Sunday, April 28, 2013

Retail Review #46 (Excell Target Re-Pack)

I was out at the Target in the next town over from me looking for a new glass water bottle. Didn't find one... but I did stumble upon a re-pack product that I had never seen before! I was a little conflicted on whether to buy it or not as my last re-pack left a pretty sour taste in my mouth. But this one was cheap enough, and had a product that I would actually consider buying at retail (UD Series 1) showing through the window. I went for it.

Price - 

Packs - 4
08/09 Upper Deck Victory Retail
09/10 Upper Deck Series 1 Retail
10/11 O-Pee-Chee Retail
10/11 Upper Deck Series 1 Retail

The front of the box states that there are four packs, 50 cards, and a bonus to be found within. Two of the packs were already revealed through the front and back clear windows on the box. That was enough to entice me into getting this re-pack. At $7.99 it was a bit hard to resist. Getting four packs here was cool, but I was really more intrigued by the 50 bonus cards. Would they be a factory sealed set of cards or a random assortment? The last re-pack disappointed me by just giving me an old Bowman factory set. I hoped that it would not be something like that with this one.

Let's cross our fingers and hope for the best! Watch me open this Excell Target Re-pack:

Review -
Going through this little box of cards was more fun than I thought it would be! It was just about the opposite of my experience of my last re-pack purchase. First of all, the pack selection surprised me. I knew that I would be getting an Series 1 pack and an OPC pack, but I didn't expect to see another Series 1 pack within. Upper Deck Series 1 packs are always great to see because the chances of getting a Young Gun rookie card is actually within the realm of possibility (unlike trying to pull a jersey or autograph out of retail). Though I did end up getting two Series 1 packs, neither of them had a Young Gun inside. I did manage an Yzerman Hockey Heroes card though - that's better than all base I suppose.

More exciting than the packs was the cardboard box inside. The box contained an assortment of random cards to look through. Obviously, there would almost never be anything of worth there, but the fun of seeing what's there is what getting one of these is all about. And I did have a blast going through the 50 assorted cards. No big money hits or rare cards... but plenty of big names were there for me. Many of these cards actually brought back memories of when I bought them as a kid. The 93/94 Leaf cards were especially nostalgic as I bought a lot of those when they were first released. It was a great set that year with a great design on both the front and back of the card.

The only real disappointment with this box was the 'bonus'. The 'bonus' was a single foil card of Jose Theodore tossed in amongst the packs outside the cardboard box. There was no sleeve or any sort of protection for the card - it was just there. I guess whoever repacked this box didn't have much regard for the bonus content!

All the cards in this week's top three came from the 50-assorted card box:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Spokane Chiefs Roster Card No. W1
This has got to be one of the ugliest and flimsiest cards I have ever seen. It's one of those 'it's so bad it's good' kind of things in this case. I laugh when I see these cards because there were companies with the audacity to put out stuff like this in the past... and not 50 years ago past... 1991! Well, I guess 1991 was a pretty long time ago - and there was a lot of junk that came out during those early nineties years.

#2 - Arturs Irbe Card No. 199
This card was incredibly cool for me to find in this box. I had this exact card as a kid. I remember trying to track down and trade for all the Sharks from this set. Irbe was definitely THE MAN back in the early years of the Sharks franchise. I'm always glad to get cards of his in a Sharks uniform.

#1 - Dominik Hasek Card No. 92
The Dominator! It was hard to me to pick between Hasek and Irbe in terms of which card would get top honors this week... but I had to got with Hasek. He was an incredible goalie, one of the best ever. It was always amazing to watch his unorthodox style of net minding. He was also awesome as a goalie in the old NHL '93 Sega Genesis game that I loved playing. He won a lot of games for me!

Overall Value -
This is one of the first times that I have been somewhat impressed by a retail re-pack. At the $7.99 price point, I would have no qualms about giving another one of these a shot. I feel that this particular type of repack has potential to yield something of value, and it also brings the enjoyment of going through a stack of older hockey cards - really fun stuff!

Let me know what you thought of my Target Re-pack in the comments section. Have you ever gotten anything of note in one of these things?

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

2012 Panini Prizm Baseball Review

Wow, what an epic weekend of card reviews for The Cardboard Review! Earlier today two basketball reviews were posted, and now... here's a third one for you! This review is the first ever baseball product review on my site! Huge thanks to Tracy at Panini for providing this box for review. If you watched the break video, I must apologize for the name pronunciations! I thought hockey was traditionally the difficult sport for names!

Base Card Design -
Prizm baseball is the third iteration of the Prizm card line. Panini had previously released Prizm for both football and basketball, both with high collector interest. This baseball version looks to continue on the success these cards have already had. The Prizm base cards come on a sturdy foilboard cardstock. This is the first time I've encountered a Panini Prizm card, and it shocked me a little. These base cards are firm and rigid... very much unlike, say, a Topps Chrome or Finest card - which is what I first expected them to be like. Those cards tend to bow naturally over time. I do not foresee that happening with these cards. These are tough little base cards!

In terms of design, the cards are very shiny and reflective. Though the card is all foil, Panini has chosen to give the card different textural elements. The borders, for example, have a bumpy, pounded metal look to them. The use of clean graphics and fonts give these base cards a very current feel, though with a hint of nineties mixed in as well. An aspect of these base cards that I found myself particularly enjoying was the background. Though these Prizm cards have a solid silvery border, Panini chose to include a natural background within it - rather than just having the entire card silvered-out. It's a nice contrast seeing the soft focus background and the bold player amongst the rest of the card - it all blends nicely. 

Worth noting is that since Panini does not hold an MLB license, they cannot use official team logos or names on the cards. You'll see a Player Association logo and the city they play for, but that's the extent of the identifying information Panini can include.

The back of the Prizm cards have a wealth of information for collectors to look at. Though the cards only carry one line of statistics, Panini has included full write-ups for collectors to read and learn from. The designers have chosen to use the same image on both sides of the card. While the front image is in full-color, the back is done in a dark sepia-type tone. Like the front, the back is laid out and presented well. All the elements come together cohesively.

Rounding out the base set are the Prizm rookie cards. Though the design of these rookie cards are very different than their standard base card counterparts, the Prizm foil technology instantly connects the two. In a way, it's good as it makes all the cards within the set uniform... but at the same time it shows that the foiling technology can negate design differences that usually make the cards stand apart from each other. Perhaps the use of a different color foil would have been a nice way to differentiate the cards a bit more... but then again, the designers could have been going for that total uniform set look that I mentioned earlier. And if that were the case, they hit a home-run with that effort!

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
The Prizm box states that there should be two autographs per box. Autographs can range from the newest prospects to current players to retired stars. Inserts and parallel cards can also be found within Prizm boxes. Unfortunately, there are no jersey or patch cards inserted in 2012 Prizm Baseball.

The insert cards found in Prizm all have unique designs, but as I mentioned with the rookie cards, it can be hard to differentiate these cards because the foiling technology renders all the cards too similar to each other. This Jeter insert is an example of a great look - the United States flag in the background - but in a stack of other Prizm cards, this card could get lost in the mix. Some of the other inserts, such as Dominance and Brilliance, do have more radically different designs, but they all share that same problem - they just feel the same! These inserts remind me of the ones you'd find in a standard Score release where most of the insert cards are printed on the same cardstock as the base cards. To me, inserts need to be set apart more from the base cards... otherwise, just make them a subset at the end of the base set.

Can you see the difference between this Joe Kelly card and the Darvish above? Hopefully you'll notice that this card is has a brighter hue. Scans cannot pick up the difference well, but in person, you can clearly see that this is a Prizm parallel card (similar to a Topps Refractor). While the standard inserts do not stand out in a big stack of cards, these Prizm parallels do, and collectors seem to love the different levels of parallels that you can find. This particular parallel card is the most common type to get, but there are those that you can pull that have different textures and colors associated with them. The rarest versions are numbered to ten or less!

The standard autographed cards are parallels of the base card design with a space allocated for the signature. Many collectors, myself included, would prefer a hard-signed card, but at least these autographs are done in a very clean, well-presented way. The blue ink used looks good with the silver foil backing. Besides the regular version of these cards, you may be lucky enough to find a Prizm parallel numbered to only 25.

Mixing it up a little are these Elite Extra Edition base and autographed cards. It was an unexpected pleasure to find these cards within my box. I wonder if these hits were bonuses, as this was the third autograph out of this box. After going through a ton of Prizm cards, these red-themed inserts were definitely a breath of fresh air. Seeing these Elite cards come out made me yearn for some more variety in Prizm. As this brand was so popular this year, hopefully when it returns next year, there will be more varied content to be found!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Even though Panini does not hold an official MLB license, they amaze by creating great looking and desirable cards. Prime Cuts was an example of that, National Treasures was the same, and so is Panini Prizm Baseball. Unlike those other two that I just mentioned, Prizm is affordable for the mid-level collector. Boxes of it can be found for under $100. And with twenty packs per box, it makes for a very fun opening experience.

Prizm has already established itself as a strong product in the Panini pantheon of card lines. Collectors know to look for the limited parallel cards and autographs here - Prizm is definitely a solid bet to buy. I recommend for baseball collectors of all levels.

Overall Rating:

Check out my box break of 2012 Panini Prizm Baseball:

2012-2013 Panini Marquee Basketball Review

How would you like a massive, rookie-centered basketball set with a ton a different card designs and textures featuring thick card stock and shiny foil? If you said 'yes' to all of that, then the new Panini Marquee Basketball is for you! Marquee Basketball is one of the boldest products to come out in a long while. If these cards were people, these would be the ones who stand out in a crowd.

Base Card Design -
The main base set in Marquee is 540 cards large. No, that is not a typo. Five. Hundred. Forty. Yeah, it's big. And within those 540 cards are different subsets with an amazing variety of designs. The first type of card to be found within the set are the commons and legends. These cards are what I would consider to be the 'standard' Marquee card. Both the common and legend cards share basically the same look, the only difference being the word 'Legends' replacing the team logo in the upper left hand corner. As you can see from the DeMarcus Cousins base card above, the card is printed on very shiny foilboard. It's a very clean design that emphasizes the player and the card brand. There is no background or fancy bordering or other graphical enhancement... none of that is required. The card boldly shows everything it needs to and nothing more. Unfortunately, the scan above doesn't show the rainbow effect of light shining on it, but in person, the card reflects a beautiful spectrum of colors. Basketball is a big man's sport, and with everything on this card being 'big', I feel that this design is very appropriate. Also 'big', but maybe 'girthy' would be a better word, is the thickness of the card. The commons and legends are given the thick cardstock treatment. It's a nice touch that makes the cards feel more premium.

The back of the Marquee base cards add in the color, background, and graphical elements that the front left out. It makes for a very nice contrast! Though the front and back seem very different in nature, there is a common thread between the two. Tying the front design to the back is the photo. Notice that the photograph on the front is the same as the one on the back. Usually, I would say that using the same photo on both sides is lazy... but in this case it's actually pretty cool. The reason it works is because the back photograph restores the background that the front left out. Now you can see a bit more context to the photograph. It's a sweet idea that the designers of the card put in - major props for that sneaky maneuver! Give those guys a raise!

After the common and legend cards come the parade of rookie subsets.The first one has an absolutely awesome (and appropriate) name - Swirlorama. This radical design is hard not to like. The swirled foil look is mesmerizing and reminds me of the older basketball inserts from the nineties. There isn't any real refinement to this design... it's all in your face with so many colors jumping out at you. It's a great look, and one that younger collectors could certainly gravitate towards.

Next are the Black Holoboard cards. Like the Swirloramas, these cards are on foilboard. But rather than giving off a bright, crazy feel, these have a subdued look. For my tastes, the look is not subdued enough. The black holofoil background is great looking in its own way. The darkness of the card is such a great foil to the Swirloramas, but the dark effect is negated by the gaudy 'ROOKIE' logo located towards the bottom of the card. That big glaring sign ruins the look for me. It could have been the serious version of the Swirloramas, but because of that, this design falls a bit short.

The Lazer Cuts follow after the Black Holoboard cards. Like those, these are darker in nature. The players are set on a black background. Unique to these cards is the word 'rookie' die-cut out of the left hand side of the card. It's nice that Panini can show off its die-cutting skills, but these cards remind me too much of jersey die-cut memorabilia cards. To me, I feel that there should be a jersey or patch piece there... instead there is just empty space. It leaves me wanting just a little bit. And just a little nit-pick about these cards, the holes sometimes get caught when putting them into penny sleeves. Not a big deal, but something to be careful of.

One of my favorite things that card companies can do to cards is to add texture. Panini has done this with their Leather rookie subset. These cards have a smooth leather feel to them and feature a textured background. I found it interesting that instead of using the orange of a basketball, the designers chose to use white for the background. It was a smart choice though. The white background gives the card a classic look. Orange may have been too distracting a color for what they were going for. The rookie logo on these cards compliments the classic feel. This subset is a winner.

To finish off the main set of cards Panini gives us the White PETG rookie subset. These last cards are very nice. They are ghosted white acetate-like cards that have a thin, bendable feel to them. Out of all the subsets, these feel the most modern of all. The top portion of the card features the word 'rookie' as a clear window through the card. Unlike the Lazer Cuts, these are not physically cut through, just see through. It makes the card feel more complete. Having the players partially in front of the window gives these cards a three-dimensional effect that I appreciate. These cards were a great way to finish off the Marquee set.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
The main emphasis of Marquee is the core set and all the rookie sets therein, but also found in boxes of Marquee are autographs and a few different types of inserts. There are no game-used memorabilia cards in Marquee.

The insert cards found in Marquee share similar design concepts as the rookie subset cards of the main set. The Slam Dunk Legends have the same swirly foil effect as the Swirlorama cards. They are different though in that the Slam Dunk Legends are given silver foil treatment rather than the mult-colored Swirloramas.

The All-Rookie Team insert is a take on the Lazer Cuts. Though this insert set is called 'All-Rookie Team', it actually is a celebration of current NBA stars when they were rookies. So again, like the Slam Dunk Legends, these are NBA veterans rather than first-year players.

As you open Marquee you'll notice the similarities of the insert cards to the rookie subset cards. I wonder if it was Panini's decision to directly have a tie-in between the inserts and subsets. If it was, that would certainly be interesting. I definitely have to give it to Panini in terms of their recent card ideas. They have really invigorated the hobby with all the innovated ideas that they put out on the market. I applaud them for their ability to take chances and risks with their designs.

Aside from inserts, each box of Marquee should yield three autographs. The autographs that I received have been sticker autos, but that seems the norm for a product at this price point. As wild and as creative as many of the cards in Marquee have been, I was a little underwhelmed by the standard autographed card. The Jordan Crawford shown above is a cleanly enough design card, but it doesn't match up with the flair of the rest of the set. There are other autograph inserts sets to find in Marquee, perhaps they have more interesting designs, but the ones out of this box left me wanting a bit more.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
The new Panini Marquee Basketball is great fun to open and enjoy... and the price is right for many collectors. At about $100 per box, and 20 packs per box, collectors will have fun looking through and sorting out all the wild looking cards that they find within. Marquee is a product I would recommend for younger collectors who can afford it. The cards are full of pizzaz and wow factor. There are a ton of rookies to find and get excited about pulling. I have seen first hand some younger collectors go nuts over Marquee. It's the prefect mid-end, affordably priced product that feels more premium than it actually is.

For the seasoned collector out there, Marquee doesn't offer as much. While it's nice to look forward to three autographs in a box, the content may not satisfy those with high-end tastes. These boxes definitely offer some solid insert card content... but patches and patch autos will not be here. Also missing are low numbered parallels to chase.

If you're looking to have a great time, Marquee is a great product to bust. It's full of fun. It'd also be a great set to try and put together. At 540 cards it would be a challenge... but one that is certainly doable!

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of 12/13 Marquee Basketball:

2012-2013 Panini Preferred + Kobe Anthology Review

Hello faithful readers! Today I'm excited to announce that I will be officially diving full-on into doing basketball reviews! The hockey content will continue as always, and will definitely still be the main focus of my personal collecting interests, but it's about time to diversify the reviews a bit! If you know anyone out there who is into basketball cards, please point them here - The Cardboard Review.

Base Card Design (Kobe Anthology) -
I usually start my reviews with a discussion of a product's base cards, but with Panini Preferred... there really aren't any! Preferred is a high-end basketball offering that gives collectors only four cards per box - all hits. But because this year Panini is celebrating Kobe Bryant's amazing career, collectors will find a special Kobe Anthology card pack within the Preferred box... upping the card content by five cards. I'll take advantage of the fact that there are no base cards in Preferred to talk about the special Kobe pack here in this review.

The Kobe Anthology packs can be found across the entire 12/13 Panini Basketball product line. Every Panini hobby box this year will contain one of these special packs. It's definitely a unique idea for Panini to come up with - I've never seen a company do something quite like this before. I know I would have never thought of it! But good on Panini for honoring their number one spokesman in this way while also adding value to their basketball lines.

As for the cards themselves... they are very classily done. I'm impressed. They look great, and do an amazing job of chronicling Bryant's career. The photograph selection is varied and diverse - containing action shots (both offensive and defensive), posed photos, and candid shots of this great Laker. I get a kick out of seeing Kobe 'grow-up' as I look through these cards - from having more hair to less, and from no tat to tat! In terms of card design, Panini has a real winner with the look of these cards. The fonts used for these cards are slick and modern, and the cards' use of darker hues help the vibrant images of Kobe really pop.

Most packs of Kobe Anthology will contain just five base cards, but some lucky collectors will find very short printed and valuable serial numbered base cards, autographs, and memorabilia cards within. As a special insert into products, collectors just can't go wrong with these... well... unless you really don't like Kobe. But for the most part, Panini does right by giving collectors a little something extra in their basketball purchases this year.

Kobe Anthology Overall Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
And now, on to the actual Preferred cards! As I stated earlier, besides the Kobe Anthology pack, Preferred only yields four cards per box. Collectors will find three packs containing only one card each as well as a booklet card. I have to say that there is a lot of packaging for only four cards, but I guess that adds to the high-end premium feel of this product.

The awesome thing about Preferred is that all the autographed content within is all hard-signed. You won't be seeing sticker autos in here. Two of my on-card autographs came in the form of these Panini Choice Award die-cut cards. You can see from the Jan Vesely above and the Greg Monroe at the beginning of this review that these cards have a trophy-like design to them. This design has been employed by Panini quite a bit in the past couple of years. Though these cards certainly look unique, they are actually a revival of the old Cramer's Choice inserts from the old Pacific brand. I really enjoy the look of these cards. The extremely cut nature of these cards give them a look and feel like no other card. I can't think of another card that has so little cardboard compared to a standard-sized card. The colored foil on the top with textured silver foil sandwiching the hard-signed autograph works very well. I also love that though the card is two-dimensional, the designers gave the cards a three-dimensional effect by adjusting the look on the right side of the card - very cool. These are unique cards with a different and colorful design that many collectors will enjoy. The blue foil Monroe was serial numbered to 49, the Vesely to 99.

Unfortunately, my third autographed card came in the form of a redemption. And this would have probably been the best card in the box. In hockey, Panini has been doing better in terms of having less redemption content in their boxes... but I've seen many basketball breaks with at least one redemption card - sometimes with multiple! It's a bit disappointing not to have this card live, but it is nice to get a Hall of Famer autograph in my box. I'm looking forward to seeing what this James Worthy card will look like in person. On a positive note, Panini has done a very good job of informing collectors when they receive a lot of their autographed content back from players via their social media sites.

The booklet card in the box was an eight piece jersey card of international NBA players.The words 'All World' have been die-cut into the card with the jersey pieces imbedded within. It's a very nice looking card, but it's of a design that has been done before. It wasn't that long ago that booklet cards were a very special and rare card type. Now, with products like Preferred (and other high-end products), they are getting increasingly more common. I'm feeling that there is collector fatigue of this card type settling in already. These booklet cards, while nice, don't command the high dollar amounts that they did when they first arrived on the scene. Also, collectors are desiring better content within these cards. Rather than just jerseys (which are very common now), collectors want crazy patches or multiple autographs in these books. It is my hope that companies like Panini handle their production of booklet cards in a way that keeps them desirable. I do have to say though that getting your favorite team on a booklet card is always sweet! And I know there are definitely team centric booklets to be found in Preferred.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Panini Preferred is an expensive, high-end basketball product. As with all things high-end, it's going to be a pretty high risk, high reward proposition. At almost $200 per box, you're looking at each card being $50. The box I opened in this review was a bit disappointing in terms of the cost of a box. Getting the James Worthy autograph was pretty nice, but I wouldn't say it was something I'd jump out of my chair over. To get your money's worth, there better be something pretty spectacular within! And Preferred can definitely yield the spectacular... just not this time with this box.

But even if you don't hit that big money card, the cards that you find within Preferred boxes are well designed and unique. Preferred offers collectors hard-signed content as well as a guaranteed booklet card per box. For those in the hobby that can appreciate those elements (and can afford it), I would definitely recommend going for Preferred. There just isn't anything else really like it around.

For the casual collectors out there, you might have to think twice about getting into it. Getting multiple boxes of Preferred will probably be out of reach for many. If you're like me though, it's always fun to gamble on one or two boxes of high-end to see what my luck brings me. The packaging of preferred only adds to the thrill of opening it up. By packing each individual card in its own pack, Panini gives collectors the feeling that everything coming out is something to be treasured.

Preferred is a sweet new product out on the market. Know what you're getting into when buying it, but enjoy it for what it gives you!

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of 12/13 Panini Preferred:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cardboard Commentary #6 (What Sport to Collect Part III - Football)

Football. It's the most popular sport in the United States - nothing rivals it in terms of viewership, media coverage, and hype. Football is an action packed sport that combines physicality, brutality, and precision skill. People love it... and people love football cards too. It's probably the most broken of the four major sports. Individual box breaks as well as group breaks can be found all over Youtube as well as on live video sites. So, what does football have to offer collectors? Is it a sport that you would consider collecting? Let's take a look at the state of football cards today - what's there to like, and what's not to like! Here we go!

Football cards are HOT. As a hockey card collector, sometimes I find it hard to locate videos or sites that feature hockey cards. Football does not have that problem. It is HOT (did I mention that already?). One of my favorite Youtube channels to watch is Chri5784's channel. He is the owner of The Hobby Box in North Carolina and opens up boxes of cards online for his customers. He's a great fun to watch, check him out if you haven't yet. And while he opens everything from hockey to basketball to non-sports cards... football is the main product I see getting busted. And this is year-round. A lot of football boxes are opened everyday. It just doesn't stop! My local card shop, D&P Sportscards is the same way. Football is king. So if you're looking for something popular - it's football! It seems like just about everyone is into it. If you join in the football fun, you're easily going to find a very strong collecting base that is well-established.

Because so many people are nuts for football, prices for football cards are pretty high - especially the year they are first released. Like with other sports, rookie cards are the hottest kinds of cards year-in and year-out. And football has a ton of rookie cards. Since football teams are so large, the rookie card selection in football can be pretty daunting. Collectors will obviously gravitate towards the hottest prospects first, but once a rookie begins to perform well on the field, their values can skyrocket very quickly. I was able to witness this very thing locally in Northern California. Colin Kaepernick was a rookie a couple years back. He had mild interest from the 49er fans, and his cards sold at moderate prices. When he began showing some success, his cards began to rise in value. Then he got scorching hot when he took the Niners to the Superbowl. People who had Kaepernick cards lying around instantly had gold in their hands. There were Kaepernick cards selling for many times their original values.

Rookies who have hype from the very beginning have high values right from the start. Last year Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III began their hobby stardom before they even took the field... but since they were able to perform to collector's expectations, their cards maintained their high initial values. Finding either of these two players autographs in boxes and packs would bring instant gratification to any football card collector.

While rookie card hype in football can make for an exciting collecting season, once it wears off, many of the mid-range rookie cards can take a huge fall in value. High player turn-over and injuries are very common in the NFL. A player can easily lose his spot on the team, or fade out quickly. It's pretty common to open up a box of football cards from a couple years back and say to yourself, "Whoa... I remember him! I wonder whatever happened to that guy!" And even the best and hottest players that seem to be 'can't misses' are forgotten pretty quickly in the football world. Let me mention some names... Edgarrin James, Terrell Davis, Jake Plummer, Donovan McNabb... some of these guys had very high card values in the past. Not so much anymore! The NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-me lately-league-to-the-extreme! It's just crazy to see how dramatically prices shift up and down.

And that's what makes me a bit nervous about collecting football cards. It's not a sport to get into if you're looking for a player to establish himself for the long run. While it can happen in football (Tom Brady and Peyton Manning come to mind), it's just not very likely... at all. These longer lasting stars are more easily found in basketball and hockey. I personally feel that football is a 'flippers' sport. The script for collecting goes: buy while it's hot... flip before they tank... repeat the next year. While I suppose that could be said for any sport, to me, it applies the most to football.

The only kinds of cards in football I would consider saving in a PC would be players of a certain team that I was interested in... or quarterbacks. The team aspect of collecting always works. Supporting and enjoying your team through cards is always fun. But aside from that, holding on to football rookies is a losing proposition. Only quarterbacks have really shown the staying power in the hobby. When you think back to great football cards... I mostly think of the quarterbacks. Sure there are some greats like Barry Sanders, Jerry Rice, and other legendary players of bygone eras, but by enlarge football is all about the quarterback position. Those are the guys who people remember leading their team... and it's their values and cards that maintain collectibility over time (if they're lucky!).

So if you're someone who loves football and wants to get into the hobby... you're going to find a very fast-paced and exciting world. For me, it's a bit too fast-paced... but there are certainly many aspects of football card collecting worth getting into - just know what football collecting is all about. If you prefer to hold on to cards in the hope they will maintain value, stay away from football. But if you want the excitement of getting the hottest cards with high (momentary) values, this might be your cup of tea!

Let me know what you thought of this post of football cards. If you have anything you'd like to mention or add-in about collecting football cards, I'd love to read your thoughts in the comments section!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Retail Review #45 (12/13 Upper Deck Series 1 Blaster)

So, I was considering the switch over to a different sport again... but hockey pulled me back! This was the last box of 12/13 Upper Deck Series 1 on the shelf at my local Target store so I decided to go ahead and give it a shot. There were a bunch of Score boxes... but I have been getting tired opening those up. Upper Deck Series 1 is always a solid choice to buy at retail, so I felt good about this one.

Price - 

Packs - 12
12/13 Upper Deck Series 1 Blaster Packs

I'm not a huge fan of purchasing these blaster boxes at full retail price after getting so many at reduced prices from Dave and Adam's online site, but it was there and calling to me... so I went for it. It seems like Upper Deck Series 1 came out so long ago! And I guess it did. Usually by this time Series 2 would have been on the shelves available for purchase. But, because of the lock-out, Series 2 will not be available at retail. Instead, some Series 2 cards will be specially inserted into the Upper Deck's SP Authentic line.

Most collectors know that the best Young Guns rookie cards are usually in Series 1. That is not the case here. The rookies are the hold-overs from the 11/12 season. There are some nice rookies to get in 12/13 UD1, but not on the levels of the past few seasons. There is always a hope that one of these rookies will make it big and be the next hottest thing, but there isn't that bonafide super-must-have-guy right off the get-go.

That being said, though the rookie crop might be lacking, this year's UD1 design is as great as ever. The cards look amazing, and as usual there are unique photographs that are a hallmark of Upper Deck quality.

Let's go ahead and open up this blaster box and see what comes out of it:

Review -
Opening up this blaster was pretty fun. It's always nice to know that there will be quality in a blaster - whether it be nice rookie cards, good looking inserts, or just great photography. 12/13 Upper Deck blasters have all of that. Aside from the base cards, I pulled out two MVP base inserts, two Young Guns, a Decades 1970's card, and a Canvas card.

I was pretty happy with most of what I got. The Canvas I pulled was of Michael Cammalleri. It's a pretty cool extremely close shot of him giving thumbs up. As impressive as the photographs on the base cards are, the Canvas ones seem to even up it a level. Bryan Trottier was my Decades insert card. I've stated before that I'm not a fan of these cards, the entire concept is a bit tired. How many more will there be? Will they go all the way to the 2000's and then stop?

As for my Young Guns, both made me happy. One of them was the best card of the break while the other was a Sharks card - very pleased.

Here are the top three:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Tyler Seguin Card No. 13
For whatever reason I just love this shot of Seguin. He's out there signing autographs for fans. This is the kind of photo that captures cool moments that aren't on the ice. With so many cards in the set, it's great to have some pictures that look like this. With all the craziness Boston has been going through this week, I felt it would be nice to put this card in the top three.

#2 - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Card No. 15 (MVP)
I'm not a fan of the MVP base inserts this year. The color scheme is all wrong in my opinion, but pulling a Nuge is always exciting - even if it's a second year card. It actually still feels like his rookie year as the other big name rookies don't have official cards yet.

#1 - Sven Baertschi Card No. 208
Sven is such a cool name! Just for that this card should get top honors... but more than that, Baertschi is one of the hotter cards to pull out of this year's Series 1 Young Gun crop. It'll be interesting to see how Bartschi fares in Calgary. I certainly hope he does well! Will he step up with a team that has traded away its greatest player... or will he struggle without much support? Time will tell.

Overall Value -
Buying an Upper Deck Series 1 blaster is always a solid bet and a fun break. I wish that rather than including MVP base cards that there were other inserts (like the old All World Team cards) instead, but in the end it's not that big of a deal. The cards look great and there can be value found in the rookie cards. Both new and seasoned collectors can find enjoyment going through one of these blasters.

Let me know what you thought of my 12/13 Upper Deck Series 1 blaster down in the comments below. What have you gotten out of these? I'd love to know!

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

2012-2013 ITG Between the Pipes Review

In the Game releases their yearly goalie centered product - Between the Pipes (BtP)!!! Goalie collectors around the globe can now rejoice! This yearly staple of the ITG line-up is moderately priced and contains a generous amount of packs per box. While fans of the masked men will undoubtably enjoy busting these boxes and packs, it may not have enough variety for everyone. Let's see what a typical box of BtP yields!

Base Card Design -
The main base set comes in five distinct 'flavors' of cardboard: CHL Prospects, Decades, International Stars, Stars of the Game, and Record Breakers. The CHL Prospect and Decades subsets dominate the majority of the main card set. The base cards feature a colorful, graphic-laden design full of geometric shapes - primarily hexagons. You can see the hexagonal theme clearly in the Subban base card example above. While I do like the fact that the cards really pop, the design as a whole feels a little dated. I've used the word dated to describe ITGs designs before, and unfortunately it's been a fairly consistant complaint of mine in regards to their products. ITG's Heroes & Prospects, which is a very similar product to this, released earlier this year with some fresh looks and ideas for ITG base cards. I feel that these BtP base cards took a step backward from H&P's forward progress.

The back of the card is again standard fare for ITG. Though the backs are pretty simple in design, I do appreciate the fact that the designers made the effort to incorporate some of the front's attributes to the back - the graphical elements match up very well. As with almost all ITG base cards, there is a written paragraph of information about each player. All the vital information is included at the top of the card while playing statistics are located towards the bottom.

It is well known that ITG does not have an NHL license to produce cards. This limits their selection of photographs in a major way. ITG is forced to choose only very specific photographs, or crop photos down so that all team logos are avoided. And since ITG comes out with a pretty sizable product line year after year, sometimes they must use the same photograph over and over, year after year (The Irbe above looks awfully familiar). That's really too bad as it gives the sense that what you are buying is the same each year. I know that ITG does their best with what they have, but it does detract from the cards they produce.

Base Card Design:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Each box of 12/13 Between the Pipes will come with an array of inserts, game-used cards, and autographs. ITG has had the reputation of producing some of the best game-used cards available, and their sticker autographs are some of the most 'un-sticker' like that can be found in the hobby.

The standard autograph card in BtP come in the form of these horizontally oriented cards. These Goaliegraph cards remind me of many of the past ITG autographed cards. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. It's good in that the cards have an ITG identity. Looking at the card, a seasoned collector could tell that it was ITG and not something made by Upper Deck or Panini. But on the other hand, the design of these cards have been consistently plain. They don't have the wow factor that other companies have. If thinking on similarly priced products, SP authentic Sign of the Times autographs have always looked amazing... they look so good that it makes collectors want the entire set on their looks alone. While these autographs are nice, I can't say they cause collectors' hearts to flutter. They are just... nice.

As for game-used cards, here is another example of something very, VERY plain looking. This card was so shockingly plain that it surprised me a little when I pulled it. But he funny thing is... I kinda like it... A LOT! For whatever reason, this card looks awesome to me. This card lacks everything... team logos, fancy font, crazy designs... but it's cool in its plainness. This jersey card will never fetch a great amount on eBay, probably won't be very good tradebait, and isn't particularly limtied... but like I said... I like it!

This dual jersey card is almost the opposite of the Barrasso jersey. It features two swatches from two different players, has graphical design elements, and a fancy 'Junior Gems' logo... but this card just doesn't do it for me. To me it's more generic than the Barrasso card. Perhaps I just think it's too all-over-the-place in terms of design... that could be it... but overall this card is probably my least favorite hit from my box.

The best cards in the new BtP have to be the Masked Men 5 foil inserts. These cards are absolutely spectacular. It doesn't show it in the scan above, but the way the cracked foiling looks in person cannot be replicated on a screen. I LOVE the way these cards look. I mentioned that Upper Deck Sign of the Times cards could inspire a collector to buy them simply by their design. These Masked Men cards could do the same thing. When I pulled the first Masked Men card out of the pack I couldn't believe a card could look the way these do. Everything about these cards are first rate. From the foil to the artwork. HUGE kudos go out to ITG for these cards. These are the gems of this product. These cards get a 'ten' all by themselves! Unfortunately, the overall score drops because the other cards can't hold a candle to these.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Between the Pipes is a fun product to open. As a collector that is not really into goalies, I was still able to enjoy opening up a box and seeing all the cool stuff found inside. For me, it'll be one box and done. For collectors that do like goalies though, I think BtP is a very solid purchase. There is a nice mix of game-used cards and autographs. As usual ITG has included short print cards and amazing patch pieces to find. You can only get these by buying quantity of this product, as evidenced by my single box purchase.

The star of the break in my mind is the Masked Men 5 set. The cards in that set are gorgeous. I'm not sure if it's just the beginning hype that I'm feeling at the moment... but I seriously want to get the entire set of these cards. Their beauty cannot be denied.

At about $100 per box of BtP, it falls squarely in the mid-ranged priced products. There can certainly be value found in BtP. I'd recommend busting one box for everyone, and if you like goalies... bust one then keep on going and having fun with it!

Overall Rating:

Check out my break of 12/13 Between the Pipes:

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cardboard Commentary #5 (What Sport to Collect Part II - Basketball)

Basketball was the first serious sport I collected. Though I started with baseball, I went absolutely NUTS for basketball cards. And as I look back on those years of collecting basketball, I could see why it was the perfect time for that sport. It was the early nineties, and I was a young boy growing up in Portland, Oregon. The Trailblazers were a scorching hot team that made it to the NBA Finals twice in a span of a few years, Michael Jordan was at the top of his game, and soon a young Shaquille O'Neil would hit the hardwood causing a gigantic splash in the basketball card world. It was a magical. And all I wanted to do was to pour my money into basketball cardboard.

So what about now? I still buy basketball on occasion... but it's not my main interest. Today we'll examine the reasons for and against getting into basketball cards. Let's begin!

First off, you obviously have to be into basketball to start collecting the cards. And there's a lot to like about basketball. The game is widely popular around the world, and playing the game is as easy as getting a basketball and finding a court in a park near you. Basketball is a fast paced game with a lot of scoring. Dunks are always sweet to see, and finding coverage of pro basketball is not hard to do - the NBA gets a ton of media coverage (as does the NCAA).

Though the game is simple to understand, is easily accessible on television, and exciting... I found myself gravitating to hockey because of my perception of the athletes in the NBA. The NBA has long touted the superstar players of their league. While many of those stars are great players, I can't say the same for the greatness of their apparent attitudes. This is a definitely a subjective area I'm walking into, but to me it makes a big difference when considering what to collect. The money-loving, self-centeredness of some of the biggest stars in the NBA is a huge turn-off. I was around when Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan roamed the hardwood. Those players had a fearsome competitive spirit - they just wanted to win - no matter what. When I look at NBA players today, some still have that fire - namely the just-injured-for-the-season Kobe Bryant. But many do not, and they make it very apparent off and on the court.

The sport I ultimately ended up choosing to go with, as you all know, was hockey. There's a sport where the players make considerably less money, but often exemplify a humble, team spirit, and sacrifice by sticking up for teammates in a fight, enduring hit after hit, and even diving in front of fast moving pucks to block shots. I just love seeing that type of commitment on just about every team in the league.

Although I may not like certain aspects of how pro basketball have changed, the basketball card hobby is still a very strong option when considering which sport to collect. Since the NBA is so star driven, and since it has such a worldwide appeal, NBA rookie cards can pretty much shoot for the moon if a player becomes a bonafide superstar. When comparing NBA star rookie cards to NHL star rookie cards... it can look pretty depressing (for the NHL). NBA stars tend to grab much higher prices. Though NHL superstars like Crosby and Stamkos have pretty significantly priced rookie cards, check out how much it takes to get a comparable LeBron James, Kevin Durant, or Derrick Rose. While the NBA has some pretty out of this world prices, it can also have some subterranean ones too. I have found that the NHL holds a lot of middle-of-the-road rookies at middling to high selling prices. The difference between the highest of the high and the lowest end rookies in the NBA is much more significant.

Besides rookies, basketball is also the king of the insert card. No other sport holds inserts in such a high regard as basketball. Many of the older 90's and early 2000's insert cards can still command a very high price. Many of those inserts feature outrageous designs and superb action photos... there are no jerseys or autographs. In this day an age where any card without a memorabilia piece, autograph, or very low serial numbering isn't worth collecting, basketball collectors have kept the demand for non-hit inserts high - particularly those of Michael Jordan. Many of these Jordan inserts run well past the $100 mark.

Speaking of His Airness, is there anyone in any sport more well-known and loved? Well, I guess that's debatable, but MJ is undeniable is his popularity. People just love the guy and they want his cards. He's not a long-ago legend like Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle. He's a modern day legend that we can always reference in video form. I'm sure there are collectors out there that just want to collect him. And who could blame them?

In terms of basketball card companies, like baseball, there is only one officially licensed choice at the moment - and that's Panini. Panini is the exclusive producer of basketball cards. A couple years ago, when Panini first got the exclusive contract with the NBA, I thought they would falter. Panini cards couldn't match up to their Upper Deck counterparts - and it showed through their selling values. In the last few years, Panini has not just sat around twiddling their thumbs and enjoying their exclusive rights to basketball. Panini has shown it'self to be a company that constantly innovates and tries out new concepts and ideas. It feels as though Panini is only now hitting its stride with their basketball cards.

The unfortunate thing for Panini, and all of the basketball collecting world, is the absence of Jordan in licensed products. To get Jordan autographs and cards, collectors must look towards Upper Deck. Upper Deck can make basketball cards... but only featuring college uniforms and logos. Having college only cards really diminishes the Upper Deck product line. Upper Deck has done a great job of producing high quality, great looking cards... but without official NBA logos and photos.. they all fall a little short - even when a Jordan autograph is included - because a Bulls one would always be better! And Upper Deck is saturating the market with North Carolina Jordan autographed content at the moment - there's just way too much of it out there. Stop it already!

So if you're looking to collect basketball cards, consider all the facts. In terms of pro factors going for it, basketball has great rookie card potential, a company that is improving every year in Panini, and (of course) Michael Jordan. Negatively, collecting basketball cards can be more expensive on average and limited in terms of having only one officially licensed producer who, unfortunately, can't make cards of 'you know who'.

Let me know what you think about collecting basketball cards! Have you anything to add? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Retail Review #44 ($9.99 Target Re-pack)

For the first time in a long time I bring you a box from my local Target! I was actually thinking of getting a blaster from either baseball or basketball to change things up a little... but this little gem of an item was calling out to me on the shelf. As you know, Woodland, Ca is not the hockey mecca of the world. Rarely do I see many hockey related items there compared with the other sports. These re-packs are usually a bad idea, but what the heck... let's do it!

Price - 

Packs - 4
06/07 Upper Deck MVP Retail
07/08 Fleer Ultra Retail
07/08 Upper Deck Series 1 Retail
10/11 O-Pee-Chee
10/11 Panini Donruss

The first thing that jumped out at me when I picked up the re-pack box was how hefty it felt. I have bought re-packs from this company before, but none of them were ever this large. Even their re-packs with 10-12 packs inside were never this big. I figured that the 264 card set and bonus had to be the added weight.

I was very curious as to what this mysterious 264 card set would be. Did they mean there was an actual full set of cards within, or was a set just a big assortment of cards they compiled and threw in? If given a choice, I would hope for the big assortment as they are more interesting to look through and have fun with. Full sets usually are pretty plain and boring.

The bonus inside also intrigued me. Could there be a graded card or hit (autograph or memorabilia card) within? It certainly was big enough to be able to hold a slabbed card. Being a $9.99 price, it probably wouldn't be, but cheap jersey cards could be inserted into something like this relatively cheaply. I just hoped it wasn't another cheap pack of cards - that would be pretty disappointing.

Let's not delay, let's see what's inside this big box of cards:

Review -
You could probably see me struggling opening up this box. If I could say one positive thing about this product, the makers sure didn't skimp on the sealing glue! Actually, it definitely wasn't a positive, the glue was so sticky that I was afraid the cards would get damaged as I tried to get the packs off the cardboard. Sometimes these repacks use tape, and sometimes they use glue. Either way, there usually is too much. Whoever does this job just need to have a little restraint!

As for the content, the repack was pretty bad. The 264 card set turned out to be an actual set! It was pretty surprising to see it pop out when I opened the box. The set actually made my top three so I'll save my comments about it for later. The bonus was a pack of 06/07 Upper Deck MVP. I'm pretty speechless at that. Wait, I do have two words for it: it sucks!

The four packs that showed through the box didn't contain anything mind blowing. I know these are the left over packs that nobody bought. The boxes they were originally in have already most likely been searched through. The best hope in them would have been a Young Gun card or by some miracle an autograph. Jersey and patch cards would have been searched out long ago as pack searchers have an easy time cherry picking those out.

So what was good about this break? Well, not a lot to be honest!

Here are the top three:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Dany Heatley Card No. 117
Most people dislike Heatley with a passion - and they have many good reasons for doing so... but for whatever reason I still have a soft spot for the guy. It's probably just because he was a big part of the Sharks when I got back into hockey. I enjoyed watching the line of Couture, Clowe, and Heatley on the ice. Interestingly though, Heatley was injured in a game last week versus the Sharks. He didn't seem particularly pleased to see his old teammates... particularly defensemen Marc Edouard Vlaic.

#2 - Mark Messier Card No. 552
It's hard to deny the leadership and ability of Mark Messier. He will always be a legend of hockey. This card comes from 10/11 OPC and is a part of the Marquee Legend subset. Like many OPC cards, it includes a French translation to go with the English. It's only a little apparent on the front with the word 'legend' translated, but the entire player write-up on the reverse side is in both English and in French.

#1 - 1990 Bowman Hockey Set Nos. 1-264
I'm just going to lump this entire set together as it came in it's own factory box - and I don't plan on breaking it up. It was pretty crazy seeing this set in the re-pack. I had no idea that it would be there. It contains a wealth of hockey legends and former superstars, but being so old and overproduced, it's not very relavent to the hobby anymore. I'll keep it as a quirky item... but that's about it.

Overall Value -
For $9.99 I guess there is some value here. I mean, you do get an ENTIRE SET of cards... but I'm not sure how many people would actually want a 1990 Bowman set. The five packs in the re-pack were pretty terrible. I couldn't really recommend this to anyone. This re-pack doesn't even have much in terms of re-buying power either - because if you got another one, you'd end up with another Bowman set! What would anybody do with two of those? I would stay away from this stuff! Far away!

Let me know what you thought of my $9.99 Target Re-Pack down in the comments below. What have you gotten out of these? I'd love to know!

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

2012-2013 Upper Deck Fleer Retro Review

...and here comes something totally out of the blue... Fleer Retro from Upper Deck! Well, I can't say it's  completely out of the blue, as it was announced many months ago, but this product was certainly an 'interesting' choice to bring to the hockey world by Upper Deck. It has had great success with basketball, and a solid football showing, so I guess Upper Deck wanted to see if the mojo would continue flowing with hockey. Does it? Let's open a box and find out!

Base Card Design -
I remember when Fleer was a huge player in the card market. They had their hand in all the sports - basketball, football, baseball, and hockey. Fleer was always an innovater in the card world. They came early into the premium card game with their Ultra product line (I loved their commercials that flaunted their foil highlighting and graphics), was a big part of the insert-era by being one of the first companies to offer one insert card per pack, and delved into creating elegant and beautiful cards with their Flair sets. Fleer was definitely a pioneer... but unfortunately they went under. Upper Deck came along and bought the rights to all things Fleer, and has been continuing the Fleer tradition ever since. Though Fleer, as I mentioned, was a huge part of the card collecting world, I always felt that it had it's grip more on basketball, football, and baseball than it ever had on hockey. And that's why I found it curious that Upper Deck would release this line for hockey card collectors. I'll talk more about this point when I reach the insert section. For now, an analysis of the base cards.

The base cards in Fleer Retro have the feel of what I think a modern day low-end Fleer card would be like. The base cards have a white border highlighted by some foiling and simple graphics. The cards are very simple and understated, which surprised me a little. Though I could definitely see these cards released as a low-end Fleer set, I always felt that Fleer designs had a little more pizazz to them - that they should be more in-your-face. As this set is supposed to be a retrospective... I would have liked to have seen a more flamboyant design to the base card. As they stand, they are not just understated... but underwhelming. I'm asking myself where the crazy graphics are, where is all the color, and of course... why am I not getting nauseated by them? These base cards are just too tame and boring. And the photography selection doesn't help too much either. That, unfortunately, was a part of things they did take from an old Fleer base set. The photography on the cards don't stand out in any way. The only thing that is interesting is that the set contains a huge mixture of retired and current players with all the same design (no sepia or black and white coloring for legends or that sort of thing). It's a trip to flip through the cards and see Gretzky then Couture then Bobby Clarke whiz by as if they were all playing concurrently.

The back of the card is much better. The backs have an Upper Deck Ice-esque-ness to them. The blue hued ice background looks sweet. The darker borders really give the backs some visual punch. Not only are there stats on the back, but also a short write-up too - that's always great to see. Though I do enjoy the backs, they don't match the front design in any way. It's just a huge disconnect. Looking at the front of the card I would have imagined the backs having a white background with minimal design elements. So though I like the card back, I'm scratching my head with what the designers were thinking of when drawing these cards up.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Each box of Fleer Retro comes with six autographed cards. There are no game-used memorabilia cards, but there are plenty of inserts to be found. And this is why I am curious as to why Upper Deck chose to produce this product for hockey. I have never found hockey collectors particularly crazy about insert cards. Sure, in the nineties they were certainly popular, but never to extent of basketball. Even now, nineties basketball inserts (particularly those of Michael Jordan) command big prices. Insert cards from the nineties of Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux don't even come close to those of Jordan... and in fact, Gretzky and Lemieux inserts can be found for much less than they were once valued. Currently there is hype around Fleer Retro Hockey in its initial release, but I will be very curious if Upper Deck will be able to capture hockey collector's interests with these insert cards after the newness of the product dies down.

A lot of the 'insert cards' found in Fleer Retro will actually be older Fleer base cards re-done up with their new checklist of players. Upper Deck has chosen a select few popular Fleer sets and have used their designs here. This Crosby is from an early nineties Ultra set. As a kid, I bought a lot of the basketball version of this product. I remember how awesome it was to have a fully glossed-out card with foil. The marble border was so classy! For older collectors like myself, these types of cards are really fun to pull.

Another older base card design Upper Chose to include were the old EX-2001 acetate cards. These super-premium cards look just as good as they did back then. When older collectors lament over how creative cards were in the nineties, I can imagine them referencing these cards. Again, I don't remember buying a hockey version of this card. My experience with this card design was when I collected football cards. I think I have a Peyton Manning card like this somewhere in an old binder tucked away... I find it funny that as I sort through this box of Retro Hockey that I am making more connections to other sports. And for collectors like myself who collected a variety of things over the years, this is definitely a treat to look through.

I will not go through all the different types of base card inserts, but for the most part Upper Deck did a nice job of selecting base designs to showcase. There were a couple issues that I did have with a few selections though. In terms of Flair, the Flair cards in Retro look great and share the exact design of the original cards... but they are way too thin. Flair cards were cut thick, so thick in fact that they used to not fit in toploaders very well - and I always thought that to be a hallmark of Flair. It was sad to see such a thin Flair card. And my only other gripe was with choosing three Fleer Ultra designs, with two of the Ultra designs (92/93 and 93/94) being almost exactly the same save for one having a blue/green marble graphic and the other with grey. With such a rich history of Fleer, there could have been a better choice to go with than that.

From Fleer Metal comes the Precious Metal Gems (PMG). These were the cards that everyone was going ga-ga over in Retro Basketball. The PMGs look like the ruby, emerald, and sapphire parallels in 12/13 Black Diamond. For each of these cards, Upper Deck uses a super shimmery and shiny foil. Apparently, this foiling drives collectors crazy because these parallels command ridiculous prices. If the same trend holds true for hockey, then Crosby and Gretzky PMGs should be a very hot item. I personally think the PMG cards will be very popular and get good prices on eBay, but I also think there is too much hype over them at Retro's release. The PMGs will be very interesting to keep an eye on as they make their way onto the market. Red PMGs are numbered to 100, blues to 50, and greens to 10.

There are many fun inserts to be had in Retro. This Golden Touch insert card of Marian Gaborik is an example of one of them. Many of the inserts found in Retro have flashy foil, crazy die-cuts, and sweet designs. Though I find these cards to be very collectible, I wonder if other collectors will too. I wonder if the entire focus will be on the PMGs, or will there be room for some value in these types of cards. Some inserts found within Retro come at very difficult pulling rates! Golden Touches are listed to be inserted at a rate of 1:108 packs! Another insert, Jambalaya, are inserted at a rate of 1:360!

In terms of autographed content, the majority of my autographs were in the form of Autographics cards. These autographed cards were some of the first to be available in packs. The designs are simple and nostalgic. My biggest gripe about these are that they are sticker autographs. The sticker really ruins the look of the card - they were not meant to have them. Retro has a tiering system for all their autographed content - be it Autographics cards, insert autographs, or base autos. Before trading away the autographs you pull in it, it may be a wise idea to check on the rarity of what you have. Here is a good place to do that: click here.

Here is an example of a base autograph, again a sticker. Though this card may seem like an easy pull, this Phaneuf comes 1:364 packs. And that's what I mean about making sure you know the rarity of your autographed card pulls. Sometimes Upper Deck short prints a player that you may not suspect would be short printed. They just do funny things like that sometimes.

The final card I would like to show from my break is this Akim Aliu autographed insert card. It is part of the Rookie Sensations set. Now THIS is what I call a retro Fleer design! It's just all sorts of ridiculousness with the giant water droplets and the words going every which way. Love it! More of this please. It's one of those 'it's so bad it's good' kind of things for me with this one.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Value -
I paid over $200 for this box of Fleer Retro. Was it worth it? Did I get my money's worth? Is this over $200 worth of cards? ABSOLUTELY NOT. I'm not sure if I could even get $30 for all the autographs if I wanted to sell them. I know there will be some people out there that say the hobby is not about the values and so forth. Well, I just have to say that sometimes you have to take that into account. Because, how else do you judge value?

Fleer Retro is a very high-priced product for what you get in it.

From what I have seen opened, the autograph content is very weak. Though there are six autographs per box, you'd be lucky to land a player of note. It's not like boxes that contain a Sidney Crosby auto will also have a Gretzky and a Stamkos. That's just not going to happen. If you get one player of note, you'd be already doing much better than most - better than my break for sure!

Value in Retro is not only contingent on autographs though. The PMGs are a big part of what make Retro appealing. The right PMG can go a long way in making the break worth it... but again... getting a great PMG is a very difficult proposition. I do have to say that hockey does have an advantage in having good PMG prices as compared to other sports as it's the only Retro product to feature the players in their official team uniforms rather than college ones. That, to me, adds desirability to the hockey PMGs.


I loved opening Fleer Retro. It was such a fun product! But aren't fun products supposed to be cheaper than this? I don't remember ever having to pay so much for Fleer products. The price point of Retro definitely diminishes the fun of opening it.

It's actually one of the most high-priced-high-risk-high-reward type products out there that you can get. At over $200 per box, I can't recommend this product except to the highest of high rollers out there.

Pick up what you need on eBay for a much better price.

Overall Value:

Check out my box of 12/13 Retro that I opened at DandP Cards in Sacramento, CA: