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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Box Break (Old School) - - 1995-96 Upper Deck Retail

I decided to start doing some house cleaning.  You may have noticed a few changes around here.including a semi-redesign of the page with a new, sleeker header.  I like it at least.  Oh, and the address is now a dot com.  I have wanted to do that for quite a while and finally decided to go ahead with it.  I have a few more tricks up my sleeve so if you care, stay tuned.  But for now, I noticed I had a bunch of posts started but never finished so I figured why not get these into the land of the living?  Lets start with an old school box break.

I was at my LCS a few weeks ago (at least it was when I started this post originally), partially to kill some time and partially to check out whatever new hockey releases donned the shelves.  After deeply pondering my options, I couldn't decide between a couple boxes.  The shop owner, who must have a psychology degree because he can read a situation very well, decided to make me an offer that I couldn't refuse so that I would take both boxes and he would make the sale.  Classic deal making, if I do say so myself.

Since sometimes you have to go "old school", a box of 1995-96 Upper Deck Series I Retail was thrown into the mix for good measure. I don't have many of these in my collection other than a few singles here and there.  These came from an era in time when I took a hiatus from collecting.  It's hard to keep a hobby going when you have a full time student schedule and three jobs to help pay for it.  At any rate, I always wanted to build this set because I thought it had a very appealing design because of the rounded gold foil name plate at the tops of the cards that seem to blend into the background, the inconspicuous logo and team designation on the front, and the secondary photo on the backs.  Mainly though, this was a cool set due to the border-less, live-action photography Upper Deck became synonymous with. 

Up to this point in UD Hockey history, their releases had featured some type of border around the front of the card, mostly white.  1995-96 was the first year where the border was erased and made way for a full bleed photograph.  The card backs look sort of similar to the 1994-95 cards with a black border down the left side and another full photo that extends out to the opposite edge.  Of course, unlike many of the releases we get today, the back photo is not the same as the one on the front.  The stats are also listed along with a brief write up about the player. 

Since this was a retail box, I wasn't expecting much, although I don't really remember how much different product releases were between hobby and retail 16 years ago.  This set featured parallels of the base cards called "Electric ICE" which were the same as the regular cards but with either silver foil or gold foil instead of the bronze color.  In the retail versions, there area also Predictor cards which for those unfamiliar were kind of a gambling game where essentially you would get a card of a player with a stat.  If they hit that mark, you would win.  I don't really remember the prize other than it being a complete set of winning predictor cards, although the "fine print" says the total approx. retail value of the trade cards are $250,000 US.  In 2011 money, that's like $10!!  Looking back, the only winners were the Jagr's, Lemieux's, and Patrick Roy cards.

Ok, enough build up.  What is in the packs?  As I said, this is series I.  There are 270 base cards.  Electric ICE are inserted 1 per pack.  Gold come about 1 per box.  Predictor cards should also be about 1 per box.  There is an insert set in series I called Freeze Frame at about 1 per box and the extremely elusive "Predictor Pack" which features an entire 12 card pack of Predictor cards at 1 per 175 packs (approx 6 boxes).  There are also Gretzky Collection cards that feature different events in the career of the Great One.

Within the set itself, there are base cards, a subset of Star Rookies which replaced the Young Guns temporarily, the Mike Milbury's Scouting Report subset, and a subset of 5th Anniversary cards with a few of the 90/91 key cards with different photos on the backs and a 5th Anniversary logo.  Hey, in the early-mid 90s, 5 years was a big deal. 

Drum roll, please...Here's my box

12 Cards/Pack
36 Packs/Box
Base Cards:  234/270 (87%)
Duplicates:  157!!
Inserts:  1 - Wayne Gretzky Collection #12
Parallels:  Electric Ice - 36; Electric Ice Gold -1

Some examples of the base card design.  Here we have Markus Naslund as a Pen, Khabibulin making an acrobatic save, David Oliver being speared into the net, and Esa Tikkanen amidst a team celebration.

Electric Ice cards look just like the base but with the EI logo down the right side.  The Primeau is the Gold version.  These were just three goalie shots that I liked.

Two of the subsets with the Mike Milbury Scouting Report and the back of a 5th Anniversary card featuring Super Mario.  The front is his "Lemieux's Scoring Streak" card from the 1990-91 set.  Dougy G sported the toothless look well before Duncan Keith made it popular. 

Some of the Star Rookies including Daymond Langkow and the Senior Yearbook photos of Aki-Petteri Berg and Shane Doan.  That Doan card has got to be one of the worst cards of all time.  Notice I said "one of".  There are many.  And yet, at the same time, it is equally as awesome.

As you can see, I got no Predictor cards, which is fine by me since I don't have a time machine handy.  I would have liked a Freeze Frame or two but the Gretzky Collection card is alright too since it is apparently a tough pull at only 1 per box or so.  The Gold card I got was the Keith Primeau 5th Anniversary card.  I think I have about 40 of the original version.  But for me, the biggest disappointment was the 157 doubles.  Quality control was a far cry from what it is now (and it isn't that great now).  To have a set with only 270 cards and not be able to complete it out of 432 cards is kind of ridiculous if you ask me.  In fact, most of the packs had duplicate cards in the same packs.

Maybe we put up with much more as collector's back then.  Either way though, I still like this set and will be trying to complete it sometime in the future.  If anyone else is trying the same feat, let me know because I may have some that you need.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

In case you hadn't noticed...

The Real DFG is now a Real URL.  


You can change your bookmarks if you want or just leave 'em.  Blogger should send you to the right place. (Should being the operative word)

There may be changes afoot as well.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Redemption Song - - 2010-11 Donruss

I think I posted once or twice about a box of Donruss I opened a long time ago.  Well one of the autograph hits in the box was a redemption for a Die-Cut Gem Auto of Teemu Selanne.  I wasn't sure what I wanted to do at the time.  Some of the auto redemption cards were going for upwards of $100 on the Bay and I was potentially looking to turn a profit.  But I thought better of it and decided to send in the code.

I'm now glad I did...Submitted 2/22/11...Received 7/5/2011...133 days.

Die-Cut card?  Check.  Low production run?  Check, out of /25.  Sticker auto?  Yeah, so what.  Teemu is a sure first ballot HOFer.  He has to be.  Going into this year, he was #1 in total goals, even strength goals, power play goals, and game winning goals amongst all active players.    Plus he was third in total points with 1260.  Even the guy sitting in the stands behind him is in awe of how awesome this card is. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Well That Didn't Go As Planned, Now Did It?

Well as most of you know, JagrWatch 2011 is officially over.  After weeks (months) of speculation and posturing, the wait for Jaromir Jagr to come back to the NHL officially ended yesterday as the Penguins second greatest player of all time decided that it was in his best interest to take a job in Philadelphia.  That's right, people.  I said Philadelphia.  You know?  The Penguins biggest rivals!! 

In the last two days, the Pens were led to believe by the people in the Jagr camp (ie, Petr Svoboda, his agent) that he was still making a tough decision but his heart was in Pittsburgh.  He had always talked quite candidly about how he left the city early last decade and how he always regretted (or so he claimed) how it all went down.  Does anyone remember the "dying inside" comment?  I do.  The city of Pittsburgh does.  But we got over it.  He spoke before of being willing to take a pay cur or even play for nothing if he could just play again for Mario Lemieux and show him that he still had something in the tank.  Remember the interview during the Olympics?  I do.  The city of Pittsburgh does. 

Everyone seemed willing to let bygones be bygones and move on.  Getting one of the most storied players in franchise history had set the city a buzz with excitement.  It also polarized many Penguin fans because of that feeling everyone has for someone that they loved dearly who betrayed their trust and respect.  On one side you had the people that wanted him back, if nothing else, but to bring himself back into the Pittsburgh Penguin family and retire where he belongs.  On the other side were the naysayers that saw nothing but the same old Jagr antics that we last saw, upsetting the locker room chemistry and wreaking havoc off the ice.  Then there were those, like yours truly that saw a different perspective.  I saw a guy that was willing to put aside his ego, admit his mistakes, and rejoin a team that made him who he was.  He was a guy that despite being almost 40, can still score, can still skate, and can still scrap.  We all saw that in the World Championships and Olympics (albeit on wider ice).  Having a guy like that would drastically improve not only one of the top lines on the wing by complimenting Crosby or Malkin, but also jumpstart the power play that was all but non-existent last season. 

But alas, these shenanigans that transpired yesterday, I'm not too sure either myself, or the city of Pittsburgh will ever get over.  When it came down do it, despite what you might hear different, it came down to two things.  The same exact two things that doomed the Jagr/Penguins relationship the last time.  Money and Ego.  With all the contact his agent and the Penguins had over the course of the last month or so, you would have thought a deal was already worked out.  Even his agent, after the fact of course, said this wasn't about money.  The Pens deal was a one year deal worth $2Million, hardly a feeble gesture to a guy that is just short of 40 and hasn't played the NHL style of game for a few years.  If he really wanted to come back to Mario, he would have taken that in a heartbeat.  Svoboda even said he had another offer of $6Million which I doubt, but if that's the case then why not go there?  Why go somewhere that is only offering $1.3Million more than the place you say your heart is in?  It doesn't make sense.  Or does it.

Part of Jagr's problem with the Pens was that despite being the anchor of the team for so long after Mario's retirement, he never really had the lockeroom.  It was always other guys that stepped up and garnered the respect of the younger guys and kept the team together.  There were rumors of his temper tantrums and shouting matches with other players, none of which I can substantiate but it is an example of how his attitude and ego began to creep out of control.   Despite all this, he wore the Captain C and continued to put on scoring clinics night after night around the NHL.  When Mario came back, he was made to relinquish the C back to his "boss" and now teammate and assume the position of second fiddle once again.  He never really got over that and part of the reason for the jump to Washington the first time was because in a Caps jersey, he would be numero uno. 

I think same goes for Philly.  In Philadelphia, after their clearing house sweepstakes style dismantling of their team, Jagr will be that number one guy.  They have no superstars left on the Flyers other than maybe Claude Giroux or Danny Briere.  Two of their franchise players with seemingly lifetime contracts were wiped out.  First they parted ways with Jeff Carter who is one of few pure 40 goal scorers left in the league, taking a draft pick and Jakob Voracek from the Jackets.  Then they dumped their captain and the heart and soul of the team, Mike Richards to Los Angeles for Wayne Simmonds and Braydon Schenn. 

So Jagr is now the man.  His agent told Pittsburgh sports radio yesterday that this decision was based on Jagr going where he had the best chance to succeed.  He didn't say best chance to win, he said succeed.  And there it is.  He wants a chance to go out on top.  A chance to win a scoring title again.  A chance to win another trophy without the name Stanley on it.  A chance to be the center of attention and the focal point of a line with all eyes on him.  That would shut up the critics.  That would make all the haters sit back and say, "Hmmm?  Maybe he still has it."  He wouldn't have gotten that in Pittsburgh.  At best, he would have been the fourth best player on the team.  A worst, maybe the sixth best.  He would be playing under the shadow of Sidney Crosby, who has been molded into one of the all time greats already at an early age by that same man that previously led the way for his success. 

So yes, I'm upset.  I can't say I won't ever get over it.  Despite the fact that it's just a sport, being a fan goes a bit deeper than that.  When something happens to your team, you feel it too.  The excitement as well as the agony are felt by everyone that calls themselves fans.  I got myself sucked into the frenzy caused by a former player, legend, and childhood "hero"s attempt at another shot at greatness.  Instead, i will have to settle by watching it happen in an orange and black jersey. 

But just to pour salt in the wound, Philadelphia went a step further and picked Max Talbot off the free agency wire, signing him to a five year deal.  Because of his play last season and his drop in production, the offer made by the Pens for him to stay involved a pay cut.  Max was a fan favorite in Pittsburgh for not only his demeanor on the ice, but his civic contributions around the city for various charities and events.  Plus, who could forget that fight with Carcillo that jump started the Pens comeback on their way to the Stanley Cup.  Or, the two goals he scored to help win said Cup.  I have no ill will for Max other than the team he chose.  I don't blame him for not wanting a pay cut when someone else was willing to offer him more.  But why did it have to by Philly?  I think he will do well and I wish him the best. 

Mike Rupp also was signed by the Rangers.  I think Ranger fans are still in shock that Jagr wasn't even offered a deal by the team he last played for, and played well.  Jagr made that team somewhat relevant again prior to the lockout, until Glen Sather wouldn't offer him a longer term deal.  He jumped ship to the KHL and had been there ever since.  See there I go, back to Jagr.  I wish Mike Rupp well too and hope he succeeds with New York.

Man I'm so ready for hockey season again.