Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2012-2013 Black Diamond Review

Upper Deck released their long standing brand Black Diamond this week in all its textured foil-y goodness! Collectors have come to expect certain things from Black Diamond such as their diamond tiered base set, Rookie Gems, and multi-swatch jersey cards. This year Upper Deck delivers what Black Diamond fans look forward to every year with a few new tweaks to keep things interesting.

Base Card Design -
The Black Diamond base cards are what we pretty much come to expect from this venerable brand. The cards are very thin and feature a textured foil background and finish. I've said this before, but I'll say it again... a Black Diamond base card can be difficult to differentiate from year to year. To me, Upper Deck is always able to retain the same feel of Black Diamond from year to year. In terms of brand constancy, Upper Deck nails it here... big time. For those who like things the way they are, it's probably a good thing, but for those who desire variance and fresh takes... Black Diamond can be a bit bland. But despite the sameness from year to year, the cards still look good. The players really pop off the card - it's almost a three-dimensional effect. It's definitely hard to see with the scan above, but in person the effect is noticeable. The graphics at the bottom of the card don't get in the way of the look of the card, in fact, it blends well into the overall aesthetic.

The back of the Black Diamond card is quite nice. There is a parallel design at the top of the card that matches the bottom of the front side. These little things always impress me. The backs have a 5-year span of the player's career as well as all the player's vitals. What I like most about the back, though, is the large close up image of the player that is included. It's the same image as on the front, but the close up view gives the illusion of a headshot photograph. It's a bold design choice that works well.

Black Diamond base cards come in different levels of rarity. The most common cards are the single diamonds. The Gretzky at the top of this review is a single diamond card. You'll notice that there is only one diamond shown at the bottom of the card. The back of the card also signifies it as a one diamond card on the upper left portion of it. Quad diamond cards are the most rare to get. These cards have all four diamonds present on the bottom of the card. Quad diamond cards show NHL players in their all-star uniforms. This is a repeat of what they did last year. In other past years, quad diamonds were reserved only for the biggest superstar names. Using all-stars as a theme is certainly interesting... I actually kind of like it as some of the all-star uniforms look really cool to me. I'm liking the giant old-school NHL shield logo Patrick Roy is sporting above!

The Rookie Gems rookie cards are back this year. As usual, they come in both triple diamond and quad diamond varieties. You can expect to find a few triple diamonds and one quad diamond rookie per box. The Rookie Gem cards are well designed, very condition sensitive, cards. Though not as popular as other rookie cards in other brands (ahem - Young Guns), these cards always have a sweet design. My favorite aspect of these rookie cards are the close-up photos that they use on them. I feel this photo technique makes the rookies stand out from all the other base cards.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Each box of Black Diamond will come with a variety of hits along with the single, double, triple, and quad base cards. There is a guarantee of two multi swatch jersey cards, but it's the other inserts within boxes that I feel are more exciting to pull. Each box also will have an Upper Deck Ice bonus pack inside.

The multi-swatch jersey cards are back with the same basic design idea from last year. The jersey cards are actually puzzle pieces that can create a large logo when four from the same set are put together. You'll notice in the Anze Kopitar jersey card above the partial LA Kings logo. Though it's a fun idea, I don't find myself that excited about putting all the cards together. I think one reason for that is the difficulty in displaying a full set put together side-to-side as intended. There's just not a practical way to do it. And I don't think card protection companies like Ultra Pro would go out of their way to create a holder that would fit four cards next to each other like these cards were designed to do.

Regular set parallels like the Ruby cards are back again. The Ruby parallel cards are numbered to 100 and come, according to the box, 1:48 packs. In my box, and also in the store owner's as well, there were two. I heard a rumor that Upper Deck cut the production of Black Diamond this year, so it could be that getting inserts and parallel cards are easier. That could explain why we beat the odds on these cards. If so... that's pretty awesome... and it might be a good idea to pick up some boxes of Black Diamond post haste!

The nicest card I pulled in my box was this Emerald parallel autographed card of Derek Stepan. The card is serial numbered 5 of 10. I have to say that this card is amazing to look at. The green foil on it shimmers and shines in a very holographic way. It's really stunning to look at. I think collectors are going to love these base variations.

Aside from the Black Diamond cards, each box will contain a bonus pack of Ice. Just like last year, collectors will find a few ice base cards along with an acetate Ice Premiers rookie card. I was impressed with the Ice base cards last year, but this year's are leaving me a bit flat... and I mean that quite literally. Ice was known for having some sweet texturing on the card. This year Upper Deck has done away with that and have given collectors a simple, glossy base card. It's not bad looking, in fact, the card is a perfect continuation of the Ice line, but I think the quality here took a slip because of the lack of texturing - it just feels a little less premium and a bit more phoned in.

But wit all that being said... the Ice base cards were never the focus of collectors anyways. It's always about the Ice Premiers acetate rookie card. Though these cards are still nice, I'm not as big of a fan of them as I was for the pervious two years. It might be because there aren't any huge big-name rookies to pull... but that's just my feeling on them. It's funny how the lack of star names can hinder cards with nice designs.

Black Diamond has much more to find within than what I pulled from my box. Gemography autograph cards have returned as well as the Championship Rings and Hardware Heroes. Collectors will also be able to pull Lustrous Rookies and short printed autographs out of Black Diamond this year. Many of these inserts are tough pulls, but as I stated, they may be a bit easier this year if Upper Deck did indeed cut production of boxes.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Black Diamond has once again shown that it is a strong mid-level hockey product. Though the NHL lockout has put a damper on the rookie cards that can be found in Black Diamond this year, there is quite a bit of content to still enjoy. The emerald parallel cards in particular are especially stunning. And I am sure that collectors will once again get a kick out of finding the special Ring and Lustrous cards in Black Diamond.

At it's price point of around $90 for 24 packs, it's a pretty fun rip. I enjoyed going through all the cards I found in my box. If you've bought and enjoyed Black Diamond in the past, I am sure that you'll have the same experience this time around.

Black Diamond is what it is.

And collectors by now are very familiar with it. For myself, I would definitely purchase a box or two hoping to get more emerald autographs or a chance at an insert I haven't pulled yet.

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of Black Diamond from D&P Sportscards:


  1. I love the Base Design, probably my favorite base design from Black Diamond ever. The jersey look awful. The autos look sweet.Also the Rookie Gems are amazing. Great job by Upper Deck!
    Youtube- MrHockeynut77

  2. the cards look the same as usuall all foily but i do like how they managed to chand the numbering oncards, not all rubys and your auto /10 thats just awesome. the rookie crop sucks so i like how they made less boxes so there is more of a chance for a nice hit thank you for another amazing contest.

    youtube username- Priceforthewin

  3. I am not a fan of the design accept for the emeralds, they are nice! But the variety of hits and types of hits are awesome. It seams really fun to open and I will definitely get to it. They di a good job at making up for the rookie crop by creating new hits that sell for a lot. It also seams to be a good product to do some sets like the Stanley cup ring cards. Overall, I love the product!
    Thanks for the contest
    Youtube- NothinButHockeyCards

  4. i love this products base design but i truly cannot live with only 2 jersey cards for $90


  5. Its great to see autos come out of this stuff!!!!!


  6. I really don't like the puzzle piece design jersey card idea especially since it takes 4 cards to complete unless all 4 were in 1 box or hopefully like yours which had 2 of the same team in the box. The emerald auto is a sweet looking card and I obviously love that quad diamond Roy since he was my all-time favorite player so I would love that card for my PC.

    Youtube: kosimitz

  7. This is the normal black diamond design. Nothing bad, but maybe they should try somethinng different. I really like the way the rookies look and the stephan is amazing!


  8. good review , some good hits

  9. I appreciate that they mixed up the design a bit, yet kept the classic touches of Black Diamond. Keep on Reviewing buddy - you do a great job!
    YT- Skroeker24

  10. Black Diamond is my favorite design out of all the years even tho they are pretty similar. The Stephan u pulled was sick and im probaly going to buy a black dimond box soon.


  11. Black diamond looks relay great! The designed of the cards!
    The auto you got looks great!
    Youtube-Irbehockey cardcolect

  12. Always love watching Black Diamond breaks, my favorite product other than series 1. I really loved the emerald card even if it was of Stepan. I also really like the quad choices that Roy looks amazing. Like any other product this year it is tough to really love a break.

    Great video.

    Youtube - Dan Ezard

  13. Black diamond is great I love the design

    YouTube XplodingmonkE11

  14. I heard Brad from C&C say, "This is the best Black Diamond has looked so far." When a new product comes out, thats what everyone seems to say. "This is the best product, really love the way it looks this year, yadda yadda." It looks the same! Same old shit!

    thanks for the contest,

  15. Looks amazing. Love the shine on the basecards! Still these sticker autos from UD and Panini... Less atractive with those but great break!

    Youtube: MrThendro

  16. I always love Black Diamond, but I do think they could try something a little different.

    Youtube - edge88000

  17. I love the Base Design, my favorite base design from Black Diamond ever. The jersey look great i think it would be fun to collect the whole crest. The autos look sweet.Also the Rookie Gems are amazing and the parales are awesome love the emrald insted of the gold great to mix it up a bit. Great job by Upper deck!
    youtube username:multihabsfan31

  18. I don't like the base cards as much as I like them last year. I think that te diamonds being vertical on the left side of the card worked better. I lI've the emerald cards just like everybody else :) they were a great addition to this years set.

  19. Best design of black diamond ever. YouTube: Graboguru

  20. The design looks good this year but I think it would be nice if they changed up the front of the basecards a little.
    -Alissa Carlson

  21. This looks like a great product. Love the Rookie Gems this year! The Rubies and Emeralds look great as well. Great review and video!

    YT - blackhawks61895

  22. I like how you can piece together jersey cards!

    Youtube username: mjhockeycards101

  23. I always loved black diamond, and always will. I love the the look of the jersey cards and how you can peice them together. But the only thing I would change is the base cards because they are basically the same design every year! But Overall I LOVE IT!!

    Youtube username: MrMinecraft230

  24. I have never been a fan black diamond because i dont like the foil. Thanks for the contests!!!!


  25. The base design looks very nice, I love foil-y cards! the single, double, triple, quad rookie inserts are a very cool way to show the rarity. I think UpperDeck should have changed the design for the multi-swatch cards, it looks very similar to last year's. I have to say this year's design for BD is probably the best, but with the lockout not many people will decide to break it. People seem to buy products mainly for the big name rookies, there's not many this year so it can influence sales. Also, maybe UD should add a new subset? It would be a great way to mix things up. Overall, I think Black Diamond is pretty average. It has its pros and cons, I'd rate it 7/10.


  26. definetly way better than last years black diamond nice product!
    YT user:tblightning4life

  27. I like the look of Black Diamond this year, just like every year. What I don't like is that Zack Kassian is a Group B Gemography!

    YT: SuckYourHeadphones

  28. This Is the best Black Diamond yet. Maybe I'll buy a box
    Youtube: micerule934

  29. The base cards don't appeal to me, which isn't a real surprise since Black Diamond base never have enticed me. But I absolutely love the Emerald and Sapphire designs. The Ruby parallels look quite nice also as I just purchased one for the PC. I really wish they would have changed up the Game Used cards, as they look almost recycled from previous years. The Ice rookies look outstanding as always, although its fairly disappointing that there are only 3 Tier 1 Rookies.
    Once again thanks for the contest blacksheep and nice Stepan hit!

    YT: GTAHockeyCards

  30. I love black diamond this year! The cards are really nice! Can't wait to pick up more Ashton cards from it!

  31. Classic black diamond stuff. Love the Emerald!
    Youtube: CjMac270