Will More Parallels Save e-Pack Hockey?

Upper Deck announced some changes yesterday to their e-Pack platform as a means to reduce the potential glut of insert and parallel hockey cards available on the secondary market. In a nutshell, physical insert and parallel cards obtained through e-Pack can now be combined to make an even more-limited parallel of the same card. This is bad news for those who are already sick of parallel cards, and even worse news for those who enjoyed scooping up cheap hockey cards as a result of e-Pack. So, will this move save e-Pack?

Upper Deck launched the e-Pack platform last January as a way for collectors to buy “digital packs” hockey cards online without going to a store. The big problem was that it drove down the prices of most Young Guns and insert cards, while the parallel cards — made by combining 10 copies of any “digital-only” base cards — never really saw much action on the secondary market. Even many of the Young Guns foil parallel cards, the result of combining five of the same Young Guns card, could be had for between $1 and $3. 

Upper Deck’s solution of adding more parallels to e-Pack started with 2016-17 Upper Deck Series One Hockey, which became available on e-Pack yesterday. 

Here’s the breakdown of the new parallels collectors can get in 2016-17 Upper Deck Series One Hockey:

Base Cards: Like last year, 10 copies of a base card can be combined for a physical, foil parallel version of the same card. But now you can combine 10 copies of that foil parallel for a patterned foil parallel. It’s like the twice-baked potato of hockey cards.

Photo Credit: Alana Kelly / Creative Commons

Young Guns: Five Young Guns rookie cards can be traded for a foil parallel version, while five foil parallel versions can be now traded for a patterned foil parallel. More twice-baked goodness!

UD Portraits: Combine 20 copies of a Portraits card for a special parallel version of that card. 

Shining Stars: There are three different Shining Stars insert sets in 2016-17 Upper Deck Series One: Centers, Left Wings and Goalies. Each consists of 10 cards. Collect all 10 cards from one of the insert sets, and you can “combine” them for an exclusive Shining Stars physical achievement card. BUUUUT…if you combine 20 of the same Shining Stars achievement card, you can get an even more-limited (OMG!) Shining Stars achievement card.  

e-Pack-only Insert Sets: Instant Impressions (20 cards) and Don’t Feed the Goalie (30 cards, and yes, a stupid name) are the two e-Pack exclusive insert sets in 2016-17 Upper Deck Series One. Collect and combine either of these insert sets for a physical achievement card. Combine 20 copies of the same achievement card for a different achievement card.

This adds up to 320 more parallel cards for collectors to chase via e-Pack. That’s great if you buy tons of e-Pack cards and like parallels. 

But more importantly, this should potentially cut down on the number of inserts and foil parallels sold on the Check Out My Cards, who “holds” the physical e-Pack cards and gives e-Pack buyers an easy way to resell those cards on the COMC website. 

The opportunity to combine cards for parallels or entire insert sets for exclusive achievement cards gives e-Pack buyers — can we call them “e-Packers?” — another option besides keeping cards they don’t want or selling the cards, amidst hundreds of others selling the exact same cards, for next-to-nothing. The combined cards are removed from circulation, reducing the number of inserts and parallels on the secondary market. 

Personally, I don’t like this idea. More parallels are the last thing this hobby needs. And I will admit it — I was definitely a fan of getting many cards from 2015-16 Upper Deck Series One and Series Two for so little. I built the entire 110-card UD Portraits set for around $30, picked up all the silver foil parallel base cards I wanted for around 30 cents each, and most of the Young Guns I needed for 50 cents to $1.

At the same time, I will concede that it was kind of a joke that e-Packers would pay $4 for an e-Pack, and unless they pulled Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel or another sought-after Young Guns card, could only hope to sell the one-per-pack physical cards for an average of 50 cents. Upper Deck has realized that, and is at least trying to improve the value of e-Pack parallels and inserts on the secondary market. 

So, what do you think? Will the majority of e-Packers try to acquire 100 copies of a base card to get a patterned foil parallel, or literally 400 to 600 cards from the same insert set to get one achievement card? Leave a comment and let me know how you see this playing out. 

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

4 thoughts on “Will More Parallels Save e-Pack Hockey?”

  1. I think we are seeing the start of “junk wax era 2.0”. Too may cards flooding the market, plummeting values.
    It is a fun hobby experience for the thrill of the hunt on e-pack, with easy tradability though.

    1. Hi ShaneK, and welcome to the site.

      It is funny that you call it Junk Wax Era 2.0, because this seems to be a “web-based” problem, with all of the cards ending up on the same website at the same time, making them worth less than what they should be selling for.

    2. I feel you on this. I don’t really get the e-pack thing (and I am 30, so go figure). Obviously I am someone who loves to open packs live, in my hands, but I always have this uneasy feeling as if there are tons of these e-cards being pumped out. In this case, to get a foil to me seems sort of redundant. Unless the foil card is someone I like or I am making a set (somehow given the volume you’d need to acquire or the cost of buying on the secondary market), it just seems like it is more useless cards.
      That said, I am just fine if it doesn’t save e-pack as it won’t change how I collect cards one bit.

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