Sunday, September 21, 2014

Product Review: 2014 Upper Deck Team Canada Juniors Hobby Box

Up here in Canada we celebrate Hockey every chance we get. Once of the more special moments of the Hockey season happens around Christmas with the World Juniors. It just seems fitting that Upper Deck would create a Team Canada Juniors product to celebrate the great game of hockey for Canadians.

Whether your a hockey fan or just a collector in Canada this is the product we have been waiting for. Its a Mid to High range product with only Team Canada Juniors and Women included and exclusive for Canada. Upper Deck created a 18 pack Hobby box with 5 cards per pack to celebrate the top prospects and women of Team Canada.

To say this product is loaded is an under statement. Each box will include 18 SP base cards, 3 Parallels, 4 Special Edition inserts, 1 Autographed Patch, 1 Multi-Swatch Relic, along with 4 Autographs, Relics or Printing Plates. Wow! That is simply amazing for a collector to get in a box these days.

This product has a few base set parallels as well like Gold Sepia, Exclusive Red and High Gloss. These will be tough to pull as they are only 3 per box on average, so building a "Rainbow" could be fun and challenging at the same time.

The Relics come in different types like Single, Dual, Triple, Quads, and Jumbo. Some of the Jumbo Patches I've seen just look ridiculous and will be fetching a lot in the secondary market. The smaller Patch cards seem to be more so of multi color swatches than true patch cards.

Boxes run currently around $100-$120 each, while you might be able to find packs priced at around $10. Not too bad for this product and the finds you could potential hit are really cool. With a loaded product like this you have to take a chance on a box.

Lets find out how we did with ours:

Base Cards: 63 (1 Double)
Base Card SP: 18 - Fucale, Drouin, Ekblad
Base Card Sepia: 5 - Audette, Mantha, Pelech, Gauthier, McDavid
Base Card Exclusive: 3 - Lacasse, Paterson, Bowey (all /199)
UD Special Edition: 6 - Bigras, Pouliot, Billia, Fucale, Reinhart, Johnston
Team Canada Juniors Relic: 1 - Alexandre Carrier
Team Canada Women Relic: 2 - Lauriane Rougeau, Natalie Spooner
Team Canada Dual Jersey: 1 - Drouin/Mantha
Clear Cut Playing for a Nation: 1 - Brayden Point /75
Team Canada Autograph Patch: 1 - Alexandre Carrier /199
Team Canada Gold Autograph: 1 - Connor McDavid

Lots to cover here so lets start with the Base cards. The design is pretty sleek and very clean looking. Love both the front and back of the cards. Adding in the 50 SP's makes you take a double take on the cards you pull. The SP's are found just after the filler card or relic per pack so they are easy to tell, plus they are #101-150. We did pull 1 double of Mikkelson but no complaining here, just weird to find a double in a product like this. If your looking to complete the base set you'll have to buy more than a couple of boxes as we were 37 cards short from the first box.
The parallels of the base are a nice touch. Like that the Exclusives are Red foil to match the colours of the team plus they are numbered to 199. The Gold Sepia are not too bad but hard to tell while sorting through your box at the end. 
The Special Edition cards are a famous Upper Deck insert that you've seen around. These could bend easily from busting open the packs so be careful. The Clear Cut came in the pack in a penny sleeve which looked weird at first but I guess to not have them stick to the other cards in the pack. Nice that they are numbered to only 75 and you can see some good return in the secondary market for the right player.  
Onto the Relics. We pulled 3 single swatches from our box of Carrier, Rougeau and Spooner. The card designs are nice and the relics were basic but overall still a nice piece to pull. Natalie Spooner is currently on The Amazing Race Canada and is a very popular athlete in Canada, this one is headed right to the PC.
We pulled a dual swatch relic of Drouin & Mantha. These are found only in every 48 packs so this was a bonus hit in that sense. Drouin is a top prospect that should be playing in the NHl this year so this was a good pull.
Two autographs came out of this box. One for Alexandre Carrier that is classified as a Auto Patch card but is really a two colour swatch. Numbered to 199 and is a nice card that matches the single swatch above of him. The other autograph couldn't have been any better as it is of the high touted Connor McDavid. This seems to be an SP autograph but we haven't been able to confirm just yet. This was a fantastic pull from this product. Both are sticker autographs but this might be the only time that I don't mind that in this type of product. Especially if McDavid is the 1st Overall in the June Draft. 
We've seen a number of boxes busted recently and overall we hit a couple of bonuses with the Clear Cut, Dual Swatch and the McDavid Autograph. Love the cards, love the chances at pulling some great hits, and love that it is strictly Canadian and Team Canada. As a hockey fan in Canada this is an amazing product to collect. Upper Deck really did a great job on this one and will be completing the Base Set along with the SP set. If your in Canada go out and buy a box now, don't wait as these will be going up in price and will be sold out in no time.

Most cards/hits pulled in our breaks end up on our site storefront www.packgambler.com, or our COMC account ThePackGambler. If you are interested in any of the cards we have mentioned please send us an e-mail at packgamblersales@gmail.com

Gambler Overall Rating: 4.75 out of 5
Cost: 5/5
Autograph/Patch: 4.5/5
Design: 5/5
Parallels: 4.5/5
Inserts: 4.5/5
Fun Aspect: 5/5

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Product Review: 2014 Panini Donruss Series 2 Baseball Hobby Box

I've said it on Twitter, Blogs and other posts.......It's too bad Panini doesn't have a piece of the MLB licence. Since they came back into creating Baseball products, Panini has been on top of their game with cool designs, great photography and overall amazing products. The 2014 Donruss Series II product is no exception.

The follow up release to the popular Series I, Series II brings us even closer into the old Donruss look and feel. 24 Packs per box with 8 cards per pack make this a fun and enjoyable product to open. Aside from the 100 regular base set you have great inserts and Short Prints waiting within each box. Rated Rookies are again SP's and packed at 1:6 packs, Diamond Kings are also SP's and come in at 6 per box (on average).

The Elite series is packed into this Series and provide almost 1 per pack. These are a great edition for those set collectors to hunt down. With 100 cards in the set, you'll need a few boxes in order to complete it your self.

The Base set as well as Elite both have serial number parallels to chase like Career Stat Lines, Season Stat Lines, Silver Press Proof, Gold Press Proof, Dominator, Turn of the Century, Inspirations and Status are just a few to find.

You'll find 3 hits per box that can be either Relic or Autographs, some boxes I've seen have up to 4 hits which knowing Panini is more often that not. Your price point on this box is around $80 or so which isn't too bad for a product like this.

Lets see how we did on our box:

Base Cards: 133 (33 doubles) 
Rated Rookies: 4 - Springer, Cron, Martinez, Abreu
The Rookies: 4 - Bettis, Bethancourt, Hembree, Martinez
Diamond Kings: 6 - Fernandez, Trumbo, Gomez, Cepedes, Upton, Gonzalez
Elite: 24 - dArnaud, Abreu, Walker, Springer, Trout
Career Stat Lines Rated Rookies: 1 - Erisbel Arruebarrena /276
Career Stat Lines Base: 1 - Bautista /400
Season Stat Lines Base: 1 - Votto /400
Career Stat Line Diamond Kings: 1 - Marte /275
Silver Press Proof Base: 1 - Kolten Wong /199
Silver Press Proof Rated Rookie: 1 - Holmberg RR /199
Silver Press Proof Diamond Kings: 1 - Encarnacion /199
Gold Press proof Diamond Kings: 1 - Marte /99
Elite Face 2 Face: 1 - McCutchen/Kershaw /999
Elite Series 2: 1 - Bryce Harper /999
The Elite Series: 3 - Longoria, Cabrera, Beltran (all /999)
Elite Dominator: 2 - Wright, Tanaka (both /999)
Elite Turn of the Century: 1 - Headley /199
Elite Inspirations Die-Cut: 1 - Jeter /98
Elite Status Die-Cut: 1 - Cano /49
Elite Turn of the Century Autographs: 2 - Solarte, Nelson
Elite Status Die-Cut Autograph: 1 - Andrew Lambo /49
Jersey Kings: 1 - Derek Jeter

Lots to cover off here. With the base cards I enjoyed the card design and photography. Not getting the MLB logos is tough but some of the photos are very clever and look great. The backs are nice too with the 1988 feel to them. I did pull 33 doubles from the box which is pretty high, too bad there couldn't be a substitute for them but with a mid-low range product you have to expect this. 
Love the fact the Rated Rookies and Diamond Kings are SP's. Both are apart of the "Continuous Set" and could be the big sell to set builders looking for these cards. 
The Elite Series are a nice foil type design and come with veterans and rookies. They can chip so be careful when busting your box. Being a 100 card set, this is another one to watch on the secondary market. 
The Elite Series and Elite Dominator inserts are great looking cards. Again Panini is bringing back those old impossible to find inserts from the 90's and making them more available in this product. Both would be great to complete sets.
The Rookies insert set is an awesome "bring me back to 1988" design. Love the retro feel on these and a pretty cool set full of this years rookies. 
Parallels are everywhere in this box. I pulled 18 in the box, those are pretty good odds in a $80 box. With the different flavors to pull I really liked the Die-Cut and Career Stat Lines. 
I pulled three autographs in the box with one being a numbered die-cut. All three are sticker autos and of low tiered players. The Die-Cut is a cool card and only numbered to 49, Lambo is not a house hold name but again you don't expect trout to pop up in every other box.
I managed to pull an additional hit, that being a Relic of Derek Jeter. Nice looking card and a great player to pull in a pack.
Overall I love this product. It is so right for Set Collectors and Baseball lovers. It doesn't break the bank, you pull a lot of great cards and the retro look and feel to the box is hands down fun. It's one of those addictive products that you just can't get enough of. I'm strongly thinking about buying a few more boxes or maybe even look into a case of this stuff. Panini does it again without a MLB licence, you can only imagine what they could do with it. 

Most cards/hits pulled in our breaks end up on our site storefront www.packgambler.com, or our COMC account ThePackGambler. If you are interested in any of the cards we have mentioned please send us an e-mail at packgamblersales@gmail.com

Gambler Overall Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Cost: 5/5
Relics: 4/5
Autographs: 4/5
Inserts: 5/5
Design: 5/5
Fun Aspect: 5/5

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Derek Jeter - The King of Cardboard

Can you think of any baseball products produced since 1994 that didn't have Jeter in it? Didn't think so. Jeter has not only been the face of Baseball since his inception but he's been the face of our Hobby.
Year after year every product has had a base card and at least the minimal 1 insert. Among the plentiful parallels, subsets and inserts are some of the nicest autographed cards and relics of the New York Short Stop. Always in popular and high demand, Jeter's cards are always at the top of the list with collectors.

Being this is his last full year in the majors, does this mean it will be the last we'll see of him in our cardboard world? Not even close. Typically you won't see "freshly" retired players in the following year products unless they are inserted as a subset, insert or variation of some sort. Even at that, you need to be a superstar in order to crack the mold on getting in. If you don't fall into this category you'll find these players coming back after 3-5 years of being away from the game in a Legends or Retro product.

Jeter won't be the same. With the legacy that he is leaving he'll be in a lot of sets in the foreseeable future. Now you might not see him as a regular base card player or normal current player inserts/subsets but I'm sure we'll be seeing one if not more Jeter type special inserts or subsets celebrating his career. The given Topps sets he'll be always apart of are Archives, Allen & Ginter, Gypsy Queen, Five Star, Tier One, Triple Threads, Museum and Tribute due to the product flavor of adding retired stars into the checklists. With Panini, they could include him in all of their releases since they have a mixed flavor of current and retired stars in each product they produce.
With each of those you know that they are stocked with relic pieces just waiting to be put into cardboard. Autographs might become a little less available than before but there is a chance they could turn around and become more apparent after he retires. You see Mays and Koufax signing a lot nowadays and it would only make sense that Jeter follows suit and signs for every product and will a high quantity too.

If you’re a Jeter collector it's a little saddening to have your player retired and not playing everyday. It takes some time to get use to it, however you will be still able to collect everything and anything of Jeter for a very long time. Sure it will be weird not seeing Jeter on the Topps Series 1 checklist for the first time but we'll see him everywhere else that you'll convince yourself he's still playing even though the box score is missing his name.

The Pack Gambler
www.packgambler.com

If you have any suggestions on future blog ideas let us know at: packgambler@gmail.com 

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Product Review: 2014-15 UD O-Pee-Chee Hockey Hobby Box

If your looking for a large set to collect and love hockey, 2014-15 O-Pee-Chee is the perfect fit for you. Since I was a little kid trading cards at the playground, O-Pee-Chee has been one of the most popular names in Canada for trading cards.

500 Regular Base set cards plus an additional 100 Marquee Rookies and Legends make up the 600 total card set. Both the Rookies and Legends are Short printed and slated to come in at 1:2 packs.

Upper Deck didn't stop at just a large base set. They also have added in very nice parallel sets to collect. Each base/Rookie/Legend comes with a Retro, Rainbow Foil. and Black Foil parallel to chase down. Rainbow Foils are 1 in every 4 packs, Black Foil cards are serial numbered to /100.

Stickers make a return for 2014-15, these are 1:3 packs while a new Insert V Series A are introduced and come at 2 per box (1:16 packs).

Autographs are back in the form of O-Pee-Chee Signatures, Team Canada Signature, Sport Royalty Autographs, and Buybacks. In O-Pee-Chee releases these autographs are always tough pulls and are seen 1 in every 3 boxes or more.

A very popular insert that of course is back this year are the Team Logo Manufactured Patches. These are 1:96 packs (on average but seem to be higher odds), a really great secondary market value is always seen on these cards. Collectors love these to collect of their favorite team as well as the sets.

In Canada we're fortunate to have our own Pack Redemption program that requires 50 Packs in order to receive a 5 card pack of Red Border and 1 Tall Boy. Most collectors break as much as they can in the first week and try to collect as many packs as they can for re-sale.

Being a traditional product we bought a box to break for the review, lets see how we did on our Hobby Box:

Base Cards: 177 (0 doubles)
Marquee Rookie: 9 - Rattie, Trocheck, Knapp, Gormley, Knight, Hishon, LeBlanc, Halmo, Visentin
Marquee Legends: 9 - Yzerman, Oates, Linden, Roenick, MacInnis, Beliveau, Damphousse, Roloson, Forsburg
Retro Base: 27 - Crosby, Checklist
Retro Rookie: 3 - Ortio, McKegg, Knapp
Retro Legends: 2 - Linden, Forsburg
Rainbow Foil Base: 5 - Nyquist, Johnson, Vanek, Gonchar, Lucic
Rainbow Foil Marquee Rookie: 1 - Paquette
Rainbow Foil Marquee Legend: 1 - Fuhr
Rainbow Foil Black: 2 - Stepan, Backstrom (both /100)
V Series A: 2 - Nugent-Hopkins, Brodeur
Stickers: 11 - Lemieux, Forsburg, Sitter, Yzerman
O-Pee-Chee Signatures: 1 - Daniel Girardi
Manufactured Patch: 1 - Winnipeg Jets 2011-12 to Present Alternate

Being this is a retro feel and look product you can't get excited over the Base card design. It's pretty plain but does give you the feel of Retro with the backing and non-fancy design. The Marquee Rookies and Legends are better designs than the base look.
If you think the Base card design is basic, don't look too far for a worse design. The Retro design is one of the worse we've seen. The front of the cards are weak and not appealing anyway you look at it. Same as the above, Rookies and Legends do tend to look a little better but still are very plain.

 With the Rainbow Foil parallels you can't go wrong. Base, Rookies and Legends all look great. Anything shinny these days always look great. Nice to continue the Black Foil numbered out of /100 to increase the value of these parallels.

We pulled two V Series A inserts. Kind of like Mini cards for the set, they are a nice retro touch. The Stickers are very colorful and very thin. Be careful pulling these out, you might end up using them as stickers instead of collecting the set.

We managed to pull two very hard cards in this product. The Daniel Giradi Autograph is found in 1:272 packs. It is a sticker autograph but the design and surprise of pulling this in the box was cool. Additionally we pulled a Team Logo Patch for the Jets. It's part of the Modern Era patch and found 1:123 packs. Its a really nice patch and should do well in the secondary market. Pulling both of these within one box is pretty amazing. You typically would pull one at the minimal in every three boxes or so.

Overall I did very well with this box. Of course a lot of this had to do with the Autograph and Patch pulls but the product is pretty decent. The down side to the product is the Retro design parallels. Hopefully next years will be much better to look at. Foil parallels are again great and having the Rookies and Legends as short prints is very smart. Set collectors will enjoy putting this set together and will have fun with the box. For a 32 pack box at around $70-80 your getting very good value for your money. If your as lucky as us you'll get even more bang for your buck.

Most cards/hits pulled in our breaks end up on our site storefront www.packgambler.com, or our COMC account ThePackGambler. If you are interested in any of the cards we have mentioned please send us an e-mail at packgamblersales@gmail.com

Gambler Overall Rating: 4.2 out of 5
Cost: 5/5
Autograph/Patch: 4.5/5
Design: 3.5/5
Parallels: 4.5/5
Inserts: 3.5/5
Fun Aspect: 4/5

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Product Review: 2014 Topps Chrome Baseball Hobby Box

If you’re a baseball card collector, this is the product your very familiar with. Topps Chrome has always been the standout amongst the giants for popularity and continues to be so with it's 2014 edition.

This year the product will have some slight changes the packaging offering the standard Hobby box as well as a Jumbo Box version. The difference between them is cost, 4 exclusive 1989 Chrome Inserts and 3 additional autographs in the Jumbo.

With Chrome everyone wants collect the Rainbow. Refractors have always been king in this product, X-Fractors, Blue, Black, Sepia, Gold, Red, Atomic, and Super Fractors are consistent in 2014. Along with Refractors, collectors will be hunting down very elusive Photo Variations of 25 players. These seem to be very hard to find with early box breaks, consider yourself very lucky if you pull one in your single box.

Over the last couple of years the inserts within Chrome have been increasingly getting better and more collectible. 2014 is no exception. All-Time Rookies takes those famous Rookies cards and putting them through the Chrome technology. 1989 Topps is another cool retro insert from Topps which puts today's stars in the 1989 design. Die-Cuts are back with the Chrome Connections insert. Topps Shelf is a new insert that looks like another hit in the design books for Topps.

Autographs are a big ticket item in Chrome with all of the hottest rookies from the season put into the product. 45 Rookies are included into the 2014 set, all come with the various Refractor Parallels and all are on-card autographs. These tend to be some of the most valuable Autographs of a players career which make everyone chasing them down. Other inserts have Autographs included among the variations but these are mainly veterans.

Lets see how we did on our Hobby Box:

Base Cards: 58
Base Card Rookies: 18
Refractors: 8 - Bautista, Darvish, Fielder, Samardzija, JR Murphy, Singleton, Headley, Carpenter
X-Refractors: 4 - Alvarez, Billy Hamilton, Ventura, Jansen
Black Refractor: 1 - Dean Anna /100
Topps Shelf: 1 - Adam Jones
1989 Topps Chrome: 2 - Trout, Pujols
Chrome Connections Die-Cuts: 2 - Tanaka (x2)
Rookie Autograph: 1 - Andrew Lambo
Rookie Refractor Autograph: 1 - Yangervis Solarte /499

The Base cards in Chrome always look more expensive and better looking than Series I, II, and Update. You really can't go wrong with any Chrome product in Topps line and collecting the set is always a fun thing to do. Some of the cards do have some flaws from production due to the Chrome technology process.
Refractors are my favorite pulls in the packs. We had a few nice ones come through in our box and regardless of player, Refractors are awesome!
The inserts we pulled are pretty cool. I like the Gypsy Queen/A&G look of the Topps Shelf cards. Very nice looking with the Chrome technology. Who knew the 1989 design would look so much better in Chrome? Well they do in this insert. We pulled both Angels stars which is nice. 
The strange part of this box was that I pulled two inserts of Tanaka Chrome Connections. This was strange to me and we haven't pulled two of the same insert in more than a decade. At first I wondered if they were different versions but no such luck. Nice Die-Cut card though.
The two Autographs we pulled were of Lambo (Standard Chrome) and Solarte (Refractor). Both on-card and both have decent autographs with Solarte's being the better of the two. We didn't pull a top notch rookie or even one that is playing everyday in the bigs, however things can change and both of them have a chance to make it. The Solarte autograph being a refractor will have some good secondary market value. 
Overall we continue to have a love of Chrome. This years product didn't disappoint, the checklist is great, the inserts are better and you can't go wrong with two rookie autographs in each box. You'll be in Refractor heaven with Chrome each year and this year could provide you with a hot rookie like Abreu or Tanaka. We might be buying a few more boxes to put together a set, however buying boxes to do it might take some extra coin that you may not want to part with. We would recommend this box to any Baseball or Chrome collector. Go out buy a box and have some fun!

Most cards/hits pulled in our breaks end up on our site storefront www.packgambler.com, or our COMC account ThePackGambler. If you are interested in any of the cards we have mentioned please send us an e-mail at packgamblersales@gmail.com

Gambler Overall Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Cost: 5/5
Autographs: 4/5
Design: 5/5
Parallels: 5/5
Inserts: 5/5
Fun Aspect: 5/5