Friday, January 19, 2018

2017-2018 Upper Deck SP Game Used Review

SP Game Used has released for the 2017-18 season and it follows the trend of Upper Deck brands continuing to move away from packs and boxes to smaller, more condensed configurations. SPGU comes in the now familiar one pack per box form. For a brand like SPGU, this was a positive change in that collectors had tired of what SPGU was bringing to the table in years past. Though the brand is moving a good direction, is SPGU a worthy purchase in 2018? Let's see!

SP Game Used once came with 5-6 packs per box. Each pack was pretty pricey as they were in the twenty five to thirty dollar range. I always felt really bad for collectors who bought SPGU by the pack because more often than not, the guaranteed hit in the pack was a low-value standard jersey card. Box purchasers fared a little better as they at least got one or two non-standard jersey hits, but overall SPGU was a terrible value for what it was.

Upper Deck has finally realized that SPGU needed a change and they did just that. Upper Deck has pretty much taken the packs away and put everything into just one hit filled box/pack. I personally prefer it this way. Upper Deck has distilled what collectors really want into a neat little package.

SP Game Used has always been more of a higher tier brand, but this form of the product really  drives home the point that this is a product for people with money to spend. The box states that you'll set six cards per box/pack with four of them being hits or premium insert cards.

In terms of design, SPGU doesn't have too much going for it. It's by no means a flashy product. The cards look acceptable, but I wouldn't say there were exciting in any way. The reason for collecting SPGU is for the limited serial numbering each card. The true base cards and rookie cards are all limited to a player's jersey number. With some jersey numbers being really low, it means that some of the cards in the set are extremely rare and hard to find. This is a unique way of making SPGU cards exciting to collect. I know for player collectors, this model of card set design could have you tearing your hair out though. Imagine collecting a player who's jersey number is 5 or less.

Ouch! And good luck!

I've mentioned this before, but with a name like SP Game Used... I'd expect a huge focus on game used memorabilia in the product. In fact, it's terrible that anything not game used could be found in the product. That being said, there are unique items in SPGU that truly do come from NHL games. Embedded in some cards are pieces of the goal net, others have parts of banners that hung around the stadium. And even better than those are unique memorability items like parts of goalie pads as well as the standard patches and jerseys.

Sadly, there are still cards in the set that come from photoshoots rather than actually being used in a game. The Draft Day Mark insert set aren't bad looking cards, but those 'patches' are completely manufactured items. I really hope that someday SP Game Used really does live up to its name of having everything in the set come from actual NHL games. Wouldn't that be something?

All-in-all, SP Game Used is a product that can be a nice distraction for collectors... but like Trilogy released before it, this product could probably be skipped over by the majority of collectors. Unless  you're really looking for a low numbered rookie card, I'd say comb over sites like eBay to find the unique memorabilia cards from the set at a reasonable price. I hate to say it, but there really isn't much going on with SPGU, and you'd be fine waiting for the next product.

Overall Score: 6/10

Friday, January 5, 2018

2017-2018 Upper Deck Trilogy Review

The first set of the 2018 calendar year is Upper Deck Trilogy. It's a brand that Upper Deck has released for many years now and is familiar to collectors. Like many of Upper Deck's core brands, this one has definitely gone through some changes recently. Let's see what Trilogy is like this year.

Trilogy was once one of Upper Deck's higher-end brands. Not the highest like Ultimate or The Cup, but a couple notches below them. It had an interesting pack configuration that really capitalized on the brand name of Trilogy. I seem to remember three mini packs per box back in the day.

The most recent release of Trilogy deals away with all that. In fact, Trilogy is practically on-par with what Artifacts is. And Upper Deck isn't trying to hide it. The Trilogy and Artifacts box are practically the same in terms of look and content... and they are priced pretty much the same as well! I'm not sure if having two product so similar is a good thing. I've always liked the fact that there was a different product with different types of cards at nearly every price range.

In terms of the cards, the Trilogy base are very high quality. The cards have a nice thickness to them and come with plenty of shine. The base have a premium feel to them and the rookie cards are adorned with Upper Deck's awesome shimmery foil.

My box came with two autographs and a jersey card. Each hit was serial numbered - I like that. Though the autographs were of the sticker variety, they looked pretty nice on the cards. Typically earlier season releases are more sticker heavy, which I'm ok with.

I think my biggest complaint about Trilogy is that the cards are all too similar to each other. There isn't too much variety when it comes to the look of these cards. They have a foil look and similar designs. Good thing you don't get too many cards per box as I'm pretty sure you would tire of the quickly.

Overall I'd say Trilogy is a middle-of-the-road release. Sure, there will be nice hits sprinkled within the set, but I don't see this set as one that collectors will think about too much once other sets are released after it. I wouldn't fret to pass over it.

Overall Score: 6/10