Saturday, October 23, 2010

Box Break - 2010-11 Panini Certified Hockey

It has been quite a long time since I have posted anything on this blog of mine. Even longer since I have broken any boxes of product. The reason for the lack of posts is I have been working on a possible career change. The lack of box breaks has stemmed from a slight dis-interest in product but more directly a lack of significant funds.

Until today.

Today saw the release of Topps Series 3 Baseball. I have 2 jumbo boxes on order and will be receiving them shortly. I hope.

Today I also stopped by another card store to specifically get a box of cards from a "New Kid on the Block", so to speak. This week saw the release of the inaugural edition of Panini's Certified NHL Trading Cards release. Having seen numerous breaks already and staring regularly at the sell sheets I had to break down and get myself a box.

And so, without further yammering we can get to the break.

Soundtrack - Frank Zappa - Broadway The Hard Way

Box Breakdown - 10 packs per box
Pack Breakdown - 5 cards per pack

Each box yields, on average, 1 Auto card, 2 Relic cards, 1 Red Mirror parallel, 1 other Auto or Relic card and 4 other inserts or parallels. The base set is made up of 150 cards featuring current players and 20 cards featuring, as Panini has coined them, "Immortals".

Base Cards - 45/170 (26%)
Doubles - 0 (Anything other than this number would be a disgrace)

As far as the design of the base cards, they are very nice looking cards. They give the set a sense of quality that shows Panini actually cared about their design. Too often base sets look as if they were given a quick once over and sent on to the printers. The mirror-board style really lets the colours of the team jerseys stand out. I do not really understand the point of the foil on the cards. There is just enough to make the parallel sets worth doing without ruining the overall appeal of the card, but they are not used to colour the different versions. I would rather have seen the foil omitted and the rest of the background in the photo revealed. The backs of the cards are a bit disappointing. I am a stat junkie and a traditionalist, the backs of cards are for stats, so please use it for that.

All that being said, I still believe this is a good looking base set. Here are a few examples.

When it comes to the "hits" and inserts in 2010-11 Certified, Panini takes the Upper Deck approach with their insert ratios. By that I mean they are kept secret from consumers. I do not understand this approach. Insert ratios are the first thing I look for in a product. I want to know the odds. I'm not Han Solo.

Certified is plentiful when it comes to inserts, in fact there are 14 different insert sets available in this product. I also mentioned that there are several different coloured parallel versions available of each card in 'Certified', 5 in fact, with each colour being serial numbered to increasing scarcity all the way to the expected 1 of 1's.

Firstly, there are three insert sets that are actually extensions of the base set. The 'Freshman Signatures' set is 18 cards and extend the base set numbering 171 to 188. These autographs are on-card which is great, unfortunately, save a couple of names on the checklist, this set is made up of players who are a bit of a stretch to ever do anything significant in the NHL. In contrast, the 'Freshman Fabric Signatures' set is made of of players who will have an immediate impact with their respective teams. This 12 card set continues the 'Certified' set with numbers 189 to 200. The final 11 cards of the set are comprised of sticker auto rookies finishing off the set numbered 201 to 211.

The remaining inserts are all self-contained sets.

Fabric of the Game - 150 cards
Big Men on Campus - 15 cards
Junior Legacy - 20 cards
Masked Marvels - 25 cards
Certified Legends - 12 cards
Certified Champions - 25 cards
Certified Potential - 18 cards
Top Choice - 12 cards
Shirt Off My Back Combo - 15 cards
Collision Course - 10 cards
Awaiting The Call - 10 cards

Where this set really takes off for the obsessive collector is with all of the parallel versions available of each card. If you want a comprehensive breakdown of everything available then check out this page at SportsCardRadio.

The box I broke yielded everything that was to be expected. I have yet to see a break that has not.

'Certified Champions'

Ryan Getzlaf (ANH)

'Certified Legends' - Mirror Blue Parallel

Bobby Clarke (PHI)

Base Set - Mirror Red Parallel

Rick Nash (CLB)

Base Set 'Immortal' - Mirror Blue Parallel

Bryan Trottier (NYI)

Base Set - Mirror Blue Materials Jersey Parallel

Carey Price (MTL)

'Freshman Signatures'

Nick Johnson (PIT)

'Fabric of the Game'

Ryan Kessler (VAN)

'Big Men On Campus'

Brett Hull (DAL)

'Fabric of the Game' - Jersey Number Signature Paralell

Martin St.Louis (TB)

If it is necessary to compare this product to an existing one then I would liken it to Upper Deck 'Artifacts'. I busted a box of that last year at the Fall Expo as part of Upper Deck's wrapper redemption program and liked what I saw. This year Panini will be getting my money and I will be standing in their line. My quest in this product is to pull a Jordan Eberle 'Freshman Fabric Signature' card.

For Panini's return to the Hockey Card arena this is an excellent introduction to collectors. As always there are aspects of the product that people are not going to be entirely happy with, nowadays this is to be expected. Any of the issues that collectors will have are minor at best, all of the hallmarks of a successful release are here. Player selection, card design, on-card autographs, premium patches and plenty of parallels for the player collectors to chase. I am definitely looking forward to the next box of 2010-11 Panini Certified Hockey that I bust.

As always, until next time, we end it on a musical note. Take us home Frank!