Sunday, April 24, 2016

Retail Review #201 (14/15 UD Artifacts Retail Box)

Last time I opened one of these retail boxes I was really pleased with the results. I was able to get multiple parallel cards as well as a hit. Apparently, others have opened these boxes with less than stellar outcomes. Today I get to see if that last box was an anomaly, or are these boxes really loaded up!

Price - 

Packs - 10
14/15 Upper Deck Artifacts Retail Packs

The original price of this blaster is a bit higher than the norm. You do get quite a few packs in the box as well as a extra Ice preview card though. I guess that justifies the price jump according to Upper Deck. The Ice preview cards are actually pretty nice as they are acetate. There aren't a whole lot of them, though, so getting an entire set of them is not a difficult task. I doubt these cards will hold much value.

Though getting the Ice Preview is a nice little bonus, my main goal out of these blasters is always to find hits. I'm a big fan of hobby Artifacts as there are a lot of great hits to be found. It would be awesome to get even just a jersey hit in this box today.

I'll go ahead and find out what is in this retail box:

Review -
It turns out that this box wasn't able to top the first one, but I can't say that it was all bad. The box had less parallel cards and no hit, but it did spit out a nice rookie redemption card for me to redeem (thankfully this redemption doesn't expire until September of this year). The redemption card didn't come until the very last pack so I was a bit worried that this break would be a total dud, but that card saved the box for me. Other than that, I was able to get one parallel card as well as an Ice Preview of a nice player.

As for the base cards, there were some pretty decent names in my pile. I got Crosby, Gretzky, Ovi, Yzerman, and others. If I were a new collector purchasing one of these boxes I'd be pretty happy with that group of players in the base card pile.

Here were my three favorites:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Larry Murphy Card No. 7
My one parallel card from this break was this red variation of Larry Murphy. It's a little surprising to see Murphy in this set as they could have chosen from a lot of more know veterans, but it's great seeing him here in this set.

#2 - Jonathan Toews Card No. P-5
It's never bad getting Jonathan Toews as he is a clear winner and an awesome hockey player. All this guy does is win. 

#1 - Toronto Rookie Redemption Card No. 177
This is the first time I think I've gotten one of these rookie redemptions out of a retail box of Artifacts. I checked and I should be getting a card of Stuart Percy sometime in the future. The redemption card was a nice little surprise at the end of my break today.

Overall Value -
Though this box wasn't as nice as the last one, it turned out pretty decent - certainly better than a standard blaster of Artifacts. The price on these can't be beat, I wonder if will have more of these in stock the next time I place an order. These might be worth another purchase when I put in my next big order of retail cards. I won't be mad if you choose to buy them out first though, they do seem to be a sweet deal!

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, April 21, 2016

2015-2016 Upper Deck Contours Review

Upper Deck has released a brand new brand for hockey collectors to sink their teeth into as the NHL playoffs get underway. Contours is a product that offers collectors a one-hit-per-pack opening experience. I'd place this product squarely into the mid-range territory in terms of hockey products. Many collectors will be able to afford a box or two, but will they want to?

Base Card Design -
The Contours base design has a curved die-cut towards the top of the card near the Contours logo. Obviously, this die-cut is what makes Contours... well... Contours. The word 'contour' evokes an image of curves. And there are quite a few curvy lines on the base card - as well as in the sport of hockey - like around the puck, the bend of the stick, the actual rink... many, many, things... but why name a set after that word? I really just don't know. I guess I'm just finding it hard to find a good reason for this name. It just seems like it came out of nowhere! Forgive me, but I can't get past the name of this set!

The back of the base card mirrors the front in many ways. There is the use of the same image as well as the team colors subtly applied around the photo. The contours that surround the player are still there, but rather than adding more to the scene as on the front, these close off the card with an icy background. The design doesn't allow for much by way of stats (just one year and a total), but there is room enough to include a nice write-up of the player, which is always appreciated.

Rookie cards come at the end of the main set. Two types of rookie cards rookie cards can be found. The first is the one that I got. It mirrors the look of the regular set except for a few differences. These rookie cards feature a sticker autograph, numbering to 499,  and deep die-cut edges along with a 'rookies' logo. The second type are rookie jersey autographs that feature a large jersey swatch embedded in the card. These are numbered to 199 and have patch variations.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Boxes of Contours are very small and come with just four packs. Each of the packs will come with a hit guaranteed. Beside hits there are is a rookie insert set that gives collectors more chances to get the rookies they want.

Rookie Resume cards have three tiers of rarity - a standard rarity of /399, a version to /99, and also a /50 variation. These cards are nice looking, but I feel that they are redundant for the set - especially with so many other hit-based cards you can get rookies from. This foil insert set may have stood out better in Upper Deck Series Two or something like that. As it is here, they seem like filler.

Can't get enough of the main set and want more? Upper Deck fulfills your desire by having different parallel levels of Contours. Blue foil cards are numbered to /499. Other colors are more rare with the opportunity to find autographed gold cards and printing plates. 

Club Crest jersey cards might be my favorite cards from the set in terms of design. It's a very thick card, but has an appealing all-foil look with a royal looking theme. This card looks like it could have come out of Crown Royale (with cheese). As with just about all the jersey cards in this set, patch variations do exist and can be found,

Enjoy a large chunk of material? Jumbo fabric cards are available. I understand why these huge swatches of 'just-jersey' are here... because a much better patch version is also available... but these cards are just too plain looking, and the jersey pieces is just a huge void of nothingness on the card. These huge jersey pieces don't look good, and I'd prefer that companies only release the patch variations. This big piece of jersey is just wasting space on the card.

At first I thought that the Youth Movement cards were more rookie autograph sticker dumps, but they are not. They are more honorable than that. These cards feature guys that have played for a few years but that are still young. Sure, you can get rookie autos here too, but the majority of cards here are of players that have a few years under their belt. That makes this set more compelling and relevant to me.

Besides the standard hockey hits, Countours offers one thing that is pretty different in terms of what collectors can find, and that's celebrity autographs and memorabilia pieces. You'll find celebrity cards that are fans of NHL teams. I like this idea as it does offer something different than the norm. Sure, it's been done before, but it's still a fun thing to put in a set. Now if only there were fans of the Sharks.

Inserts/Game-Used/Inserts Score:

Overall Rating -
Four hits, one hundred dollars. If you take a look at the hits I got... you'll see the pain there! Each hit breaks down to be a whopping $25. And of course there would be no way the cards I got would ever be worth that kind of money. So in order to break even at all you'd have to pull McDavid or some big card like that. Sure, you never really come in even with hockey cards, but I'm 100% sure that collectors will find this product lacking when it comes to value.

In terms of the set and its overall aesthetic appeal, it's just middling to me. As I stated in the review, I just don't see the reason for the name Contours. My prediction is that this set is not going to be a mainstay of the Upper Deck line up of brands.

Upper Deck is lucky this year that there is a superstar rookie in McDavid that is drawing everyone's attention to products. They are going to have to step up their product game next year for sure and start making products that people want, and not just rely on the crop of rookie cards that come out.

So is Contours worth it? If you're curious, I'd just pick up a box for fun if you have money burning a hole in your pocket. Otherwise, I'd skip this one!

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of Contours:

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Retail Review #200 (12/13 Certified and Panini Cooperstown)

200 Retail Review episodes... can you believe it? I certainly can't. I started Retail Review a few years back to just add a little more content to my site when I wasn't doing hobby box reviews, and it has taken on a life all its own. I've enjoyed doing Retail Review and hope to continue on for a long time! Hopefully one of these days a really massive pull will come out... that was always the goal!

Price - 
$12.95 (Certified)
FREE (Cooperstown)

Packs - 
3 x Certified Packs
8 x Cooperstown Packs

It's hard to cook up something super special for a milestone like this, so I just went with opening a second blaster to go with the regular hockey one. Just keepin' it simple. I decided on opening up Cooperstown because it's from a different sport - and I wouldn't really want to open it in its own Retail Review episode. A lot of hockey fans are also baseball fans, so I thought some would enjoy seeing it.

I chose to go with Certified as my main blaster to open today because I thought it'd be nice to see a hit come out. There were lots of other choices I could have gone with, but it's hard to beat a sure thing. My hope is that the hit is actually good.

Here goes:

Review -
I'll start with the Cooperstown box... it was actually a very fun box to open. Each pack had a special insert card of some kind and all the cards had plenty to look at on them. The nostalgic design of the cards really went with the Hall of Fame theme that the set is all about. Panini did a very nice job with these in terms of being a set that can really educate collectors on the greatest players in baseball history.

The Certified blaster gave me pretty much everything I thought it would - 1 all base pack, 1 pack with a parallel, and 1 pack with the hit. You gotta love Certified for being consistent! I didn't get the greatest hit, and it came in the form of a redemption, but I'd take an autograph over a regular jersey swatch just about any day!

Here were my three favorites from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Patrice Bergeron Card No. 37
Mirror Blue cards are a little rarer than their red counterparts. This years version look especially great. I love how the blue shimmers when shown in the light!

#2 - Yogi Berra Card No. 14
I LOVE it when companies make inserts that utilize special textures or that stand out. This particular card has a wood grain feel to it. Back in the day, cards like these would have been highly sought after.

#1 - Anton Lander Card No. 34
When I opened up the Certified blaster and didn't see a thicker pack, I figured that the blaster must have contained an autograph. I had no idea it would be in the form of a redemption though! This redemption expired in 2014, but Panini has been really good about honoring their expired redemption cards. I'll let you guys, the readers of Retail Review, find out for me. I scratched off the code on the card for you to see but did not go to to redeem it. I leave that to the person who reads this and wants to try it first! Good luck!

Overall Value -
Both blasters were pretty solid and I enjoyed them both for different reasons. The Cooperstown blaster was a nostalgic look at baseball of old. It's a very class set that I think can withstand the test of time. Sure, being low-end it's not going to be a money maker, but it's awesome for what it is.

The Certified blaster gave me a card numbered to less than 100 and an autographed card. That is definitely sweet. My only wish would be for some slightly different players... but hey... I'm not going to complain too much!

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, April 10, 2016

Retail Review #199 (14/15 Upper Deck Series One)

It hasn't been that long since I last opened up a blaster of 14/15 Series One, but I thought I'd grab this blaster and give it a go anyways. Series One is always an enjoyable product to open up, so why not crack this baby open? Let's hope for a couple of nice Young Guns to come out.

Price - 

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

I've never really had good luck with Young Gun rookie cards. Even though they are so plentiful and have large print runs... I rarely get the top rookie. You'd think it would be a bit easier... but it isn't. Perhaps that's why Young Gun rookie cards of the best players command high values still. I always have high hopes that I'll pull a great Young Gun from the year I open UD Series One. More often than not I am left wanting.

Will my Young Gun luck change with this blaster? Let's see:

Review -
Sadly, my luck didn't really change. I didn't get Young Guns that were very good. Jori Lehtera and Mark Visentin were two that came out of this blaster. Neither of them made it onto my top three list as these two rookie cards provided little to no excitement.

Actually, most of this blaster was pretty slow paced. It seemed at first that I was opening base pack after base pack with nothing else of interest in it.In the end I ended up getting my 2 Young Guns, a Canvas cards and a Hockey Heroes.

Check out my three favorite cards form this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Jason Demers Card No. 156
Here's my homer card pick of the day. Demers wasn't a star player by any means, but he was a Shark that I always kept an eye on. I did end up meeting Demers at a Sharks meet and greet way back in the day. He seems like a cool guy, so his card gets in the top three.

#2 - Nicklas Lidstrom Card No. HH73
Despite the fact that I really dislike Hockey Heroes cards, I do have a great respect for Nicklas Lidstrom. He is definitely a hockey hero in many people eyes. 

#1 - Nail Yakupov Card No. C34
Yakupov was the former number one pick overall. He hasn't garnered much attention in the hobby - probably because he wasn't as good as what people expected him to be. Well... as least he has this unique looking canvas card!

Overall Value -
This particular blaster wasn't too fun to open... and it didn't provide a hit or anything like that. But as I say, UD Series One is worth a look at if the price happens to be right. This isn't the last you've seen of Upper Deck Series One and Two blasters on this channel. You'll just have to wait and see!

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, April 6, 2016

2915-2016 Upper Deck Fleer Showcase Review

Upper Deck brings us a classic brand name in Fleer Showcase. This is a brand that many hockey collectors are already familiar with as there have been many Showcase releases through the years. The rookie patches are probably the biggest draw in this product. They are usually a hit with collectors and should prove to be the same with this release.

Base Card Design -
I have to say that I am not impressed with the Showcase base cards. The cards look extremely pedestrian to me. The white border the surrounds most of the card reminds me of lower-end Fleer products, and the gold hues are dated. Sure, the card has some nice foil highlights on it, but other than that there isn't anything to really like about the card. It's boring.

The card back is actually a bit better in terms of its design. Though the image is recycled from the front, at least there is a bit of a difference in that the back photo shows the actual background from which the picture was taken. I also like the fact that the space for the image is relatively large. As for everything else, it's just stats. There isn't a write up or anything too interesting to focus on here.

The rookies in Fleer Showcase come in singles, duos, and trios. I have stated before that I am not a fan of that, and I'm still not. Sadly, I didn't receive a single rookie card from the main Showcase set in my box except for a redemption card of Mikko Rantanen. That card is numbered to 499 and should contain a patch. It would have been nice to see in person, but that's just how it goes.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Each box of Fleer Showcase guarantees a Hot Prospects patch card. A typical box of 12 packs will also have a couple of hits as well as inserts from other former Fleer properties such as Skybox Premium, Flair, and Ultra.

My favorite looking cards are from the Flair Showcase inserts. Flair was one of my favorite brands of the past because the cards were thicker and had a great looking design. The sweet look continues here with these cards. Good luck trying to figure out the numbering though... these cards are as confusing as ever.

Both of my hits besides the auto patch were Flair jersey cards. The Ryan Johansen card shown above is a parallel of the standard set. A space is allocated for the jersey piece. I actually think this work quite well as the jersey piece and Flair logo create a nice pairing on the front of the card.

The other hit was a horizontally oriented card of Emile Poirier. I also like the look of this card. Just like the Johansen from before, the jersey piece and the Flair logo work in tandem to produce a card that has a design that really works.

Skybox Premium makes an appearance with numbered prospect rookie cards. Without a base Skybox Premium set to pair with it, the cards look a bit out of place. It's a decent looking design, but I really wish they didn't use the same gold color that Showcase had.

The Ultra Rookies definitely have a distinct design from Showcase, but again, without an Ultra base set, these cards don't really have a reason for being. It feels as if Upper Deck just wanted to throw in some card brands of the past to get more rookie cards in the set.

Still not got your fill of rookies? Well, thankfully there's Fleer Metal to add even more! Yep, there are even more rookie cards to find that just don't hold any real value for collectors to find. I consider this filler and wish Upper Deck would have just done a proper Showcase set with out all this other stuff in it. That being said, I'm sure that the PMGs from this set will be sought after.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Fleer Showcase is simply another product this year to try and fish out Connor McDavid rookie cards. That's really it. The rest of the product just doesn't deliver. For about $100, you get an auto patch and a couple of jereys (on average). I'm just not sure the value is there for this stuff.

Upper Deck tried to cram in a lot of nostalgia into Showcase by adding in legacy Fleer brands. But what Upper Deck did was just add filler to their product. The cards are not interesting and feel like they were an afterthought.

Showcase is a product that I can't really recommend. The cards just don't look that good, and the value seems to be lacking. Let's hope the next release is better than this.

Overall Score:

Check out my box of Showcase from D & P Sports Cards:

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Retail Review #198 (10/11 Panini Certified)

There is just no way for me to stay away from this stuff! 10/11 Certified has got to be one of the best retail products you can buy at this time. You've got a high quality set, good price, and a hit in every blaster. That's a great combination!

Price - 

Packs - 3
10/11 Certified Packs

There isn't too much to worry about when buying a blaster of 10/11 Panini Certified. You have a solid product that delivers great looking cards with the opportunity at a good hit. It's an exciting product to open.

I'm actually pretty surprised that retail versions of 10/11 Certified still can be found easily and at low prices. This stuff was very hot when it came out and continued to be for years afterward. I remember having trouble locating it back in the day.

Well, can't really complain about it! Let's see what comes out of the blaster:

Review -
Quick and easy break with only three packs to open up. It's pretty obvious which pack has the hit, so this may be a product where you have to make sure you don't get one that has been tampered with. The best way to be sure is to check the official Panini wrap around the box. I've been unfortunate enough to actually open up a tampered blaster on Retail Review before. Now I really make sure the wrap is correct before I get into it.

This blaster was a nice Sharks blaster! I got a lot of Sharks in it. No auto or patch, but the jersey hit was pretty sweet.

Here are my three favorites from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Dan Boyle Card No. 122
If you've been following my Youtube channel, you'll know that Dan Boyle is one of my favorite Sharks of all time. Of course he's going to make the top three... even as a base card!

#2 - Peter Mueller Card No. 40
I'm not a fan of Mueller's by any stretch, but he is a serial numbered Mirror Red card... so that's gotta count for something!

#1 - Evander Kane Card No. 6
There is a lot to like about this card. First, Evander Kane is a decent hockey player and this is a second year card of his. And secondly, this card features fabric from a now defunct team - the Atlanta Thrashers.

Overall Value -
This was a pretty standard blaster of Certified, but it still was a good box for me. I enjoyed the opening experience and I also enjoyed getting the Evander Kane card. Kane was my first rookie that I got out of a Cup box... and that card had an amazing patch... so he'll always bring back good memories for me.

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!