Box Break: 2015-16 Panini Anthology Hockey

Hi, have we met? Good, then you know I hate Panini. But I do love a good deal when it comes to hockey cards. A little while ago I found a “box” of Panini Anthology cards marked down from $125 to $45 “for a limited time.” Spoiler Alert: they’re still $45 everywhere. Now, before I get to the cards, let me tell you about the “box,” yes in quotation marks. Pandora’s Box was easier to open and frankly had less regrettable contents than this “box.” Here is what I had to do to get inside:

STEP ONE. Get my knife out and cut off the shrink rap.

STEP TWO: Slice open the plastic seal at the lid of the box.

STEP THREE: Open the box. 

STEP FOUR: Come the realization that the box was housing a smaller box…ALSO IN SHRINK WRAP!

STEP FIVE: Get my knife out AGAIN and slice open the second layer of shrink wrap.

STEP SIX: Open the INNER box.

STEP SEVEN: Shake the little box violently to remove the six cards housed inside that also has a block of polystyrene holding them in place with a vacuum seal!

So I’m already pissed off at these cards because of this and I haven’t even seen them yet. They must be something special and awesome for this much trouble and for a company to ask well north of a C-note in price.

God, you disappoint me so much, Panini. 

I’ve never opened a pack/box of cards that unsatisfactory to me as much as this and after that much work. You know when it’s the Fourth of July — or “July 4th and oh God is America attacking??” if you’re in Canada — and you see a rocket shoot off into the night sky, zipping in a squirrelly fashion and leaving a bright trail of sparks behind it? The sparks trail off into the darkness and you’re all like, “ooooh, this is gonna be a big one!”….aaand nothing, it’s turns out to be a dud that falls back to the earth unseen and unheard from again.  That’s this box of cards.

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2015-16 Upper Deck Chicago Blackhawks Arena Giveaway Promo Cards

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Seven exclusive Chicago Blackhawks trading cards, made by Upper Deck, were given away at a Blackhawks game during the 2015-16 season. At a glance, these closely resemble the standard 2015-16 Upper Deck hockey cards found in packs of Upper Deck Series One and Series Two. However, upon closer examination there are several notable differences. Furthermore, some cards even use entirely different photographs, making for an odd, offbeat parallel for team or player collectors.

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Box Break: 2016 Team Canada Juniors

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Canada is pretty much the top of the food chain when it comes to international hockey competitions, so a card set based solely on Canadian players is bound to be loaded with stars. Upper Deck’s 2016 Team Canada Juniors set highlights 100 of the best players, past and present, to don the maple leaf. There are 16 packs in a box, and five cards per pack. Not too long ago, I opened a box; here is what I found inside:

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Box Break: 2015-16 Champ’s Hockey

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I’ve always had a fondness for Upper Deck’s Champ’s cards; they have a very unique and classy look about them, especially since they’re rather low-fi with only a light gloss coat over a picture that is suppose to look more like a portrait rather than a photo, and an O-Pee-Che-esque brown cardboard back.  They’ve also always included strange insert cards such as historical figures, high adventure locations and animals. OK, it’s interesting to ME, but I’m a scientist, so maybe I’m just weird and you all think it’s a waste of space where yet another Hal Gill common card could be hiding.  You can voice your disagreement in a comment below.

Champ’s had been sleeping since 2009-10, so I was excited to see it return. Being burned by sets that had almost no cards featuring my favorite team, I did wait until a full checklist of the set and subsets came out before buying a hobby box at $100.  If there’d been a famine of Carolina Hurricanes cards, I would have waited until a sale and then gotten them for 25% off.  Thankfully that was not the case.

A box contains 20 packs. Each pack has six cards. A box averages one autograph, two memorabilia cards, four high series cards, six inserts and nine parallels/variants. I don’t know if it was just my box or if it is because this is one of the last sets put out for the season, but if you like rookie cards, then this box is your jam because I pulled 22! There are so many crazy things about this set that I’m getting lost in the details just trying to write about it, so let me back away and get down strictly to what popped up in the box break.

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Building the 2016 Pittsburgh Penguins: An Interactive Timeline

Click the above image to activate timeline. Not working? Click here.

It has been a long seven years, but the Pittsburgh Penguins have finally reclaimed the Stanley Cup. The Pens team that made back-to-back Finals appearances, losing in 2008 and winning in 2009, seemed poised to be an annual contender. Yet, the Penguins faltered, being adequate enough to make it into the playoffs, but not great enough to win it all.

That changed when Jim Rutherford was hired as the Penguins General Manager in 2014. He started re-building the team around cornerstones Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury. He made a blockbuster deal for Phil Kessel, as well as other trades, and made the controversial decision to fire Pens’ head coach Mike Johnston and replace him with their AHL coach, Mike Sullivan. It all worked out in the end.

For a more in-depth look at how the Penguins rebuilt themselves into a championship team, plus a recap of every players’ contributions, take a look at this interactive timeline. ■

Penguins’ Stanley Cup Finals Ice for Sale

Ice, Ice Baby! Consol Center Ice, Ice Baby!

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What do you buy a die-hard Pittsburgh Penguins fan to celebrate the Pens’ 2016 Stanley Cup Championship? You could get them an autographed photo, a signed puck or a team-signed guitar. I’m not making the last one up.

Or you could get them some ice from the Consol Energy Center that has been melted down and put into a puck or a mini Stanley Cup. It’s the ice that the Penguins and Sharks skated on for Games One, Two and Five. This is great for Pens fans who like water that they can’t drink. And if Sidney Crosby spit on the ice in any of those games, it might even have his DNA! No, not really. All kidding aside, these are pretty nice.

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The Crystal Puck looks fancy and comes in a posh blue box that bears the Stanley Cup Championship logo. It costs $49.99, with free shipping.

But I think I like the “Crystal Cup” better.

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Like the real Stanley Cup, the Crystal “filled with ice” Cup comes with its own coffin storage case. At $79.99 (with free shipping) it costs a bit more than the crystal puck, but I think the box makes it worthwhile. It lists out the years of the Penguins’ four Championships, their regular season record, the results in the first three rounds of the playoffs, and the game-by-game results of the Finals.

The ice-filled Crystal Puck and Crystal Cup collectibles — as well as other Penguins Championship merchandise — are being sold by SportsMemorabilia.com, who is running a $20 off promotion for Flag Day. Use code FLAG at checkout to save $20 on an order of $100 or more. ■

Review: 2015-16 Chicago Wolves

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The Chicago Wolves, the American Hockey League affiliate of the St. Louis Blues, gave away a team set of trading cards towards the end of the 2015-16 season. This year’s Wolves set has a wide player selection, but making it truly memorable is the gritty, cool-as-hell design that you’d expect to see on superhero cards instead of minor league hockey cards. Yet, the Wolves pull it off, making for one awesome-looking set.

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Your e-Pack Trash is My Treasure

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Earlier this month, blogger Kin Kinsley asked the pointed question “Is Upper Deck e-Pack Killing Card values?” It is a great article worth reading, and much of my article here draws from the research Kin conducted earlier. In summary, the droves of collectors opening “virtual packs” of 2015-16 Upper Deck Series One and Series Two at the e-Pack website, coupled with the convenience of physical inserts already being housed at Check Out My Cards, has led to a glut of inserts listed on the COMC website for dirt cheap.

This is either awful or awesome, depending on your point of view.  Continue reading “Your e-Pack Trash is My Treasure”

Box Break: 2015-16 Upper Deck AHL

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For a third year in a row, Upper Deck has produced a set of trading cards of American Hockey League (AHL) players. The AHL is the top developmental circuit for the NHL. Many players who play in the AHL go on to play at least a little bit in the NHL, making this a sort of future prospects set.

The 2015-16 Upper Deck AHL Hockey set came out in April of 2016. A box costs around $65 and has 20 five-card packs. Being a fan of minor league hockey, I could not wait to get my hands on this product, and recently busted a box. Here is what I found inside:

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Box Break: 2015-16 Fleer Showcase Hockey

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Fleer is quickly becoming that go-to set that Upper Deck puts out when they want to infuse some 1990s nostalgia into the hockey card market. In the past, they released a set called Fleer Retro, which played heavily on 1990s base card and insert designs. The 2015-16 Fleer Showcase set is sort of their retro set of this year, with designs from two decades ago. A box costs around $110 online, and has 12 five-card packs. Here are the results of my recent break of Showcase.

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