Sunday, October 25, 2015

Retail Review #175 (10//11 Panini Zenith Blaster)

This morning I'll be opening up a blaster of Panini Zenith. Zenith was a product that only lasted 1 season with Panini before it was taken out of the line-up. With a high starting price-point and cards that weren't that high in quality, it was obvious why this brand didn't succeed. Well, at least it's come down in price enough to pick up blasters easily!

Price - 

Packs - 3
10/11 Zenith Blaster Packs

It's nice to see that these blasters don't cost too much. It makes them so much more fun to buy and open because of their modest price point. I've checked the wrap... and it's Panini wrapping so there should be guaranteed hit within.

Most of the time the hit is a Winter Warriors jersey card. The Winter Warrior jersey set is one of my least favorite of all time because of how ugly they are. Zenith had always been about superior looking premium cards. That particular set was anything but!

If I could have a choice I would like to find any autographed card inside. I already have plenty of jersey cards laying around the house. 2010 was such a great year for rookies that getting a good autographed rookie card would be pretty awesome.

Let's take a look see at what's inside this blaster:

Review -
So this blaster turned out to be not too bad! Even though I ended up getting a jersey hit, at least it wasn't the dreaded Winter Warrior card! The jersey card actually look very nice in person. All three packs actually had something in them, so that was nice.

In terms of base cards, I did like getting the Felix Potvin LA Kings card. He's such an iconic Leaf that it's unusual to see him in anything else. And in terms of hometown base cards, I got Nemo and Jumbo in the three packs. Not a bad haul for Sharks!

Here's the top three:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Trevor Gillies Card No. 143
Not a huge name in the hockey world, but Gillies has a nice story behind him. I also appreciate that this rookie card is numbered to just 999 copies. 

#2 - Anders Lindback Card No. 19
I love it when insert cards are adorned with foil and really stand out from the rest of the pack, that's the way it used to be in the 90's. The Rookie Roll Call cards are super shiny and distinct.

#1 - Nikolai Kulemin Card No. 28
I am a huge fan of how this card looks. The Epix cards may not book for a high value, but these designs are some of the best for just a plain jersey card. It's also great how the card is limited to just 100.

Overall Value -
For about ten bucks this was not a bad deal. I was able to get a hit and a numbered rookie card. Even though this was a very quick break, I enjoyed it quite a bit and wouldn't mind going for another one of these blasters in the very near future. I just hope the supply of the won't dry up soon! I suggest trying one if you haven't done so just in case. Give Zenith a second chance!

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, October 18, 2015

Retail Review #174 (2012 UD Goodwin Champions Blaster)

As you know I like to dip into some Goodwin Champions every-so-often to satisfy my multi-sport itch. I really should just buy some hobby boxes of the stuff, but I find that the price of Goodwin at the retail level currently is hard to pass up. Goodwin blasters offer a chance to get some unique athletes and historical figures.

Price - 

Packs - 12
12 x 2012 Goodwin Champions Blaster Packs

It's definitely possible to get hits out of Goodwin Champion blasters, but the odds are definitely not in your favor. Instead, collectors can pretty much look forward to getting mini cards and a military insert card in this year's version of the set.

Being a primarily a hockey collector, I always hope to pull more hockey personalities out. It'd be amazing if a hockey relic came out of one of these things. Sure, getting a Jordan autograph would be nice too!

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

Review -
To me this was a decent break of Goodwin Champions. Though I did not get any sort of hit, I did get a good number of hockey mini cards, which was a bit surprising. My military card was a plane that I don't thin I've pulled before - so that's good. After getting quite a few blasters of this already I would think I'd start seeing duplicates more often.

As for the standard base cards, I liked my eclectic mix of people. Getting Stan Lee with Hulk gloves on was pretty cool. Brian Leetch's card with the United States flag in the background was also a fun card to see again.

Here were my three favorite cards from this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Ron Francis Card No. 28
Ron Francis was a great player for a number of years in the NHL. It's always nice to pull his cards, and I'm always happy to get him either in a Pens or Whaler jersey.

#2 - Larry Robinson Card No. 129
Robinson was a great player for the Habs back in the day, but now his is one of the coaches for your San Jose Sharks! I've actually been trying to get some of his autos recently.

#1 - Dan Marino Card No. 19
Marino was one of the most popular quarterbacks in the 90's. I definitely had a football card collecting phase back then and getting his cards was always a thrill.

Overall Value -
I did enjoy this blaster box of Goodwin, but the value wasn't quite there since there was no hit in it. Sure, these cards can be enjoyed, but there really has to be some more value in these blasters to really take them to the next level.

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, October 16, 2015

2015-2016 Upper Deck Artifacts Review

For me, the collecting season always ends with The Cup and begins anew with Artifacts. Technically, Artifacts is the third product to come out after MVP and OPC, but it's the first product that veteran hobby collectors really look forward to with high interest. Artifacts gives collectors a solid number of hits for a reasonable price. The rookie redemption program in Artifacts sort of future-proofs the product because it allows collectors to find awesome cards of potentially very hot rookies even before the season starts.

Base Card Design -
This year's Artifacts base card is a winner. The card has a very premium, glossy feel, and a healthy amount of foil to it. Artifact base cards have always been very nice, but I think this year's is one of the top designs yet. Upper Deck has somehow managed to cram a whole lot of elements into a cohesive looking card. My favorite part of the card has to be the team logo that is placed right below the player image. It's imprinted in gold foil beautifully. Kudos to Upper Deck for this base design - it's excellent!

The back of the Artifacts base card is also very strong. It is much less ornate than the front, but it serves its purpose well and still with a flair. I am a fan of how the front elements are subtly seen the the background of the card. It's there, but not a distraction. The stats of the player can be read easily and the card includes a nice write-up.

The main set of Artifacts has three categories of serial numbered cards included within it - Stars, Legends, and Rookies. The Stars cards are serial numbered to 999, the Rookies to 999, and the Legends to 499. The Stars and Legends share a very similar design to the standard base card, where as the rookies have a look all their own.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Artifacts new configuration has collectors receiving less packs per box this year. In the past, a box of Artifacts pretty much guaranteed an autograph... but not this year. After closely reading the box, each box just guarantees 3 hits. In theory all three hits could be plain jersey cards. Hmm... that's a puzzling step backwards in my opinion for this product.

Speaking of plain jersey cards, these dual relics are the staple of the Artifacts set. The most basic is this version with two jersey swatches. These cards can be considered a parallel to the basic set as Upper Deck simply takes the standard base card and inserts a couple of jersey pieces in. These are numbered to 125.

As the numbering gets lower, the pieces filling the swatch holes get better. This version of the card contains both a jersey and a patch pieces rather than just two jersey pieces. Unfortunately for myself, the patch is a plain white one.

To mix is up a bit, Upper Deck has some insert themed relic sets such as these Frozen Artifacts cards. It's great to have more card designs, but the jersey piece seems to be smaller than the norm. And yes... I did get three Phil Kessel hits in this box. Wow Upper Deck. Wow.

Besides relics, Artifacts is known for its vast array of parallel cards. I've taken on the challenge of putting together a full set of Logan Couture Artifact cards from a couple of different years... and it was difficult! Artifacts print runs that go down to /5, /3/, /2, and /1. It's really nuts! I challenge anyone to try and put a complete rainbow together. Once all the cards are together though it looks great!

My box contained a standard rookie redemption card that has been typical of Artifacts in years past. I'm usually completely fine with it, except that this year there are quite a few relic and autographed versions that have been packed in. Those versions have a roman numeral on them and tell you exactly what your redeemed card will come with... be it an autograph, jersey, or patch.

So overall Artifacts is the product we've really known and come to love... but at the box buying level, it has fallen short a bit. No longer are autographs pretty much a given. You could be like me and get just three relic cards. If you're luckier than me, you could possibly find autos, sticks, and all sorts of amazing combinations of relics.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
I have very mixed feelings about this year's Artifacts set. The cards look great, and I think it still offers collectors some great relics to search for... but the fact that there is not a guaranteed autograph per box really gets to me. Sure, often times the autograph would turn out to be some Autofacts card that wasn't really that great, but I think I still appreciated the fact that there would be an autograph in the box. I was really shocked and miffed not to get any ink in my box of Artifacts this year. That plus all my hits were of Phil Kessel... sheeesh! I'm sad to say that I think Artifacts this year has taken a step back.

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of Artifacts:

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Retail Review #173 (12/13 UD Series One Tin)

I always enjoy opening up a tin of Upper Deck. I love the format that these cards come in! The tin definitely makes the experience more fun and unique. In the past, collector have asked me to open up more of these in my Retail Reviews. I've done my best to try to get a hold of as many of these as I can. They are not found in my part of the country at all, so it can be a challenge!

Price - 

Packs - 12
12/13 UD Series 1 Packs

I've had this tin sitting around for a while now, and I guess it's because it's a 12/13 product. Often times when I see a 12/13 product I groan a bit on the inside. That was the year that the season was cut in half by the lock out. Hockey products took a huge hit that year and many great sets were not released. Rookies were hampered the most in 12/13 as they are what usually drive a product. With no excitement in that regard, 12/13 products have become a sort of afterthought.

That's really too bad because 12/13 products are actually pretty well designed - like 12/13 Upper Deck for example. I think this year's base design set is one of the best in a while, and the Young Guns are perhaps one of my all-time favorites. Well, you can't change the past, but we can still open it up!

Let's pop the lid off this tin and see what's inside:

Review -
This was a great little break that I really enjoyed. I didn't get a jersey or auto out of it, but there were enough inserts and rookies to be found inside that it really didn't matter. I think that if I were a collector just opening this product for fun I would be pretty happy.

First of all, I am used to getting just two Young Gun rookie cards when I buy a standard blaster of Upper Deck. This tin spit out three! On top of that I was able to get canvas parallels, a Silver Skate insert, a Hockey Heroes card, and a couple MVP cards. It was a pretty nice haul!

My top cards this week are as follows:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Akim Aliu Card No. 209
So none of the rookies will really stand out too much for me, but I remember liking Akim Aliu's name a lot that year. I chose his Young Gun card as my favorite of the three I pulled.

#2 - Brad Richards Card No. WC-12
The over-sized Winter Classic card displays a very unique moment in the game. I am a big fan of how this card shows more of an overall picture of what is happening rather than just a tight shot of Richards. There's more of a story here than on your standard card.

#1 - Jason Zucker Card No. C104
I've been wanting to pull Canvas Young Guns, but they always seem to elude me. I'm glad that I was able to get one out of this blaster. Canvas Young Guns look great and are much more difficult to find than their regular counterparts.

Overall Value -
This tin was an outstanding value at just ten dollars. I enjoyed opening the tin up very much and was impressed by the content that came out of it. I think Upper Deck tins make a great gift or a fun distraction from the standard hockey blaster. I recommend them for purchase if you can find them near you!

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, October 4, 2015

Retail Review #172 (11/12 UD Black Diamond)

I've been opening up a lot of Certified lately on Retail Review, so I thought I'd switch it up a bit today and go with some Black Diamond from Upper Deck. Black Diamond is a brand that makes it very difficult to pull anything out of. I'm pretty sure that'll hold true today as well, but that's why we play the game! Anything can happen on any given Sunday, right?

Price - 

Packs - 6
11/12 Upper Deck Black Diamond Blaster Packs

I remember 2011 as the year I bought a lot of Black Diamond trying to get a Ryan-Nugent Hopkins quad diamond rookie card. Did I get one that year? Nope!

So I guess there's still a chance if I keep buying Black Diamond now at its new discounted price. These blasters are now around ten dollars, but I think they could probably take a little more of a price drop. Something in the seven or eight dollar price range is appropriate for this I think.

Will I finally get that RNH quad I've been looking for? Let's check out this blaster:

Review -
Nope! There was no RNH... and surprisingly, no rookie card either here. I typically expect a rookie card to come out of these things. That's ok though, there was only one rookie I would be interested in finding here anyways, and the chance of that coming out was very slim.

I think I'm relatively happy with this blaster though. I got an array of multi-diamond cards... including a quad! There was a Crosby base card in the mix as well. That's always a nice thing.

Here were the top three cards this week:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Patrice Bergeron Card No. 119
I was debating whether to put Crosby here or have Bergeron take this slot. I went with Bergeron because of the double diamond status of the card.

#2 - Henrik Lundqvist Card No. 157
I really thought this would be the best card of the break... I'm glad there was something I liked better, but this card is a solid pull from Black Diamond.

#1 - Teemu Selanne Card No. 212
Teemu has been following me around this week I guess! This is a sweet card as it features Selanne in his All-Star uniform. That year all the quad diamond vets were shown in All-Star gear. This makes for a fresh look.

Overall Value -
I think for ten bucks this blaster was alright. The Selanne card definitely helped me like this blaster much more than if the triple diamond Lundqvist was the best card found. I definitely could have done much worse than this blaster, so all-in-all it was a good break.

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

Overall Value Score:

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

Thursday, October 1, 2015

2014-2015 Upper Deck The Cup Review

It's that time of year... it's time for THE CUP. Upper Deck's mammoth release of the year is upon us, and collectors are already abuzz about what they can find in it. Opening up a tin of The Cup is really unlike any other card buying experience. You really have to experience it if you are at all into hockey cards. I am so excited for my yearly tin! Let's take a look at what came out of it.

Base card Design -
The Cup base cards come in their usual super-thick stock. These base cards are pretty much like every other year of The Cup. I would definitely have a hard time distinguishing base card designs from year to year as they all look so similar. I think it'd be nice for Upper Deck to really change up the base design for The Cup to give each year a super-distinct look - just my opinion. The base cards are fine cards, but definitely don't have near the appeal of the real reason you buy The Cup... the hits!

Nothing is too special about the back of the base card either. It's your standard back... not even a write up here! The design goes well with it's front-facing counterpart and everything is easily seen and read.

There seem to be plenty of rookie patch auto cards from what I've seen of breaks. My particular tin had two. The standard rookie patch auto card is numbered to 249 and has a light blue design that, again, is very typical of The Cup. Unfortunately, these RPAs leaving me wanting. The color scheme and layout of the card is serviceable, but flat. There just isn't anything in terms of how they look that would really wow you. Like the base cards, I think Upper Deck needs to kick these into a higher gear next year.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Each tin of The Cup will give collectors about 5 hits. Collectors will find on-card autographs, patches, and unique collectibles when they purchase The Cup. Every collector crosses their fingers when it comes to opening up a tin. We're all hoping for that massive monster to come out!

Perhaps the most 'boring' of the hits has to be the jersey cards found in The Cup. These are just jersey cards like those you would find in the lower-end brands just with a much more limited numbering. This quad jersey of four Senators is numbered to just 10. It's a very low number, but the card itself doesn't do too much for me. The patch version of this card might be interesting if the pieces of patch embedded were nice.

Brilliance cards combine some clear acetate on top of a foil team logo. The effect comes off pretty nicely, especially with the ice-blue pen used to autograph the card. My only gripe about these cards is that they are not serial numbered so it is difficult to determine how rare they are.

My absolute favorite card from my tin was this amazing patch/auto of Teemu Selanne. The patch on this card is absolutely incredible! It's the center-piece of the Mighty Duck logo from an old Ducks jersey. That combined with the autograph make it a real winner of a card. I was very happy to find this unique piece. This is the kind of card you are hoping to get when you purchase something like The Cup.

Of course there are many more different sorts of hits to find when buying into The Cup... way too many to write about in this blog post, that's for sure! I just suggest you take a look at some of the Cup breaks on Youtube. You may need a bib though... there will be a lot of droolage!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Value -
At over $400 per tin of The Cup, there's a very steep hill to climb if you want to buy into it. It's definitely not a product that many can afford to purchase. For those who can, though, it's worth it to dip into it as much as you can. Like I said earlier, it's THE product you wait the entire season for.

The good news is, for those who can't afford a tin, there will be plenty of nice Cup singles to purchase in the secondary market that won't cost you near the price of a tin. That would be a great way to enjoy cards from this set.

Each year I am reminded about just how fun it is to pop open a tin of The Cup. It's hands down the best hockey product you can get!

Overall Value:

Check out my personal tin of The Cup: