Many online sellers like DA Card World and Blowout Cards have dropped the prices on boxes of 2011-12 hockey cards. Likewise, many eBay sellers will try to sell off their 2011-12 sets for bargain prices before collectors get too focused on buying the new cards. This makes for an advantageous time to go back and pick up anything you missed out on.
Below are 9 micro reviews of the various sets from the 2011-12 season.
Since they started leasing the name in 2006-07, Upper Deck has never done a great job with the O-Pee-Chee brand of hockey cards. Sure, it is named “O-PEE-CHEE,” and we all like that. It is a brand name that will always have equity with hockey card enthusiasts.
But the cards almost always feature a mediocre design and (except for 2006-07) are printed on substandard card stock–ugly gray, cereal box card stock instead of nice, white stock like Score or Victory. And let’s not forget the ridiculously large O-Pee-Chee logo.
Part of O-Pee-Chee’s appeal–besides the name–is the large set size. 500 base cards and another 100 short-prints will keep anyone busy for a while. But only 50 of those 100 short-prints are rookie cards; the other 50 are cards of retired legends, which frankly seems like filler. Since O-Pee-Chee came out early in the 2011-12 season, all the big name rookies like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Gabriel Landeskog were not initially in the set, but later added as part of an update set (which was found in Upper Deck Series 2).
Enforcers (In the Game)
The older I get, the more I feel that fighting is unnecessary in hockey. And yet, I have nothing but fond memories of Bob Probert, Dave Manson, Basil McRae and Stu Grimson beating the tar out of each other.
That said, Enforcers was a “must have” set for me to collect.There were 90 base cards,plus 86 different autographed cards as well as single and dual memorabilia cards.
But for others–who are opposed to fighting or just can’t get into ITG’s “logo free” brand of hockey cards–this was definitely a set to skip.
Since ITG does not have license from the NHL, they cannot show team logos. So, like many of their other sets, Enforcers uses close-ups or portrait photographs. The company did something interesting, though, in order to show famous fights: they had an artist illustrate 38 different “Bloody Battles.” Still no logos, but at least there’s some action.
One upside to Enforcers was the 5 autographed and 2 memorabilia cards you got in each box. But again, given the limited appeal of the product, only a handful of these cards (mainly the sticker autographs of deceased players like Bob Probert) have any true demand on the secondary market.
As much as I criticize Upper Deck, I also give them props when props are due. And here, props are definitely due. Parkhurst Champions was a great set that took old ideas and made them feel new.
Upper Deck took two popular sets–Parkhurst and Champ’s–and combined them into Parkhurst Champions. It was truly the peanut butter and chocolate of hockey cards; two great tastes that taste great together.
Parkhurst Champions 100-card base set featured some of the best NHL players ever. The full-color photographs are heavily saturated, making the colors practically pop off the cardboard. The short-printed subsets were unique–full-sized painting cards and old black-and-white wire photographs. And then there were the small, cigarette-size cards, just like the mini cards put into Champ’s sets.
Parkhurst Champions has history, nostalgia and variety working for it. You also got 1 to 3 autographs per box, and there were no memorabilia cards to inflate the cost, which was already a bit steep at around $90 per box.
Score seems like a set that could “kill off” both O-Pee-Chee and Victory. Like O-Pee-Chee, it features a large, comprehensive selection of players that should appeal to set builders. And for kids, or those who don’t want to spend too much on cards, a pack costs only a dollar.
And yet, Score still doesn’t get any respect. I really don’t understand why Score has not caught on with the collecting community. For a buck a pack, you get a set that is the same size of O-Pee-Chee, but less expensive and superior in quality. Plus, you have better odds of getting an autographed card in Score than in O-Pee-Chee.
Score’s base set included Season Highlight and Playoff Highlight cards, making for a good retrospective of the previous season. It featured a great assortment of players (about 15 cards per team) as well as short-printed “Hot Rookies.” There were even super-short printed RCs, for those of you who like that sort of thing.
Score’s design is kind of plain, but we’ll let that slide a bit because at least the design is original and not a retro rehash. Score also does not feature a player’s complete statistics–only up to 10 seasons are shown. While this isn’t really expected of any set (other than O-Pee-Chee, naturally), doing so in the future might give Score the edge it needs to stand out.
Since the 2005 lockout, Upper Deck has repeatedly been THE set to collect. Stunning photography has been Upper Deck’s hallmark since 1990, but the set also appeals to set builders and speculative collectors.
Yes, there are sets that are more comprehensive than Upper Deck, but at 500 cards the set is”comprehensive enough” for most set-builders. Young Guns rookie cards seem to be a high-enough tier of rookie card for collectors who do not need autographed, serial-numbered or memorabilia rookie cards.
The design itself of Upper Deck cards was a bit “phoned in”–QUICK! What’s one memorable thing about the card above? Other than the photo, nothing really. But that’s OK. Great photography and a great selection of rookies is all this set will ever need to be awesome.
Upper Deck SPx
SPx is one of those sets where the base cards were an afterthought. You and I both know that collectors buy SPx with the hopes of pulling a great jersey card, and could care less about the base cards.
But back in the 1990s, SPx at least had cool holographic photos on the card fronts to amuse us. Now, it is just the standard “player who is cut out and superimposed over some overly-designed background” type of card. In other words, like nearly every other set that costs $100/box.
And seriously, what’s with the groin-level gold team logo? It looks like a gold armored codpiece.
One thing I like about Panini Contenders is that they put all the “card junk”–the name, the team logo, the company logo, and such–at the bottom, so as to minimize any distraction from the photograph.
However, much of the stuff at the bottom is unnecessary. Information like the uniform number and player position can easily fit on the card back. The conference logo is totally unnecessary.
Contenders guaranteed 3 autographs per box, which I always enjoy more than memorabilia cards. There were short-printed rookie cards, as well as short-prints of stars (Calder Candidates and Cup Candidates, respectively), making this higher-end set very much Panini’s answer to Upper Deck’s Artifacts.
The photos are not “over the top awesome” like Upper Deck Series One/Two,but they are still mainly action-oriented.
The first hockey set I ever collected was Panini Hockey Stickers, so I will always have a fondness for them. But that was back when you only had very few card sets coming out. Now, with the year-round barrage of hockey cards, Panini stickers all but get lost in the shuffle.
Panini Hockey Stickers cost $1 per 7-sticker pack.With 384 stickers to collect, you will need to purchase more than one 50-pack box to make a set. That wouldn’t be so bad if the collation of Panini Stickers wasn’t so terrible. One blogger I know bought a box and got over 100 duplicates. In 2010-11, I bought 2 boxes and could not even finish one set without ordering additional stickers directly from Panini.
Nontheless, this year’s Panini Sticker set has a very nice design that utilizes an action shot, a close-up shot, the player’s name and the team logo, all in front of a non-distracting backdrop. There’s a bit of variety too, such as All-Stars, logo stickers and season highlights. Plus, a completed set looks great in the sticker album.
The only thing that Upper Deck’s Victory has going for it is that it is usually the first set to come out in a given season. Other than being first–and being cheap at $1 per pack–it does not have much else going for it.
Victory never improves upon previous years. It’s always the same thing: a cut-out picture of a player placed in front of the word “victory.” The set is only 200 base cards and 50 rookie cards of “leftover rookies.” Thus, a full set (base plus rookies) can be put together inexpensively.
An 80-card update set was inserted in packs of Upper Deck Series 2, including RCs of Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.Those will be more of a challenge to get; but again, even harder-to-find Victory cards are not that sought after or expensive.
So, what sets did you collect during the 2011-12 season? What set or sets did you like the most? The least?