Wednesday, August 31, 2016

2015-2016 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Review

Upper Deck is getting close to finishing off the 15/16 hockey card season. Today they released one of their big boys - Ultimate Collection. This brand is very pricey and is one of Upper Deck's most premium brands. Clocking in at about $250 per box, you have to have some deep pockets if you want to dig deep into this set of cards.

Base Card Design -
The main set of Ultimate Collection is a little confusing as the cards contain jersey pieces and autographs. The cards may initially be thought of as inserts or parallels when pulled... but no, each veteran base card has a jersey piece embedded in it and is numbered to 199. Aside from the memorabilia, the base cards carry on the traditional look of Ultimate Collection. The brand logo is in all foil in the corner, and streaks of silver foil run across the card. The player is prominently featured within the design elements and photo background. The look of these cards are definitely high-end and will be appreciated by collectors who enjoy premium card stock and a refined look.

The back of the base card has a zoomed-in version of the front photo and just a few bits of the player's bio. As you can see, the majority of the card is taken up by Upper Deck's message guaranteeing the jersey piece on the front is authentic. Premium high-end cards really don't put much emphasis on including player write-ups or stats, so I guess it's not that big of a deal. With these premium cards, everything that matters is really on the front - the serial numbering, the looks, memorabilia, auto, etc. Collectors aren't going to be using Ultimate Collection cards to gain knowledge on a player's career.

Rookie cards from Ultimate Collection retain a similar feel to the way they have always been done in this set. The rookies have hard signed cards with varying serial numbering depending on what tier a rookie is in. Top tier guys like Connor McDavid have rookie cards limited to only 99. The common rookies like the Matt Puempel I pulled are serial numbered to 299.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Ultimate Collection is all about the hits... even the base cards are hits! Aside from those, though, collectors can find many patch variations of cards as well as numerous cards that contain many different combinations of ink and cloth.

Paralleling the base set are cards like the Jake Virtanen I pulled. This card has a large swatch of jersey along with an on-card autograph. There have been similar cards to this in past Ultimate Collection releases. Though this card looks pretty good for what it is, Upper Deck has even nicer versions of this card available. They go from having patches that fill the window all the way to NHL shields.

This Signature Material Phenoms Card of Nick Ritchie was the thickest card in the back. It has 2 patches in it and is limited to just 10. Like all cards here the autograph is hard signed. This card is very nice looking, but I really wish the patch piece on the left was better. One color patches stand out like a sore thumb on these types of cards.

That's all I really got in my box of Ultimate Collection. Upper Deck has really loaded up Ultimate Collection with a lot of things to find. Buying this stuff by the box really isn't going to get you a true taste of everything there is to have here. You'd have to go for cases and cases of the stuff!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Giving an overall rating to products like Ultimate Collection is hard. If I had a lot of funds, I'd love to just sit down one day and break case after case of it and then oogle at all the amazing cards that came out. As it stands though, most collectors cannot even afford one box of it.

Each box/pack is a whopping $250. You really have to have some deep pockets to dip into these cards. Collectors who cannot afford to open boxes can go the route of joining in on group breaks. The potential to win big is there, but also the really big possibility of just losing your money with nothing gained... not even a jersey card.

It's easy to love the cards in Ultimate Collection, but it is a huge gamble and risk that is just too much for most collectors out there. As with all card brands in this stratospheric price range... I say just go for eBay or third party sites and buy singles. Single cards from these ultra high-priced products can go for a surprising low price.

Overall Score:

Check out my box of Ultimate Collection here:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Retail Review #219 (10/11 Panini Certified)

The past few Retail Review breaks have been pretty dry. I've really felt that I have struck out on blasters that I have been opening recently. Each box has lacked a hit in them and it's been getting old to me. So this week I'm busting a blaster that I know will be good. Well, at least there should be a hit in it!

Price - 

Packs - 3
10/11 Certified Packs

Ranking in my personal top 5 of blasters to break is 10/11 Panini Certified. The cards in this box look really good. I don't think Panini ever was able to top the quality that they had with the cards made this year in the years to follow. Something about these cards just felt good and right.

Also great about this product is the fact that a hit should be coming out of this blaster. The only time a hit was ever missing was when I opened up a tampered blaster. Thankfully this one has the official Panini seal so it should be good to go.

I'm very excited to see what comes out of this blaster:

Review -
O... M... G... WHERE'S THE HIT????? This blaster box did not have an autograph or memorabilia card. This has never happened to me when opening up a legit blaster of Certified! I did get two 'insert' cards, but one of those should have been a hit. In fact, I really thought and autograph was coming from this blaster because the packs were so thin when I opened up the box. Never did I think this blaster would short me a hit.

I ended up really looking at the side of the blaster and it didn't say a hit was guaranteed. There was mention of an 'insert' being 1 per 2 packs... and that is what I got. I think Panini meant a special card - usually a hit - would be in here, but I chalk this one up to bad collation.

But oh that makes me sad! It's another week and I've come up empty from a blaster I thought should have had something for me. I'm still totally in shock!

I still need to have a top three, so here they are:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Tyler Myers Card No. 18
This is definitely a person inclusion for me as Myers was one of the better rookies I pulled out of my first foray into the Cup. I actually got his RPA and was very happy with it. I haven't really kept up with how Myers is doing on the ice, but I pay attention whenever I pull his cards.

#2 - Drew Doughty Card No. 10
This Collision Course insert card is nicely designed and has a busy, but interesting design to it. This particular card is numbered 31/250. This is the card I thought should have had an autograph on it.

#1 - Stan Mikita Card No. 161
There's just something about this card that stands out to me. It may be the older photo used, but this card was by far my favorite from the break. Hmm, if there was an autograph on this card I would have been in card heaven!

Overall Value -
I really feel jipped with this break. It is really terrible when you think there will be a hit in a blaster and it doesn't have one. Certainly this blaster did not meet my expectations. Even if a really boring jersey card came out of this blaster I would have been ok with it. But as it stands, having nothing but base and a couple inserts is not acceptable.

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, August 21, 2016

Retail Review #218 (13/14 Panini Select)

Panini got a lot right when they made their way into the hockey card world. Their retail products were especially good as they seemed to give collectors exactly what they wanted - good value for what's inside. Select is a product that always intrigued me at the retail level. It's a brand that has hobby level packs inside a box you can find at a retail store.

Price - 

Packs - 2
13/14 Panini Select Packs

In thinking back to the last few Select breaks, I think I've struck out pretty hard in terms of getting a hit. I really hope that drought ends with this blaster today! With these packs being the hobby version of Select, it really shouldn't take that many purchases of the product to get hits. In fact, I think I was really encouraged to buy Select after opening up my first few blasters of it because it came with some nice hits.

This blaster will have a couple packs, let's see what it they hold:

Review -
Really Select??? Wow, just wow. This was a lame blaster - very similar to my recent experience with the product. I know you're not guaranteed a hit per blaster with this stuff, but I feel like I've missed more with this product than I've hit.

Purchasing a blaster of Select is exciting because of its hobby pack opportunities. At this point I'm beginning to second guess if I think these blasters can be recommended. Sure, these cards are high quality foil cards, but in today's hobby that just isn't enough.

Here were my top three picks:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Jonas Brodin Card No. FR-18
This was the only inset card from the blaster. I usually put the special inserts cards at number one if everything else is base, but this particular insert wasn't exciting enough for that.

#2 - Antti Niemi Card No. 54
He's not a Shark anymore, but I still have some fond memories of Nemo. He definitely brought the Sharks far into the playoffs in many years, but never could help them get over the top.

#1 - Patrick Roy Card No. 156
Roy is a legendary goalie and the best player I got out of the entire blaster. This is just a base card of his, but he beats every other card in this box.

Overall Value -
I hope that my luck with Select changes. These blasters should yield hits if you buy enough of them, I just haven't been so lucky with the boxes I have gotten my hands on.

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, August 20, 2016

2016-2017 Upper Deck MVP Review

Upper Deck has officially started of the 2016/17 hockey card campaign with the release of MVP Hockey. This lower-end brand has always been one of the first products out of the gate for Upper Deck. In recent years, MVP has really upped its content by adding inserts, autographs, and memorabilia cards into the brand. There are no guarantees to get one per box, but the prospect that they are there is great in and of itself.

Base Card Design -
For a low-end card, the design and feel of the MVP base cards is above expectation. The cards aren't plain, but rather have a design that is unique and well-thought out. In a small way, the shapes used in the background have an Ultimate Collection look to them. Yes, yes... it's a pretty far stretch for  a comparison, but I just mean to say that the base cards use design elements that aren't the run of the mill look. There's no solid border here - the design scheme just fades nicely into the card and gives a frame-like look that makes you focus on the player featured. Overall Upper Deck did a solid job on these cards and I think those who purchase MVP this year will enjoy them.

The back of the card mirrors the front design but eliminates all photographic elements. You basically just get stats and bio information. There's not much of interest to see here unless you need to take a look at how a player did between the 11/12 and 15/16 NHL hockey season. Something else collectors may find useful is the pronunciation of the player name located under their position in the center of the card. MVP is one of the very few brands that includes pronunciations. It's a great little addition since may people (myself included) struggle with the correct way to say a player's name on occasion.

Rookie cards in MVP share a similar design to the regular base cards save for a 'ROOKIE' logo located at the top of the card as well as a blue/gray color scheme rather than the bronze/gold look. The rookie color scheme is much better looking than the standard cards. The color works a lot better for hockey cards. The rookies in MVP are players that got a chance to play last season but didn't get featured on a card. These rookies tend to less popular than the ones that get playing time right when the season begins. There will most likely be an update to these cards in a later Upper Deck release.

At first glance I would have thought that the NHL Territory foil cards were special inserts into MVP, but they are actually numbered as part of the main set. The theme of these cards is the place in which the feature player plays. These cards have a nice foil background of the skyline of the city. They are nice cards that may be popular with collectors who enjoy cards with a strong team/city connection.

Leading Lights are another main-set-numbered subset that looks like an insert. These cards are also feature a foil background. Rather than focusing on a place, these cards honor players who were outstanding in different statistical categories.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
As MVP is a low-end brand, getting a hit in the product can be quite difficult. The only guarantees collectors get for hits is at the case level. Last year I was really lucky and got an amazing Wayne Gretzky Pro Sign autographed card. This year my box didn't contain a hit.

Making their return are the Silver Script cards. These cards have been around in MVP for a long time. I have always liked the look of these cards as they have a very nice looking facsimile autograph on them in silver. The facsimile autos on the fronts of these cards actually look like real autos signed in silver ink. Hopefully nobody gets confused and thinks hey pulled an autograph with these!

Colors and Contours make their way back into MVP this year. These nice looking die-cut cards confuse me as there are different color and level tiers. Collectors will have to really study the back of the packs to know exactly how rare of a card they pull from this set. These cards certainly stand out with their holofoil background, but I'm not sure how many collectors will actually take the time to find out how rare their card is.

New this year are puzzle cards. Puzzle cards are a variation of the main set. The front of the card is actually the puzzle piece. The back looks like the standard front of an MVP base cards except for card number and a few other back-identifying marks. I have never been too fond of puzzle cards, so I'm not jazzed about these cards at all... but they may appeal to some collectors who like the challenge of putting the entire picture together.

It would have been really nice to get a hit from this box, but I think a lot of my mojo was used up with last year's MVP. Though hits may be hard to get, they are certainly not impossible and should cone out at a nice pace if buying boxes of the product.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
It's always hard to believe it when MVP comes out as its usually out when card products from the previous season haven't been released yet. For collectors dying to move forward, MVP would be a fun product to bust.

MVP is a familiar product to collectors who have had a few years under their belt collecting. I think it's a product that has improved year after year - even if just a little with each passing season. There are some legitimately nice cards that can be pulled out of MVP.

MVP is not a product that will break the bank. Anyone can pick up a pack or even a box. After being used to paying $100+ dollars on boxes, it was pretty good paying under fifty for this hobby box.

A lot of high-end collectors will most likely avoid MVP, but this set of cards is great for more casual collectors just looking for something affordable to break and take a chance on.

Overall Rating:

Check out my break of MVP below:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

2015-2016 Upper Deck Portfolio Review

It's pretty late in the 2015/16 hockey release calendar. Traditionally, this is the part of the year where the high-end products start releasing. When I heard about Portfolio, I totally thought that this would be a one-pack-per-box product similar to Panini's Playbook brand. This is actually nothing like that. I came into this product without any research, so finding out that it is a lower-mid end product was a surprise!

Base Card Design -
The Portfolio base cards look a little bit like the old Upper Deck Masterpieces cards released in 2008 with their brownish borders. Unlike those cards, however, this border is just printed onto the card so it doesn't really stand out. Since these borders look like a frame, the flat look kind of falls flat. The overall feel of the card is more on the low-end side of things. Fortunately, the photos on these cards make up for any design deficiencies. The pictures that Upper Deck used in this set rival even their Series One and Two offerings. There's tremendous action captured as well as unique moments and expressions on the players faces. The photos look great. I just wish the border did more to make the cards attractive rather than take away.

The back of the base cards have a no frills look, and I am just not a fan of the brown color used on the bright white background. Brown is an odd choice for a hockey product, and you can see here why it isn't really used often. Upper Deck may have been going for a bronze-frame color... that's the only defense I can give it... but because the printing isn't metallic enough, it just doesn't work. On a positive note, I like the nice written information about the player that is provided on the back. It's always nice to have something more than just the standard statistics given.

The standard rookie card in the set looks exactly like the base card except for a 'Rookie Phenom' logo above the player's name and a red colored border instead of the brown one. And the red border makes a HUGE difference in the look of the card. Though the overall design is still a little lacking, I think the red border looks leaps and bounds better than the brown one. The back of the rookie cards thankfully replace the brown with red as well, the the backs also have a nicer look too.

Usually, the base set would end with just the standard cards and a rookie sub-set, but in Portfolio there are some unique additions after those cards. Wire-Photo cards make a return again this year. I have always been a fan of the Wire-Photo cards as they bring things back to an older era of photography. Usually these photos are black and white and have a bit of grain to them. There are Wire-Photo cards in this set like that featuring older players, but the newer players like Connor McDavid have Wire-Photo cards that look a bit too modern and sharp. So the feel of the card is taken away a little bit. Also, these cards have a really bright white border. And that's a modern look too. It would have been nice to have these cards retain more of a cream or off-white style in my opinion.

At first glance, I thought these Color Art cards were parallel cards, but they are in fact a continuation of the cards of the main set. These cards lose the side borders and replace the top and bottom borders with a fade-to-white effect. These are decent looking cards, but the white portion of the cards remind me of lower-end cards like Fleer or Ultra. I think having them be full-bleed (like UD Series 1 and 2) would make for a better look. Both veterans and rookies have Color Art cards in the set. Black and White Art cards are also a part of the main checklist, however, I didn't notice any of those cards in my personal box of Portfolio.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Upper States that each box of Portfolio will have one autograph and one memorabilia card. That's not too shabby for a product of this type. If you do buy by the pack, you'll have to try and fish the hits out of the twenty that are contained per box. My box was nice in that it over-delivered on hits. I was able to pull an autograph and two jersey cards.

Single jersey cards aren't too exciting for collectors anymore as they usually don't hold much value. They are fun pulls, but you can usually find almost any player for just a few dollars. Though the dollar value may not be there, at least these cards look very nice. The Profiles Material cards are classy - I would consider these cards a definite step-up in design from many of the standard single jersey cards you find in other products. Upper deck has put a medium-small piece of jersey into these cards, but really dressed it up with the rest of the card elements.

Cards with multiple jersey pieces are harder pulls and expand upon the design of the single jersey card. The Dual Materials card of Filip Forsberg card looks very nice though the space for the photo has been decreased by a good margin. Quad piece and six piece jersey cards can also be found in Portfolio. Silver and Gold variations of the Materials memorabilia set contain nicer piece of material such as patches and straps.

The autographed card I pulled was of Mike McCarron. It's a rookie autographed card with a blue border. The autograph is blue ink and on a sticker. Overall the color and look is nice. The blue border is also much better than the brown of the regular base set. Autographs can come on rookie cards such as these or on any of the other subset cards such as Wire Photos and Color Art cards. Upper Deck has tiered the autographs to make some players easier to get while other are much, much harder.

I've covered the main memorabilia and autograph cards in Portfolio, but there are more to find. Hidden in the set are redemption cards as well. Lucky collectors who find them can redeem them for future rookies. The box also states that updated SP Game Used cards have been inserted as well.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Upper Deck Portfolio is a surprising product to me. I'm surprised that an affordable product has been released this late in the hockey card release calendar. This product is a fun buy especially if you appreciate photography. The shots that are portrayed on the fronts of these cards are really fun and spectacular. I could look at these cards over and over and enjoy the moments captured on them.

Purchasing a box, collectors can find a modest amount of hits to enjoy. It's nice that Upper Deck pretty much guarantees an auto and a memorabilia card per box. It's a relatively affordable product that may even be fun to get by the pack.

Will this be a must-buy product that everyone has to get their hands on? Probably not... but it really is a product that everyone can choose to purchase at their budget level - and that's what I appreciate about Portfolio. I'm happy that Upper Deck has released a product that everyone can enjoy.

Overall Score:

Check out my break of UD Portfolio here:

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Retail Review #217 (14/15 OPC Platinum)

This morning I'm going to break a blaster of OPC Platinum. It's a mid-level brand that really makes the base O-Pee-Chee cards shine - literally! There's the possibility of getting an autographed hit, but most likely I'll just be seeing base cards and parallels.

Price - 

Packs - 6
14/15 OPC Platinum Packs

OPC Platinum belongs in the Topps Chrome category of cards. The basic set parallels the regular OPC release - but doesn't do so far all 600 cards. It'd be pretty awesome if it did though! With only 4 cards per pack, you're really not getting that many cards in this break. There was a time when this type of card was all the rage with even base rookie cards holding strong values. Those days are long gone though.

The best you can hope for in these blasters is an autographed card. If you're lucky enough to get one it will be of a rookie as that was the primary focus of the autographs in this set. Rare parallel cards are also finds to look for when busting these boxes. There are many different types of parallels, so make sure you know what you've got when you find one.

Let's open this baby up:

Review -
This was a very standard break of OPC Platinum. Most of the cards I pulled were base cards, but I did get some parallels and some retro cards as well. I totally forgot that there were retro cards inserted in this brand. They are actually difficult to call retro because the design and the foil make the cards have a more modern look.

There's not really too much to be excited about with this break. I am happy to get a Sharks rookie card as well as a parallel rookie card. I really wonder if one of these days I'll be lucky enough to find an autograph in one of these blasters.

Here are my top three from this box:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Ryan O' Reilly Card No. 137
This parallel card of Ryan O'Reilly may not be rare or anything too special, but it does look very cool and was the best looking card in my blaster. 

#2 - Taylor Hall Card No. 38
Hall may have been my favorite player out of this blaster. It's nice that I was able to get the retro version of his card. The horizontal orientation of the card is actually quite nice.

#1 - Mirco Mueller Card No. 152
I definitely had to go home team homer this week. I haven't really gotten many Sharks rookie cards the past few years. I usually go out of my way to get my hands on some. Well, at least I have this Mueller card!

Overall Value -
Absolutely nothing to brag about with this blaster. It gave me the cards I expected and nothing more. This is not a blaster that would inspire you to purchase more blasters, but the price was right and I do think there are some good cards to be found in OPC Platinum, it's just going to be tough!

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, August 7, 2016

Retail Review #216 (14/15 Fleer Ultra)

Fleer Ultra is a product I desperately want to like. It's a brand that was respected in the past that had some pretty sweet insert cards. Upper Deck chose to keep the insert theme as its main focus when it released 14/15 Ultra last year. Hits were hard to come by... even at the hobby level as they were not guaranteed if you bought a box.

Price - 

Packs - 8
8 x 14/15 Fleer Ultra Blaster Packs

I think Upper Deck considers Fleer Ultra to be a mid-level product. I say this because of it's price point relative to it's base Series 1 and 2 brands. At 19.95 for 8 packs, it's right there. I, however, considerate not even close to mid-level! To me, Ultra is squarely in low-end territory. The cards look low-end in design and nothing in the set has much value on the secondary market.

With UD Series 1 and 2, Young Gun rookie cards have the potential to hold some great value. There is no such cards like that to find here in Ultra. Blasters of this can now be found for about five bucks. That's probably the right price for these things. And that's how they should have been priced initially... well... maybe $9.99 on release. But $19.99??? You gotta be kidding me!

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

Review -
This blaster was absolutely terrible. I saw base card after base card with only two Gold Medallion cards that I frankly didn't care for. It was a very disappointing break. I was hoping for a least one insert card... just one to save the day! Fleer Ultra has some nice inserts in the product that are all foil and some that also feature die-cutting. Getting one of those would have made this break more palatable. There really isn't anything that saves this break at all - it was terrible!

Let's still have a top three:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Joel Ward Card No. 190
He's not in a Sharks sweater on this card, but seeing Ward come out of the blaster was nice as i was reminded of the good work he put in for the team last season.

#2 - Zdeno Chara Card No. 10
Chara is a huge defenseman that has a booming shot. I like the photo chosen for him on this card as it shows him jawing at someone outside the framing of the photo.

#1 - Jordan Eberle Card No. 74
I enjoy watching Eberle play, and this card was probably my favorite photo shot in the pile of cards I got in the break. I wouldn't have been opposed to Upper Deck doing all the cards in this horizontal fashion.

Overall Value -
Even though this blaster was just five dollars, it sucked. There really wasn't anything positive here. I thought I may have gotten a photo variation card in the blaster but after checking I don't think I did as those cards feature Winter Classic photos. This was a sad break. I really hope things change for the better in next week's Retail Review. Find out with me in 7 days!

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, August 3, 2016

2015-2016 Upper Deck Black Review

This is a product I remember very fondly. Upper Deck Black was one of the best looking sets when it was first released about eight years ago. The black look contrasted with the ice theme very well leading to some gorgeous looking cards. Black has been MIA for a while now, only appearing as inserts within some Upper Deck products the past few years. Here's it's proper return with a full set of cards.

Base Card Design -
The base cards in this year's black are busy and energetic. There's a lot going on in the background of the card, but it all looks so cool! I love the prismatic foil used to highlight the Black logo in the background as well as the player name, UD symbol, and brand name. The design is quite eye popping. I think what makes this work so well is that the background is darker save for the foil elements. It almost looks sort of like a microchip or computer motherboard from the movie Tron. Black definitely has a modern design that is very appealing and unique.

The back of the base card is quite a bit more basic than the front - almost disappointingly so. There is no foil highlights making the back jump out at you. It's all rather bland, in fact. I've seen Upper Deck have some very creative back-of-card designs on lower-end products, and wish they'd have done something more creative here. These backs are very sparse with just some stats - there's not even a little write up! Though I don't particularly like the back side of the card, I do want to mention the side of the card. Like with previous Black releases, these cards have sort of a layered look on the side. It's a very unique property of the Black cards that I appreciate and enjoy.

Rookie cards in Black come on thick sandwiched cardboard and are either numbered to /199 or /299. The /199 rookies are the bigger named guys such as Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. These Lustrous Rookies are all hand-signed except for Eichel because of his exclusive deal with the Leaf company. There's quite a bit of foil shown on these rookie cards, but to me it's too heavy handed. I loved the thin lines of the base cards. I wish the designers would have done something along those lines rather than this.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Initially, Black had a packaging design that contained two small boxes in one larger box. Opening up a box of black had its own flair that many enjoyed with a product that was quite expensive. With this release of Black, Upper Deck has gone with the one-box, one-big-pack packaging that they've done with other similar products this year. Each pack/box contains 6 premium cards.

Super-premium products usually put a bunch of jersey cards in the set as fodder, and black is no different. Black Rookie Coverage jersey cards contain a piece of photoshoot worn material and have no numbering on them. The design of these cards is pretty pleasing, but it doesn't make-up for the fact that these cards will be a dime a dozen on the secondary market.

A bit nicer than the Rookie Coverage cards was this Rookie Showcase Relic card I got of Malcolm Subban. This card is numbered to just 25 and contains a rather nice patch piece. It states on the back of the card that the piece came from the 2013 NHLPA Rookie Showcase Game - so that's better than a photoshoot at least. The design of the card is again very nice with the thin gold foil lines on it. An autograph would have made this card a lot better though. UD does have autographed version of these cards numbered to 10 - wish I had gotten that version!

Probably the best card I got from my break was this Pro Penmanship card of John Tavares. It's a very nicely designed card with an acetate feel on the surface. The autograph is hard signed in blue ink on an icy white spot. The card is pleasing to look at and I'm glad I have this card to add to my collection. Tavares is a quality player and sometimes it can be hard to get bigger name players out of rookie heavy products such as these.

Black has a ton more to offer than what I was able to pull out of this one box. Pride of the Nation flag patch cards are back - oh, I want one of those cards SO BAD! There are even cards like what Panini had with the full tied string portion of the jersey available. They are called Black Tie Affair cards and are 1 of 1 redemptions.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Man... I just LOVE the way Black looks and the cards you can potentially pull out of it. Upper Deck has really done well with the design of these cards and it just makes me want to buy, buy, buy! The only problem is the price point of the product. Being a super-premium product, Black has a super-premium price. These little boxes in the US are going for $260-275 per and even more in Canada. That price-point really puts a damper on people getting multiple boxes of it, let alone a single box. I estimate the value that I got in my hits to total well under $100. That really sucks. And I'm sure that will be a common breaking experience unless a collector is lucky enough to pull McDavid or Gretzky.

UD Black is definitely for the rich collectors who have the money to spend on this high roller of a product. It's definitely a hot or miss brand with the vast majority of boxes being misses in terms of value. The gamble sure is fun though!

I suggest waiting for a little while and start finding single so the cards you want on eBay. You'll save yourself a lot of money and though you won't have the thrill of opening a pack or the off-chance of pulling a Connor McDavid auto rookie, but you'll also spare yourself some pain if you miss on your pricey pack of Black.

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of 15/16 Black: