Buying Panini Hockey stickers has to be its own reward. There are no autographs, jersey cards, inserts or serial-numbered parallels. That’s OK, as long as you like what you are buying.
I’ve been a fan of Panini’s annual NHL Sticker set since the 1988-89 season. Panini’s NHL Sticker set is usually more expansive than most Upper Deck hockey card sets, with more players per team. The set also usually features special events like the All-Star Game, Winter Classic and Stadium Series, as well as recaps of the NHL Awards and Stanley Cup Playoffs.
That’s all the upside to Panini Hockey Stickers.
The downside? The lousy collation.
I didn’t get around to building the Panini Hockey Sticker set during the 2016-17 season, but it was always on my radar. I recently bought a box online. In stores, a seven-sticker pack costs $1 plus tax, but I was able to get a box of last year’s Panini Hockey Stickers for $27 shipped.
A 50-pack box, at seven stickers per pack, will yield 350 stickers. That’s well short of the 503 stickers you’d need to build a full set, but with good collation, it should get you close.
Unfortunately, my collation for this box was mediocre. Here is what I got:
• 304 paper stickers (55 doubles)
Now, in any box of cards or stickers, you shouldn’t get doubles unless the set size is less than what you’d get in a box of cards. But in this case, the set size (503 stickers) was bigger than the box yield (350). OK, maybe it would be a little unrealistic to expect no doubles at all, but getting 57 doubles — about 16% — really sucks. Did I really need FOUR COPIES of sticker number 9, or THREE COPIES of sticker number 430, 433 and 448? I’m just trying to build ONE set.
Furthermore, two of the shiny “foil” stickers were doubles. That is unacceptable. The foil stickers are like the short prints; you get less than one per pack. Some of my packs had two foils, and some had zero. Overall, it averaged to about nine foils in every 10 packs.
Why that is bad is because 130 stickers in the set — about 25% — are foil stickers, but about 13% of the sticker in the box were foils. Since 2010-11, it seems that there is an overabundance of paper stickers, and not enough foils to go around. On the sticker trading website Last Sticker, everyone always needs foil stickers, while the paper stickers aren’t in demand.
Overall, I’m happy with the stickers, as Panini always puts out an exciting Hockey Sticker set, but am greatly disappointed with the lack of foils and lousy collation. But that won’t stop me from collecting what has been an annual favorite of mine for almost three decades.
I give this box break of 2016-17 Panini Hockey Stickers 3 out of 5 pucks. The poor collation but otherwise cool stickers seem to even things out. ■
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.