Wednesday, August 8, 2012

2011-2012 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Review

As we close in on the final products of the 11/12 hockey collecting year, collectors can now expect the big guns to come out. Ultimate Collection by Upper Deck is certainly one of the big guns. At $100 for a 4 card pack, the cards are on the super-premium side of things. Ultimate has always been a favorite of many collectors and it's easy to see why. Everything from the design of the cards to the packaging has a distinct premium feel to it. Let's rip into a box and see what it holds.

Base Card Design -
As with all years of UD Ultimate Collection, the base cards come on nice, thick card stock. The girth of  the cards say, "I am a higher-end card". Upper Deck tends to use thick card stock on their best products. And I like that they do that - it makes sense to me - thicker card = more expensive product. Of course, The Cup comes in with the widest of all base cards. But that will be for a later review. Besides the thickness of the card, these Ultimate base cards have a lot going for them. The design is absolutely the cream of the crop. Upper Deck has always come up with modern, crisp designs... and this year's Ultimate showcases that fact nicely. The players on the front really pop out of the card - and this is by genius design. The background of the cards are actually a flat, matte finish. The players are glossy. The glossy player image on the matte background creates an amazing effect that really highlights the featured player. Wow, stunning. I could go on and on about how nice these base cards are, but you really have to just see them in person to appreciate the quality there. Oh, and each card is serial numbered to only 399.

Though the back of the Ultimate base cards do not feature any player images, they are still of the absolute highest quality. The background design of the card back uses the same color scheme and background design as the front. All the relavant information is there, and there is ample space for player stats. So often in the high-end product statistics are left by the wayside. It's nice to see Ultimate Collection provide career spanning amount.

As for rookie cards in Ultimate, there are three varieties - non-auto/399, auto/299, and auto/99. The non-auto rookie cards look very similar to their base card counterparts. Just about everything about them is the same except they trade the Ultimate Collection gold header for an Ultimate Rookies side logo. The non-auto rookie cards even share the same serial numbering as the standard base cards. Though pulling these rookie cards may not be too exciting, there are some gems to be found here like Carl Hagelin and Brendan Smith.

The autographed rookie cards feature a special logo and a slightly wider space for autographs at the bottom of the card. I really like the look of the autographed rookie cards. Some may say that the space for the autograph is a bit small, but in this case I think it works very well. The autographs are more compact, which in a way is more elegant. So from a design aspect, the smaller autographs work very nicely. Autographed rookie cards numbered to 99 come about one per 15 box case - not an easy pull! And there are 20 of them. Good luck getting the one you want!

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
There are so many things you can possibly get in terms of memorabilia cards and autographs when you purchase a box of Ultimate. Looking at the checklist, it is amazing to see the variety of hits there are. Each box will only come with two hits from that staggering list, so to really get a taste of what Ultimate Collection has to offer, you really need to purchase either multiple boxes or just get a case or two of the stuff.

In my box of Ultimate, besides the autographed rookie card, I received this Phil Esposito Ultimate Jersey card. Looking at the card makes me happy because it is so connected to the base design in Ultimate. I just love it when companies make the cards within their products truly cohesive in terms of design. And it's so much greater when the design kicks @$$. I appreciate that the Esposito features a jersey swatch that has multiple colors on it. So many jersey cards are just plain one color swatches now that they are boring to look at. These pieces definitely have some personality to them... and in person they have an old feel to them. You can tell these pieces came from something from another era. SO cool.

I wish I had a bigger sampling of hits to show off, but when you only get a box or two of Ultimate, you really don't get a ton of cards to check out. Trust me though, Ultimate Collection has some of the coolest and most desired cards of the year. Rookie NHL shield cards anyone? Droooool.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating:
Ultimate Collection is a beautiful set of cards. If I had the money I would definitely get as much of the product as I could... because that's the only way to find the great cards in Ultimate Collection. For people who can spend thousands of dollars on this product (and yes, there are many who do this), I would recommend purchasing Ultimate by the case. Each case is guaranteed to have some pretty nice cards within. But each case has a whopping 15 packs. And that's what makes it a hard buy for collectors like myself who only have a couple hundred to spend on boxes of products when they come out. Buying 2 or 3 boxes out of a case is very risky, and the odds are slim in hitting the case hit. In fact, there are many boxes that are just plain awful within each case. And the odds of getting one of those is actually pretty good.... sadly.

So I like what Chris at D&P cards said to me today. He said getting a case of Ultimate is like getting a box of something else. He likened the case of Ultimate to a box with 15 packs in it. And thinking of it that way made a good deal of sense to me. Ultimate Collection is a high roller's product. For people like me, I'll take my chances on a box or two... but I know what I'm getting into in terms of risk when I purchase Ultimate. I have to prepare for the ultimate let down... but I could get the ultimate joy! But that's one of the reasons we do this whole card buying thing, isn't it?

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of Ultimate From D&P Cards in Sacramento, Ca:


  1. i really like ultimate collection this year . i just love everything about it . hopefully i can get a box of it !!!

    youtube name - vancanuckman1234

  2. this product is terrible.. sorry to say... when you short print rookies like leland irving cody eakin calvin de haaan craig smith to /99 and consider them case hits it's a travesty. The fact that there are 20 rc auto's /99 is a bad sign.

    there are only 47 autos in the ultimate sigs and a bunch of updates for 09-10 and 10-11. Several players have two with the Team Canada's being short prints. Ovi doesn't have an auto. Crosby, Malkin, Landeskog, Brodeur are all redemptions. Bobby Orr is a GRoup D Auto making him almost one of the most common autos.

    and the on jersey piece autos for the rookies are nearly impossible to see and will eventually fade if not kept in the dark.

    90% of the patches come from either jersey numbers or nameplates, adding to my displeasure. Sorry UD but you failed

  3. I think the product is okay. I am not a huge fan of the design of the cards.


    Thanks for the Contest!

  4. The product looks better than last year but it can still be a major bust if you are looking for value.

    YT- OnlyTheMagnificent

  5. Ultimate is always a High End Product I love Ultimate Collection evey year. You can never go wrong with it.



  7. I think Ultimate Collection looks great this year, but it is pricey for only 4 cards and 2 hits.

    YouTube- TheEdgeHead41

  8. Well i thinks this product is good, but their is some rookies on their that are not worth that much so you might get a MOJO or a decent pack. PS great review!

    Youtube- MrThendro

  9. i like the look of the cards but it is to much for only 4 cards

  10. i didnt really like ultimate last year, but i think it really improved this year!!


  11. well initially i fell in love with the design of the base cards, which i still do and i understand that it is a very high risk set to collect because of it being $100 for 4 cards, but having mediocre rookies being short printed is pretty disappointing. Especially when you pay such a high price for minimal cards. I will however buy a box just to test the waters!

    youtube- rangerscards89

  12. Really cool cards a lot of money for 4 cards but they are nice


  13. This year's ultimate is really nice! The base cards and rookies are super cool. The two colors in the bse card and the autos are just awesome. Theya lso have some of the best pacthes of the year. Can't wait for the cup.


  14. I think that every year ultimates design is awesome. For a hundred bucks and only getting four cards it's a bit of a gamble. When you don't get anything it's a letdown but when you get that really exciting card your happy. Ultimate is not the product for me but I think overall it's pretty good.

    YouTube username: flamescollector

    Thanks Luke!

  15. Great review as always Luke! I love Ultimate this year!

    YT- GelzySports

  16. ultimate is a product that is either hit or miss. personally I'm a huge fan of ultimate because you can pull some really epic stuff. It's a wonderful and excited product every year and this year UD definitely impressed me.


  17. I have to say this years Ultimate is ugly. Usually it has great designs but this year not so much. I think the base,RCs and RC Autos are very ugly. The Ultimate Jerseys are okay.
    Youtube Username

  18. I think that ultimate is a great product this year and i really like the designs. Also it is a big upgrade this year because it seems that every box (well pack) has a good hit so you can't get completely get scammed with the product like you could in previous years.

  19. i like how ultimate drastically changed the rookie and base design. it has a really balanced looked without taking away from the maun focus of the card. the one thing i thought they should have changed also was the jersey card design. it looks like an older version of the ultimate jerseys from the past. youd think if they were going for a new look that they would re work all aspects of the set and not just a select few. overall it is a nice looking product with some overall good value.

  20. Nice review Luke, enjoy reading these. Solid break too, love the Esposito. I really like that Upper Deck has included oldtimers like Esposito, Eddie Shack, and Johny Bower in Ultimate this year. Makes it less of a rookie centered product.

    In terms of value, there is not enough value for the average collector to break many packs. I'm definitely going to stick to singles. It'll be interesting to see how this stacks up to Prime (even though Prime is twice the price).


    completelyhockey - YouTube

  21. I love the change in the style, It's great looking. The hits are pretty good, although it is hard to get a patch, what I have seen so far is pretty good. I'm impressed.
    - NothinButHockeyCards
    Thanks for the contest

  22. i love the design of all especilly the base and autos!
    ultimate always looks nice
    thanks so much for the review!

  23. Love Ultimate fav product every year i love the patches!!

  24. Dont think the value is there $100 bucks for a pack if your looking for a high-end product Artifacts, Titanium, Black Diamond are the way to go.


  25. I think that this is a decent product. I don't find it has value compared to the price.

    Elyk Namhsuc

  26. I was a huge buyer of last year's Ultimate and am way more impressed with this year's product. I was able to bust three boxes through C&C and pulled some pretty sweet cards (youtube video to follow). Although I haven't received my cards as of yet (just bought them two days ago) judging on what I and others have pulled, I think this is a great product. I would hazard to advise against buying one box though, as there seem to be, as any other product, some fairly week boxes out there. Of course, buy according to funds available, but given the choice, I'd break two or three boxes to increase those odds of pulling that really amazing card. Thanks!

    youtube- TankSambo

  27. The cards themselves look really sharp, nice looking cards. But like a lot of other people said the value just isn't there. I am not planning on buying a box, just because of that.

    Thanks for the giveaway Luke, really appreciate it!

    Youtube - Trey Haglund

  28. personally, i like the look of the cards.. but the catch for me, is the price point. i feel that its not really worth it. even when there are products like Titanium, SPGU , and Crown Royale out there.

    YT - canucks112785

  29. woo! i love the vintage memorabilia cards such as Esposito- so cool. Beauty review.

  30. ultamite is always my fav product n i love it again this year
    yt name-hockeyleafs100

  31. I like the product this year! Looks nice! you tube is Rockiesphan17 Go Avalanche!

  32. Ultimate hockey like in other sports it a very much hit or miss product, but ther are some super nice cards to be pulled.


  33. I like the look of ud ultimate collection and the best part of it the look of the autos.

  34. Ultimate hockey is better then ever before. The base looks great and same with the hits. My cardstore owner pulled an nhl shield auto 1/1 of mark messier and its a beaut. This product looks very good this year.

    Youtube- MattsSportsCards

  35. I really like the design of this year's product, and the debut cards that I have seen are the best yet. This product has some really cool hits, but some boxes seem to have less vaule than expected. Otherwise, looks like a great product!

    YouTube: 14opc

  36. i relly love this product!!! beautiful base and auto cards. im not a big fan of how the jersey and patch cards look. they look like stuff that has already been done. very solid product overall i just wish u get a little more bang for your buck. overall 7/10 but mainly because of how little u get

    youtube- Capitals103

  37. Good review. I'm like you, I only buy one box, it's either a let down or a joy, but if it's a good player that I don't have a memorabelia or autograph of, then I'm happy. I want one of those sick huge patch cards of the rookies... seems like they're not too hard to get, I might have to buy another box. Check out my youtube channel: ryannturnaa
    ps. thanks for the contest.

  38. i really like the product the only issue with it is the price... $100 for 4 cards is alot.. so i dont think i would buy a box.. but i am hoping to get singles! i agree with your review!

    Thanks for the contest!


  39. great review i agree with it!i do like this product very much(never bought it myself).the value is there but as you said you cant really buy a box and get a full "meal" just a small "taste":)a case is a good way to get a full "meal" of cards.i hope to pick up some singles of getzlaf from this product,and always a great review


  40. I feel like this product is a bit expensive for what you get, but it seems like you can really strike gold (as with most single-pack products). And thanks for doing all these contests, they are good fun.

  41. Hey!!! My brother an i have been fans for a long time and have just started our youtube channel. We learned the making and the format from your videos, and we really want to get our name out there. With regards to UD ultimate collections, i think that the design is very much there. They are some of the few cards that are abble to strike a pose at you through the camera, but i will say that the value is not there. Much like titanium, the hits and inserts are nt there to make up for the asking price of the box. Overall i love the review and i hope i win!!!

    Youtube Name: BruinsMA888

  42. Fantastic design and best Ultimate Signatures design yet! Plus, good value in each pack!

    YouTube: warriorsmi

  43. dear luke
    I like the fact that you can get good hits out of this product but I would rather get limited because you get 3 hits compared to 2 in ultimate and you get more base cards and parallels in limited.
    thanks Spencer
    Youtube username: spencerandashlyn (one word)

  44. I really like ultimate this year, it is very solid and less hit and miss. love the debut patches and the /99 rookies.


  45. I think the product is hit and miss. The case hits are definitely worth it if you can find one but the boxes with just an ultimate signature and jersey card isn't that desirable. But the base looks nice this year and the design is nice you just have to hope for a good box.


  46. Love the product! Loved your boxes and I especially love upper deck showing the rookies in their team Canada gear!


  47. Usually Upperdeck Ultimate is a big hit or miss. This year they have shaked that bad rep. They have really made sure every box has a solid hit in it. I have yet to see a box that I wouldnt mind having for myself. I may be a little bias after my box, but I believe I will invest in another one day!

    - jtgoleafs

  48. I really love ultimate this year the base look really nice and lost of great autos being pulled! thinking about picking up a box soon.

    - seguinsupporter12

  49. I like the design of Ultimate this year, but still thinks it's too risky with just four cards which can be pretty bad. Of what I have seen one positive thing with this thought is that the autographs seems to be of better players than in other products. The 97 throwback cards is also a great idea, and looks really cool

    YouTube: Majlfp

  50. I really like ultimate this year. Almost every box as something nice. The design of the base cards looks awesome. I also really love the ultimate signatures.The only negative thing I found about ultimate is when a card is signed, the player doesn't have a lot of place to signed. Other than that, I really love the product

    Thank you!

  51. Liked your review Luke. I like ultimate this year. Nice designs on everything. I like the idea of the new legends autograph cards. I like the idea of the autographs actually being written on the jersey on the rookie dubut threads patch autograph. And the rookie debut threads patch look sick. =)
    Youtube name: elijahking13

  52. I really like ultimate for this year. I love the chicago trios card since im a big toews fan. I've seen some nice pulls from this product, but i totally agree with you that this is a high rollers product. Definately risky to just buy a box, but i dont have the money to buy a case, so i still might have to pick up a box. Nice review Luke!

    Youtube username: reimer134

  53. This might be the only UD set i like but it looks very nice this year


  54. This year product is great what else can you ask for with rookies/legend autos/patchs/team canada stuff/etc etc i love this product its a great one for 100 bucks i recommend it because its a hit and miss kinda but fromwhat i pulled/seen its not -LeafFanDom12

  55. Ultimate Collection this year has been really great! I love the design on the Autograph cards, and you can never go wrong with 2 swatches on a jersey card instead of 1! Well done Upper Deck!


  56. ultimate has been bad in the past but this year its amazing ill defananatly get a box youtube -muellerfan88

  57. I really like the design. It was very unique, I've never seen something like that before. From the breaks I've seen the resale value us pretty good.


  58. I really like the look, a lot cooler than last year, i do think the value is there though as ive seen the cards go for a bit on ebay and such, i hope to get a box in the future

    - xlatraceee

  59. Im a big fan of ultimate this year. I think you get great value for the price point. I think the only thing they can add to put it over the top would be one patch per box! Thanks for the contest!


  60. Ultimate is very good this year, for what you can get the price is worth it.


  61. This year I think that Ultimate has improved. The autographs look clean and I think that the checklist is better this year. There are some cons still to the product though. Ultimate is more of a high roller product like you said, and there seems to be a lot of miss rather than hitting a good box. Although, when you hit a good box it's usually really good (Shields!). The designs for the base cards don't seem to look good to me (maybe it'll look better in person?). Overall, I would rate this product a 7.5/10.

    Thanks Luke for the contest!


  62. Not normally a huge fan of ultimate collection but they really have stepped up their game. They seem to have a very good about putting big huge hits. Still not a big fan of the jackpot products but this one is pretty good.
    Thanks Luke,

  63. I wasn't a huge fan of ultimate in the past but I picked up a box and was pleasantly surprised. Solid product and the price point is manageable for a high end set. Well done!


  64. I took the gamble and came off second best.

    - Jaroslav Harlak base card 91/399
    - Cam Atkinson rookie 130/399
    - Rick MacLeish ultimate signatures
    - Lennart Petrell debut threads auto jersey 23/50 (the auto is on the patch and unfortunately barely visible)

    The Petrell is a nice looking card, it's just a shame its a Petrell. I can't say I'm a big fan of the design either, I find it very rigid and old fashioned.

    On the plus side, on card autos are always a winner and the game used swatches are nice and big.

    Though it is a shame the Kassian you pulled doesn't have him in his Canucks colours.

    Can't say I'll be going back for another box, its definitely a massive risk and one I'm not willing to take again, unless I trip over a pot of gold.

    - reebz0r

  65. i love this years ultamate collection the cards are spectacular looking the packs are all very nice you rarely see a bad pack from this years ultamate.

    youtube- Priceforthewin

  66. honestly, your blog has helped me out many of times with purchasing products. i am now looking into, getting some ultimate, as well as trying my luck on blasters ( at reasonable prices at my local card store.

    Thanks a bunch !

    Nelsonelson533 on youtube!

  67. Ultimate is just ridiculously overpriced. you are paying over $100 per pack for 2 base cards an auto and a mem card..sure the patches are nice, but they mostly /100..I dunno I think people are still seduced by UD when panini is putting out superior products.

    aronowm2 on youtube