Sunday, December 28, 2014

Retail Review #133 (09/10 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster)

It's been a good long while since I've opened one of these 09/10 Series 2 blaster boxes. I remember these cards fondly as they were the first hockey cards I bought when I returned to the hobby. Though I don't really need any of the rookie cards found here anymore, it's still fun to open up one of these blasters for a trip down memory lane.

Price - 

Packs - 12
09/10 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster Packs

Back in 2010 I bought a lot of UD Series 2 retail at my local Target store. I remember buying pack after pack out of the same retail box they had of the shelf. I almost bought out the entire box, but I didn't get one Young Gun card or hit. I wonder if that box was searched... or maybe I was just unlucky. I don't know, but I sure did spend a lot of money on a ton of base cards back then!

I know that I'll be finding insert cards and Young Guns in this blaster. Upper Deck is always good about putting in a little variety when it comes to their main brand retail blasters to keep things interesting.

I'll open this blaster and see what comes out:

Review -
I don't know why, but I always forget about the Victory update cards that can come out of these blasters. Putting these cards in the packs adds even more variety to the opening experience. Victory is definitely not a brand of card that is on my favorites list, but it's still nice to have a chance at pulling some rookie cards of the top players that year.

I actually got quite a few non-base cards from this blaster. There was a Mark Messier Hockey Heroes card, a Draft Day Gems Mark Streit, and a Rookie Debut of Jonas Gustavsson. I remember fondly inserts like Rookie Debut and Draft Day Gems. They had a nice theme to them and added a little bit of fun to the set.

Here were my favorite cards out of this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Evgeni Malkin Card No. 293
This card actually made the top 3 the last time I opened up a blaster of 09/10 UD Series 2 hockey. I guess I like it that much! Super photo right here.

#2 - Victor Hedman Card No. 332
Hedman was one of the bigger rookies to get in 09/10. He was a very high draft pick, but because he plays defense his cards may never rise to the highest levels.

#1 - Mikael Backlund Card No. 454
I didn't get a huge name Young Gun, but I do recognize Backlund from back in the day. I'll always be a fan of these Young Guns - they are always a pleasure to pull!

Overall Value -
This was not the best Series 2 blaster ever... but it was pretty solid. I really enjoyed the experience of opening it, and I think other collectors would too. 2009/10 was a pretty good year for rookie cards. In Series 2 you can even have the chance of pulling my favorite player's Young Gun: Logan Couture. Though I've opened up a lot of these blasters, I definitely wouldn't mind busting some more in the future.

Let me know what you thought of my 09/10 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!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Retail Review #132 (Panini Select Blaster)

This is definitely going to be a break that goes by pretty quick. I've opened up Select on Retail Review before, and it's just a fast two pack break. Premium products like Select tend to offer higher quality cards but at the cost of card quantity. You better hope that you hit something when you buy these blasters because if not you really are left with very little!

Price - 

Packs - 2
13/14 Panini Select Packs

The last blaster of Select I got was disappointing. I pulled an insert card and a bunch of base. Let's hope that my luck changes and something a bit better comes out of this one. This is a product I really want to like because there are so few 'higher-end' retail products like this out there.

If I don't get a hit, at least I'm hoping for a nice prizm parallel card of a nice rookie. That'd be a good pull. There are plenty of rookie cards in this product as this was the year of the double rookie class. A lot was made of that fact, but not that much was shown from it. Hopefully some of these rookies will really take off!

Let's open this little guy up:

Review -
Well, that was a lot better than the last time! Even though there were just two packs here I did manage to pull a pretty sweet auto jersey rookie card. Besides that I also got a rookie card of Jason Akeson and a regular prizm of Mikko Koivu.

I didn't pull any huge names like Crosby or Ovechkin, but that was ok considering what else came in the packs. I'm glad that this blaster turned out to be pretty good. My confidence in this product would have definitely taken a hit if I missed on two straight blasters!

Here's the top three this week:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Dan Boyle Card No. 55
I loved Dan Boyle when he was with the Sharks. He was a consistent and classy player through and through and it made me sad when he didn't get a chance to return this season. It's always nice to pull his cards still though... one of my favs!

#2 - Pavel Bure Card No. 180
Bure was a player back in the day that I really enjoyed watching. He had blazing speed and an amazing scoring ability. It's cool to see that he is making his way back into some products. I hope to get an autograph of his one day.

#1 - Beau Bennett Card No. 279
This was, of course, by far the best card from this break. It's not often that numbered auto jersey cards come out of blasters so this was a real treat.

Overall Value -
I was happy to get a nice card out of this blaster. Opening up just a couple of packs out of a box doesn't make for a long enjoyable break, but cards like this definitely make up for that! I have another Select box waiting to be opened in a future Retail Review. I hope that blaster can top this one! We'll just have to wait and see.

Let me know what you thought of my 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!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Retail Review #131 (13/14 O-Pee-Chee Blaster)

Here's a break for people who enjoy a more old school or retro feel to their cards - it's O-Pee-Chee! OPC is typically released at the beginning of the collecting season. It is a very large set of cards with a lot of inserts and parallels to chase.

Price - 

Packs - 14
13/14 OPC Blaster Packs

Sometimes I wish collectors would value OPC more. Obviously it's never going to be able to compete with the high-end brands, but it would be nice if there were more collector interest in it. As it stands, OPC is a brand targeted for a very specific set of people. OPC is for collectors on a budget, set builders, or fans of the O-Pee-Chee brand of old.

If therese cards were released 20 years ago, they would have probably flied off the shelves. It has the perfect combination of parallel cards and inserts. It's mastered what a 90's card set should be! Unfortunately, we're way past that point in collecting. So OPC is a fun product, but it doesn't hit the bit time card collector's interest.

Let's rip this blaster and see what comes out:

Review -
This blaster of OPC had surprisingly little in terms of a ton of fun. Usually there are things like pop-out cards to add some spice to the break. This blaster just had parallels and stickers. I was able to pull a couple of retro cards of big name goalies and two foil parallels. I also found a handful of star player base cards... which are harder to pull in this set due to its large size.

If I were a new collector and opened this box I probably would be decently happy pulling some of the names I got. As a long time modern card collector this box would probably be pretty disappointing at the lack of a hit or rare insert card.

Let's see the best three from this blaster box:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Douglas Murray Card No. 7
I used to PC Dougie Murray when he was with the Sharks. He was a gigantic player that was fun to see on the ice. I was sad to see him traded. Murray doesn't have very many cards so when I actually pull one it give me pause.

#2 - Sidney Crosby Card No. 475
Sid-the-Kid is always a nice pull. He's in all the other sets that are produced, but his base card in OPC might be one of the harder ones to find just for the fact that the base set is 600 cards.

#1 - Patrick Roy Card No. 318
Getting a specific retro card is difficult. Pulling Roy was a nice bit of luck as he's a legendary player and well-liked in the hobby. I personally like him in a Habs jersey over an Avs one.

Overall Value -
For under ten dollars this blaster wasn't a huge loss of money, but there really wasn't anything I would want to hold on to from it. It was a fun break with some good names, but it didn't give me enough of what I wanted.

Let me know what you thought of my 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!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

2014-2015 Upper Deck Black Diamond Review

Black Diamond, an early season favorite, was released recently. This long running brand continues to chug along year after year with its foilboard cardstock and gem themes. I wonder if Black Diamond will be a rehash of past sets... or if Upper Deck was able to refresh the brand a bit this year. Let's take a look at what a box has to offer.

Base Card Design -
Black Diamond comes at collectors with another version of their all-foil base cards. These cards have silver foil in the background with a glossy embossed photo of the player on the front. Having the player remain 'un-foiled' helps them to really stand out on the card. It's an effect that makes it look as if the player is jumping out. The biggest design element on this year's base card is the large foil area to the player's right. This foil design acts as a very large border on the card, and makes these cards distinct from previous years. I can't say that I really love the Black Diamond design, but it's definitely not hideous. It's just another new Black Diamond base design that joins the ranks of many before it.

The back design is pretty simple and straight forward. There are quite a few geometric lines and shapes that adorn the back. It's a design that works, but doesn't stand out to me. It's functional... but that's pretty much it. I would have liked to see much more from the card back.

Triple and Quad Diamond Rookie Gems have once again returned in Black Diamond to denote the cards of the rookies. The Rookie Gem design this year is a bit more flashy than in past years, and I would say is much better looking than the standard base card. These cards lose the standard background and replaces it with a patterned design full of glittery looking foil. These cards are certainly flashy and notable - a nice thing to see in Black Diamond!

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Each box of Black Diamond will come with an assortment of single, double, triple, and quad diamond cards. Though they are all base cards, the higher the diamond level, the more difficult to get. This year's Black Diamond box should yield two jersey cards with other possible inserts and hits.

The standard hit in boxes of Black Diamond are the dual jersey puzzle cards. Each card features two swatches of jersey and a piece of a logo or picture. If you collect all the players in a picture, you can put them together and see the design it creates. This concept isn't new. It has been around for the last few years in Black Diamond. When the idea was first released, it was pretty novel... but these jersey cards have definitely gotten a bit long in the tooth.

Autographs will occasionally come out of a box, but it's not guaranteed. Black Diamond autographs have always been a bit of a challenge to pull. This Gemography autograph continues from a long line of Gemography cards. It is a sticker autograph on a glossy card. Black Diamond also offers base parallel autographs that look much better than these.

Speaking of parallels, the red parallels have made their return to Black Diamond. These cards have been in Black Diamond sets for years, and collectors will have to find them to complete their rainbows.This particular red foil parallel of Chris Tierney is nice as the foil has a shimmery look to it.

New this year in Black Diamond are bonus packs containing orange parallel cards. Out of all the cards available, I think these are some of the best looking you can find in this product. The orange really stands out in a big way. It would look awesome as an entire set.

Other inserts and parallels can also be found in boxes of Black Diamond. The most amazing thing you can find from a box would be a true diamond card one-of-one. Those cards have real diamonds embedded in them. I bet they're amazing to look at!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
I wish I could say that Black Diamond has a ton of new things to offer with this years release... but I can't. Sure, there's the new bonus pack of awesome orange parallels, but I can see the excitement for these fading pretty quickly. All I can really say is that Black Diamond is Black Diamond. Collectors know exactly what to expect from it.

If you've traditionally liked Black Diamond, then by all means dig into this product, but if you've been a bit hesitant about in the past... this year's iteration probably won't change your mind.

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of Black Diamond from D&P Cards in Sacramento, Ca:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Retail Review #130 (13/14 Panini Prizm Blaster)

Prizm is a product that I haven't opened much of at all. In fact, it's a product that I really don't see at my local retail stores. I would consider Prizm to be one of the 'higher-end' brands when it comes to retail. The cards are of premium quality with not that many coming per box.

Price - 

Packs - 7
13/14 Prizm Packs

I'm always excited to open blasters that I usually don't have access to. Prizm was a brand known mostly for its parallel card potential in the hobby, so hopefully that translates well to retail. Hobby boxes usually came with a couple autographs, but they usually weren't too spectacular - especially in terms of design. The autographed cards looked just like base cards with an area for an autograph to be placed.

The parallel cards, however, looked amazing. The chrome look of the cards would really sizzle with the different colors. Some of the colors, like gold, were numbered very low and were collector favorites.

I'm hoping to find a lot of color and shine in this blaster:

Review -
This box was a bit underwhelming to me. I did get some red parallels, but most of them came in the little bonus cellophane pack rather than from the packs in the box. I'm glad that the blaster had the bonus cards though... otherwise the break would have been even more mundane.

The Prizm cards are impressively done and have a very thick stock to them. Anyone buying Prizm at retail should appreciate the quality of these cards. I only was able to pull one insert and a few parallels from this box. Of course, there were rookie cards too, but none of them were of any note.

Here were my top picks from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Steven Stamkos Card No. 93
You know I'm reaching when a simple base card makes the top three! Even with that, it's always nice to get Stamkos base cards. He's one of the great players that seem to elude me in packs.

#2 - Tyler Toffoli Card No. II-8
This insert card of rookie Tyler Toffoli has some nice textural design elements that make it stand out from the rest. It was my only insert card in the entire blaster.

#1 - Joe Thornton Card No. 174
Now this is a card I do like! The red parallel color and the rainbow shimmer on this card makes it look really stunning. It's a great looking card of a star player on my favorite team.

Overall Value -
This particular box wasn't a great value to me, but it wouldn't stop me from wanting to purchase more Prizm blasters in the future. The quality of these cards are nice, and it's fun trying to find parallel cards of the best players in these packages. Prizm has definitely come down in price at the hobby level... it might be a good choice to find those boxes if you're really into the set.

Let me know what you thought of my 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!