Fantastic design, great photography make for a worthwhile base set
This day and age of short-printed rookie cards has led to a plethora of “base sets” that can be purchased “on the cheap”. Base sets have become a byproduct – almost an epidemic – in the hockey card collecting world.
Since collectors will buy multiple boxes in an attempt to get either all the short prints – or a lot of inserts – they usually end up with numerous base sets. Look on eBay, and you will see many people trying to sell you a “base set” with “no SPs” or “no RCs”. Many times, you can get these base sets for a bargain.
2005-06 Upper Deck Ice was a set that a lot of people went crazy over, because of ultra-limited rookie cards of Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovehckin. Cards 101-268 were all short prints, many of them selling now for hundreds of dollars…or thousands, if it’s Crosby’s RC. Some RCs were limited to 2,999 copies, while others – such as Crosby – were limited to just 99 copies, making them among the hardest to find, and therefore most expensive, rookie cards in existence.
The first 100 cards, on the other hand, are not so desirable, since they were printed in much higher numbers. Cards 1-100 – known in price guides as the “base set” – is what is reviewed here.
Player selection 2 out of 5
There are 100 cards in the base set – a trend I have grown tired of. You get two to five players from each team. But I guess people don’t really care about that – they’re all trying to get a rookie card of Sid or Alex or perhaps even Thomas Vanek. It’s almost as if the base set was an afterthought. That is too bad, because these base are some of the nicest cards I’ve seen in the past few years.
Card design 5 out of 5
These cards have a fantastic design. The player photographs really jump out at you. This is done by a well thought out design, and further helped by embossing the player photo – that is, the player is a bit “raised up” from the card surface. A very slight drop shadow was also added to each player too. Normally, drop shadows are cheesy, unless properly done. This is a good use of an otherwise overused technique.
Further enhancing the design is that much of the background is masked out. We see a bit of the background – which is black and white – inside of an oval shape. This gives us a sense of context as to where the player is. The oval is rimmed in team-appropriate colors, which is a nice touch.
Another nice, but subtle, design element is the “ice scratches” etched into the top and bottom areas of the card, around the oval.
What helps the most, though, are the player photos themselves. We get good action shots of players skating with the puck, or goalies making the save. Not too many of these cards suffer from awkward cropping, or a bad pose. Sometimes the photo interferes with the player name at the bottom (or is that the other way around?), but that is a minor complaint.
One other minor complaint of the design is that I don’t much care for the Upper Deck logo in the lower left corner. It seems a bit unnecessary, since there is also an “Ice” logo in the upper left corner. Dropping the UD logo would help clean up the design, which otherwise rocks. I mean, how many logos do we need on the front of the card?
And while all of this stuff is going on, the design feels very clean and uncluttered. Perhaps a better name for the set would have been “Open Ice”.
Stats & info 4 out of 5
Normally, I’d complain about the lack of year-by-year statistics, but it is what it is. Upper Deck hardly – if ever – features complete statistics…something I have a hard time getting used to. We get the last five years of that player’s stats, plus their career totals.
Despite the statistics deficiency, the card backs feature an informative and well laid-out design. We get a black and white portrait of the player, as well as their height, width, shot and birth date.
The front design really pops and does not feel cluttered. The back of the card is informative and easy to read. Do yourself a favor and try to pick up one of these sets “on the cheap”. You won’t regret it.
BONUS: Top 5 cards
5 – Ilya Kovalchuk – The look on his face is intense as he drives towards the net. (back)
31 – Steve Yzerman – Stevie Y. skates with the puck, ready to make the pass. (back)
56 – Martin Brodeur – The league’s best goalie, makes a save off of his blocker (though I wonder if the puck was superimposed…Brodeur is looking up, and not towards his blocker hand). (back)
61 – Rick DiPietro – Here, DiPietro is about to make the save…or perhaps the puck has bounced off of him, already? Either way, a cool photograph. (back)
76 – Mario Lemieux – Because it’s Mario. One of his last cards as an active player. (back)
100 card base set
168 short-printed rookie cards
Card Size: 2 1/2″ wide x 3 1/2″ tall
Click here to download a printable checklist