Sunday, April 26, 2015

Retail Review #149 (13/14 Upper Deck Series One Blaster)

Here's a product from the much anticipated NHL double rookie class. Well, I guess that that was a bit over-hyped. Still, there are some quality cards and products to find from the year after the NHL lockout. When UD1 came out that year there was a lot of excitement about the Young Guns and players available to find.

Price - 

Packs - 12
Upper Deck Series 1 Blaster Packs

Upper Deck Series 1 is almost always a pretty solid buy because of the Young Gun potential. This year's biggest Young Gun was Nathan McKinnon. I don't happen to have one so it'd be nice to change that situation with this blaster today. I'm not crossing my fingers though... getting the best Young Gun from a particular year has always been a tough proposition for me. I do, sometimes, get the second or third best Young Gun though!

Unlike UD2, UD1 is a little less interesting when it comes to the variety of cards you can find in it. I expect to get a lot of all-base packs when I open up this blaster.

Let's check and see what comes out:

Review -

I think this blaster was definitely above average... I've definitely gotten worse. I didn't get McKinnon, but I did pull a decent Young Gun out. A got a couple of MVP base cards including John Tavares -which was pretty good. My canvas card was of Brian Elliot, and my lesser Young Gun card was of Lucas Lessio.

I find that I have been lacking in the area of big canvas card pulls for whatever reason. The canvas cards I tend to get are of players that aren't the big named guys or rookies even. A canvas Young Gun would be really sweet out of a blaster.

My top three cards were:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Joe Sakic Card No. 48
I just really love the look of this card. The black and white with the border color scheme makes this card really stand out. I know this card isn't worth much, but it definitely shines in the good looks department. This is how MVP base cards should look!

#2 - PK Subban Card No. D10
Foil cards are always enticing to me as I grew up in the 90's when foil inserts were all the rage. Subban is definitely one of the better defensive players to get out of this set, so I'm pretty happy with this pull.

#1 - Sean Monahan Card No. 242
This was a pretty good Young Gun to get out of a blaster. The Flames are an up-and-coming team, and Monahan has been a part of that. No complaints about this pull.

Overall Value -
For about ten dollars this blaster was good. A Monahan Young Gun card is about that much on eBay currently, so I got my money's worth. I definitely will be getting more Upper Deck Series One (and Two) products as the Retail Review continue. They are a no-brainer buy when searching for a good amount of hockey cards and a nice chance at some cards of value.

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, April 19, 2015

Retail Review #148 (12/13 Panini Certified Blaster)

It's a hat trick of sorts... third week in a row with a blaster of Panini Certified. 12/13 was a year that wasn't so great for hockey as there was a lockout that season. Trading cards from that year were really impacted as the rookie crop was really cut down. Collectors can find some pretty good deals on products from that year now if they want to find something to break without breaking the bank.

Price - 

Packs - 3
12/13 Certified Hockey

Just like the previous two Certified breaks, this blaster only comes with three packs - so it'll go by very quickly. I'm expecting to get one hit in those three packs. Since I know there will be a hit coming, the hope is to find a card with ink on it. Autographed cards are just about always preferred in comparison to memorabilia cards. Only the craziest memorabilia cards can beat an autograph in my opinion.

I don't remember buying too much 12/13 Certified when it came out. I may have just gotten a hobby box or two of the product. I do know, however, that I wasn't as keen on the cards as I had been with the previous years of Certified. It'll still be fun to see what's in here though.

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

Review -
This was a decent blaster - especially since I was able to get a hit of my favorite player. The blaster delivered exactly what I expected it to. There was one all-base pack, a pack with a numbered insert card, and then the pack with a hit in it.

If you're looking to get as many hockey cards to enjoy as you can, this is not the product for you. I would steer you more towards OPC or Upper Deck. A product like Certified is for the more seasoned collector who wants to pick up some quality cards when they are at a retail establishment.

Let's check out the top cards out of this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Taylor Hall Card No. 4
This was probably my favorite base card of the blaster. Taylor Hall was so hot as a rookie back in 2010/11. I still am pretty excited when I get one of his cards. Let's just hope his team and the talent around him can reach their potential soon!

#2 - Henrik Lundqvist Card No. 101
Besides it being a serial numbered card of a star goalie, this card looks awesome. The red shimmer on the front looks outstanding. Though many of the cards in this release aren't the best in terms of design, this card isn't one of those. I really like the look here.

#1 - Logan Couture Card No. FOG-LC
Wow, actually got my favorite player as the hit in the box... that's sweet! I just wish it had some ink on it. But that's ok, I can't be too greedy! I'm pretty happy with this card even though I have a copy of it in the collection already.

Overall Value -
For about a third of its original price, this blaster was very nice. I would definitely get more of these if I saw them at this good of a value. I'll have to look into finding more of these and getting my hands on them!

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!

Friday, April 17, 2015

2014-2015 Upper Deck Ice Review

What is old is new again! Upper Deck releases a full set of Ice for the first time since the 09/10 hockey season. Ice was popular to collectors because of the limited Ice Premier rookie cards. These acetate cards were great looking cards with some key rookies being extremely limited. Ice has had some of the most sought after rookie cards ever released!

Base Card Design -
Could Upper Deck have been listening to me? I could have sworn that I said Ice cards should be all acetate... and now they are!!! The Ice base set contains all acetate base cards - and that makes the set feel like something very special. Unfortunately, new Upper Deck re-releases of older products have been of lower quality. Well, not here! Ice has upped the ante and made the base set something that is great looking and collectible. Each base card has a light blue hue or team colored hue if the player is a legend or goalie. The cards are sleek and modern, just as Ice should be.

The back's of acetate cards are usually very difficult to work with. Because of the clear area that most acetate cards have, backs are limited in what they can contain. Upper Deck has done a brilliant job with the card backs in this release. Just look at at - there's a player write up as well as a creative way to show their stats. I'm impressed with how Upper Deck handled this back design.

The Rookie Premier cards have been the draw of Ice over the years. This years Rookie Premier cards have a variety of different tiers and serial numbering. The only number most collectors will be looking for is 99 though. You've really hit the jackpot if you pull a Rookie Premier numbered to 99. Those are the top rookies of the year and generally have values in the hundreds of dollars. In terms of looks, these Rookie Premier cards are a bit lackluster to me this year. Collectors have been spoiled with some very unique looking Rookie Premier cards. Upper Deck has taken a slight step back with this year's look.

Base Card Design  Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Aside from finding the Rookie Premier cards, each 8-pack box of Ice will have a few hits to look forward to. Jersey, patch, and autographed cards can all be found in Ice. For fans of the old Upper Deck Black brand, you'll be happy to know there are cards with those designs put into boxes of Ice this year!

Here's a quad jersey card of the Montreal Canadiens. It's hard to tell in the scan, but just like the rest of the Ice cards this card is done with a glossy acetate sheen. I've got to say that the acetate works really well with the colors chosen for these inserts. It's great that these cards feature multiple swatches from multiple players, but the design odd. I keep thinking this card should be tipped over and seen horizontally.

This auto/jersey of The Flower is clean, clean, clean. I love cards like this that just have all the design elements put together perfectly. The medium-sized jersey patch is actually under an acetate window. The signature is signed on card on the acetate portion. Often times signatures put on cloth tend to be messy. By having the acetate window on top, the card doesn't encounter that problem. It's a brilliant solution.

The Black insert cards in boxes of Ice will really stand out when you get them because of the huge color contrast they provide as compared to the Ice cards. Upper Deck Black was a super-high-end brand that was only released for a couple of years. I'm always glad when I can get my hands on some Black - it's so nice to have it back in hockey. I just wished this Messier I pulled had some ink on it!

A lot of popular Ice hits are back for collectors to find when they purchase their boxes of Ice this year. One of the best to find are the Ice Premier Patch cards numbered to just 10. Those always look great and are a huge hit for collectors.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating-
I found Ice to be a really great product this year. It was a bit surprising to find out that there were only 8 packs in each box. There used to be around 20 if my memory serves me correctly. Ice has come back to hockey cards with an extremely strong release - it's better than it ever was. I would definitely recommend getting a box or two of Ice. So far I have found it to be the most exciting product that has come out all year. Great base cards? Check. Awesome hits? Check. Check this off your list and get yourself some!

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of Upper Deck Ice:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Retail Review #147 (11/12 Panini Certified Blaster)

I'm on a bit of a Certified kick right now. Last week I opened up a blaster of Panini's inaugural Certified hockey offering; this week I'm breaking a blaster of the follow-up. I haven't opened up one of these since Retail Review #4... and in that blaster I got something pretty special. Will history repeat itself? We'll see!

Price - 

Packs - 3
11/12 Panini Certified

It was a great idea to have Certified come in retail form... and have it be so close to the hobby version in terms of value! This years Certified was just like last years. Each blaster comes with three packs with a guaranteed hit per blaster.

The original price of these blasters was about $30 - definitely steep for a retail product, but I think it's worth it. Retail purchasers definitely get a better experience with these blasters. Panini has actually done a pretty good job of raising the level of quality at retail. It's interesting to see how the market responds because as the quality has gone up, so has the price.

Let's see what I got in my 11/12 Panini Certified Blaster:

Review -
Welp, this blaster wasn't as great as the one in Retail Review #4, but it was alright. It was good that my hit was an autograph and not just two blank jersey holes like it was last week! The cards in 11/12 are nice, but they are definitely a bit weaker in terms of design than their counterparts from last year.

Similarly to my last blaster, this box had one hit, one insert, and the rest base cards. I think that's a pretty fair catch for a three-pack blaster such as this.

Here were my top cards from the break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Alex Ovechkin Card No. 34
It's funny that my last 11/12 blaster had a Crosby base card as the third best card. This time it's Ovi. Ovi has had a brilliant season, he's always a nice pull when buying hockey card products.

#2 - Patrick Roy Card No. 157
I really like this card of Patrick Roy - it just looks cool! The entire card has suff going on with a nice black and white photo of Roy as a member of the Avalanche.

#1 - Alexander Burmistrov Card No. 10
It was really jarring to find a redemption card here, but I guess it's not out of the question. These redemptions don't state the name of the player, so I had to look it up - Turned out to be Alexander Burmistrov. The card states the it expired back in 2013, but I put it into the Panini site and it seemed to work just fine.

Overall Value -
This year's Certified isn't as strong as the 10/11 version, but it's still a fun buy. Buying it now is $5 dollars cheaper per blaster online... that's pretty good! I would definitely recommend getting some of this Certified if you're looking for a nice value on some quality hockey cards!

Let me know what you thought of my 11/12 Panini Certified blaster box down in the comments below. Have you ever gotten anything good from a Certified blaster? I'd love to know!

Overall Value Score:

Every Sunday look out for another exciting installment of Retail Review!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Retail Review #146 (10/11 Panini Certified Blaster)

On this episode of Retail Review I am opening up a product that I really liked when it came out - Panini Certified. I was skeptical about it at first, but holding the cards in hand helped me to see how much quality they had. 10/11 was the best year for Certified, and is one of my favorite product to open of all-time!

Price - 

Packs - 3
10/11 Certified Packs

These Certified blasters were $30 when they were brand new. I guess that was a good price for three packs of Certified as they were about $10 each. The good thing was also that each blaster had a guaranteed hit in it. So for people wanting to get a sure hit, these were the way to go. Hypothetically, if you bought three packs of Certified from a hobby box you could get more than one hit... but that's more of a risk.

It's time to see what hit comes of this particular blaster of Certified:

Review -

So this was a very interesting break for me. The first pack had a serial numbered parallel card, the second just base... and the third... ummm... and error card? The 'hit' in the box had no hit material to speak of! Pretty crazy! I don't think I've ever had this happen to me before, but I can't say it's out of the realm of possibility. Any time there is a huge production of a product, there is bound to be some sort of error in the process. I do wonder, however, how this could have happened... it's not like the pieces just fell out. One of the jersey holes has a remnant of a jersey piece. It's just darned mysterious!

Here were the best cards of this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Henrik Zetterberg Card No. 53
This was probably my favorite base card from the blaster. I didn't get any Sharks or super-star names, but Zetterberg has been a great player for the Wings for a long time. He's definitely a player I respect!

#2 - Wayne Simmonds Card No. 69
My Mirror Red card was of Wane Simmonds. This card is serial numbered to 250. It's a nice looking parallel card that doesn't go crazy with super bright red shades like newer releases have. Here it's just a subtle difference with the word 'Mirror' on the bottom to identify it as a parallel.

#1 - Dustin Penner Card No. 59
This has got to be one of the most interesting pulls in Retail Review history! The dual jersey card with no jerseys! I'd be sad about it if the card was of a player I wanted to have, but this pull just makes for an interesting conversation piece. I wonder if I should let Panini know about it.

Overall Value -
I enjoyed opening this blaster. It wasn't the best for sure, but at least it held an interesting card to talk about. At $15, I think these blasters are priced just right. I'd be happy to open up more of this year's Certified at that price.

Let me know what you thought of my 10/11 Certified blaster box down in the comments below. Have you ever gotten anything good from one of these? I'd love to know!

Overall Value Score:

Every Sunday look out for another exciting installment of Retail Review!

Friday, April 3, 2015

2014-2015 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee Platinum Review

Upper Deck decides to follow Topps' lead with O-Pee-Chee Platinum. This product has the look and feel of Topps Chrome. It's a set that takes a low-end set and puts some glitz on it to make it more premium. Chrome is a very successful product in other sports. Will OPC Platinum follow the same path as Chrome? We'll just have to see how the hockey collectors respond!

Base Card Design -
The OPC Platinum cards share basically the same design as the regular cardboard-feeling O-Pee-Chee cards released earlier this season. The difference is in the chrome foiling that adorns the front and the glossy backs. The foil used here is different than the foil cards found in the regular OPC set. Those foil cards were thin and had a harsh reflection to them. These cards have a very smooth sheen. The cards look very nice. I've always liked it when card companies took their basic designs and stepped them up with foil. That's exactly what Upper Deck has done here with OPC. The result definitely works well!

The back of the base card is very glossy with an all-white background. It's very clean and tidy. I do, however, miss the cardboard feel and look that the OPC cards had. Is it possible to have that same feel or look but with gloss? I think that would make for a very unique kind of card design.

Rookie cards in OPC Platinum don't get the different subset look here. These rookie cards simply have have RC logo in a circle under the rookie's name. I wonder why Upper Deck chose to make the rookie cards look more like the base cards. It makes them stand out a bit less... but that's actually a good thing in my opinion. I like rookie cards that look just like the base. That's how it used to be! Funny how the more modern OPC looking set utilizes a more retro concept than the standard version.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Each box of OPC Platinum comes with 20 packs with only 4 cards per pack. Collectors can expect to find one autographed card per box. Most of the interest will be with the numerous colored variations of the base set.

The most common OPC Rainbow parallel are the ones that just have a multi-colored sheen on the card. These cards very much resemble Topps Refractor cards. In fact, they are so similar it is hard not to call them Refractors. These Rainbow cards look really nice - collectors have always been charmed by this type of card. It's no wonder card companies produce so many of them.

OPC Trax parallels are non-serial numbered parallel cards like the standard Rainbows. These cards have a more intricate design and are about twice as hard to get as the Rainbow cards. This Paul Stastny was the only Trax card I pulled from my box.

I got three Red Prism parallels in my box. These parallels do feature serial numbering... to 135. These red bordered cards remind me a lot of the red parallels from the standard set. The texturing on the foil isn't as apparent on these cards. It's definitely there, but it's more subdued.

The lowest serial-numbered card in my box was this Black Ice Rainbow parallel numbered to just 25. Here the border of the card has been darkened to black, but with clear streaks in it to resemble the ice.

Retro cards have made their way to Platinum as well. These cards definitely don't translate well to the chrome format. These cards may have worked as standard cards with fun colored borders, but as foil cards, they hardly seem retro - neither in look nor feel. Upper Deck should have definitely chosen a better design for this retro set.

Retro Rainbow parallel cards also exist. These come in a variety of variations just like the non-retro basic set does. If you want to collect a certain player in the set, you're going to have quite the time tracking all these different variations down.

Clocking in at about one-per-box are die-cut cards. There are different kinds available, but the one I got was of Martin Brodeur celebrating his 02/03 Stanley Cup victory. Having the card cut like the side of the Stanley Cup was a great idea and works nicely.

The one hit in the box was of rookie Calle Jarnkrok of the Preds. These autographed cards are on-card and in blue ink. The design of the card mirrors the standard rookie card from the base set... but with a different image. These cards a well-done and a nice pull from a box.

OPC Platinum boasts more parallels, including very rare one-of-one cards. The set is dependent on collectors trying to find all the parallel cards. It's nice of Upper Deck to at least include an autographed card though... we need our hits!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
OPC Platinum is an interesting set to bring into the hockey card fold. I definitely see why they have it though... it is trying to get the same success as Chrome from Topps. The box was fun enough to open, and it was neat seeing all the colors come out. Hockey collectors have never been into parallel cards as much as baseball and basketball collectors. It just makes me wonder if these parallels will every become desired pulls.

Boxes of Platinum come in at under $100, so it's not a high-end product. The only way to drive these prices up is for collectors to switch on their parallel wanting desires. It'd be great if a set like this could take off, but I'm not sure if the hockey collecting world is willing to help it do that.

I would definitely get a box or two of OPC Platinum to experience it. For player collectors, the best bet is to scour eBay for the cards you need.

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of 14/15 OPC Platinum: