Not quite a "blast"

Today, after watching the Blackhawks lose 5-2 to the Red Wings, my girlfriend Shellie and I got some shopping done at Target.

And like a junkie, I am always drawn to the trading card aisle. I must need to get my head checked because I know that blaster boxes of trading cards are a waste of time and money. But as a fool and his money soon part ways, I purchases a blaster box of 2008-09 Upper Deck Series 2 Hockey cards.

Here’s what I got:

— 51 base cards

— 2 Young Guns (Brad Staubitz, Teddy Purcell)

— 3 Victory update cards

— 3 Victory Rookie update cards (Petr Vrana, Dwight Helminen, Nathan Oystrick)

— 1 Tales of the Cup insert (Clark Gillies)

Wow…what a waste! Sure, you’re not always going to get an awesome rookie card in a box–especially a blaster box.

But let’s do a little math here. Don’t worry, I promise it will be easy.

A single pack of Upper Deck Hockey cards costs $2.99 and contains 8 cards. Young Guns are found in 1 out of every 4 packs (1:4).

A blaster box of Upper Deck Hockey cards contains 12 packs–but the packs only have 5 cards each. Additionally, Young Guns are seeded at a rate of 1 in 6 (1:6).

So, what’s the better “value”? Glad you asked.

A blaster box gets you 60 cards for $20.

To get 60 cards from single packs, you’d have to purchase 7 1/2 packs of cards. For argument’s sake, let’s just assume you could purchase a “half pack”. Your total cost would be $22.45.

Purchasing single packs would cost more to get the same amount of cards. Besides, grabbing eight packs at random from the shelf does not mean that you will get two Young Guns…it means you might get two Young Guns. And seriously folks, we know that’s why we buy these damn cards.

At least when you buy a blaster box, you almost always get two Young Guns.

But now, I must voice a few gripes that most of us are thinking anyways:

1. The blaster box does not state how many cards per pack. This is a recent development in the design of these boxes, as sets released earlier this year state on the blaster boxes how many cards per pack. This feels very “bait-and-switch” to me. One might assume that if a single pack contains 8 cards, then each pack in a blaster box also contains 8 cards. That’s a reasonable conclusion, albeit an incorrect one. The fact that Upper Deck does not state how many cards you get in a pack (or a box) should be illegal. Seriously. If you buy a box of tissue or a bottle of aspirins, it clearly states how many you get. Why are trading cards exempt from this?

2. The insertion of Victory Update cards. For those of us trying to build a set of Upper Deck Series 2 Hockey, it is frustrating to get one Victory Update card in every other pack–or every pack if you buy the 8-card single packs. Six out of 60 cards I got were Victory Update cards–that’s 10% of the box. Most of us would rather get another Upper Deck card–bringing us closer to completing our sets–than a Victory Update card. Plus, I got more Victory Update Rookies than I did Young Guns. Which brings me to my third point…

3. Cost of Upper Deck-brand cards. Really, what is the difference between the $2.99-a-pack Upper Deck cards and the 99-cents-per-pack Victory cards? Both are printed full-bleed, are ultra glossy and have full-color backs. The only difference is, Upper Deck sells the Upper Deck-brand cards for more. Sure, we have a 1-in-300 chance of getting some dumb memorabilia card. So what? That just drives up the cost. Upper Deck cards are really not any better than Victory cards, quality-wise. Therefore, they should be a buck a pack. But they are not, which leads us nicely to point number 4.

4. Cost per card. Time for more easy math. A blaster box costs $20.

$20 divided by 60 cards = 33.3 cents per card. That’s 3 cards for $1.

But, living in Chicago, I have to pay 10.25% sales tax. So let’s recalculate.

$20 plus 10.25% tax = $22.04 divided by 60 cards = 36.73 cents per card. That’s closer to 3 cards for $1.10.

Unless you live in Chicago like I do–which has the highest sales tax in the U.S.–you’ll pay less for cards than I do, but are still paying about 33 cents per card. If someone at a card show tried to sell me Upper Deck commons for 33 cents each, I’d have to lacerate them with a rough-edged OPC card from the early 1980s.

And yet today at Target, I willingly–and foolishly–paid that amount. Like I said, a fool and his money.

… … …

On a related note, I still need about 70 base cards from Series One and 60 base cards from Series Two. If you have any, please take a look at my Wantlist.

Likewise, if there are some 2008-09 Upper Deck Hockey cards you need for your set, check out my Trade List. I’d rather trade with someone than pay 33 cents a card.

Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

2 thoughts on “Not quite a "blast"”

  1. Blasters are kind of a crap-shoot, but the reason I like them is because I can’t really afford an entire box of cards, god forbid if it’s a hobby box, I’d need to take out a loan, so blasters at least give me a chance at starting a collection of a set, but also sometimes getting a good card or 2 along with a base. That’s what I think anyway.

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