Wrapper Redemption Review

Most of the card companies were doing wrapper redemption programs at The National.

I participated in the programs held by Panini, In The Game and Upper Deck. Here is a rundown of my experiences with the 3 programs I tried.

Please note that this review is hockey-specific. I only bought packs of hockey cards, and only participated in redemption programs where it was possible to get hockey cards.

Panini Redemption Program

What you could get
A silver foil redemption pack with 2 cards. Some packs had jersey and/or autographed cards.

What you had to buy / Approximate Cost / Exchange Rate
5 packs of Donruss@ around $10 = 1 redemption pack
5 packs of Pinnacle @ around $10 = 1 redemption pack
5 packs of Zenith @ around $40 = 1 redemption pack
1 pack of Luxury Suite @ around $30 = 2 redemption packs

My Thoughts
First, I was a bit unhappy about the selection of eligible hockey cards whose wrappers could be redeemed. I had plenty of Donruss and Pinnacle–those came out MONTHS ago, so the die-hard hockey fans already had those sets. So I bought a box of Luxury Suite (break here) since that would only cost $40 more than a box of Zenith and would get me 8 redemption packs.

Next, I was unpleasantly surprised to find out that each pack contained only 2 cards. So each “National-only” card cost me $7.50.

Third, I was disappointed at how many doubles I got in my eight packs. I’d open one pack, then another that would have the exact same two cards. I think I got 4 or 5 doubles out of the 16 cards.

The Hits
Out of 16 cards, the only special ones I got was this red foil parallel of Martin Brodeur, limited to 25 copies.

I also got some autographed card of an NBA player named Hasheem Thabeet. I do not watch basketball, and have no idea who Hasheem Thabeet is. Making things harder was that the Thabeet card featured the logo of his college team, and not his NBA team. Forutnately, I was able to trade the Thabeet autograph to someone for this Jacob Markstrom autographed card.

Overall Impression
Panini had a lot of variety–perhaps too much.  Two cards per pack was chintzy, the collation was crummy and the quality of “hits” questionable. Hasheem Thabeet? Jacob Markstrom?

Needless to say, I did not buy any more Panini packs at The National.

In The Game Redemption Program

What you could get
A 1/1, National-exclusive jersey card and an autograph of 1980 “Miracle on Ice” hockey player Mark Wells.

What you had to buy / Approximate Cost / Exchange Rate
1 box of Decades: 1980s “National Edition” @ around $95 =  one 1/1 show-only card and a Wells’ autograph

My Thoughts
The so-called “National Edition” of Decades: 1980 swapped out one of the jersey hits with a quad jersey card of four Chicago Blackhawks players. The National Edition only cost $10 more than a normal box of Decades: 1980, so it was totally worth it for me to be guaranteed a ‘Hawks jersey card AND a Wells autograph AND a 1/1 show-only jersey card.

The Hits
I bought two boxes of Decades: 1980s, so I got two 1/1 cards…

Bernie Federko Game Used number card 1/1
Joe Nieuwendyk Game Used number card 1/1

…and two Mark Wells autographs.

In The Game provided this nice 5″x7″ card for Mr. Wells to autograph.

I also got this Signature Rookies card of Wells signed.

Overall Impression
This program was great for jersey card collectors, which I am not. But I am an autograph collector, and Mark Wells was a nice draw. I liked the concept of the Decades: 1980 set, so I didn’t mind buying two boxes of it. (Breaks here and here).

Upper Deck Redemption Program

What you get
A cello pack containing 5 cards. Every pack had the same 5 cards, and each day the cards were different so one could easily get a set of all 20. Some packs contained a 6th card that was autographed.

What you had to buy / Approximate Cost / Exchange Rate
5 packs of SP Authentic @ around $20 = 1 redemption pack
5 packs of SPx @ around $40 = 1 redemption pack

My Thoughts
First, I was really annoyed that the only two sets of Upper Deck hockey that were eligible were two sets I don’t collect. What about Upper Deck Series 2, or Upper Deck Artifacts? If those wrappers were eligible, I would have had a field day with this redemption. Instead, like the Panini redemption, I was forced to buy cards that I didn’t want.

Even worse, you could only purchase eligible packs from one of Upper Deck’s “Diamond Dealers,” who in turn would give you a coupon you’d redeem for the redemption pack. I thought this was particularly crummy of Upper Deck to do, as it shut out 95% of the dealers at the show. Only 5 or so dealers were eligible.

The Hits
A lot of people were pulling autographs. I was extremely lucky. Out of 10 redemption packs–2 on Thursday, 3 on Friday, 3 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday–I ended up getting an autographed card each day.

On Thursday, I pulled a signed card of Chicago Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg, which I traded to another collector for this Jeff Skinner autograph!

On Friday, I hit the jackpot and pulled a Sidney Crosby autograph!

In the 3 packs I opened on Saturday, I got this card of Mike Singletary. He was a member of the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl team, and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But I’d rather have a hockey autograph. This Singletary autographed card IS for trade.

Finally, on Sunday I pulled a card of Boston Bruins Chicago Blackhawks legend Bobby Orr.

Overall Impression
I did not like the fact that Upper Deck severely limited what dealers could sell you packs for their wrapper redemption program. But I like the fact that one could get the whole 20-card set of redemption cards relatively easily. And there were a lot of people pulling autographs.

The Verdict
3rd Place – Panini – I’m not sure what bothered me more: only 2 cards per redemption pack, or the substandard autograph cards. Sure, there were some good autos too, but it seemed way easier to pick a mediocre one.

2nd Place – In The Game – As I said, I’m not a fan of jersey cards, but the thought of getting a few 1/1 cards was alluring. I also enjoyed getting Mark Wells’ autograph.

1st Place – Upper Deck – I saw a lot of people pull autographs, including guys like Michael Jordan, Tony Esposito, Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky and Tiger Woods. It was easy to get a set, and the likelihood of an autograph was good.


Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

3 thoughts on “Wrapper Redemption Review”

  1. Amazing cards no matter what. I am seriously depressed that I live no where near these cool events. True the Panini ones are clearly the lesser of the three but still the Marty is sweet and the Markstrom could be a sleeper card.

  2. I'm sad they (Upper Deck & Panini) wouldn't even allow me to participate. Therefore my #1 vote goes to ITG.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *