Sunday, July 31, 2016

Retail Review #215 (10/11 Panini Pinnacle)

Panini got it right with this retail product. It contains lots of things that non-seasoned (and seasoned) collectors would enjoy in a blaster. You get base cards with great photos, parallels and inserts, and even a hit! I wish Upper Deck would take a cue from this product and give us something along these lines.

Price - 

Packs - 8
10/11 Pinnacle Packs

It always surprises me that this product is still so readily available. I guess Panini made a ton of this stuff back in 2010. Boxes can easily be found at heavily discounted prices... and I'd pick them up while they are still available! I've opened up my fair share of these blasters but I always find them enjoyable to break, so I'll keep opening them for as long as I can get them.

These blasters are really all about the fun you can have with them. When buying one of these you get a large amount of cards. Being a mid/low end product means getting more cards and more packs to rip open. It's just great having the chance to rip packs and enjoy the hobby in a way that doesn't break the bank.

Let's rip into this blaster and see what comes out of it:

Review -
Another nice and solid break of Pinnacle today. It was sweet getting a hit along with a handful of nice insert/parallel cards. I'm a huge fan of the technologies used on the insert cards in this set. So often companies nowadays just use different kinds of foil stamping to differentiate cards. Some insert cards are just different designs on the exact same card stock. That's not the case with Pinnacle or even other Panini products. There is clever use of card stock like with the canvas inserts and the Nufex process is great looking. It makes the product a joy to open.

These were my favorite cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Teemu Selanne/Saku Koivu Card No. 10
Sure, I'm not a fan of the Ducks, but this is a nice card of two great NHL players. Selanne and Koivu have always been a very respected pair. It was a good choice of Panini to include these guys on a single card.

#2 - Marian Gaborik/Patrick Kane Card No. 3
Team Pinnacle cards are classic. It's just too bad they don't have the allure that they once did. I still get a kick out of pulling them though... I imagine that I had pulled this card in the 90's. If so, I'd be so happy because these were tough inserts to get and always had a nice price tag associated with them.

#1 - Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond Card No. PLL
Now that's a long name! I have to admit I was not familiar with Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, but I don't think I'll be forgetting that I pulled his jersey card out of this blaster. Wow, just wow on his long name!

Overall Value -
Strong blaster in terms of having fun and getting a hit out of it. I hope to continue enjoying these blaster for a long time into the future. If you have the opportunity to get one, I wouldn't hesitate. They are cheap and worth the small investment.

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, July 24, 2016

Retail Review #214 (2011 Goodwin Champions)

I've opened more than a few blasters of Goodwin Champions on Retail Review, but I think this may be the first 2011 version I've tried. Today I felt like going with this blaster because I recently opened up 15/16 Upper Deck Champs and this product has some similarities with that product. Though it's hard to get a hit from Goodwin, there is still a lot to enjoy here.

Price - 

Packs - 12
Goodwin Champions Blaster Packs

Goodwin Champions is a fun set of cards to open up. I absolutely love the variety that's in the set and the opportunity to get memorabilia cards and hard-signed autographs. Hobby boxes, as usual, make it easy to get both these kinds of hits. It's not very easy to find hits when it comes to blasters, though it is possible.

What the blaster does guarantee, though, are mini cards. Mini cards are a staple when it comes to Goodwin Champions. There are some collectors that really love the mini cards (those collectors tend to be baseball guys), but others who find them hard to manage... like me! Still, I wouldn't mind a mini card if it had a memorabilia piece or autograph on it. That would be pretty sweet.

Will there be a hit for me today? Let's open up this blaster and find out:

Review -
No hit out of this blaster of Goodwin Champions, but I really did have a fun time opening up this box. It contained a variety of cards from the entire spectrum of athletes, celebrities, and other famous people. And all the cards were beautifully painted.

It's funny when you can get cards of Sidney Crosby and Michael Jordan along with Harry Houdini and Karl Marx. It makes me wonder who's idea it was to put Marx in this set too! That was certainly an interesting choice.

The highlights of the box were the six mini cards I got, the die-cut insert, and some notable base cards. It's just so much fun when you see the choices Upper Deck has made in representing the players in this particular card set.

It's time for the top three, here they are:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Ozzie Smith Card No. FS-12
This is a really young depiction of The Wizard. Ozzie Smith got that nickname because of his magical defensive abilities. He was a wonder to behold and would have a lot of flair on field as he would sometimes do flips in the infield. 

#2 - Evgeni Malkin Card No. 30
This is a pretty awesome depiction of Geno. This artistic rendition really shows his menacing height. Though most of you know I've become much less of a fan of the Pens since last season, I can't deny that Malkin is a great hockey player.

#1 - Michael Jordan Card No. 23
I absolutely love this card! It's always a thrill to pull #23 out of a pack - even base cards! Back in the day almost any MJ base card was automatically booked at five bucks. This parallel card's black border really makes this card stand out magnificently. I'm definitely keeping this card in the PC!

Overall Value -
Sure, there weren't any hits in this blaster box, but getting the Jordan card was great for me. After opening the cards, I actually did spend time going through the base cards and taking closer looks at them. This isn't done for a lot of other cards that just aren't interesting to look at - like last week's Artifacts base. Those were boring. These, however, were great fun to enjoy!

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, July 17, 2016

Retail Review #213 (13/14 Upper Deck Artifacts)

It's that time again... the dreaded Artifacts blaster! My question is... will Upper Deck every put anything good into one of these things? It definitely feels like getting a hit from an Artifacts blaster is harder than winning the lottery. But yet, here I am opening up another one. Here goes nothing!

Price - 

Packs - 8
13/14 Artifacts Blaster Packs

It will never cease to boggle me how different Artifacts is at retail than it is at the hobby level. So many collectors absolutely love Artifacts! Boxes of the hobby version give a pretty good value and can net you some pretty nice stuff. A retail only collector would never know how awesome Artifacts is if they only bought blasters of it. In fact, it'd be the total opposite. There are very few products on the same putrid level as Artifacts when it comes to getting it at retail. Black Diamond? There's a case for that... but at least you can get some multi-diamond cards in that stuff. Here... often times it's just one numbered parallel and that's all folks!

Let's pray that there is something good in this blaster:

Review -
Just like so many other Artifacts blasters, this one didn't fail to disappoint. It really does suck opening up base pack after base pack. I would really love it if Upper Deck decided to improve their retail game with Artifacts. If panini could pack in a jersey per blaster, why can't they? It would definitely make sense as the product is called 'Artifacts'. Shouldn't people who buy a blaster of this stuff get an actual artifact? Sure, make the piece of material smaller... just do something to enhance the buying experience for these things!

Here's the top three:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Taylor Hall Card No. 93
In today's top three I have two of 10/11's biggest rookies... Taylor Hall and PK Subban. Both of these top tier players were just traded a few weeks ago. It'll be really interesting to see how their careers go from here. Will they find better fortunes? Or will they fall on hard times. We'll have to wait until next season to find out!

#2 - PK Subban Card No. 77
It'll be really interesting to see Subban in the Preds' yellow and blue as I'm so used to him in Habs colors. I guess the same could have been said for Hall as well. Team changes are a fact of life in pro sports - but it's always surprising when it happens.

#1 - Markus Naslund Card No. 55
My top card this week is of a beloved Canuck from back in the day... Markus Naslund. The one redeeming thing about this card is that it has serial numbering... once a big deal in the world of sports cards. Upper Deck needs to realize it's not the 90's anymore and start giving collectors things that they actually will get excited about.

Overall Value -
Yup, Artifacts stinks it up again. Not much to say about value here as there was practically none to be had. Let's hope next week's blaster will be better than this one.

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, July 13, 2016

2015-2016 Upper Deck Champs Review

OMG! One of my absolute favorite brands is back... Champs! It's probably not everyone's cup of tea, but Champs is one of those odd products that puts everything into it, maybe even the kitchen sink! The main focus of Champs is of course hockey, but Upper Deck has also thrown in all sorts of non-hockey related cards as well. This appeals to some and not so much to others. But I think all can agree that Champs is unlike anything else in the realm of hockey cards.

Base Card Design -
The Champs brand is a throwback to the old days of collecting. No, not hockey card collecting necessarily, but baseball cards of yesteryear. Products like Champs have been released by Upper Deck and Topps, and they both try to appeal to the unique flair that really old time cards had. These cards aren't glossy or modern. In fact, they have that older cardboard feel with the brown cardboard back - similar to what O-Pee-Chee has. It's a great feeling to have on a card, and I love that Champs has joined OPC in giving collectors the opportunity to have this older style of hockey card to collect. Unlike OPC, these cards have an even more retro look to them. Rather than being more colorful, these cards focus on simplicity and elegance. The simplicity of these cards is what makes them real winners in my book. I just love the way these cards have been designed. It's a great way to have Champs come back!

As I mentioned, the back of the card is cardboard brown, and that's an awesome thing to see. Backs have some stats from past seasons as well as a very short write-up. I think Upper Deck could have gone even simpler to mimic more what older cards were like, but they have brought in more modern card elements to the backs. That's definitely ok, but I think detracts from the old style feeling just a little.

Rookie cards don't get too much to distinguish them from the rest of the base cards. In fact, as I was going through my packs, I missed quite a few rookies because I didn't see the rookie designation at first. All the rookie cards get is a little black banner above their name and position on the card. Other than that they look pretty much exactly the same.

Some cards in the main set of Champs are short printed. These cards come at the end of the set and are referred to as the hi-numbered cards. Back in the old days, the cards at the end of the big baseball sets were often printed in smaller amounts. Champs has replicated this with their release. I've noticed that many star players have been short-printed as well as some of the bigger rookies. The McDavid I pulled was a short print. Non-hockey players that are found in the set such as this Damian Warner are also cards that are included in this more limited print run.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Upper Deck guarantees you three hits per box of Champs. One of the hits should be an on-card autograph while the others are memorabilia. Also in boxes should be insert cards and parallels. If you're lucky, you can also find strange items that you would never really expect to get from a box of hockey cards!

Upper Deck seems to have an obsession with animal and creatures when it comes to sets like this so it doesn't surprise me to find fish as one of the main insert sets in Champs. In fact, they apparently think it's so good that they feature the set on the front of the box as a draw. I'm not particularly excited about these cards, but I'm sure there will be some who do like it.

Like everyone practically, I love eating. I'm just not sure if I like pulling food cards from my packs. I do have a soft spot for pizza though so this card was kind of cool for me. Luckily, the set isn't full of these kinds of cards and getting them once every-so-often can be pretty funny. The deep dish in the photo does look rather good.

Cards featuring famous landmarks are also nothing new to Champs. Again, it's probably not a card you're really wanting out of a box of hockey cards, but a few per box isn't going to hurt anyone. I suppose some may enjoy these Northern Wonders as they depict some pretty awe-inspiring places.

Parallel cards can be found in abundance in Champs, though perhaps not at the insane levels they once were found at. In the past there were many, many colors that collectors could look for. Some of the parallels were downright impossible to find. It looks like Upper Deck has toned down the amount of parallels with this release. The most common parallels are these gold bordered cards. Some cards will have alternate backs with a Champs logo rather than the standard back.

Silver bordered parallels are more difficult to find and are much more limited in nature. Each silver parallel has serial numbering to 25 on the back of the card. The silver stamped numbering on the back looks cool on the brown cardboard backing.

My box produced exactly what the front of the box stated. Both of my memorabilia cards were jersey hits - one rookie and one veteran. These relic cards feature a small swatch of jersey on the standard base card. It's a nice look, but nothing that would blow you away. Still, this is a very classy and clean way to do jersey inserts.

I was very pleased to pull Denis Savard for my on-card autograph card. He's a legendary player and the blue ink of the autograph looks really great on the white background of the card. These autographs look really sweet and I'm sure they will be popular amongst collectors this year. Many of the bigger name players are very tough pulls, so they should command a good amount of value on the secondary market.

My box of Champs was pretty standard, but this set of cards is anything but. They may be difficult to pull, but collectors are in for a huge treat when opening up boxes of Champs. 

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -

Overall Rating -
I'm not even going to mince words... I love Champs! I am so glad that it is back! Champs offers collectors a product that is unlike anything else out there. And it comes at a price that is pretty reasonable compared most other products that are available. Boxes go for around $100 a pop. I really hope Upper Deck releases Champs at the retail level for collectors to get more of the product. I would totally be on board for getting blasters of this stuff.

I recommend Champs very highly and would love to get more of this product in the very near future as it is contains some awesome things to find for both collectors on a budget and collectors who have a good deal to spend in the hobby. There really is something for everyone here.

Overall Rating -

Check out my box of Champs here:

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Retail Review #212 (10/11 Panini Zenith)

Today I'm opening what Panini had really put out as a premium product - Zenith. Back in its heyday, Zenith was a super-premium brand that was full of foil and thick cards. This iteration of Zenith feels anything buy premium. It's more of a mid-range product, but that's not how Panini priced it. Originally these blasters were thirty dollars a pop!

Price - 

Packs - 3
10/11 Zenith Blaster Packs

Like I mentioned, Zenith used to be cards laden with foil and glitz. I'm not sure what happened here, but the base cards are just on plain cardboard with a design that is forgettable at best. This disconnect from what it once was and what Panini came out with is what I think doomed the product.

At the time Panini was banking on collectors having a sense of nostalgia for older brands that they were reintroducing. I know that I personally was excited for Zenith at the time... but when I saw the end result I was really let down.

At least now these blasters can really be found for what they should be... just about ten bucks as collectors will typically find a jersey hit within them.

Let's see what comes out of this one:

Review -
This blaster delivered me the guaranteed hit as well as a solid number of insert cards for just three packs. I was happy to find that the pack with the jersey card also had a nice insert to go along with it. When it comes to these types of breaks, little things like this make a difference to me.

Besides the inserts and jersey card I got, I was happy to pull a base card of Dany Heatley as a Shark. He certainly is not a popular player amongst the hobby... and not really in San Jose, but as you know i am a huge fan of pulling Sharks cards and always enjoy getting them.

Here were the top three cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Corey Crawford Card No. 10
I am definitely not a fan of the name of this insert set... Crease is the Word. It is just a strange sounding name. I think that's why I don't like these cards that much... sometimes the name just ruins it all.

#2 - Alex Ovechkin Card No. 2
This is a pretty cool photo of Ovi and Subban. It's certainly not the typical thing you would see on the front of a hockey card. So that's actually the main reason why I like it. It's a pretty sweet photo that just does't look like the ones on every other card.

#1 - Tomas Tatar Card No. 12
These Rookie Roll Call cards are nice and thick, and Panini spared no expense when it came to the amount of foil they used on them. Tatar may not be the best rookie from here, but I'll definitely take him. Always glad to get a hit.

Overall Value -
For about ten dollars this blaster delivered a decent opening experience. I liked the inserts I got and I'm pretty happy with the foil jersey card as well. Zenith doesn't give you too much to open, but it's a product that is fun and something to always find a hit in!

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, July 3, 2016

Retail Review #211 (08/09 UD Legends Masterpieces)

So I've been getting Legends Masterpieces a little bit more often now... it's a product that I find enjoyable to open and that has good quality. The base cards all have that canvas feel to them, and it is possible to find hits in these old blasters. In fact, I pulled a jersey out of one in a past Retail Review. I hope even better things can be found in these old boxes.

Price - 

Packs - 8
08/09 UD Legends Masterpieces Retail Packs

Now that I've opened up a few of these blasters I feel that I know what to expect out of them. Getting superstar NHL legends out of this is very easy as that's really all this set focuses on. Collectors who buy this will find Gretzky, Lemieux, Howe, and others in that elite category. This set highlights their best moments in a very artistic way.

According to the side of the blaster, memorabilia cards come 1:24 packs while autographs come 1:240. Those odds aren't terrible so hopefully I will be able to pull a hit from this blaster box.

We'll find out now as I open up this blaster now:

Review -
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to pull a hit this time... but there's always the next box! As I thought, this blaster contained a good amount of legends cards. One card that seems to be following me is Lord Stanley. I pull that card almost every time I purchase this product it seems.

Though there have been some doubles, I haven't tired of looking at the great artwork on these cards and then reading the little write-up on the back to see what that moment in history was all about. These cards do provide a good historical background of the games biggest moments.

Top there... here we go:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Manon Rheaume Card No. 65
I will always enjoy pulling Rheaume's cards. She was such a big deal back in the 90's, and I thought it was awesome being able to pull a woman athlete in my packs. As a kid, I'm pretty sure I had a crush on her!

#2 - Doug Wilson Card No. 71
Wilson is the current GM of the Sharks and a former player. Fans have at times questioned his moves, but he was a key component of getting the Sharks to the Stanley Cup Finals this year. I'm still looking for an autographed card of his with him in his Sharks gear.

#1 - Marcel Dionne Card No. 59
Kings legend Marcel Dionne was the only insert/parallel card from this blaster so I gave it the top spot in the top three. Though I'm not a LA Kings fan by any stretch of the imagination, I do like their old purple jerseys with the huge crown on the front shown on this card. That's a pretty sweet retro look.

Overall Value -
I definitely struck out in terms of wanting to get a hit out of this blaster. But getting a stack of legendary players isn't a bad thing... plus the card are very high quality. So spending the ten bucks on this blaster wasn't a total waste to me. The enjoyment factor was there. I do, however, hope to do better with my next box of Legends Masterpieces - whenever that is!

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!