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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Box Break - - 2011-12 Panini Rookie Anthology

Back in June 2012, Panini released an end of the year product called Rookie Anthology.  Reviews were mixed for this in the beginning as the price point (over $100) was a little steep considering this is a mish-mash or all the previously released sets.  What does that mean, you ask?  Think of Upper Deck's old Rookie Update sets from the early-mid 2000s and you would be pretty close to a match.

(Contrary to popular belief, I am over the age of 9, therefore I was able to purchase and open this product without legal ramifications for both the seller and my parental guardian.)

Rookie Anthology packs "updated" rookie cards of late entry rookies and players that got to see action further in the season from their card releases earlier in the year.  This is a great improvement over jamming early releases full of redemption cards.  Crown Royale, Pinnacle, Luxury Suite and Limited are all featured with additions to the Ice Breakers checklist, the Rookie Royalty and Silhouettes checklists, and the Limited Phenoms checklist.  In addition, Panini added their own base cards as well as Rookie Treasures which feature a dual sweater or patch plus an autograph of any of the plethora of rookies.

Each box contains 10 packs with 5 cards per pack.  Guaranteed in each box are 1 Rookie Treasures card, 1 additional autograph card, and 2 memorabilia cards.  

Let's take a look at what we pulled.

First, the BASE CARDS:

When I first saw these out there, I didn't think they were anything new or fresh.  Just basically your run of the mill Panini set.  The more I saw them, though, they kind of have a way of growing on you.  

The base set cards feature a zoomed in shot of the player, fully colorized to stand out from the background.  The color coding matches the team colors on the boarders and design.  There is a, believe it or not, fairly unobtrusive product logo in the top left corner, and a gold foil stamped team logo on the right.  The players name, number, and position are arced across the bottom in a ribbon/banner type design.  They are clean, bright, and look very nice side by side in binder pages (its only a 100 card base set).  




ROOKIE INSERTS:

The interesting thing as I already mentioned, with Rookie Anthology is that it is much like the old Rookie Update sets from Upper Deck back in the day.  Panini created new updated rookie cards with high numbers for the various sets produced that season and inserted them into this product.  Here's what we pulled...


From 2011-12 Crown Royale.  This is a Rookie Royalty card of Warren Peters.  Warren is in the Penguins system now after signing with the team as a free agent in July 2012.



 

Here are the Ice Breakers from the Pinnacle "Update" set that I pulled.  With the Nufex technology in full effect, it's hard to see what is going on with these scans (especially since my scanner now wants to put stripes on everything).  And on top of that, I forgot to flip them before I uploaded them.  Clockwise, I pulled Cody Eakin from the Capitals, Calvin De Haan from the Islanders, Peter Holland from the Ducks, and Anders Nilsson from the Islanders.

GAME USED/AUTOGRAPHS:



I pulled one Rookie Rivalry card.  Here it is and features Toronto's Matt Frattin and David Rundblad from the Coyotes.  For some reason, I pulled Rundblad in a few products as a hit.  Too bad I don't collect Portland Pirates cards, or Coyotes, or Rundblad.

Here was my Rookie Treasures card which features Tomas Kubalik dual memorabilia and autograph numbered out of 499.  These RT cards are numbered either /99, /199, or /499 with an additional run of /15 inserted as case hits.  Kubalik has played 12 games for Columbus but has not had a call up this season.  He has split time in the AHL between the Springfield Falcons and the St. John's Ice Caps.

But the next card made the whole box (and then some).  If you follow my Twitter, you probably already know what is coming.




Sorry for the crooked scan.  The picture I posted on Twitter was much nicer I think.  I even got a retweet by Panini because it's such a crazy card.  This is the big one of the checklist.  The RNH  #/99 auto/dual multi-color swatch card has been moving on the secondary market, albeit at a much slower pace now that we have some time between release and now.  It's kind of funny to see the differences in final sale prices between the plain swatch ones and the multi-color ones too.  But still, I had a heck of time even pulling basic RNH cards out of products last season.  Now this???!!!  I was pretty happy as I haven't had much luck on rookie autos as of late.  Very nice card, indeed.

BONUS PACK CARD:

In every box of Rookie Anthology, there is a bonus pack that contains an additional card.  This card can be anything.  More times than not, it will contain one of the hits of the box or an extra hit.  On occasion, I have seen some of these with only base update rookies.  Mine....??

We had another pretty awesome autograph...


This is a 2011-12 Panini Limited Stanley Cup Winners Auto of Brad Marchand.  The card is some type of hybrid acetate/thick glossy/plastic-like material.  So much so, that Brad (and all the others) had to sign with a silver sharpie marker.  Brad's signature leaves something to the imagination but there is no question that it is his.  He even put his number on there.  Very nice looking card.

Overall, this is a nice Panini product.  The base cards are nice and at 100 cards for a set, it isn't too difficult to track down the ones you may need to fill a checklist.  The hits are plentiful and the opportunity to expand the base checklists of the earlier releases makes the set building chase even more challenging.

I would definitely recommend anyone to pick this up, especially at the current price point under $60.  Check around and you will find some great deals on this one.  You will probably get plenty of bang for your buck.  I know I did.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Box Break - - 2012-13 Panini Classics Signatures

One of my goals when I go to a big show like the one a couple weekends ago at the Convention Center in Chicago is to bust some wax.  98% of the time I am successful at that goal but the quality of the products sometimes leave something to the imagination.

This time, after many months of debating whether it was a good deal or not, I decided to take a stab at Panini Classics Signatures.  This product is the first time Panini put that name to their hockey line of cards and I'm sure, won't be the last.

The reason for my early trepidation on purchasing the product was the price point.  It was running upwards of $180 per box for basically 30 cards.  That was way out of my price range for a product considered mid-high end.  But the more I saw of the boxes being opened, and the more product ended up on the secondary market, the more I started to swing my vote to the "yay" side of the argument.  Finally, at the show, boxes were down under $115.  It was time to get off the fence. 


Before I show off what was in here, I'd like to point out that there were a few things I like about the product and a few that I don't.  First, my issues. 

1.  The price point.  I already mentioned it above.  $180 was just too steep of a price for what I was initially seeing coming out of the box breaks.

2.  The checklist is just too large for a mid-high end set.  I love the fact that Panini went all out to try and get 200 of the best legends that have ever played the game into their product.  But precisely for that reason, this shouldn't have been a $180 box out of the gate.  100 cards is probably the max that any product like this should have been.  Save the rest for short prints, inserts, and other goodies (a la Parkhurst Champions). 

3.  The card design is just too plain and under the radar for a higher end set.  I could even live with that if they would have used more of the card for the photos.  But you can't win them all.

But despite those facts, there is still a lot to love about this set.

1.  The Autographs.  There are a ton of autos jammed in this product.  At one auto-per-pack, every break is bound to turn a hall of famer or two.  Plus with the Line Combo cards, there is the potential for dual and triple autos of some great linemates.

2.  The player selection.  The guys featured in this set are the best ever (except Gretzky).  If there is a legend to be had, they have at least one card in this set (except Gretzky). 

3.  The photography.  While the card design leaves something on the table, especially for a higher end product, the photos used on the cards themselves are terrific.  Nostalgic is the only word that comes to mind when looking at player cards with old jerseys, teams that no longer exist, and logos that have been changed once or twice since these guys laced up their skates.




I won't leave anyone in suspense any longer and I will get right to showing off what was in here.  The box configuration is 5 cards/pack, 6 packs/box for a total of 30 cards.  There is also one autograph card per pack for a total of 6 autos.  I don't believe this set has any memorabilia cards.

First, the base cards...




As I said, the base card design kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth, especially if you paid the MSRP initially at $180.  These kind of look more like a design for the basic Score, Donruss, or Pinnacle sets (minus the Nufex).  However, as I said before, the player selection and photos used are great.  Here we have Stan Mikita, now announcer Bill Clement in the old Atlanta Flames uniform (there are B&W photos mixed with color), Kevin Dineen in the classic green Whalers jersey, and Ron Francis sporting the Captain C for Pittsburgh.  You can tell the time frame of the Francis by looking at that old Diet Pepsi ad behind him.

There were also Retired Number Banner cards too.  These fall at a rate of one per pack.  Here are the six that I pulled... 




But I'm sure what everyone came looking for was to see the autographs that were pulled.  Here they are in no particular order...

If you were a Flyers fan, this would have been a great box.  Not one, not two, but three Flyers autos.



I even pulled two Kings autographs.  One of a player I already had an auto of, one with an epic goalie mask.


And the one auto that I was kind of excited about was this...


The first Ranger to have his number retired and a member of the famed "goal-a-game" line, Rod Gilbert.  Look at how neat that signature is.  He even put his player number.  I also like how he didn't want to cover up his image with the auto so he put it over on the side below his stick.  Very nicely done.


But wait...There's more...


For some reason, six autos weren't enough.  This box had 7.  And what an auto to have as a bonus.  When I saw this card of the Roadrunner in here, I first thought it was Guy Lafleur because anytime I see a Hab without a helmet I seem to think it is Guy.  But Lafleur's linemate, 10 time Stanley Cup winner and HOFer is just as good in my book. 


But wait...There's more...

I don't know if this can be considered a "hot box" or not with the bonus autograph but this might give it that extra push...


If you can't see it because of my crappy scan, this is a redemption card for a Classic Combos - Trios auto of Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, and Yvon Cournoyer.  That's right!!  A triple auto card of three of Montreal's greatest legends.  As far as I can tell, this one will be numbered either out of #/50 or #/25.  Either way it was quite a surprise. 

So if you consider the autos by themselves, this box yielded 10 autographs.  Not bad at all for the price point, although at the normal rate of 6, it would still probably be a good deal assuming I would have pulled the same types of cards (including the redemption). 

Overall, I like this product but just wish Panini wouldn't have gone so crazy with the checklist.  There is some potential for big cards and from what I can tell so far, a great secondary market for the ones that don't fit your collection.

Monday, April 1, 2013

New Mario's For The PC

I picked up some Mario Lemieux cards at the last Sun Times show in Chicago.  I think I may have already had a bunch of them.  In fact, I'm almost sure of it but I don't care.  You can't have too many Mario's. 

I don't really have much else to say other than enjoy the scans.







This is just a parallel version of the one above.  It's known as "full length".

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy BirthEaster Day, Mr. Hockey!

Happy Easter to everyone reading (and not reading although you wouldn't know that I said that)!!


And what kind of hockey fan would I be if I didn't wish Mr. Hockey himself, Gordie Howe, a happy 85th birthday.




Howe came into the league in 1946 and quickly became one of the most dominant players in the history of the NHL.  Don't believe me?  The guy finished in the top five in scoring for 20 straight seasons.  20 straight seasons.  Yes, that's not a typo.  20 STRAIGHT SEASONS!  To put that in perspective, he was leading the NHL for a longer period of time than most of the rookies from the last three years have been alive.


Howe could play and he proved it night in and night out.  He was like the "ironman" of hockey.  Even a fractured skull couldn't keep him away from the game.  In 1960, he scored his 1,000th point in less than 1,000 games (938 to be exact) and was the first player ever to do so.  He was a 14 year veteran in the league at that point and it took eight years before someone else duplicated that feat (Jean Beliveau).  Three years later, he notched his 600th goal, again being the first player in NHL history to do so (Bobby Hull would do it too, seven years later.)


Despite retiring to join the Red Wings front office, his love of the game and the chance to play with his sons took him into the WHA to play for both the Houston Aeros and the New England Whalers.  His final season after the Whalers joined the NHL in 1979-80 was somewhat overshadowed by the emergence of Wayne Gretzky into the league but he still managed to put up 15 more goals to end his professional career with 975 (801 in the NHL) at the age of 50.


His final all-time stats rank him #1 in games played, #2 in goals, #3 in points, and #8 in assists. 

Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockey!  There will never be another like you.