The first set of the 07-08 season leaves much to be desired
Upper Deck really likes to jump the gun on hockey season, releasing this year’s Victory set near the end of August-more than a full month before hockey season begins. To many, Victory is a “why bother” set, and I can see why. The cards are relatively cheap (around a buck a pack), there are no memorabilia cards and-with all the free agent signings over the summer-a lot of cards are already “out of date”. Plus, you still have to mess with short printed rookie cards…and these RCs of guys who mainly appeared at the end of the season for a game or two.
Granted, I like cheap cards-and don’t like memorabilia cards-so I went ahead and bought two boxes. The collation was good, as I was able to get a complete base set from two boxes, and 36 out of 45 rookie cards (no duplicates). But the set itself leaves a lot to be desired.
Player selection -2 out of 5
The player selection for this year’s Victory is so-so. Since the set is 200 cards, you only get six or seven cards per team (Buffalo, Anaheim and Colorado each get eight cards).
I really don’t like that. Sure, it’s nice to open a pack of cards and get Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla and Roberto Luongo in the same pack. But we see the same names over and over, in every set that Upper Deck produces, with a random new face here and there. Since most Upper Deck sets are 100 to 200 cards, the only thing that really changes about the sets are the price and the design-but not the variety of players featured.
Card design – 1 out of 5
Victory features a very claustrophobic design. The borders are very “busy” with random lines and stripes and such. One nice design touch, though, is the fact that the bottom borders bend inward, giving a sort of “hockey stick feel” to them. This almost redeems the design.
I say “almost” because every card crops in really close on the player. Yes, these are full body shots-but something is always cropped out, be it the blade of the stick or the bottom of a skate. Or in case of a goalie photo, the blocker hand is usually partially cropped.
Why couldn’t the photos be “pulled back” a bit? Either show the whole player, with some room around them, or crop in real close-maybe a waist up shot or even a close up for sake of variety?
Overall, the busy borders, the tight cropping, and the lack of variety in photos used make these cards nothing special to look at, at least the front side. Maybe the backs are better…
Victory does something interesting and helpful on the back of each card; it gives the pronunciation of each player’s name. This isn’t very necessary for guys like Cam Ward (pronounced KAM WOHRD), but is totally helpful for names like, oh say Guillaume Latendresse (gee-OHM la-TEHN-drehs). Considering all the European players in the league nowadays, I’m surprised that Upper Deck doesn’t do this on all their sets. (I know Latendresse is a Canadian, but I could not pronounce his name before getting this card.)
Other than the pronunciation, the backs of the cards are standard fare: height, weight, shoots, date of birth, position and jersey number. We only get the last five years of stats, even though there is potential room for more. A team logo occupies the space were more stats could be. I guess they couldn’t just stick the logo on the front? The word Victory is ghosted in the back, and if that’s not enough it also says “2007-08 Victory Hockey”, in case we needed reminding.
One other thing really bothers me about the card backs: THEY ARE WRITTEN IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. I’M NOT SURE WHY. DO YOU LIKE READING THINGS THAT ARE IN ALL CAPS? ESPECIALLY WHEN THE TEXT IS SMALL, AND AGAINST A GRAY BACKGROUND?
Can you say “eyesore”?
Forty-five Victory Rookies are in the set. And you know these are rookie cards, because it says ROOKIE really big on the front of the card. The design of the Victory Rookie cards are a bit more streamlined, and there’s a bit more variety in the types of photos used (some are game action while others are studio portraits or close-ups).
But come on…does the word ROOKIE need to really take up 20% of the front of each card?
Other than Jack Johnson, the rest of these players are nothing to get excited about, as they are guys who mainly played a few games towards the end of last season. And yet they are short prints, inserted one in every other pack. You will still have to work hard to get those last 45 cards, but then ask yourself if it is really worth the effort?
BONUS – The top 5 cards
9 – Evgeni Malkin – a 2nd year card of the 2007 Rookie of the Year (back)
68 – Johan Holmqvist – probably the most exciting action shot in the set (back)
119 – Jason Williams – because they actually fit all of him on his card, and didn’t crop out his left toe or his right elbow or something to that extent. A nice photo. (back)
201 – Jack Johnson -the University of Michigan standout may be the only worthwhile RC in this set. (back)
211 – Yutak Fukufuji – the first Japanese-born player in the NHL. He didn’t last too long. Interest in this card probably won’t last too long either (remember when everyone made a big deal about Jim Paek being the first Korean-born player in the NHL? Exactly.) (back) ■