Sunday, January 31, 2016

Retail Review #189 (10/11 Panini Certified)

I've said it before, but it is still true... Panini Certified is one of the best retail products that you can buy. The high quality combined with getting a guaranteed hit is great - especially at the price you can find it at now. I love opening these and I'm excited to bust into this blaster today!

Price - 

Packs - 3
10/11 Certified Packs

These blaster boxes have dropped in price dramatically since they came out. They began as thirty dollar blasters and then went down to about half that over the years. This blaster was even lower than that! For the price, this is one of the best deals out there.

2010/11 was probably my favorite collecting season ever. I was buying a lot of hockey cards and it seemed like everyone else was too. There was just so much excitement about hockey. I guess that's why I like buying and opening products that came out during that time period, because it reminds me of that great time.

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

Review -
Here's a pretty typical blaster break of Certified. With only three packs the experience is over pretty quickly, but I'm satisfied with what came out. I even got a little lucky and got a card that is of my favorite team.

The base cards are great looking. It's just too bad the Heatley card was damaged so much. It's just a base card, but it always sucks when cards come out in bad condition straight out of the pack.

Here's the top three cards from this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Matt Duchene Card No. 38
I picked Duchene as my third card out of the top three because the year before he was a pretty hot rookie to get a hold of. I remember trying to get his SPA rookie for the longest time and then giving in and getting it on eBay.

#2 - Antoine Vermette Card No. 45
Vermette gets the two spot because of the limited number on the card. Mirror Red cards are numbered to 250 each and a have a special red foil and shine to the cards.

#1 - Patrick Marleau Card No. PM
It was great to get this Patrick Marleau card even if it was just a jersey. This is a card I am definitely putting into my personal collection of Sharks cards. It's always great to get a hit from your team.

Overall Value -
There wasn't an autograph or low numbered patch, but hitting the Marleau was very nice for me. I hope that I can continue to find these blasters for a long time more as I really do enjoy opening them up. I suggest you try some as well if you haven't yet. They are a great deal at the moment!

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, January 24, 2016

Retail Review #188 (14/15 Upper Deck MVP)

Going with a blaster of last year's MVP for today's Retail Review. Though MVP is a lower end brand, I think Upper Deck has done enough to it to make it a fun break. MVP contains 12 packs to open and even a chance at a hit!

Price - 

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

Blasters of MVP originally price at twenty dollars - the same cost as Upper Deck Series One and Two. It's certainly not of that caliber, but it can have its own positive merits going for it. These blasters have 12 packs in them, which give a satisfying break for those looking to open more than just a small handful of packs. Thankfully, prices of MVP have come down to prices that are much more realistic. Though this blaster had a discount sticker on it that said $9.99, I was actually able to pick up this box for just under eight dollars.

I never really liked MVP back in its original release. I always felt that there was absolutely nothing worth finding. I don't feel that way about the current MVP brand. Upper Deck has done some good things with it. They have made the product more diverse in terms of what you can find in it. Though hits may be hard, it's nice that they are there to even begin with. I'd be awesome to find an autographed card or other hit in a blaster of these.

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

Review -
This blaster of MVP definitely delivered in terms of parallel cards! I got quite a few Silver Script cards in this blaster. I've said in the past that I enjoy the look of the Silver Script cards. The silver border with the foil facsimile signature looks really nice. For a lower end card, these stand out in a really good way.

Besides the Silver Scripts, I also pulled a Gold Script and an insert card featuring The NHL's 3 Stars of the week from March 3-9 of 2014. I'm never really a fan of multi-player cards, but I do like Upper Deck's thought process in featuring this aspect of the NHL season.

Here were my top cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Pavel Datsyuk Card No. 289
I really enjoy pulling Datsyuk cards out of packs. He's a very smooth and classy player. Though I've never been a huge Detroit fan, it is very hard not to like Datsyuk and the way he plays the game. He also has a pretty sweet looking sig!

#2 - Wayne Gretzky Card No. 300
The Great One is also always a good pull out of packs. Though this is a checklist card, it still features the greatest hockey player of all time... and it's a Silver Script parallel to boot!

#1 - Patrick Sharp Card No. 269
The funny thing is... I've pulled this exact card before in my last MVP Retail Review! Of course it's a different number out of the 100 made, but I got Patrick Sharp's Gold Script last time. What are the odds of that?

Overall Value -
For just under eight dollars, this was a fun break that I would definitely do again. For whatever reason, I hold onto the hope that I will get a nice hit out of MVP one day. Until then, I can enjoy the Silver and Gold Script cards that I have gotten already from these blasters.

If you're looking for a cheap and fun break, MVP is a brand that you should consider!

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, January 21, 2016

Retro Review: 1991-1992 Pro Set Series II

A student of mine said they had some old unopened hockey cards lying around in their garage so they gave them to me. It turned out to be a box of 91/92 Pro Set. Pro Set was produced during a time of extreme overproduction, so these cards can't be called rare. That's too bad, because these old boxes can contain legendary players like Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Mario Lemieux, and the like. These boxes could probably be found for five to ten dollars sitting around at a hobby shop collecting dust. It's a relic that nobody really wants, but since I have my hands on one, I might as well check it out.

Base Card Design -
The Pro Set base cards have a simple and plain design. Unlike modern day cards, there is no foil or texture on the card - I think the best way to describe these cards is 'flat'. The cards are also very thin, no flimsy at all, but thinner than I remember cards being (my reference being the old Topps baseball cards). If the Pro Set logo and player name had some sort of texture or foil, I think these cards would be much nicer, but as they are they don't really add much to enhance the cards. Photography wise, I was pleasantly surprised to find some quality photographs used on these cards. It's no Upper Deck Series One, but pretty impressive for the very early 90's.

The back of the Pro Set cards are pretty interesting. First of all, they are horizontal rather than vertical. I'm not usually a fan of changing orientation, but I do like these particular backs. They are bright and clean... and in full color! That must have been a nice touch back in the day since many card then had cardboard backs. These may have felt a bit more premium and in line with what Upper Deck was doing. The Pro Set seems to be a brand right in the middle in terms of card quality with Topps being a little lower and Upper Deck being the high-end product.

Base Card Design:

Subset Cards and Inserts -
The early 90's didn't have much in terms of inserts... and autographs were virtually unheard of. Game-used memorabilia cards were also nothing that anyone could have imaged even existing. The best that cards had to offer were subset cards within the base set. Often times this would allow card companies to sneak in extra cards of star players and also have special looking cards that offered a bit of a different look from the standard set.

Captain Cards were a great way to do just that. Above is a Wayne Gretzky Captain Card. These look just like the standard base except with the added 'Captain' designator above the team logo on the card. These cards also show a different photo than the regular base card. Subset cards like this were usually less valuable than the standard base card as they were seen as a player's 'other' card that year.

Rookie Cards had special designations just like the Captain Cards. Having the word 'Rookie' on the card was helpful so that collectors would know what they were getting. Many rookie cards of the 80's didn't even have that. Pro Set had a few nice rookie cards in this set. I was able to pull the Niklas Lidstrom card shown above as well as rookies of Hasek and Bure.

Play Smart cards ditch the standard design and don't even feature the player's name on the front of the card. Collectors would have to turn the card over to see who the card was of. Once they did, though, they would get a little blurb from the player about why education is so important. These cards were sort of a public service announcement type promotion. Definitely an interesting idea as back then collecting was almost a purely kids endeavor. Yep, no Ultimate Collection or The Cup back then!

One of my favorite cards from this set were the sepia toned cards depicting the NHL's past. These cards gave collectors insight into the sport's history. Out of all the cards I feel like these stand out the most and are the most unique from this product.

Subset Score:

Overall Rating -
Pro Set is not a product I could really recommend. There's not much thrill in opening up a box of this because there's pretty much zero hit potential and the cards are extremely plentiful. My only reason for opening this product was because I was given it for free. If you're looking to get some history of NHL, maybe I can see you picking this up for a few bucks, but this really is just 'junk wax' as they say. It's hardly worth the paper its printing on.

I'd say just enjoy the video of me opening this box and save your money for products that are much more worth your time and money.

Overall Rating:

Check out my break of 91/92 Pro Set:

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Retail Review #187 (14/15 Upper Deck Series One)

Now here's a solid product year in and year out... Upper Deck Series One. Though this product is pretty much the definition of the middle-end product, it provides collectors with desirable cards and fun inserts. Furthermore, hockey fans will especially enjoy seeing the amazing photographs from the previous season here on cardboard. 

Price - 

Packs - 12
12 x 14/15 UD Series One Blaster Packs

I didn't get a lot of last year's Upper Deck, so getting to open up a blaster of it is exciting for me. There are so many things that might come out of a blaster of Upper Deck. Of course this box will spit out two Young Guns, but there should also be other insert cards available as well - and if I'm really lucky - maybe a jersey card.

These blasters go for twenty dollars at the store, but thankfully I was able to pick them up for half that online. This blaster has 12 packs inside which makes it one of the products with the most packs to open at the retail level. These Upper Deck blasters are great fun for novice and experienced collectors alike.

Let's crack the blaster open and see what comes out:

Review -
Most of my inserts came at the beginning of the break. In fact, I had gotten such a nice number of them at first that I thought this blaster would have more. Sadly, towards the end the packs kind of ran dry and just had base cards in them.

My two Young Guns weren't really of any note, so in my top three I just randomly chose one to represent them. I was also able to get one canvas card and one Shining Star insert.

Though the insert card amount was low, I still enjoyed looking at the beautiful cards and will spend more time with them after writing this review of the blaster. The Upper Deck Series One cards are always worth a good look.

Here were the top three cards:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Damon Severson Card No. 232
So I had to go with either Joey Hishon or Damon Severson in this spot. Neither Young Gun card was particularly exciting so I just randomly chose Severson to take this spot in my top three.

#2 - Kris Letang Card No. C67
Here was the only Canvas card in the blaster. Most of the Canvas cards show off unique photos of the players. This photo isn't particularly exciting, but it does come from a unique environment. 

#1 - Zdeno Chara Card No. SS-10
My lone insert card was this Zdeno Chara Shining Stars card. The Shining Stars are good looking all-foil cards that make for a sweet little insert within the brand. I'm not a huge Chara fan, but this was my favorite card from this blaster.

Overall Value -
This particular Upper Deck Series aOne blaster didn't have much to it, but it won't discourage me from purchasing Upper Deck Series One or Two at the retail level. The fact that two Young Guns come out of every blaster is definitely a good thing. I just hope that my luck will be better in the next blaster box I 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!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

2015-2016 Upper Deck Trilogy Review

Upper Deck has once again given collectors a bit of a change when it comes to one of their established brands. Trilogy has come out and it has released in a new form. The pack and box configuration now resembles one of Upper Deck's other products, Artifacts. The good news is that Trilogy is not as pricey as it was. I wonder if the change is a good one for this brand. I'm eager to crack into a box and see for myself.

Base Card Design -
Trilogy has alway been a higher-end sort of product. It's not top of the line like Ultimate Collection or The Cup, but it always sat in a price range that prohibited the average collector from really buying a lot of it. That being said, the base cards truly reflect the premium quality and price of Trilogy. The base cards have a strong design with great texture and foil accents. While the cards don't have the thickness of their more expensive brothers in Ultimate Collection or The Cup, these cards are not flimsy and do not feel cheap. The Trilogy base cards look great and have a design that really pops this year. It's unfortunate that collectors nowadays really disregard base cards as a whole, but I still enjoy seeing base cards that are well done, and these certainly are.

The back of the base card has a muted look as compared to the front. It's a nice design choice, especially given that the back of the card is pretty simple in terms of its content. There's no write up for players and only five seasons worth of stats are included. In all, it's a good looking back with little content... which is very typical for higher-end cards.

Similar to last year, Trilogy rookies come in three rarity tiers. There's the standard version, uncommon version, and rare. The standard rookie cards are numbered to 999 and feature no memorabilia or autographs. These cards stand out as they are completely enhanced with foil throughout the surface of the card.

The uncommon and rare rookie cards in the set come in lower print runs and feature an autograph on them. Well, all except for Jack Eichel, who has an exclusive autograph deal with Leaf. Both uncommon and rare rookie cards feature a design that is a different from the standard rookie card, but all retain the all-foil look. Interesting to note, as the rarity increases the player photo gets closer up. So rare cards will have some pretty up-close shots of the featured player. With Trilogy having three base rookies in the set, it can be confusing to collectors which rookie out of the three is the 'true' rookie from the set. Don't ask me, though, I couldn't tell ya which one was!

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Though the configuration of Trilogy is different, many of the same insert types from the brand have returned. Collectors can find autographed cards, jersey and patches, as well as the signature mini puck cards that have been popular in years past. The front of the box does not state a guaranteed number of hits... only that there are three levels of rookies to look for inside.

Trilogy parallel cards come with serial numbering that boggles the mind. Rather than having standard print runs to numbers that are familiar to collectors like 99, 499, etc... Trilogy has chosen to print cards to various career numbers of the players. The Holtby card above has a print run to his career games played of 178. I find that number to be very strange as it is a number that is pretty much irrelevant right when the season begins as it would change once he played another game. Career games would make more sense for retired players, not for current ones. That's just my opinion though.

Besides standard base parallels, Trilogy offers up jersey and patch parallel base cards as well. Again, these cards are numbered to some odd choice. The Landeskog above is numbered to his debut NHL season of 2011-12... so it is serial numbered to 111? Don't ask me! I have no idea.

My rookie parallel card was of Max Domi. Though this card looks similar to the jersey parallel of the base set, it has a couple notable differences. One, this card is extremely thick. You would think there was a patch imbedded in this card, but there isn't. It's just a lowly jersey. Secondly, the serial numbering on the card is the regular, modern foil serial numbering. If you've noticed, other Trilogy parallels feature the old printed on numbering... which can be bad because of smudging potential. And yes, I have seen breaks where the serial numbering was smudged.

Pretty much all the hits I received in my box were parallel cards of the base set as I didn't get a signature puck or Tryptichs card. So everything was pretty one-note. I personally think the Tryptich set this year is interesting as it features a mountain-like die-cut, but the signature puck cards seem to have taken a downgrade as they do not look as nice as they did last year.

Inserts/Game-Used/Auto Score:

Overall Rating -
I am glad that Trilogy's price has come down a little. It is now a bit more affordable to collectors than what it once was. Because of the change, Trilogy actually feels a bit more like an Artifacts break, but without all the crazy parallels.

The Trilogy base cards look great, and the cards have a premium feel to them, but overall the set seems a bit one-note. It may have been that I didn't get any inserts/hits except for parallel looking cards, but I still feel that most of the cards out of Trilogy will have a sameness to each other.

Trilogy is a brand that looks great, but is truly a mid-season product. In this I mean that it will satisfy collectors now as they are hungry for releases, but in the long run Trilogy cards have not been the 'must-have' cards of the season. In fact, most of the time they are almost totally out of collectors mind by the end of the year.

I'd purchase Trilogy sparingly for that reason and for its price. There are other products that are probably more worth your time. I'd just get a box or two of this and move on.

Overall Score:

Check out my box of Trilogy here:

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Retail Review #186 (13/14 Panini Prizm)

Prizm is a product that is very similar to the OPC Platinum product that I opened up a couple weeks ago. This set really relied on parallels to drive collector interest. Unlike the Topps and Upper Deck versions, these cards are a bit thicker and feel a bit more sturdy. Prizm never really took off in a big way, but it's always nice trying to find some low numbered parallels once in a while.

Price - 

Packs - 7
13/14 Prizm Packs

Prizm was a brand that Panini absolutely went crazy on producing a few years ago. I remember Panini making the product for every sport... and with the same exact design. The cards are pretty nice, but with the market so full of these cards in every sporting flavor, it got old pretty quickly.

The only hit collectors can really find are autographs. The autographs come on a standard looking card, and usually on a sticker. Panini really tried to make the main draw of Prizm the parallel cards. Golds numbered to 10 were particularly popular, but I felt that there just wasn't enough content to keep collector interest. Maybe some memorabilia cards would have been a nice addition.

I feel like it's been a while since I've opened up one of these blasters, so I'm excited to get into it and see what it has to offer.

Let's go ahead and see what come out:

Review -
Eh, for a product that is supposed to feature parallel cards, this was sorely lacking. Maybe that's why Panini put the cellophane pack with three extra blue cards in it. This blaster contained no other parallels than the ones in that extra pack. I did, however, get a smattering of rookie cards as well as a die-cut. None of the rookies were really of note... and pretty much the entire blaster was pretty lackluster.

That's too bad... but I guess if collectors shared my feelings toward this blaster than it's no wonder why Panini hasn't really kept this line up too much.

Here were my top picks from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Joe Pavelski Card No. 175
It was either trying to pick a blue parallel card or this Joe Pavelski card. I went with Joe because I'm a total SJ Sharks homer!

#2 - Jonathan Audy-Marchessault Card No. 227
The only reason I chose this card was because I like how long this player's name is. It's so long that Panini had to go with a really small font. 

#1 - Bobby Clarke Card No. I-12
This die-cut was probably the most special card out of this blaster. It's cool how the edge of the card is cut to fit the contour of the Stanley Cup. While design-wise this card is pretty good... value-wise there isn't much here.

Overall Value -
Prizm is a product that you can't really win with. Sure, there are parallels to chase, but getting one that is worthwhile is slim and few and far between. Prizm hasn't really aged well since it was released and is a product you could probably skip. There's quite a bit better out there for your hard earned money.

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, January 3, 2016

Retail Review #185 (12/13 Certified)

I've been opening up Upper Deck products for the past few weeks so I thought I'd change it up a bit with Panini's Certified this week. Sadly, my original video messed up so I had to re-do it. You'll see me open up a free blaster of Texas Longhorns football cards in my new video before I do a recap of the Certified. If you're not into football at all, just fast forward to the last part of the video.

Price - 

Packs - 3
12/13 Certified Hockey

Certified is always a great little blaster to open up because the product is rock solid and a hit is guaranteed. Most of the time you'll find a jersey card inside, but autographs and patches are definitely available to be found as well. Out of all the blasters you can get, I would say Certified might just be one of the best deals out there when you can find them discounted.

Since I messed up on my fist video attempt, you'll also get to watch me open up a blaster of Texas Longhorn Football cards by Upper Deck. I just chose this blaster because of the slim chance to get a hit. I was wondering when I would have the chance to open this up... well... today seemed like the ideal day.

See what came out of both blasters here:

Review -
The Longhorns blaster was pretty boring since I don't have any interest in that team or school. I suppose if you went there or follow them, this product would be great - but for everyone else it would be a product to avoid. I wonder why Upper Deck chose to make a product like this. They knew it would really only appeal to a very limited audience. If I were them I would probably really make it limited and sell it only around the school's location. Then the big hits from the product featuring nationally popular players would be very desirable.

The Certified blaster was decent. As always, three packs makes for a very fast break. I was happy to get some nice base cards as well as a decent Mirror Red card and autograph. As I always say, I'd rather have ink than cloth most of the time when opening up products.

Here's the top three cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Sidney Crosby Card No. 87
Check it out, I love it when card companies match the card number with the player's jersey number. That's always a neat little thing to do. Getting Crosby is always nice a he's the biggest name in the hobby currently.

#2 - Shea Weber Card No. 60
Mirror Red cards are good looking cards, they are also numbered to 199. Shea Weber is a good player and a decent pull out of a blaster. 

#1 - Maxime Sauve Card No. 171
Sauve is not a big name rookie by any means, but I always appreciate getting autographed cards out of retail products. This card is numbered 042 of 999.

Overall Value -
Certified is a great product to open at the retail level. Currently, prices of a blaster box are about the same price as a single hobby pack. Considering you are guaranteed a hit in these, this is a no-brainer product to get! I definitely recommend getting some Certified if you're looking to get some nice cards and a sweet hit for no much money spent.

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!