Best of the Worst: 2017-18 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey

You can smell the turkey cooking, you’re already gearing up for the assault of family members you haven’t seen in a year and still don’t want to, the air is getting crisp even in Carolina, and there’s a collective groan out of the Windy City as the Blackhawks are announced as participants in yet another outdoor game. Must be time to make fun of Upper Deck’s latest flagship set of hockey cards!

UD made it tough for me this year; almost every pack I opened had one card I could laugh at. I doubt they read these posts for the sake of tossing me a softball, but I piled up 36 cards out of one hobby box to poke fun at and I’ve pared it down to a baker’s dozen.

We’ll start with three really candid shots:

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Pros and Cons of Game Dated Moments

Upper Deck’s new print-on-demand hockey card set has potential & problems

Upper Deck debuted its new Game Dated Moments hockey card set for the 2017-18 season last Friday. Each week, Upper Deck will release between one and four cards in this set, based on what they deem to be the biggest news of the NHL from the prior week. Fans will be encouraged to give Upper Deck their input as to what moments they would like to see on Game Dated Moment cards, which are available to purchase on Upper Deck’s E-Pack platform. 

Upon first hearing about this new set, I was excited. I remember the 1996-97 Upper Deck Hockey set because the photos on those cards had captions that told you what was happening, and on what date the picture was taken. 

I also liked it when Upper Deck made Biography of a Season cards, though admittedly I have always had trouble finding those at my local card shops — only to have dealers try and sell me the same cards months later. 

These also remind me of those “Season Highlights” cards that were commonplace in the old Topps and O-Pee-Chee sets in the 1970s and 1980s. Most oldschool hockey collectors love those cards. 

Anytime hockey gets a new type of set, even if the idea itself isn’t particularly new, I get excited. Hockey cards are almost always overlooked, so I love it when they get the all-star treatment. 

But my excitement for Game Dated Moments has cooled off a little bit for a few good reasons. My outlook on this set is now mixed, with some positives and some problems. Let’s examine the problems first. 

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Box Break: 2017 Grandeur Hockey Coins

Upper Deck released its inaugural edition of Grandeur Hockey Coins earlier this year. A box with one coin costs $100, while a four-coin box costs $499 and is guaranteed to contain one of the rarer coins. I finally got my hands on a one-coin box, so let’s check this puppy out. 

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Box Break: 2017-18 MVP Hockey

Let the new season of collecting begin!

The 2017-18 hockey season is still a month away, yet Upper Deck likes to get the “collecting season” started early. Coming out almost two months before the start of the season is Upper Deck MVP Hockey. Although the price is the same as last year’s MVP — about $3 USD per pack or $40 USD for a 20-pack box — the set is smaller, with over 100 less short-printed cards, making this year’s offering easier to complete.

I opened up a box of 2017-18 Upper Deck MVP Hockey recently. Here is what I found: 

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Every 1991-92 Hockey Card Set Ranked

While a lot of hockey cards were made during the 1990-91 season, the 1991-92 season was like a movie sequel: bigger and bolder, with more of everything.

More cards? Check.

Larger sets? That too.

Extra inserts? You bet! 

The amount of sets made, and cards to collect, nearly doubled, with companies releasing two or three sets each in an attempt to cash in on the boom. Hockey card revenue from the 1991-92 season, generated from the brisk sales, spiked to $15 million and was even a major cause of the 1992 NHL Players’ Strike. 

That’s funny if you think about it, because hockey cards in the 1991-92 season were worth $15 million to the players and owners – money worth fighting over — and yet hockey cards from that year are practically worthless today. 

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t open up your collection a little bit to some of these “neo-vintage” (don’t call ’em “junk wax”) sets. Maybe you have room in your collection for one, or a few, of these — assuming you don’t have them already. So here is my ranking of every 1991-92 hockey card set. 

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My 2017 National Haul

Truth be told, I’ve kind of outgrown the desire to recap the various cards and collectibles that I acquire at shows. Part of it seems like bragging (“Look how much money I spent!”) and part of it seems rather trivial (“Yep, I found that Ilya Bryzgalov rookie card in the quarter box!”). Plus, I’d rather write other articles, like making fun of a horrible hockey card, reviewing the best and worst hockey card sets ever made, re-imagining an old NHL draft, or interviewing a current or former player. 

However, in the last Puck Junk Podcast, I *did* say that I would show some of the items that I got at the 2017 National Sports Collectors Convention. So, as promised, here are the highlights of my 2017 National Sports Collectors Convention haul:

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Best of the Worst: 2015-16 UD Portfolio

S’up, Puck-Bunnies and Skater Dawgs! Here’s your Southern Home-Fry coming attchu with another Best of the Worst. I picked up my first box of 2015-16 Upper Deck Portfolio and I LOVED it!  I mean, for the most part. Photography-wise, these are some of the best and most-candid shots outside of Upper Deck Series One and Series Two. But that means there are some awesomely BAD shots to make fun of, so let’s dive right in. 

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The Showcase Showdown!

2016-17 Fleer Showcase Box Break #2

Yeah, I know. Not long ago, I wrote about the price of cards being too high, but I also said that if you wait long enough, you can find it for the price that you’ll pay. Thus, this box of 2016-17 Fleer Showcase ended up in my lap. Sal already went though the particulars, so I’ll just let you in of the “hits” of my box. 

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The Hockey Fans’ Guide to the 2017 National Sports Collectors Convention

If you live in the United States, then you know how frustrating it can be to find hockey collectibles at your typical sports card show. In 10 days from now, The National Sports Collectors Convention — a.k.a. “The National” will return to Chicago, and it is anything but your typical card show. It is the largest sports collectibles convention in the world, taking place July 26 to July 30, 2017 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.

The National probably won’t have as much “puck junk” as the Fall Expo or Spring Expo, since those shows are in Toronto and feature a hockey-centric lineup of autograph guests. Nonetheless, if you are a hockey collector, you can still get a lot out of The National. I’ve attended this show when it was in Chicago in 2008, 2011, 2013 and 2015, and always enjoyed myself and found a lot of great hockey items, despite the seemingly endless amount of non-hockey memorabilia.

So, here is my guide for hockey fans attending this year’s National. Seek, and ye shall find. 

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Box Break: 2016-17 SP Authentic Hockey

Upper Deck’s SP Authentic was released during the 2016-17 playoffs. The set is known for its white backgrounds and being tough to put together — usually consisting of around 100 base cards and another 100 short prints. 

Over the past several seasons, SP Authentic has become the set where Upper Deck sneaks in some “Upper Deck Update” cards into its packs; cards that resemble Series One/Two and feature late-season trades and surprise rookies.

SP Authentic is the first set to be a part of Upper Deck’s new “Bounty Program,” which encourages collectors to put together a special insert set to redeem for even more tough-to-find cards. 

2016-17 SP Authentic costs about $150 online for an 18-pack box. Each pack contains five cards. Recently, I opened a box. Here is what I found inside. 

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