Sunday, March 29, 2015

Retail Review #145 (11/12 Panini Elite Blaster)

Going back to some older products this week for Retail Review. This week I'm going to open up a blaster of Panini Elite. I don't recall ever opening up one of these before, so I'm pretty excited to see what comes out of one of these guys.

Price - 

Packs - 5
5 x 2011-12 Panini Elite Packs

Elite wasn't a product I bought a whole lot of when it first came out. It was a product that was a bit too similar to Certified, but without the value associated with that brand. Elite was based more on inserts rather than the limited parallel cards that Panini was known for producing. Elite was also in the same price range as Certified, and given the choice, collectors pretty much chose Certified all day long.

Elite has now been heavily discounted at both the retail and hobby levels. For just a touch more now you can get a full hobby box of Elite for what it used to cost for a blaster. I saw them for about $35 on internet sites. Crazy low! And in those you get 4 hits per box. Not a bad deal if you're looking for a fun break.

I'll go ahead and see what comes out of this blaster:

Review -
I had a lot of fun with this break... a lot more fun than I remember getting from the hobby version way back when. This blaster only had 5 packs in it, but every pack but one had either an insert, parallel, or hit in it. Though I'm not particularly a fan of the base cards, the interesting inserts made up for that.

It's not that the base cards are bad... but this all-foil look is easily smudged and is a bit generic. This foil look is a staple for how Elite looks, but I've seen it done better before.

Here are my favorite cards from this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Jordan Staal Card No. 133
I totally forgot that there were die-cut parallels in this release... though I shouldn't have thought that since Panini is a big fan of die-cutting cards.

#2 - Sidney Crosby Card No. 6
This is a very sweet looking Sid the Kid card... it's just too bad these are so common! I think all these Elite Series insert cards were of Crosby. 

#1 - Brett Connolly Card No. 5
The box guarantees a memorabilia or an autographed card. This New Breed card looks good enough, but you can tell higher levels of this card would have an autograph along with it.

Overall Value -
I would never buy one of these for the box price of $29.99. For that much you can get a hobby box. But, at $9.99 I'm willing to open up some of these blasters on Retail Review episodes. Elite wasn't a very good hobby product, but now that the price has fallen, it might be something to look at once again. There could be some hidden treasures within the remaining stock of this product!

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, March 22, 2015

Retail Review #144 (14/15 Upper Deck MVP Blaster)

I guess this makes three current year products opened up on Retail Review in a row... how exciting! This time I'm breaking a blaster of MVP. I'd have to say that MVP has changed a bit since it was last released as a full release. The base cards have suffered a bit, but the inserts and hits are better. I guess that's an ok trade-off though!

Price - 

Packs - 12
12 x 14/15 Upper Deck MVP Blaster Packs

I was not a fan of MVP when it was out a few years ago. MVP was a low-end, very limp product. It's still low-end, but Upper Deck has improved the content of the product. As I mentioned, the base cards have come down in quality, but Upper Deck has improved the inserts and autographs in the product. They are exciting pulls if you can manage to get one.

Getting a hit in retail MVP is no easy task. Since MVP is considered one of the lowest-end products, getting any sort of hit is extremely hard. Not impossible... but very unlikely.

The printed price on these blasters is about $20. Waaaaaaay too much for what you get in it. Thankfully, online these little blasters can be found for less than half of that. And that's a price I'm willing to shell out for it.

Here goes one blaster of 14/15 MVP:

Review -
I wasn't expecting to get too much out of this blaster, and I didn't. But I did pull some nice inserts and parallel cards. The Silver Script cards are what the base cards should look like. To differentiate MVP from something like Victory, I guess Upper Deck used to put the foil stamping on it. Now the base are on the same lines as what Victory was in terms of its quality.

MVP has cards that feature multiple players on it. It makes sense as they represent the various stars of the week in the NHL. It's a fun concept, and brings out a facet of the season that usually doesn't get much attention... but for a card its not that exciting.

Here are the best cards from this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - John Tavares/Jonas Hiller/Henrik Lundqvist Card No. 3SW-01.13.14
Of my NHL Stars cards, this one was my favorite because it had John Tavares on it as the main star. He takes up half the card where as Hiller and Lundqvist only get 25% of the card each.

#2 - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Card No. 266
When RNH was a rookie, his cards were on fire. He has cooled considerably since his rookie year, but i still get a bit of excitement when I find a card of his. It wasn't that long ago that he was the buzz of the hockey card world!

#1 - Martin Brodeur Card No. 271
This Brodeur card was a very pleasant surprise in this blaster. Gold Script inserts are one of the more popular card types in MVP, and to get a star like Brodeur is pretty nice. I like how these cards feature serial numbering on them. This particular card is numbered 50 out of 100.

Overall Value -
For under eight dollars I think this break was worth it. I would get another blaster of MVP at that price. It makes for a fun break that's a little different than UD1 or brands like that. Sure, it's low-end, but the cards are nice, and I think this product has some renewed life in it!

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!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

2014-2015 Fleer Showcase Hockey Review

This week Upper Deck released Fleer Showcase Hockey. It's again one of those brands that Upper Deck has brought back from the past. Collectors who collected in the 90's and early 2000's will no doubt remember Showcase and the Flair/Metal/Skybox cards found within it. Let's see if this product can bring back some of the glory days of the past!

Base Card Design -
I just have to say first off that I dislike the base cards in Fleer Showcase. To me they look like a weak attempt at a Gold Medallion card. The white backing with the dull gold-ish hues in the background just don't work. There are certainly elements that make this card firmly rooted in Fleer tradition, such as the script name on the edge of the card, but the design doesn't come together well enough. My suggestion would simply be to remove that unsightly gold blotch behind the player and leave the card plain white. It would certainly give the card a more bold look.

The back of the base cards don't exactly inspire the feeling of greatness either. They are full-color and feature all the necessities of what a card back should provide... but that's it. Upper Deck seems to have channeled the Fleer brand as it waned late in its life. Let's try for what made Fleer cool in the first place... sweet, unique, and memorable designs that were cutting edge.

Hot Prospects Trios put together three rookies and jam them onto one card. This practice was done quite often in older baseball card releases. Having multiple players on a card usually doesn't help the card in any way. I prefer the rookies to have their own card. The only good thing I can see from having these multiple players is for collectors who enjoy finding team specific content. Having three players from the same team could be a nice collectible to have on hand. These cards are numbered to 399.

If three players were too many, then perhaps two is better. Hot Prospects Duos also exist in this set. These cards go for the horizontal orientation and are numbered to 299. I pretty much feel the same way about these cards as I do about the triples - I'm just not a fan of them. I just want everyone to have their own card!

Here's a card that does it right... the plain old Hot Prospect without the Duo or Trio. These beautiful cards have sweet patches along with a sticker autograph. Though I'm still not a fan of the dull gold color scheme of the card, the design on this card makes up for it. I love the foil surrounding the patch window. It just elevates the card in a big way. These rookie cards are the only cards I really think stand out in a good way in the main set.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Collectors can expect to find 3 hits per Fleer Showcase box. One of the hits will most likely be a rookie patch autograph card like the one shown above. Other inserts include base and parallel cards from Skybox Premium, Flair, and Metal.

Skybox Premium was a very popular brand in the early 2000's. I think of it as the Upper Deck Series One of that day. The rookie cards were short printed and the cards had a nice solid feel to them. Collectors can find a version of Skybox Premium cards when they open up their packs of Showcase. These cards have a clean design that does justice to the legacy of Skybox. This Filip Forsberg card is serial numbered to 299.

And this Chris Chelios parallel from the Skybox set is numbered to just 5! This was my most short printed card from the box I got. It's a very good looking card with a lot going on when it is in the light.

My favorite cards out of Showcase have to be the Flair cards. These cards used to come in packs that were little boxes. It felt so special to open them... and they were on thick card stock. These cards look spectacular. It makes me want to collect a set of them!

Along with the standard Showcase cards are the jersey versions. These cards have a jersey piece plopped down in the middle of the card. It's a bit rough around the edges the way the jersey piece was handled. Perhaps a bit more thinking could have produced a better way to do these cards.

There are definitely other inserts and hits to be found in Showcase this year. Collectors who liked Fleer Metal will be pleased to find these cards in their packs and boxes.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating - 
Flair Showcase, despite its unpleasing base cards, delivers a very fun break for collectors this year. I had a very enjoyable time opening up my box and seeing all the sweet brands from Fleer's past in it. There is certainly enough reasons to collect Showcase this year as it has some nice rookie auto patches and rare inserts. I would definitely steer collectors towards it to get the treasures it holds. Just forget that the base cards ever happened.

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of Fleer Showcase:

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Retail Review #143 (14/15 Fleer Ultra Blaster)

Wow, two 14/15 products in a row! This week I'll be opening up a blaster of 14/15 Fleer Ultra Hockey. It's been a while since we've had an Ultra product. This mid-range product used to be a very common sight in at retail outlets. It looks like it's back on store shelves ready for collectors to pick up and enjoy.

Price - 

Packs - 8
8 x 14/15 Fleer Ultra Blaster Packs

It's fun to open up products from the current season. Yes, they do cost more... but there's just something about getting something that is current. That being said, I thought it was curious that these blasters had a sticker covering up the $19.99 printed price on the box. That sticker had a $24.99 price on it Perhaps this blaster was for sale in Canada? I'm not sure.

Ultra was once a super-premium brand. I fondly remember the commercials and advertisements for Ultra back in the early 90's as it was touted to have full-color fronts, back, and foil stamping. Ahh, simpler times! This year's Ultra is a bit of a throw back in that it is a more insert-driven product rather than hit-driven. Even in hobby boxes of Ultra you are not guaranteed to get an autograph or memorabilia card.

Let's take a look at what comes from this blaster box:

Review -
This blaster was alright - if not a bit lackluster. There were quite a few all-base packs here with only three non-base cards out of the blaster. The cards themselves are a bit plain. The all-white borders reflect more of a lower-end brand to me than what Ultra was in the past. I would have liked these cards to be more glitzy - as they are now the cards feel too plain.

It's a good thing that I paid only $10 for this blaster as it just wasn't that great. If there were more inserts in it... not even hits... I would have been a lot happier. A brand like O-Pee-Chee with a ton of variety has it done right. If Ultra had inserts like OPC this break would have been much more interesting.

The top three this week are the non-base that I pulled out:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Milan Lucic Card No. 13
Lucic is a good player, not especially a guy with big card values, but he's won championships with Boston. If this parallel card was of a lesser player I probably would have picked a base card as my third card here.

#2 - Blake Wheeler Card No. BB-30
Lots of foil shine and die-cutting makes this card stand out. These are the fun type of cards that I think Ultra could use a whole lot more of in the blaster boxes. It would definitely make the break a lot more interesting. As it stands, this was the only card like this out of the entire box.

#1 - Henrik Lundqvist Card No. 120
Lundqvist is the biggest name and star out of the non-base cards I got. He's definitely a popular player and well-liked. These gold medallion cards are actually pretty cool in that while the word 'Medallion' adorns the entire background, they definitely go 'behind' the player. Good printing techniques here!

Overall Value -
This was my first blaster of Ultra... and it wasn't the best. I would definitely give it another go to see what else could possibly come out of these things. Its original price is just way too much, but at half it becomes and 'ok' buy. I'll be looking to get another one of these blasters to try soon.

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, March 1, 2015

Retail Review #141 (2012 UD Goodwin Champions)

It's been a little while since I've broken the 2012 version of Goodwin Champions. As many of you know, this is a product that intrigues me greatly. I enjoy the look of the cards and love the variety it offers. Hits are very hard to come by in this product... which is a bummer. Paying full price for one of these is out of the question, but the current price of under $7 is OK with me!

Price - 

Packs - 12
12 x 2012 Goodwin Champions Blaster Packs

This is the year that Goodwin had black borders. Back in the day black bordered cards meant that they would be difficult to keep in good condition. Often times black bordered cards in mint condition garnered quite a premium. Well, I'm pretty sure these base cards will never be worth too much, but I do like how they look.

Goodwin Champions cards are printed on old school cardboard with that old cardboard look on the back. That might be some of the appeal of this set to me. It really brings back the memories of collecting these types of cards when I was a kid.

Let's see what comes out of this blaster of Goodwin Champions:

Review -
Well... if anything, this blaster had some pretty spectacular superstar base cards. It's just too bad I already have those from previous Goodwin breaks. I guess if this was 20 years ago, this would have been a stellar box as base cards were actually worth something back then. Today though, the base cards are forgettable and nothing of note really came out of this blaster box.

I did get a mini of Adrian Peterson... which would have been good a year ago... but his legal troubles have really put a damper on his reputation. There just wasn't much to write home about with this one.

Here are the best cards from this box:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - M7 Priest Card No. MM12
Something looked a bit different with this Military Machines card that I couldn't figure out for a while. It's in color! It's sort of that old school technicolor look. Kind of neat, I guess.

#2 - Christian Laettner Card No. 76
This Lady Luck mini card depicts a pretty significant moment in college basketball history. I remember what a huge deal this was back in the day. Laettner never panned out, but his college legacy is undeniable.

#1 - Wendel Clark Card No. 82
I had to go with a hockey card for this top spot. I could have chosen Sid the Kid or The Great One, but I like how this card shows Clark with his battle scars. That was the kind of player he was and this card does him justice.

Overall Value -
There wasn't really anything in this blaster that I really liked too much. Finding my top three was even a stretch! I didn't pay as much for this box as I did for the last one I opened, but I still feel like I didn't get my money's worth. That's really too bad! Will I keep trying these blasters? Probably. I'm a sucker for this stuff!

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!