Base Card Design -
Dominion has gone vertical with their base cards. The base this year have been completely revamped from the previous year's horizontal scheme. Though last year's design was pretty clean and classy, this year's base adds quite a bit of bling factor. Aside from turning the cards 90 degrees, the designers at Panini have added a generous amount of foil to the edges of the base cards - this really makes the cards shine. The silver foil on white background gives each card an immaculate look that is very attractive. Each card comes on very heavy stock and is numbered to just 199.
For you horizontal lovers out there, Panini satisfies with the card back. The backs of the base cards have a very 'National Treasures' look to them. The frilly edges and grey/white color scheme are a real nod to that particular Panini brand. Though there may not be a wealth of stats or information here, it is more than adequate as many of the highest-end products forgo stat-heavy backs anyways.
Rookie patch autograph cards return and can be found one-per-pack. Each RPA is hard signed and numbered to either 199 or 99 (for the big name rookies). I would have to say that though the RPAs look very nice, they come off to me as a touch on the bland side. I love the fact that there is a pretty large swatch window and ample autograph space, but I would have liked to see more design elements present on the card. Don't get me wrong, they are sweet... but they could have been sweeter. Looking at it a bit closer, does anyone else see a bit of Anthology Rookie Treasures design in the card? I do - just a little.
Base Card Design Score:
As with all products of this nature, it's all about the hits. According to Panini, though they thought Dominion was a great product last year, the designers wanted to put more variety in terms of card types into the product this year. It shows. Just in my one tin alone I was able to get a myriad of differing cards. Impressive.
The standard patch/auto cards are great looking. This Niklas Backstrom card is a great example of just how space should be used on a high-end hockey card. From left to right: foiled name, large picture, serial numbering, patch window with foiled edges, hard-signed signature, product/team logos. It all works in spectacular harmony. And again, Panini has chosen to go with their classy white and silver scheme to make this card extra classy.
Speaking of patch cards... how awesome is this Selanne? Cards with very low numbering such as this one (/10) should contain pieces of patch corresponding to the rarity of the card. Clearly this card as a chunk off of the Ducks logo. Though this card has no autograph, the patch piece more than makes up for it and grabs the center of attention. The card is further enhanced by the use of rainbow foil rather than the standard foil. Great touches here!
And talk about low numbering... how about to just six? The Strapping Lads are back with game-used fight strap cards. This particular card I find very interesting as there is NO FOIL on it at all save for the serial numbering. I'm not sure why they did that for this particular card type - maybe to highlight the tough-no frills theme of this set? Not sure. But the card still works and looks great - it's definitely different compared with everything else in the set.
As with all ultra-high-end sets, there is usually a big focus on rookies. Obviously there's one RPA per pack, but other rookie related cards such as this dual memorabilia and auto Rookie Showcase card can be found in Dominion as well. The sweet card above features Adam Henrique and Simon Despres in their Rookie Showcase uniforms. Though these pieces are event-worn, the event is still an actual NHL event that is meaningful and appropriate. Having both their autographs on the card hard-signed is a great addition.
My big hit of the tin was this Ryan Kessler autographed stick card. Check out the nasty stick piece on this one! Panini actually put out a video of how Kessler's stick was put into this card! Wow, sweet! Funny thing was my local card shop owner and I were joking before breaking my tin that he wanted one of the Kesslers. Dang. I should have called for a rare Couture. Sorry guys, I'll most likely be trading this card to Chris at D&P cards. So don't come asking for this one! It's spoken for!
Obviously there are many, many more cards to be found in Dominion this year. But as you can see, just one tin yielded a great variety of cards. I definitely can't complain about what I got here.
Overall Rating -
Dominion surprised me by how good it was last year... and this year it surprises me again by how much better it is this year. I can't tell you HOW FUN it is to open up a tin of Dominion. Just like last year, Panini really loaded up the boxes with a good amount of cards... and when I say good... well, I mean just 8... but they are all solid.
The changes that Panini made to Dominion improved the product in every way possible. The variety of designs and cards is really impressive. It was awesome to see just so many different things come out of the box. Though I can't afford another one at the moment... I'm itching to open up another tin!
Dominion comes in at a price currently well under The Cup. Though The Cup is still in my opinion the winner in terms of secondary market sales and popularity, I think Dominion will give it a run for it's money. Value is certainly in Dominion... and hopefully collectors will catch on and help it inch closer to Upper Deck as it continues to establish a strong footing in the hockey card marketplace.
I recommend Dominion to anyone who can afford it. Awesome cards. Fun break. And thrills!
Check out my break of Dominion at D&P Cards: