Wednesday, October 22, 2014

2013-2014 Upper Deck The Cup Review

The final hockey product of the 2013/14 hockey season has finally been released, and it's the most sought after brand there is in hockey... The Cup. The Cup is a product that is out of reach for many collectors, but for those who can afford it, it's an amazing breaking experience.

Base Card Design -
This year's Cup base design is pretty low-key. It comes on an with an off-white border adorned with some foil highlights. It's pretty subdued, and reminds me a little of an Artifacts design. The player image is nice and large on the front and nothing is too distracting or out of place. But the card doesn't pop. It's just a big, solid base card limited to just 249 copies. I guess the design of The Cup base isn't to impress or make you jump out of your seat. It's just a simple, classy base card that sets a standard for the rest of the set.

The back of the base card continues the classy, simplified look. I would say, however, that the back has a bit more going on than the front. I like the blue hues that have been incorporated into the background. The back image is different than the one on the front which is a nice little detail. Everything about the card back is in order and in place. Again, like the front, it's solid if not spectacular.

As with every Cup release, the rookies set will come numbered to 99 or 249. The rookies selected to have just 99 cards will be difficult to find and worth quite a bit. This year's rookie design puts the patch right in the middle of the card. It cuts the player off a bit, but with a nice patch, the placement would really show it off well. The rookie cards have more foil bling factor than the standard base and stand out more. The front is busier, but not in a bad way. The placement of the photo, memorabilia, and autograph is tightly done and makes a card that is modern and sharp.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Each box of The Cup comes with just one 'pack'. The back has a base card, a rookie card, and a variety of different hits. There are only six cards per pack, but each pack should produce something solid for your money.

The most mundane card you could probably pull out of the cup is an un-autographed jersey card like this Foundations card of Pekka Rinne. Still, it's not a bad card that has serial numbering to just 25. I'm glad The Cup doesn't water down its cards with a ton of jerseys. There aren't too many cards per pack, but each card should pack a wallop. This triple jersey was the only jersey card from the pack.

Signature Patch cards make their return this year, but this particular one is a stand by from 12/13. As usual, these cards feature on-card autographs with a piece of patch. It's a simple but effective design that works well. I especially appreciate that under the memorabilia window the words 'Authentic Game-Used' appears. Upper Deck is stating that the material wasn't just from a photo session.

Brilliance autographs come on extremely thick cards. These shadowbox-like cards will only fit in the largest of one-touches. These cards do not have memorabilia, but have an autograph situated on clear material above a holofoil Brilliance logo. Though it's just an autograph, I appreciate the effort to make the card and auto stand out a bit more than usual. The only complaint with these cards is how to store them effectively.

The best card by far from my Cup break was this one-of-one Canada tag patch of Sergei Bobrovsky. This card is the ultimate in terms of rare memorabilia. The Canadian flag looks amazing in the patch window. This is the type of card that really gets Cup breakers excited. Obviously one-of-ones don't come out of every box or case, but the chance to get one is definitely there... and they look goooood!

The Cup has much more in store for collectors. Some of the booklet cards this year will feature some crazy, crazy large patches from player jerseys. It's a treasure trove of amazingness. You just have to break it to believe it!

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Upper Deck shows why The Cup is the greatest again. I always get the thought that another product might get close or pass the Cup. This year National Treasures came out and it looked very solid. But The Cup comes out and just totally blows by it. The cards in The Cup are just on another level when compared to the rest. It's no wonder it's so expensive!

It's really too bad that not every collector can experience The Cup. It is a fantastic product that really does feel premium when you buy it. Opening it is always a thrill. It's the product that every hockey collector wishes to open.

Do I recommend it? Can you afford it? If yes, the take a drink from The Cup!

Overall Rating:

Check out my tin of The Cup from D&P Sports Cards:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Retail Review #123 (13/14 Panini Select Blaster)

I'm pretty excited about this blaster today. It's a 2-pack box of 13/14 Select. I've never gotten a chance to open one of these, so this will definitely be a first! Select is a decently premium product, so it'll be a nice change of pace from the lower-end stuff I'm usually opening up here.

Price - 

Packs - 2
13/14 Panini Select Packs

I'm not sure what the original retail price of this blaster was, but I paid about twelve dollars for mine... which works out to be six bucks a pack. That's not too bad for a pack of Select. Supposedly, these packs should be exactly the same as the hobby versions. It would be great to be able to pull a hit out of this blaster, though I know that's not a guarantee. With only two packs in the box, getting a hit could be a bit of a challenge.

I'll quickly open up this blaster and see what comes out of it:

Review -
Well, that was fast! And nope, there wasn't a hit to be found in this blaster. There wasn't even a parallel card either, which was sort of surprising. I did end up getting one insert and on rookie card. The rest of the cards were base cards.

Select definitely has the look and feel of a higher-end product with its thick foil board card stock. The cards are shiny and look very nice, especially compared to other cards you might find at the retail store.

With no guaranteed hit in two packs, the product seems like a bit of a gamble. Be a Player blasters only had two packs in them but you were sure to get an autograph inside. If I had to choose one I think I'd go for BAP over Select.

Here were the top cards out of this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Jonathan Toews Card No. 2
Captain Serious is a great player. He's already won it all and has done great accomplishments. He's always nice to find in packs.

#2 - Patrick Roy Card No. 156
Roy is a goalie that I always loved pull in a pack. This particular card is nice because the photo of him is so big... he look larger than life!

#1 - Bobby Clarke Card No. HS-16
Though I didn't get a hit, this Honored Selections card of Bobby Clarke was pretty nice to get. The design of this card really speaks to me. It's classy. If this were the heyday of insert cards, I would definitely hold this card in high regard.

Overall Value -
Overall I paid more for this blaster than the ones I usually get. It was a great change of pace! I would gladly try some more of this product in retail form because I do think hits will come out. I'm just sad that none came in this particular blaster. It's nice that Panini offers this higher end brand at retail. It's not easy to find, but at least it is available!

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, October 12, 2014

Retail Review #122 (10/11 Zenith Blaster)

Here's my third and final box of 10/11 Panini Zenith from the last order that I made. I deliberately wanted to start and end with Zenith as it was a product that has been newer to Retail Review. I have enjoyed opening this much maligned product. For its current price, it is a nice little deal that can net you a few sweet cards.

Price - 

Packs - 3
10/11 Zenith Blaster Packs

So far out of my Zenith boxes I have just gotten jersey cards, and I'm hoping that changes this time. Getting a patch or autograph would be a great way to finish off this three box lot of Zenith I bought. The break will be very quick as there are only three packs per Zenith box. As it stood when it came out that came to ten bucks a pack! Wow, that seems pretty absurd of a price for Zenith now, eh? The market always dictates what the appropriate prices should be!

Let's see what comes out of this Zenith blaster box:

Review -
Ahhh... no patch or autograph. And actually my memorabilia hit wasn't even that great, but I did pull a nice insert card at least. The Zenith blasters really leave you with a pretty small stack of cards when all is said and done. That's fine with me though, I'm glad not to have too many base cards clogging up my room.

With Zenith being a smaller set, you would think that getting some big name superstars would be easier, but this break had no real huge names come out save for the insert. Out of all the cards that came out, I'd have to pick Jeremy Roenick as the most recognizable name. Zach Parise and Shea Webber would be the other two base that stood out... and maybe Bobby Ryan.

Here were my top cards out of this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Ryan Getzlaf Card No. 12
I find a lot of Panini's insert names to be pretty humorous... and this is one that falls into that category. I'm not sure who comes up with this stuff, but they never cease to amuse!

#2 - Zach Bogosian Card No. ZB
Zach Bogosian isn't a player I'm especially elated to get a jersey card of, but I do find it interesting that he is featured as an Atlanta Thrasher. Teams that have since moved are always make a fun pull.

#1 - Taylor Hall Card No. 3
I liked this card more than the hit in the blaster. The Nuflex looks good on this card, and Taylor Hall was one of the biggest players you could pull in 2010. Nice, sharp looking card!

Overall Value -
This wasn't the best Zenith blaster, but it was still a fun break. I'm glad I pulled the Taylor Hall insert card as well as a jersey. For a little over $10 I'd reach into the well again for some Zenith. You might see some more of it in the near future if it is still available for me to purchase!

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, October 8, 2014

2014-2015 Upper Deck Artifacts Review

Artifacts is the first 'serious' hockey product of the year. This hit-filled product has always been a collector favorite. Each hobby box comes with an autograph and a handful of memorabilia cards. For about a hundred dollars, it is a product that many box breakers can afford to bust. Artifacts looks to be as solid as it has always been yet again.

Base Card Design -
To me, the Artifacts base cards have always been great looking premium cards. This year's iteration continues to impress. Each base card has a primarily white ice-like background that fits perfectly with hockey. The foil and graphics used are elegantly done and tasteful. Nothing looks out of place or distracts. Visually, the cards are modern, clean, and beautiful to look at. Upper Deck has also chosen to be a bit creative again with their player photo selection. You'll see players in their All-Star jersey's like Logan Couture above as well other cards of retired greats and current stars.. It's a pretty big mish-mosh of images that gives the set a nice variety of player photos to look at.

The back design compliments the front of the card very well. A similar ice background is used as well as familiar design elements. The backs are full color and feature both stats and a short write-up. The picture used on the back is the same one used on the front. It's not a bad thing, but sometimes companies will really go for it and use different photos on the back.

Back this year are the serial numbered goalie base cards. Each card is numbered to 999 and has a golden-ice background look. Other than the golden hue and numbering, these cards are the same as their base card counterparts. You will find about one of these per box. Last year Upper Deck also inserted Team Canada serial numbered cards. Those cards are not to be found this year.

Rookie cards finish off the Artifacts base set. They too have serial numbering and a special color - blue. Added to these cards is a special 'Rookie' notation above the team logo. The logo is pretty large and a bit distracting for my tastes, but overall the card has a pleasing design, and it's easy to tell them apart from the standard base cards and goalie cards.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
I find it funny that the box states that it is 'chock full of hits!'. Each box will have at least 3 memorabilia cards and one autographed card. At least one of the memorabilia cards will be of a combination of players. Packs without autos or memorabilia will have either serial numbered cards or a rookie redemption in them.

Besides memorabilia, Artifacts is known for its numerous parallel cards. You'll find short printed base variations as well as variations of cards with autographs or memorabilia on them. Collectors who enjoy the chase of finding a complete rainbow will definitely have their work cut out for them with Artifacts. Shown above is a standard base card parallel with blue foil numbered to 85.

Dual jersey memorabilia cards like the Michel Goulet card I pulled are a staple of Artifacts. These are very prevalent when opening packs of the product. More premium version of these cards will have patches and autographs included on the card with serial numbering much less than 125.

Here's a Tundra Sixes card of the Montreal Canadiens. The jersey pieces are pretty small, but the size worked out well to fit all six of them and a player photo on the front of the card. I prefer to have everything on one-side rather than having to flip the card around to see the rest of the memorabilia.

I was very surprised to find two Tundra Sixes in my box of Artifacts! Instead of having just one team like the Canadiens card, this one has three Islanders and three Devils in sort of a versus matchup. I do like the variety of colors found on this particular card.

Auto Facts sticker autographs are the typical autographed card in Artifacts. If you don't find an Auto Facts, you'll probably have an autograph combined with memorabilia on a parallel card. Typically it is difficult to find Auto Facts cards of the bigger named players. I was pretty happy when John Tavares came out of a pack from my box.

Rounding out my box was this Wild Card Rookie Redemption. Each team has rookie redemption cards, and overflow players will be randomly slotted for these Wild Cards. Collectors will have to be patient as these rookie cards won't be available for quite a while.

Artifacts is a product that has so many hit types. Opening just one box will not allow you to really see how much is put into the product. Tags, sticks, and fight straps all make appearances this year. Also, the Autographed Rookie Redemption cards have returned once again. Those cards have always been a popular pull with box breakers.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Artifacts has shown me once again that it is a worthy first product for serious collectors. It comes in a small footprint of ten packs, but as the box says... it's chock full of hits! I've always had fun opening boxes of Artifacts, and this year looks to provide more of the same enjoyment. The box I opened today was especially good, but don't expect all boxes to be like this. Tundra Sixes don't come out that often! Truth be told, the shop owner opened up a box after I did and it did not impress. It had all the required hits, but the player selection was not there. You win some and you lose some... that definitely still applies!

But all-in-all, Artifacts looks to be strong once again and I can definitely recommend it for purchase. I'm glad it's out because now we have some really rare and beautiful cards to chase down and find!

Overall Rating -

Check out my box of Artifacts from D&P Cards in Sacramento, Ca:

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Retail Review #121 (13/14 Score Blaster)

Score was Panini's low-end offering last year. Though the product was relatively inexpensive, it was packed with inserts and the occasional autograph hit. I have to admit that Score wasn't my favorite product to open, but I had to applaud Panini for putting out a low end product that had good quality and interesting cards to pull.

Price - 

Packs - 11
13/14 Score Packs

There are a lot of different kind of cards to find in Score. It reminds me a lot of products that came out in the 90's. Big sets, parallel cards, and lots of different inserts. So this brand of cards feels right at home for me. I wasn't a fan of Panini doubling the price of the Score blaster in 13/14, but they did put some more content in it, and the cards are better quality than in previous years.

13/14 was the year of the double rookie class, and a lot of the big name rookie cards are available to be found in these blasters. Score was one of the first opportunities to pull rookies last year, but since then there have been many rookie cards released of the players depicted in this set. I'm expecting to pull a fair share of rookie cards from this blaster box.

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

Review -
This was a very standard Score blaster. There was no hit, but I got a pretty big stack of cards with a good amount of parallels and inserts. A few of the packs even had an extra gold parallel card inserted inside. I was able to pull some different inserts and as I predicted, quite a few rookie cards came out.

I was reminded as I opened this blaster of the image quality on these cards. The Score base cards have photos that have been processed well. There's almost a comic book like quality to them. I'm not sure if it's everyone's cup of tea... but I like the look. Good job to the designers at Panini for doing this with Score.

Here's what I thought were my best cards from this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Nick Foligno Card No. 137
This base card is a great example of the outstanding photography used in Score. It's a great shot of Foligno scoring on the LA Kings Though Foligno has his back turned, the action going on is clear as day.

#2 - Carey Price Card No. NC-12
Here's another card with the back of the featured player. I've always liked the Net Cam cards, and Price is one of the better ones to get. This year's design is a bit simpler than other years, and it's very fresh looking.

#1 - Nail Yakupov Card No. 650
Getting the number one overall pick is usually pretty nice. Yakupov didn't light the NHL on fire in his rookie season, but he does have a strong future if he works at it. It was cool to get Yakupov's gold parallel rookie card.

Overall Value -
At under $7 online, last year's Score retail is a nice little buy. Like OPC, Score is a huge set that is great for set builders. Collectors who enjoy a more modern look should look to Score over OPC. There are plenty of things to find in Score, and the cards look nice to boot! Score is an affordable product that many will enjoy busting into.

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!