Sunday, July 29, 2012

Retail Review #7 (Upper Deck Series 1 Blaster)

Back to blasters! Well, sorry to say the local Target is running out of different hockey retail products for me to buy! Oh no! But at least they still have some things I haven't officially done in a Retail Review yet... like good 'ol Upper Deck Series 1. This product is probably the most common hockey product found at retail stores. And I think it's the perfect product for companies like Upper Deck to sell via retail. The blasters have a satisfying amount of packs and cards within each box so that both serious collectors and casual ones can enjoy the pack busting experience.

Price - 
$19.99 + Tax

Packs - 12
11/12 Upper Deck Series 1 Blaster Packs

Basically for $20 the buyer of these blasters will get 2 Young Gun rookie cards as well as a few inserts. That's not too bad when you need a cardboard fix while grocery shopping. UD Series 1 has traditionally been the series to get (rather than the 2nd) because each year Upper Deck puts the most high profile rookies into the first series. This year collectors can find Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, Sean Couturier, Cody Hodgson, Adam Henrique, Mark Scheifele, and more all in Series 1.  A few Retail Reviews back I opened up a Series 2 blaster and came up with a sad face when seeing the Young Guns I got. This time around I hope to fare a little better.

Let's see what I got in my 11/12 UD Series 1 Blaster:

Review -
I opened up the 12 packs of cards pretty quick because I was in a hurry to see what Young Guns I had gotten. If this were me opening up the packs when UD 1 was freshly on the market, I would have taken a lot more time checking out the cool photography and design of the cards. But I would like to mention that these cards are still stunning to look at even so long after their initial release. The base cards are very glossy and high quality. Someone who may be a casual collector or a new collector purchasing this box would be very pleased at how nice the cards are.

In the box I received everything I expected to get in a blaster: 3 inserts and 2 young guns. A jersey card would have been nice, but the odds of getting one of those are 1:240 for blaster packs. YeeOUch! So yeah, I didn't expect that. My inserts were a UD canvas card, an EA Ultimate Team, and an All World Team card. Nothing really big with those 3 cards. I'll probably use those three as extras in trades I make with people. I will mention I was a bit disappointed in the canvas card though. The canvas cards usually have even a step higher level of photography than the standard UD base cards, but the the Shane Doan card seemed very pedestrian. He's just kneeling on the ice during warm-ups. Not sure why that picture was chosen. Oh well.

As for my Young Guns, I think I did well. I got one of the bigger name rookies of this year so that's always a good thing. Young Guns are always popular so adding more to the collection is a plus. And who knows, the scrubby ones that I have gotten over the past year may turn out to be diamonds in the rough one day.

Here are the top 3 cards in the blaster. Pretty obvious which one will be number one:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Roman Horak Card No. 204
The second best Young Gun in the pack gets the third slot. Roman Horak is a left winger and did decently well for WHL Chilliack according to his stats on the back. I'm not sure how his stint with the Flames was in 2011-12, but hopefully he'll turn out to be a decent player for them. In the meanwhile, this card will go in the big white box until further notice.

#2 - Jonathan Toews EA Sports Ultimate Team Card No. EA5
This card gets the second spot simply because it's Jonathan Toews. The EA Ultimate Team insert cards are nothing special, but Toews is a phenomenal player and captain for the Blackhawks.

#1 - Mark Scheifele Card No. 248
This was the hit of the box. And possibly the box saver too. Mark Scheifele is a rookie that benefits from the fanatical Winnipeg fan base. He's their first rookie standout and has shown to have great potential. I've already seen on forums the excitement and collectibility that follows Scheifele. If he can play up to expectations, this will be a hot card for many a year to come.

Overall Value -
I'm OK with spending $20 for a blaster box of Upper Deck Series 1. The Young Gun potential is definitely the main draw here. Young Guns are just as good as jersey hits in my opinion. And in these blasters you get 2 of them. Anything else that comes in the box is just gravy. Upper Deck retail blasters are pretty much the standard for retail products. They are fun products that work well when no hobby shop is in sight. I would recommend getting a box if you want your hockey card fix.

Let me know what you thought of my Series 1 blaster box down in the comments below. Have you ever gotten anything good from one of these? I'd love to know!

Overall Value Score:

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

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Retail Review #6 (4-Pack + 100 Card Extreme Value)

Other than the first episode of Retail Review, I have only gotten 'from the factory' blasters by Upper Deck and Panini. This week I'm returning to the re-pack type product I started with. In episode 1, I got a re-pack of 12 different packs in a plastic container. Here, we have the same company packing the cards in a very different form, but at the same price - $9.99. I have to admit, I did not have a very good feeling about this product when I bought it. Did my instincts prove correct? We're about to find out.

Price - 
$9.99 + Tax

Packs - 5
06/07 Ultra, 06/07 UD PowerPlay, 07/08 Hot Prospects, 07/08 Upper Deck Series 1, 02/03 Be a Player, 100 loose cards in a cardboard box.

I saw this product on the shelves at the Target with the same type of re-pack of baseball, football, and basketball. I also saw the 12 pack version still on the shelves as well. Since I had already done one of those boxes, I decided to at least try something different before I returned to that. Immediately I was skeptical of what could be inside. The box says that there are 4 packs of cards. Looking around the box I could clearly see what the 4 packs were. These packs were of the same ilk as the 12 pack re-pack. So in other words - not very good. Also within were 100 unknown cards and a bonus. In my thinking, I could not see how there could be any type of card worth having in the 100 lose cards included. If I were to pack a box of this stuff, I would be darned sure not to include anything of significance within. So, knowing that was in there instantly made the box a bit sketchy for me. The only other thing in the box was the 'bonus'. What on earth could that be? Would it be a free hit like a jersey or autographed card? A graded card? Of course not! It was another cheap pack of cards.

I should have known.

Let's see what I got in this Extreme Value pack:

VIDEO NOTE: I missed the pack of Hot Prospects when filming. Included in that pack were 4 cards: Jaromir Jagr, Saku Koivu, and Vesa Toskala base as well as a Marc-Andre Fleury Hot Commodities card/999.

Review -
The 100 loose cards I got were at best... mildly interesting and at worst... absolutely horrible. When I say horrible, I really mean that! Included within the 100 cards were overproduced and poorly designed Score, Pro Set, and Bowman cards from 20 years ago. Flipping through the old cards was boring for the most part. Seeing a lot of no-name base definitely made me question why I bought the box. There were a few cards I did enjoy seeing though. Some cards brought back memories of when I collected back in the 90's, especially the Leaf base card. Those were definitely fun times in collecting, and I remembered those days fondly. I guess if you were a person just getting back into collecting after a long time out, this type of re-pack could bring back some good memories and possibly spur you on into getting some newer products.

In terms of the packs, there was really nothing that great. I was able to, for the first time in a re-pack, get a Young Gun. Unfortunately it was of Tyler Weiman, someone I had not ever heard of before. In the Hot Prospects pack I did get a serial numbered card - which was a little surprising, but again, nothing to write home about. The biggest bummer with the packs came with the 'bonus' within the box. My bonus was a pack of 02/03 Be a Player. The pack had a giant $1.59 sticker on it (nice.) and when I opened it, the cards were stuck together. After prying them apart I could see that the gloss they used had stuck on the fronts of the cards as a white sandy substance. Classy.

It was difficult to choose 3 gems from this break, but I did. Here are my three favorite cards from my Extreme Value Hockey box.

Top 3 Cards

#3 - 1990 Score Paul Coffey Card No. 319
This card surprised me when I first saw it when going through the 100 card stack. I knew that Upper Deck had used photo editing and enhancements in their products, but forgot that Score had done some of their own as well. This Score Paul Coffey card just looks cool to me. The effect on the photograph gives the image a sense of motion that sets it far apart from the boring photographs used on so many cards in this era.

#2 - 07/08 Marc-Andre Fleury Hot Commodities Card No. 126
This insert card is probably the most vibrant and colorful card that I received in the entire box. Obviously, being a more modern card amongst a bunch of older ones it would be. But even along with other modern cards, this one is visually very appealing. The flames and fire obviously match the 'Hot Commodities' name, and being serial numbered to 999 is something that elevates the card as well.

#1 - Arena Holograms Inc. Peter Forsberg Card No. 4
I actually already have one of these Peter Forsberg cards in my collection, but was happy to get another in this box. The Arena Holograms card company obviously didn't make it big, but I thought that this set of cards was very interesting to look at. I find it really cool to see the draft picks in tuxedos with their skates and sticks. It's an image that's inventive and fun to look at. I'm also a fan of the all-white background of the card. Very strong design for a company in the 90's that didn't last. They could have had something there. That's just too bad. (Side note: Peter Forsberg is a defenseman?!!??!)

Overall Value -
For about ten bucks you get this re-pack at Target. I would have to say if you see it, skip it. It sort of works out to about $2 per pack and a 100 lose cards. The 100 lose cards is the thing that kills the deal for me. It's going to be mostly junk that you just won't know what to do with. For a better value I would take my chances with a 12 pack re-pack for the same price. There you have a one in a million shot of something good rather than one in a zillion here with this product.

Let me know what you thought of my Extreme Value box down in the comments below. Have you ever gotten anything good from one of these things? I'd love to know!

Overall Value Score:

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

Monday, July 16, 2012

2011-2012 Upper Deck SP Authentic Review

After literally months of delays and waiting, SP Authentic has FINALLY arrived. This popular brand of hockey cards is one of the 'must have' products every year. It has been agonizing waiting for its release amidst continual release date push backs. Well, the wait is over and now collectors can get their hands on the celebrated Future Watch Autographed rookie cards and other SPA staples.

Base Card Design -
I have always loved the SP Authentic base cards. Some collectors have called them plain and boring, but to me, they are fabulous examples of what a modern hockey card should look like. This iteration is no different. The simplicity of the color scheme and geometric design work extremely well here. Each card has just the right amount of foil highlight, the font is just right, and the players pop off the card. When I first saw them I was really blown away by how stunning they were. In my review of Panini Contenders, I compared that product to this one. I have to say that in terms of card design, now that I see SPA up close, Contenders still has a ways to go because UD design is still up front and pacing the rest.

The back of the base cards have been designed with as much attention as the front. I am a big fan of the dynamic angles that the lines make. The design truly matches the front in a way that doesn't replicate it exactly. The backs will feature all the relevant player vitals along with up to 5 years of statistics. UD has also included a short write up on the featured player's achievements.

SP Essentials have again returned to the main SP Authentic set. This yearly limited subset has always given the main set of SPA a higher level of challenge to complete. In previous years, the Essentials were serial numbered. This year they are not. I'm surprised by this decision by Upper Deck. The serial numbering was a key point for these cards being collectible. I feel that without it they will not be taken as seriously by collectors. In terms of how the cards look, the SP Essentials are pleasing to look at, but they do remind me of an older SPx design for some reason.

As with all other years of SP Authentic, the rookies are broken up into an autographed group and a non-autographed group. The non-autographed Future Watch cards showcase the rookies on a dark grey ice background - again, a nice looking card. And each card is limited to only 999. The non-autographed FWA cards tend to be rookies that are not as hyped or celebrated as the autographed ones, but here we actually have some that probably should have featured an autograph - Carl Hagelin being one of them. But this could be due to the nature that SPA should have been out in March so the decision on which players got what cards may have been determined far in advance. By the way, if you wanted a Carl Hagelin auto rookie you would have to go to Contenders for it.

The autographed Future Watch auto rookie cards are, as the rest of the main SPA set, very well done in terms of their look and design. The autographed versions of the FWAs are brighter than their non-auto counterparts. Instead of a broken up ice look, the background 'beams' outward with the player being the source of radiance. Pretty cool. The portion of the card devoted to the autograph is a faded white area. It's a great place for an autograph. Some card designs have an artificial looking rectangle for the autograph placement. This can create a jarring effect that makes the design looked forced. That is definitely not the case here. With these cards, the space for the autograph is almost organic in nature in terms of how it is done. Seamless is another good word to describe it. Everything from the top to the bottom of these FWAs is pretty well done perfectly. One of my favorite FW designs for sure.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
The main meat of SPA is the Future Watch Auto card, but there are many other inserts and hits to be had when opening up SPA. This year Upper Deck has proven again that their cards are top notch and desirable. Each box of SPA will contain 3 hits and a smattering of insert cards. FWAs count as hits, of course.

Here's a pretty common insert card shown above. Wait... what?!?! But that's a base card! No. It's actually an insert seeded 1 in every 2 packs. You'll notice that player pictured is Gabriel Landeskog, a rookie. Upper Deck this year has put in a rookie extended insert set that shares the same design as the base card. The only difference is on the back. Each rookie extended card has an 'R' alongside its numbering... and there is no write up below the player stats. I'm puzzled as to why Upper Deck decided on including this inset within SPA. To me, it seems absolutely unnecessary. For collectors of rare cards, there are red foil versions of these cards serial numbered to just 10. So that might be something to chase. But as I said before, I'm just not sure why this set is here this year.

A more familiar insert card is the HoloFX foil card. These have been in SP Authentic since the very beginning. Once these cards were heavily chased, but now are pretty much afterthoughts. Interesting to note that this year's HoloFX series features only rookies; there are no veteran HoloFX cards. As collectors have lost interest in these cards, it seems as if the designers have also lost some interest in them as well. The cards don't look particularly outstanding and don't have any cool features. I remember a time when the HoloFX cards had a rotating face of the player on it. Sometimes players would smile or wink at you as the card turned. Obviously that takes some work to get done. That kind of effort is too much for an old insert like this I think.

Seeded 1 in 288 packs are the die-cut versions of the HoloFX cards. Though these cards are tough pulls, they tend not to go for too much on the secondary market. I do like that the die-cut here is made to resemble an 'R'. I'm assuming that they did this intentionally because all the HoloFX are rookies. It's better than die-cutting a design of no relevance to the card as is done on some other products.

The Sign of the Times autographed cards are back this year and they continue to look very nice. Upper Deck has always produced good looking autographed cards for SP Authentic, and that tradition is continued with this year's set. Aside from just single autographed cards, collectors will find double, triple, quad, five, six, seven, and eight autographs on a single card. All of this is very cool, but collectors have found that getting the better autographs have proven to be difficult as star players are much tougher to pull than lesser ones. Odds range from 1 in 41 packs for the lowest group to 1 in 1,560 for the highest group, which would be group A. Cards with multiple autographs have even steeper odds.

Collectors will find all sorts of hits when they open their boxes of SP Authentic this year. Making a return are the Chirography, Marks of Distinction, and Immortal Ink sets. There are also rookie and veteran patch autographed cards as well as a new set called Signature Stoppers that obviously focuses on goalies. Collectors will even find 'left over' cards from last year's SPA set inserted into boxes as well. These are cards that Upper Deck didn't get in on time last year so they were inserted into boxes this year.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
SPA is SPA. If you've been collecting hockey at all in the recent past then you'll know what to expect out of this product. For me, I love this product mainly based on it's design aspects. The set always has a pleasing, modern look that entices me to buy it. I will in fact be going for the main set once again this year. I had also wanted to go after Contenders, but after looking at SPA, I feel that SPA is the right way to go for me.

SPA boxes have always been extremely hit or miss. Misses are REAL MISSES. So I caution collectors when purchasing a box of it. These boxes will range from $100-120, but often you may only get $20 of value out of it - particularly if you are shorted a hit, get cruddy Sign of the Times autos, or FWA rookie cards with low potential. Just know what you're getting into when buying the stuff!

For me, I always like to buy between 2 and 3 boxes and then collect the rest of the set off eBay and the secondary market. But I always hold out hope that I will get something amazing in the few boxes I do buy for myself! Best wishes on your breaks of SP Authentic. I KNOW you will get some!

Overal Rating:
(not an average)

Check out my box of 11/12 SP Authentic!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Retail Review #5 (Panini Zenith Blaster)

Well... last week's episode of Retail Review was pretty spectacular. I was wondering how long it would take before I got something of actual significance or worth. The answer to that question was obviously 4 weeks. With last week's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins rookie jersey autograph card I could have called it a day with this series. But no. I'm going to keep going. Will I have two amazing weeks of retail product breaks in a row? Let's find out!

Price - 
$29.99 + Tax

Packs - 3
10/11 Panini Zenith

Here's another high-roller retail product. At $29.99, it's a pricey proposition. Full hobby boxes of Zenith used to be around $100. At this point in time, hobby boxes can be had at under $60, the price of only 2 blasters. Though it doesn't state it on the blaster box, I believe there is a hit per blaster. So for thirty dollars you are paying to get one hit - probably a plain jersey card. Not a great deal if you ask me. Hobby boxes have 3 hits per box as well as the inserts and the box topper rip-card. For me, the box-topper is probably the only reason to buy Zenith. I pulled a National Treasures rookie card numbered to 99 in a box once and that was a thrill. Not a chance of that happening here though. Still, I wanted to give this blaster a shot. I was prepared to be disappointed.

Let's see what I got in my 10/11 Panini Zenith Blaster:

Review -
I can't help but to compare my Zenith opening experience with the Certified experience from last week - especially since I paid the same amount for each blaster. I have to say that compared to last week, this was a big letdown. And not because I didn't pull a huge hit. For $29.99, you get three packs of cards that don't feel very premium. The Certified base cards are shiny and foil-y. They feel and look modern. They are premium. The Zenith cards are flat and boring - maybe a step above Score... if even that. In any case, they just don't have the quality of paying thirty dollars for them. Simple as that. My one hit, a dual jersey of the Penguins, looked nice and had a pleasing design, but even that card left me wanting. I'll bring that up when I get to my top three though. All in all, I got the feeling of getting gipped with this box. I'm probably not going to be dipping in this well again.

For my top 3 cards this week I will pick the 3 best cards out of the break. Though I got three insert/hit cards in my break, I felt that one did not warrant inclusion in the top three. Instead, I had to go with a base card to fill in for it.

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Tim Thomas Chasing the Cup Insert Card No. 13
The Chasing the Cup insert cards are well done. I've always liked cards featuring the Stanley Cup, and this one does a nice job of showing it off along with the player. My favorite aspect of the card, besides the Cup image, has to be the 'Chasing the Cup' script. It just looks so darned elegant! Perfect for the most coveted trophy in all of sports. My only complaint about this card is the player on it. I'm not a Tim Thomas fan - wish I pulled a different player. That's why this card lands at three.

#2 - Jonathan Quick Card No. 16
I realized that I don't have much of Jonathan Quick in my card collection. The Stanley Cup wining LA King's talented goalie doesn't have a ton of cardboard so I was glad to pull this card and add it to my collection. Though I have stated numerous times that I do not like the base card design here, it has grown on me a little bit over time.

#1 - E. Tangradi/J. Staal/E. Malkin Mozaics Dual Jersey Card No. 16
As my only hit in the box this card by default gets the number one position this week. This is actually a pretty nice card except for one thing which I'll mention at the end. In terms of card design, it's nice. The card doesn't scan well, but in person the foil looks great and the textured mosaic where the jerseys are creates a sweet visual. I'm also pleased that the card features some quality players in Malkin and Staal. Tangradi was a rookie that year so we'll have to wait and see how he pans out - but he is with a couple greats that help the card hold up. The most disappointing this about this card is the lack of Malkin's jersey on it. The card looks completely incomplete without it. I have actually pulled this same card with only Tangrai's jersey featured. And that looks even worse. If Panini could re-make these cards, I hope they would ditch the incomplete jersey idea. I say go full or don't do it at all. This missing jersey stuff is really half-@$$ed.

Overall Value -
$29.99 is way too high a price to pay for a Zenith blaster box. The smart thing to do would be to just save up a few more bucks and get the hobby version. Hobby boxes have come down to at least reasonable levels. The sad thing is that there is nothing really worth pulling in Zenith. Of course there are some very top level cards like an autographed rookie of Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, Jordan Eberle, and PK Subban.. but outside maybe those four cards, every other 'hit' is going to be a miss - especially at the thirty dollar mark. If you see Zenith at the store just walk away... quickly.

Let me know what you thought of my 10/11 Panini Zenith blaster box down in the comments below. Have you ever gotten anything good from a Zenith blaster? I'd love to know!

Overall Value Score:

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

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Retail Review #4 (11/12 Panini Certified Blaster Box)

So today I ventured out to get my retail product for review. Instead of trotting across the street to the Target nearest me, I went to the Target in the college town of Davis, CA. I go to church in Davis so it was easy to just drive over there after service. Good thing I did as you will find out soon! It turned out to be a very blessed box!

Price - 
$29.99 + Tax

Packs - 3
11/12 Panini Certified

Certified is not usually thought of as a retail brand. When I think of Certified, I think of a cube-like box that contains 10 packs that I can only get at hobby shops. I had heard about the Certified retail boxes from online forums and other peoples' breaks, but I had personally never seen one up close. To my surprise, the Target in Davis had a box of Certified sitting on the shelf along with a blaster of Zenith. Both were $29.99, but since Zenith was kind of a lame duck product I chose to go with Certified. Packs of Certified at hobby are about $10 each so a box of three is about right in terms of cost. The side of the blaster says that there is a guarantee of an autograph or memorabilia card contained so that was a nice incentive for me as well, though I think Zenith blasters have the same hit per blaster statement.

Let's see what I got in my 11/12 Panini Certified Blaster:

Review -
I like the Certified blaster quite a bit... and not only because of the massive hit I got. As I mentioned before, the price seems right for what you get. A typical hobby box of Certified will net you about 4 hits - so a hit in every 2.5 packs. In the blaster you get 1 hit in 3 packs. That's pretty close to the hobby version. Usually the retail odds are mind-numbingly astronomical compared to their hobby brothers. So I'm a fan of bridging the gap a little between hobby and retail here in this product. My only minor complaint about this break was the fact that 3 packs is such a small amount to open. The break was over before it even really began. Part of the fun of buying cards is opening packs. So only having three packs to break can be underwhelming. Getting the card I pulled today makes up for that in a big way though. Insert smiley face here!

For my top 3 cards this week I will pick the 3 best cards out of the break. Aside from the biggie there wasn't much else there of note. Here's the top 3.

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Sidney Crosby Card No. 70
Well, Sid the Kid is probably the best base card you can get, so here he lands at number 3. It's unfortunate that base cards are worth so little to everyone out there now. Even in the 90's I would pull out the star base cards and put them in top loaders. These days all the base cards are typically thrown into big white boxes and just stored away, stars and all. This card will most likely join the rest of my 11/12 Certified base... either that or I'll throw this one is as an extra to someone I trade with. I do like the sweet third jersey he's sporting though. Love the blue and baby blue on those sweaters.

#2 - Joe Mullen Card No. 156
This Joe Mullen card is part of the Immortals subset of the main Certified set. Unlike the standard base cards, the retired players pictured here are in black and white. It creates an interesting flat tone to the card. What also separates this card from he rest of the base cards is that it is limited. Each Immortals card is serial numbered to only 500. Because of of it's short printed nature, Joe Mullen comes in at number 2.

#1 - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Card No. 219
Well, picking this as card number one was a no-brainer! Perhaps the most desired card of the set (besides possible more limited versions), this card is also worth quite a bit in street and book value. The design of the card is very pleasing - from the large die-cut 'rookie' jersey, to the foil enhanced background, to the autograph... it all comes together so well! What a card to find in a retail blaster in a small town in California!

Overall Value -
$29.99 is a high price to pay for a blaster of Certified, no doubt! It is on the higher spectrum of products you'll find in the card section of a retail store. It is certainly not the cheap-o loose pack re-packs that cost about $10, and it's not the standard $20 blaster either. It's a steep $10 more than that. But all-in-all, I think these blasters are a good value compared to what people are getting at the hobby level. I think these blasters are very nice if you want to get a taste of a hobby product, but don't want to buy a whole box or pick loose packs out at the LCS. I am very happy I found this at the Davis Target. Maybe I should just keep going there until my luck runs out!

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

Overall Value Score:

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

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

2011-2012 ITG Broad Street Boys Review

Continuing its trend in producing specialty hockey themed cards, In the Game brings us Broad Street Boys. Here is a unique product that focuses only on one team, and one team alone: the Philadelphia Flyers. Obviously this is a GREAT product for Flyers Fans. But I was curious to see if this box would bring satisfaction to a collecter who really doesn't root for or have any real interest in them. Will this product win me over, a San Jose Sharks fan? Will it appeal to me? Will it make me want to buy some more? Let's see!

Base Card Design -
Each box/pack of Broad Street Boys will come with 8 base cards. The base cards vary in theme depending on which era or facet of the Flyers the player represents. Despite having these different themes (and designs), the base cards have the same general feel and look to them. So rather than evaluating each subset of the base set individually, I'll take them all in as a whole.

I have to applaud ITG in their effort to 'up' their base cards. We saw in their earlier Captain-C release that foilboard was chosen rather than plain card stock, and this premium aspect was used here in Broad Street Boys as well. The base cards have a completely foiled surface that refracts light nicely. When the base cards are tilted you can easily see a rainbow shimmer across the front. Each card has a silver border which helps accentuate the rainbow effect. The base cards are also appropriately orange and black - the Flyers' team colors. Naturally, the color scheme makes a whole lot of sense here.

Though the quality of the physical card may have been raised, I feel that the design elements here have been taken a notch down. The fonts and design schemes used in the different subsets of base cards look dated and don't compliment the foil processing well. I get the sense that ITG tried to make the card design match the era that the player represented, but looking at the base cards gives me a sense of disjointed-ness.

I will also mention that the photo selection here is a bit lacking. Looking at all the cards together does not give me a sense of action... rather it is more like flipping through an old yearbook.

The backs of the cards are very typical ITG fare. These cards carry no stats, but rather focus on giving collector's more information on how the player contributed to the Flyers.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Each box of Broad Street Boys will contain 6 memorabilia or autographed cards. There are no non-hit inserts to be found in the set. I believe the division of the main base set did a nice job of creating an insert-type feel so non-hit inserts aren't really missed here. The box that I opened contained 2 memorabilia cards and 4 autos.

The most common type of memorabilia card is the standard Game-Used Jersey Black swatch card. These cards are vertically oriented, which I like because many of ITG's jersey cards are horizontal - so this is a little different. The cards carry a medium sized chunk of jersey and are limited to only 120 copies of each. The cards themselves are unnumbered, but the print-run information can be obtained from ITG's website. The Ron Hextall card shown above states on the back that the jersey piece was from a Flyers gamer. I certainly appreciate this knowledge. If I were a Flyers fan, it would give me joy to know the piece came off a Flyers jersey rather than a Nordique or Islanders one. In terms of the design, the card looks nice. The colors used are modern. Nothing to complain about here.

Goaltenders Jersey cards are limited to just 50 copies each. The design on these cards are more reminiscent of a typical ITG jersey card. Though the card seems rather plain, I do like the combination of colors on the card. The sea-foam green background works well with the orange and black. Again with this card, the swatch is guaranteed by ITG to be from a game-used Philadelphia Flyers jersey.

Here is an example of the standard autograph card in Broad Street Boys. As usual, ITG employs sticker autographs for these cards, but they blend in to the design so well that it is hard to tell they are even stickers. In terms of card design, these cards are pleasing. They utilize the Flyer colors well and have a busy-ness about them that prevents them from being boring. My only complaint would be that all boxes will have multiples of this type of autographed card so they could get tiresome. With a very deep checklist and star players being short-printed, the odds of getting a player you want may be slim when purchasing just one box.

Unfortunately, my box of Broad Street Boys was not too exciting, but I do know that there are awesome cards to be found within boxes of the product. You may find game-used stick pieces, patches off jerseys, and even entire letters off the back nameplate of a jersey!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Earlier in this review I asked if this product would appeal to me, a Sharks fan. With the box I opened the answer would be an unfortunate 'no'. I didn't get anything that would excite me to purchase more of this product. And even if I had pulled something crazy out, I would probably just sell it and recoup my box money. For collectors who are not Flyers fans, I can't see much to want to get out of a box of Broad Street Boys. Most of the autographs are of players most people would not follow and probably would not care to own (sounds harsh, but true!). The base cards are a bit lackluster, and standard jersey cards of those same players just wouldn't do it for me.

As a Flyers fan though, I would buy boxes and boxes of this stuff. Though the product has its flaws, being a loyal Flyers fan would compel me to purchase it. And I would probably REALLY enjoy seeing all the Flyers come out of the boxes. Eventually I know I would have to pull out some very rare and unique cards that I would love in my personal collection.

So for this review I am giving two overall scores - a first for The Cardboard Review!

Overall Rating for non-Flyers Fan

Overall Rating for a Flyers Fan

Check out my box of ITG's Broad Street Boys:

Monday, July 2, 2012

2012 Panini Prestige Football Review

The first cards of the football season are here! Panini has released 2012 Prestige, and this is the first chance for collectors to get their hands on some officially licensed cards of the new rookie class. The box features highly touted Colt's rookie Andrew Luck which should be a huge draw this year for football card fans. Thanks go out to Panini for providing this box for review!

Base Card Design -
The 2012 Prestige base cards have been tactfully and tastefully designed. Though Prestige is a lower-mid-range product, the base cards carry themselves with a lot of class. There is much to like about these base cards. Let's take a look at what makes them so pleasing. First of all, you'll notice that the front of the card is basically split in two parts... an action photo of the player and a sidebar with information and logos. The player photo is well done with each card featuring a large close-up image of the player. The sidebar, though, is the portion of the card that I like the most. The hue of the sidebar matches the team color, and the white logos and fonts really work to create a modern looking element to the card. I also appreciate the big team logo affixed under the brand. The bottom space for the player's name looks great as well. I love the ultra thin font for the first name in black and the thicker, team colored font for the last name. There's a lot going on with the design of this card. And I am very impressed with how it came together so well.

The back of the base cards have a streamlined look that mirrors the front. Being the back, the designers have cleverly flip-flopped some of the color schemes. Notice that the player photo is now in black and white whereas the team logo is in full color. Little things like this show real care in the product by the company. Some collectors may feel that the stat portion of the card may have been too streamlined as there is only one line of stats for each player.

The rookie cards in Prestige share almost the exact same design as the base set. This is unusual because companies nowadays usually make the rookie cards stand out dramatically from regular base cards. I actually don't mind them looking the same as base because that's they way they used to be back in the golden days of collecting. That was cool - maybe a company should try doing it like that for just one product in their line. Anyways, back from that tangent... the rookie cards here replace the player's position with their draft information and the word 'rookie'. Also, interestingly, the team logo is in full color on these cards. Autographed variations of the rookie cards like the Nick Toon card above are available for collectors to find in boxes.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
According to the front of the box, each hobby box should yield four autographs and/or memorabilia cards. In the box I opened up I received 2 of each type of hit as well as quite a few insert cards.

One of the most unique inserts found in Prestige are these Draft City Destinations cards. They are oriented horizontally and depict a sign showing the distance from where the rookies were to where they are going. I think this is an incredibly unique idea. Give whoever designed this card a raise! Or at least employee of the month status... or something! This is an insert that thinks outside the box without adding foil, memorabilia, or autographs. Now unfortunately, these cards won't sell for much, but I love the idea behind it.

A more standard insert is the Prestigious Picks set. Again, Panini makes use of horizontal orientation for these cards. These cards are very nice and have a classy look. This particular card reminds me of the designs in their high-end National Treasures product. Unlike some of the insert cards found in Prestige, these cards have foil board backgrounds that help them stand out from the other inserts within the product.

As with many of Panini's inserts, the Prestigious Picks can also come with memorabilia pieces and/or autographs. Though the Joe Adams shown above only comes with jersey piece and is numbered to 299, other versions are much more limited.

Every product has to have their 'standard' jersey card... and this is what we have here with the Gamers insert cards. Like many of the other cards in Prestige, these cards actually carry a bit of design goodness to them. I appreciate how all the Gamers cards have a full color photograph of the player fixed on a black and white background. It's a little bit artsy! Like with the Prestigious Picks, these cards also have variants with better game-used material within like patches or even laundry tags.

The Draft Tickets autographed cards show off a very unique design. These cards come in design that looks like they just filled out some sort of form on their draft day. It's definitely a departure from what we usually see in terms of an autographed card. The Chris Givens above is an on-card autograph rather than sticker auto, so that's cool. I'm very pleased to see that on-card autographs are available in Prestige.

There are many, many more inserts to be found in boxes of Prestige. And many of theses inserts will come in different varieties - numbered, signed, jersey, patch, tag... I think it'll be fun to crack boxes and see what exactly comes out for you!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
For the first taste of football cards of the season, Prestige hits on some very good notes. It's definitely not a high-end product with crazy hits, but it is a product chock full of what collectors have been wanting since they watched the draft - THE NEW NFL ROOKIES! It's a great product to start off with that won't break the bank. Down the road, I can see Prestige being left by the wayside with fancier products, but for now, being the only thing out there, it'll be a winner in the short term. The good thing is, there are some very well thought out inserts to be had and to enjoy. If you are into football, this Prestige is what you'll want to get your hands on as soon as possible.

Overall Rating:
(Not an average)

Check out my box of Prestige!

11/12 Panini Rookie Anthology Video Review

Here's another video review! Again, huge thanks go out to Panini for providing this box for review. For a more in depth written review of Rookie Anthology, check my official review of the product found a few posts below this one.

As I stated in the last few Panini reviews, I have really seen Panini step up their game in their products. To be totally honest, I always preferred Upper Deck products to Panini's. If Panini keeps this up I'll definitely have to re-think that thought. What have you seen from Panini that has shown you that they have stepped up their cardboard efforts? For me, I think Titanium and Rookie Anthology have been outstanding products in terms of value and satisfaction. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Retail Review #3 (11/12 UD Black Diamond Blaster Box)

Welcome to the third installment of Retail Review! Thanks to everyone for suggesting products for me to open. Unfortunately, the Target that I live near has an incredibly small selection of hockey cards. I did, however, pick up a blaster box of 11/12 Upper Deck Black Diamond that someone had asked to see in a comment. So there ya go! Let's see how I do!

Price - 
$19.99 + Tax

Packs - 6
11/12 Upper Deck Black Diamond Blaster Packs

Black Diamond is a mid to lower level price range product that comes out early in the hockey season. It has a more premium feel than the standard Upper Deck Series, but is definitely not as popular. In terms of design, Black Diamond has always utilized a foil board card that looks pretty nice - it's a signature for these cards. Back Diamond is also known for a unique tiered system that classifies cards into single, double, triple, and quad diamond rarity levels. In terms of retail level packs, I have always avoided getting them. I have never felt that getting anything of substance was really attainable given the crazy odds in Black Diamond. Checking the odds for the different types of cards available is downright scary. A simple jersey card which comes 2 per hobby box is a staggering 1 in 48 packs within a blaster. Each blaster contains 6 packs... so on average there should yield 1 jersey card per 8 blaster boxes. Eight blaster boxes would cost you $160... you could get almost 2 hobby boxes (4 jerseys and more) for that amount of money. Well, Retail Review is not about making sense of price levels... it's about OPENING RETAIL! So here we go!

Let's see what I got in my 11/12 UD Black Diamond Blaster:

Review -
This blaster box of 11/12 Black Diamond was great compared to my expectations of it. I had gotten one blaster of Black Diamond as a gift for Christmas last year, and that box had absolutely nothing in it. If memory serves me right there may have been one double diamond card in it. So my hopes for this box were along those lines. Even though the names I pulled may not have been the greatest, I totally won in terms of beating the odds. I was sort of holding out a bit of hope in getting a jersey, but my expectations were completely fulfilled by getting a Gemography card. Add to that a decent quad diamond rookie and you have yourself a relatively happy consumer.

For my top 3 cards this week I will pick the 3 cards that I was most excited about getting within this product. Having a bunch of single diamond cards makes selecting the top three pretty easy. Number one and two are no brainers here. In fact, they could be switched around depending on what criteria I wanted to base it on - value or rarity.

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Gordie Howe Card No. 20
There are so many things that are cool about this card. The first has to be the combination of retro and modern. It's awesome to see a black and white photograph given the Black Diamond foil treatment. I just think this card looks great with those two opposing elements. The second reason I like this card is because of a design coincidence. Black Diamond utilized black, silver, and red in its base card color scheme this year. Well, red happens to be Detroit's main color. Having those red highlights on this card is a beautiful, if not unintentional, thing. And lastly, it's Mr. Hockey himself, Gordie Howe! That's gotta count for something too!

#2 - Brandon Saad Card No. 240
This card could actually be number one in my top three if I were going strictly by value alone. But to me it's the number two card of the break. Brandon Saad is a relatively popular rookie this year, and he definitely has some followers. I should know because I actually pulled the gold version numbered to 10 of this same card and sold it for quite a hefty amount to a Saad fan when the product was first released. Getting a Quad Diamond Rookie Gem is great, as even in hobby boxes they are only about one per box. Saad could turn out to be a very good player and this card is one that could see a rise in value. Glad to have my hands on this one.

#1 - Arturs Kulda Gemography Autograph Card
I just had to put this card at number one. The odds of pulling a Gemography autograph according to the side of the blaster box is 1:1200 packs. Wow... I mean WOW those are some tough odds! In terms of boxes, these Gemography cards are put one into every TWO HUNDRED blaster boxes. It was definitely more than a surprise to get this card. Though I am disappointed at the name on the card, I am still happy that I was able to pull a card like this from a blaster. I bought a few boxes of Black Diamond this year and never pulled a Gemography. I would have never thought I would get one from a retail blaster from Target. My shock value at this makes this cards number one. By the way, this same card is available on eBay 'Buy it Now' for $1.99.

Overall Value -
$20 for a six pack blaster box of Black Diamond is usually not worth it. In my case today I clearly broke the odds and got some decent things out. Would I ever recommend a blaster of Black Diamond to anyone... the answer is a resounding NO! I would instead suggest getting a blaster of Upper Deck Series 1 or 2 over this. They are a better value and much less risky. So my overall score today is skewed upward a bit, please keep that into consideration as I believe my box was an anomaly.

I wonder what I'd pull if I got another blaster of Black Diamond...

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

Overall Value Score:

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