Recently we shared some images of live 2013-14 NHL® SP Game-Used from the product pack-out, but what is it like to really open the product? See for yourself as early box break videos are hitting YouTube.
Additionally, check out some additional images of cards fans have pulled and some from product we opened for quality testing. To try out a box of your own, visit an Upper Deck Certified Diamond Dealer or go online to an Upper Deck Authorized Internet Retailer.
One of my favorite things to do in life is travel. When I moved to Washington D.C. in 2010, I was excited because there were so many new cities within a few hours driving distance. Back home I could get in the car, drive five hours and still be in the same state. I was excited to really start exploring all of the places I had only seen on TV.
Whenever I visit a new city or state I ALWAYS follow a ritual. Once I get my bearings, find my hotel, pack some food into my gullet and then I pull out my phone to see where the nearest card shops are located. It’s a lot of fun to explore new cities finding different places to enjoy the hobby. Only recently did I find my trading card Mecca close to home. Blowout Cards operates The Fantastic Store and just last week I realized it was only ten minutes away from my office. It is awesome!
A benefit of moving to the East Coast was being introduced to the NHL® and truly legitimate hockey. In Washington D.C. the Capitals have one of the highest sell-out rates for crowds in any professional sport. The atmosphere at the arena is electrifying and when stars like Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom hit the ice the whole building seems to shake.
So now with my card shop and new found love for hockey I am ready to start putting together a stellar hockey collection, but when I see the huge assortment of Upper Deck hockey products on the shelves, I feel completely overwhelmed. How does a relatively new hockey collector like me know where to start? What does each set contain? Parallels? Jersey cards? Autographs? Fight Straps? Pucks? The gentleman behind the counter was nice enough to entertain my first 20 questions, but when I was reaching 50 questions I could tell he was ready to move on. I decided it was time for me to do some research on my own.
Below is a breakdown of what I found with a suggestion on the type of collector who might be interested in each. I was pleased to find that Upper Deck really has a variety of products for almost every collector type with a logical progression of lower-end products starting off the season, mid-range products in the meat of the year and high-end releases for playoff runs and the summer. I hope it helps educate other collectors and fans as to what they should be looking for from the products, I know I definitely found some sets I will be attacking!
O-Pee-Chee (price point $1.99 per pack) – Continues to be one of the sharpest old-school sets on the market. This is the largest set of the year with a deep checklist and surprisingly valuable inserts. For people who are just starting out and are still trying to get their feet wet this is a great place to begin. This product is great for anyone who wants to build sets with a classic retro design, but also have the chance to pull big autographs or unique team patches.
Artifacts (price point $9.99 per pack) – For seasoned collectors Artifacts is a household name. This set serves as an excellent mid-range product for puck fans, especially those who love premium memorabilia cards. Since this is one of the first products of the season for Upper Deck, a lot of people are gunning for the rookie redemption cards. I think Artifacts can be one of the best values for a collector who is looking for some quality rookie, dazzlingly memorabilia and solid autograph cards, but may not have the money to spend on the higher-end packs.
Upper Deck Series One and Two (price point $2.99 per pack) – When I was younger retro sets did not speak to me. I was after Upper Deck cards for the crisp clean look and feel. Upper Deck Series One falls into another affordable price point for young collectors, beginning collectors, set collectors and rookie collectors in particular. The base set is great, but the Young Guns seems to be the rookie line everyone is after. Even with the lower price per packs, you can get surprised with cool autograph cards or sweet game-used patch cards. One of my favorites out of these sets are the canvas cards which are sort of a set within a set including their own slate of Young Guns. This product is a great starting point for new collectors or collectors on a budget.
Black Diamond (price point $4.99 per pack) – This is a technology-based product with shiny insert-like base cards and rare parallels. I never really got into the Black Diamond set because the number of diamonds on a card didn’t capture my imagination or interest. I must say though that this year’s series has started to change my mind. The most rare and probably nicest cards are the Rookie Gems relics with actual diamonds embedded within the card. My favorite part of the Black Diamond set are the jersey cards. Each jersey card is ‘puzzle cut’ which means when you collect all the jersey cards for a specific team you can put them together to create the team logo. Something like this appeals to me because it adds to the fun of building the collection for something beyond your common memorabilia card. Also Upper Deck is very innovative with the Championship Rings cards done on acetate. Bonus packs contain the popular Upper Deck ICE cards with ICE Premieres rookies that command big $$$!
SP Authentic (price point is approximately $5.99 per pack) – The SP Authentic look is probably one of my favorite designs by Upper Deck because it is always sleek and clean. The cards themselves are a simple matte white, but the player and the script have the gloss with spot UV. You will find inserts that have more of the standard card look and feel, but I still prefer the base cards. Within SP Authentic there is a series called Future Watch for rookie collectors that have hard-signed autographs. Sign of the Times autograph cards also feature multi-signed cards which are a real thrill to pull. If you love rookies and on-card autographs, this is the set for you!
SPx (price point is approximately $8.99-$9.99 per pack) – SPx is great because the cards have such a great design each year, but you also get to enjoy a lot of autographs, jersey cards and rookie autograph jersey cards in the mix. There are a lot of different types of inserts in the set that gets collector’s blood pumping. The autograph SPx Shadowbox autograph cards are really the big driver here as they are show stoppers that you have to see in person, just stunning. Like Black Diamond, fans can also find bonus packs of Upper Deck ICE as box toppers here. This set is really for technology fans, memorabilia collectors, rookie collectors and autograph fans.
WARNING: Please don’t be shocked by the price of some of the next few packs. There is a reason this price point exists as there are higher-end collectors who love the chase of these premium sets. There is a lot less of these products produced and you are guaranteed to get a great insert out of every pack. These are usually for a more serious collector, but can be fun to splurge on if you are a casual collector looking to treat yourself.
SP Game-Used (price point $24.99 per pack) – With SP Game-Used you are guaranteed a memorabilia or autograph card in EVERY pack with some including jerseys, patches, sticks, nets, pucks and more. Collectors who are regularly purchasing these hobby boxes aren’t looking at building sets as much, but they are interested in the quality of a patch card or autograph. I have witnessed grown individuals trading these memorabilia cards based solely on the colors of a particular patch like kids in a playground. The Stanley Cup Finals memorabilia cards in particular have been a big draw over the last two years and are worth checking out. Draft Day Marks are a huge draw as well allowing collectors to build a set of a particular player’s entire nameplate with each card autographed. WOW! This product is for fans who love memorabilia cards and cool patch cards.
Trilogy (price point is approximately $30.00 per pack) – This is the first high-end release of the season and the packs have a three levels of autograph rookie cards (each player basically has three rookie cards with different rarity levels). This is cool because you have an excellent chance of pulling bigger names who may normally be short printed in other sets. There are also a lot of technology cards here with Crystal glass cards and Signature Puck cards which are just jaw-dropping cool. This set caters to a higher-end collector, rookie collector and technology fan.
Ultimate Collection (price point is approximately $100.00 per pack) – Now we are getting serious and that is who this product is for, the serious collector who has a high level of discretionary income to go after super premium trading cards. Each Ultimate Collection pack contains a rookie card, autograph card and memorabilia card in every pack. My favorite part about this product are the hard-signed Legends autographs. There are some real high-end thrills to be had in these packs however with rare one-of-one autograph NHL® Shield cards. These are incredible!
The Cup (price point starts at $450 and goes up from there) – The logo on “packs” of this product is the classic silhouette of an NHL® player holding up the Stanley Cup. I say “packs” because these are not the type of packs we grew up with, but rather a huge sealed tin the size of a lunch box. While I have never had the opportunity of opening this product, I imagine myself hoisting the box into the air and holding it as if it were my own Stanley Cup. The Cup is the creme de la creme of all NHL® trading card products. I have seen grown men carry these cards around as if they were their firstborn children. Each pack contains a variety of limited-edition, absolutely beautiful cards of top hockey rookies, stars and legends. This is usually where Upper Deck saves the lion’s share of their autographs for exclusive spokesmen like Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky. What really sets The Cup apart is the thickness of each card, the attention paid to large memorabilia swatches with lots of color and also unique innovations like Brilliance autograph cards. This is the home of the highest-valued rookie cards with their incredible Rookie Autograph Patch subset. This set is catered to the high-end collector and this is a product 99% of collectors cannot afford, but 100% of collectors would love to experience. I have never opened a pack before, but it is on my bucket list.
From top to bottom, it doesn’t matter the price, you know you can expect Upper Deck to deliver quality cards every single time for every level of collector. I have opened products from other companies that have usually left me disappointed, but Upper Deck consistently delivers the value and thrills you would hope when collecting new NHL® cards.
Logan Millard completed his MBA and lives in Washington D.C. He works in marketing and does freelance work in sports. He can be reached at email@example.com.
There is nothing more exciting than getting free NHL® cards and once a year Upper Deck partners with Certified Diamond Dealers throughout Canada and the U.S.A. to deliver that experience to fans on National Hockey Card Day! Both Upper Deck and these retailers invest in the program to deliver a great experience to hockey fans; both new and old. The event returns on Saturday, January 18 and recently during a press check, we were able to see cards and packs coming off the production line. Take a look:
There are a number of ways to take part in the promotion. The easiest is to visit your local card shop and you can get an updated list of shops participating right here on the National Hockey Card Day website. Go through the list and start planning your routes (note: the lists are sorted by telephone area code). Simply visit those shops on Saturday to receive a FREE pack! The set is bigger than ever with twice as many rookie cards than in previous years to celebrate Upper Deck’s NHL® Double Rookie Class!
There is a special 21st card available in Canada and the U.S.A. as a gift with purchase. Simply purchase $10 in Upper Deck product and you can get that card while supplies last featuring two standout rookies.
And as in previous years, some collectors will be surprised when they open their packs and find limited-edition autograph cards of players from the set. This year Upper Deck went all out and provided more autograph players than ever before with four different autograph cards available in the Canada and U.S.A. sets. If you are lucky enough to pull one of those, make sure to let us know! We will share the checklist of autograph cards that can be found on Friday, January 17.
Upper Deck also created some very cool 8-card sheets for the event that are available in some various locations. Fans can find five different sheets in Canada at London Drugs stores and Toys “R” Us in particular. They will also be available at the Hockey Hall-of-Fame while supplies last and some other shows and NHL® arenas throughout Canada on January 18.
In the United States the 8-card sheets will be a little more difficult to find as they will only be sampled at the New York Islanders game on Saturday, January 18. Upper Deck will also be donating several thousand of these sheets to the Defending the Blue Line charity which helps military families who are passionate about hockey and Operation Gratitude who send care packages to troops serving overseas and veterans here at home.
As we have seen in previous years, many families (especially fathers and sons) make a day of this event, creating great memories and bonding while they visit different shops to put their set together. And Upper Deck wants to encourage fans to share those moments with us! Share exciting photos capturing your National Hockey Card Day experience and you can score free prizes like packs, autograph cards and Upper Deck Authenticated memorabilia! Post them at Upper Deck’s National Hockey Card Day page, on Twitter @UpperDeckHockey using hashtag #NHCD or send them to us via email! You must include an image of the 2014 Upper Deck National Hockey Card day cards to be considered for a special Upper Deck mail day!
If you do not have a participating Certified Diamond Dealer, retailer or arena in your area, you can request a free pack as well. Please understand, we only have a limited amount of free packs available for this portion of the promotion and we will only send it them to fans who are not within 30 miles of a participating partner, so please take the time to review those lists before you reach out. For your opportunity to score a free National Hockey Card Day package if you do not have a participating partner within 30 miles, please email us an image of you holding Upper Deck NHL® cards with no more than four complete sentences as to why you love Upper Deck NHL® trading cards. We will work to assist the first fans who message us with the appropriate information with a free pack.
Year in and year out, Upper Deck’s National Hockey Card Day has been a model for everything that is good about this industry. Here’s to making the 2014 event the most memorable and positive in the history of the promotion!
In just two weeks hockey fans will get their first chance to experience 2013-14 NHL® SP Game-Used which delivers either an autograph or memorabilia card in every pack. And as we were packing out the product, some of the cards were just too cool not to share images of. We are always nervous about taking scans and handling them too much so we just got some quick photos to give you a feel for what you can expect to find in some of the packs. Happy hunting!!!
Let’s face it; hockey is not the #1 sport in the USA, but the league is positioned to have some great exposure in the USA over the next few months in particular. Coming off an awesome 2014 Winter Classic and with the 2014 Winter Olympics and six highly hyped NHL Stadium Series outdoor games, many Americans who typically may not have hockey on their sports radar will find themselves watching the game and potentially falling in love with it.
Here are six reasons why I think popularity in the USA for hockey will be on the rise!
The Mighty Ducks Generation
Reason one is because the movie “The Mighty Ducks.” As a Kings fan I hate to give credit to anything Ducks related, but if I’m being honest, the single biggest reason for hockey’s increase in popularity in the USA is the movie “The Mighty Ducks.” The movie inspired a generation to try youth hockey, and legitimized it as an alternative to Pop Warner football and Little League baseball.
Success of Non-Traditional Powerhouse Teams
The second reason for hockey’s continued increase in popularity in the states is the success of non-traditional market teams in the NHL®. Teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Carolina Hurricanes, the Anaheim Ducks, and the Los Angeles Kings winning the Stanley Cup in recent years has brought hockey to many Americans who didn’t grow up next to a frozen pond.
High Definition Television
Of the four major sports, I believe hockey has benefited the most from high definition TV. Hockey is a fast sport, and in the past it was difficult to follow the puck and the speed of the game on TV. However, because of HDTV, it is now easy to follow the speed of the game, and viewers can see the passion of the athletes like never before.
NHL® Players in the Olympics
Another reason why the popularity of hockey is increasing in America is because NHL® players are now allowed to compete in the Olympic Games. The winter games bring Americans together who don’t generally follow the NHL® are all of a sudden enamored with hockey. These new viewers, paired with the fact that the U.S. Olympic team is now consistently a contender for the gold, can only help to increase the popularity of the sport in the U.S.A.
Yes, NHL®’s commissioner Gary Bettman makes the list. Hockey fans can be pretty hard on the commissioner, especially at the NHL® Draft, but when I take a long look at what he has done while leading the sport, I have to admit he has been good for the NHL® and for the popularity of hockey in America. In fact, many of the reasons on my list here are initiatives Gary Bettman championed. It is because of him that many non-traditional hockey markets got NHL® teams. It is also because of him that NHL® players can now compete in the Olympic Games. The Winter Classic, big TV deals, and rule changes are all things that Bettman is responsible for which have led to an increasingly popular NHL®.
The Players are Amazing
The last reason why hockey is increasing in popularity is simply because it is an amazing game played by tremendous athletes! Not only are hockey players great to watch on the ice, but they are great guys off the ice as well. They are humble, articulate, dedicated and fun guys. They are excellent role models that take the time to interact with their fans and will always sign autographs. They make small gestures that mean a lot to fans and it is hard to imagine players in other sports acting the same way.
Will America ever embrace hockey like it does baseball, football and basketball? I think with some of the progressive moves the league is making it just might. You mix in how great it is to see playoff hockey and events in the collectibles market like the Double Rookie Class and National Hockey Card Day (yes, I’m contractually obligated to throw that in here) and it is hard to see the NHL® not increasing in popularity in the coming years. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comment section below!