Base Card Design -
If you like base cards, O-Pee-Chee has them in spades. This massive 600 card set is Upper Deck's largest offering of the year. It's also Upper Deck's most comprehensive. You're going to find players that often time never get their images on cardboard in other sets. Take Thomas Greiss for example. Greiss is San Jose's back-up goaltender. I'm pretty sure I won't see any of his cards in Artifacts, Black Diamond, SP Authentic, or the like this year. And that's what makes OPC a neat set of cards. It's nice to be able to find players on your team that don't get the spotlight too often.
In terms of design, the cards are standard OPC fare. It's pleasing enough, but doesn't stand out significantly. I do like the faded yellow retro-feel the cards evoke though - the cards are playful and will be enjoyed by collectors who like the old school cardboard feel. The graphics and images used in OPC are sharp too. I'm a fan of the little hockey dude in the yellow circle giving you an image of what position the featured player plays - very sweet. Because the cards are on actual non-glossy cardboard, the base cards would be perfect cards to get in-person or TTM autographs on.
You can really see the cardboard on the back of the base card. It's very cool to know that at least one set will have this tie to cards of old. In fact, a football collector I was talking to at the card shop mentioned that he wished there were modern football cards that had the cardboard feel that OPC does. Other than the cardboard back there is not much else of note. The backs have plenty of room for entire career stats, but UD chose not to include any written information - probably because the set was so big. The rookie card backs, however, do have more information about them as well as their draft statistics.
The Marquee Legend cards are back again this year as part of a subset of the main set of cards. These cards can be found in every two packs of OPC. Rather than being completely black and white, the photo image looks to be almost sepia in nature. The orange and yellow color scheme works well with the image process and the fonts used definitely evoke a retro feel here. These cards won't be worth much in value, but they are new cards of former players for collectors to get their hands on.
The Marquee Rookie card subset has a green and blue color scheme going for it. The color choice is obviously to give these cards a sense of freshness. And it does. The rookie cards are bright in nature and the design plays well off the standard base as well as the Marquee Legends cards. All the cards together make a cohesive set that works well form a design standpoint. The Chris Kreider card shown above may be one of the more desired cards to find from this sets group of rookies.
Base Card Design Score:
As O-Pee-Chee is a lower-end product, it is difficult to pull out hits (memorabilia or autographs) from the product. Collectors will only a few hits per case. There are, however, many inserts and parallels to be found in every box of OPC. They can range from very common to very rare.
The most common insert found in OPC are the retro cards. You can find a retro parallel in every pack. Retro cards in the past have ranged from extremely cool and desirable (check out 08/09 - those were amazing) to bland and pedestrian. Unfortunately, I'd have to categorize this years as the latter. The retro cards come with the player image on a completely white background and a bit of information in a colored text box at the bottom. Not a design I'm jumping up and down for. Imagine a binder full of these cards - it's just not appealing. I'm not sure why anyone would go for these (unless you're a collector who does the set every year, and in which case... good luck.) The legend and rookie cards have a bit more flair to them... but not much. Let's hope for better retros next year.
Sticker cards are a new addition to this year's OPC set. They are pretty common to find, and collectors will find quite a few of these per box. The stickers have a design that is actually quite retro. I would have rather had this design than the one on the actual retro card. As for the cards being actual stickers, I'm not sure who would actually peel these cards and stick them somewhere. I've never been a fan of stickers the size and shape of trading cards. It's just not a good size for a sticker in my opinion - it's a bit awkward and large. But as cards they look pretty good, and I enjoy them as such.
Another new card to find this year are the 'pop-up' cards. I put 'pop-up' in quotes because these are not truly cards that pop up. When I think of a pop-up, I think of a card that stand up or folds to have a 3D effect. These cards are just die-cut cards... plain and simple. These cards also bear a retro design. And it may be the design I like the most out of all the cards they put out in the set. The faded red and blue on yellowed cardboard is visually very pleasing.
Modern technology comes in the form of foil parallel cards. There are standard foil cards as well as black versions serial numbered to 100, though two of the black versions I found was missing the serial numbering where it should have been. These foil parallels can be found in every year of the modern OPC brand. They are nice and shiny and will be popular among player collectors who want to put together all the cards of their player's rainbow.
Also back are the blank-back parallel cards. Check out the beautiful back design on this bad boy above. These are the toughest cards to pull in OPC and are a nightmare for player collectors to get their hands on. You will know you got a blank back card because... well... it has a blank back. Only the retro cards have this variation so don't bother looking for them on the standard base cards. I have heard it speculated that print runs of blank back cards could be as low as 10. Most likely a bit higher, but probably not close to even 50.
Though I didn't pull any in my box, there are actual autograph and memorabilia cards in O-Pee-Chee. One of the popular autographed sets are the Team Canada autographs which feature players in their Team Canada jerseys. Those always get a fair amount of money on eBay. Speaking of eBay money, there are very limited Ovechkin and Crosby buy back cards to be found this year. Those cards are the rarest of rare to find in OPC and would bring in a killing on eBay. You just hit the jackpot if you pull on of those.
Manufactured patch cards are also new this year in OPC. Upper Deck has had great success producing some very nice patch cards in other of their products. Though I didn't get one, if these cards look as nice as their brethren, I'm sure they will be a hit with collectors. They range from pretty difficult to get to extremely difficult to get.
One last thing I'd like to mention about OPC is the wrapper redemption program this year. You can redeem wrappers of OPC to trade in for special red-bordered packs of OPC. Each of those packs will have a few red-bordered cards and a special all-star card. The redemption program is only good in Canada.
Overall Rating -
O-Pee-Chee is Upper Deck's newest low-end product. Is it better than Victory was?
OPC has a variety of interesting things to find within it... from fun insert cards all the way to cards of great value. There are hits, parallel cards, buy backs, and more. OPC is just a far superior product to Victory in every way, and I'm glad they decided to have OPC anchor the lower product line.
That being said, O-Pee-Chee is still the lowest-end product. Don't expect to find card of great value in your standard hobby box. Boxes of OPC cost around $65 so it won't set you back too much. You get a ton of packs to open and enjoy. This was definitely one of the products that took me the longest to open and then sort. But that was fun, it brought me back to when I used to do just that as a kid.
I recommend getting a box or two just to try it out. If you're a big set collector, this may be the set for you. There is a huge and challenging base set and near impossible parallel sets to go for here. Just have fun with this set with however much you choose to buy of it, whether that be one box or many, many, many boxes. Best wishes in your pack busting!
Check out my box of 12/13 O-Pee-Chee: