Sunday, September 27, 2015

Retail Review #171 (11/12 Certified Blaster)

Last week's Retail Review was completely disappointing as I believe I received a tampered blaster. There were many signs pointing to the fact that it was messed with by some unscrupulous person. This week I'm going with the same product, but with the official Panini wrap and logos on it. I'm really hoping for a better result than the last time.

Price - 

Packs - 3
11/12 Panini Certified

I think even getting just a plain old jersey card would be nice considering last week's debacle. These Certified blasters are guaranteed to have a hit in them, so this one better have a hit! Especially since it has the correct wrap around it!

Last week's break has definitely made me temper my expectations a bit in terms of what to expect. It sucked, but was a good life lesson, I guess. It makes me really check carefully what I am buying before getting into it.

With that being said, let's see what comes from this particular blaster box:

Review -
Alright... much better! This is definitely one of the better blasters I have opened. When I first opened the blaster I was a bit nervous as all three packs didn't look like it had a hit in it. Usually one of the packs is a little fatter because of the jersey card within it. I was pleasantly surprised that my hit turned out to be a pretty sweet low numbered autograph of a respected player. I didn't get any inserts this time, but there was a mirror blue parallel card that showed up.

Here's the top three:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Evgeni Malkin Card No. 101
This blaster didn't particularly come with a good selection of base cards. Malkin was probably the best of the bunch.

#2 - Eric Staal Card No. 11
This mirror blue parallel card of Eric Staal is numbered to just 99 copies. Staal has moderate hobby interest, but that's better than your run of the mill card, so I'm decently happy here with this card.

#1 - Daniel Alfredsson Card No. 47
Wow, this mirror gold autographed card of Daniel Alfredsson is pretty awesome. It's definitely not a card that I would be searching for per se, but I really do like this hit quite a bit. Alfredsson was one of the most respected players in the game, and I'm very happy to have his mirror gold auto!

Overall Value -
This was a great blaster. It's the kind of blaster I'm hoping to get when I purchase one. The hit maybe wasn't worth a huge dollar amount, but it is a very solid card to find in retail. I'm really glad this blaster turned out to be winner after what happened a week ago. Faith is restored in Certified!

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, September 20, 2015

Retail Review #170 (11/12 Certified Blaster)

Today I'm excited to bust open a blaster of Panini Certified. Certified is always a fun break because you get some really nice looking cards along with a guaranteed hit. These blaster boxes were extremely difficult for me to find when they were first released, but thanks to online ordering, they can be found with relative ease and at a great price.

Price - 

Packs - 3
11/12 Panini Certified

11/12 Certified isn't as good as the previous year's version, but it still can provide some good value. The original price of this blaster was $30, which works out to $10 per pack. That's reasonable for Certified as it corresponded well to the hobby form of it.

Currently, Certified blasters can be found for around $10. I got this particular one at So it's like purchasing an entire blaster for the price of just one hobby pack. Of course, since 2012 hobby packs and boxes have come down quite a bit, but I think a blaster of this stuff for about ten bucks is a great deal. It's like buying guaranteed hit for that amount of money. Good stuff!

Let's see what hit comes of this blaster... jersey or auto?

Review -
So sad! As you can see from the video, there was no hit in this blaster. I'm almost 100% sure that this blaster was tampered with as it didn't have the Panini wrap around it and the packs looked a bit suspect after some closer inspection. Booooooo! What a terrible feeling to have when opening up a blaster like this. Welp, better me than somebody else. I really hope this was the only blaster like this from the retailer. Man, that really sucks.

Here were my top cards from the break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Steven Stamkos Card No. 126
I guess this card comes in third. Stamkos is a great player and a tough competitor. Always good to get his cardboard.

#2 - Mark Messier Card No. 19
I thought I was off to a very nice start with this insert. Who knew that it would only go downhill from here.

So the pack that I was supposed to have a hit in only had 4 cards in it. Now I'll never know what could have been. Sure, this card could have been a common jersey card, but it also could have been an amazing autograph or patch. It will forever be a mystery.

Overall Value -
My first really terrible experience with a blaster. It's one thing to get not get a hit, another thing to get shorted, but it's entirely another thing to feel like you've been robbed. This was definitely my worst Retail Review break by far!

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, September 13, 2015

Retail Review #169 (13/14 Select Blaster)

This little two pack blaster contains a little bit of hobby magic. From what I know, the packs inside are exactly the same as the kind found at the hobby level. Of coruse, this makes the original price of these blasters quite high. I'm glad that I was able to buy them for just a smidge under twelve dollars. Not a bad deal!

Price - 

Packs - 2
13/14 Panini Select Packs

You only get two packs in this blaster, and while they are just like hobby packs, two packs at the hobby level don't equate to a hit. And the blaster does not say anything about guaranteeing hits either. For it's price, you get the opportunity to risk a bit of money on hobby packs. I've had mixed results with these blasters. It's been nice to pull out autographs and jersey cards, but it was also painful to get a bunch of base cards too.

I'm not sure what awaits me as I open this blaster up, but I always hope for the best. 13/14 was a difficult year for the hobby, so the rookie cards aren't the best. A nice veteran card would probably be the best case scenario for this break.

Let's see what comes out of this blaster:

Review -
Dang it! This blaster wasn't one of the ones with a hit in it. In this quick break I got pretty much all base cards except for one insert card. I also pulled a rookie card that probably isn't of much consequence. You win some, you lose some - that's for sure!

On the bright side, these packs didn't cost too much, and I know I paid for the opportunity to buy higher quality cards. I just wished I had gotten something worthwhile.

Here are the top cards out of this Select blaster box:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - PK Subban Card No. 18
I remember a time when I tried to put a collection of Subban cards together... it was hard! I still like his feisty attitude when he plays though, and when I get his cards it's still cool.

#2 - Joe Thornton Card No. 53
I actually really like the look of this card of Jumbo Joe. He looks pretty 'jumbo' on this card as he fills it all up. There was lots of drama with Thornton last year in SJ, but he is still a great player for the Sharks.

#1 - Joffrey Lupul Card No. FS-36
This was my only insert card from this blaster. I didn't even get any prizm parallel cards! Fire on Ice insert cards are pretty stunning to look at, getting Joffrey Lupul wasn't the best, but I appreciate Panini for including him in the set.

Overall Value -
This blaster of Select wasn't so hot. This won't deter me from getting these though as I have found success before with them. For just over ten bucks, these little blasters are a fun buy now, and it's a great way to sneak some hobby into your retail buying habits!

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, September 12, 2015

2015-2016 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee Review

O-Pee-Chee came out about a week ago, but I've been very busy lately with other projects. It's great, though, to just sit down with it and crack open a box. From what it looks like, OPC has some interesting new things in it to go along with its usual inclusions. I'm curious if the new cards will inject some excitement into this long-standing brand.

Base Card Design -
OPC is known for its retro themed massive base card set. The set has typically been 600 - and that's no different this year. The first 500 cards make up the regular set with the final 100 cards being rookies or legends. This year's base card design frames the player quite nicely. The card looks like a picture frame of sorts and has a golden shine to it. Everything is laid out neatly here with a generous photograph for the brand. Photo quality has never been a strong suit for OPC, and sadly that continues here. You're really just going to find run-of-the-mill pictures as you look through these cards. So while I like the size of the photos, I wish better ones were used.

The OPC card back has the familiar cardboard look and feel to it. Design-wise, it's done very well with easy to follow text. I just wish the backs were more fun! Since OPC is a lower-end brand that kids can afford, it would have been nice to have some fun graphics and facts on the back for kids to read and enjoy. I always loved old Topps baseball cards for that very reason... they were fun! These cards are very stiff in comparison.

Rookies that got ice time last year but that didn't get a card have official RCs in this set. The rookies have a nice ice-blue look to them and are easily recognized as rookie cards by the large 'ROOKIE' logo on the right hand side of the card. It's usually pretty hard to find a big time rookie in these early season releases... and that case holds here. Upper Deck will most likely have updated OPC cards released as inserts in Upper Deck Series Two.

Upper Deck loves to fill out their OPC sets with cards of legends. Usually you see the same bunch of guys over and over, but I was happy to see Arturs Irbe make the cut this time around. He's actually been in more Upper Deck products recently. As a Sharks fan, that's awesome to see!

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
OPC is a brand not known for its hits. In fact, unlike many products out there today, OPC does not guarantee any type of hit in their boxes... and are actually pretty difficult to come by. While OPC is a set builders brand, collectors can still find some nice inserts, parallels, and hits as they bust open their boxes of this product.

Back once again are the OPC Retro parallel cards. These cards employ an even more retro design than the standard base cards. The design of these cards are pretty hit or miss most years. This year's effort isn't the greatest in my opinion. The design doesn't really remind me of anything old and just isn't bold or fun enough. I can't see much collector interest in there... unless you are super hard-core into OPC.

Rare blank-back parallel cards exist in the product. Though these cards are considered pretty tough to find, I always seem to find some each year. The blank back parallel cards are always a bit of a challenge for player collectors to track down. Even though these cards may be hard to locate, recently they haven't sold for too much - which is nice for those on the lookout for them.

Continuing on with the foil trend, shiny and glossy base parallels also make a return to the set. These cards are certainly glammed up compared to the regular base card. They really stand out and I think are enticing to younger collectors who can't get enough of the shine.

Black foil cards kick it up a notch by adding serial numbering on the back. These cards can be distinguished by their black borders. The cards are numbered to 100 copies each. You should find a couple per hobby box.

Fans of smaller cards will like these square looking retro cards. They are not parallels of the regular set, but a standard insert. These cards page homage to the days when cards came in all different shapes and sizes. To me, these cards are hard to collect as they don't quite fit well with everything else I have. Baseball collectors seem to really like them though. It's a pretty polarizing type of card.

All-Star insert cards are back. All-Star cards were really popular in the 90's, and these inserts definitely have a 90's glossy feel to them, so they are very appropriate. I actually like these cards quite a bit. The neon green look of the card is just something you don't see everyday. It might be my favorite looking card in the entire set.

Probably the most interesting card I pulled out of my box was this puzzle redemption card. Now here's an idea that really comes straight out of the past. The thing is you have to get all the redemption cards and then mail them in for a special card of the number one pick. This is a really fun idea and can create buzz for the redemption card. There are nine of these cards that you have to find and they come once in everyone one-hundred packs or so! So they're not the easiest thing to get! I have yet to decide if I want to go for this redemption or not.

Sadly, I didn't get any hits in my box, but I was excited to get the redemption card. It is a really unique idea that shows that Upper Deck is still trying to innovate on some level. There is actually quite a bit more to find in OPC as other insert cards have very long pull rates as well. Who knows, maybe I'll find some of those cards when I do some blasters of this when I find them!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Score -
I am so glad that Upper Deck has made OPC a little more interesting. For the really high-rolling collectors, this may not be enough change to get them excited, but for many regular hockey card fans, this does make OPC just that much better than it was before. It is still a very affordable product that all fans can enjoy collecting.

OPC won't bring you many cards that will blow you away, but it still has the ability to net you something worthwhile. I definitely recommend giving OPC a try this year and seeing what interesting cards you can pull out of it!

Overall Score:

Check out my box of OPC here:

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Retail Review #168 (13/14 Upper Deck Artifacts Blaster)

It's so interesting how some brands work so well at the hobby level, but so terribly a the retail one. That's Upper Deck Artifacts. I would rarely hesitate to buy and bust open a box of hobby Artifacts because I know there is a good possibility of getting something solid in it. That's the exact opposite when it comes to the retail version. I'll be lucky if I get even one non-base card!

Price - 

Packs - 8
13/14 Artifacts Blaster Packs

I'm not sure what Upper Deck is trying to do with Artifacts at the retail level. The box states that you can get this and that, but actually getting any of the stated stuff is pretty rare. It can be frustrating for someone who is just trying out hockey cards to look into a blaster of Artifacts. Usually it's just base card after base card. A rookie card might be a very cool thing to at least look forward to, but Artifacts won't give you one of those too often.

The brand name of Artifacts probably comes from the fact that you can find all sorts of memorabilia in the product. Well, that's true of hobby versions of the product, but not here. I'm not digging much treasure out of these little guys... and that's too bad!

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

Review -
Just as I thought, really there wasn't too much of interest in this blaster. There were lots and lots of base cards, but at least there were a couple serial numbered cards along with some solid stars in the packs. It was fun pulling older guys like Pavel Bure and Eric Lindros out along with Malkin and Crosby.

Can't say too much more about this blaster as it was pretty dry. Let's just get to the top three:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - David Perron Card No. 19
Not a big name player in the hobby, but at least this card has some special serial numbering on it. In all honesty, this card is probably really worth just as much as a standard base card. I'm not sure who's knocking down doors looking for this card.

#2 - Mike Richards Card No. 68
Well, 99 is a much better number than 399, so Mike Richards gets spot number two. A card numbered to 99 can be good, but there's not too much going for this card. It may be worth a bit more than the regular base version.

#1 - Wayne Gretzky Card No. 98
My top card from this break has no serial numbering affixed to it. It's just The Great One's base card in the set. This card is probably worth more by itself than either of the previous serial numbered cards just because it is of Wayne Gretzky.

Overall Value -
There's no surprise here. Artifacts is a bad value at the retail level and I would advise you to steer clear of it. Save your money and buy one pack of hobby Artifacts over an entire blaster of the retail version! It's the right choice!

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!