Box Break: 2014-15 Masterpieces Hockey

2014-15 Masterpieces Hockey Unopened BoxI love cards that use paintings instead of photos. Sets like the Hall of Fame postcards from the 1980s, Donruss Ice Kings from the 1990s and 2010s, and even the Upper Deck Hockey checklists from the early 1990s were all “must haves” for my collection. There’s just something awesome about seeing your favorite player rendered as a painting; it makes them seem even more iconic. So when Upper Deck announced that they were making a new set of Masterpieces Hockey, I knew I had to buy a box. It took me a while, but I finally got my mitts on one.

A box of 2014-15 Masterpieces costs around $100 and consists of 15 five-card packs. You are guaranteed three hits per box, with at least one (read: probably just one) hit being an autograph. Here is what I got in my most recent box break.

58 Portrait Cards

base_gretzkybase_byfuglien

There are 90 base portraits and another 60 short-printed portraits. I got 48 cards numbered between 1-90, and another 10 cards numbered between 91-150.The first 90 cards in the set are of mainly current players, while the last 60 are retired greats, with some current superstars, too.

base_gagnerbase_carbonneau

The portraits can be hit-or-miss. The paintings that are the most photo-realistic — like Sam Gagner — are kind of boring. The more creative depictions, such as Guy Carbonneau, are where Masterpieces really shines.

Speaking of shine, gold foil adorns the left and right sides of each card. A shame, since the foil detracts from the painting.

base_carbonneau_backAnother thing that bothers me is that the artists are not credited on the back of the card, like they were in the 2008-09 Masterpieces set.

2 Black and White Portraits

bw_kesselThe next 15 cards (151-165) are black-and-white portraits that are also short-printed. I got Phil Kessel (above) and Mark Messier.

3 Rookies

lazar_rcAfter that, cards 166-180 are short-printed rookies. I pulled three: Curtis Lazar, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Calle Jarnkrok.

4 Wire Photos

wire_crosbyRounding out the set are 60 short-printed Wire Photos cards, with the last 10 being super short-printed. I got three Wire Photo cards plus one super short-printed Wire Photo card of Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture.

Now this wouldn’t be an Upper Deck product without HITS and PARALLELS. So, let’s see those too.

1 Autographed Card

bobrovsky_autographSergei Bobrovsky was the lone autograph that I got in my box of 2014-15 Masterpieces (told ya!). The card is signed on-card in blue Sharpie marker. On the autographed cards, the gold foil is replaced with silver foil.

3 Red Framed Cloth Parallels

red_wardbw_kane_red
red_kopitarEach of these three Red Framed Parallel cards is serial-numbered on the back out of 100.

1 Red Framed Cloth Memorabilia Jersey Card

bernier_guThis Jonathan Bernier card is numbered on the back 74 / 85.

1 Black Framed Leather Prime Memorabilia Patch Card

monohan_guNumbered 21 / 35, this Sean Monahan card is super-thick and contains a swatch of a patch.

What I like about 2014-15 Masterpieces Hockey: Most of the paintings look great. On-card autographs was the way to go here, too — who the heck wants a sticker ‘graph messing up these beauties?

What I don’t like about 2014-15 Masterpieces Hockey: Making the last 60 color portraits short prints will make putting even the most basic set difficult to complete.Wire Photos seemed fresh once upon a time, but is kind of a tired idea for cards now. And do we really need 60 of them?

3.5_out_of_5I wanted to LOVE Masterpieces. I really did. I’m a sucker for artistic renditions of hockey players, and those are Masterpieces’ strongest suit. But completing the color portraits set — that is, cards 1-150 — is going to be a little too hard, considering that the last 60 cards fall about 10 per box. I could understand short-printing the rookies, the black-and-white portraits, and the Wire Photo. But short-printing 40% of what is, for all intents and purposes, the base set was a bad idea. Still, I love the look of this set and it does give collectors something different to chase after. Masterpieces was a great idea that was sloppily executed.

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

3 thoughts on “Box Break: 2014-15 Masterpieces Hockey”

  1. I was excited to hear of the return of this fave product of mine. It fell short in my eyes as well.

    I wanted more action in the photos like before. Too many portraits this time. Boring.

    The wire photos on black make them seem duller and lacking life. Also, they don’t have that “wire photo” vibe. They feel like pics that are just given the B&W treatment.

    There just lacked a “wow factor” that it had previously.

    1. You raise a good point about the Wire Photos, which reminds me of something I meant to say in my review but forgot to.

      Wire photo cards from the 1960s and onward make sense, but wire photos from the “internet age” really don’t, since they were most likely emailed or downloaded, and not “sent over the wire” or faxed like they were back in the day.

      So, having wire photos of guys like Crosby, Ovechkin, etc. doesn’t really feel right, ya know?

  2. The Masterpieces from 08/09 is one of my favourite hockey sets since I returned to sports card collecting. The paintings are spot on portraits of the players, the historical subject matter is excellent and I appreciated the quality of the cards themselves. I’m working on the brown border parallel set. So when the recent Masterpieces set came out I was tremendously disappointed. The portraits are hit or miss – I agree with your comment that they look like the Ice Kings inserts. The inclusion of current players and rookies means reduces the historical aspect to this set. Plus you are telling me that part of the base set is SP’s. I’ll definitely pass of this set.

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