Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 Hockey Card Year in Review

Instead of creating a ranking of products like I did for the 2011-12 products, this year will be the slimmed down abbreviated version. I'll only focus on the top products from each company - and ITG is included this year! I'll also have a few special categories for at the end. But first, I'll say a few words about the 11/12 collecting year.

2011-12 was, I would have to say, an average year for hockey cards. Collectors will often judge a year's collectibility by the rookie class that comes out of it. Obviously, we don't know who will be the hall of famers and NHL mainstays from the 11/12 class, but as it stands now, 11/12 has only given us one really stand-out 'hobby' rookie - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He was the player that just about anyone would have been happy pulling out of a pack or box. Will he continue being a hobby hot pull? Well, only his play and time will tell. I'm not saying the other rookies are terrible... certainly they are not... but they didn't have the huge hobby impact of RNH. Other popular rookies this year included Gabriel Landeskog, Adam Henrique, Sean Couturier, Carl Hagelin, Mark Scheifele, Louis Leblanc, and Cody Hodgson. Each of these rookies had their hobby hot moments in 2012, but as we all know, they can't all be big time pulls in the future... in fact, most of these players will sadly fall off the hobby radar in the next two or three years - if not sooner. But that being said, one or two could be a surprise super star and capture collector's attention (I'm looking at you, Steven Stamkos!) - isn't that what we just love about our fine hobby?!?

Upper Deck gave collectors tried and true products this past year. While they tweaked and modified the contents of their mainstay brands, UD products pretty much gave collectors what they expected - which wasn't bad at all as UD products were again some of the most sought after cards in 2012. Collectors love stability and legacy brands - Upper Deck certainly delivers that, and it's shown by the overall value of Upper Deck cards holding a greater value all else being equal than their competitors.

Panini spent the year in transition. It was plain to see that they were actively modifying their card lines and adjusting to collector wants. I have to commend Panini for really shaking things up this year. Their attention to their customer's voice has to be applauded. For 11/12, Panini axed Zenith, Donruss, and Luxury Suite... they came in instead with the new Rookie Anthology and Prime, and brought back Titanium and Elite. I felt that though Panini had both hits and misses with their line-up, overall Panini took a step in the right direction. Hopefully they will establish some continuity that helps collectors have confidence in their products' future values.

ITG, like Panini, had a very interesting year filled with both new products and old. Their staple brands of Heroes and Prospects, Between the Pipes, and Ultimate were big hits with collectors. All of these products had a significant bump up in terms of their design quality in 2012. Besides the lack of an NHL license, the biggest beef with ITG in collector's minds has to be in the card design department area. I have to say that ITG has had some significant improvements here. And that's great to see. As for new products, ITG came up with some real collector favorites. Captain-C was hot right fromt he get go... and Broad Street Boy and Forever Rivals gave two big collector bases two must-have products to buy. ITG looks like it's going strong and has already given collectors a lot to talk about in 2012-13 with some intriguing releases already.

As for me here at the Cardboard Review... I've had a blast this year! I really want to thank everyone who has been reading my reviews and watching my videos. This year I started a new series called Retail Review. I thought it be a great way to add content to the site between the lulls of product releases. The response I've been getting about that has been overwhelmingly positive... and I'll keep it up through 2013 (and maybe beyond!). I'll try to think of more content to add to the site this year. If you have ideas in mind I'd love to hear from you!


And lastly, before I reveal the top products from each company this year... I want to thank two people who have helped me out a great deal this year. First it has to be Chris over at D&P Sportscards in Sacramento. He's the only one in the region who has hockey cards to buy. He also helps me film box breaks and gives me products to give out... remember the autographed Stamkos puck? Yeah... he gave that out for free! If you haven't yet, check him out on Facebook and Twitter. Tracy Hackler at Panini is another person I have to thank for supporting the site. He's provided me with not only hockey products to review, but also some basketball and football as well. It's amazing that a company like Panini has people there who reach out to collectors like myself. It's definitely not common. Thanks Tracy for making Panini an awesome and friendly company!!!

All right... here goes... the top products from each company for 2011-12!!!

Top Upper Deck Products

11/12 Artifacts -
Artifacts has always been a great value-to-content product, this this year it really crammed in what collectors wanted. Autographs, patches, jerseys, tags, fight straps... they were all there and in various combinations. It was awesome seeing all the rare short-printed cards come out of people's boxes. Besides cards numbered 1/1... there were cards numbered /2, /3, /5... it was a real challenge for players collectors like myself. As for rookie card lovers... this was the year they put the autograph rookie redemption cards in. Those were some of the hottest cards of the early 11/12 collecting season. Click here for full review.

11/12 The Cup -
You can't really beat The Cup - it truly is the holy grail of hockey card collecting. Each and every year the card values (for the top cards) are the highest of any other product release from any company. It's also the most exciting product to open hands down. Just watch people bust the stuff... so many shaky hands!!! The RNH rookie numbered to 99 is one of the biggest pulls of the year. Oh, and did you know that Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux have a dual signed card in it? Oh, and there are Gretzky and Orr autos and patches... the list goes on and on... Click here for full review.

Top Panini Products

11/12 Titanium -
I have to be honest... it didn't look good on the sell sheet, but boy did it deliver! This funky shaped box with just a few packs within was a huge hobby favorite. Of course there were the sweet auto and patch cards to be found... but the most surprising draw were the true rookie cards with jersey number numbering. These cards contained no autograph or memorabilia. They were just serial numbered... but some were extremely limited. And collectors were buying and selling these cards at truly outrageous prices. Click here for full review.

11/12 Prime -
For the high-end Panini product I'd have to put Prime over Dominion... by just a hair! Dominion was great this year... but Prime gave collectors some amazing eye-popping cards. The Prime Colors gigantic patch cards were things of beauty. It was amazing how collectors (that have deep pockets) could potentially put together a huge patch by collecting all the pieces. Prime started out at $200 per pack, but since has dropped to around $160. At this price it's almost a no brainer to go out and get some of it! Click here for full review.

Top ITG Products

11/12 Captain-C
Of all the niche ITG products that came out this year, Captain-C had to have been the most broadly accepted product as it featured players from many teams. By putting the focus on team captains, ITG basically narrowed the field down to only players of a certain quality. For team collectors, this is great because the cards of your team's captain is always a nice addition. For general collectors, team captains tend to be players of note, so the incentive is high to buy the product. The sweetest cards in Captain-C have to the the pair of the actual captain's 'C' from the player's sweater that collectors could find within the product. The two cards can be put together for for the letter. Click here for full review.

11/12 Ultimate Memorabilia
The 11th edition of Ultimate Memorabilia did not disappoint. Each card comes encased in a graded card holder and is very limited in number. Some of the Ultimate patch and emblem cards are the most spectacular pieces to be found - rivaling even those found in Panini Prime. My only regret with this product was that I couldn't get too much of it. I remember buying one pack of it from and pulling a hot pack - which was great... but made it hard for me to review the product. Thankfully, a Youtuber helped out out with a trade and I was able to get my hands on some non-hot pack cards for review. Click here for full review.

Most Disappointing Product of the Year

11/12 Panini Elite
I'm not sure what happened here... unlike Titanium, Elite looked like a real winner on the sell sheet. The cards were nice but the brand never really struck a chord with collectors. Elite may have suffered from a similarity to Certified... but without the variety of memorabilia rookie cards and parallels. The best cards from Elite were the Prime Numbers insert set. These super thick cards were done very nicely, but most people were only able to pull the standard jersey of the three card set. The final piece of the Prime Numbers featuring an autograph and patch was near impossible to get - that may have frustrated collectors. Click here for full review.

Most Under-appreciated Set of the Year

11/12 ITG Enforcers
ITG released this set early on in the year at around $90/box. It was a tough buy because the players featured within were of hockey tough guys rather than goalies or scoring super stars. This was ITG's most niche and risky product by far. Though I wasn't a huge fan of the product when it first came out, I now see it as a fun and unique buy. It's just so different than anything out there now. At this point in time, the price per box has significantly lowered to a price that I would say makes it worth it to buy. The Enforcers set also has emblem pieces found within that are just as incredible as those found in Ultimate Memorabilia... which is saying quite a bit! Click here for full review.

Second Best Photography Set of the Year

11/12 Panini Pinnacle
I know, I know... it's a strange category... but I wanted to included it to give Pinnacle it's due. We all know how spectacular Upper Deck Series 1 and 2 photos are... but Pinnacle is getting up there as well. That brand's photos are some of the most unique I have seen. The back of the card even has a description of what was going on in the photograph - and that is really cool. My suggestion for future Pinnacle releases would be to up the quality of the card so that the photograph is the star of the base card. Upper Deck's use of nice gloss and foil on a classy design is a real winner. If Pinnacle could adopt a similar base design, the photos would stand out even more. It could take out Upper Deck! But... we'll see... we'll see. Click here for full review.

And that's it! I hope you enjoyed this little look back at 2011-12! Let me know what you thought of the 11/12 collecting year! Tell me your favorites and the your opinion of how the hobby went last year. Best wishes for 2013! Hope you pull some awesome cards!

-luke. (blacksheep217)


  1. 2012 was my first year collecting Hockey, and its been fun. The release I fell for the most was Contenders. Loved the simple design, plenty of autos, and the short print all black cards are really nice.

    I also got into a fair bit of Limited, again I really loved the design of those cards, but my enthusiasm waned when you hit dud boxes coupled with low market values.

    I really loved Captain C, I was glad to jump on that and get several boxes before supplies became scarce and prices went up.

    I was a bit underwhelmed with Titanium. Too many unimpressive jersey cards, Only did the one box but it didn't really sell me on getting more.

    I didn't get much from Upper Deck, apart from Series 1/2 and Black Diamond. Artifacts was something I was always on the cusp of buying but I'd end up leaning towards something else. The rest just didn't have a design that hooked me. I tended to prefer Panini's card designs over Upper Deck.

    I think the biggest dud for me was Ultimate Collection. Ugly cards and the box I had, had terrible hits.

    As for rookies, I managed pull a few Landeskog cards this year so I was pretty happy with that. Managed two RNH hits, and some Larsson and Henrique. But as a Canucks fan its all for naught since they traded Hodgson away :(

    - reebz0r

    1. i think contenders really stepped it up this year. i'm glad you mentioned it as i was going to as well. by putting patches and books into the product... the collectibility of that brand really went up. right now contenders box prices are so low! they are a great value at the moment.

      i also bought a lot of limited this past year, but i felt like it was money that wasn't well spent. i know you didn't like ultimate as much... but i think it's better than limited.

      thanks for sharing your opinion reebz0r!

  2. Awesome review of 2012. 2012 was a huge year for me! I started collecting again in 2012 and I remember not really knowing what products were. I just saw cards and thought "hey, that's neat."
    I had no clue how there was a bit of a competition between the products and every now and then a new product was released. The second thing I learned was how much more there was to the hobby.
    It started with you, Luke. To be honest I thought "Is this guy crazy? He is spending all his money on the same player's cards! Why does he need all those cards?" Than I realized, it doesn't matter. He is having a good time and it is actually exhilarating looking at a huge collection like Luke's.
    I saw all these people going for sets and collecting players and it is actually really neat. It was mind blowing how much more to the hobby there is than I thought. I think that is what keeps me here, collecting. The excitement is awesome and you feel like you are accomplishing something. Now if anyone reads this they may think "What the heck is he saying?" Honestly, I barely know what I am saying. It is very hard to explain, but there it is.
    Once again, thanks Luke for being such a great role model in the hobby!
    - NothinButHockeyCards

    1. Thanks! I totally agree that collectors need to collect what makes them happy... be it their team, favorite player... whatever. That's what makes it fun and worthwhile. Glad to have you back in the collecting world, and I appreciate your kind words!

  3. This year, my dad and I decided to start collecting hockey cards. He had collected here and there in his childhood, but had no major collection. Since we are die-hard Hawks fans, we decided to build a collection. It all started, for me, at this small city yard sale at a local convention center. Being in Northwest Indiana, I didn't really expect to find much but I was searching for some new pond hockey gear when we came across this small setup of sports cards. As I looked through some of them, an Artifacts Rookie of Antti Niemi caught my eye. I did indeed buy the card and that is what started my collection.

    I've mainly been buying Upper Deck products this year and I thought they were great. I am starting to buy a little more Panini products though. Overall, I think it was a great year for collecting. 2013 however, in my opinion, won't be so great if there isn't a season. Luckily for me, there is only one Hawks Young Gun in Series 1 and he played for some of the previous season. For most teams however, some of the rookies will not get a chance to play.

    Finally, your videos and reviews have really influenced most of my purchases and provided me with some great hockey card entertainment. I will also still be looking forward to the Retail Review series every Sunday! Thanks a bunch, keep collecting, and have a Happy New Year!

    - blackhawks61895

    1. hey! thanks for sharing! i will definitely keep the retail reviews coming this year. i agree that this year might be a tough one for hockey cards with this terrible lockout going on... but who knows?!!? as for upper deck and panini... they both have good and bad things about them. the cool thing is that card products are still coming out. even though there aren't the hot rookie cards to chase yet, proven stars are still in the releases - just look at black diamond this year. it's great!

  4. Similar to Riley (NothinButHockeyCards), late-ish 2012 was when I returned to collecting. Besides Series 1 and The Cup, I really had no idea any product existed. From watching your videos and listening to your insight on the hobby, along with some really great people on SCF, I started what 'this' was all really about. I started to develop a sense of the different people in this hobby; the determined set collectors, the hardcore player collectors, the maniacal wax-busters etc. Seeing guys who were busting cases of The Cup in the Box break section left me awestruck. This is when I started to realize how vast this hobby is, an that there's more to it than busting a $5 pack of Collectors Choice from a vending machine at a hockey tournament, hoping to find a Sidney Crosby or your favorite Leaf.

    When friends come in my room to see a 2600ct box filled with toploaders and two dozen bubble mailers scattered across my room, they ask what's wrong with me and why I spent $60 on a piece of cardboard rather than the new 'call of duty' video game. I like to think I'm different from the crowd, and hey maybe being different and being attracted to this amazing hobby is what unites us collectors. And maybe all of us hockey card fanatics are indeed 'blacksheep' in a world of white sheep, astray from the flock/crowd.

    Despite the sometimes apparent negativity, I love the hockey card card community and have already developed some great friendships that I hope will be long-lasting.

    Luke you and your videos have given me so much knowledge it's incredible. Without even knowing you set me off in the right direction in terms of my player collection. I know that many young YouTube collectors have been inspired to make videos because of you. You don't realize how much of an impact you are having on us young collectors, because it's a lot bigger than you imagine!

    The part of 2012 that I have been in the hobby have been surreal, and I know that it will only get better as 2013 rounds the bend, despite the darn lockout! I hope that if the lockout is not resolved(god forbid), that the 2013-14 season will fully revive the community as it has been somewhat dull due to the lockout.

    I hope you keep continuing to make videos as my Sunday's just wouldn't be the same without waking up to a new installment of Retail Review! Believe it or not, my English mark has skyrocketed ever since I started commenting on your product reviews haha :p.

    Extremely sorry for the irrelevant rant Luke, well-put recap of the 2011-12 year/season as it was a very entertaining read! If you didn't get this far in my comment, I don't blame ya, I tend to ramble ;), and if you did, thanks and hope you see where I'm coming from.

    Anyways, here's to an even better 2013, inside and outside this hobby!


    1. wow! thanks for the kind words! i really think i'm just doing what i'm doing... i really love this hobby. it's a great way to combine a love of sports with something challenging and interesting that a lot of people share. i'm really glad you are enjoying my videos. i really try to make them entertaining and relavent. i also want to be part of making this a great collecting community. i'm glad to do my part!

  5. Hi Luke,

    Really like reading your reviews and listening to what you have to say on youtube about the products. One of the first box break videos I saw was of you opening Parkhurt Champions and seeing you get a Mario Lemieux autograph. It got me thinking that buying a box was probably better than just getting loose packs if I wanted something huge.

    So 2012 I wanted to test my luck too, with boxes, and shared what I got on youtube, like you. I don't give a review per say, but just share "adventures" if you will.

    My luck with products makes my opinions of them biased. But also I've tended to like products with a guaranteed hit per pack that don't cost more than $30 per pack. So Crown Royal and Titanium were my favourites to begin the year. I also bought a lot of Certified by the pack.

    I was most interested in the rush of getting a jersey or auto of a player that I didn't have before, because I believe in the Upper Deck moniker of trying to, "bring you closer to the game." And by having a wide range of players in my collection, when I watch hockey, if I have a memorabilia card of the player I'm watching, I do feel more into the game.

    Well, I could go on about each and every product, but there's too much to say, and I don't want to crowd your forum. Happy New Year Luke, all the best to you for 2013. Keep up the entertaining videos and reviews!!! Cheers!


    1. thanks for watching my videos! i have also really enjoyed seeing you break boxes of stuff. it's always for to see people crack wax. i definitely agree that breaking by the box is the best way to go. when i got back into the hobby in 2009, i couldn't believe how much packs cost. it was totally different then when i stopped collecting in the early 2000's. i think back then, only a few products were venturing into $20/pack zone... now it's pretty much the norm.

      but in the end, it's still a fun hobby, and i'm glad to find ways to enjoy it. i've been trying to cut back on spending a ton of money on boxes too. one of everything is 'ok' i think. when it's cup or dominion time though... that's when it gets a bit tough. but those are the most fun to break too! haha gotta start saving... NOW.

  6. Hi Luke,

    I loved watching your videos last year, I stumbled across them in late November and I went through your history and watched every single one.

    Your reviews are great, I look forward to them coming out, they provide great insight into different boxes and they give advice on what you should buy for value and what you should buy for pleasure.

    I used to collect cards through auctions and yardsales, (buying large boxes not knowing what is inside) that was fun until I realized having 24,000 cards is not fun when there is little value.

    Through your videos I was able to organize all 24,000 cards and sell off the ones I did not need for sets I am collecting etc.

    I would also like to say I am a huge fan of your contests, I think it is awesome that you are willing to give back to the card collecting community by doing those. I have entered one so far, your latest football, I did not get beginners luck but I came close.

    I am looking forward to your reviews in 2012 and your future contests. I hope on February 25th you break a tin of 2012/13 Series 2 when it comes out.

    PS You should do a retail review of 08/09 Series 1, I bought a blaster this morning at my local card shop for $15 opened the 2nd last pack and pulled a Stamkos yg so it could happen for you lol.

    Anyways best of luck in 2013 and can't for the next set of videos.

    Sincerly Buffalo Sabres Maxim Afinogenov pc collector.

    1. Oh man! Well, good luck on the next contest vid! I will definitely be getting some UD2 when it comes out. As for the 08/09 UD2, it might be a while before I try that as I just put in a massive retail order that should keep me busy for a couple months.

      As for your story about the 24,000 cards... I loved it! And I totally agree. You know, as a kid I used to buy so many cards... just buy buy buy aimlessly without any purpose. I was always chasing, but in the end I'd see my collection and always be disappointed. Quality over quantity is definitely the way to go... and collecting with a purpose is very rewarding.

      Thanks for sharing and thanks for watching!!! I appreciate it greatly.