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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.