Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2014-2015 Upper Deck SP Game-Used Review

I've been wanting a change to SP Game-Used for a while now... and Upper Deck has done it! This year's product is dramatically different than what they have done in the past. SPGU has been aging, and people have been getting more and more tired of the same old expensive, seemingly overpriced card set. This is a new beginning that will hopefully revive the brand!

Base Card Design -
Is there really a base card in SPGU this year? Well, sort of. SPGU comes pretty much with all 'hits'. I would call the standard jersey card the base card of the set. There are a few cards with no memorabilia or autograph on them, but they are some of the most limited in the set. Those cards have serial numbering to the player's jersey number be it rookie or veteran player. I actually think it's a neat idea to have the standard card in SPGU to be a jersey card. They have become so commonly place that many jersey cards are pretty much priced the same as a jersey anyways. In terms of design, the standard jersey card in SPGU has an elegant design that doesn't distract. I think some would like it for its simplicity, but I feel these cards could have stood out more. As a part of the SP line-up of Upper Deck cards, they fit right in.

The back of the cards have the standard numbering of a base card, but instead of stats, it has the 'congratulations' blurb about getting a hit. I didn't receive a non-memorabilia hit in my box, so I'm not sure what those cards are like. My guess is that they would have standard stats on the back. And those would be the 'true base cards', but since they are so limited, I would count those more as special insert cards. Those would certainly be very difficult to make a set of.

The rookie jersey cards have serial numbering and a different, but similar design to the standard jersey cards. I can't say much about these cards as they don't particularly stand out to me - much like the base cards. It's a typical Upper Deck SP design that I will probably forget in a few years.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Just about every card collectors find in SPGU this year will be a hit. Upper Deck has gotten rid of regular base cards and even the pack concept pretty much. SPGU is much more like Ultimate Collection or The Cup now.

Here's a patch variation of the base card. This particular one of Cory Schneider is limited to just 99. It shares the same exact design as the base cards except that these carry patches and are quite a bit thicker. 99 seems like a high number for patch cards, so I'm guessing that these cards should be in very reasonable price ranges as they hit the secondary market.

Draft Day Marks are back in SPGU. These are fun cards, but I've always questioned why these are even in the brand. With a name like 'Game-Used' I would expect material that was used in a game. These manufactured patches were obviously not in any way, shape, or form associated with an actual hockey game. In fact, these cards are all about draft day... not game day. That being said, these cards do add value to the set as people love getting more autographed rookie content.

SPGU has a ton of variety in it. Not only are there patches, but collectors will find sticks as well as game used nets. Upper Deck has included quite a few game-used pieces from the Winter Classic and Stadium Series of games that were played last season.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Value -
It was really hard to recommend SPGU in the past. Buying 5 or 6 packs at nearly $200 was just not worth it... especially since the majority of packs contained plain jersey cards. This year the price is almost halved with about the same content. That is something I could live with. I like the fact that Upper Deck has changed the brand. Having no regular base cards was a great idea. SPGU is now much more condensed and much more of an interesting product. There's just no fluff! Well... I guess some of the standard jerseys are fluff... but you know what I mean! I have to say that Upper Deck has moved correctly with SPGU and I look forward to its continued improvement and refinement.

Overall Value:

Check out my box of SPGU that I got from the Hobby Box:

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Retail Review #136 (13/14 Panini Select Blaster)

It hasn't been too long since the last time I broke a box of 13/14 Select, but I wanted to do a product that wouldn't take too long to open since I've been so busy lately with my sports photography. This is definitely a product that will give out a quick break. With only two packs, this break will be over before I even know it!

Price - 

Packs - 2
13/14 Panini Select Packs

The Select boxes that I've opened have been pretty much hit or miss. The last blaster was definitely a hit as I was able to pull a rookie jersey autograph card. I hope for the same such luck with this blaster as well. As I've mentioned before, the packs in these blasters are pretty much the same as the hobby versions, so getting a hit from them isn't impossible.

Let's see what comes out of these two packs:

Review -
Sadly, this blaster was unlike that times blaster - this one was a total miss. I pretty much got all base cards except for one insert. I didn't even get a Prizm parallel card. Not that it would have added too much to the break... but by not getting one it definitely detracted more from the break.

There's not much to say about this review other than it was pretty sad. If I had gotten this at the full retail price I would have been pretty unhappy.

Here are the top cards out of this blaster box:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Patrick Marleau Card No. 52
Patty has been on a cold streak lately, but that doesn't detract from the fact that he is one of the greatest San Jose Sharks of all time. He's blazingly fast and it is always fun to get his cards.

#2 - Alex Ovechkin Card No. 46
Ovi is a superstar that is never a bad pull. His electrifying and physical play are awesome to behold. He may not be as hot in the hobby as he once was, but he is still a big time player to get.

#1 - Steve Yzerman Card No. DS-10
My lone non-base card is this Steve Yzerman insert. You know it's a bad break when all you get is one insert card to show for your troubles. The only redeeming value is that Yzerman was an amazing player during his stint in the NHL.

Overall Value -
This particular blaster of Select did not turn out well for me at all. Though this blaster came heavily discounted, it still didn't reach a break-even point in terms of value. Select truly is a feast or famine product. It'd be hard to recommend unless the price was extremely reasonable.

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, January 11, 2015

Retail Review #135 (11/12 Panini Pinnacle Blaster)

I'm ready for some fun today as I open up a blaster of Pinnacle. This year's version of Pinnacle has not disappointed in terms of it's enjoyment to open. Pinnacle was beginning to become a really nice product, it's too bad Panini shelved it... and too bad there's no more Panini too!

Price - 

Packs - 10
11/12 Panini Pinnacle Packs

Pinnacle blasters provide the opener with some nice things to look forward to. Collectors will find special foil Nufex cards, some sweet photography, some random inserts, and a hit (most likely a jersey card). For a retail product, I think Pinnacle hits all the right notes. It would have been really nice to see what the future would have been for Pinnacle if Panini was able to keep going with it.

I'll see what this blaster will give to me:

Review -
I had no doubt that this would be fun to open... and it was. There were a couple of all-base packs, but the majority of the packs within had a special card in it to enjoy. It's always awesome getting a few different insert cards when buying retail. They really make the product better. One product that definitely lacks in this area is Artifacts. Ever open one of those? It's like the same cards over and over.

The NuFex cards here look great, and I definitely stopped to pay attention to some of the images on the cards. Any product that gets you to slow down while opening to appreciate the cards is a winner in my book. We often are so impatient to rip every pack that sometimes we forget to just enjoy the cards. These Pinnacle cards made me give pause.

Here were my favorite cards of this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Sidney Crosby Card No. 87
There are so many Crosby cards with him in his Pens jersey flying around the ice. Sid-the-Kid didn't play much this season due to injury so this card was perfect to capture that.

#2 - Joe Thornton/Logan Couture Card No. 8
Wow, Thornton and Couture on the same card! That's awesome for a San Jose Sharks fan like myself. I remember buying this card on eBay a long while back. I guess I could've waited on it!

#1 - Tomas Vokoun Card No. 74
Not numbered but still a pretty nice jersey card of Vokoun. The Threads design is simple and perfect for retail. I'm definitely happy with this card coming out of the blaster.

Overall Value -
Again, no complaints with this blaster of 11/12 Pinnacle... and I'm ready to open up another one. These represent some of the best values in older retail products. If I were you I'd go out and order some right away!

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, January 4, 2015

Retail Review #134 (13/14 Panini Titanium Tin)

My last tin of Titanium treated me pretty well, so I'm pretty excited to give this one a try today. These tins offer a short and sweet breaking experience. The tin concept isn't anything new to collecting, but opening a tin rather than a cardboard box does have some increased appeal. 

Price - 

Packs - 1
13/14 Cellophane Pack

These tins come with one over-sized card as well as a cellophane pack. Over-sized cards seem to be a popular thing to put inside retail products as that's where they are found mostly. The one hobby product I can think of right away that has an over-sized card is basketball's Court Kings. They come one-per-box and collectors have a chance at pulling an autographed version. Over-sized cards are fun, but they present storage challenges. The card is so big that finding a good place to keep it can be difficult.

The Titanium cards come wrapped in clear cellophane. I've always found it strange when cards come this way - I much prefer the standard non-see-through pack. It makes me wonder why products like this come in this type of packaging. These cellophane packs are not limited to just these Titanium cards. The Absolute brand in other sports uses cellophane as well.

Well, let's just see what comes out of this particular tin:

Review -
I thought this tin turned out pretty well! I was able to pull out two numbered cards as well as a jersey hit. And the over-sized card was of a pretty good player... so overall this tin was solid. Actually, the base cards were good as well. I got Crosby, Malkin, and the Sharks' Joe Thornton. In terms of overall value, this tin delivered a sweet amount of content.

Here were my three favorite cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Sami Vatanen Card No. 156
Serial numbered rookie cards are always cool to get. Titanium is known for their rookie cards... and the hobby version prices are through the roof, but these retail versions are great collectibles as well.

#2 - Kari Lehtonen Card No. GG-KL
Last time I pulled an autographed card, but this jersey hit is also nice. Game Gear cards should be foil or chrome in my opinion, but other than that it was a great card to find in my retail tin!

#1 - Vladimir Tarasenko Card No. J-7
You know I'm not a huge fan of over-sized cards, but getting one of a nice rookie like Vladimir Tarasenko can never be a bad thing!

Overall Value -
For the price I paid for this tin I feel that the value was there. Getting two numbered cards and a hit as well as a good over-sized card was worth it. At this point, I think I've opened more solid tins than underwhelming ones. I would like to get some ore Titanium tins and see what they have to offer. So far they have been very good to me!

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, December 28, 2014

Retail Review #133 (09/10 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster)

It's been a good long while since I've opened one of these 09/10 Series 2 blaster boxes. I remember these cards fondly as they were the first hockey cards I bought when I returned to the hobby. Though I don't really need any of the rookie cards found here anymore, it's still fun to open up one of these blasters for a trip down memory lane.

Price - 

Packs - 12
09/10 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster Packs

Back in 2010 I bought a lot of UD Series 2 retail at my local Target store. I remember buying pack after pack out of the same retail box they had of the shelf. I almost bought out the entire box, but I didn't get one Young Gun card or hit. I wonder if that box was searched... or maybe I was just unlucky. I don't know, but I sure did spend a lot of money on a ton of base cards back then!

I know that I'll be finding insert cards and Young Guns in this blaster. Upper Deck is always good about putting in a little variety when it comes to their main brand retail blasters to keep things interesting.

I'll open this blaster and see what comes out:

Review -
I don't know why, but I always forget about the Victory update cards that can come out of these blasters. Putting these cards in the packs adds even more variety to the opening experience. Victory is definitely not a brand of card that is on my favorites list, but it's still nice to have a chance at pulling some rookie cards of the top players that year.

I actually got quite a few non-base cards from this blaster. There was a Mark Messier Hockey Heroes card, a Draft Day Gems Mark Streit, and a Rookie Debut of Jonas Gustavsson. I remember fondly inserts like Rookie Debut and Draft Day Gems. They had a nice theme to them and added a little bit of fun to the set.

Here were my favorite cards out of this blaster:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Evgeni Malkin Card No. 293
This card actually made the top 3 the last time I opened up a blaster of 09/10 UD Series 2 hockey. I guess I like it that much! Super photo right here.

#2 - Victor Hedman Card No. 332
Hedman was one of the bigger rookies to get in 09/10. He was a very high draft pick, but because he plays defense his cards may never rise to the highest levels.

#1 - Mikael Backlund Card No. 454
I didn't get a huge name Young Gun, but I do recognize Backlund from back in the day. I'll always be a fan of these Young Guns - they are always a pleasure to pull!

Overall Value -
This was not the best Series 2 blaster ever... but it was pretty solid. I really enjoyed the experience of opening it, and I think other collectors would too. 2009/10 was a pretty good year for rookie cards. In Series 2 you can even have the chance of pulling my favorite player's Young Gun: Logan Couture. Though I've opened up a lot of these blasters, I definitely wouldn't mind busting some more in the future.

Let me know what you thought of my 09/10 Upper Deck Series 2 blaster 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!