Wednesday, August 21, 2019

2019 Topps Archives

Topps celebrates more of its history with 2019 Topps Archives. With its huge backlog of card designs, Topps takes advantage of the past by re-releasing the designs in a fun filled product. There's a lot to like in Archives and you don't have to break the bank doing it. Fans of retro cards will surely enjoy the content that can be found here.

Product Thoughts
I am a huge fan of old Topps designs so I automatically really like this set. Topps picks three main designs for their base set. You get 1958, 1975, and 1993 looks. I'm not too familiar with the '58s, but the '93 and '75 cards are right up my alley. The card designs for all these cards are vibrant and creative. I particularly like the 1975 design with the sweet dual color look on the base.

Boxes of Archives go for about a hundred dollars which isn't too bad considering how much cards cost nowadays. There are plenty of packs to break in the product as well. Archives is a nice representation of a mid-range offering out of Topps. One of my favorite things about the set is seeing players on cards from different eras. I really get a kick out of seeing Babe Ruth on a '93 Topps design as well as Frank Thomas on a '75 card. It reminds me of the old Marvel Comic series called "What If...", these cards really are 'what ifs!'

It wouldn't be Topps Archives if they didn't have some special focus throughout the product. This year's main focus are the Montreal Expos. This year Topps celebrates this team with a range of cards featuring former players on varying designs. Teams that have moved or that are no longer around fascinate me, so I'm a fan of the concept. MLB-only collectors will like the fact that these cards are of actual professional ball players and not something out of Hollywood - which is what Topps has done in the past.

The box advertises that are two autographs to find. The cards are on-card which is a great touch. The autographs pop off the cards nicely, and you can find a range of players on the checklist. My Joe Pepitone autograph was a parallel version numbered to 99.

The standard autographs are not numbered but are still on-card. You'll notice that autographed cards come in varied Topps designs - not just the three that were featured in the base set. Lucky collectors will find Ichiro autographs in the product. Man... I'd love an Ichiro auto!

  • Huge amount of variety in terms of the way the cards look.
  • On-card autographs.
  • Reasonable price.

  • Perhaps not as collectible in the long run.
  • May not appeal to people who dislike retro designed cards.
  • Topps has too many retro based cards on the market.

Overall Rating:


2018-2019 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Review

Upper Deck is pulling out their big guns as they look to finish off the 2018-19 collecting season. Ultimate Collection is a one-pack-per-box high-end offering that has been around for years and years. Boxes of Ultimate Collection are around $120-$140 USD depending on where you find them. This is certainly a hit-or-miss product that high-end collectors will enjoy gambling on!

Product Thoughts
Upper Deck's Ultimate Collection is definitely a premium product. Collectors who buy the stuff will find on-card autographs and very nice looking cards with thick (but not thicker than the Cup) card stock. The set is filled with cards adorned tastefully with foil and serial numbering. My box break yielded a base card, two autographs, and a jersey card. For the price, it's a so-so deal as you do get three hits per box break.

Script parallel cards feature a facsimile autograph on the front. The silver versions look like actual silver sharpie was used. I really had to do a double take when I saw the first one as I thought it was an actual autographed card. Upper Deck did a really nice job on these to make them pop. I was lucky enough to pull a black variation with serial numbering to just 5. Cards like this with this sort of rarity makes MVP fun for more seasoned collectors.

Ultimate Collection has a huge amount of rookie content. Of course, this will make or break a set depending on the rookie selection of the year. The 18-19 rookies were ok, but I'm not sure if I'd call any of them a generational talent. Upper Deck has also absolutely filled the set with guys that just aren't that exciting to get. I personally don't think the rookie content in Ultimate Collection is good enough to warrant a huge buy into the product. Furthermore, in the breaks I've seen, many of the jersey pieces are pretty small with patch pieces being even smaller. That is not cool. If anything, Upper Deck should be stepping up their memorabilia game with a brand like this.

The best part of my break was this on-card autograph of Hall of Famer Chris Chelios. Thankfully, besides all the rookie content you can still put out some good veteran and retired players. This year I think I prefer to get a good older player like this rather than one of the rookie cards out of the set.

  • Cards are clean, crisp, and premium looking.
  • On-card autographs throughout the product.
  • Chances for big hits like NHL Shield cards.

  • Jersey and patch sizes seem smaller this year.
  • Maybe too much rookie content with many players who will most likely fall off.
  • Extremely hit-or-miss product.

Overall Rating:


Thursday, August 15, 2019

2019-2020 Upper Deck MVP Review

You know that it's time to gear up for the next hockey card season when MVP gets released! It's always the first out of the gate when it comes to hockey cards. I used to really dislike MVP because it lacked any sort of excitement in opening it, but in recent years MVP has stepped up its game quite a bit. There are a lot of fun inserts to get in this product, and if you're really lucky, you may even get an autograph. This set is one that is affordable and a great way for younger collectors to get into the hobby.

Product Thoughts
MVP comes at collectors with a nice modern design that works very well for its audience. I love the borders and the overall color scheme. It's a bit busy, but nothing seems out of place on the card. Though there is no actual foil here, the cards have a nice shimmer about them, especially the parts that are silver. If I were a young collector, these cards would appeal to me and be at a price range that I could spend my allowance on. It's also nice that MVP spits out a good number of insert cards to make the product interesting.

Script parallel cards feature a facsimile autograph on the front. The silver versions look like actual silver sharpie was used. I really had to do a double take when I saw the first one as I thought it was an actual autographed card. Upper Deck did a really nice job on these to make them pop. I was lucky enough to pull a black variation with serial numbering to just 5. Cards like this with this sort of rarity makes MVP fun for more seasoned collectors.

MVP celebrates 20 years with a special 20th Anniversary set. These inserts look like standard MVP cards of years past, but you can also get nice looking parallel version of them. I particularly like the die cut Colors and Contours variation as the cards stand out with a nice shimmer of color. Each of them are numbered to just 249.

Speaking of shimmering, many of the inserts you find in MVP have a shiny quality to them. Again, I think this appeals to younger collectors, but older collectors should enjoy them too. The card do look quite nice and harken back to the 90's when inserts were all the rage. MVP is kind of a retro set in that regard. These shiny insert cards are nicely done and are pretty eye catching.

For a quick and inexpensive break MVP does a great job. You won't a hit very often, but if you do, it could be absolutely huge. I didn't see autographs listed on the box or wrapper, but it appears that there are quite a few rookie autographed cards available as well as big names like Connor McDavid and John Tavares in the product. Not bad for a product like this!

  • Inexpensive box price, well under $100.
  • The cards look very nice - especially the cards that feature foil.
  • A big autograph is rare but can be found in this product.

  • Hits are hard to come by.
  • Incomplete rookie class, you'll have to wait for updated MVP cards later.
  • Not too exciting for high-end collectors.

Overall Rating:


2018-2019 Upper Deck Chronology Vol. 1 Review

I'm so happy to finally get some hockey cards back on the Cardboard Review. My local hobby shop did not get their shipment in so I had to do an order from Sorry for the lateness, but here is my review of Upper Deck's Chronology Vol. 1. It's a one-pack-per-box deal that puts all the focus on retired players. As usual with these types of products, a box/pack will cost you a little over a hundred dollars.

Product Thoughts
I have to say that I'm very lukewarm regarding this product. I like the idea of getting retired players, but from the breaks I've seen, many of the players I've seen come out of this have been smaller name guys that I definitely wouldn't be too excited to pull. That being said, it is possible to pull the big guys like Wayne Gretzky and Joe Sakic, but there's a better chance of getting guys like Jamal Mayers and Douglas Murray in your break. Now, if you're a hardcore Sharks fan, Murray might be ok... but Mayers... I just don't know about that.

Aside from the autographs that come about two per pack, you get either a base card limited to just 222 or a 0 Degrees Celsius card. The base cards have a very standard Upper Deck look to them, so I'd rather get the acetate card that came in my pack. These acetate cards are nice and thick and remind me of the old cards that Upper Deck used to put in Upper Deck Ice. These cards fit the hockey theme perfectly.

Taking a page from Topps' Allen & Ginter, you can now rip open Time Capsule cards out of Chronology. Upper Deck has made getting the Time Capsule cards relatively easy to get as I've seen many of them come out of Chronology breaks. Inside the card you'll find a mini card that is limited. I had fun ripping open this card. Since these are much more common than the Allen & Ginter ones I don't find it too hard of a choice to rip them or not. I simply just go for it. The value of the Time Capsule inserts are nowhere near the Ginter ones... unless you happen to have one that is serial numbered to something with a low number.

Chronology makes a very quick break. If you're really into retired NHL players, then this is definitely a product for you. I will admit that though there are names in here that aren't that desirable, it is nice that you can actually find guys like this in a product. Many times you'd have to rely on 3rd party companies to include players like this and it's cool that Upper Deck has a set where they can be found. I just think it's better to hand pick the ones you want on eBay rather than trying to crack packs of this to get them.

  • On-card autographs are nice, and older players tend to have better looking sigs.
  • Rip cards are fun to open up.
  • You'll find players that you won't find anywhere else in Upper Deck products.

  • Expensive for the content you get.
  • Many of the players are not big named guys.
  • No current players to be found.
Overall Rating:


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

2019 Topps Heritage High Numbers Review

Topps is just releasing release after release! Both Heritage High Numbers and Bowman Sterling came out at the exact same time. I know my money is just flying out of my pockets! Anyways, if you're looking to purchase a box between the two products that came out today, Heritage High Numbers is the way to go if you're not looking to spend as much. Boxes are a little over a hundred dollars and you get an enormous stack of cards to enjoy after you crack all the packs.

Product Thoughts
This year's Heritage wasn't too popular with collectors in my opinion. In hearing and talking to fellow hobbyists, many of the them didn't like the boring grey borders that these cards featured. And I don't blame them. Opening pack after pack of these cards is pretty monotonous. Sadly, there isn't too much to really look forward to in a box of Heritage when it comes to hits as there is only one per box. Thankfully though, this High Number edition at least has all the big rookies from the 2019 season. I definitely would pick this iteration over the first set as the rookies do make a difference in terms of the collectibility of this release.

I mentioned that going through a box of packs of this product is somewhat monotonous. Well, check out this insert card of Eloy Jimenez. Even the insert cards don't have pop as they sport the exact same grey border that all the other cards have. I really wished that they'd at least change it up a little when it came to these cards. It wouldn't make the product worth anymore, but at least they would break up the action just a little.

Thankfully, there are some inserts that are colorful and different. The Scratch Off cards can be opened up like a book. Collectors can actually play a little game of baseball using them... not that anyone would really do that though. These Scratch Off cards come at about one-per-box, but I would prefer them to be a case hit. That would give these a little bit more interest. As they are now, there's just not too much to them.

You can easily see that changing the border color makes a huge difference. I really like the look of the black bordered parallel card. The card looks really sharp and has the pop that the standard base cards lack. The other parallel card that I got in the box was the chrome variation. The chromes look great as well. It's just too bad that these cards are few and far between. I think getting one of these black bordered cards per box is about right... but the chromes should be much more prevalent. It would incentivize collectors to perhaps go for a set. As it stands, trying to do either border variation set is an extremely difficult task.

Most boxes of Heritage will net you a plain jersey card of some sort. That's what I got in my first box from earlier this year. I was shocked to pull this Rod Carew on-card autograph today. Rod is a hall of famer and this card is very sweet. I consider myself very lucky to have gotten it as I know how few and far between autos can be in this product.


  • Great set for hard core set builders to get their teeth into.
  • Some of the variation cards are extremely expensive and rare pulls.
  • The High Number set has rookies from the 2019 season.


  • Very boring design year.
  • Only one (usually jersey) hit per box.
  • Variation cards are hard to spot - you have to look at the little number on the back of the card.

Overall Rating:


2019 Bowman Sterling Review

Last week Topps released the high-end Tribute cards. This week they're back at it with Bowman Sterling. This high-end young rookies and prospects brand will cost you over two hundred dollars per box and will net you 5 total autographs. Sterling was a brand that Topps put out a few years back, but hasn't made an appearance until this year's release. If you love rookies and prospects, this may just be the high-end release for you.

Product Thoughts
The main draw of Bowman Sterling is the one-per-pack autograph that you can find in the little mini-boxes of the product. The vast majority of the autographs will be of young players - up and coming or not. Most of the autographs you find will not be worth the chrome stock they are printed on in five years, but baseball collectors love to speculate on talent, and this product is all about that. The cards themselves are a nice silver color, but nothing about the way they look really stands out. In that way it is very Bowman-esque. It doesn't matter how the cards look, it just matters that they will be worth a lot later!

Prospects and rookies are split 50-50 throughout the base set. Each is numbered according to their status. Rookies like this Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will have the traditional rookie logo in the corner. Some current stars are also featured in Sterling, but they are hard to come by.

In baseball, the parallel cards are extremely popular, and getting a popular rookie or prospect with a low number is often better than a standard autographed card of some random player. A lot of times these low numbered colored parallels are worth quite a bit. It is very exciting to find the colored parallel cards when cracking packs open.

The autographs that I've seen out of Sterling have all been on-card. And that's the way it should be for a product that costs as much as it does. I've found that it is good just to carefully store away the hits you find in these prospect-laden products as you never know how they will mature in the future. Imagine going back through your cards and finding a player's first Bowman card that is now a star. With Bowman you just have to be really patient.

What's better than an autograph or colored parallel? An autograph that is a special parallel. Typically these cards are serial numbered. The numbering goes all the way down to 1/1, so there are some pretty rare cards to find. These parallel cards have a lot of appeal to them. First of all, they look really awesome. And secondly, some of the prices the best players can realize can be pretty insane.


  • Collectors will find 5 autographs per box.
  • The autographs are on-card.
  • There are many rookies and prospects that could be the next super-star.


  • Getting a box of this isn't cheap. A box of 5-mini boxes is over $200.
  • All the prospects and young players from this year could be terrible.
  • The Bowman Sterling brand isn't as popular as the standard Bowman Chrome name.

Overall Rating:


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

2019 Topps Tribute Review

Tribute is one of Topps' premium card sets. Boxes of only six packs will cost nearly three hundred dollars. The products boasts that each box will have 3 on-card autographs as well as 3 memorabilia cards. Tribute contains a mix of both legends and current players. Rookies are also prevalent in the product - especially in terms of the autographed card selection.

Product Thoughts
At first glance, I couldn't figure out why this product was so expensive. I get that there are six hits in the product, but Tribute just doesn't have that premium look that I am used to. Cards in hand, the set does look nice as the cards are thick and made of glossy acetate. It's a pretty untraditional looking 'premium' card. I do applaud Topps for utilizing a design that veers away from the usual all white or ornate looking background. It's a unique set, but definitely a bit too pricy in my opinion.

One of my favorite things about game-used baseball memorabilia is that sometimes you'll get a little MLB sticker that has a number on it. Go to the MLB authentication site and you can find out where the piece of jersey you got came from. This particular David Ortiz jersey piece came from a game in which he played the Oakland A's back in September of 2016. Being able to do that is pretty awesome. It definitely adds meaning to the little piece of cloth in the card. This was my first card with a MLB hologram like this, but I've seen many cards pulled out of Tribute with this affixed. It's very sweet.

With a name like Tribute, you'd expect to only find the best of the best from baseball. In terms of old-timer content, it is certainly there. Many of my base cards were of baseball legends. From newer retirees like Jeter back to guys like Johnny Bench. Getting Hall of Famers is always a good thing, so I'm happy with a pull that nets me some older mem pieces.

Triple piece memorabilia cards are pretty common pulls from Tribute and many of these cards feature more recent players. The design of the card is decent, but for a product that is this expensive, I feel that these cards are a bit lackluster. Also, the numbering on the card is quite high. This particular Eddie Rosario is numbered to 150. Mid-tier products have that sort of numbering. Something that costs this much should have numbering around 100 or less.

Speaking of high numbering, check out this rookie card of Rowdy Tellez. Yikes! This card is numbered to 435! That just feels like a lot to me. With a number so high it Topps could have just left the serial numbering off. At least that way people would be left guessing at the rarity of rookie cards like this. As it stands, I'm not terribly excited about pulling a rookie to 435.

The standard autographs that you'll see out of Tribute all basically look this Mitch Haniger card except with different colored borders. This is a purple variation numbered to 50. Other parallels are blue or green or some other color. The look of these cards is pretty nice as the colored borders really pop. Having all the cards autographed on-card is also a very nice touch. Better yet are the shadowbox autographs, but those come maybe one per case. My box, sadly, didn't have one of those.


  • Each pack has a hit (memorabilia or on-card autograph).
  • The cards sport a different look than most premium sets.
  • Cards are made of acetate which give them a glossy feel and shine.


  • Boxes are in the high two hundred dollar range.
  • The serial numbering of the cards seems to be a bit too high.
  • Many breaks I've seen seem to be lacking in terms of quality hits.

Overall Rating:


Thursday, August 1, 2019

2019 Topps Chrome Review

Topps Chrome has long been a very collectible set. These souped up versions of the standard Topps cards from 2019 are bound to be sought after. Topps has released many ways to collect this set as they have hobby exclusive standard and jumbo packs as well as a slew of retail products that have unique parallel cards for collectors to chase. I know that I, for one, will be spending a lot of money on this at both the hobby and retail levels. 

Product Thoughts
Topps has built up this brand throughout the years. It was extremely popular when it began back in the 90's and it has continued strong ever since. The chrome effect on the standard base cards elevates the look of the card greatly. They have a nice, thick feel that makes each card premium. And unlike the standard Topps release, the regular packs of Chrome only contain four cards each. With a set that is over 200 cards, pulling the specific players you are looking for can be quite a challenge.

I chose to purchase a jumbo box of Topps Chrome because the boxes of jumbo contain 5 autographs each. Regular Chrome packs only give you two autographs. The jumbo packs also contain 13 cards per pack, which just feels nicer to go through rather than the paltry 4 that come in the standard pack. All of the autographs that I have pulled from Chrome have been of the on-card variety. Having the signature on-card is so much better than when the companies slap a sticker auto on the front of the card. On-card autos look better and you know that the player at least touched the card (albeit only for a brief second).

Besides the autographs, the colored parallel cards of Chrome are worth chasing. There are certainly rare parallels numbered all the way down to one, but some unnumbered parallel cards (like this pink parallel above) don't need any serial numbering to look amazing. If a player from the 2019 rookie class gets hot in the future, collectors will be clamoring to get their hands on parallel variations as prices tend to soar.

One of the weaker aspects of Topps Chrome is their insert card selection. There aren't too many types inserts to be found Chrome, but they are very easy to find inside packs. Autographed variations of inserts can be found in the products as well - which adds a lot of collectibility to those particular cards. If it were up to me, I'd just ditch the regular inserts and add more color to the set.

Though I'm not a fan of most inserts in 2019 Chrome, I do like these Future Stars cards. They have a similar look to Future Stars cards of the past. If Topps gets one thing right, it's utilizing old designs in inserts and parallel cards. I'm not a huge fan of the background of these cards, but the "Future Stars" logo makes up for it. I just love the retro feel of this logo!

Back again are the 1984 retro looking cards. As a huge fan of that year of baseball cards, I'm always happy to pull these cards from 2019 Topps products. The 1984 retros all sport a refractor-like finish to the front of the card. At first I thought that the card was a special parallel, but as it turns out, all the 1984 retro cards have that nice refractor rainbow bursting forth whenever light hits it.


  • On-card autographs.
  • A step up from the standard Series 1 and 2 Topps base sets.
  • Excellent looking parallel cards in a huge variety of colors.


  • The cards tend have a slight bend to them right out of the pack.
  • Regular packs contain just 4 cards.
  • There are probably too many parallel cards to attempt a rainbow collection of a player.

Overall Rating:


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

2019 Panini Immaculate Collection Review

I feel like high-end baseball products come out all the time! With hockey, it's a slow journey towards the high-end products. Now that I'm collecting baseball, it seems like every other release is something spectacular and expensive! Today Panini released their Immaculate Collection set chock full of autographs and memorabilia to find in each tin. Immaculate is one of Panini's top tier brands so the expectation for what we can get is through the roof!

Product Thoughts
I was a bit hesitant to purchase a tin of Immaculate because of its high price point, but upon seeing some breaks of it online, I decided to take the plunge. I hadn't been much of an Immaculate fan before as I thought the cards were pretty plain for a high-end offering. Many of the windows for the memorabilia were small to me, and the set just didn't have a huge 'wow' factor. But seeing tins opened online changed my mind. I saw a ton of great content including cleats, buttons, socks, as well as patches and bat pieces. Nice memorabilia pieces were coming out of a good number of tins so I purchase my own.

Tins of Immaculate baseball are $250 as of the writing of this post. It's a bit steep, but I thought they would be more since the basketball version of Immaculate is a bit more expensive than that. It was pretty much at the very highest price I was willing to pay for it. I thought that the box I opened with pretty middling. The Tatis Jr. was a nice hit, but nothing really blew me out of the water from this particular tin.

I was a bit surprised at how many rookie and young players were in the breaks of Immaculate that I saw (mine included). Immaculate seems to be pretty rookie heavy with less of a focus on old school greats. Since I prefer the older players, I guess this is what makes me feel that the product is a little lacking (for my personal tastes). For those who enjoy the newest of the new, then Immaculate is pretty great as it seems to put out tons of the young guys.

Rookie Patch Auto cards numbered to 99 are always a popular type of card. It was pretty sweet to pull this card of Danny Jansen with a pretty decent looking patch. The overall look of the card is pretty nice and clean. I get sort of an Upper Deck SP vibe from it as that brand was always pretty clean cut with team colors on a white background. I'm gonna cross my fingers and hope Danny Jansen becomes an amazing player.

For something that costs as much as this does, it is a little sad to see that sticker autographs are utilized for some of the cards. Sticker autos are never as cool and make me think that the product isn't as high-end as it advertises itself to be. One other thing that is a bit annoying is that many of these cards have a little bit of chipping or white edges right out of the box. This is very typical of high-end cards from all companies - I guess its just a design flaw. But it sucks. Hopefully companies can find a way to get these expensive cards out to collectors without the damage. Otherwise they should change the product name to Not Immaculate.


  • Boxes have been giving out some very nice hits (as seen from online breaks).
  • The tin of Immaculate isn't as expensive as its basketball counterpart.
  • Truly unique items like cleats, buttons, and batting gloves can be found in the product.
  • Rookie heavy product if your'e into that kind of thing.
  • Panini has done a great job of featuring players even without their team logo.


  • There are sticker autographs on some cards.
  • Many of the cards have chipping issues on the edges and corners.

Overall Rating:


Monday, July 22, 2019

The Best of Retail (Panini vs. Topps Vs. Upper Deck)

If you're buying cards, hobby is definitely the way to go as most of the best cards you can get are usually in hobby products. Hobby packs and boxes generally give you more cards and better odds at finding hits like autographs and memorabilia cards. Sadly, not everyone has access to a hobby store. I mean, it's not the 90's anymore when there were several card shops in town within easy traveling distance. Nowadays, most folks get their hobby products online or have to make a trek in order to reach the nearest hobby store.

Retail products, however, are within easy reach as they line the shelves of places like Target and Walmart. Collectors can grab blaster boxes, hanger boxes, rack packs, and other products whenever they go grocery shopping. It's convenient, but retail products make it very difficult (for the most part) to pull autographs or memorabilia cards out of. Each company - Panini, Topps, and Upper Deck - have their own retail strategy it seems, and in this post I'm going to go over some observations of each company and, hopefully, figure out which company does retail the best.

Let's start with Upper Deck. Upper Deck was once king of the card market. They had the best looking and most desired cards in all sports - baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. They have taken a huge tumble (for many nefarious reasons) and now only have a license to make hockey cards. Their retail strategy seems to be mostly centered on blaster boxes, regular and jumbo packs, and tins. Most of their retail offerings give you a taste of their product, but do not give buyers the satisfaction of getting a hit from their purchase.

My all-time least favorite retail product has got to be Artifacts. Artifacts blasters are notorious for giving the buyer virtually nothing but base cards. Sure, you can usually find a numbered card or two in a blaster, but that's it. You get a small stack of nice looking Artifacts cards but that's it. These blasters retail for twenty dollars. If you want to throw your money away, but one of these.

The best Upper Deck product to buy at retail are their Series One and Two blasters. Though getting a hit is quite difficult, at least you are guaranteed two Young Gun cards. Young Guns are quite popular rookie cards and hold surprising value for the big name rookies of the year. There are a million copies of Young Gun rookie cards out there, but their popularity remains high for hockey fans. That's lucky for Upper Deck as they can produce these cards easily and cheaply since they don't need to have them autographed or embedded with memorabilia.

Upper Deck also puts out retail blasters of brands like O-Pee-Chee, MVP, and a select few other mid-tier products, but they are mostly unremarkable. Sadly, in my opinion Upper Deck comes in last when it comes to producing retail products.

As I've begun collecting baseball cards again, I've purchased quite a few Topps products at the retail level. I would put Topps ahead of Upper Deck in the retail market space, but behind Panini by quite a margin. Topps has a slew of products at the retail level, with many products offering retail exclusive content.

Having retail exclusive cards is great for the hobby as it gives collectors an incentive to buy cards at the big retail stores. Topps puts quite a few retail exclusive parallels and inserts at the retail level. One recent example are hanger packs. Gypsy Queen hangers have 3 retail packs as well as a special 3-card pack of green parallels. Topps hanger packs contain a special colored insert card. Blaster boxes of the standard Topps release have recently had a high quality manufactured memorabilia card. This year you can get an embedded metallic MLB logo card. Last year they had USA flag patches. They might not have huge value associated with them, but they look quite nice and regular consumers will enjoy these nicely designed cards.

Though Topps does give retail purchasers some special content, finding memorabilia and autographed cards is still a difficult task. In fact, if you take a look at the odds on the backs of Topps retail packs, they can seem astronomical to get a hit like an autograph. I'd say getting a hit from Topps is on par with that of Upper Deck. The hits are definitely in there, but you'll be buying lots of products before you actually pull something out.

I do want to mention that Topps also sells complete sets and larger format retail products too. The complete sets contain special cards that you can only get there. It's a step in the right direction for Topps as they now have products that give more incentive for collectors to go and purchase.

Panini is the best of the lot when it comes to purchasing cards at retail. Like Topps, Panini has a slew of retail exclusive content - usually in radical parallel designs. Look at a Panini retail offering and you'll see that there are often one or two special parallel cards within it. Collectors who enjoy a bounty of colorful and shiny cards will get their fill with Panini.

Panini's blasters are great. Many of their blasters cost the same as their Topps and Upper Deck counterparts except that they contain hits in them. When Panini made NHL hockey cards, I would often select a Panini blaster over an Upper Deck one because I was guaranteed to get a hit (usually a jersey card) in it. It was awesome knowing that there was something to look forward to finding when buying a Panini product. Panini has continued this with their baseball, football, and basketball products.

And aside from just having blasters, hanger boxes, and packs, Panini has products that a hobby-like in their nature. One example of this are the Mega Boxes for sale. Mega boxes are pricier - often around $40 or so - but contain a hit and more cards. It's like you're getting a hobby product at the store. This option is great collectors who want more out of their retail purchases. In fact, many collectors seek out these Mega Boxes as their content is just that good. The secondary market for Mega Boxes is quite hot at the moment.

Currently, Panini makes basketball, football, and unlicensed baseball cards. They are doing a tremendous job at giving collectors a reason to purchase cards at the retail level. I know many hockey collectors miss Panini's hockey cards. I'm definitely in that camp. Their willingness to innovate is something that I really appreciated.

So if you're on the hunt for some cards and you're wondering what company's cards to get. I would first look towards Panini, then Topps, and then Upper Deck. I hope this article is helpful to you as you continue on your hobby journey! Please let me know your thoughts and opinions on retail products. I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

2019 Panini Donruss Optic Review

Donruss Optic brings the shine to the standard Donruss trading card. The basic card designs are the same as 2019 Donruss with an added coat of metallic chrome to make the cards really pop. Optic is a mid-tier product that won't break the bank when buying packs or boxes of it. Boxes usually run a little less than a hundred dollars and give you a fun rip with plenty of colored parallels to enjoy.

Product Thoughts
Optic is a really fun break. It's as plain and simple as that. There is so much variety in the product that ripping open each pack is a whole lot of fun. Panini kind of went crazy with the amount of parallels they have placed in the product, but you just don't see the sheer amount of prizms, different borders, or different designs in anything else - especially out of Topps.

Donruss has always been a favorite of mine since the eighties. Their designs are classic to me and give me a huge amount of nostalgia. Panini capitalizes on this by straight copying old designs and chrome-ifying them. They also have the Rated Rookies back with autographed versions. It's a great way to bring what we loved from the past into the present. Is it cheap to just rehash the old stuff? Well... maybe... but I'm not complaining about it! In fact, Panini is probably going to get a lot more money from me because of it!

If I did have one complaint about Optic, it would be that the packs only contain 4 cards each. I get that this is exactly the way Topps does it with their Chrome products, but I don't see why Panini has to follow Topps' ways here. Four cards is just so few - especially for a mid-tier product. I think 5-6 cards would be an appropriate amount of cards to get per pack.

My box turned out to be a Hot Box with a ton of prizm and colored parallel cards in it. I didn't realize it at first, but it was pointed out to me later by a viewer of my Youtube channel. See... this is what sets Panini apart from their competition. There are multiple Hot Boxes per case. Some Hot Boxes have extra autographs and others like the one I got were full over colored parallels. These Hot Boxes aren't too hard to come by and make the breaking experience so much fun. Hot Boxes don't seem out of reach when purchasing the product by the box, and they are a joy to open.

My only real complaint is that Panini cards aren't licensed and don't hold the value that Topps cards do. In my opinion, Panini has done a stand-out job with just a player's license, but it's hard to overcome the lack of official team logos on the cards. This fact makes the Panini cards less desirable in general to collectors. And though it's awesome to have tons of amazing parallels and inserts, by having this many, each type doesn't feel as special because of the sheer amount of them. It's a double edged sword that Panini's wielding! They allow you to get a lot, but Panini cards suffer in terms of their monetary value because of that.


  • Hot Boxes are relatively easy to get.
  • Many colored parallel cards create a dynamic opening experience.
  • 2 Autographs on average when you break a standard Optic box.
  • Boxes are short of the $100 mark.


  • You only get 4 cards per pack.
  • The value of the cards are less than their Topps counterparts.
  • There may be too many parallel cards available.
  • No team logos.

Overall Rating: