Monday, July 29, 2013

2013-2014 Panini Score Review

I'm a little late to the party... but better late than never! Score came out a little over a week ago, and I'm just getting my hands on some of it today. Score comes in both retail and hobby versions. The retail version of Score comes in a pretty standard packaging configuration of 36 packs/box. They have been upgraded a bit as now each box comes with an autograph hit. Hobby boxes are jumbo sized. Each brick of a pack comes with 52 cards. Collectors can find hobby exclusive content in them. Today I'll be looking into a hobby jumbo box of Score. Let's check it out!

Base Card Design -
The Score base card is very simple and understated. Each base card contains a simple graphic with the player name, Score logo, and team logo below the player image. A white border surrounds the card. I like the card for it's cleanliness, but it's a bit too 'low frills' for my liking. After a few more sets come out, I'll probably forget the what these base cards even look like. Back in the day, Score used to really 'wow' you with their crazy graphics. I kind of miss those days. Since Panini has resurrected Score in hockey, each year has been just a little less glitzy. I will say that I enjoy this design much more than last year's effort... but I still want more! On the positive side, adding foil to the Score front is a sweet touch. Panini has given each card a little bit of shine that doesn't get in the way; it's very tastefully done. Also of note, the photography in Score is top rate. I'm really happy to see interesting, high quality images on these cards. Take note Upper Deck Series 1 and 2... Score's coming for you! Well, it's not at that level yet, but the picture quality improvement is very noticeable. Now they just have to get rid of that low-end white border. That's one of my suggestions on how to make these cards even better. Take notes Panini!

The back of the card is super spartan TO THE EXTREME! But it actually kind of works! Rather than trying to put out a card back design that will just be middling in nature, Panini has decided to make them very stark and utilitarian. There are design elements here, don't get me wrong, but these backs are probably the most flat and one-note that I've seen in a very long time. When I first saw them, I was a bit surprised, but I realize that these were probably the best choice for this set. I applaud whoever gave the green light with this back design - ballsy!

Three subsets come after the base cards in 13/14 Score. The Team Leaders cards feature four players from each team. These cards highlight the players with the most goals, assists, wins, and penalty minutes. The four headed design is very pleasing to the eye and is a call out to the old baseball team leaders cards. Like the base cards, these are very clean with just the right amount of foil. Unlike the base cards though, these have a design that isn't forgettable. The Team Leader cards look great.

Season Highlight cards give collectors a chance to remember some of the important moments from last season. This subset shares a very similar design to the base card. The addition of the Season Highlight banner and the player's accomplishment are the only differences. To me, there should have been a greater difference between these and the base. I like the idea of these cards, but Panini should have differentiated these cards better.

Finishing off the set are the Hot Rookies... and there are a lot of them! Each rookie card has a special Dual RC Class emblem in the upper corner of the card. These rookie cards have a dramatically different design than the base cards. The player fades in from black if looking from bottom to top. Highlighting the card is the 'HOT ROOKIES' logo in shiny silver foil. It's a generous amount of foil to celebrate the player's rookie card. Though the logo is large, it doesn't take over the card in any way. The 13/14 Score rookie cards are real winners in my eyes. They are just right in terms of look, design, and feel for Score.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Each box of Score, be it retail or hobby, will give collectors at least one hit. Retail boxes will spit out an autographed card while hobby boxes give out three hits - a memorabilia card and two autographs. The increased frequency of hits has bumped up the price of Score a bit... but not by too much. Though it might not be at the one dollar mark anymore, the much better chance to get a hit is worth the bump in price.

Let's begin with the inserts. Many of Score's classic inserts have been brought back this year with updated looks and designs. Netcams have been a collector favorite for a few years now. They had gotten a bit tired, but this year Panini has refreshed the look a little. Though some collectors may not need any more shots from inside the goal, goalie collectors should still really enjoy these cards - and I'm sure they will be putting together this relatively easy to complete insert set.

Check-It cards bring back the foil! Check-It cards have been around for a very long time... since before the Score reboot! They have always been a bit tougher to get than the other Score inserts. Maybe it's because of the foiling... a cost saving measure? I'm not sure. But they are sweet looking cards. There is a 90's retro feel to these that older collectors might enjoy. It's probably the most in-your-face design of the entire 12/13 Score line-up.

Less in your face are The Franchise inserts. Like Check-It, Franchise cards used to be pretty touch pulls. It looks like they come out a bit more often now. The Franchise cards are nice cards to look at, but they don't stand out in any significant way. Maybe it's time to retire or re-think The Franchise.

The Future Franchise cards aren't too much better than The Franchise inserts. These Future Franchise cards are horizontal in nature and feature rookies. Because they highlight rookies, these cards should be quite a bit more popular than their Franchise brethren. Still, the design is a bit lackluster for me with these. The one thing that does stand out is the gold foil Score logo. It's like a little touch of class!

First Goal inserts give a snapshot of when an NHLer got their first goal. It includes the date and a photo of their achievement. Panini put these cards out last year... and I said I liked the concept, but not the design. This year i have to say 'ditto'. Still a cool concept, but still a design that just doesn't cut it for me! Let's try this one again next year.

Parallel cards are abundant in Score this year. The classic gold set has made a return. The gold cards look very good with their gold border and shiny gold foil. It's a really nice looking parallel card. The gold set is a parallel set that collectors can actually pull off completing, despite the enormity of the Score base set. That's because gold cards are abundantly available. Each pack of Score jumbo contain a pile of them! It'd be a fun challenge to go for the gold.

Looking even better than the gold parallels are the black ones. The black parallels give the set a mean look to it. Not only are the borders black, but so is the foil. Check out the Matt Irwin rookie above. The entire HOT ROOKIES logo is in blacked out foil - it's awesome. It's rare when I really, really like a colored parallel set. I can honestly say I really like these Hot Rookies parallels. I want to get more!

Team 8s eight-piece jersey cards are found one-per-hobby box. These thick cards have memorabilia from eight different players. Some cards feature all eight players of the same team while others have two different teams featured on each side. And still others feature four teams. There are a lot of configurations as well as print-run variety. If this were a few years ago, many collectors would have gone ga-ga over them. They are still nice cards, but the novelty of this many jerseys on a card has worn a bit.

Score Signature cards come on a card that could have been a base card. Just look at it! Doesn't it look like a base card from the year 20xx? Looking at the checklist for these cards, there isn't really a huge name to get excited about. I was very happy to pull this John McCarthy... but that's only because I'm a huge Sharks fan. If you get one, you're probably only gong to want the player who plays for your team. Keep your eyes out for Pascal LeClaire and Mikael Samuelsson from this set though. They are supposedly super short-prints.

The Hot Rookie autographed cards are the ones to get when you buy Score. The Hot Rookie design has been changed from the look they had in the regular set. Now they drop the standard background and add in a silhouette of the player. It's a different look, but still a good one. Again, very clean. I'm sure collectors will be grabbing these cards up, especially the bigger names. Panini has short-printed some of these compared to others so getting the biggest names will be difficult. Guys like Yakupov, Granlund, Huberdeau, Galchenyuk, and Schultz are all short-printed.

Though I didn't get one in my box, collectors will find old Score buy back autographed cards hidden in some packs. These are very rare cards that have had big sale values in the secondary market. Future Team inserts showing the player from ice-level up are also cards that collectors can look for. Alternate backs with red printing are supposedly extremely limited in nature too. Let me know if you're able to pull any of these difficult cards!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Score -
Panini has refreshed their Score line. I felt that last year's Score was very weak... but I'm glad to see it come back strong. The cards look great, and the availability of hits is a real selling point. Panini has given both collectors young and old things to find and want from 13/14 Score. Younger collectors will appreciate all the inserts and parallels that are readily available. Older collectors will enjoy chasing down the very limited alternate backs, short printed autographs, and other parallels.

I definitely recommend getting Score in any of it's forms - hobby or retail. Though there has been a slight price increase, it's not by too much. I'd definitely want to get these over the 12/13 version, though those may be cheaper. 13/14 Score brings a ton of collectibility to the table. Find yourself something to enjoy from it and go for it!

Overall Score:

Check out my box of 13/14 Score from D&P Cards in Sacramento, Ca:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Retail Review #59 (10/11 O-Pee-Chee Blaster)

The newest iteration of O-Pee-Chee is coming out early next month... so before that happens, it'd be nice to refresh ourselves with a slightly older version of it. Today I'll be ripping a blaster of 2010/11 OPC. OPC is probably THE classic brand of hockey card. It's long running nature has garnered it many fans. It's a product that fans of all ages can afford and enjoy.

Price - 

Packs - 14
10/11 OPC Blaster Packs

Did you look at the price? This blaster box was a touch under six dollars! Wow! 14 packs to open for such a low price is awesome. I got this blaster at and they have these on clearance still (as of this posting). You can't really go wrong with that price!

As most collectors know, O-Pee-Chee is a set collectors product. This massive set contains a huge amount of cards. The sheer size of the set is a challenge. Unlike most card sets nowadays, the challenge here comes from the size rather than the cost, though it still may cost quite a bit to build if you're putting it together by the pack or box.

The chances of getting an autograph or jersey card is very slim in OPC, but it's not at zero. If one came out I'd consider it a minor miracle. I will be looking forward to many inserts and parallel cards. Each pack should have a little something to keep me engaged and excited.

Check out the break of this 10/11 OPC blaster box:

Review -
These 14 packs were a fun rip. I really enjoyed seeing all the different card types come out. I received a good amount of variety in terms of inserts, rookies, and parallel cards.

One of the aspects that made this box really fun was seeing the non-star players make an appearance on cardboard. Two former San Jose Sharks - Niclas Wallin and Kent Huskins - were in this blaster. These guys hardly ever have cards made of them. But OPC is good for really including just about everyone. I mean, I love getting Thornton, Marleau, Niemi, and Couture... but having these other players really does round things out. I just wished there were more hit content in terms of these players.

The glossy insert cards found in OPC are one of my favorite things to pull out. They stand out by being very colorful and vibrant. These cards also feature a good amount of information for collectors to look at. I think young collectors could really find these cards interesting. I know if I was a little kid, I'd be learning and memorizing everything from these cards.

There was a lot to choose from this week, but here are my top three:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Brayden Schenn Card No. 547 (Retro)
I got both Schenn's regular rookie card and this retro parallel version of it. I chose the variation as a top three card because it's a little more difficult of a pull. I've gotten a bunch of Brayden Schenn cards in Retail Reviews... here's yet another!

#2 - John Tavares Card No. AR-4
I really like this glossy insert of JT. The card looks awesome visually. All-Rookie Team cards aren't seen so much in hockey, but I remember them being quite popular in basketball. I've mentioned it before, but celebrating second year players that have done well is something I think should be done more.

#1 - Taylor Hall Card No. 508
It's always great to get the most desired rookie card out of a set. Taylor Hall is a great young talent, and I'm very happy with this pull out of a six dollar blaster! I don't think I have a Hall OPC rookie card, so this will make a nice addition to my collection. The design of this card is very different than all of Hall's other rookie cards. It's vibrant and retro in a fun way.

Overall Value -
I got some very good value out of this blaster box. The Hall rookie would have been good enough by itself, but there were definitely other quality cards that added to this break. I'm not sure how much longer these blasters will be available for under six dollars. If you're in the mood for a fun little hockey break, it might be a good idea to pick this up online before they are all gone!

Let me know what you thought of my 10/11 O-Pee-Chee blaster in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cardboard Commentary #19 (Grading Cards)

The condition of a trading card (or any collectible for that matter) is very important. Nobody wants to get something damaged or flawed. This is where card grading comes in. Card grading companies take your cards, examines them for any issues, and sends them back to you encapsulated with a grade. The higher the grade, the better. In fact, cards considered gem mint (BGS 9.5 or PSA 10) will have added value to them. Is it worth it to grade your cards? Let's give it some thought!

Having a card sent away for grading seems like a great idea, especially if you think the card will come back with a very high grade. But you have to be careful! The card graders are meticulous in examining the cards you submit. I remember many years back sending cards to PSA. I selected some of the cards I thought were in perfect condition only to have them come back with grades of 7, 8, and 9. It was devastating! Why you ask? Was I sad or mad that they came back with low grades? Well, of course... but what made it really terrible was the cost of getting the cards graded in the first place. By getting these low grades, I was essentially paying a large fee to de-value my cards! Ouch!

See, grading is not free or cheap. It actually costs quite a bit of money if you're only submitting a few cards for grading. The grading fees can be upwards of $30 per card... PER CARD!!! If you want the grading done fast, it's going to cost you. The more cards you submit, the cheaper it will be... but rarely does the regular collector have hundreds of cards to submit in order to get those cheaper grading prices.

So is it worth it to get your small amount of cards graded? 

Probably not if you're not sure about the grade of your cards, or if the cost of the grading is too high compared to the value of the card.

So what do you do?

Well, if you really want to get your cards graded, you can do a group submission at your local card store. I know my local card shop submits cards to BGS every so often. Customers can join in his submissions as a group to get a better deal on pricing. 

How are so many cards graded already if it's not really worth it to grade lower-valued cards?

Because some people have very high volumes of cards submitted. Grading can be as low as a couple bucks per grade if sent in very large amounts. So that's why you see many lower-value cards available. Obviously it wouldn't be feasible to grade a $10 Young Gun rookie card for $30. That's ridiculous! But it could possibly be worth it a $2 to grade.

It looks like grading cards is here to stay. Collectors like the assurance of a card's condition... and grading provides that. I personally feel that I don't have the expert eye to grade my cards, so I tend to purchase graded cards rather than submit them myself. Thankfully, many people out there have the ability to grade their cards and sell them on eBay or other sites.

The two main grading companies are PSA and BGS. Other graders such as SGC and KSA are also very good... but the cards graded by them tend to be less popular with collectors. I suggest taking a look at each companies site and judge for yourself what you like. As a general rule, collectors like PSA for vintage cards and BGS for modern.

Let me know what you think of card grading in the comment area below. I'd love to hear your experiences or thoughts on it!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Retail Review #58 (09/10 UD Series 1 Blaster)

Today I'm going to be breaking a blaster of 2009/10 Upper Deck Series 1 hockey. It's been an on-going quest to pull a John Tavares Young Gun! I've never done it before... but hopefully it comes out today. For whatever reason, Tavares rookie cards always seem to elude me (I think I've only gotten one JT of any significance... which I ended up trading). Other notable rookies from this year - Matt Duchene, JVR, Logan Couture, and others don't seem nearly as difficult for me to pull. Let's see what we get in this one.

Price - 

Packs - 12
09/10 Upper Deck Series 1 Blaster Packs

As many of you know, I love getting 2009/10 hockey products. It was when I began collecting again, and these products bring back memories of the excitement of rediscovering the hobby. I don't think this particular year was a huge stand out for big time rookies. I mean, Tavares is a pretty solid star, but I feel Stamkos from the year before and Hall/Eberle/Seguin/Subban from the year after are much more desired. Still, there are solid players form this year that could really be dark horses in the years to come.

This blaster box should contain two Young Gun rookie cards and some inserts. I remember really enjoying the look of everything from this year except for the base and Hockey Heroes cards. I'm hoping more in terms of the insert selection in this box.

Let's just go ahead and bust this blaster open and see what pops out:

Review -
This box had pretty much the bare minimum of expected cards - no more, no less. I was able to find my two Young Guns, an All World Team, a Face of the Franchise, and a Brodeur Hockey Heroes card. Nothing came out that was too exciting. Though some of the cards did feature some bigger names, overall the break was pretty lackluster. It felt like I had a large amount of all base packs - and I did as the majority of the packs were all base. That was a bit disappointing. Well, you can't win 'em all!

Here's my pick of top three cards this week:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Eric Staal Card No. AW17
I love the 09/10 All World Team design so much that this card would have probably been higher up on the list if the player were a bigger name. Not that Eric Staal isn't a very solid player, but hobby-wise he's not someone collectors are too excited to find.

#2 - Henrik Lundqvist Card No. FF7
King Henry has been an amazing goalie for the Rangers these past few years. He is definitely the face of the franchise. The design of this cards is really fun! Whoever thought to use a gigantic logo as the main background of the card gets big props from me!

#1 - Benn Ferriero Card No. 237
I'm always happy to pull out cards of former Sharks players pictured in uniform. Benn Ferriero played on the 3rd and 4th lines when he was with San Jose. He gave it his all while in teal, and I can respect that. Now he's been traded away and may become more of a journey-man type player in the NHL. I'll keep an eye on him though!

Overall Value -
This blaster was as standard as they come. There wasn't huge value to come out of it, and the Young Gun selection was pretty weak. These blasters are drying up a little as time goes on so I have seen a slight increase in the price of them. I initially thought they were $10, but checking the website now I see they are closer to $15. I think I'd still take the risk of buying one or two at that price... but anything higher than that would be a turn-off.

Let me know what you thought of my 09/10 Upper Deck Series 1 blaster in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cardboard Commentary #18 (Trading Cards - Displaying Your Cards)

In order to trade your cards with people over the internet, you have to have a way for people to see the cards you have. There are many ways to show people what you have, and a good trader will use one or more of these methods to help other traders know what he or she has available. The three primary ways of showing off your traders are: trade videos, card 'buckets' or photo albums, and trade lists. Today we'll look at the positives and negatives of all three of these methods.

Trade Videos -
If you have a Youtube account and are a card collector, then you probably have or seen trade videos. Collectors on Youtube make videos showing off the cards that they have for trade. Videos are a great way to let others know what you have because you show the exact card you have. For me, a great trade video should be done in high quality so that the condition of the card can be seen. If I were making a trade video, I would let collectors know any imperfections on the card and show them on camera. This might discourage some collectors from wanting the card, but better than then getting it returned to you or lowering your reputation.

Though trade videos are a great tool for trading, I personally don't tend to make them because of two primary reasons: 1. they can take too long, 2. they can easily become outdated. I don't know if my attention span is getting less and less, but I find it hard to sit through a trade video that lasts over 5 minutes. I guess I just get bored, or I feel like I want to spend my time in other ways than sitting through a long trade video. And in terms of getting outdated... once you've traded a card in your video, that video is now outdated because you are showing a card you no longer have. One thing I really dislike is when I actually watch a trade video and get excited about a card someone has, only to find out it has already been traded. That's a real bummer. A solution to this would be to annotate your video description and let people know what has been traded out and what is left. This isn't a common practice for most video traders though. It'd be nice though, wouldn't it?

Card Buckets -
Often times collectors will ask for your bucket. If you're a new collector, you may have no idea what he or she is talking about! A 'bucket' refers to a place where collectors can go to see your cards for trade - usually a digital photo album (like PhotoBUCKET - get it!?!). A photo album of your cards on the internet (to me) is the ideal way to show off your cards for trade. Not only does it have a visual representation, but you can add text to describe the condition of the card if it has any issues.

Photo albums can be organized in many different ways. I have seen collectors organize by team, by player, and by card type. The better and more clear your organization, the easier it will be for you to trade your cards. I always appreciate an organized album, no matter how it is organized. My personal bucket is organized alphabetically by player. My traders usually hover around 150 cards, which I feel is small enough to justify the alphabetical method. For traders with many more cards than that, I would go with organizing by card type (insert, jersey, autograph, etc.). Here's a link to my traders for you to see on Photobucket: Click Here.

Though internet albums are great, there can be issues related to them. Collectors who do not update or revise their albums can mislead others with what they have in stock. Image quality can also be an issue. I personally prefer really good scans of cards, but a nice clear photo using a digital camera works well too. And as I have eluded to already, a disorganized album is not fun to look through.

Photobucket has worked well for me (though I think the pre-updated version of it was MUCH better), but I have seen some great card albums on Flickr, Facebook, and other sites. Younger collectors may run into problems in terms of having limited space on some sites without a paid premium upgraded account. But most are savvy enough to find a good way to display their cards - it just takes a little investigation and a little work!

Trade Lists -
A text-based list of the cards you have available is probably the simplest way of informing others what you have for trade. Most of the time you will find these lists on forum sites such as Sports Card Forum or CnC - some collectors have personal websites where they display their lists as well. These trade lists are like digital photo albums without the pictures. It's functional... but without pictures these lists can be a bit of a chore to go through.

If you're just getting into trading, creating a post with a trade list is the easiest way to start. All you have to do is start a new thread in the traders section of a forum site. I recommend organizing your list by card type rather than team or alphabetical order. Many traders like to go right for the game-used or autographed cards, so grouping them together makes it easier for them. Traders can get discouraged trying to pick hits out of long lists to the point of just ignoring your list. The better organized your list, the more attention it will get.

As with a photo album, I really appreciate collectors who update their lists whenever something is traded out of it to avoid confusion. Some collectors also include a 'want list' too. A want list is a listing of cards that someone is seeking. It could be certain players, cards sets, or card types. A want list will give traders a heads up on what you're looking for. If they have something they know you want, they may contact you and initiate a trade.

If you use any of these three methods of displaying your cards, you're on your way to getting some deals done! I'd love to hear your best practices in terms of displaying your cards. Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments section!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

2013-2014 Upper Deck Trilogy Review

Here it comes... the DOUBLE ROOKIE CLASS!!! Both Upper Deck and Panini are majorly hyping this year's crop of rookies, and Trilogy is the first product out of the gate with to feature their cards (though technically the retail version of 13/14 Score did come out yesterday). Trilogy is a very interesting product as it has been out of the Upper Deck release schedule for a few years. It has returned with a new configuration and higher price tag. Let's take a look and see what Trilogy brings to the table.

Base Card Design -
The Trilogy base cards have a classic SP-ish design to them. They are very clean, primarily white cards with modern graphics and foil touches. It's a mature and understated look that really does work. The background of the card features triangular shapes that make complete sense for a product called Trilogy. The cards are a bit thin for my liking, but overall they still look good and have a premium feel about them. If I had to make a complaint, I wish Upper Deck came up with a more radical design for these cards - they really could have called this SP 3.0 or something like that given the similarity to those cards.

The Trilogy backs are interesting in that they feature absolutely no on-ice statistics. Collectors will find a paragraph of information along with the player's number, position, and vitals. The design of the card backs go along very nicely with the front. As usual, Upper Deck does a bang up job of unifying the look of the card on both sides; the color scheme, fonts, and graphics match up nicely.

Rookies in Trilogy have an interesting serial numbering system. Each rookie has three versions: level 1 numbered to 699, level 2 numbered to 399, and level 3 numbered to just 49. Each version of rookie card features a different design to them. The level 1 rookie of Jonathan Huberdeau shown above is all foil with a 'zoomed out' full body shot. It's a very good looking card that reminds me of the fully foiled Trilogy rookie cards of the past.

The level 2 rookie cards look to have a closer mid-body shot of the player. The graphical elements on the card are a bit larger as well. Notice that the golden foil lines on level 2 are much thicker than those on the level 1 card. And though I didn't pull a level 3 card in my box, I have seen that Upper Deck has chosen to use up-close head shots of the players for those cards. I think that this particular tiering system is very interesting. Not only is the numbering different, but so is the design. It will be very interesting to see how collectors react to having three rookie cards of the same player in Trilogy. It's perfect for a product with a 'three-theme', but will it confuse collectors? That's my question. Also, which card will collectors deem to be the 'true' rookie card? Time will tell!

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Each box of Trilogy comes with three mini boxes of three packs each. Upper Deck states that there will be a rookie autograph in every mini box. Each pack has a 'hit' in it, be it a memorabilia, autograph, or crystal card. In total, collectors can expect to pull nine hits per hobby box of Trilogy.

Crystal cards are new to Trilogy this year. Though Upper Deck is touting them as something new, they are very similar to the thick Frozen in Time inserts from past iterations of Trilogy. The Crystal cards look very nice. The card has a three dimensionality to it. In the far background there appears to be a cracked ice surface; the image of the player floats above it. I do like the look of these cards and though I'd rather have an autographed card, I think I prefer getting this to pieces of jersey. The Crystal inserts feature active and retired players at various tiers of difficulty. The Paul Coffey I pulled comes 1:66 packs. Getting any Crystal card is 1:9, which translates to one-per-box.

Triple jersey cards of National Trios and Past/Present/Future stars like this card above can be found in Trilogy this year. These triple jersey cards are probably the most boring cards that you can find in the product. Though there are three swatches of jersey on the card, the swatches are pretty small, and jersey cards just aren't that exciting anymore. I get the fact that putting three jerseys on the same card is the Trilogy theme, but these cards are just tired. It could be the design though... while I like the picture of the flag in the background, the rest of the card looks like it came from an un-used SPGU Authentic Fabrics idea. These cards should have, and could have, been done much better.

The Trilogy Signature Pucks autographed card is a take on the old Sweet Shot concept. I think collectors will enjoy these cards - if the pen ink doesn't smudge like mine did. Pucks are an integral part of hockey, and featuring the puck like this is fun. The card is well designed. There is a movement to these cards that is created from the circular lines emanating from the rubber puck. It's a cool effect. Obviously the puck is not a game-used item, but I think it works better than a cut of an actual game-used puck. The size is right, and I really enjoy the team logo affixed to the front.

Ice Scripts are back for collectors to find in this year's Trilogy. I wonder if I should call these acetate cards or Crystal cards... I'm not sure... but what I am sure about is that these cards look great! The clear space for the autograph is a perfect idea. Unfortunately for me, my Tavares autograph was smudged. Had it been a clean autograph, this would have been my favorite pull from my box. As it stands, the Tavares card is going back to Upper Deck for replacement. I hope this isn't a problem with the entire run of Ice Scripts. If it isn't, these cards will be a favorite amongst collectors.

Besides what I pulled from my box, those who buy Trilogy will also find base card autograph variations as well as Clear Cut Combo autographs. I don't believe that their are patch cards in this year's Trilogy, so don't expect to find a triple patch variation of the triple jersey cards. All of Trilogy's insert cards have different tiering. You're going to want to check each one to see if it is a short print or not.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Upper Deck has done a good job of re-booting their Trilogy brand. I can honestly say that I really enjoyed opening up the box! Their goal was to up the premium feel for Trilogy, and they succeeded. I definitely thought that this version of Trilogy was of a higher quality than the Trilogy brand of the past.

With premium quality comes a premium price tag. A three-mini box (nine pack) hobby box costs a little under $300. That's quite a bit! The high price tag may scare off collectors from purchasing this product. It might be a good idea to get in on group breaks of this rather than breaking it by the box for collectors who usually don't go for boxes in this price range.

Trilogy has always been a product with a high price tag, but now it's even higher. I wonder if it will translate into higher resale values. As expensive as Trilogy was in the past, cards were never big money makers compared to the price of a pack or box. I think the final pricing of Trilogy will depend on how collectors assess Trilogy. Will they lump it together with their past memories of it, or will they see it as a new premium hockey product?

For me, I really liked opening my box of Trilogy. Getting nine hits is really fun! For those who can afford it, I would say get it. It's a very fun break... and who knows... maybe this double rookie class will be great! If it truly is, then it's definitely a smart buy. With full boxes being so highly priced, I wonder if many collectors will go for mini boxes or packs of Trilogy. That is definitely an option for those who have dealers that are willing to break the product down into its smaller bits.

My only issue with Trilogy was with some card quality problems I found in my box. Hopefully that is not something that others will be plagued with. I'd be glad to try another box though!

Overall Rating:

Check out my break of 13/14 Trilogy from D&P cards in Sacramento, CA:

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Retail Review #57 (08/09 Be a Player Blaster)

It's been at least a little while since I've opened up a Be a Player blaster box. These quick little breaks are great because you know there is a hit waiting to come out of it - no need to worry about going hitless! The level of satisfaction comes down to which player you get; will it be a star player? Chances are it won't be, but we'll never know until the packs are opened up. Let's get to it!

Price - 

Packs - 2
08/09 Upper Deck Be a Player Blaster Packs

Back in the day, autographed and memorabilia cards were extremely difficult cards to come by. With boxes like these Be a Player blasters, we collectors have definitely been spoiled. It is so easy to have access to the signatures of professional players in the NHL and other leagues. And it's not just the availability... it's the price too! At around $10, collectors have the chance to own a signature card from a professional athlete - that's really cool. I definitely don't take it for granted that I have the opportunity to pull an autograph at such an inexpensive price!

That being said, all the autographs in Be a Player are sticker autographs, not on-card. Stickers are definitely not as nice or desired by collectors - but they help keep the price down. I'm ok with the sticker autograph concept as long as it's done well. I would say that the autos in this year's BAP are pretty well designed, though not the best I've ever seen.

Let's go ahead and open up this blaster of 08/09 Be a Player:

Review -
Since I've been opening up a lot of Upper Deck Series 1 and 2 recently, this break was a bit jarring in terms of the speed at which it took - it was over before I even knew it!

Overall, I'd have to say that this blaster was very weak. I managed to get a top three, but I was definitely stretching for good cards to select. As weak as the top three cards were, the rest of the cards were even worse - absolutely nothing worth noting. If I were a new card collector checking this product out, I'd probably be disappointed with the player selection inside this blaster.

Here were the top three cards of this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Paul Kariya Card No. 158
An oldie! I remember Kariya as a hot shot rookie that was very popular in the hobby. It's pretty cool that he turned out to have a very long NHL career. I feel that he didn't make it to the superstar status of the greats like Gretzky or Lemieux, but he was solid and had longevity.

#2 - Chris Pronger Card No. 3
Speaking of oldies... here's Chris Pronger! Though many people dislike Pronger, you got to feel for that guy if you've seen the documentary regarding what he's going through since his concussion. I remember pulling Pronger out of packs in the 90's - dang that was a long time ago!

#1 - Chris Phillips Card No. S-PC
I am not familiar with Chris Phillips, but after looking up information about him, I was surprised by his longevity too! It's amazing that Phillips has been with the Sens since the late 90's. Ottawa fans must know him very well. Oldies top 3 FTW this week!

Overall Value -
This particular box of Be a Player was a big letdown. If I had paid the recommended price of $20, I would have been very disappointed. At $10, my box was still not worth it, but at least the loss doesn't feel as bad. I recently checked to see if my source for these blasters still had them in stock - they do not. I hope this isn't the last 08/09 BAP blaster I get to open! It'd be nice to end on a higher note!

Let me know what you thought of my 08/09 Be a Player blaster in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Cardboard Commentary #17 (Trading Cards - Extras)

Today I'm going to be talking about one of those unwritten rules... you know... something that everyone knows, but is unspoken. An example of this in sports would be to not try breaking up a no-hitter very late in the game with a bunt if your team is down by 7 or more runs. In the trading card hobby, an unwritten rule of trading is to include some extra cards whenever you make a trade with someone.

Sending extra cards is a nice gesture that many people do when trading sports cards. The overwhelming majority of the trades I have personally made with people have included extra cards - close to, or even above 90% if I had to take a guess! So how do people know to include extras? I think it's all about the video maildays posted on Youtube. When you see people constantly trading and getting extras in their packages, I think you learn pretty quickly what the unwritten rule of including extras is.

So what kind of extras should you send? I always try to send extras that the other trader will like. To do this, you have to do a little digging on the person with whom you are trading. When dealing with Youtube trades, I usually take a quick glance at their main channel. If I see a certain team's logo scattered all over their page, it's usually a good indicator that I should find cards of that team to send off. Collectors also often put their favorite players in a list on their informational page or make a video telling others who they like to collect. Taking a minute or two to find this information will make the extra cards you send more meaningful to and appreciated by the person receiving them.

When dealing with trading on a forum, many users have a banner or information below the posts that they make. Taking a quick glance at that will yield the same result as above. It's not difficult to do at all, and well worth it to make the trade you participate in better. In the case where you can't find any information at all about the person you're trading with, you can always simply ask what player or team they like!

In terms of what to send, I usually like to send off extra base and insert cards. They are not a big loss to me, but may be really appreciated by the person I'm trading with. Also, I judge what extras to send with regards to the value of the deal we make. The higher and more value the deal, the better extras I send. For small trades, I just toss in a few inserts or a jersey card. Use your discretion, and just know that whatever is sent should be appreciated. It's really the gesture that counts!

Hopefully this article gave you some insight on sending extras. This practice is something that I think is really cool about the trading card hobby. It's all about giving more and trying to make another person's day a little better. It's totally awesome! I'd love to hear about any extras that you got that you really appreciated. Let me know about them in the comments section!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Retail Review #56 (10/11 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster)

More Upper Deck Series 2! This time I move ahead one year to the 2010/11 edition of the venerable series. I chose this box to open today because of the recent Tyler Seguin news. No longer is Seguin a Boston Bruin... now he's a Dallas Star! That's probably not a great thing in terms of his hobby collectibility, but his 10/11 Young Gun will still be a card I look to pull whenever I go for these blasters.

Price - 

Packs - 12
10/11 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster Packs

I have really enjoyed breaking these Upper Deck blasters. Series 1 and 2 both provide collectors with fun cards to pull out. And it's not just the Young Guns, I love getting all the different inserts and update cards that come in these boxes - it just feels like there is a good amount of added value. I'm expecting the same out of this box.

Let's find out what is hiding inside this 10/11 Upper Deck Series 2 blaster:

Review -
I was a bit surprised at the lack of insert cards in this box, but I guess that's just how it was with these. I did get one significant insert though - you'll see that in the top three!

The majority of the non-base cards were Victory updates. I got a few regular Victory cards, two rookies, and a gold. Sadly, one of my rookies was Alexander Vasyunov. He was one of many Russian hockey players tragically killed in a plane crash back in 2011. I have a few of his cards, and every time I see them I remember that horrible event.

As far as my Young Guns went, I actually 'sort of' got four! Korbinian Holzer of the Leafs was the first Young Gun to come out of the blaster. He's a big d-man that has seen some playing time with Toronto. He's not a big name, but pulling Leaf players is always good as they have a huge fan base.

A Tim Thomas retro card also came out of the blaster. Thomas is a polarizing player that has recently made the news a little. He took the last season off. Will he return to the NHL next season? And with who? I guess we'll find out pretty soon.

Here are the top three cards of this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Anders Lindback Card No. 320 (Victory Update)
Lindback was a decently popular rookie to get back in 2010/11. He showed promise, but playing behind Pekka Rinne didn't give him much playing time. He was traded to Tampa Bay last year. We'll see how he does in a more prominent role!

#2 - Paajarvi/Seguin/Shattenkirk Card No. 500
So when I said I 'sort of' got 4 Young Guns, you probably guessed that I pulled the Young Gun Checklist card. Upper Deck has done the three player rookie checklist for the past few years. It's a nice card, but not nearly as good as pulling the regular Young Gun card.

#1 - Bobby Orr Card No. HH-BO
I had no idea what this card was when I pulled it. All I knew was that it was different and looked amazing. With some eBay research, I was able to see that this card had some value to it! So... good looking and worth some money... we've got a winner here! This is a really sweet card of Bobby Orr. I really like it.

Overall Value -
The Orr card really made this box. If not for it, the score would have probably been a touch lower. The Young Gun checklist was a nice pull too though. Overall I was very pleased with this box. This was my last blaster of 10/11 Series 2. Now that Seguin has gone to Dallas, I'm not sure if I'm as inclined to get more... but you never know! These 10/11 blasters are still one of my favorites to bust.

Let me know what you thought of my 10/11 Upper Deck Series 2 blaster in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cardboard Commentary #16 (Trading Cards - Sites to Check Out)

So let's say you have a you've been buying packs and boxes of cards for a while. What do you do with all the cards you don't really want in your collection? Well... trade them! Part of the fun of collecting cards is trading with other collectors. It's social interaction, it's bargaining and bartering... it's getting something you want with something that you don't. Trading cards with other collectors has always been a big part of the hobby. So how do you get started?

One of the best ways to get into trading nowadays is to join a card forum. A card forum is an internet site that allows collectors to talk about cards, show off their cards, and of course, trade their cards. Selling is also possible, too. There are quite a few popular forums that card collectors use for trading. Each one provides a relatively safe environment for people to make deals. To ensure that collectors are dealing fairly and not scamming or cheating others, these sites have their own moderator and feedback systems along with strong trading guidelines and rules. I feel safe when trading with members of these forums, especially members who have gained a good reputation of trading by earning a high feedback score.

If you want to trade cards, you have to join a forum! It's just too great an experience to pass up. Here are some forum/trading sites that I would recommend:

Sports Card Forum.
SCF is a place that has both an extensive inventory system for you to keep track of your cards as well as a great feedback system. There are many, many posts in their trading section everyday. Collectors can find all sorts of cards from all sports here as well as non-sports cards. Check it out here.

CNC is a card retailer operating out of Canada. They are very well known for their daily hockey group breaks. If you're into hockey cards, CNC is the place to join up with. The majority of their focus is on hockey, and you'll find many hockey collectors participating on their forums. Check it out here.

The Beckett website is the online portal of the Beckett Price Guide magazine. Collectors can find information about a variety of card topics here. Their forums allow members to trade with each other. Beckett also has an inventory system to help collectors organize their collections. You can also purchase the ability to use their online price guide. Check it out here.

Hobby Insider.
The Hobby Insider site is a bit harder to get into (when I joined I needed to have a reference from a current member), but there are some great traders on the site. My LCS's owner is a part of this site, and he has completed many of the sets he has built over the years by trading on Hobby Insider. Check it out here.

Blowout Cards.
Blowout Cards is an internet seller of cards, but they also have a huge forum system. Blowout Cards is very active on Twitter, and I constantly am seeing amazing cards that their members pull out of their breaks via tweets. The forum is very active. Check it out here.

One other site that I'll mention for trading is Youtube. I personally am a big part of the Youtube card community, but I'll be the first to admit that Youtube is one of the riskiest places to trade on. Youtube is not a site dedicated to cards. People have used it for showing off cards and trading, but there is no moderation and no safeguards on Youtube. That being said, you can find good traders on Youtube by watching peoples' mailday and trade videos. People who trade on Youtube have to spend a lot of time building a reputation. It's really sort of an old school approach. I have enjoyed trading on Youtube, but it's a place that you must use extreme caution. I will say that many of the best Youtube traders are also part of trading forums already.

If you have any other recommended trading site or forums, please let me know! I'd love to check them out. I've been very comfortable with the places I trade on, but it's always good to check out new places too. Tell me about them in the comments section.