Sunday, April 30, 2017

Retail Review #254 (14/15 O-Pee-Chee)

One of my favorite products to break in the early collecting season is O-Pee-Chee. These cards look really cool, and the product gives collectors a good number of fun insert cards in every blaster. It's definitely a throw-back sort of product. The cards are actually on old cardboard stock - which is a a rarity nowadays!

Price - 

Packs - 14
O-Pee-Chee Blaster Packs

Being an early release in the product cycle, OPC generally doesn't have the big rookie card draw as later sets in the season have. I do, however, remember this year as a year that could contain some good rookie names. I'll just have to see if anyone good comes out. It really depends if the rookie holdovers from the previous year were any good. Each year there are rookies that skate in an NHL too late for card companies to give them cards. These players usually get cards the following year.

I don't think I'm going to find a hit in this blaster. I'm mainly looking forward to seeing all of the inserts and parallel cards in the box. It's possible to find anything from foil parallels to sticker cards. Usually the designs used are a lot of fun and remind me of a more innocent time in collecting.

Let's tear off the plastic wrap and see what's inside this blaster box:

Review -
I really love how many packs you get to break when opening up a blaster of OPC. There are 14 packs per blaster. If you love the feeling of ripping open packs then OPC is product for you! It gives you a great experience that lasts a bit longer than the standard break. Upper Deck Series 1 and 2 come close, but OPC takes the cake I think in terms of most packs within a blaster box.

Just as I thought, there wasn't a hit in this blaster, but I did get a lot of colorful and fun cards to add to my collection. There are a ton of retro cards. You usually find one per pack. The set is very large, so collecting everything in it is a huge challenge.

In terms of getting good players, I definitely got cards I liked out of here. In fact, it surprised me a little when I pulled out a couple of rookies that were very popular during the 14/15 collecting season. I guess this year's OPC has some of the best rookies from that year.

These were my favorite cards out of this OPC break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Arturs Irbe Card No. 578
You guys know I love the Sharks (and am still sad they got bounced from the playoffs this year)! Arturs Irbe is one of my favorite former sharks for many, many reasons. I love that UD gave him some love. I especially like the old Sharks logo they used on this card.

#2 - Teuvo Teravainen Card No. 507
Teravainen is one of the top rookies from the 14/15 season. He was definitely on collectors want-lists and was a big draw. I have to admit I was surprised when I pulled his card out of the pack. I had forgotten he was an early rookie to be found that season.

#1 - Johnny Gaudreau Card No. 544
Here's another hot rookie from the 14/15 season! Actually, looking back at an old OPC break, I actually pulled this same card out - the retro Marquee Rookie of Johnny Gaudreau. Even though this is a double for me, I think it's an awesome card to find!

Overall Value -
The value in OPC really comes in the enjoyment of the cards and the attempt to collect the set. I think OPC is a great option for collectors just getting in to the hobby or for collectors trying for a pretty tough set building challenge. For about ten bucks nowadays, this year's OPC is a fun buy and something I'd definitely get again 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, April 23, 2017

Retail Review #253 (14/15 Fleer Ultra)

I opened up a hobby box of Fleer Showcase not too long ago. That product had insert cards from Fleer Ultra. Ultra was a set hockey collectors were very familiar with in the 90's and 2000's. In 2014, Upper Deck released a version of Fleer Ultra in hopes to resurrect the brand. It didn't really work. The product was pretty lackluster with a weak design and hardly any hits. Why buy this now? That's a good question.

Price - 

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

I really wanted Upper Deck to do a great job with Ultra. Having been such a long running brand, there was a lot of content for Upper Deck to use and employ. Sadly, they didn't do a good job of it and the release turned out to be a complete dud.

Thankfully, this blaster didn't cost me too much. There are a few cool looking inserts that are possible to find here. I guess if you're really lucky there is a very small chance of getting a hit. There's so much Upper Deck could have done here. It's a shame that this is how it turned out.

Let's cross the fingers and open up this blaster of Fleer Ultra:

Review -
Wow, just wow. Good thing this blaster was under $5 because it was filled with nothing to really write home about. The only things of note here were the two gold medallion parallel cards. But I didn't include them in the top three because the players didn't speak to me. I really had to scrap to find anything I even liked here.Thankfully there a few SJ Sharks cards in the mix. But that just reminds me of the team getting bounced from the playoffs last night. So overall not a good experience this time!

Is there really a top three?

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Tomas Hertl Card No. 155
I got for Sharks cards in this blaster box. The fourth was Antti Niemi, who isn't on the team anymore so I went with Hertl in the third spot. I wonder if he's already peaked. It'd be awfully hard to repeat his amazing goal scoring ability from his early seasons.

#2 - Marc-Edouard Vlasic Card No. 156
Vlasic has been solid for the Sharks for such a long time. It's too bad that defensemen aren't valued much in terms of the hobby. If they were, I'm sure Vlasic would have some increased value on the market.

#1 - Logan Couture Card No. 159
Of course I had to put Couture at the one spot. It was amazing that he even played in the playoff series against the Oilers with his horrific facial injury. It just shows how dedicated he is to the game.

Overall Value -
Though I did like getting a few Sharks cards int this blaster, this was a very terrible blaster. The gold parallels weren't good and there just wasn't anything exciting about this break at all. I wouldn't recommend 14/15 Ultra to anyone. The content is weak and the cards just aren't that great looking. You can pass on this and move along.

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, April 16, 2017

Retail Review #252 (11/12 Panini Pinnacle)

I know I've opened these blasters before, it's just it's been so long I've totally forgotten about them. 2010/11 Pinnacle has been a very popular break for me, so why can't 2011/12? I'm excited about this blaster because it straight up says that there is a guaranteed memorabilia or autographed card in the blaster. I can't wait to see what it is!

Price - 

Packs - 8
11/12 Pinnacle Packs

This blaster box design is a bit more subtle than the bold black and yellow packaging of the year before. Panini toned it down quite a bit, but it does still look very good. I think it gains a bit of class in the design approach for the box. I like the white scheme. It goes well with hockey and the yellow secondary colors still connect it to the Pinnacle brand.

Similarly to last year, collectors get a good number of cards in this break. I'm expecting not only a hit, but at least a few inserts and parallel cards as well. Pinnacle has always had a nice mixture of both. At under $12, this blaster was a great deal. I will have to pick up some more soon!

I'll go ahead and open this blaster to see what's inside:

Review -
This blaster was just as good of a break when compared to its release the year before. The first thing I noticed about the packs was that they were all relatively thick. Panini really jammed a whole bunch of cards into each pack. Though all the packs were thick, I could still tell which pack had the memorabilia card in it. That particular pack was bulgy and tight - as if one of the cards contained inside were thicker than the others.

The cards themselves are very nice - especially the photos. Panini did a great job with Pinnacle in this way. Also awesome were the inclusion of the Nufex foil cards. These foil cards don't just have a foil sheen, but a textured look that is very unique. I pulled two Nufex cards in the blaster as well as some other inserts.

These were my favorite three cards from the break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Toews/Kruger Card No. 2
Card companies like to put young newcomers with veterans, and this Foundation card is a good example of that. You have an established star like Jonathan Toews alongside Marcus Kruger. 

#2 - Dustin Byfuglien Card No. 7
This is my favorite looking card out of the break. The name of the card is difficult to make out, but I believe it says Revolution. This card reminds me of something out of the 90's. It's a fun look that I wish were done more today.

#1 - Jeff Carter Card No. 13
The hit out of the blaster was this Jeff Carter jersey card. I'm no Jeff Carter fan, but I am a fan of getting hits! So that was the number one card out of my break. Sadly, this card wasn't serial numbered like the jersey cards that were inserted in 10/11 Pinnacle.

Overall Value -
I'm just a big fan of Pinnacle at the retail level. It gives collectors great cards to look at, nice looking inserts and parallels, and it also gives out a hit! I certainly recommend it to anybody looking for a nice break at a good price. I'm going to try and open up another blaster of this real soon!

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, April 12, 2017

2016-2017 Upper Deck Ice Review

I am a big fan of Ice for a couple reasons. One, it's always a very slick, good looking set. Two, it contains rookie cards without an autograph or memorabilia on it that can still be worth A LOT if you are lucky enough to pull one. Ice is one of the most unique sets that Upper Deck produces and is a collector favorite. It was discontinued for a few years, but has returned to the delight of hockey collectors.

Base Card Design -
Ice base cards are all done on acetate. This has been the trend for the set these past few years. The cards are well done and the acetate design fits with hockey very well. The clear part of the card reminds collectors of the elemental nature of ice. The bottom half of the card has a white/blue design that further emphasizes this. Each card is also adorned with silver foil that highlights the Ice logo, Upper Deck logo, and player name. The player image is large and fills up a good portion of the card. Overall the Ice cards have a classy and clean look that collectors will enjoy.

As nice as the acetate looks for the frontal design of the base cards, it's always a problem of the back as it limits the space for Upper Deck to print on. All of the necessary information is located at the very bottom of the card. There is only one line of statistics that gives the previous seasons totals as well as a career total. And I'm not sure if it's just me, but I feel like the card numbers on the back look generic or out of place in a way.

The Ice Premier rookie cards are one of the biggest draws in Ice. Well... as long as you pull on numbered to 99. Those particular cards are worth their weight in gold! Getting those top tier rookie cards is pretty rare though. I have actually never pulled a 99 rookie myself. The rookie cards this year adds some foil to the borders of the card and has more of an ice look behind the player. These Ice Premiers don't stand out too much. In fact, they could be mistaken for base cards in my opinion. This year's design isn't on par with what they had been in the past. Of course that won't affect the values too much, but I would have liked a better looking card.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Boxes of Ice only contain six packs... and there are only 4 cards per pack, so you don't get a ton of cards here. The cards are of high quality, though, and you are guaranteed 1 hard-signed autograph and 1 memorabilia or Exquisite card per box. You can also expect 2 Ice Premier rookies as well.

I got two Sub Zero insert cards in my box of Ice. One was of legend Mark Messier, and the other was a Rookie Sub Zero card of Anthony Mantha. It was cool that Upper Deck put actual insert cards in the product to vary up the set a bit. Sometimes I feel as though inserts cards have gone the way of the dinosaur. These insert cards are nice in that the player image is large and the acetate as a rainbow look to it.

My box came with a memorabilia card rather than an Exquisite card. It's a small swatch jersey card in which the memorabilia piece came from a rookie photoshoot. It certainly isn't the best memorabilia card to get. It's actually one of the worst to get as Ice does contain some very nice patch cards. In terms of the card's look though, it's a nice looking card. I like the colors of the card, and the orange swatch definitely makes the card pop a little.

The best card of the box was the autographed card. It is a hard-signed Aaron Ekblad Glacial Graphs card. The Glacial Graph is very dark with a signature done in gold ink. That really made the autograph stand out quite a bit. The card is also numbered to only 25, so there aren't many copies of this card! My only complaint of this card is that the back of the card does show through to the front on the player image. That messes up the sweet look of it somewhat.

Thankfully, I got everything that was guaranteed in this box, unlike when I opened up a box of SPx earlier this year. There are some really awesome cards to be found in boxes of Ice. Most of those cards are pretty difficult pulls though. I'm sure you'll see those come up on the secondary market for a good chunk of change really soon.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
For about a hundred dollars you get a pretty nice stack of high quality, well-made, hockey cards. Ice is a great looking set with some real potential to pull something worth a high amount. I really enjoyed my break of Ice. If I had to pick a recent product to buy more of... it'd probably be this one. Ice does a good job with its cards and I think this set will be popular with collectors.

Getting 2 hits and 2 rookie cards per box is pretty good for the current state of the hobby. Unlike many other products out there, there is a chance to pull one of the best rookie cards of the top rookies in the game today.

I'd recommend Ice as it is both a good looking set and a set that you can find great cards. Upper Deck has a solid product here!

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of Ice:

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Retail Review #251 (93/94 Upper Deck Series Two Jumbo Box)

Every so often I like to take things back a bit, and today is one of those times! This box of jumbo packs is over 20 years old! Crazy! It's an old box of Upper Deck Series Two. I remember buying these packs when I was younger. This set was actually one of the sets that got me into hockey card collecting. It should be a really fun break!

Price - 

Packs -
93/94 Series 2 Jumbo Packs

Boy has the price of these packs gone down! I'm pretty sure these jumbos were around $5 a pop when they were new. Now they you can get the whole box for less than three packs back then. Inflation? Hah! Of course, they did print a zillion of these cards so no wonder they are so easy to find and so cheap to buy.

Each pack has 18 cards in it. Back then the set was very large, so getting a complete set was a challenge. There are no hits to be found in this box, but you can find inserts and subset cards. I used to LOVE the Silver Skate inserts. Are those even an option to pull out of a jumbo pack? I'm not sure, but we'll find out soon.

These cards are finally seeing the light of day in over two decades:

Review -
Like man old school retro breaks, this break took quite a bit longer than the usual blaster. When you bought a box of cards in the 90's, you had to be ready to sit down and sift through a lot of cardboard. Being so old, the gloss that was on these cards stuck together. It made going through these cards rather difficult. I just opened the packs as best I could and saved the tedious job of pulling them apart for later.

I was pleasantly surprised that I got 2 Upper Deck SP cards per jumbo pack. This was a set of cards that I adored. It's still one of my all-time favorite sets. They are colorful with beautiful photos. To this day Upper Deck still releases cards based on this design.

The Wold Junior Championship cards brought a little something different to the table. I enjoyed their full bleed look, it's just too bad not too many of them were very good.

Sadly, there was no Silver Skate insert card in this box. I would have loved to get one, but I'm ok with not receiving one, maybe they just weren't packed into the jumbos.

Here are my top three cards out of this old Upper Deck box:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Jeff Friesen Card No. 532
I guess I have a thing for Sharks players with the number 39. Jeff Friesen was a Shark with that number and so is Logan Couture. I had a little collection of Friesen cards as a kid. It's funny to see this card out of the box today and be reminded of him.

#2 - Alexander Mogilny Card No. 488
Alexander Mogilny was a favorite player of mine because of his amazing ability on the old NHL '93 video game for the Sega Genesis. I loved playing with the Sabres and he was one of the best players in the game.

#1 - Patrick Roy Card No. 81
One of the best goalies of all-time on a great looking card. This was always one of my favorite cards from the SP set. I had a few of these as a kid. It's funny to get to pull this card again so many years later.

Overall Value -
For just under $11 you get a nice trip down memory lane. The cards from this era still look very good. It's just too bad they didn't have hits back then. I would say the designs rival that of cards today. The simplicity and elegance of the cards cannot be denied. A modern collector might not fully appreciate this break, but I certainly did. It was a lot of fun and was glad to see this set once again.

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, April 2, 2017

Retail Review #250 (2014 Goodwin Champions)

I did pretty well with my last blaster of Goodwin Champions so I'm encouraged as I give another box a try. My last blaster had a jersey card of Igor Larionov in it. I was really excited to get that! Chances are I won't be so lucky again, but let's give it a go anyways!

Price - 

Packs - 12
Goodwin Champions Blaster Packs

I'm always hopeful when I break a blaster of Goodwin Champions because the kind of inserts and hits you can find can be very, very good. Goodwin has cards from just about every sport - including hockey - so it's a fun buy. I tend to focus the money I have in hockey, I don't often get a chance to open packs with players from other sports. Goodwin gives me that opportunity while still having hockey players in it.

As a bonus to all of this, Goodwin cards look really great to me. I love the artistic renditions of the players depicted on the cards. I find the pictures to be unique takes on the player's personality. It's just a lot of fun to go through a blaster of Goodwin Champions. If you haven't gotten one before, I'd definitely recommend it.

Let's break this blaster open and find out what's inside:

Review -
This blaster was a ton of fun to break. I loved looking at all the cards. With 12 packs per blaster, there was plenty to see. In the blaster I got quite a few mini cards. Some years give you 6 minis per blaster but this one guarantees you 10. I counted only 9 minis in this box, but I did get a hit so I'm not too worried about it.

As you could see in the break there was a wide variety of different sports as well as history portrayed on the cards. I find it really fun to read about people who I don't know too much about or who I've never heard of before. It definitely widens my perspective on the greater sports world.

Here were my favorite three cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Bobby Hull Card No. 12
I just really like this card because it shows Bobby Hull with all his missing front teeth. This is such a normal thing for a gritty old school hockey player like Bobby Hull. 

#2 - Bobby Clarke Card No. 111
I got a bunch of mini cards but I really liked this one of Bobby Clarke. Like Bobby Hull, Clarke is an NHL legend, and it's always fun for me to get cool cards of NHL greats.

#1 - Earl Campbell Card No. M-EC
My hit this time wasn't of a hockey player, but I'm still very glad to pull it. Earl Campbell is a retired star from football. I've heard of Earl Campbell before and have seen people pull his cards. This is my first nice pull of his and it makes me want to check out his accomplishments on the field.

Overall Value -
For under ten bucks this was a stellar value. It was awesome to get a whole bunch of mini cards and even more awesome to pull a hit of a great player. I would say not to overlook Goodwin Champions when you see it at the store (retail or hobby). It's a great set of cards and worth your time to check out. Get some of it if you see it for a good deal!

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!