I 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
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.
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.
2 Black and White Portraits
4 Wire Photos
Rounding 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
Sergei 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
1 Red Framed Cloth Memorabilia Jersey Card
1 Black Framed Leather Prime Memorabilia Patch Card
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?
I 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. ■