set with no on-ice action... that would be silly... but having some cards with a different aspect of a hockey player's routine is nice. Here we see Curtis Glencross knocking the pucks on to the ice as the skaters get ready for a pre-game warm-up. I just love the angle that the photographer gets here. The pucks are about to hit the ice and the action is ready to start up! Great angle and great moment here. I can't wait for this summer to be over to see this stuff happen again... hurry up 2012-13 season! And oh yea... hopefully no lock out too!

Overall Value -
For $20 I definitely did not make my money back on this blaster even though I had some very nice rookie names come out. Unlike last year's Series 2, this years is not holding its value too well. There is an off chance that some of the Young Guns in Series 2 will become real stars, and that could raise the value, but for now I would think it prudent to just save up a little more money and try a Series 2 hobby box if I really wanted to get some of the stuff.

Let me know what you thought of my 11/12 Upper Deck Series 2 blaster box down in the comments below. Have you ever gotten anything good from a Series 2 blaster? I'd love to know!

Overall Value Score:

Every Sunday look out for another exciting installment of Retail Review!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Retail Review #1 ($9.99 Extreme Value)

I'm happy to introduce a brand new weekly segment to the The Cardboard Review! It's called Retail Review and will be focused on retail products such as value packs and blaster boxes. Every Sunday starting today I will go to a large retail store such as Target or Wal-Mart and pick up something I find in the card section, open it on video, and review it. It'll be interesting to see if I get anything of value. Sound fun? I hope so! Feel free to comment and make suggestions on what you'd like to see next!

Price - 
$9.99 + Tax

Packs - 12
08/09 Victory x2, 09/10 UD Collector's Choice, '91 Ultimate Hockey, '90 Pro Set, 91/92 Pro Set, 10/11 UD Series 1, 06/07 MVP, 06/07 UD Series 2, 08/09 O-Pee-Chee, 07/08 UD Series 1, 06/07 Bee Hive

These Extreme Value packs are basically packs that were left over from major chain stores. Packs that didn't sell on the shelves were collected and re-packaged like this. Each one of these boxes contains 12 packs, so if you do the math, you are paying less than $1 per pack for this stuff. It's not a bad deal for something fun to rip on a slow day.

The major concern for me when buying something like that is the possibility that these packs had been searched through already. Retail packs can be easily searched through to find jersey cards. My main hope in this box was to possibly find a Young Gun card or even with extreme luck... an autographed card.

Let's see what I got in this Extreme Value box break video:

Review -
Opening up the sealing of the Extreme Value box revealed a clear container with 12 packs and packing foam. Most of the packs were of some kind of Upper Deck product. It was nice to see that there were three Upper Deck Series 1 and 2 packs in the box. This meant that there was at least a chance of possibly landing a Young Gun rookie card. Unfortunately, I didn't get a Young Gun in any of the packs in this box. My best cards actually came out of the Victory packs - two decent rookie cards. The most interesting pack by far in my break was a 1991 Ultimate Sportscards Hockey Premier Edition pack. I'm not sure where this pack came from, but the cards were ridiculously ugly and generic. They were actually so bad that I enjoyed them for that simple fact.

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Niedermayer/Falloon/La Chance and Martin Brodeur Collector's Choice (TIE)
Sorry, there had to be a tie here. I just couldn't decided which one to keep in the top three and which one to leave out so they both stayed in. The triple card comes from the '91 Ultimate pack. The picture is obviously from a staged photo shoot. Unfortunately, the uniforms the players are wearing make me think that they all play for the Washington Capitals when indeed they do not. Former Shark and number 2 overall draft pick Pat Falloon is on this card so I was drawn to it immediately. As for the Brodeur card... I had NO IDEA that was Brodeur until I flipped the card around and it told me who it was. This 09/10 card reminded me of the old super hero athlete cards Upper Deck put in their products in the 90's. They were ridiculous, and so is this card. Good for a laugh though.

#2 - 08/09 O-Pee-Chee Sharks Foil Team Checklist
Being a Sharks fan this was a fantastic pull for me. I love getting team and logo cards of the Sharks. The Sharks logo is in my opinion one of the coolest in the NHL. These team logo cards make great header cards when I store my collection in boxes. Getting this particular card in one pack is certainly no small feat either. Obviously there are 29 other teams possible, so pulling the Sharks was pretty awesome and I am very happy getting this card!

#1 - 08/09 Victory Steve Mason RC
Oh if it were one year ago this would have been a much better pull! But still a nice card out of the value box. Mason had a terrible 11/12 Season, but this former Calder Trophy winner will hopefully will bounce back next season and get things going in the right direction again.

Overall Value -
So for $10 I had some fun, a few cards that made me laugh, and a few cards that held a modest value. Ten dollars nowadays will only get you about 3 retail packs worth of the most recent stuff so in comparing to that, this value box wasn't so bad.

Let me know what you thought of my Extreme Value box down in the comments below. Have you ever gotten one of these things? Anything good?

Overall Value Score:

Every Sunday look out for another exciting installment of Retail Review!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

2011-2012 Panini Titanium Review

Another 'blast from the past' product comes out to collectors today: 11/12 Panini Titanium! This mid-high-end product comes in a funny shaped box with only 5 packs. Each of the 5 packs will contain a jersey/patch, autograph, or combination of both along with 3 base cards. Let's open up a box and see if we get something solid... get it? SOLID... as in titanium?!?! Never mind...

Base Card Design -
This being a higher tier product with the name Titanium, I was expecting a base card of a higher level than what I found inside my packs. The Titanium base cards are anything but titanium in nature. The cards come on medium glossy card stock and have a clean design that doesn't particularly stand out. The cards feature a large photo of the player on a primarily white/grey graphic. It is a little reminiscent of last year's All Goalies stand alone set, but with even less adornment. In that set, the base cards had silver foil highlighting to enhance that card. That is not found here at all. I would have expected at least the Titanium logo to be in some sort of foil. It isn't.

I really wish Panini would have give the base cards that touch of metallic texturing to match the name. As it stands, there is nothing really special about that base cards, and I don't think collectors would be too excited to collect them.

The back of the base card is more exciting than the front surprisingly. It features a different photo of the player in an action shot. The photo adds quite a bit of vibrance to the card and livens it up quite nicely. All the necessary vital stats are included along with a short write up of the player. As with many of the more premium cards, there is not a huge focus on on-ice stats - only the past season is covered in detail along with a career stat line.

The rookie cards in Titanium have a very unique nature to them that makes them interesting... but a real pain for people who might possibly want to collect a master set of it. In fact, these rookie cards are more than a pain. It is virtually impossible to complete the rookie card set. The rookie cards in Titanium are all serial numbered to the player's jersey. This is good in terms of this year's hottest rookie, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who has the number 93. But there are more than a few rookies numbered to less than 10. There is even Mikko Koskinen who is numbered to only ONE. Yep, so realistically, there is only 1 person in the entire world who could possibly own a master rookie card set of Titanium.

So I think I can safely say that Titanium is not a product for the set builder both in terms of card design and of course rookie scarcity.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
As I stated before, each pack of Titanium will contain 1 hit - an autograph or memorabilia card. In this way it is almost like buying a box/pack of Upper Deck's SP Game-Used. Titanium is a very different product stylistically than SPGU though. In terms of the hits, there is a variety of different types of inserts to be found, and each carry unique and varied designs.

The most common hit you will get in Titanium is the standard jersey card called Game-Worn Gear. If purchasing this product by the pack, this is the card you will most likely stumble upon. As a standard jersey card this has been done many, many times over. The piece of jersey found on the card is relatively small, but comes in a unique geometric shape. The border of the card has the image of metal plating, but is not metallic. As with the base cards, a little foil on this card would have gone a long way in terms of visual appeal. The grey and black color scheme of the card is solid, but these cards do not stand out in any way, shape, or form.

Game-Worn Gear cards have numerous variations. This one above of Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy is a very short printed patch variation. The Game-Worn Gear cards will feature prime pieces of jersey, patches, and autographs. Though the standard Game-Worn Gear card may be pretty boring, it would be fun for collectors to put together the entire rainbow of cards for a particular player. I can see that being a  challenging thing for player collectors to do.

Fans of certain teams have the pleasure of pulling the Four Star cards out of Titanium. This good-looking card features four players from the same team along with jersey pieces from each player. This card of the Leafs is limited to just 75 copies. As with the Game-Worn Gear cards, there are different higher tiered variations of these cards that will contain patches or prime jerseys. And again... wouldn't it be awesome to get the entire rainbow for your favorite team?

Above is a card that I think will get very mixed reactions from collectors. This is an example of a Sweater card. I was pretty happy with this rare dual patch and autographed card, but I'm not so sure about the design of the card. I personally am not a fan of cards that don't feature a photo image of a player on card. These types of cards are somehow lacking for me. ITG is a company that had been forced to do that on occasion, but I couldn't see how any company with a license would purposefully choose not to use player images. Well, here's a card that doesn't. Do you think that the memorabilia and autograph are enough? Or are you like me and need to have that photo on there? Let me know!

In terms of autographs and memorabilia cards, there are more to be found in Titanium. Private Signings are back and have a few notable names such as Gabriel Landeskog, Eric Lindros, and Carey Price. There are also New Wave autographed cards as well as many other memorabilia cards to be found within the product. I am impressed by the amount of content Panini has been able to cram in here.

Besides autographs and memorabilia cards, Titanium has two parallels to the main set of cards. There are the Spectrum Ruby cards that have a red foil board backing and are numbered to 99, as well as a gold Spectrum version numbered to only 10. These parallel versions are nice, but again, with a name like Titanium, I would have liked something more metallic in nature. Actually, the look of these cards would have been nice if they had been the standard base card.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
For about $100 a box for 5 hits, I would say Titanium is worth it. As with all hockey card products, there will definitely be boxes not worth the money spent on it, but Titanium has quite a bit to offer to collectors. There are just so many fun possibilities to find in boxes of it!

The closest comparison I can make with Titanium is Upper Deck's SP Game-Used. In SPGU, collectors are spending around $180 per box for 6 packs. Here you get 5 packs for $100. In both products you get one hit per pack. I would say in terms of overall value, Titanium takes it hands down. SP Game-Used may have more monsterous hits, but for collectors who purchase only a few boxes, Titanium is the safer bet.

I would definitely recommend purchasing Titanium. It has a price point that works well for collectors who can afford to buy cards by the box. Though the base cards totally underwhelmed me, this product really isn't about the base cards anyways. It's about only one of those cards you get in that pack. And I'm pretty sure you know which card I'm talking about. Hint - it's the one that doesn't look like the rest.

Overall Rating:
(Not an Average)

Check out my box of 11/12 Panini Titanium that I bought from D&P Sports Cards:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Celebrity Autos in Your Hockey Box... Whad'ya Think?

Congrats go out to the Los Angeles Kings who won the Stanley Cup last night by beating the New Jersey Devils 4 games to 2 in a best of seven series. Being a Sharks fan, I thought I'd be a bit unhappy about this... but in the end I don't feel any highs or lows emotionally. The Kings were amazing throughout the playoffs, and good on them for winning it all!

Speaking of the Kings, I just received this beauty of a card in the mail today. It's from 11/12 Panini Pinnacle. I call this a beauty of a card for 3 reasons. Well, one, the obvious one is that Milano is HOT...


Secondly, this card carries a very nice book and street value and is quite desired by collectors. And thirdly... Alyssa Milano is HOT.

Milano has signed for both Panini's football and hockey products and both types of collectors have shown interest in her on eBay. This got me to thinking... Panini has recently come out with a lot more non-traditional autograph cards in their hockey products - cards like Fans of the Game and even announcer cards. What do you think about these types of cards? Do you collect them or want them? I'd be interested in your opinion. If you would, please answer the following questions in the comments section:

1. What do you think of celebrity autograph cards in hockey products?
2. If you could have a celebrity autograph appear in a hockey product who would you want and why?

In my opinion, I do like these card and I find them to be very interesting pulls, but I have heard on various forums that people do not like these kinds of cards. Sound off in the comments section and be heard!