Sunday, December 27, 2015

Retail Review #184 (14/15 OPC Platinum Blaster)

I don't ever remember opening up a blaster of this product before... is this my first time? I've gotten so many retail products that sometimes I lose track. Anyways, here's a blaster of OPC Platinum. It's a product that was received well by collectors at first, but soon dropped off in popularity.

Price - 

Packs - 6
14/15 OPC Platinum Packs

OPC Platinum is a product that Upper Deck made to capitalize on the popularity of Prizm from Panini and Chrome from Topps. They basically took the OPC design from that year and made all the cards foil. This approach has been popular in other sports so it would makes sense to be popular with hockey too.

Well, OPC Platinum didn't take the hockey world by storm, and now it's pretty easy to find for a good price. The hobby version has been heavily discounted as have the retail versions of it. If you're going to get some, I can really just recommend the hobby version as you get guaranteed autographs per hobby box. Retail blasters such as these make getting any sort of hit nearly impossible.

It's been a while since I've touched this product, but what I'm expecting are just a few parallel base cards, and if I'm really lucky, and autograph.

Let's see what comes out from this OPC blaster:

Review -
I think this blaster was pretty decent for the price. Though there were only six packs in this box, I still felt I got a decent amount of parallel and rookie cards. Getting a numbered parallel was pretty awesome, and I'm glad I got one of a pretty good player.

I also got a few retro cards along with the base cards. The retro cards can be distinguished by their alternate design.

My only issue with this blaster was that the cards were all bowing. I shouldn't be surprised about that though as chrome-type cards tend to do this. In a toploader you cant really tell that they do that so it's not a big deal.

There were the top cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Chris Tierney Card No. 93
I like this card for a couple reasons... one... this card features a San Jose Sharks player. That's always good for me. Second, it's a retro style card so it looks a bit different than all the others.

#2 - Aaron Ekblad Card No. 158
Ekblad was one of the top rookies to get last year, so hitting him was nice. It's not a parallel version or anything, just the normal base version, but it's cool to have.

#1 - Matt Duchene Card No. 78
This was a pretty nice card to come from a blaster. I really like the fact that it's a low numbered parallel card. Duchene is also a very good player, which makes this card even better!

Overall Value -
This blaster provided a nice break with some decent value in it. At about ten bucks a pop, these blasters can't match up to their discounted hobby brethren, but they can still be a good distraction to open. If you're looking to add another blaster to your order that doesn't break the bank, OPC Platinum wouldn't be a terrible choice. It's a solid product with the opportunity to pull some good looking parallel cards.

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, December 20, 2015

Retail Review #183 (14/15 Ultra Blaster)

I really want to like Fleer Ultra hockey as it was a brand I really enjoyed buying back when I was a kid. Back then, Ultra was considered a premium brand with some high-dollar potential and really nice inserts. Now it's more of a low-end product, but I hope good things can still come out of it.

Price - 

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

So at $4.95 this blaster is barely the price of one pack of cards. And really, that's the way it should be as pulling anything out of Ultra is very difficult. I have not had much success with these blasters in previous Retail Reviews, but I still thought it was worth a try breaking one given the price.

I'm expecting to find some inserts and parallel cards in this box. If I'm really, really lucky I may get a hit. Like I said before, this is a product I want to like because of my past history with it. Ultra should be a fun product with a lot of interesting cards to see and get.

Let's just open this blaster and see what comes out of it:

Review -
Wow, that was pretty terrible. It's pretty disheartening to open up all-base pack after all-base pack. Out of this blaster I was only able to get 3 non-base cards. Had this blaster cost me the full asking price of $20 I would be extremely unhappy. Instead, I'm just 'pretty darned unhappy' as I'm only really out five bucks. But still, this would be an extremely saddening blaster if I had paid the original price for it. Major burn!

The top cards from this break were my non-base cards. Here they are:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Andrei Markov Card No. 98
The only reason this card is here is because it is a Gold Medallion parallel card. It probably could have been beat out by a better just standard superstar base card, but none of those base cards really stood out to me.

#2 - Brian Elliot Card No. 163
This same can be said of this card as of the Markov card above. And this Brian Elliot card could have just as easily been in the third slot. They really are interchangeable.

#1 - Sharks vs. Kings Card No. RLV-5
Well, at least I got a Sharks insert card. I do have to say this card does look cool. I suppose if this were the 90's a card like this may be a worthwhile pull, but nowadays it's just a standard insert card that can be found for very little on eBay if you really wanted it.

Overall Value -
Even though this blaster was really a cheap pick-up, I can't recommend getting any Fleer Ultra. You're really just setting yourself up for disappointment. Upper Deck needs to make their low-end brands like this more retail friendly so that more people can actually enjoy the cards and get into the hobby. As it stands now, getting a blaster of this is a real turn-off!

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!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

2015-2016 Upper Deck Black Diamond Review

To be honest, I had absolutely no idea that Upper Deck was changing Black Diamond's configuration. I hadn't kept up with it at all, and so when it released today I was in shock at the price and the product configuration. Upper Deck has completely re-done Black Diamond into a high-end one-pack-per-box type product with a high-end price tag to go along with it. I'm curious to see if the change was worth a good one.

Base Card Design -
Pack/boxes of Black Diamond only come with one base card this year. The standard base cards are numbered to 199 and have a white look to them. Unfortunately, I didn't get a standard base card to show you... I got a black parallel version numbered to 99. The standard base card and the black variation differ in their border color as well as the image in the middle. The standard base cards are in color while these are in a foil black and white. The look of the base cards are actually quite good. They have the elegance of a high-end brand and includes a little bit of foil that gives a nod to the Black Diamond of old. I'm sure there will be those out there who miss the Black Diamond base from the past, but these cards do look very nice and are exactly what a higher-end Black Diamond base card should be.

The back of the base card also features and elegant looking design. Just like the front, the back exudes quality. There's a simple beauty here that screams of higher-end card designs. It's a job well done by Upper Deck. One more thing I'd like to mention is the card numbering. These cards don't have standard numbering. Instead we get 'BDB', which I'm guessing stands for Black Diamond Base. Next to that is a two letter abbreviation for the player. Why did UD choose to do it this way? Beats me!

Rookie Gems are back this year but this time some contain real gemstones in them. I guess when Upper Deck elevates a product they really go all out!

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos - 
Being a one pack product now, all the hits in Black Diamond have been concentrated into a single pack. Gone are all the extra base cards you used to get normally - it's just hits and limited serial numbered stuff. Each box also comes with a one-card pack of Exquisite. Exquisite has been Upper Deck's highest end brand in other sports, but it looks like Upper Deck wants to see how it goes with hockey. Lucky for us!

This Henrik Lundqvist jersey card was probably the most basic hit out of the break. It features serial numbering to 125 and contains a relatively small piece of jersey. For being just a jersey card it is pretty girthy - patch thickness. I guess higher tiered versions of this type of card would have better memorabilia embedded within.

A better memorabilia card was this patch parallel card numbered to 35. It features a medium piece of patch where the team logo was on the base card. The placement of the patch piece is just about perfect and creates the look of a well-balanced card.

The autograph I pulled was part of the Rookie Signature Placards set. These cards remind me of Draft Boards, but rather than having those, the rookies have signed on a piece of generic plastic board. The cards look good enough, but I can't help but feel these cards are trying to use the appeal of The Cup Draft Board cards to gain popularity.

The card I disliked the most out of my pulls was this manufactured giant patch card. Upper Deck has been doing this in a few different sets throughout their brands recently. I dislike the fact that these patch puzzle cards look so much like a really sweet hit when it is anything but that. I'm sure there were more than a few collectors who initially thought they had pulled something awesome from their pack. Let's just get rid of these types of cards, please!

My Exquisite pack netted me a nice patch card of rookie Max Domi. I think the Exquisite treatment for hockey really works. It's pretty awesome to get an Exquisite card as a bonus here. There are a lot of Exquisite cards possible to pull... even base cards... so what you get can be really hit or miss.

Aside from my pulls, there are so many other things that collectors can get out of Black Diamond this year. I'm sure the biggest draw must be the real diamond cards though. I'm sure those will fetch a very pretty penny.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating:
I have seen some very negative reaction to Black Diamond on the web. And I can totally understand the points that people are making. I mean, Black Diamond as we knew it just doesn't exist anymore. Maybe Upper Deck could have done something more gradually, but they decided to go all out and re-vamp the brand. I don't think that's a bad thing at all. It's pretty cool that Black Diamond is now an upper tier product. I mean... with the word 'diamond' in it, it should be!

Though the cards look great and you can even get Exquisite cards in your box, there are aspects of Black Diamond that I absolutely don't like. The biggest is the manufactured patch puzzle card. I think those cards just don't need to be here, or in any product... ever. I also think that for the asking price of around $250 there should be a better amount of actual hits per pack/box. As it stands, Black Diamond is firmly in the overpriced category. These are nice cards, but maybe just not that nice.

Overall Score:

Check out my box of 15/16 Black Diamond:

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Retail Review #182 (10/11 Score Hockey)

I feel like I'm going back to my roots with the product that I'm opening up today. I fondly remember opening up a lot of these blasters when I first started my Youtube channel. 2010/11 Score may not be a product that has a lot of value, but it certainly does hold a lot of memories.

Price - 

Packs - 11
10/11 Score Packs

These blasters started off at a very reasonable $9.95, but I was able to pick this one up for under $4. Wow, that's really low. Each blaster of 10/11 Score contains 11 packs to open up. The packs hold a variety of inserts and rookie cards as well as some pretty rare parallel cards. The rare parallel cards I'm talking about are the French back cards. These were supposedly limited to just 10 copies each and the only way to tell you had one was to see a sentence written in French on the back. Collectors who don't know what to look for will never know if they had gotten one.

I probably won't get a French back, but let's see what comes out of it anyways:

Review -
I thought that this box was a typical Score blaster to open up. Each pack had something to look forward to getting... which is always a good thing in retail. Insert cards and rookies were the primary pulls out of the blasters, and I really enjoyed seeing what came out of each pack. Panini has always done a good job of creating interesting themed insert sets, and that's something I really appreciate.

The glossy cards were inserted one per pack, but as you could probably tell from the video they were not easy to spot. Now that this product is a bit older, some will probably purchase blasters and not even know they are there. I wish Panini would have done a better job designating them as something different.

Here were my top cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Carey Price Card No. 7
There have been a lot of Net Cam type cards produced since 2010, but back then they were still pretty fresh and new. This is actually a pretty awesome shot from the back of Carey Price - it's a very dynamic photo.

#2 - Teemu Selanne Card No. 6
I talked about cool Panini inserts just a second ago, and this is definitely one of them. This Sudden Death insert card highlights a very specific moment during the NHL season and does it in a very sweet looking way.

#1 - Nazem Kadri Card No. 501
I haven't kept up with how Kadri has been doing at all, but when he was a rookie back in 2010 his cards were pretty hot. I remember him having some really rough patches as he came into the NHL. This isn't a huge pull today, but back then it would have been a sweet little pick up.

Overall Value -
It's very hard to beat a blaster for under four dollars for value. This was a great deal and a fun blaster box to open. The good thing about Score is that you always have a chance to pull something fun out. If you're looking for a little bit of fun at a rock bottom price, definitely consider getting an old box of 10/11 Score!

Let me know what you thought of my blaster 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, December 12, 2015

2015-2016 Upper Deck Full Force Review

Well, this is certainly something different! Upper Deck has come out with a brand new product in the form of Full Force hockey. This set sits in the mid-lower-end tier of hockey cards and features inserts that make use of foil and die-cutting techniques. Is this Ultra with a new name? We'll have to take a look at the cards and find out.

Base Card Design -
The Full Force base cards are standard glossy type base cards. The cards have a dynamic design that draws attention to the subject by placing it between black and white side sections. Silver foil is also put to use in order to add more presence to the overall card. While the card is certainly not plain, it doesn't do much in the way of simple and modern. Rather, it goes for a style reminiscent of late 90's and early 2000's cards. I personally am not a big fan of this look, but I'm sure there are those out there who are just fine with it. To me this design isn't modern enough and has a been there done that feel.

The back of the Full Force base card follows the front pretty closely in design. It has all the relevant information that is needed as well as five lines of statistics. There isn't a write up for the player and the same photo is used on the back. Unless you are really looking for a statistic of a player from within the past 5 seasons, there really isn't much to see here. It's a pretty bland effort.

Closing out the main set of cards are the 3D Full Force Freshman rookie cards. The cover of the box makes it seem like these are the cards to find in this product. These rookie cards share a very similar design to the base cards except that they have a 3D look to them. Looking at my Sam Bennett card closely, I don't really get a good sense of 3D. Nothing really 'wows' me here. Even the only Sportflic Baseball cards in the 80's looked cooler.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Sadly, there are no hits guaranteed within a box of Full Force. Autographed cards can be found in the product, but just don't come thinking there is one in it. This actually reminds me a lot of Ultra Hockey. There is a heavy focus on inserts cards rather than hits.

One of the most common inserts I pulled from my box were the Blueprint cards. I apologize for the scan as it did not come out well, but the cards are shiny and blue, and have a schematic of the player on it. The blueprint cards make an effort to show the specific skills the featured player has. It's certainly a unique idea for an insert card.

Valuable Assets are die-cut cards that state why the player on the front is an important part of their team. I'm not exactly sure what the die-cut is supposed to be of and how it relates to being a valuable asset though. I'm sure there is a reason. If anybody know, I'm all ears! Tell me in the comments section!

Immediate Impact inserts cards are another horizontal die-cut insert type found in Full Force. Here collectors can find cards of the younger NHL players. I'm sure Upper Deck has loaded this insert set up with all the biggest named rookies that have hit the ice.

I thought these Goooal! inserts were pretty funny. The word goal is in large font almost coming out of the player's mouth. It's a silly card, but somehow endearing to me.

Draft Board cards highlight star players during their time at the NHL draft. These cards look pretty nice with a shiny rainbow foil applied to it. It's always fun to see players when they were just young kids coming into the NHL. They always look so different!

Thermal Threat insert cards have to be the must visually arresting cards of the entire set. This insert set makes each player look like the Human Torch from Marvel's Fantastic Four. I'm pretty sure this look hasn't been done before... it's a new idea for sure. I kind of like it, but being such an extreme design will mostly likely cause polarizing reactions from collectors.

Probably the best all-around cards in this product are these Rising Force cards. They look like legit Upper Deck cards made from acetate and serial numbered. It looks like Upper Deck got this design inspiration from older Skybox products, but at least they chose something that looked good to base things off of.

Rather than having unique autographed cards, Upper Deck has affixed sticker autos to many of the standard insert sets found in Full Force. That being the case, it really just seems like hits were an afterthought for this product. UD put all it's money into the quality of the inserts of this brand. Yikes!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Value -
I have to say that I'm not really a fan of this product at all. When I purchase it, I don't have confidence even in the slightest that I will be receiving something that I will enjoy for that money I paid for it. Inserts and things like that are nice, but today's card collector is looking for something with more punch to it. Everything here is soft.

There may be a sleeper insert type in here, but for the most part Full Force is a set that doesn't seem to me like it will stick around long unless there are some drastic changes to it in the future. If you're going to skip a product this year, Full Force might just be the one to do so.

Overall Score:

Check out my box of Full Force:

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Retail Review #181 (10/11 Upper Deck Series 2)

Today I have the opportunity to open up a blaster of a product that I haven't really gotten the chance to buy heavily into, and that's 10/11 Upper Deck Series 2. This particular product was hard to find when it was first released and quickly went up in price. Those prices have come down a little since then but it is still a product that costs a little more than what you might expect.

Price - 

Packs - 12
10/11 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster Packs

The main draw of this blaster initially was the Tyler Seguin Young Gun card. He was a very hot rookie in 2010/11 along with others like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and PK Subban. The previously mentioned rookies had Young Guns in Series One, so to complete the set of big named rookies, collectors had to purchase Series Two in search of Seguin.

Besides the Seguin Young Gun, you could still find very valuable Upper Deck Retro cards of the rookies that year. Series 2 in particular offered some unique takes on the rookies in that particular set. And of course rookies were available in the form of Victory updates too. Those cards aren't worth particularly much, but it was still fun to pull a big rookie out no matter what. And who knows, a rare parallel could have come out!

I'm eager to see what this blaster holds, let's open it:

Review -
This blaster didn't have anything huge in terms of big value, but it did have lots of inserts and parallel cards to keep me interested. This blaster gave me the two Young Guns it guaranteed, but unfortunately they are players that have little value. I got Jared Spurgeon and Eric Wellwood. Victory also provided me with rookie cards... but again they are lesser named ones - Jonas Holos, Travis Hamonic, and Anders Lindback. I had quite a few rookie cards in this blaster! But none of them were from the top tier in 10/11.

Besides rookie cards I did get one gold Victory base card in the form of Anton Volchenov as well as a few Upper Deck retro cards. These retro cards look like the Upper Deck cards in the early 90's. They are on very thin card stock and give collectors a fun sense of nostalgia - especially for those who collected way back when.

Let's check out the top three cards in this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Cam Neely Card No. 515
Neely was a star player in the 90's so this card with it's 90's themed look is just perfect. This particular card has a very high number so it may be a short print - I'm not sure.

#2 - Bobby Orr Card No. HH13
Orr is a legend, of course, so I had to put him in the top three. This card comes from when the Hockey Heroes set only focused on one player. Too bad this isn't the header or paint card!

#1 - Henrik Lundqvist Card No. 380
Lundqvist is probably the biggest name I pulled from the inserts I got in this blaster box. I'm sure this card can be had for very little, but it's still a good pull for me.

Overall Value -
I'm sure I could have done better from other blasters, but this one was a fun break with plenty of interesting cards to see. I'm decently happy with this box, but I hope my next one will yield some cards with more rarity and value. Hopefully I will still be able to find this product though as it is one of the more difficult to locate! If you can find some I'd definitely recommend picking some up. There are plenty of great things to find!

Let me know what you thought of my 10/11 Upper Deck Series 2 blaster 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!