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Friday, December 31, 2010

The Last Post of 2010 For Real - - My Continued Review of 2010-11 Hockey Cards

1As promised, I felt like sending 2010 out with one last post on my opinions of this years crop of hockey card releases thus far.  As you have probably surmised by the last post, with few exceptions, I have been less than thrilled with what we have had available to us.  With new blood on the scene, that being Panini, I think there were some expectations by many collectors that were just simply unattainable.  Anything short of genius would have been considered a failure and Panini has, in this blogger/collector's opinion, done just that...failed.

But this post isn't supposed to be a "shame on you, Panini" post.  I will save that for the other doom-sayers out there in the blog-o-sphere because they do it much better than I.  This is the follow up to my review of the 2010-11 hockey card releases that I have had the privilege (um, yeah that's a good word) of adding to my collection.  I have already expressed my thoughts on Victory, Score, Certified, and Upper Deck. 

Black Diamond has always been one of those sets that kind of sits on the outside looking in.  What I mean is that unless you buy a hobby box of this stuff, you are only going to find those three-pack blisters or an occasional 5-7 pack blaster in a retail store.  It isn't the kind of set that you are going to build by purchasing retail.  In fact, this isn't really a set builders set at all.  It never has been.  Black Diamond is traditionally known for its multi-tiered cards that range from the basic single diamond up to the quad diamond which feature many of today's superstar players.  Because I have been shying away from my LCS as of late, I figured one blaster couldn't hurt.  These cards don't scan very well since they are covered in silver foil so I didn't bother.  Needless to say, I pulled 4 cards that weren't single diamond...a double diamond Chris Pronger and Jordan Staal, a Nick Palmieri Rookie Gems (triple diamond), and a Steven Stamkos quad diamond.  So if anything, at least I got one Penguin card to go into my PC.  Other than that, I don't know why I keep giving this release the time of day.  Unless I see some great discounts on boxes, I don't see myself building this or buying anymore.

Donruss.  I could have just stopped after that period there but in the spirit of full disclosure, I figured I would give the old Panini one more chance to disappoint and anger me.  These haven't been out that long and while returning some items from Christmas, I happened upon some freshly displayed rack packs.  40 cards for $5 comes out to a really cheap per card ratio so I figured it was worth a shot to see what the revival of Donruss would unleash on the world.  I am going out on a limb here but I have to say that I don't hate them.  The cards themselves are by no means the best looking cards out there but they aren't awful.  They feature nice action shots of the players bordered on the right by a stripe of the team colors that extends from top to bottom.  The player name, team, and Donruss logo, despite being a little large, are mostly unobtrusive to the cards themselves.  That backs, on the other hand, look just like every other Panini release and leave a bad taste in your mouth considering how the fronts had offered up something different for a change.  I don't remember how many packs I got but I pulled almost the same "hits" as I would have from a hobby box.  I got 2 Boys of Winter instead of 3, 1 GU instead of 2, 2 Ultimate Draft cards, 1 Tough Times which feature enforcers, 4 Rated Rookies instead of 6, and after seeing the Justin Bieber Fans Of the Game cards floating around Ebay, I am glad I didn't pull any of those.  Overall though, I was pretty happy with this set and once I get around to it, I may try to put this one together.

Artifacts is usually a set that I put together every year since the base cards number to 100 and it is usually fairly easy to complete.  Plus, these always look good in an album.  This year is no different.  The design theme is essentially the same with the player on the front surrounded by some type artificial background.  One year was Greek columns, another year was some gold foil that gave it an antique look.  They have also used a sort of horseshoe design that looked almost like a pattern you would find on some ornate marble architecture.  This year is smoke, or fog.  It reminds me of player introductions before a big game with all the lights out in the arena and only a single spotlight on the ice where the player emerges from the tunnel through a cloud of smoke.  The effect works 10 fold on the Stars and Legends subsets.  I have only picked up a few packs of these so I am no where near being able to put a set together but ultimately I will.  Did I mention they look good in an album?

Last but certainly not least, is O-Pee-Chee.  This is always my white whale set.  Every year I set off down the path of trying to complete this monster but I have yet to do so.  Despite the almost impossibility of completing them, I still have fun trying.  This years set toned down the technicolor, Fruit Stripe gum style from last year and went with a more subtle black and grey border.  Unfortunately, they once again took up too much of the card with the logo.  It takes up 20% of the bottom of the card.  It is written in about a 26 point size font, while the player name is in a 10 point.  It also means the player photo is smaller and because of this, they look like they are all taken from a distance and then cropped to make them look closer.  This is Upper Deck.  The company known for vibrant, full-color, full-action shots that fill most of the card.  I realize there is a different concept applied to O-Pee-Chee but this is starting to get ridiculous.  Each year, it seems like more and more of the photo is being cropped away in favor of the design border.  The card backs look just like the other O-Pee-Chee cards from the last three years...plain grey/brown cardboard with a few player stat lines and the team logo in the background.  Regardless of some of the shortcomings, I still love this set.

The Retro variations are stellar this year as they look kind of like the 73-74 All Star cards and the Marquee Legends and Rookies share the same feel of design with the 76-77 set.  The Stat Kings, Trophy Winners, and Team Leader cards have all been toned down too as they are now on heavy glossy stock instead of the foilboard from last year.  The only foil I have seen so far from what I have pulled are in the parallels of the the Retro Parallel set...the parallels of the parallels.  My only mystery is whether or not there are Retro back variations or not.  I pulled a Sidney Crosby and Marty Turco retro parallel with different player stats on the back.  The Crosby features Niklas Backstrom and the Turco features Jack Johnson.  If anyone knows about these or can send me a link to some info, I would appreciate it.  I can't honestly believe that these were printed in error.

So that's it for the new additions to the collection for this years releases.  You may have noticed that there are a few issued sets missing from this list.  Famous Fabrics Inks is one that comes to mind.  I have no intention of purchasing a product that features 1 card for $100.  Even if I knew what the card was, I wouldn't buy one card for $100.  That's just insane.  Another set is ITG's Ultimate Memorabilia set.  I love ITG's releases but this one will set you back about $550 for 15 cards.  Again, why?  I don't want to be hosed with a $5 card that I paid $100 for.  Panini Limited is out there.  1 pack, 7 cards for about $70.  Considering their train wreck so far with releases, you would have to be smoking something illegal in all star systems to risk that.  So for now, I'm biding my time until ITG puts out Heroes & Prospects, whatever Retro set they are working on (if any), and Between the Pipes.  I also will pick up Series II Upper Deck and probably scold myself 100x's over after the fact but still pick up SP, SP Game Used, or SPx (or all three).  Oh, and let's not forget the return of Pinnacle and Crown Royale (Panini, you better not screw these up). 

And with that, I bid you all adieu.  Happy New Year.

2 comments:

  1. Of all the Panini releases, I did set the bar a little higher for the Donruss, hoping for more of the 94-95 (the foil starburst in the corner) and less 96-97. I'm not sure what to make of this year, to be honest, but I imagine these, like most Pinnacle hockey offerings, will be pretty cheap two or three years from now.

    Time to save up for OPC, though. If I get some wax, I'll certainly trade with you later on.

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  2. If you are building the OPC set let me know; I have a stack you can have.

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