Sunday, September 25, 2016

Retail Review #223 (14/15 Upper Deck Series One)

With my recent good luck with UD Premier, I decided to stay with Upper Deck products this week. This morning I'm going to try a blaster of 14/15 Upper Deck Series One. Series One is always a fun break since it's filled with great looking cards and the opportunity to pull Young Guns. The quality is certainly high with this product. Let's get to opening up this blaster!

Price - 

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

I'm happy to buy these blasters for about half their original price. If there's one thing that happens in hockey cards, the prices will come down to what they should be otherwise a product will not sell.

For about 10 bucks, this blaster sits at a nice price. I like that these blasters provide collectors 12 packs to bust when opening them. It gives the person who bought it a real breaking experience. Nowadays it's very common to only have a few packs in retail... and even in hobby. To have a good number of packs in a blaster is a blast to the past that's pretty sweet.

I wonder what we'll get in this one. I'll open it to find out:

Review -
I'd say this was a solid blaster of Upper Deck Series One. I was able to pull some nice insert cards as well as a couple strong Young Guns from this year. The Young Guns are probably the hottest thing going for Series One, so getting a good one is always great.

I also really enjoyed the base cards from this break. I was able to see some killer photos on the fronts of the cards and there were a number of San Jose Sharks. I'm always happy to pull Sharks out of packs - base or otherwise!

These three were my favorite of the bunch:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Vladislav Namestnikov Card No. 243
The Young Guns are always a big draw when buying Upper Deck Series One and Two. Namestnikov isn't a huge name, but he's one that I know, and that's better than getting a complete no name player. 

#2 - John Tavares Card No. C56
This Tavares card is really awesome. I love the photo and I love that the card is done in a horizontal fashion. It just shows so much of what has just happened in the game. This card really stood out to me among the rest.

#1 - Evgeny Kuznetsov Card No. 248
Kuznetsov was a very nice hit for me in this blaster. He's a very solid player and his Young Gun commands a pretty decent price. I'm very happy with this particular pull from this blaster.

Overall Value -
This blaster of Series One was a winner. Sure, there weren't any hits or anything like that, but the cards I pulled were very solid pulls and the opening experience was a lot of fun. Upper Deck is never a hard recommendation for me to give anyone looking to get a nice value at the retail level!

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, September 21, 2016

2015-2016 Upper Deck Premier Review

Premier has come out... and boy is it an expensive product!!! But as is Upper Deck's tradition, the later the product in the collecting season, the more expensive it is (well, except for Portfolio I guess). One box/pack of Premier will set you back over $300. Wow. There better be some awesome stuff in this product for UD to be asking for that price!!!

Base Card Design -
The Upper Deck Premier base cards come on premium thick card stock and are serial numbered to 399. They sport a very modern design with a relatively minimalistic feel. Most of the glitz on the card comes on the left hand side where there is silver foiling. Though the cards are nice and clean, there really isn't anything that makes these base stand out. They're sort of the typical high-end card without a lot of drama. For collectors who prefer a simpler approach, these cards might be exactly the base you want. I, on the other hand, would love something more dramatic.

Interestingly, the card backs have a horizontal orientation. Having it this way makes the cards a bit more interesting. The graphics used on the back aren't typical of what you would find on a card back - they actually have a livelier feel to them. The colors are bright and bold and there is actually a little bit of written text to accompany the statistics - that's pretty uncommon for high-end! These card backs are surprisingly well done and I applaud the effort UD has done on them.

There are two types of of rookie cards in the main set of Premier. The first set is a simple design that has a similar feel to the base set except that the cards feature an autograph. The second are the rookie patch autographs done with an acetate feel. The acetate rookie cards are the ones that collectors will take most notice of. They come one per box and are numbered to 375 (or 199 for the star rookies). The acetate rookie cards look great. They have a sweet and slick shimmer to them that is quite unique. These rookie cards make a nice addition to the main set and build upon the look of the standard base card.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Being a super-premium product, Premier comes in a really great looking tin. These tins may be collectible themselves in the future if Connor McDavid pans out the way many think he will. Inside the tin is an abundance of hits. There better be as the price of Premier is sky high!

It's hard to call this 'rookie card' an insert, but it is not numbered as part of the main set. These cards are numbered to 399 (or 299 for star rookies) and look just like the standard base cards. I thought these were the regular rookie cards of the Premier set, but upon inspecting the back, they aren't. Each card in this set has an 'R' designation next to the number. I'm not sure why these cards were included in the set, in my opinion they could have easily been left out.

In almost a parallel to the rookie set above are the rookie jersey cards. These, interestingly, aren't numbered. There is a box where a serial number could be placed, but there is nothing there. The regular set has an event used jersey piece. Higher level versions exist and have better materials in them.

This Premier Swatches jersey card is similar to the rookie jersey cards but with one big difference. The jersey piece inside has come from an actual game rather than event such as a photoshoot. That makes a big difference to many collectors. It's really great to know that the memorabilia inside the card came from a game. In terms of market pricing though, there probably won't be a significant difference.

Here's a dual jersey card that I pulled. Like the Brandon Saad swatch, both of these have been guaranteed by Upper Deck to have come from a game. This particular dual jersey card is numbered to 149. As you probably have guessed, there are patch variations of these cards available for collectors to find as well.

My huge pull from the box was my first Connor McDavid autographed card. It's from a Tribute rookie card set and features an on-card autograph along with an event-worn patch. It's a sweet looking card, and I love it even more because it has an interesting retro design to it. This card paid for the box and then some! It's this kind of card that you hope to get when purchasing products like Premier.

There are many more types of cards to find in UD Premier. Collectors will find heaps of autographs and memorabilia cards in their boxes. Some of the nicest cards have to be the Mega Patches. Those cards feature giant patch cards that can fill up almost the entire card surface.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Certainly I am loving my personal break of Premier because of the McDavid, but keep in mind that most boxes of Premier aren't going to yield a huge hitter like that. I was definitely bracing myself to get value far less than what I had paid - just like my Ultimate Collection break a few weeks back. Luckily I hit a big card... and of course that's one of the reasons we collect... because every so often we can hit gold!

Premier is probably the second most expensive product Upper Deck has for collectors this year. At over $300 a tin it is well out of most collectors budget. If you can afford it, sure, go for it! The thrill of opening up a tin of Premier is pretty great. But like with most super-high-end products, my recommendation is to wait for singles to hit eBay and get them there for some reasonable prices. Sure, you won't get the McDavid card... or the Gretzky... but you can probably pick up some reasonable deals on good players.

Overall Rating -

Check out my box of Premier here:

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Retail Review #222 (14/15 UD Black Diamond)

It's been a little while since I've opened up a Black Diamond blaster. And that's because honestly Black Diamond is not a great brand to open at the retail level. It's marketed as a superior product to Series One, but the value just isn't there. It's no wonder there has been such a huge price drop in Black Diamond blasters since their initial release.

Price - 

Packs - 6
14/15 UD Black Diamond Blaster Packs

Black Diamond as a brand has been completely revamped now. Instead of being a mid-level product it is now a super-premium product that many can't afford. But back in 14/15, Black Diamond was still a at that mid-level status and continuing on as it had been for many, many years before. Black Diamond started off years ago as a really innovative product that had a premium feel. As the years went on, the product never really underwent much in terms of change. It eventually got pretty stale, and the 14/15 iteration falls into that category. That being said, it's cheap enough to give it a try and have a little fun with. Though there's very little hope for it, maybe something good will pop out?

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

Review -
This blaster offered me up a very typical Black Diamond break experience. It wasn't too good, but at least the best card in the blaster was a single two diamond card - which I think actually happened to me once when opening up retail Black Diamond.

Every year of Black Diamond has the same feel in terms of the way the card looks, but these 14/15 base cards do have a nice look to them and the signature Black Diamond texture of the cards is pleasant. I'm not sure how long UD could have kept BD the same though. I'm glad they have moved on!

Here's the top cards from this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Pekka Rinne Card No. 121
Rinne is a stellar goalie, but I'm not a huge collector of his cards. He gets the third spot in my top three because of his two diamond status in the set. Every other card not in the top three was just a single diamond.

#2 - Jake McCabe Card No. 194
The Rookie Gems subset has always had interesting designs. I've liked them for their modern and classy looks. This Jake McCabe rookie card looks really nice. Rookie Gems are a bit underrated in the hobby.

#1 - Henrik Zetterberg Card No. 160
I didn't get any quad diamonds in my break, but Zetterberg as a triple diamond isn't too bad. He's a favorite in Detroit and well respected in the NHL.

Overall Value -
There really wasn't too much that came out of this blaster. Opening up this product for this first time in a while actually made me wish Black Diamond had a better legacy in years past. The potential was there, but the brand really slipped in the back of collectors minds as the years went on for it. I'd have a very hard time recommending this product to anybody unless the price was extremely cheap.

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, September 14, 2016

2016-2017 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee Review

O-Pee-Chee has shown itself to be a very consistent card release year after year. It is a brand that sticks to the classic look of cards on actual cardboard. If you're a fan of cards that came out in the eighties and nineties, this set could be right up your alley as the cards look and feel like the standard cards from those decades with a little bit of modern touches thrown in for good measure.

Base Card Design -
I've said this before, but the basic O-Pee-Chee design is what I think modern cards would look like if the card companies didn't begin innovating new types of cards throughout the years. If they didn't, you'd have cards continue to be on cardboard stock and in one giant release. That's not a bad thing though... those years were a great time to collect cards, and this release does bring back some memories of the way things were. As I've stated, the cards are on old style cardboard with a simple white border. Thought the border is white, it's not like the low-end gloss borders that you might find in other low-end brands. These don't have that shine, which I think is a good thing. The cards feature a simple lower portion that has the player name, position, and team along with the team color in a basic looking graphic. The cards don't really stand out in any way - I think the design will easily be forgotten when another release comes, but at least it isn't offensive. It clean, simple, but kind pedestrian.

I've always been a fan of the OPC card backs and the same holds true here. In fact, I may like these more than past OPC backs. The cards have a really sweet grain to them if you inspect them closely. Probably no two cards are exactly alike in the set. The cards also have a bronze hue used to highlight the player name and information. This part of the card shimmers nicely and makes the back have a bit more of a premium feel.

The Marquee Rookie subset this year doesn't go for a changed card design, instead, the rookies just get a side banner on the card denoting the player's rookie status. The banner is non very intrusive to the card, but in flipping though cards quickly, you may miss a rookie here and there. Besides the rookies, some base cards denote players who were all-stars or who had a season highlight. These cards are base cards as well, but have a special designation on the front of the card.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Boxes of OPC come with a whopping 32 packs. Sure, it's not the 36 count box of the eighties, but 32 packs is a lot of packs for collecting today. OPC is not a hit driven product, in fact, it's pretty hard to score a hit from a box... but it does feature some really fun inserts... some of which can be very tough pulls.

One of my favorite inserts in OPC are the playing cards. These cards have the feel of a cheap deck of cards that you might find at the store. They are not the tough casino cards! But at least the designers at UD gave these cards a different feel and cut than a regular hockey card. Collectors can try to build an entire 52-card deck. It is a difficult proposition, though, as some of the cards come at some very long odds. An ace for example comes 1:200 packs.

The V Series of square-cut cards are back and feature the square-y goodness of the square. These cards come about two a box and gives mini card fans something to look for and collect. I personally am not a fan of mini cards as they are difficult to store. These at least are the width of a standard card so they fit pretty well in a penny sleeve. Typical tobacco style mini cards slip around inside sleeves, which gets pretty annoying.

Going even more retro than the regular base cards are the retro base parallel cards. These cards parallel the set of OPC and have an even older design. Rather than showing the player in the middle of some NHL action, these cards have a closer up photo of just the player on a single color background. I usually really love retro looking things, but in recent years OPC retro cards have felt phoned in. I would love to see OPC retro cards that featured a killer design that would drive collectors to them.

Another parallel of the set are the rainbow foil cards. These are the cards that I suppose bring OPC into the modern era. The foiling is nice and features a rainbow effect when in the light. It's interesting how these cards are a different type of foil than the chrome process UD uses for their OPC Platinum set. This foil has a little texture to it whereas the Platinum cards are very, very smooth on the surface.

A parallel of the rainbow foil cards are the black bordered versions. These cards have a very black border which gives the card a meaner look. The black bordered cards are very striking and feature serial numbering to just 100.

I was lucky enough to pull an autographed card from my box of O-Pee-Chee. The autograph is a simple OPC Signatures card that features a simple, yet pleasing design. The autograph is on a sticker that fits really nicely into the area it is given on the card. Autographs are pretty tough pulls out of OPC so I'm happy to have one. The OPC Signatures don't really have big star names in the set, but the Team Canada autographed cards have legends like Wayne Gretzky available to be pulled.

Probably of more value than the autograph I pulled was this super short printed All-Timers card of Chris Chelios. Upper Deck snuck in some really rare cards at the end of the base set. These cards have a white back and unique looking design to them. Though they look like something you'd typically find in an OPC product, these cards actually command a nice price!

OPC has put special patch cards within boxes of the product and the same goes for this year as well. I didn't pull one, but I did get an autograph so I'm not complaining. OPC might be a cheaper retro release, but don't let that fool you... there are some great things you can find in these boxes!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
I am impressed with O-Pee-Chee this year. This is a brand that is putting a lot of fun into collecting. I love the fact that you can find a ton of unique inserts that look great and have some value to them. The ideas for some of the cards like the 52 card playing deck are really awesome. I just had a ton of fun as I was going through my box of OPC.

OPC will never be a product that is limited or hard to find. I'm sure there are boxes of it available at both hobby stores and retail stores as well. I personally think OPC is well worth the price this year and am glad I got a chance to open up a box of it. I've also had a lot of fun checking out all the inserts that have been listed on eBay already. Usually I'm not that interested in them, but for whatever reason I like what OPC is putting out this year.

I'd definitely recommend OPC to anyone interested in getting some hockey cards. There is a little bit for everyone in this product.

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of 16/17 O-Pee-Chee:

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Retail Review #221 (10/11 Panini Pinnacle)

I'm going to stick with Panini again this week because of their product's frequency of giving hits. Pinnacle was a mid-level brand during its time, but blasters of the product usually gave collectors at least a jersey card when they bought one. And that's what I really appreciate about Panini, their retail products were really, really, good to collectors.

Price - 

Packs - 8
10/11 Pinnacle Packs

I can easily say that I always enjoy opening up Pinnacle. It's a rich product in that there are lots of fun inserts to find when opening up blasters of it. At the time of its release, it was just an 'ok' product to me. As time has gone on, I've really come to appreciate it - especially at the price point it is available at. There really isn't a much better deal if you're looking to open up a retail product and get a hit from it. Besides the hit, if you enjoy base cards and reading card backs, Pinnacle is a wonderful product for that.

Let's open up this little guy right now:

Review -
I've got to say that this was one of my favorite Retail Review breaks in a while. Sure, there wasn't a huge big money hit, but I felt that I got some awesome cards from this blaster. I actually had a tough time coming up with a top three this week as it really should be a top four! Aside from my top three, I got an Alexander Ovechkin Team Pinnacle card. You guys know I'm a big fan of Team Pinnacle inserts. This card would usually be in the two spot if I got a hit, but I felt that the other cards were just so strong I couldn't include it! This was a fantastic break.

These were the top three from this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Gilbert Perreault Card No. 18
The Pantheon insert is just something I don't see very often. I have a feeling that the insertion ratios for this particular type of card is on the difficult side. The card looks really cool and has a strong, bold look about it.

#2 - Alex Ovechkin Card No. 7
Double the Nufex for Ovi in this blaster! It was a toss up on this card or the Team Pinnacle to be here in the second spot. I chose this card because the chances of getting this card out of all the other base parallels is pretty low. Just a side note, it's funny how this card is no. 7.

#1 - Ryan Malone Card No. 11
Ryan Malone isn't as big of a name as Ovi or Perreault, but this was my only hit in the blaster - and of course it's serial numbered too! I love getting hits, so this card gets an automatic placement in my top spot this week.

Overall Value -
Overall this was a really awesome break that I really enjoyed from the very first pack onward. I'd recommend Pinnacle to every collector out there. If you happen to see some Pinnacle at a decent price I'd pick it up given the chance. I really wish the brand was still around to give collectors a nice product on the shelves at retail stores.

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, September 4, 2016

Retail Review #220 (12/13 Panini Certified)

I am desperately hoping to find a hit in a blaster at this point! Last week I opened up a blaster of 10/11 Certified and did not get a hit. This blaster guarantees a hit, so I'm hoping that it will have what it promises. 12/13 isn't as nice as 10//11 Certified, but if this gives me a hit I'll be completely happy with it!

Price - 

Packs - 3
12/13 Certified Hockey

For its current price, I think Certified blasters are a great deal. They are affordable, fun to open, and of course, should net you a hit. Panini's Certified brand was one of their most rock solid offerings that delivered a great opening experience. It's mix of premium foil base cards, colorful parallels, and varied hits was a perfect blend that anyone in the hobby could enjoy.

Originally these blasters were $30. I have to admit that is a bit steep. But prices have plunged and the price of the blaster is about the same price as one pack used to be. The great thing is that these blasters guarantee you a hit, and that's not something you can say about getting a pack from a hobby box.

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

Review -
Three more thin looking packs! It made me a bit nervous at first seeing that because last week's unopened packs looked much the same. Thankfully, an autographed card came out of this blaster... albeit in the third and final pack. The player I got isn't one to jump up and down over, but at this point I'm just happy that this blaster delivered on what it was supposed to have!

Here's the top three cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Logan Couture Card No. 39
I've got to put my PC guy in the top three, you knew I would! The awesome thing about this card is its number. It's card number 39 in the set, the same as Logan's jersey. I'm pretty sure that this was on purpose on Panini's part as they do that on occasion, Upper Deck too.

#2 - Rick Nash Card No. 61
I'm not a huge fan of Rick Nash, but he has been a very good hockey player for many years. This Mirror Red card is extremely good looking, especially in person. The red holo foil Panini uses really makes this card pop. It's also nice that the card has serial numbering on it.

#1 - Mark Stone Card No. 155
My top card from the brea is of course my autographed hit of Mark Stone. It's a sticker autograph, and the card doesn't have the best design, but I'll take it!

Overall Value -
Certified is a brand I can definitely recommend at the retail level. You may have an anomaly like the blaster I opened last week, but over all it is a product you can pretty much rely on if you're looking for a good break. I'll definitely be getting more of Certified to open on Retail Review in the future.

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: