Sunday, September 29, 2013

Retail Review #68 (12/13 O-Pee-Chee Blaster)

O-Pee-Chee was one of the few products released during the shortened 2012/13 hockey season. Because of the lack of big named rookie cards, collectors were generally pretty cool towards the cards released that year. In fact, I haven't opened much of the products from that season myself. It should be fun breaking into this blaster and reminding myself what these cards were like!

Price - 

Packs - 14
12/13 O-Pee-Chee Blaster Packs

Whenever I make a large purchase for my Retail Reviews, I try to get an average cost per blaster/box of $10. To me, that seems pretty economical. Blasters heavily discounted like this OPC blaster help me get other blasters that may be over the $10 mark (like the box of UD Masterpieces I broke a couple weeks back). The original price of this blaster was $19.99. I CANNOT see myself ponying up that kind of money for O-Pee-Chee. It's just way too much! But seven dollars? Heck yes I could do that!

In terms of the product content, there just isn't much in terms of rookie card selection. And that really hurts a product. I've recently been wondering if there are any rookies in 12/13 products that will actually make it big in the NHL and have cards that collectors really want. I have my doubts. If there is no rookie standout, then really all collectors have to look forward to in 12/13 products are the veteran player cards available. And that's probably not enough to make collectors pull out their checkbooks. Will there be a lot of 12/13 products sitting on shelves for years to come? I'm not sure. But I'd be willing to puck them up if they were at the right price, like this blaster of OPC!

Let's see what comes out of this blaster:

Review -
This was a pretty fun break. I thought I'd get some bigger names in the inserts that I pulled out, but that wasn't really the case. I was happy to get a lot of insert and subset cards though. Just about every pack had something to look forward to, and some packs had two special cards packed in. In 14 packs I was able to pull out 19 inserts or rookie/legend cards. In total I had 2 rainbow foil, 2 marquee rookies, 3 stickers, 4 marquee legends, 7 retro cards, and a pop-up insert. That's a pretty nice haul!

One thing that I now remember about this set is the retro card design. While the standard retro base card is pretty plain (and boring), the marquee rookie and legend versions really stand out! They truly remind me of the fun designs of yesteryear.

My only real complaint, and if you watched the video you could see this, were those darned wrappers! This was probably the most difficult time I've ever had opening up the packs. Shred city!

Here were my top cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Curtis Joseph Retro Card No. 545
This might be my favorite retro design ever... maybe... if not top, then definitely one of the best. It's so colorful! The entire card really pops well. It's too bad standard cards aren't made like this anymore. Where's the fun?

#2 - Alex Ovechkin Card No. S-94
Ovechkin was the biggest name in this break so he gets to land here at number two. The stickers are a fun insert set to find in OPC. I just wished they made them a little different. I'd be better to have the stickers slightly smaller than the card (like the way Garbage Pail Kids used to be) so they'd be easier to peel. But... I wonder if anyone peels these anyways. Anybody? I'd love to know if you do! Mad props if you stick these to your Trapper Keeper.

#1 - Zach Parise Card No. PU-32
These Pop-Ups insert cards look so great! They have a very retro color scheme and look to them. And the die-cutting is well done. I remember really liking these when I bought my hobby boxes of OPC for review. A quick check of the blaster box odds states that these were inserted 1:32 packs. So, not every blaster has one. Glad I was able to pull this out!

Overall Value -
Hey, it's seven bucks! It was a fun little break on this morning on the cheap. Obviously, if you're looking for the huge hit... or even any hit for that matter, you're not going for OPC blasters, but if you want to rip something a little different... this is for you! Also, those who want the challenge of putting a large set together would do well to look towards OPC. It's got old school collecting written all over it.

Let me know what you thought of this break 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, September 27, 2013

Cardboard Commentary #28 (Helping Hands... A Nice Story)

Last week in Cardboard Commentary, I wrote about a bad situation I had on eBay. It's been a week later, and I still haven't received the card I wrote about in that post. At this point, I don't think I'll ever see it in my mailbox... but I'm not going to spend any time worrying about it. Today, I'm going to touch on a much more positive side of the hobby experience. Again, it deals with a rare Couture card... but this time with a much better ending!

A couple of weeks ago I suddenly received three Youtube PMs in a row regarding a rare Panini Prime Couture card numbered to just 2. Most people who follow me on Youtube know that I am an avid Logan Couture collector, and a few of them promptly sent me the link to a group break video of it being pulled. They were Youtubers elijahking13, DeadlineTV2, and BruinsMA888. Thanks guys! Three completely different people on Youtube sent me private messages regarding that Couture card. To me, that's amazing! They all knew that I collect Couture, and they took the time and initiative to let me know of a card I might need. This isn't the first time that this has happened, in fact, other Youtubers (***cough cough Datsyukify cough***) PM me links to Couture cards I might want as well, but this is one that really came to fruition in a big way!

I had my doubts that I would be able to obtain this particular Couture card. First of all, it was pulled in a group break. Group breaks are done and then sent out to the random people who participate in them. I would have to contact the person who did the group break, and then somehow get in touch with the person who won. Not a long shot by any means... but long enough for sure! It was long enough that I was about to just let this one go, or just hope it was put up on eBay by the lucky group breaker who got it.

Somehow, I decided to just give it a shot and contact the breaker who pulled the card. One of the Youtbers who PMed me gave me the store contact information. OTCards turned out to be the breaker. I contacted them and they were kind enough to pass on my information to the person who got the card. A few days past and I didn't hear anything, so I thought that was that.

Hah, well... turns out-that-was-not-that as the person who got the card sent me an email message. In our first few exchanges I offered him a dollar amount I thought was fair. He also was willing to accept trades for higher-end Avs cards, but I didn't have any. In the process of emailing back and forth he told me he had a higher offer for the card. I was a bit bummed out... I really wanted that card, and was hoping that the other potential buyer would drop the ball. I expressed a bit of sadness that the card was about to be out of reach for me, but mentioned that I did have a large Couture collection, and that his Prime/2 card would have been great in it.

The very next email he sent was informing me he was going to sell the card to me for my price. My jaw literally fell open! Though he had a higher offer, he appreciated the fact that I had put together a large Couture collection, and wanted the card to be a part of it. I was amazed.

See... usually, everything stops at the almighty dollar. I mean... if you can get more money, then get more money no matter what! Well, that wasn't the case with this seller. He was willing to take a little less and accept my offer, and let the Couture join my PC.

Long story short... I immediately Paypaled him the money with a little extra for shipping and he sent the card out about a week ago.

I got the card today.

Here's me opening up the package:

The card is absolutely amazing! Big thanks to Kam for his willingness to sell me the card and send it out so quickly. I really appreciate it. And I also appreciate all the folks who helped bring this rare Couture card to me! It will now join my Couture collection. If you want to see my collection of Logan Couture cards, CLICK HERE.

I hope you enjoyed this story! I'm glad I could post something positive after last week's more depressing Cardboard Commentary.

Thanks for being amazing hockey card hobby!!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

2013-2014 Panini Prizm Review

Hockey collectors had a sneak preview of Prizm in last year's Rookie Anotholgy... and now the full-release of Prizm is upon us! Prizm is a mid-level product that all collectors can afford to try - whether in pack form or by the box. Those who love a chrome-type look should especially enjoy these cards. Prizm has been a hit with Panini's other sports releases. Let's see how it does with hockey!

Base Card Design -
The Prizm base cards are fully-foiled and come on a relatively thick stock. It's not heavy like Dominion or Prime, of course, but these cards have a nice solid feel to them. If you compare them to Topps' Chrome products, these are noticeably thicker and do not have the problem of bending that those cards do. The Prizm base cards lay flat and keep their form very well. In terms of design, the chromed look lends itself well to a modern look, and Panini has done just that. The graphics and fonts are very modern in nature - they are slick, elongated, and give the cards a 'fast' feel. The border of the card uses simple shapes and textures to frame the player. And the full-color player looks great popping out of the chromed out border. I think it can be difficult to make really unique designs with a chrome-type foil, so if Panini continues to release Prizm in future years, I'll be interested to see how the designs change to be unique from year to year.

The backs of the Prizm cards have some strong design elements to them. In previous Panini hockey reviews, I had criticized the bland nature of their hockey card back designs. I am not a huge fan of the Prizm back, but it is noticeably better than Panini's other efforts. It definitely shows that they are concerned about making a good looking backside. With these backs, I like the fact that similar design elements such as the player name are mirrored from the frontside. The card numbering space is big and bold... that's a plus. And I enjoy the team colors used as an accent. All good things for sure. My real qualm with the back is that there is too much wasted border space. I wish the center graphic and vital information was expanded out a bit more. Everything to me just looks a little squished, when it didn't have to be.

Rookie cards make up the back-end of the Prizm base set, and there are quite a few of them! One hundred to be exact. Rookie cards come one-per-pack and share the same design as the base cards. The only additions these cards have are the two rookie card logos. One is a small shield that denotes the double rookie class, while the other is just the word 'rookie' in large font. Getting the exact rookie you want in a box can be a challenge as it would take five boxes with perfect collation to complete the rookie set.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Prizm is a product that will not be known for its hits. Collectors will find only two sticker-autograph cards per box, and no memorabilia hits. Nope. No jerseys. No patches. I think Panini is really trying to push and bring back the popularity of the parallel card with this product. Will it work? I'm not sure, as hockey collectors haven't really gravitated heavily towards parallel cards. But that's what Prizm is really banking on, because Prizm is all about parallels.

The most basic parallel card is the Prizm parallel card. I know, I know... that sounds goofy as the cards are all called Prizm... this card has a holo-foil look to it when placed in light. Check out my box break below to see this card in all its shimmering glory. These Prizm rainbow foil cards are not numbered, but they can easily be differentiated from a standard base card when seen in person. Collectors who follow other sports will be reminded of Topps refractor cards. This is definitely Panini's take on a refractor. I'm sure other collectors will still call them refractors even though I'm sure Panini wouldn't like that. I guess it's like going to a non-McDonalds fast food restaurant and asking for McNuggets. They'll know what you're talking about, even if they don't call it that there.

The orange parallel cards are very sweet looking. The cards have a bright orange border that really pops. I only pulled one in my box, but in buying five packs more I was able to pull another one. The orange parallels are limited to just 50 serial numbered copies each. It's a great looking parallel card that I think collectors will enjoy chasing. Besides the orange parallels, there are purple cracked ice wrapper redemption parallels, green, blue, blue pulsar, red, red pulsar, gold, and finite versions of the base set and rookies. Does that sound like a lot? Well, it is! Blue parallel cards are Wal-Mart exclusives while Reds are Target exclusives. Gold cards are only found in hobby and are limited to just 10, and the finite versions are the one-of-ones. Player collectors like myself are going to have a heck of a time tracking all these down!

Initial Impressions is an insert set focused on the new rookie talent. This little set is a great way for Panini to add in a few more cards of the rookies. From a design standpoint, I really do like the Initial Impressions logo and the heavy texturing going on in the background.

Not to be left out, many of the insert sets are also graced with parallel versions. As you can see from the Schultz card above, it's the basic Prizm variation. Orange, gold, and finite versions can also be found. I must say that the parallel rainbow foil does make the cards look a ton better. Scans of these rainbow foil cards look much better too!

Immortalized is an insert set based on players who have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup. These cards are nice because they feature die-cutting. Many hockey collectors enjoy seeing the Stanley Cup on their cards, so I'm sure these cards will be appreciated by many. Panini has included both retired players and current players in this set. As with all the other Prizm sets, this one has parallel versions of itself.

Pivotal Players is another insert that can be found in Prizm. This is set of cards that I'm not as big of a fan of. The design of the card is pretty pedestrian, and while it's nice to get more star players, they do seem a bit unnecessary. I don't see a point to having these cards in the set. Other inserts that are in Prizm that I didn't pull were Endless Impressions and Net Defenders. The Endless Impressions cards are of all-time NHL greats. And of course the Net Defenders are cards of goalies. Both of those sets seem to be good additions, I think there was just one too many insert sets... and that one too many was the Pivotal Players.

As I have already mentioned, each box of Prizm will come with two autographed cards. There is a huge variety of autographs that you can pull, but getting a big named star or rookie will be difficult as they are most likely short-printed. The autographs are on-sticker, and the cards parallel the look of the base. They are decent looking cards, but they don't stand out in a meaningful way. It's my opinion that they are there to add a little value to the boxes, and entice collectors to purchase the product. Like I said, I really think Panini is looking for collectors to collect parallel cards again. Getting these autographs is sort of a bonus.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Hockey collectors are a group that really likes their hits. That's what entices us to purchase the cards. I think Panini is trying to change that perspective with this Prizm release. Panini has put in a huge amount of parallel cards to chase with Prizm. If collectors do indeed go nuts for them, they will have to go to Target, Wal-mart, and send in wrappers to get all the cards they want. Collectors in other sports have gone nuts for parallels before, so maybe hockey collectors will too.

If the parallel cards do turn out to be a hit... then Prizm will be a good long-term collectible product. If it doesn't, and collectors are soft regarding the parallel chase, then Prizm may peter out quickly because there isn't much hit content to find per box - only two autographs (with the likelihood of getting a good one pretty low).

I think Prizm is a wait and see type of a product. As it stands at release, it's pretty affordable for a box - you're looking at around or less than a hundred dollars. But is what you get in it worth that hundred? It all depends on how the parallels do!

At the price, I'd definitely get a box or two to give Prizm a try. But I would hold off buying tons of it until I was sure the value and demand is there.

Overall Rating:

Check out my box break of 13/14 Prizm Hockey at D&P Cards in Sacramento, CA:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Retail Review #67 (08/09 Be a Player Blaster)

Today I'm opening up a blaster box of 2008/09 Be a Player. As you can probably tell, I'm very fond of these blasters and love busting them! As always, these 2-pack breaks take a very short time to open, and there aren't too many cards to see... but at least one will contain an autograph! And that's what makes these blasters so cool.

Price - 

Packs - 2
08/09 Be a Player Blaster Packs

Though I enjoy Be a Player so much, I do wish there was a bit more variety to the cards. The base set of cards is very plain, and there are no subsets to be found. Rookie cards are a possibility, but getting one is just about unheard of as they are extremely limited. At least the last time I opened up a Be a Player blaster I got one, albeit one that wasn't too great.

The card backs have the bare minimum of content. There are no player write-ups... only statistics. That's pretty boring. I guess all funding for this set of cards went into obtaining the autographs... which I can understand.

Really old school Be a Player sets used to celebrate the players in unique ways. Autographs were on-card and many cards depicted players off-ice. Those were pretty sweet. I like Be a Player now, but I looooved it back then!

Let's go ahead and see what I get in this blaster:

Review -
Wow, is all I can really say about this break! No, I didn't get a huge name, but I was able to pull something out that is pretty rare! It's obviously going to be the top card of the break, which you'll see in the Top 3 Cards section below. As for the rest, ehh, not so great. Usually you can expect to get at least one 'bigger' star player when opening up the packs. That wasn't the case here. I had a hard time choosing what to put in the top three after one and two.

You'll find out what I ended up choosing as the top here:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Bobby Ryan Card No. 5
I usually wouldn't put a Bobby Ryan card in the top three, but I recently watched a video he did where he went out onto the streets of Ottawa (where he just got traded to) to talk with fans. He wasn't in hockey gear and asked fans what they thought of the Sens newest addition - himself. Of course, he didn't say who he was. It was pretty hilarious to see the fans talk with him! For that, he gets spot three!

#2 - Keith Ballard Card No. S-KB
Usually the autograph would get top spot... but I got two in this break! Keith Ballard is not a big name, nor is he a player who has a high book value... but at least I have heard of him and seen him play. This card will go straight into my traders, but I wonder if anyone will ever have any interest in it.

#1 - Travis Zajac Card No. S-TZ
Amazing pull! Player's Club parallel cards are super hard to get, and I absolutely did not expect to pull one out of a retail blaster! These autographs are numbered to just 15, and this one was the first one stamped. That's pretty awesome. Zajac has been a solid player for the Devils, but unfortunately isn't a huge name in the hobby. No big deal, I'm still very happy with this rare pull!

Overall Value -
Getting two autographs in this blaster totally made the break. One being numbered to just 15 made it even better. It would have been nice to get a bigger name, but I really can't complain about the contents of this blaster. I can't wait until I open up the next round of Be a Player blaster boxes. I still have one or two lying around.

Let me know what you thought of this break 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, September 21, 2013

Cardboard Commentary #27 (I Thought this eBay Seller Would be A-OK)

I love using eBay to find cards for my collection. It has been reliable for 99% of all the transactions I have made. Of course, nothing is perfect, and sometimes you can come across scammers or bad sellers. I have found it to be rare though, as most people I deal with through eBay have been stellar. Well, recently, I bought a rare Logan Couture card for my collection on eBay. It was at a great price... but after a month of waiting on the card, I am beginning to question if I'll ever get it.

Here's my little story. A while back I noticed a Logan Couture Dominion Printing Plate 1/1 on eBay. I already have a printing plate from that set, but it's always good to add more, as they are pretty unique collectibles. The seller was asking a pretty high price for it, and nobody was biting. So I kept it on my watch list for a few months just to track it.

As it wasn't selling, the seller decided to drop the price on it. It went kept going down until it reached a decently low Buy It Now price... but still no takers (including me!) Truthfully, printing plates have definitely lost popularity over the years as more and more of them come out. But anyways, I could see that it would be frustrating to have a card you think would be a fast seller just sitting for a long time.

One day I noticed that the seller decided to just put it at auction with a .99 cent starting price. I figured that would be my time to jump on it. And yes, I did win the card at auction...

...for under $13.

As you can imagine, I was pretty excited! I probably would have been happy getting it for over $20, but at $13, it was a definite steal.

The seller 370 positive feedbacks with a 100% rating on eBay. To me that tells me the seller is a regular old card collector like myself who just sells cards he or she doesn't need on eBay for some extra money. Usually feedback like this would make me feel pretty confident.

Well, as I was checking my purchase history a few days ago, I noticed something about the auction link. It said the user was 'no longer registered'.


Does this mean I will not get my card? It has been almost a month with no communication from the seller. The seller is located in another country (not Canada by the way), so I'm not sure how I could go about figuring this all out. I'm not sure if the hassle of contacting eBay or other resources is worth my time for a $13 item.

But it's just too bad that things like this happen. Still, being as the card is coming from another country, it may just still be in transit. I really hope that's the case.

If it comes, you'll be the first to know!

I wonder, though, did this seller quit eBay because of this Couture selling price? That can't be it, can it?

Have you had any bad eBay experiences? Or have you ever done wrong on eBay? I'd love to know about it in the comments section!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Retail Review #66 (10/11 Pinnacle Blaster)

Pinnacle's been a product I have opened up a lot of here on Retail Review. At its current price, it is a very good break. There seems to be a lot of Pinnacle blasters still available on the market for collectors to get their hands on. It's a perfect product for collectors on a budget, or who want a quick and inexpensive break to fill that desire to break some product.

Price - 

Packs - 8
10/11 Pinnacle Packs

The stated price printed on the front of the blaster is $19.99, but nope... that's absolutely not what I paid for it! This blaster was only $6.95 from - a really good deal! I have found that these blasters usually produce a hit (a jersey card more often than not), and a few rookies and inserts. Twenty dollars is a bit much to pay, and I would never pay that much for one of these, but it's current price is almost a no-brainer! It's less than most packs you can buy that don't guarantee a hit or the amount of cards.

At a touch under seven dollars, this blaster is great fun. You get eight packs at ten cards per. For newer collectors, this is a generous amount of cards to look over and enjoy after ripping the packs. This blaster provides a really nice experience to learn about the players featured on the cards. For those who don't know, Pinnacle ditches the stats in favor of a player write-up on the back. For new hockey fans or collectors, this is a great way to find out about the game and the athletes who play it.

Let's break into this blaster and see what pops out:

Review -
This Pinnacle break was definitely an enjoyable one. The only thing I didn't like about it was that the cards were every-which-way inside the packs. That's just a little nit-pick though. As I mentioned in the video, Pinnacle has some outstanding photography on their base cards. I think Pinnacle was one of the first Panini brands to really use outstanding and unique photographs intentionally. The player images are really fun, and I think people new to collecting would be pleasantly surprised at these photos. I know if I were new to buying cards, I'd just expect regular action shots, not players in santa hats, candid moments, or shown off the ice.

Two rookies came out of this blaster - Travis Hamonic and Steven Kampfer. Neither rookie is a big name, so that was a bit disappointing. The Kampfer rookie did feature the Nufex foil technology on it, which was cool.

My other hits and inserts made the top three. Here they are:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Henrik Zetterberg/Pavel Datsyuk Chemistry on Canvas Card No. 13
The idea behind the Chemistry on Canvas cards is a good one. I like the fact that it shows two players from the same team who work well together. My only beef with this card is that I feel the images of the players is too far apart. That's just a personal preference though. Otherwise, getting a card with both Datsyuk and Zetterberg is pretty cool - a couple very respectable and great players.

#2 - Jonathan Quick/Martin Brodeur Team Pinnacle Card No. 12
I'm pretty happy any time I get Team Pinnacle cards. When I was younger, I always wanted to pull them out of Pinnacle packs... they were so hard to get!!! These ones are not so difficult, but I think my old memories help these along in terms of my affinity towards them. This particular card is nice as it features a couple outstanding goalies, Jonathan Quick and Martin Brodeur.

#1 - Zdeno Chara City Lights Card No. 3
I'm always happy to get a hit in a blaster... even if it's pretty much guaranteed! Zdeno Chara is a beastly hockey player, so it's a nice card. I especially like the fact that it has serial numbering on the back. That little detail is sweet for such a highly produced product such as Pinnacle.

Overall Value -
Under seven dollars. That's really all I have to say! It's a very good deal for a fun break. Having to order if from may be a bit of a hassle as it doesn't give you immediate gratification, but it's still worth it in my opinion - especially if you can add it to an order you are already making. Oh man, it's be awesome if these were at this price at the retail store! If only, right?!? I definitely recommend a blaster or two of these if you haven't given them a chance yet!

Let me know what you thought of this break 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, September 14, 2013

Cardboard Commentary #26 (12/13 Rookie Class Comparison to Other Years)

With the highly anticipated 2013/14 double rookie card class coming up, it might be fun to look back at the past five seasons worth of 'hot' rookie cards. Every year but one seems to have some stand out rookie cards that are must-haves. The one season that seems to be lacking is the 2013/13 rookie card crop. Granted, this was the shortened season with only hold-over rookies from the previous year, but I wonder... will any of the rookies released from the 2012/13 card season take-off, or will it just be a total bust?

I'm going to start about five years ago with the 2008/09 season. This season was before my time back into the hobby. My biggest regret for not coming back into the hobby sooner was missing out on the first opportunities to grab a rookie card of Steven Stamkos. Steve Mason was the big name back then, but in the years following, Stamkos really took off while Mason has slid into hobby oblivion. As it stands right now Stamkos defines 2008/09, and his rookie card prices are a testament to that.

2009/10 will be a year that always holds a sweet spot in my heart as it's the year I really got back into hockey card collecting. In terms of rookies, I can't say there is a name as big as Stamkos, but there are solid players with John Tavares being the cream of that year's crop. Tavares playing on the lowly Islanders hasn't helped his cause, but he is definitely a force to be reckoned with. And of course I have to mention my personal favorite player from that year - Logan Couture! He needs to stop flying under the radar and take off in hobby popularity!

The 2010/11 rookie year was absolutely a huge one. Collectors went crazy for the rookies that year - with good reason... many of them were amazing. Collectors had to choose from Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Tyler Seguin, PK Subban, Jeff Skinner, and others. Some of the players from this year's class have slowed down in hype through these last few years, but this year's crop can be defined as a year with multiple stand-out guys. This was also the year Panini came into the fold, so really, A LOT happened during this season to make the cards of this year very popular.

Though the 2011/12 rookie class wasn't as strong as the previous year, there was a clear top player to get when cracking boxes open - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Sure, Gabriel Landeskog was another player collectors were happy to get... but really, it was all about RNH. With the addition of Nugent-Hopkins, the Edmonton Oilers looked to be stacked with young talent. And really, depending on how the team does moving on into the future, it will dictate whether or not the rookie cards of RNH, Hall, and Eberle will continue to hold 10/11 and 11/12 up in such high collector esteem.

And so we arrive to the 2012/13 rookie class. Can any rookie that comes from this 'hold-over' group become a big NHL superstar? That's the question I'm left wondering. As you have seen, each previous year (and even going to the years before that) has had at least one stand-out rookie that defined collecting that year. Will any of the rookies in the small rookie card class be able to elevate the popularity of 12/13 rookie cards, or will this year be a big black hole in terms of rookie card collectibility?

2012/13's initial big rookie was Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers. His cards sold decently well for a short period of time before becoming pretty cold. He didn't play that well (or much), and so collectors cooled on him. His Young Gun never reached the heights of the other Young Guns of years past. The top point of his Young Gun sales topped out under $50. For the Blues, Jaden Schwartz was a name for a while. But playing for the Blues is not a great way to boost your rookie card values. Other names from this year are Jakob Silfverburg, Jason Zucker, and Sven Baertschi.

I'm really left scratching my head with 12/13 rookie cards. I understand it's a bit unfair to judge that particular year, but it really is my hope that a great player emerges from that group to become a hobby star. If one does rise up, it'd be really fun to see all the collectors clamoring to open the limited products that were produced during that season.

Let me know if you have any thoughts about the 2012/13 rookie class in the comments section. Any predictions of a rookie standout? I'd love to hear about them!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Retail Review #65 (07/08 Be a Player Blaster)

Here's a return to Be a Player! Be a Player blasters are always fun to open, and if you can find them for a good price, I'd say go for it. You are guaranteed one autographed card per blaster. I haven't been able to pull any huge names out of one yet, but the chance is always alluring!

Price - 

Packs - 2
07/08 Be a Player Retail Packs

There's really not much to say about Be a Player that I haven't said already. Some people like it, some don't. To me, it's a great way for newer collectors to pull autographs easily. Its original price of about $20/blaster is pretty steep. With this $10 price tag, it's just about right. See, many mid-tier products are about ten dollars now - I'm thinking about Artifacts and Certified. In those products, there is something in every pack. Well, not really Certified as you can still lay a goose egg and get all base, but for the most part, you'll get an auto, memorabilia, or insert card when you dig into those hobby boxes. For the same price here, you're getting an autograph... or if you're extremely lucky... a bonus insert or rookie card of some sort. So the ten dollar price definitely works.

Let's go ahead and see what comes out of this blaster:

Review -
Overall this was a very solid break of Be a Player. Upon opening the packs I noticed that the middle card in each pack was different than the base design, so I knew I had gotten a little bonus. As I have already mentioned, getting more than just an auto and base cards is pretty rare. I have opened many BAP blasters without getting anything but the minimum guarantee of cards.

My base card selection turned out to be a good mix of players. I was debating which base cards would get selected into the top three. The one I did end up choosing is not at the caliber of others I got, but I just had to go with it and be a homer for my team!

My base cards were: Henrik Lundqvist, Daniel Briere, Rob Blake, Valtteri Filppula, Alexander Frolov, Daniel Alfredsson, and Jarome Iginla. That's a nice group of NHLers!

Here were my top three:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Jonathan Cheechoo Card No. 164
Cheechoo may have been the least in terms of the base players pulled out of my packs, but he's a Shark so I had to put him in my top three. He may be out of the NHL now, but he had some extremely good seasons playing along side Joe Thornton. His name was part of what made him a fan favorite.

#2 - Tyler Weiman Card No. 228
OK, so Weiman is probably the least of all the players I pulled overall, but his rookie card is numbered to just 99. I was really hoping for a bigger named rookie card from 07/08 when I saw that I had gotten one... but I really can't complain too much.

#1 - Pierre-Marc Bouchard Card No. S-PI
Right when I pulled this Pierre-Marc Bouchard card out I knew it was something I had already gotten. Man, I can't believe I pulled a double auto! Be a Player autographed sets are usually very big, to get a double is pretty darned hard to do. Here's a link to the last time I pulled him in Retail Review: Click Here.

Overall Value -
I have to say that I'm pretty happy with this break of Be a Player. I almost always have fun opening up these little two-pack blasters. It was pretty awesome getting some excellent NHL players in my packs. It was also great fishing out a rookie limited to only 99. This blaster definitely makes me want to open up some more of them. At $10, they are a pretty good deal!

Let me know what you thought of this break 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, September 7, 2013

Cardboard Commentary #25 (Wrapper Redemptions)

Most sports cards are usually available in two forms - hobby and retail. Often times each will have cards exclusively available to collectors who purchase them. Sometimes, card companies will go outside the norm and give collectors more cards to chase by alternate means. One way that has been fairly popular is the wrapper redemption program. Sending in wrappers in exchange for exclusive cards is a really great idea. This 13/14 year, there has already been one... with a second, I have just learned, coming very shortly!

During the 2012/13 hockey card season, Upper Deck came out with an O-Pee-Chee wrapper redemption program. It gave collectors special red parallel cards that were only available to those collectors in Canada who redeemed packs of OPC. The program was most likely a success as Upper Deck has again chosen to make this exchange program available this year, its second year in a row.

The 2013/14 Upper Deck program requires collectors to turn in 50 wrappers to their Diamond Certified UD Dealer. The dealer mails off the redemptions and is returned a pack of six cards. The customer is informed of the pack and comes to pick it up. Each pack comes with five red bordered parallel cards and a special retro stamp card. With a 600-card base set, putting together the parallel set would be quite daunting. And finding your favorite player could be difficult (or expensive) too. But thankfully, quite a few red OPC parallel singles have already shown up on sites like eBay for people to purchase. It hasn't been impossible to track down the cards I need for my PC.

My only real gripe with this redemption program is its Canadian exclusivity. Being in the US, I would have loved to participate in it. This year I only bought one box of OPC. If I had the chance to participate in the redemption program, I'm pretty sure that I would have at least doubled my spending to get a wrapper redemption pack. And probably other collectors in the US would have done the same. I guess in the long-run it saves me a bit of money. The red parallels I needed to get cost me much less than a box of OPC would have! But it would have been really fun to see what I would've gotten had I been able to redeem wrappers.

Not to be left out, Panini has just announced a wrapper redemption of their own! Panini will be releasing their Prizm Hockey later this month, and collectors will get a chance to trade in their wrappers for a special Purple Cracked Ice parallel pack. The Cracked Ice cards look fabulous, and with only three cards per pack, I'm sure collectors will be actively chasing down the cards they want from the parallel set. I am looking forward to these as they should be available to all of North America. I guess that includes Mexico too? Hah, not sure! But any Prizm packs purchased at a Panini Roundtable store will be eligible for participation in this program. Can't wait!

Let me know what you think of card company programs like these wrapper redemptions in the comment section below!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

2013-2014 ITG Decades The 90s Review

ITG has made their way through the decades of hockey these past few years. They started in the 70's with their 1972: The Year in Hockey release, then they came out with Decades - 1980's, and have recently just released their trip back to the 90's with Decades the 90s. The 90's was a great decade, and many collectors remember it fondly. I myself got into hockey in the 90's! It should be pretty cool to see all the players I remember as a young hockey fan in this new set of cards from ITG.

Base Card Design -
The Decades 90s base cards come on medium foilboard card stock. The foil that ITG uses is reflective of light, but doesn't have the rainbow refracting effect that other companies like to use. Perhaps it was a nod to the 90's, when foil cards were a bit simpler... but then... Topps had their refractor cards already... so I guess that theory goes out the window! But these cards do have that 90's sort of look. The patterns and graphics employed do scream 'third-rate' 90's cards. For me, if this design was intended to be a bit cheeky, then I think this set wins. It's definitely throwing out a stereotypical 90's look. If it's supposed to be an elegantly designed 90's throwback, it misses the mark. I'm just going to assume that ITG was going for something more fun and cheeky... so in that case, it works! A funny design that pokes a little fun at how some used to make things look 20 years ago (WOW, can you believe the 90's were 20 years ago?!?!). The Lidstrom card above is from the International subset that makes up the first portion of the set. It looks just like all the other base cards save for the special International logo at the top and the year displayed above the player name.

The International card backs do not include statistics, but rather a write up of the player featured. All the backs are black and white except for the ITG logo (which has a bit of red). As usual, ITG does a wonderful job of giving collectors a nice write-up, but with little else to fire up the senses in terms of design. Standard base cards have a bit of a smaller font, but includes a career statistics bar and the player's vital information.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Each pack/box of Decades the 90s comes with six hits. Collectors can look forward to getting three autographs and three game-used cards. The exciting thing with ITG is that all the memorabilia included should be game-used... none of that fuddy-duddy event-worn stuff! And autographs are on-card in this product! That's really awesome! Two non-hit insert cards round out the pack.

'Rookie' insert cards are non-hit inserts that celebrate players who had their rookie season in the 90's. Though the card have very little visual appeal to me, I do appreciate the game-date included on the front. The date is special in that it tells collectors the exact day that the player had his first NHL game. So for the card above, we can see that Chris Osgood made his first appearance on October 15, 1993. It's a small thing to add, but pretty significant I'd say. The back of the card goes into further detail about how Osgood came into the NHL and some tidbits on his games later that season. Great information on a card that could have looked much better. How about make a card that actually looks like it was designed in the 90's? Like a re-imagined rookie card. I'd like something like that!

Mask themed cards have always been popular, but the cards that come out of Decades the 90s fall flat in terms of their design. Like the rookie inserts, these just come off uninspired with no fun, glam, or glitz to them. If these mask cards even came half as close to how their foil goalie inserts looked in Between the Pipes, I think ITG would have an insert set that goalie collectors would love. I could really do without these cards as there are much better choices out there for goalie mask cardboard.

The standard jersey card from Decades the 90's comes on a very spartan, minimalistic card design. It's very simple... and it works well. I hesitate to call this a 90's style design, it actually feels more retro than 90's. But I won't complain too much as the card is well done. The 'borders' are so thick that I don't think you can say that this card has borders. It's more that the inner design is laying on a bed of white backing. The jersey size (relatively generous) matches the photo size and they stand one on top of another in the center of the card. Great design elements and choices. I have to say this is one of ITG's better looking standard jersey cards.

This Tom Barrasso jersey card is a part of the ITG Between the Pipes goalie line-up of cards. To me, the design is not as strong here as with the standard game-used jersey. I think it's the background that gets in the way of making this design stand out. If that blueish backing behind Barasso was gone and turned to white, this card (to me) would be so much better. It would mirror that standard jersey more closely and give these jerseys some continuity within the product. Aside from that, I am loving the fact that ITG boldly says that the piece of jersey included within the card is from a game-used Tom Barasso Pittsburgh Penguins jersey. Huge props for ITG being very specific and clear about what is on the card.

I'm typically not a huge fan of multi-swatch jersey cards, but the one I got today in my box of Decades the 90s was my favorite pull of the day. First off, the card features some great players... but secondly, the card has a very specific theme that makes it relevant. And the theme is stated clearly on the card! Thirdly, the card looks very good. I'm a huge fan of how this quad jersey is presented. The design is similar to the standard single jersey in many ways. And of course, the back states exactly where each swatch came from. Roy and Sakic from Avalanche jerseys, and Vanbiesbrouck and Laus both from Panthers jerseys. Collectors should find one quad memorabilia card per box.

ITG has typically done sticker autographs on their cards. Though stickers were employed, ITG had always done a great job of fitting them into the design of the card. Well... that's not a problem they had to deal with here... the cards are hard signed! Collectors will love the fact that these cards are all on-card autographs. My only issue here (and I guess it's a big issue) was that two of my autographs came out a bit smudged. And the third was a little faded. That's really too bad as these could have been really awesome. I'm not sure if many of these cards came out like this. I hope not! It was disappointing in a major way to have these autos like this.

Decades the 90s has a parallel gold base set to compliment the standard set. The cards are limited to a print-run of thirty.

My box of Decades the 90s was probably the most typical, average box you could get. Luckier collectors will find short printed autographs, dual memorabilia cards, or crazy limited patches. I have yet to pull one of the huge patches from ITG - they are quite rare. I imagine it would be an awesome feeling to get one!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
ITG has come out with a nice look back at the 1990's. For collectors who really enjoyed the players in the 90's, this is probably a good choice to buy. I'm not sure I can say the same for everyone else though. While there are many autographs to be found in this product, many are from players that people have most likely not heard of before if they didn't watch 90's hockey. And getting a star player can be rather difficult as the stars have been short-printed or even super short-printed.

At release, boxes are going for about $100. This amount for six hits is sounds pretty good... but for many boxes, the value and name recognition will not be there. So it's iffy in my opinion to go for Decades the 90s unless you really are a fan of the players that you can find here. ITG is further limited a bit by not having the best player ever in hockey available. Wouldn't it be nice to have Gretzky represented here in the 90's (and also in the 80's)? Without him, and some other choice players, the product does seem a bit diluted. Missing those key players is a tough blow to the product.

That being said, on-card autographs and guaranteed game-worn cards are to be had if you buy into this new ITG 90's themed release! If that sounds good to you... go for it! If not, you can definitely pass on this one.

Overall Rating:

Check out my break of ITG Decades the 90s from D&P Cards in Sacramento, Ca:

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Retail Review #64 (08/09 Upper Deck Legends Masterpieces Blaster)

This week I am very excited to open up a product that I have not opened before - 08/09 Upper Deck Legends Masterpieces. The name of the product gives away the concept of the cards; each is a work of art. Though this is my first official sealed box of Masterpieces, I have gotten some cards from this set in the form of buy-backs inserted within Upper Deck packs. I remember them being very well done, great looking cards. I'm really looking forward to seeing some amazing artwork as I open packs today.

Price - 

Packs - 8
08/09 UD Legends Masterpieces Retail Packs

Before seeing this blaster available at, I did not know it came in retail form. I had always assumed Legends Masterpieces were hobby-only, as they have a hobby-only feel to them. Being a more difficult product to find, I thought I'd splurge a bit and give it a try, even though it is a little more than what I usually go for when buying retail. I just had to appease my curiosity!

I am not sure what to really expect as I open this box. I know that I will see some nice artistic interpretations of players, but in terms of hits, I have no clue. Upper Deck usually makes it pretty hard to score a hit within their retail offerings.

The side-panel of the blaster advertises the fact that parallel cards are available. I have some brown bordered parallels in my collection already. My guess is that most collectors will find a parallel-bordered card when they open Masterpiece blasters. The unnumbered brown parallels should be pretty plentiful. Other cards with different border colors feature relatively low serial numbering... I'm sure getting one of those is difficult.

Let's open up this blaster of Legends Masterpieces and see what pops out:

Review -
I very much enjoyed this blaster of cards. Though there wasn't much variety in terms of insert cards, the high-quality base cards, big names, and cool artwork made up for it. In terms of the base cards, each card has a satisfying canvas feel to it. Upper Deck has used this technique with their Series 1/2 Canvas parallel sets recently, and collectors seem to really like it. It's as if by having a canvas feel, Upper Deck has reserved only the best pictures for the card.

It was awesome to see many legends of hockey in the packs. There were images that were iconic. And seeing them in an artistic form was a treat. One card in particular, the one with Gretzky holding up his new LA Kings jersey, stood out as it mirrors a very famous Topps base card.

Each pack only has four cards. While so few cards per pack makes the break feel over a bit too soon, I feel it makes the cards that much more special. You don't end up with an enormous pile of cards that you may not care much about. By having fewer cards, the feeling that they are worthwhile and important is heightened.

Here were my choices for top three cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Lady Byng Card No. 3
It's not everyday that you get to pull a card of Lady Byng! I've actually gotten a brown bordered version of this card, but I still got a chuckle out of it this time around. Lady Byng is a handsome lady.

#2 - Lord Stanley Card No. 1
How cool is it to have a card of Lord Stanley!?!? This is my first card of his, and it's a great addition to any hockey collector's collection. His trophy is the most coveted in all sports!

#1 - Billy Smith Card No. CC-BS
Wow, a hit out of an Upper Deck blaster! Memorabilia cards in Masterpieces aren't impossible to find in blasters, they have a rate of 1:24, but they still aren't easy either. Even though this is just a jersey card, I am quite happy to see it come out!

Overall Value -
This was a very fun break for me. I have to say that the price was a bit higher than I liked, but the cards were of quality. I think I'd be willing to pay this price again for another box of Masterpieces. Being on the rarer side, I'm sure there isn't much of this product out there for the general public to buy still. I would recommended picking it up if you see it out there at your local store. They don't come out with stuff like this too often nowadays. Get it while you can!

Let me know what you thought of this break 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!