Sunday, March 27, 2016

Retail Review #197 (13/14 Upper Deck Artifacts)

I had some good luck with my last box of Artifacts so I decided to try and extend that luck with this blaster today. This blaster comes from 2013/14. Traditionally it has been extremely difficult to get anything out of Artifacts... but hopefully luck has changed!

Price - 

Packs - 8
13/14 Artifacts Blaster Packs

Artifacts is one of the higher-end brands that you can get at the retail level. The base cards are classy and have a good feel to them, but blasters of Artifacts don't really have much to look forward to and find. A typical blaster will be almost all base cards save for one parallel. Unless you like paying for nice glossy base cards, Artifacts is a product collectors should steer clear of.

Though the price of a 13/14 Artifacts blaster is about half of its original price, that's probably not low enough for the cards you get out of one. I mean, these blasters should be $3 max in my opinion. That would be a reasonable price.

Last time some nice things came out of Artifacts, let's see this what this blaster has:

Review -
Well... that was awful. I was hoping for a blaster that was more like my previous Artifacts break, but instead I got the typical Artifacts break - which means getting a football to the groin. This blaster was all base cards and one red parallel card. What a waste of time and money!

Can I even call this a top three? Here are the 'best' cards from this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Ron Francis Card No. 86
I have a huge soft spot for the Whalers so when I saw this card I knew it would be a top three candidate. Gotta love the Whalers!

#2 - Patrick Marleau Card No. 80
For the number two spot I went with Patty Marleau. There were great players in the blaster like Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Wayne Gretzky... but this week I had to be a homer and put a Shark in.

#1 - Michael Cammalleri Card No. 61
Sigh... this is the top card because it was the only non-base card in the blaster. This red parallel is numbered to 399. Out of a hobby box this wouldn't really be anything. Well, pretty much the same out of a blaster too.

Overall Value -
This blaster was just gross. It's stuff like this that really drive collectors away from buying retail products. Like I've said before, I have some ideas on how to make retail better. It's just got to change! Breaks like this only hurt the hobby. Nothing good came out of this blaster and it was extremely boring to open as well. Upper Deck, if you're listening, let's make these retail products more worth our while!

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, March 24, 2016

2015-2016 Upper Deck SPx Review

Upper Deck's fun premium brand has hit the store shelves! SPx has been around for a very long time, and during its run SPx has gone through many changes. I'd say it's one of Upper Decks most consistently changing products in terms of identity. It's gone from over-the-top outlandish looks to much more subtle, almost SPA-like, designs. I'm interested to see what this year's SPx is all about. Take a look with me as I open up one hobby box of 15/16 Upper Deck SPx.

Base Card Design -
I was very curious to see what the SPx base design would be like. Would it be a sparse modern look, or would it be something with a lot of flair? It turns out it would be neither of those. The end design is something in the middl... and it looks really, really good. This year the designers at Upper Deck have crafted a very well-balanced base card for SPx. There is a lot of graphical design elements in the card, but they are not overwhelming or distracting. The colors used match team-colors nicely and the logos and badges are perfectly placed. I really enjoy these cards quite a bit. In terms of card stock, the SPx cards come in on the thinner side, but they have a high-quality feel to them. I've got to give it up to Upper Deck for their job on these. Well done.

The card back is much more spartan than the front. In fact, it is quite sparse in terms of its design. Sure, the shapes match the front well, but other than that there is very little going on. There isn't even a photo or image of the featured player here! I do like, however, the fact that the card back has a nice write up to go along with the stats of the player. I always enjoy reading card backs as there is a lot of great information to learn from them.

SPx comes loaded with foil insert cards that are actually numbered as part of the main set. Included are the SPx Foil Rookies, Shift Change, and Stick Wizards and Name on Front inserts, For the purposes of this review, I'll discuss the rookie subsets in the base card design section and the other subsets in the next section of the review.

Rookie cards in SPx come in a variety of flavors. Some rookies are just foil cards - like the Chandler Stephenson card shown. These tend to be lower tier rookies that Upper Deck chose to put in for a more comprehensive selection of players. It may well be that one of these rookies may break out and have a nice NHL career. If so, these cards may have some potential value. The Robby Fabri dual patch rookie card numbered to 50 is a variation of the main type of rookie card found in SPx. SPx has always featured autographed rookie jersey cards as their predominate RC, and this year is no different. It is interesting to note that most cards do not have all four 'holes' filled. It's an odd look, as if something were missing. As in years past, these rookie cards have a design that takes advantage of the 'X' in SPx by having it as the main design element on the card. To add to the uniqueness of the card, the player is printed on acetate, which is a sweet little touch as well. I've got to say that these rookie cards are pretty nice looking. It's a design that really does work!

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Boxes of SPx this year have slimmed down to just 3 hits. The boxes actually remind me more of Artifacts than the traditional SPx box. Upper Deck has seemed to turn SPx into a more mid-tier product this year. As such, collectors can find other mid-tier products within SPx such as Artifacts and Trilogy update cards along with the standard SPx hits and inserts.

As I stated earlier, the foil insert cards found in SPx are actually just subsets of the main set. Though they are numbered in the main set, I'll review them as inserts as that's how they feel coming out of packs. The first set I'll look at is the Shift Change subset. These cards focus on a unique aspect of hockey that really doesn't get much mention in cards. I think it's a fun idea, and it was cool of Upper Deck to find photos of players coming into the game from the bench. These cards all have a large area above the name that seems to be just dead space on the card. To me it looks more like a board with no advertisement on it. If that is what Upper Deck was trying to go for, I think it worked out!

Name on the Front insert cards have a more traditional look and feature a large area for the photograph of the player. This set seems to focus on players that have been or are team captains. Other than the foil, there isn't much that stands out on these cards. Lucky collectors might find autographed versions of these cards. The auto versions are limited to only 10 copies each - pretty rare cards.

Stick Wizard inserts showcase NHLers who have great skill in handling the puck. These cards go with a horizontal design and a fun foil logo. The foreground of the card is in color while the background is more muted. Autographed variations of these cards can be found just like with the other SPx subsets.

The Monochromatics jersey set is an interesting addition to SPx. These cards highlight the jersey the player wears by having the entire rest of the card be in black and white. The artsy fartsy lover in me is a big fan of these cards. These cards have a striking look, and I actually had and inkling to possibly try and collect the set of these. Sadly, I don't think there is a patch variation of this set.

Besides what I got in this box, SPx is full of different types of hits. Collectors can find retro themed SPx cards as well as Signature Sticks and patch cards featuring multiple players. It's too bad only three hits come per box as there is so much to find within this brand.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
This year's SPx is a beautiful set of cards. To me, it's one of Upper Deck's best designs for the entire year so far. Upper Deck has changed SPx to be a product that is more like Artifacts. In fact, the box is about the same now. For about $100 collectors can pick up a hobby box and find three hits. That might be a little higher than some would like to pay.

I'm a bit mixed on SPx. While I enjoy the cards, the value per box might be a little lacking. You'll have to determine yourself whether or not SPx is worth getting this year.

It might be a good idea to just wait until many of the cards hit the secondary market before picking up SPx. I'm sure the prices you find there will be pretty reasonable.

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of 15/16 SPx here:

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Retail Review #196 (10/11 Panini Pinnacle)

It's been a little while since I've opened up 10/11 Pinnacle, but it's not like this is a foreign product to me. I've gotten man blasters of this as they seem to be plentiful and cheap. Plentiful and cheap may not sound like a good combination, but it is when the product pretty much guarantees a hit in it!

Price - 

Packs - 8
10/11 Pinnacle Packs

There really isn't much more to say about Pinnacle, as I've written quite a bit about it already. The only thing that surprises me is that it is so easy to find still. Panini must have made a TON of it... well... either that or I'm the only one in the entire world still buying it (which could actually be the case).

Pinnacle is such a no-brainer to buy for me because of the price and hit combination. Rarely do you find a product that comes with a hit each time to buy it. The most common hits are jerseys, but I'm sure autographs and patches can also be found.

Let's open up this bad boy and see what comes out of it:

Review -
Yet another satisfying break with Pinnacle! There is just so much to like about it. From the great photography on the base cards to the amazing looking Nufex cards, Pinnacle is a brand that is under appreciated in my book. It's sad to me knowing that collectors aren't into the Nufex parallel cards. These foil cards are so great looking! There aren't very many foil cards that even come to the high standard that these have in terms of their aesthetic pleasure.

In terms of the overall break, this blaster provided me with an Ice Breaker rookie card, parallels, inserts, and a very good jersey hit. This blaster box was a definite winner.

Here were the top cards from this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Linus Omark Card No. 222
The third spot in the top three was kind of a difficult choice because none of the cards really stood too much over the others. I ended up choosing this rookie card because Omark once had some nice potential to be a star player. Unfortunately, he didn't pan out that way.

#2 - Curtis McElhinney Card No. 1
I'm pretty sure I've pulled this card before, but it's been a while since I've seen it. The reason this card is here is not because of McElhinney. This card is here because it looks so awesome. The black Nufex effect looks really, really sweet.

#1 - Jarome Iginla Card No. JI
It's almost a given that the hit in the box will be a jersey card. That's fine. But like I did today, there is a chance to pull some good players out. Iggy is a great player that has had a long career. This card is also very well designed which adds to the appeal of it.

Overall Value -
I think I got my money's worth with this blaster of Pinnacle. I really enjoyed opening it, and it gave me some nice cards to keep. I especially like the Iginla card. Not only is it a card of a very respectable player, the actual card looks really great because of a well thought out design.

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, March 13, 2016

Retail Review #195 (14/15 Upper Deck Artifacts Retail Box)

I've never seen this type of Artifacts box before. It's physically bigger than a blaster box, contains 10 packs, and also an Ice preview card. I'm not usually a fan of purchasing Artifacts because the chances of getting anything are slim to none, but at the price these were at I decided to pull the trigger.

Price - 

Packs - 10
14/15 Upper Deck Artifacts Retail Packs

I'm actually not quite sure what to call this product. It's not a typical blaster, although it is configured similarly, and doesn't contain hobby packs. The originally price of this Artifacts product was $24.99 - five bucks more than a standard blaster.

I was pretty curious about it, and the price was right so I jumped in. I actually got two of them. This box is the first one I'm opening. You'll see the other one in a later Retail Review episode.

Let's open up this mysterious product and see if it's any different than a regular blaster:

Review -
Was this box different than a regular blaster? Definitely yes! Since this is the first box of this I have opened, I can't say that all these will contain the variety of things that I got today, but this particular box was much better than the standard retail level Artifacts break.

This box contained multiple serial numbered parallel cards, an Ice preview card, and even a dual jersey hit. It just kept giving and giving. Usually, an Artifacts blaster will spit out one serial numbered card with the rest of the cards being standard base cards. Not the case today!

I was definitely very happy with the results of this box and can't wait to see if there will be a repeat with the number of inserts/hits in the other box of this that I got.

Check out the top three cards I pulled:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Alexander Edler Card No. 85
I don't like putting Canucks in my top three, but I had to choose this card because it was the most limited serial numbered card I got today. The blue foil parallel cards numbered to /85 look really good - much better than the reds IMO.

#2 - PK Subban Card No. P-3
Finding this acetate preview card of Subban in the blaster wasn't a surprise since the box stated it would have an Ice preview, but that doesn't diminish the fact that this is a sweet looking card and a nice little collectible.

#1 - Victor Hedman Card No. FA-VH
Wow, an actual hit out of Artifacts! As common as hits are in the hobby version of Artifacts, they are extremely tough at retail. I'm not sure if these boxes make them easier to pull, but I'm still elated to pull this hit out today.

Overall Value -
At the price I paid of under seven dollars, this was a great box. I would definitely recommend giving these a try at this price. My only wish for this box was that the hit I got was of someone a bit more noteworthy, but I'm not complaining. This box was a ton of fun to break and I enjoyed the entire experience of opening it. I'm so glad I was able to locate this product and give it a shot!

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, March 6, 2016

Retail Review #194 (08/09 UD Legends Masterpieces)

It's been a little while since I've had the opportunity to open up one of these guys! This set came out in the 08/09 season, the year before I returned to the hobby. It features cards that look very much like the UD Canvas cards found in UD Series 1 and 2, except at a higher quality level.

Price - 

Packs - 8
08/09 UD Legends Masterpieces Retail Packs

I was surprised to see these blasters available at I guess they were somehow able to find some old stock from someplace and acquire it. That's cool with me! I think this product is great fun to open. You'll see nothing but legends on high quality, canvas cardstock. The price has taken nice price drop to just under ten dollars. Last time I ordered one of these blasters it was about sixteen dollars.

Looking back at my last break of this product, I was able to pull a jersey card out. Both jersey cards and autographed cards are available to be found in this product.I wonder if I'll be lucky again and get a hit!

Let's find out by opening up this blaster:

Review -
I remember the cards being a good quality, but these cards are definitely that and more. The canvas feel to the cards is really well done. The stock of the card is nice and thick. These types of cards just aren't seen that much in today's hobby - which is too bad.

I pulled plenty of iconic hockey names in paintings that showed them in key moments of NHL history. Being that this set only focuses on legends, there were players that I pulled multiple times, but with different images.

I didn't get a hit in this blaster, but the brown bordered parallel card I got was pretty nice in terms of its build quality. The frame of the card is an actual border that is raised above the surface giving it a true framed picture look. Good stuff here!

Here were my choices for top three cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Lord Stanley Card No. 1
I actually pulled Lord Stanley in my previous break of Masterpieces, but I just had to put him into the top three again this time as well. He is such an iconic part of the game, but doesn't have much in terms of cardboard. Getting him is a fun pull.

#2 - Wayne Gretzky Card No. 20
This is one of the most famous pictures of The Great One. It's his press conference when he was introduced as an LA King. Topps has a very famous card with this photo, and UD did a nice job of presenting it here with this portrait.

#1 - Bobby Hull Card No. 46
My only non-base card from the set was this brown bordered Bobby Hull parallel card. Brown bordered parallels are the easiest of all non-base pulls, but they still look great and are enjoyable to get.

Overall Value -
Although I didn't get a hit this time, these cards were a joy to look at and open. I think these blasters are a great deal and wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to anyone looking for a sweet little break. Their current price of under ten dollars would make a nice addition to any online order from dacardworld. I'm sure there isn't a ton of this in stock so you'd better hurry and get some before they are all gone!

Let me know what you thought of this 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!