Tuesday, September 10, 2019

2019-2020 O-Pee-Chee Review


Upper Deck's premier retro set has arrived for the 2019-20 hockey season. O-Pee-Chee comes at collectors with hockey cards with that old school cardboard feel. Boxes are pretty inexpensive and you get a good number of packs to break. You're not going to find any autographs or hits (at least not announced ones) in boxes, but there will be alternate variations of cards and manufactured relics to be on the lookout for.

Product Thoughts
In the day and age of the 'hit', OPC goes in a different direction. Sure, you can find inserts, parallels, and variations, but you're not going to find a jersey card or autograph in the breaks that you do. I personally don't like this. Hits in OPC used to be pretty hard to find. Autographs were like a case hit. They were tough, but not impossible. To have them totally out now is disappointing. I'm a collector that really wants to find jersey cards and autographs. Without them, or something that is really desirable, I can't find much of a reason to purchase the product.


Back this year are the retro cards that come one-per-pack. Honestly, the retros in the past few years have really lacked a great design. The retro cards should stand out in a big way. I find the retro design this year to be nice and safe, but that's means they are unremarkable. Maybe getting a parallel of a good player could be exciting, but overall Upper Deck's team needs to find a way to make the retro part of OPC relevant again.


As with all pre-season releases, Upper Deck can only include rookie cards of players that dressed in an NHL game towards the end of the last season. Most of the big rookies won't be found until the NHL get up and running again. That being said, Upper Deck proudly states that this year's crop of carryover players is the best yet. Even if that's the case, OPC rookie cards are not typically the ones that collectors really chase down.


I feel like there are less inserts now in OPC. Where did the stickers go? I guess that idea is past its prime. Back though are the playing cards. I think it'd be funny if someone actually took the time to put the playing card deck together and actually played with them. That'd be cool, but some of the cards in this set are pretty short printed so that idea wouldn't be the best.


New this year are the caramel cards. Why are they called caramels? I have no idea. Is it their shape? Well, these cards are an odd ball size and that means a pain in the butt to store. Since these cards are about as tall as a standard size card, putting them in a penny sleeve works, but still they will slide around and be uneven. Not cool.


One of the more rare 'hits' to find in OPC are the manufactured patch cards. OPC has inserted these cards into their sets for a few years now. I think these cards are a fun pick up if you like the team that the card is about. I got the Florida Panthers so I'm not too excited. I do, however, like the fact that this card is rare and comes only 1 in every 1,125 packs. Those are some steep odds!

Positives:
  • Pretty cheap.
  • Some unique inserts may appeal to you.
  • Nice to still have cards made out of cardboard once in a while.
Negatives:
  • Not very collectible if you're looking for big hits.
  • Kind of ugly base set.
  • Will probably be forgotten about in a week.
Overall Rating:

6/10

Sunday, September 8, 2019

2019 Topps Fire Review


Topps Fire is a very interesting product to me. It is a retail only release - actually, Target only - that provides baseball card collectors with a hobby feel. Like with boxes at a local card store, you can purchase boxes of Fire for about $70 at Target. These boxes come with 20 packs and a guarantee of 2 hits. You can also try your luck with blasters and hanger packs as well.

Product Thoughts
I actually really love the idea of Topps Fire. It's so awesome that there is a product that you can only get at the retail level. So often retail products suffer from discouraging odds of finding a hit. It's pretty great that in Topps Fire, collectors can find a hit whenever they want to break a box of it. That being said, you are paying a hobby-like price for a box of cards with 2 hits. At $70 a pop, it's quite a bit more than your average blaster box. It's almost twice as much as a big mega box that usually costs forty bucks. But if you want to really grab some hits at the retail level, Fire just might be the way to go.


I found that every pack of Fire will have either a colored parallel card or a foil insert of some sort. I have to say that the foil inserts in Fire are some of Topps' best looking cards. The foil they use provides a very pleasing diffracting of light. The inserts are also very well designed with a tasteful modern design that mature collectors will enjoy.


The parallel cards come in a variety of flavors. The most common type are the red parallels. These cards are not serial numbered and you'll get several of them in a box break. Orange, purple, and green parallels are serial numbered but can be hard to spot since there is so much color on each of the cards. Be sure to check the back to see if there is a serial number stamped there if you aren't sure. Different varieties of Fire have special colored variants. The blasters have a gold foil overlay while the hanger packs yielded blue parallels. These parallels don't have any serial numbering on them, but could hold some rarity depending on the type of packaging it comes out of. Only time will tell.


The mem hits in Fire are awesome looking. Typically you don't see shiny foil with jersey hits, but that's what you get in Fire. The foil honestly makes the jersey card look ten times better than a regular one. Topps really gave these jersey cards a bump in presentation. The cards also have parallel variations so make sure you check the back to see if there is a serial number.


While the mem cards look sweet, the autographs are lackluster. The autos just have a sticker plastered to the bottom of the base card design. There really isn't any special space for the autograph either so it does look a little lazy. I'm sure getting a star player will still be great experience, but I think most of the autos you find will be of lower tier rookies - as always with most Topps products.


I was lucky and got a very low numbered patch/auto card. These cards combine the sweet look of the standard mem cards with an autograph to create a pretty desirable hit. These patch cards are thick and have the feel of a product of a much higher tier. The quality here honestly surprised me. But these cards are pretty tough pulls - you're gonna need to buy a lot of product to find them!

Positives:
  • Hobby level experience at Target stores.
  • You get one auto and one mem per $70 box.
  • Cards, especially the foil inserts, look great.
Negatives:
  • The sticker autographs don't look that good.
  • Can still be expensive for collectors who want to buy a box.
  • Can be difficult to find on store shelves.
Overall Rating:

8.5/10

Friday, September 6, 2019

2019 Topps Luminaries Review


I'm absolutely astounded by the amount of really high-end baseball products that Topps puts out. It's like an unending stream of expensive products! I've been able to keep up... but really just barely! Topps' newest release is Luminaries, a one-hit-per-box deal that provides only the best players from Major League Baseball.

Product Thoughts
Luminaries doesn't have too much fluff. With just one card in each extremely nicely designed box, you don't even get the low-tier rookies Topps like to throw in with all the heavy hitters. Just about every player you get will be an MLB-er of note. That doesn't mean they'll all be worth a ton, but you won't be pulling no-names out of this product. With boxes upward of two-hundred dollars, many of the cards you find will probably end up in the $50-$100 range. That's a nice value for a card, but you'll be paying twice that for it most of the time.


Obviously I was able to snag a HUGE hit from Luminaries, but this product is only for those who have deep pockets who can afford to splurge a bit. Of the higher-end products though, Luminaries feels like it's a better deal than most as the player selection is top notch. As a group break product, you're really risking a lot as there is only one card per pack. Doing a team break? Prepare to bust most of the time. I'd get in on a serial number break and cross my fingers!

Positives:
  • The cards look really nice.
  • Many of the cards have excellent game-used memorabilia pieces.
  • You won't find terrible rookies here.
Negatives:
  • Not a good group break product to join in on.
  • Very high risk.
  • Two-hundred dollars for one card.

Overall Rating:

9/10