Wednesday, June 29, 2016

2015-2016 Upper Deck SP Authentic Review

Some of Upper Deck's most anticipated products are beginning to come out. Today, the popular SP Authentic was released. I rushed out to get a box as SPA is one of my personal favorite brands of all time. SPA is a premium brand that is still within reach of most collectors. Hitting a star Future Watch autographed card is what all collectors want out of their boxes. Let's see what comes out of my box.

Base Card Design -
Upper Deck has traditionally kept the SP Authentic base cards simple in design. These cards are no different, but they are just a touch busy to me. The lines going everywhere throws me a bit off as there is a hint of an SPx vibe with these. I do like the clever use of team colors in the background though. SP Authentic has always done a great job of subtly putting in teams colors on the cards, and here it looks really nice. I used to put SPA sets together in 9-pocket pages, and the cards all together with the colors really made the set a joy to look at in the binder. In terms of foil usage, these cards have just enough so they the foil acts as a nice accent on the cards. It's just right.

Upper Deck does a magnificent job with the backs of these cards. The SPA back is filled with information that is presented in a dynamic way. The back includes a full-color player photo, team logo and colors, as well as a write-up to read. I'm really impressed with the efficient use of the space and wish more card backs were like these.

Every few packs popped out a Legends subset card. Replacing the player name on the card is the word 'LEGENDS' in giant foil font. The largeness of the font really accentuates the legendary status of the players represented on these cards. Rather than having the team color in the background, Upper Deck decided to use black as the accent color. The bold Legend logo and the black gives these cards a seriousness that I really enjoy. It's awesome how just a few tweaks can change the way a card is received.

Another subset in this year's SPA set are these Authentic Moments cards. We've seen these cards before and they are back again this year. I love the name of this subset as it works so well with the brand, but I personally feel these cards have too different a look than the entire rest of the set. I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy them even more if Upper Deck found a way to incorporate standard SPA design elements into the these cards. As they stand, they really stick out (like a sore thumb). 

Just as in every year of SP Authentic, there are basically two tiers of Future Watch cards - the non-autos and the autos. The non-autographed Future Watch cards come earlier in the set and are numbered to 999, just like the autographed ones. Though these cards share the same print-run, lacking an autograph severely hamper the value of theses cards. Jack Eichel, one of this year's biggest rookies, would usually not be in the group, but his autograph rights are with Leaf. This card may hold some good value if it's his only Future Watch card.

The autographed versions of the Future Watch cards are the hot ticket here in SPA. Collectors with some money in hand will probably want to attempt to collect this set. I did it for a couple years before bowing out of that game! Of course Connor McDavid will be the huge catch this year. Finding him will be difficult as boxes only guarantee on FWA per box. Upper Deck has put some variations of these cards in the set this year. Some of these cards will have special inscriptions on them from the player. They will be specially numbered to just 30 copies each.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Upper Deck guarantees three autographed cards per box with at least one Future Watch auto. SPA has always been about amazing on-card autographs, so collectors should enjoy finding the autographs hidden in these boxes. This year's SPA has a huge variety of autographed cards to find. I looked at the comprehensive checklist for the product. It is enormous!

You really can't have SP Authentic without Sign of the Times cards. This popular autograph set has been updated... with tons of color! Wow, this was certainly a surprise to see. I'm not sure if I like it or not... but I'm leaning towards liking it. It's a pretty radical look for SPA, but perhaps the SOTT set needed a good kick in the butt to be more interesting. 

Upper Deck is once again putting in retro cards into their SPA set. These cards harken back to 1995. I liked these cards quite a bit when they were originally released, but unless there's an autograph on the card, they don't really do much for me. I'd actually rather have buy-back autos in the set rather than these. Though I do like the look, I don't particularly have a big interest in these retro cards.

My best pull from this box was this very nice Auto Patch card of Matt Duchene. These cards are very similar to the Future Watch variations that are also in the set. A few years ago UD decided to spice things up and include veteran players with patches and autographs. No complaints from me! Collectors should be very pleased with quality cards such as these.

As I mentioned before, SPA has a wealth of autographed card types to find. There are even booklets now! It's incredible and I can't even list everything. Just know that when you get some SPA this year, there is huge potential in the cards you may get.

Inserts/Game-Used/Auto Score:

Overall Rating -
SP Authentic is one of the products this year that I definitely recommend buying. Yes, it did increase in price, but there really isn't anything that can compare to it so far this season. The amount of on-card autographed content is just too appealing to pass up.

With SPA, Upper Deck combines great design with the potential to pull great players. There is a mix of both veterans and rookies so I feel that this product has a good balance to it. You just can't say that about other releases this year.

I'm glad of how SPA turned out, and I'm sure it will be a popular product that will provide hockey collectors with a wealth of cards to lust and chase after.

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of 15/16 SP Authentic here:

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Retail Review #210 (08/09 Be a Player)

I'm so happy today to be opening up a blaster of Be a Player. There was a time on Retail Review when these were regular openings, but the supply of these blasters has dried up. I recently found some in stock, but at a higher price than what I had gotten them before. I couldn't help myself and ended up just going for one!

Price - 

Packs - 2
08/09 Be a Player Blaster Packs

So this blaster was about twice what it was when I used to get them. Back then they were about ten bucks a pop. Now, they are back to their original selling price of twenty dollars. The awesome thing about these blasters is that there is a guaranteed autograph in them.

For better or for worse, the autograph set is enormous so hitting a star player can be pretty difficult - but there is a chance of that. There's also the possibility of getting some rare insert cards as well.

I'm too excited! Let's just open this guy up and see what comes out:

Review -
I've got to say that this blaster was really, really good. These Be a Player blasters guarantee you one autograph, but I was able to pull three! Now that is pretty awesome. The rest of the cards in the blaster were pretty good as well. I pulled a few stars in the two packs such as Pavel Datsyuk and Patrick Kane - a great blaster.

Here are the top three cards out of this break for me:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Patrick Marleau Card No. 149
You knew I had to put Marleau here. I love pulling Sharks, and though there may have been bigger names in the blaster, Marleau is still one of the greats and will also have a spot in my top players.

#2 - Johan Franzen Card No. S-JF
I got The Mule! As a Sharks fan, I wasn't too happy to see Franzen on the ice, but I do have a begrudging respect for him and those old Red Wing teams. I think this is my first autograph of Franzen's. It looks pretty cool!

#1 - Nathan Horton & David Booth Card No. S2-HB
This dual autograph was completely a surprise! A great surprise! It really pushed this blaster box over the top. They may not be the biggest names out there, but Horton and Booth have been decent NHL players for their careers. Loved this pull!

Overall Value -
This blaster was really good. Though the blaster cost me more than I used to purchase them for, what came out of this blaster made up for it. It was very exciting to get a total of three autographs in this blaster. These kind of pulls make me want to get more of these in the future. We'll see if that happens though, it realistically won't be for a while until get another one of the BAP blasters - if at all!

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!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Retail Review #209 (15/16 Upper Deck Series Two)

This morning I get to open a product that is from this actual season! It's rare these days that I do this because I usually choose not to purchase current blasters at their sticker price... they are just too expensive! And I know they will take a large price drop when the year is over. This blaster was discounted, though, so I thought I'd give it whirl.

Price - 

Packs - 10
15/16 UD Series Two Blaster Packs

A blaster like this at the local Wal-Mart of Target store would be the full twenty dollar asking price, but at it was only about fourteen bucks. It's a little higher than I like to pay for blasters, but it certainly was a good deal for something so current. This blaster box contains all of the current rookies. Though the McDavid Young Gun was in Series One, you can still find McDavid update cards and parallels. The big money Young Gun in this set is Jack Eichel. Hitting his YG would be awesome.

I'll go ahead and open this blaster up and see what I get:

Review -
It's always fun opening up a product that is new. I was definitely hoping to pull a big name rookie - and I did! Too bad it was just his OPC retro card and not his Young Gun. But other than that I pretty much got what I expected here. This box had a an insert, a canvas, a few OPC updates, and a couple Young Guns. It's pretty much the standard for current Upper Deck blasters.

Here were my top cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Emile Poirier Card No. P-71
I enjoy the look of these Portrait insert cards. There's just something about that all white background with silver foil. It's classy. There are many players in this Portraits set so it is pretty hard to pull one that is very good. 

#2 - Brendan Gaunce Card No. 481
No Eichel Young Gun so I had to pick between this one and the Noah Hanifin I also pulled. I chose to go with Gaunce because I think he is slightly more valued in the hobby.

#1 - Jack Eichel Card No. U50
Here's a nice retro Jack Eichel rookie card. It's not going to be worth a ton, but nevertheless it's nice to get on of the big rookies from this year. This particular rookie card looks very cool with its retro design.

Overall Value -
I'm just glad I didn't have to pay the full price for this current product. I think I would definitely purchase more of Upper Deck Series Two at this price if I ran across it. I'm sure that if I wait long enough the price would drop even further though. A lot of the value of these products have to do with the rookies you can pull. If the rookies this year end up making it big, these box prices will rise... if not (which is the usual case), they will plummet.

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!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Retail Review #208 (10/11 Score)

I'll always have good memories of Score. It was a brand of cards that I collected in the 90's and it is a brand that continued to produce cards that looked and felt like the ones from back in the day. These blasters were cheap enough when they were new, but currently they can be found for under four dollars! That is an incredibly low price!

Price - 

Packs - 11
10/11 Score Packs

I really don't feel as if it has been that long since I was breaking box after box of this. I remember vividly going to my local Target and picking up boxes of Score. At the time I had just gotten back into card collecting and I was hungry to get my hands on any product I could.

Score met my needs very well because it was extremely affordable and a relatively new product from Panini who had just come into the fold. Score hasn't really stood the test of time - as evidenced by its price - but it is a product that can yield some rare and hard-to-find cards... if you're lucky enough!

Let's open this blaster up and see what's in it:

Review -
This break was very similar to other Score breaks that I've done. Each blaster will net you a handful of insert cards as well as a glossy card per pack. I always look forward in seeing what inserts come out of the blaster as Score has such a wide array of them. Rookie cards are also fun to check out. From that year PK Subban is available to be pulled. Unfortunately, the rookies I got in my blaster weren't very good ones.

Here were my top cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - John Tavares Card No. 306
Johnny T was the big rookie to get when I started collecting, and this is a second year card of his. I still get excited when pulling his cards. It's because of that initial excitement that I got caught up in back in those early days. I'm glad JT has turned out to be an excellent hockey player. Also, love the All-Rookie Team logo in the corner!

#2 - Anze Kopitar Card No. 231
This was probably the best of the bunch when it came down to the glossy cards. Kopitar has been a very good player for the Kings and played a crucial role in their championship years.

#1 - Joe Thornton Card No. 25
This is a sweet looking card of Jumbo Joe. The card has a very 90's looking feel to it. The Franchise cards were big pulls way back when. Pulling them now isn't a big deal, but I still enjoy them nonetheless.

Overall Value -
This is probably one of the cheapest blasters that you can find today. Is it a good value? I'd have to say yes because there are still quality cards that can be pulled out of Score. If you're ever looking to add a little something to a hockey order, Score is probably the product to do that with!

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!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Retail Review #207 (13/14 Panini Select)

I'm getting a little taste of hobby level packs this morning with this blaster of Select. Panini gave collectors the opportunity in 2013/14 to find an upper mid-range product at local retail stores. There is no guaranteed hit, but the hit ratio in these packs should be the same as in hobby packs.

Price - 

Packs - 2
13/14 Panini Select Packs

Last time I opened up one of these blasters I was pretty disappointed to get all base cards and one insert card. Hopefully that doesn't happen this time! I've opened up enough of these, and I feel the odds say that I should be getting hits at this point!

The Select base cards are nice, thick, and shiny. They are definitely a step above the usual cards found in the card aisle. For non-collectors these cards should be obviously nicer - so hopefully they enjoy them more. Though the base cards here are great looking, base cards have almost no value in the hobby anymore. And that's too bad.

What will come out of this blaster? Let's see:

Review -
Well, sadly what happened the last time I opened up one of these blasters happened again. I got all base cards except for one insert. My insert was a little better than the one I got last time, but it doesn't take away the disappointment of not getting a hit.

I thought this blaster contained a hit as one of the packs looked bigger than the other. Usually that means a hit will be found. As it turned out that pack was just filled up with more air. That's just great! Yet another let down when opening up a Select blaster. The only saving grace is that this blaster didn't cost anywhere near its original retail price.

Check out my favorite cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Bobby Clarke Card No. 161
This week I went with some legendary retired players for the first couple cards in my top three. I have a tremendous respect for those who played in the past and enjoy getting their cards in the packs I buy.

#2 - Guy Lafleur Card No. 157
I had heard of 'The flower' even before I got into hockey at all. I was always intrigued by Lafleur and his nickname. It's little things like that can draw a kid's attention. It'd be pretty cool to have some of Lafleur's cards from when he was still playing.

#1 - Vladimir Tarasenko Card No. FR-34
I found myself actively booing Terasenko not too long ago when he and the Blues were playing the Sharks in the Western Conference Finals. He struggled in that series, but is certainly a highly skilled player to look out for looking forward.

Overall Value -
This Select blaster made me sad. This one won't stop me from getting Select again, but I feel that I should have gotten a hit of some type in this box. At its current price, Select is a decent buy that will at the least net you some hobby level 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!