Archive for October, 2010

2010-11 Score Hockey Set Review

2010-11 Score Hockey hit the shelves at my local store this weekend and since I was intrigued by the prospect of pulling a 1990-91 buyback auto, I purchased a box for the bargain basement price of $29.95.  Score is obviously a low-end product, but I have to say I’m rather impressed thus far.  I might actually try to build this set (list to go up soon).

Base Cards

2010-11 Score Hockey is great for set builders as it has a 550 card base set (if you count the 50 short printed rookies which fall at a rate of 1:2 packs).  The base cards are actually printed on some very nice stock which is relatively thick, non-glossy and surprisingly, very sturdy.  The stock actually reminds me a little bit of 1990 Leaf baseball, which was at the time, a premium product, so if you consider that this set is a value brand, we’re already off to a good start.

The base set design is, in my books, also a winner, and is obviously very reminiscent of Score’s inaugural 1990-91 release.  I like these better though, because they don’t have the weird little cut off stripe along the sides, which gives the cards a cleaner look.  Overall, very minimalist and solidly designed.  The borders don’t get in the way of the photos, which is always a plus.

The photography is crisp and generally consists of close-up player shots without much context from the action going on outside of the frame.  These are generally the type of shots I like, since players can often get lost on their own card if there’s too much going on.

2010-11 Score Hockey #241 - Drew Doughty (Yes, that's a crease on the bottom right side - I'll be hitting up Panini for a replacement and will update on how the process goes)

Rookies

This set includes 50 short printed rookies, all of whom, I believe, debuted late last season.  The headliners are of course, Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple Leafs and P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens.  At 1:2 packs, rookies aren’t hard to find, and I was able to pull both a Kadri and a Subban.  I would have preferred the rookies printed with the regular design – the flame burst background is cheesy, but these aren’t the worst looking cards I’ve seen.  It is interesting to note that the Subban card uses a different photo than the one in the previews, which I guess was a pre-production mock-up.

2010-11 Score Hockey #501 - Nazem Kadri

Inserts

I think the biggest bone I have to pick with this set is the number of inserts.  Panini has loaded this set with a bunch of inserts, many of which make better subsets.  I tend not to care too much about inserts, and one or two per set makes sense, but when you’re on the north side of five insert sets, that’s just too much and frankly, I’d rather have another base card for my set than a crappy insert.  That said, the Net Cam inserts feature some stunning photography.  The Playoff Heroes, Sudden Death and the Die Cut Snow Globes I could’ve done without.  I didn’t break any of the horribly ugly The Franchise or Canada Greats though.   Another nit-picky detail is that the inserts don’t have any sort of prefix or __ of __ designation to their numbering so it’s easy to confuse them for base set subset cards.  Rookie Redemption cards of t his year’s freshmen fall at a rate of one-per-box, and I managed to pull an signature redemption card of Rangers forward Derek Stepan.  No luck with Hall, Seguin or Eberle, maybe next time.

2010-11 Score Hockey Snow Globes #10 - Antti Niemi

2010-11 Score Hockey Net Cam #19 - Henrik Lundqvist

2010-11 Score Hockey Playoff Heroes #8 - Joe Thornton (*snicker)

2010-11 Score Hockey Sudden Death #11 - Alexander Ovechkin

Parallels

The dreaded P-word.  I generally hate parallels, and score has too many of ’em.  Glossy, French Back and Anniversary.

Summary

Unfortunately, I didn’t end up pulling one of those sweet on-card buyback autographs, but I do believe that 2010-11 Score Hockey is a solid product at a great price.  The Pluses:

+ Solid and clean base set design
+ Sturdy and thick card stock
+ Crisp close-up photograhpy
+ Fantastic price point
+ Great for set builders
+ Lots of rookies (if you’re into that)
+ OG Buyback Autos with a solid checklist!

The Minuses:

– Too many useless inserts
– No differentiated numbering on insert sets
– No guarantee of big hits (if you’re into that)
– Too many parallels
– Lazy photo selection (many of the players are depicted in old uniforms but listed under the updated team)

Overall rating: 8/10

Box Breakdown:

203 Base Set (Including rookies) = 37% (0 duplicates!)
36 Glossy Parallel
1 Rookie Signature Redemption
3 Net Cam
6 Playoff Heroes
2 Sudden Death
1 Snow Globes
_____________
252 Total Cards

October 31, 2010 at 2:04 PM 6 comments

Memorabilia Card Trade-off!

I’ve been trying to stay away from memorabilia cards in general (read my thoughts on them in the previous post) and as a move to get this bug out of my system, I’ve decided to hold a trade off of the jersey/patch cards I don’t have any desire to keep.  I never accumulated many and there’s nothing particularly spectacular, but see the menu bar at the top for the small number of items available if you are interested and leave a comment on the page if there’s something you’d like to obtain.

I’m not looking for big hits in return, just interesting cards of the players I collect – vintage stuff would be awesome!  Or 2008-09 OPC Retro Parallels!

October 23, 2010 at 3:58 PM 1 comment

Speculation, RCs and “Hits”

From RCs to Memorabilia
When I first began collecting baseball cards with my cousin in the late 80s and early 90s (the height of the Beckett era), I always wondered what the big deal with rookies were.  They always cost me a lot more to obtain and were often priced out of my reach (1989 Ken Griffey Jr. and 1990 Leaf Frank Thomas come to mind).  After all, it was just another card of a player that could be found in sets of subsequent years, the only differentiating factor (if you can call it that) is that RC years were the first year a player’s likeness graced MLB/NHL/NBA/NFL licensed cardboard.  This factor, in my mind, doesn’t justify an exponential increase in the “value” of the card, and might also explain why I don’t own the rookies of some of my favourite players like Gretzky, Ray Bourque or Roberto Clemente.

Of course, as with most kids collecting back in those days, I got swept up by the rookie card craze, and soon began disregarding pretty much all other aspects of card collecting like set building or player collecting.  I loved opening packs, but became disappointed when I didn’t break a big money rookie, even if I pulled cards of stars like Mike Schmidt or even Wayne Gretzky.  And I suppose that’s where the hobby began going downhill – with the money.  Soon, the RC craze gave way to the insert-mania of the 90s, arguably the darkest period of speculation seen by the hobby.  The super premium sets like  Finest and SP began the $10/pack price point and by the 2000s, we were eyeing triple digit pack prices justified by the “hit.”  Autographed and  memorabilia (in some cases both) RCs of even highly irrelevant players began commanding ludicrous prices on the secondary market.

I am, admittedly, guilty of getting swept up in the “hit” craze too.  I had all but forgotten why I got into the hobby in the first place, which was finding cards of my favourite players in packs.  For me, it was never about set building, but rather about player collecting.  However, I had given up on player collecting and just began hoarding cards of the most promising minor leaguers and memorabilia cards.  This took out much of the joy in the hobby for me, and I soon left, feeling disgusted by $100 packs and the glut of greedy 40 and 50 year-olds at the hobby stores buying up boxes and cases of products like Triple Threads.

Don’t get me wrong – I feel that there is a place in the hobby for everyone regardless of age (and even for memorabilia cards when done right – more on that later), but greed is bad, and it has driven away the lifeblood of the hobby – kids.  Priced out of the market and faced with an underwhelming choice of low quality product, kids have decided to spend their time playing video games and playing TCGs like Pokemon and Yu Gi Oh (which, oddly enough, is also exorbitantly expensive, yet somehow has maintained a kid heavy player base).  I for one actually do miss the presence of excited kids at the hobby shop (make what jokes you will), and as a school teacher, I am considering trying to get students into collecting by offering up packs of product like Score or Victory as incentives in my classroom.

On Memorabilia Cards
As mentioned before, I myself did get caught up in the memorabilia craze, and do have a small number of these cards in my collection.  While I do enjoy and find it neat to own cards of Willie Mays and Roger Maris with pieces of their jerseys on them, I can’t help but feel that what we’ve gained in memorabilia cards, we’ve lost or desecrated sacred pieces of the game’s history.  Jersey cards are the hobby equivalent of putting a jersey into a wood chipper, and I feel that the swatches of cloth on my cards might have served a better purpose if they were kept intact as whole jerseys.  After all, the Willie Mays jersey hanging in someone’s house or even in a museum or gallery probably has more value, both monetary and aesthetically than a square inch of it pasted to a baseball card.

I do however, feel that there is a place for memorabilia cards in the hobby.  Some of the memorabilia cards that I enjoy most are the more esoteric ones which feature pieces of the game that are less personal than jerseys and more interesting than a sliver of bat.  2001-02 Topps Heritage Hockey had this:

2001-02 Topps Heritage #OSA-GH Stadium Seat Relic

And 2005 Topps had this:

2005 Topps Touch 'Em All #TEA-AP Base Relic

I like memorabilia cards like these which showcase more obscure items and paraphernalia from the game.  I think these are relic cards done right, without having destroyed a piece of the game better preserved whole.

A Final Thought on Autographs
The late 90s saw the beginning of the autograph boom, and I remember being wowed by Pinnacle’s Be a Player sets with their one auto per pack ratio.  At the time, I didn’t have the money to buy packs that costly, but I ran into some packs at a shop several years back and decided to give a few packs a go at something like $5 per.  My favourite card (and the best one) that came out of those packs was this:

1998-99 Pinnacle Be a Player Die Cut Auto #150 - Kelly Buchberger

Buchberger is one of my favourite lunch pailers/grinders of all time.  He was a hard nosed and gritty player, and as much as I like him, it’s not exactly what I was looking to pull in an autographed card.  This card illustrates how the demand for autographs at a one per pack ratio (never mind one per box) diluted the autograph pool so immensely that players you’ve never heard of became the majority of autograph sets.  It’s no fun to pay $10-20 per pack only to open an autograph of Jarrod Skalde.

This is why I’m applauding the way Panini is handling the autographs in their retro Score product for 2010-11 hockey.  They’ve seeded the buybacks at one per case odds with a tightly edited checklist of players that you’d actually want an autograph from – Patrick Roy, Brett Hull, Denis Savard, Bryan Trottier, and on the lower end of the spectrum, you still have solid players like Trevor Linden and Keith Primeau.  Finally, you can’t argue with the $0.99 price point.  That is how much a pack of cards should cost.

October 23, 2010 at 3:12 PM Leave a comment

Gimme Gimme Gimme

Trade me your 2008-09 OPC Retros!  I’ll take any and all!

2008-09 O-Pee-Chee Update Retro #798 - Luke Schenn

I usually detest parallels, but I geeked out when I saw these.  These are downright beautiful and very well executed by Upper Deck, and I think near perfect for a modern day product.  I especially adore the card stock.  I wish Topps would print their baseball base set on this stock every year…

October 19, 2010 at 3:16 PM 2 comments

Leadoff – A Couple of Cards I Like

These are a couple of my favourite cards for various reasons, none of which is their monetary worth.

1992-93 Upper Deck #613 - Viktor Kozlov

The reason I enjoy Kozlov’s RC has nothing to do with Kozlov, but has everything to do with the picture on the back:

The Back.

The reason I like this card so much is because of the excellent photo on the reverse.  The action shot makes Kozlov look positively gargantuan and I like to think of him as the Incredible Hulk smashing his way through the opposing defense on the way to violently smushing the goalie with his thumb.  The defenders flanking Kozlov here look like annoying gnats and seem hopelessly outmatched like a puny Wolverine trying to fight the Hulk.  Again.  They should’ve just tried to team tackle him.

1993 Upper Deck On Deck #D10 - Dennis Eckersley

I generally liked this insert set made by Upper Deck back in 1993 because it showed players in a relaxed state and provided a glimpse into their personalities.  At the time, I traded a Carlos Delgado card from this set to a speculator who gave me 14 of the cards from this set.  I was happy at the time until I figured out Delgado was going to be a star for my hometown Blue Jays, but in retrospect, I’m now much happier with the haul I took in.  This card of Eck isn’t appealing to me because of the front though – again, the back hides the real treasure.

Can you spot Eck's comedically poor judgment?

This card is hilarious.  Most players included in this set were asked to name a player they’d pick to start a team around, and while there were many obvious choices, Eckersley for some reason seems to fear Travis Fryman as if he were God himself and wasn’t too keen on being the last kid picked on the playground.  Assuming that Eck is going on 1992 stats, Fryman’s line looks like this: .266/.316/20/96.  Respectable in most cases, but I’m not sure it merits the kind of praise a dispersal draft first pick would be indicative of.  I’m not about to look it up, but maybe Fryman had a record of victimizing Eck in their one-on-one battles…

Out of the 12 cards I have from this set, the vote tally turned out like this:
Ken Griffey Jr. – 2 votes
Barry Bonds – 2 votes
Kirby Puckett – 3 votes (Includes one self vote)
Lenny Dykstra – 1 vote (Straw)
Travis Fryman -1 vote  (Eck)
Andy Van Slyke – 1 vote (himself)
Barry Larkin – 1 vote

Three players I have, Ryno, Jose Canseco and Wade Boggs weren’t asked or elected not to answer the question.  Overall, Kirby Puckett won the very divided vote with 3 out of 11 polled.  One of which was Kirby Puckett.

If anyone has more of these cards, I’d be happy to trade for them!

October 19, 2010 at 2:28 PM Leave a comment


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