Sunday, May 28, 2017

Retail Review #258 (13/14 Score)

It has been a long while since I've opened up a blaster of 13/14 Score. It's just not a brand that I typically go for. Score is a lower end product that gives collectors a large amount of cards, the chance of finding a hit are extremely slim. That being said, the cards are enjoyable and affordable for every level of collector.

Price - 

Packs - 11
13/14 Score Packs

I was a bit surprised to see the $19.99 suggested retail price printed on the side of the blaster box. Twenty dollars is quite a bit for Score. There were years when Score had a printed value of about half of that! It must have been a shock to Score retail purchasers to see the price go up so much in 2013. But at least buyers did get 40% more cards according to the box. Hmm... 40% more cards for 50% more price. I'm not sure how well that adds up!

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

Review -
Taking a look at the cards, I remember now that Score did up their game when it came to the quality of this particular year's offering. The cards are glossier with nice foil elements. The photo quality of the cards is also better with a very distinct picture style. I guess that is what makes this year's price higher besides the amount of cards you get in a box.

I guess I can see that from Panini's perspective. They do give collectors a product that is better... but I'm not sure if it is worth it to collectors collecting at this lower end of the card spectrum. If it were me, I'd be fine with the quality from previous years if the price were kept lower.

In terms of the cards themselves, I found that there were some interesting collation patters in the packs. For example, a Shark would show up as the third card in the pack on multiple occasions. I think if you open up enough of these you'll get a better feel of how these cards were packed in.

The following three were my favorite of the bunch:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Vanek/Ennis/Miller/Ott Card No. 553
Only Ennis on this card remains on the Sabres! I picked this card because I think the design of the Team Leaders was nice this particular year. This version is the gold bordered version that came one per pack.

#2 - James Reimer Card No. NC-8
This is a great action shot of James Reimer in net. The net cam cards can be a mess sometimes, but this is one of the better ones that I've seen. 

#1 - Filip Forsberg Card No. 630
Forsberg was one of the best rookies to come out of the double rookie class year. It was nice to find his Hot Rookie RC here in this blaster.

Overall Value -
Score is what it is. Nowadays you can find this 13/14 version for a good bargain - much better than its stated asking price on the box. This particular year's Score is a good buy because of the quality of the cards. I think most people, myself included, have forgotten that Panini put a good deal more effort into making these cards better. If you are looking to pick up some Score, this year is not a bad one to opt for!

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, May 21, 2017

Retail Review #257 (10/11 Panini Zenith)

The thing that I really like about Zenith is that a hit is guaranteed to be a blaster. The only bad thing about that is that there really weren't too many quality hits to be found in Zenith. It was probably one of Panini's strangest releases when it came onto the hockey scene back in 2010. I've always had mixed feelings towards Zenith, but let's take a look into a blaster box of it today and see what comes out!

Price - 

Packs - 3
10/11 Zenith Blaster Packs

You've probably seen me open up blasters of Zenith on Retail Review before. This will be a quick break with only three packs to see. I'm not even sure why they put packs in these. If you've ever spent money on one of these you'll know that of the three packs one will have a hit. Usually one is all base and the other has an insert in it. Unless there is something terribly wrong with their collation this will be the case. Opening up the packs won't really get you any surprises. In reality, Panini could have just put all the cards in one pack or even in just a plastic case or something. My guess is that for the price point it works out to about ten bucks per pack. It's better to say that a blaster box has three packs rather than just one.

Let's open up this predictable break and see what type of hit I get:

Review -
Obviously the thick pack was my hit. Sometimes there's three thin packs... which means an autographed card or a blaster that is shorted. Often times the jersey card is a Winter Warriors card, but not this time!

As I predicted, one pack had a hit, one an insert, and the other was all base save for a retired player card of Darren Pang. The one surprise that I got was an extra parallel card to go along with my hit. I thought that was a nice little extra for me in this break.

Here were the top three cards from the blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Rick DiPietro Card No. 88
This was my extra insert card - a Red Hot foil parallel card of Rick DiPietro. I'm no fan of DiPietro's, but I like that he has pink pads on. It goes well with the red foil of this card.

#2 - Malone/Hedman/Stamkos Card No. 17
These foil Mosaics insert cards look very nice in person. I love the textured foil look where the Tampa Bay logos are. These cards come in jersey and non-jersey versions. I think I would have preferred this one to have the jerseys rather than the one I got.

#1 - Clutterbuck/Koivu/Backstrom Card No. 11
If you put three players on a card, there should be memorabilia for each! It's so weird that this card only has a jersey piece for Cal Clutterbuck. That ain't right! This card still gets top spot because it's my only hit.

Overall Value -
At around 10 dollars Zenith isn't a break that will break the bank. I really like the fact that you get hits in every blaster... but the quality of the hits tend to be lesser rather than greater. I still have a lot of fun opening up this product for some reason though. It certainly has grown on my a little even though it has absolutely no reason to.

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, May 17, 2017

2016-2017 Upper Deck SP Authentic Review

After a few weeks without a new product out, Upper Deck releases SP Authentic! SPA is a collector favorite and a product that I have really been looking forward to. It's moderate price point coupled with excellent cards and on-card autographs make it superb selection for any collector. I'm not sure why I think this is such a big deal... but I love the fact that the box is back to its three stack configuration!

Base Card Design -
SP Authentic cards have always been on a white backdrop enhanced with graphics in the back. And guess what... Upper Deck has kept it the same. But there's good reason to as the cards look extremely sharp and attractive. These cards are of high quality with a design that is fresh and modern. I absolutely love the look this year as these cards proudly carry on the tradition of what SP Authentic is all about. The base cards subtly highlight each player's team with the team's colors in the backing graphic. The foiling is minimal, but adds a premium quality to the card. Sadly, base cards are always thrown to the wayside nowadays, but I would plead with collectors to enjoy these beauties!

The back of the SPA base cards are equally as nicely done as the front. Rather than having something plain, these cards continue on the sweet graphics used on the front. This time, however, they have been smartly utilized around the smaller player photo. This little design element shows a deft hand at creating a back that has some thought put into it. It's also good to see that each player in the set has a little write up for collectors to read. Like I said before, there is much to enjoy about these cards.

The Authentic Moments subset has been around for a few years now and adds a splash of color to this mostly uniform set. Though the cards are designed nicely, I feel that these cards don't fit the overall SP Authentic theme. These cards look like they would belong more in Upper Deck's Series One or Two flagship collection. Perhaps some collectors would enjoy these, I just don't as much.

The signature rookie set for SPA are the Future Watch cards. This beloved set is the staple of the product. This year's FW design does not disappoint. The elements of the card come together very nicely. There is not a lot of dead space on the card - it's just balanced so nicely! This year's look has to be one of my favorite for SPA in a few years. Future Watch cards come in autographed and non-autographed forms. Most of the big name rookies will be autographed.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Boxes of SP Authentic come with 18 packs, and every pack has something to look forward to. Collectors can hit big with an on-card autograph or pull an update card to the main Upper Deck set. Each box guarantees at least two autographed card to find.

Above is a Spectrum card of Mitch Marner. It's basically a parallel to the main set. Interestingly, these Spectrum cards have a scratch off component on the back. If you collect an entire set of these you can scratch them all off to get a Bounty Award card. The first 50 people with a complete Spectrum set also receive a gold version of the set as well. It's an interesting way to make these cards interactive. I'm not sure I have the patience or the money to complete a set for myself... but I'm sure there will be those to go for it!

Silver Skates are inserts cards named after one of Upper Deck's best insert sets of the 90's. These cards are a nice way to get more star and rookie content into packs of SPA. These cards don't really have much going for them to keep me interested. I wish there was a die-cut or some design element that made these stand out. As they are, they just add some filler to the overall SPA product line. Thankfully better variations of these cards exist with autographs and limited numbering.

Looking to finish that Upper Deck set? Well, here's your chance! SP Authentic packs have updates to Series One and Two. I'm not sure what to call this... Series Three??? Anyways, these cards add a final chapter to the main Upper Deck line. You'll get standard updated base, season highlights, and new Young Gun rookie cards!

Each box of SPA is guaranteed to have at least 2 autographs (down from three in previous years). The autograph besides the Future Watch auto was this Sign of the Times card of Matt Murray. Sign of the Times is a classic SPA autographed card. The set of Sign of the TImes isn't as large as it once was, but the design featuring a nice large autograph is still there. I really like the large bold autograph on this card.

With only two guaranteed autographs per box, you'd have to buy many boxes in order to see the range of different hit content there is to find in SPA. Just as always, there is a huge amount of spectacular content in SPA... it's just hard to get!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
SPA is a great product that all collectors can drool over. The cards look great and the on-card autographs are icing on the cake. Most collectors can get on-board with what SPA has to bring to the table.

The only qualm I have with this set is the drop from three autographed cards to just two. For collectors who buy by the box, getting one less autographed card for a little less money per box isn't the best thing. It would have been awesome if there were still three autographs per box. I can see a lot of collectors not liking this.

That being said, SPA does have a lot of cool things to offer. I really wonder how this bounty program with the Spectrum inserts will work out. Hopefully it does catch on and creates a type of card that is very popular (and valuable) for collectors.

Overall Score:

Check out my box of SPA:

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Retail Review #256 (11/12 Upper Deck Black Diamond)

This morning I'm going to try a blaster box of the dreaded Black Diamond. I often hesitate to buy this product, but to keep things interesting on Retail Review I usually pick one up when I make a big order of retail products. My hope is that one day I will actually pull something good out of a box of it.

Price - 

Packs - 6
11/12 Upper Deck Black Diamond Blaster Packs

Black Diamond is now a super premium product, but back in 2011 it was semi-similar to Upper Deck Series 1 and 2. I'd say it was a little above it in terms of Upper Deck's hierarchy of products, but not higher in terms of collector interest and love. Black Diamond contains single, double, triple, and quad diamond cards. This tiered system of rarity was very popular when Black Diamond first hit the scene, but now getting a nice quad diamond card isn't too exciting. I'm not sure what I'm hoping to get in this blaster box. I guess it would be a hit, but that's a tough call as hits are very hard to come by in this product at the retail level.

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

Review -
Surprise, surprise! It was actually pretty awesome to pull a hit out of this blaster box. Hitting a memorabilia card out of Black Diamond is so tough! I was very happy to get one out of this box. The rest of the cards were decent as well. Besides the hit I was able to get a double diamond of Vincent Lecavalier, a triple of Brad Marchand, as well as a triple diamond rookie card. All in all this was a good break for Black Diamond. My single diamond pull of Ryane Clowe was something I considered for my top three, but he just narrowly misses it.

Here were the top three cards this week:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Wayne Gretzky Card No. 1
The Great One is just a single diamond... but I think this year Upper Deck chose to put the biggest names as the easiest pulls. Pulling Gretzky cards is always a good thing for a hockey card collector.

#2 - David Rundblad Card No. 188
The only Rookie Gem I got was this David Rundblad triple diamond. The Rookie Gem cards are nice looking. It's just too bad that they are not as popular as Young Guns are.

#1 - Zdeno Chara Card No. BOS-ZC
It was really awesome being able to pull this double jersey of Zdeno Chara. I think you got 2 of these per hobby box, but in retail they were hardly seen. Chara is a very good hockey player and it was nice to find him today.

Overall Value -
I have to say that I got pretty lucky with this blaster of Black Diamond. You really don't get a jersey hit in those very often. I can say that this blaster was worth it as not only did I get the dual jersey, but some other nice cards to enjoy as well. This blaster doesn't make me change my mind about getting Black Diamond blasters, but it does give me hope that not all of them are duds. There can be good ones out there!

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

Overall Value Score:

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

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Retail Review #255 (14/15 OPC Platinum)

Last week I opened up a blaster of 14/15 OPC. This week I'm 'upgrading' to the platinum version. These blasters are very different than the standard ones. These cards are heavily foiled, even more so than the foil rainbow parallels in the regular set... and you get way less cards in a box. I personally enjoy the regular OPC set better, but I'm sure there are those who may prefer these cards.

Price - 

Packs - 6
14/15 OPC Platinum Packs

OPC and OPC Platinum really have nothing alike other than the basic look of the base cards. They are entirely different sets for different types of collectors. Where the standard OPC set was meant for more fun, Platinum goes for a more serious crowd - though I don't know how effective it is in doing so.

Platinum draws off the popularity of Topps Chrome, which made a foiled version of the standard Topps set. These cards were much more expensive and in a shorter print run. That set was very popular with collectors at the time looking for cards of higher quality and rarity. Nowadays cards like this are a dime a dozen. The only thing worth looking for here are autographs and extremely rare parallel cards. And in blasters, both are hard to find.

Let's see if anything good comes out of this blaster box of OPC Platinum:


Review -
I wouldn't go as far as to say this blaster was really good, but it did contain some cards that I found interesting. When buying OPC Platinum, you're really looking for the special variants of the set. It was cool that in this blaster I was able to get a nice selection of different parallel cards - and one was even serial numbered. I just wish the names I pulled had a bit more star power behind them.

In terms of the regular cards, I was happy to get a good selection of rookies and veterans. The rookie cards are actually pretty plentiful in the set. The 'RC' logo is a little small and in a corner so it might be missed if you're not looking closely for it. Aside from the rookie cards, my best player out of this blaster was Alex Ovechkin. Getting an Ovi card may not be as exciting as it was a couple years back, but he's still a big name in the hobby.

These were my top three selections this week:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Calle Jarnkrok Card No. 94
I picked this card as a top three candidate because I don't remember ever pulling a red retro foil card before. I very may well have, but as of today I don't recall. I think the red makes this card pop and stand out from the rest.

#2 - Barclay Goodrow Card No. 172
I've got to include Goodrow here because of his affiliation with my beloved Sharks! This card isn't worth much at all, but I still get excited when the parallel cards I pull out are from the team in teal.

#1 - Vincent Trocheck Card No. 155`
My top pick out of the blaster was this serial numbered cracked ice looking parallel rookie card of Vincent Trocheck. It was my favorite looking card that I pulled as the white foil really works for hockey cards.

Overall Value -
This was a decent blaster for picking up some interesting parallel cards, but that's about it. Like I said at the beginning of this post, if I had to choose between this and the standard OPC, I'd go with the standard. If you're a big fan of  foil though, this set does have some nice things to find at a decent price now.

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!