Sunday, August 30, 2015

Retail Review #167 (11/12 Upper Deck Series Two Blaster)

One of my first Retail Review episodes was on a blaster of 11/12 Series Two hockey. This particular series of cards doesn't have as much appeal as its first series counterpart, but collectors can still find the big name rookies from this year in the form of update cards.

Price - 

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

2011-12 was really the year of the Nuge. He was really on fire that year, and collectors were scrambling to get his cards. Series One held his coveted Young Gun card, but Series Two still had a variety of Nuge updated rookies from sets like MVP and OPC.

The Nuge and other rookies from 11/12 have really cooled as the years have gone on, and you can see the cooling from the price of products that were produced in that year. This blaster used to be twenty dollars, but online you can find them for less than nine! There really isn't to much to go for here, but you never know... something good can come out of just about anything with the right amount of luck!

Let's open up this blaster and see what comes from it:

Review -
Definitely nothing too crazy came from this blaster. In fact, it was a bit disappointing that most of my updated cards were just base updates rather than rookies. All-in-all there were two base Victory cards, an MVP base, and an OPC base. My only other rookie card besides the two that come per blaster was a Victory rookie of Tim Erixon.

As for as inserts and parallels, the only thing that came out was a canvas card of Nikolai Kulemin. I've been really hoping to get Young Gun or other short printed canvas cards, but alas... it wasn't to be. I have seen many collectors pull short printed Canvas out of retail though. I just want it to be me next time!

Here are the top three cards from this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Kris Versteeg Card No. 376
This base card definitely stood out to me as I was going through the cards in the blaster. This is one of those photos that make you stop and look at before moving on. It's just a great looking card!

#2 - Brendan Smith Card No. 467
The Young Guns in 11/12 didn't really stand out too much in terms of performance or design, but it is still always nice to get the Young Guns you are expecting in a blaster.

#1 - Cody Eakin Card No. 499
Eakin isn't a household name by any stretch, but he is a player that has lasted in the league. That's better than many others who have had very short NHL careers.

Overall Value -
For under nine dollars I think it's ok to give one of these blasters a try. Sure, chances are you won't get anything of value, but this set is still nice to look through and enjoy - especially the photos here. Hey, if you do end up getting something good, that's a pretty nice bonus!

Let me know what you thought of my 11/12 Upper Deck Series 2 blaster box down in the comments below. Have you ever gotten anything good from a Series 2 blaster? I'd love to know!

Overall Value Score:

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

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Retail Review #166 (14/15 Upper Deck MVP Blaster)

Since the new 15/16 MVP just came out, I thought it would be a good idea to re-visit last year's MVP here in Retail Review. Though MVP is one of Upper Deck's lowest end brands, I think it's been improved by quite a bit as the years have gone on. Unlike its bigger brother Black Diamond, MVP isn't something I cringe at while opening it!

Price - 

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

MVP is a great low end brand because it gives collectors a chance at both autographs and memorabilia. The odds are extremely long in terms of getting either of them... but at least there's a chance. And even if you don't get a hit, MVP provides you with enough other content to at least keep you happy.

A low end brand like MVP needs variety in order to be enjoyed. If collectors just got base card after base card, it would be a terrible blaster to bust. But that's not what happens here. There may be one or two all base packs, but at the very least there should be a number of packs with a silver script parallel card in it.

Let's check out the contents of this particular box:

Review -
Like I thought, the blaster was definitely fun for me to open. It was cool to see which parallel and insert cards came in the packs. I got a total of six silver parallel cards, my favorites being Felix Potvin and Sean Monahan. The gold script card that came from this blaster box was actually of a pretty good player as well!

There were two other insert cards and a rookie card in this blaster. One of the inserts was an NHL 3 Stars of the Week card. It featured Anders Lindback, John Gibson, and Ryan Johanen. I said it before in another review of MVP, but I like these informative inserts in lower end brands. It's great to help collectors gain knowledge of the NHL.

Here were the top three cards from this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Tuevo Teravainen Card No. 262
Teravainen was one of the hottest rookies from this particular year. I definitely do not have very many of his cards so it was good to find his rookie here in this blaster.

#2 - Patrick Sharp Card No. 269
Another Blackhawk in the top three! This time it's Patrick Sharp's gold script parallel card numbered to just 100. I'm not sure if you get gold script in every MVP blaster, but it's always nice to get a serial numbered card in retail products.

#1 - Tomas Hertl Card No. ROM10.13
I'm always happy to see teal come out of blasters. Hertl is one of the Sharks players that I don't have a lot of. Only recently have I gotten more of his cardboard. I think this is an interesting photo of Tomas.

Overall Value -
Maybe for twenty dollars this wouldn't be the best deal, but at under ten it is great! MVP may not be a huge favorite of seasoned collectors, but for new ones and collectors on a budget, it is a good product to get.

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, August 16, 2015

Retail Review #165 (14/15 Black Diamond Blaster)

Dare I open another blaster of Black Diamond??? Of course!!! I'm not sure if I've opened a blaster of 14/15 Black Diamond, but here goes. Hopefully it will turn out ok. For the money, Black Diamond blaster rarely deliver. Let's just cross the 'ol fingers and give this blaster a go.

Price - 

Packs - 6
14/15 UD Black Diamond Blaster Packs

Of all of Upper Deck's products, Black Diamond may be the one that needs the most change. Many of their other products have undergone some sort of transformation for the better... but Black Diamond feels as if it has pretty much stayed the same since its inception. Sure, the cards have a distinctive look unlike anything else out there, but surely there can be something done to make this a more compelling product to buy - especially at the retail level.

Like most Black Diamond released over the years, collectors can look for multiple diamond cards in these blasters. Often times you'll find a rookie card as well. Getting an insert or hit is extremely difficult here, but even when you do, they are typically not worth too much because of the ease of pulling them at the hobby level.

Let's see if this blaster of Black Diamond changes my mind about the brand:

Review -
Well... to answer my question I asked before the video... no... this blaster did not change my mind at all. It was a typical Black Diamond blaster in every way. There was no hit... but a few cards with multiple diamonds on them. I got a double diamond, a triple diamond, and a triple diamond rookie. The rest of the cards were just single diamonds.

I bought this blaster for about eight bucks, but I still feel like it wasn't worth it at all. Man, good thing it wasn't the regular price of twenty dollars!

Here's the top cards from the blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Doug Wilson Card No. 55
I chose this card over my double diamond because of Doug Wilson's association with the Sharks. This is actually a pretty cool picture of him when he was with the Hawks!

#2 - Tyler Seguin Card No. 155
Seguin was my triple diamond in the blaster. I guess that makes it one of the rarest cards pulled. Even though it's a triple diamond, that doesn't mean too much. I'm not sure how many people are going to be hounding me for this card.

#1 - Mirco Mueller Card No. 180
Well, I was actually pretty happy about pulling this Mueller rookie card. I don't have any cards of his and getting one here was a decent last pull for me from this blaster.

Overall Value -
Black Diamond gets me once again! Will I ever learn? Probably not, but hopefully you will and avoid blasters of Black Diamond if you can help 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!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

2015-2016 Upper Deck MVP Review

The highest end sets from 2014-15 haven't been released yet, but Upper Deck has gone ahead and given collectors the first set of the 2015-16 season... MVP! Last year MVP returned to it's stand alone set form and gave collectors a nice lower-end set to collect. I'm curious to see how Upper Deck has improved upon the cards this year.

Base Card Design -
Upper Deck does a great job of making their sets hold true to their brand. The design of the MVP base cards is instantly recognizable as an MVP card. Even if you removed the MVP logo at the bottom of the card, you would know it was from the MVP family of card sets. The base card has a relatively thick outer border that contains golden colored elements. The bottom portion of the card is also covered mostly with the MVP logo and player information. This leaves less room for the player photo. I guess that's ok because the photos used in MVP are of the boring variety. Going through the cards you see just your standard NHL photo of the player on the ice. There isn't anything too visually interesting to note here. It's pretty much your standard low-end card without much going on. It may be an easy beginning for new collectors to put together, but I'm not even sure why a set collector would want to assemble the base card set.

The backs of the base cards are as humble as the fronts. These backs don't even get a player photo, just the team logo. The back reminds me a little of how Panini used to do their backs - simple with no frills. On a positive note, the backs gel with the front very well as they share many of the same design elements with each other - this makes for a nice and uniform card from front to back.

Rookie cards are distinguished by their icy blue replacement of the base card gold elements on the front and back. They also have the word 'rookie' at the top to help collectors know that they have a first-year card. I actually think this color scheme is pleasing, and prefer it quite a bit to the standard base card.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
A box of MVP will give you 24 packs to open up. It's definitely nice to rip open a large amount of packs like this on occasion. MVP is filled with parallels, inserts, as well as the opportunity to pull memorabilia cards and autographs.

Back this year are the Colors and Contours insert cards. These cards are parallels of the base set done with shiny foil and aggressive die-cutting. There are many different levels and variations on these cards, so its important to check the back of the pack to see how difficult the card you find from this set is to get. The Colors and Contours cards are very nice to look at and will be appealing to collectors who enjoy cards that have a busier look to them. These base parallels are basically the extreme opposite of their standard base counterparts. There's nothing boring or standard here!

NHL Territories are foil insert cards that have a player set against an NHL (or former NHL in this case) city's background. I am always a fan of cards that feature the actual city the player plays in, so these cards have an instant appeal with me. The design is done well as the foil really helps the background to pop with color. Both memorabilia and autographed versions of these cards are available for collectors to find.

Silver Script parallel cards come one in every three packs or so. These cards add a nice silver foil embossed signature and other silver foil touches to the card. Like I always say, these Silver Script cards would make great regular base cards for the MVP set.

Super Script cards numbered to just 25 are also available to be found in MVP this year. These cards add a rainbow gold foil to the card as well as serial numbering to just 25. Super Scripts type parallel cards used to be extremely popular for collectors to find. Now they are nice pulls, but they don't entice collectors like they once did.

The surprise of my box was this one-of-one printing plate of Vincent Lecavalier. I had no idea that Upper Deck put printing plates into boxes for collectors to find. It's a nice card to have, and definitely a rare find, but like Super Scripts, printing plates have cooled in terms of collector interest.

Though I didn't get a memorabilia or autographed hit, I did pull the plate. I think most boxes will yield a jersey or auto typically. Collectors can also find rookie redemption cards for the rookies that have not skated yet this year. The most sought after redemption will be the Connon McDavid #1 Draft Pick card. The other redemption come in sets categorized by division.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
MVP has made some small, but nice, improvements in its second year back as a stand alone brand. The NHL Territories insert set is one of my favorite additions, and it's particularly nice that there are jersey and autographed versions to compliment the standard cards. Having rookie redemption cards within the set also makes this year's MVP an exciting buy. The chance to get Connon McDavid cards is a huge draw and will help MVP have a nice start. MVP will be one of the more affordable products this year, but Upper Deck has loaded it up with a nice array of cards to find. It's a fun break, and one that I definitely would recommend for its nice price point.

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of MVP:

2014-2015 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Review

Ultimate Collection is one of Upper Deck's highest-end brands, and it has come at its usual time during the space between hockey seasons. Upper Deck releases its best products at the end of a season's cycle, so it makes sense for Ultimate Collection to show up now. As it always is, Ultimate gives collectors a high concentration of hits in a small, but pricey, package.

Base Card Design -
The Ultimate Collection base card is on heavy card stock and features a design that is fresh, yet distinctly familiar. It's deep, team-centric, color scheme is in-line with Ultimate Collection cards from the past. The base cards look extremely elegant and are worthy of the name 'ultimate'. There is no mistake that these cards are of the high-end variety. Upper Deck has done a masterful job of making a base card that high-end consumers can appreciate. Each base card is numbered to just 299.

The back of the base card is also outstanding in its design. It is in full color and you also get the player's image on the back. The textural feel is especially nice here. Though it's just flat cardboard, the geometric marble looking background gives a three-dimensional look to the surface. Also appreciated is the write-up of the player included here. Some high-end releases are very sparse when it comes to the back of the card. That is not the case with these here.

There is a base memorabilia set within Ultimate Collection. These base memorabilia cards have numbering right after the standard base set. I would call these cards your standard jersey cards, and probably won't hold a very high value. In terms of design, they are also along the lines of a standard jersey card. There's a square space for the jersey chunk right in the middle of the card. Each standard jersey is numbered to 99, but other material can be found with lower serial numbering.

Rookie cards come last within the base set and have their own distinct design. The standard rookie base card features an on-card autograph located to the left of the player image. There's space there for a nice, large signature should the player want to take advantage of it. These rookie cards are colorful and nice to look at, but they don't stand out too much in their overall design. Higher-tiered rookies have lower numbering and parallels include patch pieces as well as NHL shields one-of-ones.

Base Card Design:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Boxes of Ultimate Collection contain only one pack of cards. Of the six cards found in the pack, at least four should be a hit of some sort. Ultimate Collection offers a huge variety of NHL game-used memorabilia embedded within its cards. There is definitely sweet pieces to find when you break into this product.

When I first opened the product in my video, I had no idea what this card was of Joe Pavelski. Turns out it is a 10-year anniversary card retro card from 04/05 Ultimate. I didn't get Ultimate back then so I didn't recognize it. It's a very sweet design though, and I'm sure if I was a fan of Ultimate back then that I would enjoy these cards even more than I do now.

Here's a very thick card featuring a stick piece from Jason Spezza. The card is limited to only 10 copies and looks very nice with its shimmery blue foil. This type of limited numbering and quality of card is the expectation to have when purchasing a product like Ultimate Collection.

Like Upper Deck has done these past few years, cards that were not put into past products have made their way into the most recent releases. This Ultimate Signatures card was from the 2012-13 Ultimate Collection set. It looks like Upper Deck couldn't get it into that year's release so it showed up in this one.

Ultimate Collection is a product that you can really hit big in. With great memorabilia pieces and autographs, the sky really is the limit here.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Ultimate Collection is in the high-risk, high-reward category of products. For quite a bit of money you only get one pack. I have recommended in the past that this product should be bought by the case by collectors with deep pockets. By doing that, you guarantee yourself some nice hits. For collectors who like to risk a bit, this is a product that you can do that with. While it is a pricey product, it is still the same amount as what you would pay for an average hobby box of a product with more cards in it.

This year's Ultimate Collection is again a fun product to open that looks great. I'm always up for busting a few boxes of this product whenever it comes out!

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of 14/15 Ultimate Collection:

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Retail Review #164 (10/11 Panini Certified)

So last week's blaster of Elite was a total bummer, eh? No hit, but that was a 'mistake' box I'm pretty sure as the packaging pretty much says a hit should be found in it. Talking to Panini about it should be helpful as they have great customer service. This week's blaster should also have a hit in it... but will it? Let's open it and find out!

Price - 

Packs - 3
10/11 Certified Packs

I think Certified was Panini's first really great product when they came into the hockey scene back in 2010. Certified was an amazing product to break, and one that really had some good value associated with it. I know that personally I was really into it and couldn't get enough of the stuff.

The original price of this blaster was twice as much as what I got it for. I think that back then I would still have been enticed to get one at thirty bucks. Currently, it's price is definitely something ok to pay for one as there is some pretty sweet things that you can still find in them. Memorabilia and autographs are available to those who choose to buy these blasters.

Let's see what comes out of this blaster this morning:

Review -
Ahh, not the best break, but I think a typical 'normal' break for this product. I was able to pull an insert card, a hit, and the rest base cards. Again, as I always do, I found the product to be absolutely stunning. I just don't know how Panini got this particular year's set to be so high in quality.

My only complaint about this box was that many of the base cards had a little bend in the corners. Maybe the packs were shaken around a bit too much after all these years, but since I'm not too concerned about the base cards I'm not going to really get too upset over it.

Let's see the top cards from this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Milan Lucic Card No. 11
The only reason this card is here in spot three is because its bigger brother is in the top spot, and it's kind of fun to get different parts of a rainbow in the same break.

#2 - Pat LaFontaine Card No. 162
I was pretty happy to pull this card of Pat LaFontaine. He was one of my all-time favorite players, and pulling his cards is always something I enjoy.

#1 - Milan Lucic Card No. 11
Yay! The hit that was supposed to be there was there! It's just a jersey card, but this is many times better than what I got last week. I also like the fact that this card (as well as the LaFontaine) were serial numbered.

Overall Value -
This was an average box of Certified at the retail level. I'm just glad that this time around I got was I was supposed to get. As long as Certified blasters are out there for a reasonable price, I will definitely keep on opening them in Retail Review episodes! They are one of the better deals out there!

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!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Retail Review #163 (11/12 Panini Elite Blaster)

The last time I opened up a blaster of Elite I was decently impressed with what I got. It actually made me appreciate the product a little bit more. I know when it came out, it was pretty much universally disliked. Now that they are pretty cheap, they are a nice bargain.

Price - 

Packs - 5
5 x 2011-12 Panini Elite Packs

Buying into Elite I'm expecting to get some nice shiny base cards along with a few inserts and a hit. Though at the hobby level most of the content in Elite was underwhelming, at the retail level the cards sort of get a new life.

The original price of this blaster was a hefty $30. If you're going to pay that much for a blaster of something at the local Wal-Mart or Target, there better be something in there that is worth getting. Just having nice cards to look at doesn't really cut it at that price point.

I'm optimistic and excited about what this blaster contains, let's see:

Review -
Well... there went my optimism. This blaster was absolutely terrible. According to the blaster box, there should be one memorabilia or autographed card inside - and there was neither. All I got was a bloated pack filled with air. Was it air from an actual NHL rink? If it was, then I guess it makes everything better...

This blaster was clearly a botched one. Panini is usually very good with their production, but in this case I got a bad box. Not only did I not get my promised hit, there were no inserts to be found inside either. It was the ultimate disappointment.

Top three is the best of the base:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Martin Havlat Card No. 144
I get to play the Sharks homer again as I chose Marty Havlat as top card number three. Havlat actually didn't do too much as a member of the Sharks... but I had to put him in this slot because there was just no one else, sadly.

#2 - Henrik Lundqvist Card No. 23
King Henry has been the main man in New York for a number of years now. He's definitely one of the top goalies in the NHL and so it's nice to pull his cards.

#1 - Jonathan Toews Card No. 114
Captain Serious is really Captain Winner. He's been the rock on a very strong Blackhawks team. He'll be going down as one of the best in the NHL one day.

Overall Value -
Sometimes mistakes happen, but when you get caught in them it really does suck. I lost ten bucks on these ordinary base cards... but on the bright side, I didn't lose thirty... which is what would have happened had I bought this at it's face value. Better luck next time!

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!