Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey - Canvas Exclusive Checklist

There are 20 players who appear in the 'UD Canvas' insert set that do not appear on the Series 1 base set checklist. While it is highly unlikely they will be omitted from Series 2, I figured why not post a list to help those who need it.

Here you are.....

C2 - Bobby Ryan
C6 - Tuukka Rask
C7 - Patrice Bergeron
C11 - Thomas Vanek
C22 - Jussi Jokinen
C24 - Patrick Kane
C27 - Matt Duchene
C30 - Steve Mason
C36 - Pavel Datsyuk
C41 - Anze Kopitar
C43 - Niklas Backstrom
C45 - Tomas Plekanec
C47 - Michael Cammalleri
C53 - Ilya Kovalchuk
C57 - Marian Gaborik
C58 - Sean Avery
C62 - Scott Hartnell
C77 - Vincent Lecavalier
C83 - Alexandre Burrows
C86 - Nicklas Backstrom


Monday, November 28, 2011

It Is Cyber Monday and The World Has Gone Nuts!!

Waking up to news that coaches in the NHL are losing their jobs and MLB Executives are being handed their walking papers, what exactly is there to be thankful for a mere 72 hours removed from turkey dinner?

Well, Topps snuck this little nugget into my e-mail this morning.......


I am not one to get excited over mock ups but, I can tell you this, I will be waiting for Spring 2012 when collectors will be able to get their hands on the very first Topps certified autograph cards of Ken Griffey Jr.

Nice move Topps!!


Photoshop Phun Over At Beckett.com

Someone forgot to lockdown the computers in Dallas and the gremlins got in to play. As far as I am concerned this card need never happen.....

As much fun as it would be watching pitchers sweat Jose Bautista and Pujols, something tells me I would rather have Adam Lind in the lineup over A-Poo. Besides, the guy cannot even wear the right hat?!?!


But that is just me.

Take a trip over to the Beckett Blog and see how Albert might look dressed for your favorite team.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Box Break.......sort of... - 2011-12 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey

After a rather quiet 2 or 3 months of collecting I am happy that it is about time I post something hobby related to the blog. Now that the NHL season is heating up Upper Deck moves to the forefront of of the minds of collectors. Their flagship product that fails to disappoint year in and year out has hit shelves and is ready to impress once again.

As the title of this entry suggests, the normal form taken of breaking a Hobby box and showing it off takes a bit of a twist here, for good reason. One of the staples of Upper Deck hockey has been their 'Young Guns' Rookie cards. The anticipation and expectation collectors have for the hottest rookies in the NHL and their debut on cardboard is unparalleled in the hobby. With that in mind it made much more sense for me to break 3 Retail tins of Series 1 instead of 1 Hobby box.

I'll explain.

The insertion ratio between Hobby boxes and Retail tins is exactly the same. 'Young Guns' are inserted 1:4 packs. With a little bit of vigorous searching I found that I could purchase 3 Retail tins for roughly the same price as 1 Hobby box. Retail tins contain 12 packs with 8 cards per pack, Hobby boxes contain 24 packs with 8 cards per pack. In the end the collector gets 9 'Young Guns' from retail as opposed to 6 from a single box. Simple.

One of the other "bonuses" I discovered was that there were other ratios that were exactly the same between Hobby boxes and Retail tins, including 2 of the inserts sets I have decided to chase. That being said, there are Hobby "exclusive" inserts that one forfeits the opportunity of pulling when it comes to Retail, so, there is a trade off for sure. I will cover the breakdowns and ratios as we move along.

As with any Box Break here we need music. We have to have music. Cue the music!!

Soundtrack - Fitz and The Tantrums - Pickin' Up The Pieces

2010-11 Upper Deck Hockey - Series 1

Tin Breakdown - 12 packs per tin
Pack Breakdown - 8 cards per pack

The checklist for this product is simple, as it should be for any flagship. Cards 1-200 feature veterans and current players from all 30 NHL teams that make up the base set. Cards 201-250 are the 'Young Guns' Rookie Cards.

Easy, simple and uncomplicated. Collectors like that.

Base Set cards - 187/200 (93.5%)
Doubles - 67

Upper Deck hockey is and always has been defined by the photography on its cards. The 2011-12 installment continues that tradition. There are certain elements that come to be expected with persistence as a product line ages. To keep delivering on those every year and also having them remain fresh is quite the challenge. Simply put, there are some beautiful photographs on these cards and Upper Deck succeeds again. My 2 favorites are full of colour and shy away from the traditional photos we have come to expect.

Card #113 - Drew Doughty (LA Kings)

Card #50 Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh Penguins)

As for the rest of the cards there are other non-traditional photos that make thumbing through this set truly enjoyable. Some catch your eye from the moment you see them and others require a double and sometimes triple take.

Card #197 Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks)

Card #64 Braydon Coburn (Philadelphia Flyers)

Card #81 Michael Grabner (N.Y. Islanders)

Card #44 Logan Couture (San Jose Sharks)

Card #8 Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals)

Other photos completely miss. There are certain situations that do not translate well to cardboard. One type of photo that needs to disappear from the hobby is the inside-the-net camera. These are not interesting, these are not innovative and they fail to capture anything about the game. They are annoying fish-eye lensed wastes. Press scrums, forget them PLEASE?!? As a Phaneuf collector, this card is plain bad.

Card #9 Mike Knuble (Washington Capitals)

Card #48 Kristopher Letang (Pittsburgh Penguins)

Card #61 Daniel Briere (Philadelphia Flyers)

Card #20 Dion Phaneuf (Toronto Maple Leafs)

The other plus that needs to be mentioned here is the inclusion of photos with players in their team's third jerseys. While worn for a relatively few number of games these jerseys are, in some cases, better looking than the regular jerseys. Thumbs-up to Upper Deck for including these jerseys quite prominently in Series 1.

Card #146 Rick Nash (Columbus Blue Jackets)

Card #174 Mikka Kiprusoff (Calgary Flames)

Card #36 Chris Stewart (St.Louis Blues)

The backs of these cards are exactly how they should be. No clutter, statistics are front and centre. A little write-up/personal trivia on each player and a logo. PERFECT!! As an added bonus the head-shot of the player used on the back of the card is from a completely different photo. These are the small touches that make a product enjoyable.

Card #161 Patrick Sharp (Chicago Blackhawks)

I mentioned earlier that the insert ratios between Hobby and Retail are similar in a number of inserts available in Series 1. If these are the cards you are chasing then Retail makes much more sense economically than Hobby. First, here is a look at the inserts and their ratios available in both releases.

Young Guns (1:4)
UD Canvas (1:6)
UD Canvas Young Guns (1:48)
1950's Hockey Heroes (1:12)
1950's Hockey Heroes Header card (1:600)
All-World Team (1:12)
All-World Team SP (1:120)

Without a doubt it is the 'Young Guns' Rookie cards that drive this product. I hardly believe that to be a surprise to anyone or an overstatement. For this single reason I believe the Retail tins to be vastly superior to the Hobby boxes. For the price of 1 Hobby box I was able to get 3 Retail tins and as a consequence I was able to get 3 more 'Young Guns' than I could normally expect. While I was shutout on the big names I will definitely return to the tins in hopes of catch a RNH Young Guns Rookie.

Here are the 'Young Guns' I did come away with....

Tin #1

Card #238 Harri Sateri (San Jose Sharks), Card #212 Cam Atkinson (Columbus Blue Jackets), Card #219 Aaron Palushaj (Montreal Canadiens)

Tin #2

Card #210 John Moore (Columbus Blue Jackets), Card #247 Carl Klingberg (Winnipeg Jets), Card #219 Aaron Palushaj (Montreal Canadiens)

Tin #3

Card #211 David Savard (Columbus Blue Jackets), Card #236 Erik Gustafsson (Philadelphia Flyers), Card #233 Stephane Da Costa (Ottawa Senators)

There are 2 inserts that vary between Hobby and Retail, although they really are not enough to significantly sway the purchase decision. The Upper Deck Game Jersey inserts fall 1:24 in Retail which is 1 every other tin. In Hobby they fall 1:13 packs. The EA Ultimate Team insert set cards fall 1:8 packs in Retail with Hobby being a scarce 1:24 pack ratio.

Jersey cards have never been an incentive for me to purchase a product and have never been a set that I would consider chasing. That being said, the Lacavalier 2-colour jersey swatch was a nice hit out of a Retail product. If companies would just make these swatches larger then when a collector hits one it might make them feel like they are getting something significant for their money.

Upper Deck Jerseys

Card #GJ-AS Alexander Semin (Washington Capitals)

Card #GJ-VL Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay Lightning)

EA Ultimate Team

Card #EA15 Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings) (x2), Card #EA4 Henrik Sedin (Vancouver Canucks), Card #EA14 Jarret Stoll (Los Angeles Kings)

Card #EA9 Corey Perry (Anaheim Ducks)

With the EA Ultimate Team cards I really do not see these cards making too big a splash amongst collectors. Rarely do people seem to scramble to obtain cards that are essentially a cross-promotion advertisement for video games. According to the checklist found here the Corey Perry is a short-print.

The 'All-World Team' insert set is a 40-card set showcasing the best players in the NHL and their country of origin. Any time I see insert sets like these my first thought is "filler". If you want to produce an insert set with the top players in the NHL then be a little more creative about it. Country-of-origin sub-sets have been done to death, all the way back to 1992-93 Parkhurst even. Cards #31-40 in this Upper Deck Series 1 insert set are short-printed.

Card #AW7 David Krejci (Boston Bruins)

Card #AW12 Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit Red Wings)

Card #AW4 Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens)

Insert sets like 'All-World Team' bother me as a player collector because all it succeeds in doing is raising the price on a relatively insignificant card of a player I collect by making it an insert. Add to that the inflation that short-printing certain players brings and you have a waste of cardboard. Thanks Upper Deck.

Now we get to the 2 insert sets that I thoroughly enjoy with this product, with 1 of them being a set that I will unabashedly profess my undying devotion to.

In their very first year in the industry Upper Deck introduced an insert set to collectors that has been one of the best ideas ever to hit the hobby. Their 'Heroes' set always seemed focused on an individual who was considered an Icon in their respective sport. In the 2011-12 Series 1 Hockey release we are presented with a 12-card 'Hockey Heroes' set focusing on players from the 1950's. There is a 13th card to the set but it is an extremely tough pull. Seeded 1:600 packs it features Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull and Andy Bathgate and is the header card/checklist for the rest of the set. The card is a hand-painted Art card similar to the Presidential series released in Goodwin Champions earlier this year. I imagine my set will remain incomplete for some time without this final header card but that IS part of the "joy" of collecting.

Here are the 3 Hockey Heroes I pulled....

Card #HH1 Johnny Bower

Card #HH3 Andy Bathgate

Card #HH9 Gordie Howe

I really like the matching of the sepia tone of the background of the photos and the black and white sharpness of the player being featured. This is a set that feeds the historian part of me as well as keeping players from days gone by from looking out of place on new card releases. The "look and feel" of these cards is what Topps missed with their veteran variations in their baseball product.

There is also an autographed version of the 1950's Heroes set with each card being hand-numbered out of 15, including the Howe/Hull/Bathgate Header card. I would love to see someone try and complete that set.

Last, but definitely not least, we get to the single solitary reason why I am buying Upper Deck Hockey this year. When I first read about these cards on the sell sheets I was excited to see them released. I have fallen in love with the 2008-09 Masterpieces Hockey release and am working on several projects involving that set. The canvas look to cards is one of my all-time favorites.

When I saw a canvas set was slated for Series 1 I knew I would be chasing down this set. Quite honestly I expected a full parallel set. What collectors were presented with was something better.

'UD Canvas' is a 120-card set made up of 90 veterans, of which 69 players have a base card in Series 1, and a select 30 of the 50 Young Guns Rookies. What makes this set so intriguing is that Upper Deck has done some serious work and included entirely different photographs for each card. While not perfect, this inclusion has me excited enough to chase the set. In fact, I am over 1/3 complete already.

Have a look at the 6 'UD Canvas' cards I pulled from this break....

Card #C90 Checklist

Card #C77 Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay Lightning)

Card #C50 Shea Weber (Nashville Predators)

Card #C17 Jay Bouwmeester (Calgary Flames)

Card #C11 Thomas Vanek (Buffalo Sabres)

Card #C87 Mike Green (Washington Capitals)

The colours in the photos really stand out on this type of card and the complete lack of foil is a godsend. Even the backs of the cards are completely different design from the base cards. I absolutely love this set. I am okay with the fact it is an insert/chase set. I do not mind having to purchase several tins to build my set. Upper Deck has a winner with 'UD Canvas'

As I mentioned earlier the design and photos on the Canvas cards are entirely different from the cards in the base set. This matters to collectors.

Ryan Miller - Base card

Ryan Miller - Canvas card

Right about here is where the similarities between the Retail and the Hobby release end. There are a number of Hobby-Exclusive inserts that one can hope to acquire, however, the insert ratios make them a bit too hard to pull to even begin to challenge for the economical win that is Retail.

Hobby box inserts include;

Base Set Parallel (1:48) made up of;

Base Set 'Exclusive' Parallel #/100
Base Set 'Exclusive Spectrum' Parallel #/10

Acetate Die-Cuts (1:288) consisting of;

Clear Cut Honoured Members #/100
Clear Cut Foundations #/25
Clear Cut Leaders #/10

As I mentioned before, while not exclusives, the Upper Deck Memorabilia cards are an easier find in Hobby boxes, falling roughly 2 per box, but the price of Retail makes up for that. Out of 3 tins I pulled 2 Jersey cards. The important difference with Hobby is that you have a shot at Patch cards #/15 and Autograph cards inserted at a ratio of 1:288 packs.

There is one Retail exclusive that adds another "bonus", if you will, to buying the tins. Each tin comes with a "topper" postcard commemorating the 2011 Winter Classic played between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. Each card in this 14-card set comes nicely preserved in a clear plastic protector so there is really no need to take it out. Once again, great forethought on the part of Upper Deck. I like when the cards I buy are protected until they get to me.

Here are my 3 Winter Classic cards.

Card #WC5

Card #WC6

Card #WC14

I am not sure I am a fan of the over-sized cards. Perhaps the lack of convenient storage options is what keeps me from liking these cards. I did collect the Wayne Gretzky over-sized set from 2008-09 Retail O-Pee-Chee but I do curse Upper Deck every time I have to find a place to store them.

All things considered the most anticipated Hockey set to be released every year is the Upper Deck flagship. While there are a couple insert sets that are completely useless and serve as nothing more than bloat, it hardly detracts from the overall satisfaction with this product.

Everything one has come to expect from Upper Deck's signature offering is here; awesome photography, a great attention to detail in card design and an excellent Rookie Card selection. There are a few minor details that keep this product from being absolutely perfect, however, Upper Deck definitely rewards collectors with Series 1 Hockey.

Thanks for taking the time to check out this break and thanks for your patience in waiting for my lazy arse to post something new to the blog. I promise I will not be taking such a long break any more.

As always, for your listening pleasure and to play us home, here is a YouTube clip from the artist responsible for this particular break. Music-to-rip-by, Fitz and The Tantrums.....BTW, this song has one HELL of a hook......