Wednesday, September 27, 2017

2017-2018 Upper Deck Artifacts Review

Upper Deck steps up its 17/18 product line-up with the release of Artifacts. Long a hobby favorite, Artifacts has a little bit of something for everyone. Collectors can find jerseys, tags, patches, autographs, and parallel cards galore in this product. It's always a fun and enjoyable break, but has been watered down in recent years as Upper Deck has guaranteed less hits per box.

Base Card Design -
Artifacts really knows its own image. The base cards this year fit in perfectly with the long line of Artifacts base that have come before it. The base cards are elegant looking with the perfect amount of foil to make the card pop. Everything about the base card is clean and cool. Artifacts has always been able to provide collectors with a premium looking base set, and I'm glad the tradition continues with this release.

Like the fronts, the back of the Artifacts base has had attention paid to it. The back design matches perfectly with the front of the card. It's always great to see some art in the background as it makes the card have a textured look. All the needed information is presented in an easy to read way and a nice paragraph of information is also included.

I thought this card was a parallel at first, but as it turns out NHL stars have their own subset within the main Artifacts line. The stars have a dark green background and are numbered to 599 each.

Legends, like current stars, also have their own unique subset within the Artifacts set. These cards are also serial numbered to 599 but have a grey (rather than green) background. Rookie cards serial to 999 are included after these Legends cards. All this serial numbering and short printing of the set makes it quite a challenge to put together!

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Each box of Artifacts comes with 8 packs. The box states that buyers can expect 3 autograph, memorabilia, or Aurum cards. There was a time when Artifacts boxes guaranteed and autograph. These past few years, however, aren't like that. Nothing is guaranteed at all. In fact, according to the box pulling 3 Aurum cards out with no other hits could be something that happens! Now, I'm sure that doesn't happen, but it stinks that there are no for-sure autographs to be obtained with a purchase of Artifacts box.

Parallels, parallels, parallels. Artifacts has a lot of these! It is a huge challenge to find all the parallels of a single player in this product. Trust me, I actually did it one year! You'll have to study the checklist really hard to know all the parallel cards in the set. Not only is the base set full of multiple parallels, the memorabilia/autographed cards are as well.

Speaking of parallel memorabilia cards, here's a rookie base set parallel card featuring two jersey swatches. It's a nice looking card - especially since the jerseys are two different colors - but it probably won't have too high of a value. Better values come with nice memorabilia pieces such as tags and patches.

The Tundra series of memorabilia inserts has always put multiple players on the same card. Usually it's by team, but in some cases Upper Deck decides to put together players that have unique connections to each other. I like these cards and I think they are great for team collectors. I would happily trade this Flyers one for one from the Sharks!

Since Artifacts releases before any skaters have hit the ice, redemption cards have been inserted to redeem for rookies. These have been in Artifacts for years now. Collectors can expect to find a team's rookie (in my case someone from the Preds) or a wild card rookie which will remain a mystery until Upper Deck releases the list of names that corresponds to the cards.

My best hit from the box was a purple redemption card for the number II rookie. I have no idea who it will be, but it'll be a nice card as it will have both a patch and tag embedded in it. I'm pretty excited to see who this player I got will be. The only annoying thing is waiting until Upper Deck releases the names of the rookies!

Inserts/Game-Used//Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Artifacts was once the best bang for your buck product. It had a ton of great things to find and pull. Nowadays it's still 'ok', but I think the brand has lost some of the magic it once held. There was a time when I wanted to just buy box after box of it because I knew I was going to get autographs and patches. Those days are probably sadly long gone.

Artifacts is now a decent break. It's pricing is not as high as some other products, which still makes it a decent buy. I still enjoy purchasing it and I know many collectors will as well.

Upper Deck has given us a quality product in terms of look and design. There will certainly be cards that are drool worthy pulls. I would recommend Artifacts to any collector that is in its price range. It's the first 'serious' product for hits that Upper Deck has released for the 17/18 season. It's finally time to pull some sweet autos and mem!

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of 17/18 Upper Deck Artifacts:

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

2017-2018 O-Pee-Chee Review

And just like that there are now two Upper Deck releases for the 2017/18 season! As typical, O-Pee-Chee comes second out of the gate and brings its retro charms along with it. Boxes of OPC tend to have a huge variety of inserts and parallels to find when breaking them. I'm sure this box break will contain a huge stack of cards to go through and enjoy.

Base Card Design -
The O-Pee-Chee base cards this year have a more modern, clean look than in previous years. I like the use of white for the border colors. The lines used in the design scheme are clean and no nonsense. Upper Deck has come out with a very nice look for a modern OPC card this year. The photos also look a bit better this year as well. Flipping through my stack of cards, I enjoyed the action photography choices. This is a very solid outing for this classic card brand.

Though the front of the card has a more modern spin, the backs continue the tradition of having the brown cardboard backs. I, for one, never want to see OPC change the brown backs of the cards. These backs are a callback to the old days of card collecting. I do have to say that the font on the backs are very small. There is ample space left for stats - especially for younger NHLers. I would have liked to see a write-up or fun graphic used to fill in the big gap. This would be especially good since OPC features many players who don't show up in other cards set that have a smaller card count.

Popular in these larger sets are subset cards. Old sets like Score would have Season Highlights and team cards. OPC is no different. The Season Highlight cards this year showcase special moments from the 16/17 NHL season. It's a nice way to remember the previous year. The write up on the back is both in English and in French - a nod to the way OPC has always done things.

Team Checklist subset cards have a similar look to the Season Highlight cards. Another callback to years gone by, Team Checklist cards are mini checklists of all the players found on a certain team. These used to be useful to team collectors looking to complete just the team that they want. Team collecting is definitely still a thing, but these Team Checklist cards have really gone the way of the dinosaur.

Rounding out the non-rookie subsets are the League Leader cards. These cards celebrate the best of statistical achievements from the previous year. These cards are a great way to include more cards of the best NHL players. Getting another card of Connor McDavid in the set can't be a bad thing in Upper Deck's eyes.

Marquee Rookies are back again as the OPC rookie cards. In design, they are very similar to the other subsets save for the golden yellow hue on the border. All the rookies found here are holdovers from the previous season. Upper Deck claims that this holdover class is very strong. Only time will tell if that is the case! Usually we have to wait until Upper Deck Series Two before we can find the hottest OPC rookie cards inserts in that release.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Boxes of O-Pee-Chee come relatively cheap. It's funny how the products that give you the most amount of cards are the least expensive. But that's the way it is! That being said, though you get a lot of cards and packs per box, the chance of getting of big value is pretty small. This set focuses more on the challenge of putting a large amount of cards together. Hit collectors should probably look elsewhere.

Mini cards have been inserted into O-Pee-Chee this year. These smaller versions of cards have been popular in other products, and they makes sense in a retro brand like OPC. The mini cards are not simply smaller version of the base cards as their design is unique. In the past, OPC had stickers, pop-up cards, and other mini card variations. Cards like these are what make OPC a fun buy.

Of course the mini cards have to have their own parallel variations. There are quite a few different mini variants of the mini cards. The most common have to be the black rainbow foil cards. I pulled a gold bordered card, but other types have individual serial numbering and are very rare to find.

Speaking of variations, the OPC Retros make their return again. As I mentioned in my video review, I am a bit disappointed with the design this year. I would say that the design is clearly retro-inspired, but the cards look generic to me. There isn't anything that is special or outstanding about them that would make me excited to pull one. I think OPC needs to really think about making the retro cards something that excite collectors again.

The Retro Rookie cards are at least a little better than their standard Retro counterparts. The Retro Rookie design is horizontal and has a look all its own. The team checklist cards also look nice. It's just too bad the designers dropped the ball with the base Retro cards.

Want more parallel cards? Didn't get enough yet? Well, OPC has more for you! The rainbow and black rainbow foil cards have returned. These cards are good looking with a smoother surface finish than in previous years. I think these cards have stepped up in quality - they just look better! In my opinion, the OPC foil cards were some of the lowest quality foil cards you could find.

One of the fun inserts from previous years has been the playing cards insert set. You can literally make a deck of playing cards from these. It's a unique idea that I find really awesome. I'd love a set of these! It would, however, be a very challenging set to put together. The Patrik Laine card I pulled is a foil variant. The standard cards do not come on foil.

OPC is not without its bells and whistles. Getting a rare logo patch in OPC is rare and difficult. This year patch cards have returned and will be a huge challenge for fans to find. It would have been really awesome to pull one, but alas, it was not to be in this box!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Value:
In terms of price, O-Pee-Chee is one of the most affordable card brands to buy. Unfortunately, this brand will not net you hits if that is what you are looking for. The challenge of OPC is to build sets and collect it the way you want to. There are plenty of collecting challenges to be had with this release.

As a collector, I know that I am in it mostly for the hits, autographs in particular. If you're like me, you may want to steer clear of OPC and wait for a release later on in the season. But if you enjoy the purity of collecting sets and the challenge of putting a large amount of cards together, this is definitely for you.

OPC this year offers up collectors a fun set of cards. For a certain collector, this set is great. I'm glad sets like OPC are still around. Its retro nature is definitely something different among the huge amount of modern era cards. If you're into it, I suggest diving right in as OPC will give you exactly what you want!

Overall Score:

Check out my box of 17/18 O-Pee-Chee:

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Retail Review #272 (16/17 Upper Deck Series Two)

I've been doing these Retail Reviews week after week for 272 weeks! It's time to take a little break. I'm not ending the series, just putting it on pause for a bit. The last blaster before the break is this 16/17 Upper Deck Series 2 blaster. I think it's nice that this product is a bit newer than the stuff I usually open.

Price - 

Packs - 12
16/17 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster Packs

Though this product is pretty new and has a retail price of about twenty dollars, you can find these on discount at for just thirteen bucks! I jumped at the chance to get a current year product at such a nice reduction in price. So often for Retail Review I have to go back years and years to get retail boxes at a discount.

Speaking of buying older boxes, one of the reasons I'm pausing my Retail Review series is because a lot of the older retail card boxes/blasters are harder to find now. I was afraid this day would come, but there just isn't that much out there to get my hands on affordably.

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

Review -
What a great blaster to end on! This blaster had some amazing pulls. It started out pretty good as I hit a rainbow foil OPC rookie card right away. And then it just got better from there. The two Young Guns out of the blaster were awesome, and I even got a canvas version. To top it all off I pulled a nice rookie portrait insert as well. There was just too much to like in this break. Like I said in my video... I should stop Retail Review more often if this is the kind of stuff I get in the end!

Here's the top three of the week:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Timo Meier Card No. 479
This Young Gun rookie card might not be the most valuable of the lot, but he is the lone San Jose Shark out of my break. I always love pulling Sharks out of my boxes so Timo is a welcome sight for me.

#2 - Ivan Provorov Card No. C239
It is so rare for me to get canvas Young Guns! I thought this would be the best card out of my blaster... good thing I was wrong! But this is still an excellent card to pull in any case!

#1 - Patrik Laine Card No. 451
Wow, just wow. I can't believe I pulled a Laine Young Gun. It was totally and completely unexpected. As it stand now, this card is scorching hot and is worth some serious cheese! This is a great card to pull before my Retail Review hiatus.

Overall Value -
A current year product at a discounted price with some amazing hits inside? YES PLEASE! This blaster was really awesome and I'm so glad I was able to get it and save it for today's break. Upper Deck Series One and Two are always a good buy, and sometimes you get lucky like I did today and pull some really nice value out of it.

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: