Sunday, February 26, 2017

Retail Review #245 (11/12 Panini Certified)

You guys know how much I enjoy opening up blasters of Certified. There is just so much bang for the buck in these things. They are one of the best deals around now in terms of retail products. Each blaster should come with a hit. It's usually a jersey card, but getting an auto or patch is not out of the question!

Price - 

Packs - 3
11/12 Panini Certified

This blaster is about ten bucks... ten bucks! That is an awesome deal for getting a guaranteed hit. Many Upper Deck retail blasters in the same range like Artifacts and Series One or Two do not have a jersey or autograph in it. I think getting a hit is extremely appealing, so this is just perfect for collectors looking to get a little something for not too much money.

Other than looking forward to the hits are the sweet looking base cards. Though these aren't as nice as the inaugural release, I still think these cards are great looking. They are all foil and very shiny. These are definitely a step above standard cards.

I'm going to open up this blaster and see what I get:

Review -
I was pretty sure that I was going to get a jersey card, but as it turned out, the 'bigger' pack in the blaster was just filled up with a little more air than the others. My hit came out of my very first pack.It was a little bit of a surprise, but I liked that my hit was an autograph. For a minute there I thought there might be a jersey card in the blaster as well... but that wasn't the case. Too bad!

These are my top picks from this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Alex Ovechkin Card No. 34
Ovi is a great player getting more and more milestones as he continues his stellar career. It was cool to get his base card in my three packs. He was probably the top player in the little stack that I got out of the blaster.

#2 - Joe Nieuwendyk Card No. 170
Immortals are sweet cards and the one that I got was a parallel version - a Mirror Red variation. The black and white look with the red highlights and background foil come together in a great way.

#1 - Matt Frattin Card No. 179
Yay! An autograph. I love getting autographs - no matter if it's retail or hobby. This Matt Frattin card is especially cool because the autograph is on-card and not a sticker.

Overall Value -
I have gotten a few nice autographs out of 11/12 Certified. Maybe the frequency of them is a little higher in these than in other years of Certified. My advice to you is to pick some of this up if y ou can find it for the great price of ten dollars. It's well worth it in my opinion!

Let me know what you thought of my 11/12 Panini Certified blaster box down in the comments below. Have you ever gotten anything good from a Certified blaster? I'd love to know!

Overall Value Score:

Every Sunday look out for another exciting installment of Retail Review!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

2016-2017 Upper Deck SPx Review

Upper Deck continues to change their product line formats with SPx. SPx has become a 4-pack box with one autograph and one memorabilia card per box ON AVERAGE. Sadly, my box was not average and I didn't get an autograph. Well, at least the base cards are high quality.

Base Card Design -
It's been easy to give a review of the 16/17 SPx base cards as I received plenty of them in my box of SPx. Each base card is numbered to 149 and come on very thick, Cup-like, card stock. These SPx base card remind me a little bit of the SPx of old where Upper Deck had SPx being the brand to show off fancy card technology. The base cards look very nice with a primarily white, holofoil look with tasteful touches of gold foil. The player image is to the left with a team logo to the right. These cards are certainly high quality and may be some of the best base cards ever... I just wish I didn't get three in one box!

The back of the base cards are very clean. Upper Deck has chosen to go with less stats, there's just one line. But at least each card has a nice little write-up to read. Typically higher-end cards don't have a little paragraph, so this is a nice addition for this set.

Interestingly, rookie cards are in a shadowbox format with numbering to 249 (higher than the standard base)! It would have been nice to check one out in person... but did I mention I got three base cards in this box? Yeah, so no shadowbox rookie for me to review.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Usually when a box says look for a certain amount of hits/inserts per box, that's what you can expect to find. Sadly, I didn't get the stated amount of goodies. I'll try and contact Upper Deck about the situation, but in small print the words 'on average' are there, so that may give Upper Deck an out to get any hits that I may have missed. We'll see what they do!

If you're only going to get one hit out of the box, it might as well be rookie sensation Patrik Laine. This is a rookie material jersey card numbered to 235 - again - higher numbered than the standard base! It's design is primarily red and is similar to the base card. The long jersey piece is in the spot where the team logo was. As with just about all the rookie cards material cards from this year, the jersey piece is event used.

There are many autographs and memorabilia cards to find in SPx, but sadly I didn't get much in my box. There are exciting things to see in SPx, I just wish there was more for me to share!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:
(This box of SPx doesn't receive a score as I feel it was an anomaly. Satisfaction from this box would be a 2/10. If I had to guess at a typical score from what I've seen of breaks online, I'd say 8/10 as many of the boxes delivered at least 3 hits per)

Overall Value -
Upper Deck is trying to make higher-end cards more accessible through a new format of delivering the product. I think it's a good idea as many collectors would enjoy getting nicer cards at a little bit of a nicer price.

That being said, for about $100 you will typically get 2-3 hits with one being an autograph - but only getting 4 total cards in the break. Are you ok with just 4 cards per box? I personally am, but there may be some with an issue with that. You'll just have to make that call yourself.

I was very ready to love SPx as the cards have all the bells and whistles a high-end product should have. My personal box break left me very disappointed with the product. But this does give Upper Deck a chance to make it up to me! We'll see how their customer support works out!

Overall Value:

Watch as three base cards come out of my box of 16/17 SPx:

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Retail Review #244 (15/16 Upper Deck Series Two)

This morning I'm opening up a blaster of 15/16 Upper Deck Series Two. Earlier this week I had the chance to open up a hobby box of the current Series Two, so this seemed like a nice pairing. Upper Deck blasters are always a good buy as they are filled with sweet looking cards from the NHL season.

Price - 

Packs - 12
15/16 UD Series Two Blaster Packs

Initially I thought I was opening up a blaster of Series One. I'm not sure why I thought that! But anyways, this was indeed a blaster of Series Two. Series Two should contain more inserts than its Series One counterpart. Upper Deck's inclusion of update cards has always made Series Two a little more interesting than the first. I always look forward to breaking Upper Deck blasters because they give out a good amount of content per blaster. With 12 packs to open, it's a solid break that is satisfying.

Let's crack this blaster open and see what I get:

Review -
I was really hoping to get more out of this blaster box. Out of the 12 packs, just 5 had either an insert, update card, or Young Gun. Of my inserts, I didn't really get any big names that I would enjoy getting. My biggest named player came as a base card. I think what was most disappointing was the lack of update cards. In my break of 16/17 Series Two earlier this week, I got quite a few updates. This blaster box only contained one. Well, they all can't be winners I guess!

Here were my top cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Hunter Shinkaruk Card No. P-79
It was a struggle to pick the top three this week. None of the cards I got were really that exciting. I chose this Rookie Portrait insert as my third because I do like this insert set. In 15/16 these cards stand out with their bright white borders.

#2 - Chris Wideman Card No. 460
Neither Young Gun was particularly great, so I just chose one to go in the top three. I went with Wideman. Young Guns are one of the primary reasons to get Upper Deck blasters. It's great when you hit a big one, but getting lesser Young Guns isn't too exciting.

#1 - Sidney Crosby Card No. 398
I went with Sid-the-kid because he's always a great pull... and this is a very nice photo of him. I was a little disappointed with 16/17 Series Two photos, so this was a nice reminder of the quality of photos Upper Deck should have in their main line product.

Overall Value -
Though this blaster was pretty ho-hum, I'd still recommend Upper Deck blaster boxes to anybody looking for a nice box breaking experience. You don't get a guaranteed hit or anything, but for anyone new to collecting cards, you do get a substantial amount of good looking cards to enjoy. And that might be good enough for a new collector.

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!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

2016-2017 Upper Deck Series Two Review

It's always fun when Upper Deck releases the second series of their mainline product. Collectors get to pursue new Young Guns, and previous sets get updated cards. Though much of the cards are similar to the first series, Upper Deck does throw in new things for collectors to find. Depending on the rookie crop, one of the two series is usually the preferred during any given year. So far this year, there are compelling rookies to be found in both series! It'll be interesting to see if that holds up over time.

Base Card Design -
I won't go into too much detail about the basic set of Series Two as the cards are identical to that of the first. I will say, though, that looking through the cards I saw mostly just on-ice action photos. Gone were the more unique takes on the NHL season that I have seen in the past. I'm not sure why this is. Usually Upper Deck is the gold standard when it comes to photography. It's not that the pictures are bad, they are quite nice action photos... but I didn't find myself really being compelled by them. In my original score, I gave the base set a 9 out of 10. For this set, I'm knocking it down by a half point because of what I noticed in the photography on the cards.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Just like in Series One, collectors will get 24 packs per hobby box of Series Two. It makes for a nice substantial break. Series Two usually has more to find inside packs as old sets are updated. In this case, collectors will find updates to the O-Pee-Chee set here. There should be all sorts of OPC goodness such as rookies, retros, and rainbows to dig up.

Quite a few of the packs in the box had OPC updates. In the box I opened I was able to pull standard OPC updates as well as one foil and some retro cards. It was especially nice to find this Mitch Marner along with his true Young Gun as well. This box was certainly nice to me with finding a couple of sweet Marners within it.

As with Series One, you can find the venerable UD Canvas set within the packs. Just as with the base set, I feel that these cards have a bit less flair to them than they should. I mentioned in my previous review of 16/17 Upper Deck that I felt these cards were a bit pedestrian. And I still get that same feeling as I pull them out of this second series.

Rookie Breakouts are a exclusive to Series Two, but have been a mainstay insert within the Upper Deck series. These cards are very nice looking with a cracked acetate look and beautiful foiling. The look of these inserts are phenomenal. Each one of these are limited to just 100 each. This is probably my favorite looking card out of this set.

As for hits, UD Game Jersey cards once again can be found. These are enjoyable cards and is a nice little pack in for Series Two. I didn't get one, but Rookie Material cards are another jersey insert that can be found in these packs. It's really a toss up to which one you'll find in a box. I do like, however, that the UD Game jersey card features game-worn material whereas the Rookie Material cards are most likely from a photoshoot.

Series Two also continues the Upper Deck Portrait inserts as well as UD Signatures. Getting an autograph out of Series One or Two is a pretty tough proposition. They are usually case hits. In terms of getting bonus content, I like that Series Two ups the ante just a little bit. Its score gets a half point boost in comparison to Series One.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
This year's Series Two seems to be a pretty strong overall product with a nice selection of Young Guns to be found. Rookies from Series One can also be found in the form of OPC update cards, so pulling out some of the top rookies from the year is definitely possible. As it always is, Series Two is a must buy if you're trying to build a set of Upper Deck. Series Two really is a great addition to the first set and completes the season in a nice way.

It's not hard to recommend buying Upper Deck Series Two. For the price, you can get some very nice cards and rookies. Buying Series Two is good in all of its forms - pack/blaster/box/case. I'm sure if you're into hockey cards, you've already gotten some or are planning on getting your hands on some soon.

Overall Score:

Check out my box of Upper Deck Series Two:

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Retail Review #243 (10/11 Panini Certified)

I've been under the weather this week so I wanted to keep this Retail Review on the shorter side. The perfect quick break for me has always been Panini Certified. There are only three packs per blaster and a hit is pretty much guaranteed. It's a great little package for any collector to open up.

Price - 

Packs - 3
10/11 Certified Packs

I've always loved this year's Certified product. It was phenomenal when it came out and still holds up very well today. The cards feel as if great care has gone into producing them and the hit structure within the product is top notch. 10/11 Certified cemented itself right away as a stellar product and is still worth considering buying today. If you can get your hands on a blaster, I'd say go and get it!

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

Review -
Short and sweet. You could tell which pack had the hit in it. The pack was really taught and thicker than the others. You'll know you have a thin autographed hit if all the packs appear to be the same. It's cool that in Certified two of the three packs contain something. In my case today, it was awesome to get a very limited numbered card along with my hit. Though it was just a jersey card, I have pulled patches out before. You really can get anything in one of these!

See what made it to the top three cards this week:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Sidney Crosby Card No. 115
Still one of the best base cards to get! Sid-the-Kid is one of the best and well-known hockey players of today and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. It's always good to pull his cards!

#2 - Guy Lafleur Card No. 166
This is the gold version of Lafleur's Immortals card. The golds are limited to just 25 copies each and this particular card is the last one stamped... 25/25. I don't place a premium on that, but some people actually do.

#1 - Duncan Keith Card No. DUK
Fabric of the Game inserts are popular as they are a very comprehensive set of cards. It's cool to get a very good player from the set. This particular one is numbered to just 250.

Overall Value -
Just as I can count on Artifacts blasters being bad, I can count on a solid blaster of Certified each and every time. If I could, I'd just opened up one of these every week and enjoy the hits that come out of them! Certified is a great product and I can't wait to open up some more of it.

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, February 5, 2017

Retail Review #242 (13/14 Upper Deck Artifacts)

The last time I opened up one of these blasters I gave the overall break a 0.5/10. It was a terrible break with all but one card being base cards. This blaster surely has to be better than the last one I opened. I'm just trying to see when an Artifacts blaster will actually deliver anything. So far they have really missed the mark.

Price - 

Packs - 8
13/14 Artifacts Blaster Packs

There are eight packs per blaster of Artifacts. Unlike with a product like Upper Deck Series 1 and 2, there really isn't much to the product besides base cards and serial numbered cards. With a name like 'Artifacts', you'd think you'd find some treasure (ie. jersey or autos). That is not the case. I guess the product name is more about the way the cards look than the stuff you can find in blasters of it. Well... I guess finding real treasure is pretty hard... so if Upper Deck was making it a treasure simulation experience, they really nailed it.

I'll open up this box and see what comes out of it:

Review -
Really? All the cards but one were base. I guess I shouldn't be surprised though. This is what Artifacts always gives you when you open up a blaster box. It's terrible! At least in a product like Series 1 or 2 or even MVP, you can look forward to parallels and inserts. This product gives you pretty much just a stack of boring base cards. At the end of this break I had a stack of base cards that just didn't satisfy. I would be very mad if I had gotten this blaster for twenty bucks... I'm actually pretty mad about it anyways.

Here's a top three (I guess):

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Dale Hawerchuk Card No. 17
You can tell I'm really stretching this week for a top three cards of the break. Why did I choose Hawerchuk? I mean, he was a great player and all... but I just think the old Jets uni was a stand out.

#2 - Claude Lemieux Card No. 14
I'm going with an oldie but a goodie for card number two. Claude Lemieux was an excellent hockey player back in the day, and I just wanted to continue the retired player theme in this top three.

#1 - Matt Read Card No. 58
Matt Read breaks the retired player cards because it has serial numbering . This card is absolutely not exciting at all to pull, but I just put it here because it was sadly the top level card in the break.

Overall Value -
This blaster of Artifacts was terrible at no matter what the price - it would even have been bad for free! The last blaster got 0.5/10. I'm seriously going to score this blaster even lower than that one. Yuck! Artifacts is terrible!

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!