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The O-Pee-Chee name has been a staple of the trading card hobby for decades. Upper Deck felt it was time to bring the brand into the 21st Century by producing a more premium edition using a variety of cutting edge technologies. To run us through that, we sat down with Upper Deck Director of Product Development, Grant Sandground for a behind the scenes look at what it took to build the new 2014-15 NHL® O-Pee-Chee Platinum trading card release.
Question: Why has the O-Pee-Chee name been so important to the hockey trading card market over the years?
Sandground: “The base O-Pee-Chee brand provides hockey collectors each year with the most comprehensive checklist of players for any product we produce. It’s the perfect set for hockey fans to build every year. It’s history as a brand, dating all the way back to the 1930’s, also makes it unique in the hockey market, providing memories of hockey trading cards for collectors of every age.
“With the all-new O-Pee-Chee Platinum brand, because the refractive parallels are so popular and such an integral part of the product, there are several pretty stunning parallel sets to chase. To that effect, we shrunk the base set down to 200 top stars (150 veterans and 50 rookies) to create the right balance for set builders and players collectors.”
Question: This marks the first time in several years where collectors have been able to get a hockey card product on metallic foil board. Was this something you heard that collectors wanted to see from Upper Deck?
Sandground: “We’ve heard from dealers and hockey collectors alike for the past several years who have been clamoring for Upper Deck to produce a trading card set on metallic foil board. We wanted to take the time to do it right by providing a 100% hard-signed product with an array of eye-popping parallel sets.”
Question: You did take a lot of time to bring this set to life for collectors by working with a variety of vendors to get the product right. What did you think of the final result when you started to see samples come in?
Sandground: “We had high hopes that the array of substrates, patterns and colors featured across the base set and parallels would provide O-Pee-Chee Platinum with some serious excitement from hockey card collectors, and we were blown away with how nice the finished cards turned out.”
Question: Unfortunately scans and pictures do not really do these cards justice, you really have to see them in person to judge their beauty. Which cards do you think turned out the most stunning?
Sandground: “The 1-of-1 Golden Treasures are disgustingly awesome. I’m also smitten with the Blue Cubes (serial #’d of 65 copies per card).”
Question: There are some pretty awesome die-cut inserts in this product, can you walk us through those?
Sandground: “There are three different die-cut Insert sets in Legends, Stanley Cup Champs and Superstars. Each insert features 20 subjects with seeding ratios of 1 in every 60 packs (cumulatively resulting in one die-cut insert per 20-pack hobby box).
“The Legends insert focuses exclusively on retired stars and the Superstars insert exclusively features active stars. The Stanley Cup Champs insert blends active and retired stars, featuring iconic moments from 1983 to 2014. All three insert sets feature 100% hard-signed autograph parallels limited to 10 or fewer serial #’d copies per card including signers like Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Steve Yzerman, Patrick Roy, Mark Messier, Martin Brodeur, Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar, Jarome Iginla, John Tavares and Carey Price.”
Question: The investment Upper Deck makes in a set like this isn’t all about autograph cards or memorabilia cards, but rather, very impressive parallel cards on different foil board. Explain why some of these cards can be more compelling than a jersey or autograph card for example?
Sandground: “Many collectors love shiny cards and the new O-Pee-Chee Platinum product provides some of the most beautiful cards we’ve produced to date. Other collectors just get tired of another memorabilia card and this offers diversity for them. Though autographs and memorabilia continue to be primary elements in most modern era products, we never lose track of our focus on trying to provide hockey card collectors with beautiful and different cards. The variety this product offers should be a breath of fresh air for a lot of collectors.”
Question: There are however autograph cards in the product and they are all hard-signed. How difficult a decision was it to have this be a hard-signed product rather than using label autographs?
Sandground: “For us here at Upper Deck, it was a very easy decision to produce this product with 100% hard-signed autographs because we never even considered any other option. Putting sticker autographs on this metallic substrate is like putting a bumper sticker on a Rolls Royce. We challenged our Athlete Relations team to track down athletes for signings everywhere, including at events like the NHL All-Star Game. The end result is a product that provides collectors an opportunity to chase some of the nicest autographed hockey cards ever produced. When you couple the aesthetics with a lineup of signers including Upper Deck spokesmen Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr aside top rookie stars like Johnny Gaudreau and Aaron Ekblad, you’ve got a formula for a winning product.”
Question: Sometimes sets with various different parallel cards give “player collectors” a panic attack. What do you think is the best way for a “player collector” to attack 2014-15 NHL® O-Pee-Chee Platinum?
Sandground: “As a company, we’re very aware of the effect that too many parallels can have on the market. We try to pick and choose well thought out spots in our hockey calendar for ‘parallel-focused’ products like Artifacts and now O-Pee-Chee Platinum. With Artifacts, the parallels are based upon providing a rich array of different memorabilia, upgrading in quality as the print runs get scarcer. With O-Pee-Chee Platinum, it’s based on the stunning aesthetics provided by the refractive substrates, patterns and colors inherent to the metallic rainbow stocks.
“Obviously, the 1-of-1 Golden Treasures cards seeded within O-Pee-Chee Platinum pose the most difficult challenge a player collector can tackle, but many veteran player collectors have created sensible guidelines for how to build their collections by putting ultra-rare cards (typically #’d of 10 or less into a ‘wish list’ bucket whereby if they happen to stumble upon a copy and the price is right they scoop it up. For cards with print runs of 25 or more copies, we’ve seen an approach by many of these same collectors to ‘complete the rainbow.’ To that effect, though OPC Platinum provides a great chase for players collectors because the majority of the parallels feature print runs of 25 copies per card or higher.”
Question: Why is now the right time for Upper Deck to release a set like this?
Sandground: “I wish we could have done it sooner, but we wanted to make sure we produced a quality product that wasn’t rushed to market. We set our standards high for the aesthetics of the parallels and the delivery of the autographs (being 100% on-card). Our hope moving forward is that O-Pee-Chee Platinum becomes another of our benchmark brands in our hockey calendar.”
The staff here at Upper Deck couldn’t be more excited about the release of 2014-15 NHL® O-Pee-Chee Platinum, but we want to hear what you think about the product. Share with us in the comment section below the element of the product you are most looking forward to. We will select one of our fans at random who leaves an approved comment to receive a FREE box of 2014-15 NHL® O-Pee-Chee Platinum as part of our Random Acts of Kindness program. The fan selected will be contacted on Monday, March 30 at approximately 10:30 a.m. PST. Open to fans in the United States and Canada only.