Victory-like set is un-victorious in making an impression
In 2008, former super-pest Claude Lemieux came out of retirement. So did Collector’s Choice hockey cards. After a ten-year hiatus, Upper Deck has dusted off this brand of low-price cards. First produced in 1995, and lasting three seasons, Collector’s Choice was intended to be “kid-friendly” with its price – about a buck a pack – in a market that was rapidly become less affordable for younger collectors. But Lemieux’s comeback was short-lived – he retired after the Sharks were eliminated from the 2009 playoffs. Collector’s Choice’s comeback might be short-lived too.
Player selection 2 out of 5
There are 200 different player cards, resulting in about six or seven players per team being represented in this set. That is twice as many as your upper-tier set like Ice, but far less than sets like O-Pee-Chee or Upper Deck proper. It is also the same selection of players (more or less) that you get in Upper Deck’s 200-card “Victory” brand set.
Front design 2 out of 5
The Collector’s Choice cards are saddled with plain white borders and mediocre photography. Heck, this could be a Victory set – just slap that annoying “Victory” logo in the background. That said, nothing about the design is remarkable. The Collector’s Choice logo in the upper-left corner is a bit clunky. If that logo had been streamlined a bit – perhaps shrunk down – then this deign wouldn’t be half bad. It wouldn’t be half good either, at least by today’s standards.
Back design / stats & info 4 out of 5
Fortunately, each player’s complete year-by-year stats are on the back – and not just the last five seasons as Upper Deck is prone to do. A short biographical blurb is also present, but it is written in ALL CAPS and in front of a ghosted team logo – making the text a chore to read. The player’s birth date is absent, even though there is plenty of room for it at the top.
Subsets 1 out of 5
For a hockey set that is supposed to be “kid-friendly”, Collector’s Choice will still be a very hard for most kids to complete. Cards 201-300 are all short-printed, inserted at a rate of one per pack. That means that junior would have to purchase 100 packs just to get every short print – assuming no doubles, of course. At a buck a pack, that’s $100 – not an affordable number for today’s kids.
Fifty Choice Rookies showcase many of the new faces from the 2008-09 season, but the top two are notably absent: Steve Mason and Kris Versteeg. Both of those guys made some noise early on in the year, and should have been included, considering that this set came out mid-season. The cards themselves look good.
The use of chest-up portraits of each player give the subset a consistent look, while the grayed-out backgrounds really draw your attention to the player. This would have been a great design for the entire set; too bad it was squandered on 50 short-printed cards.
Thirty 3-Star Selections cards highlight three players from each team. These cards are horizontal to better accommodate the three player photos on the front and the three short bios on the back.
Finally, 20 Chippy’s Choice cards round out the short-prints.
Who is Chippy? Supposedly, some Upper Deck mascot meant to appeal to kids. Had Chippy’s head been replaced with a team logo, these too would not have been bad looking cards. Then again, the design looks like a Victory reject; notice the gradient behind the player, whose head protrudes into the card’s top border. While unoriginal in design, the Chippy’s Choice subset is somewhat interesting, selecting 20 players that stand out for various reasons – not just the goal scorers, but leaders and comeback players too.
This set is no different than Victory, other than more short prints. The design is nothing to write home about, and the set will be more trouble than it is worth to put together a truly complete set of all 300 cards. The lack of the top two rookies, Mason and Versteeg, does not help either. Because it does not do anything that hasn’t already been done by other similarly-priced sets, it would be surprising for Collector’s Choice’s comeback to last another season.
Top five cards…
45 – Derek Roy – This nice, tight shot shows an intensely focused Roy with the puck on his stick.
80 – Joe Sakic – Kudos to Upper Deck for putting all 19 years of statistics on Sakic’s card.
86 – Jonathan Toews – Action photo from Chicago’s second game of the 2008-09 season shows Blackhawks freshly-minted captain.
242 – Steven Stamkos – Though not the rookie of the year, expectations are still very high for the first overall pick of the 2008 draft.
284 – Chippy’s Choice: Daniel Carcillo – “Enforcer who foes fear!” states the front of the card. Though it does not use the “f” word, it still alludes to fighting.
300 card set
– 200 player cards
– 50 short-printed Choice Rookies
– 30 short-printed 3-Star Selections
– 20 short-printed Chippy’s Choice
Click here to download a printable checklist