Box Break: 2013-14 Heroes and Prospects

box_sealedHeroes and Prospects, by In The Game Trading Cards, celebrates its tenth season this  year. The set focuses mainly on players who were drafted by NHL teams, players eligible for the 2014 NHL draft, or players eligible within the next few years. There are also “heroes” cards, of former hockey legends, that use  illustrations instead of photographs. Rounding out the 199-card set are 49 short-printed lenticular “Class of 2014” cards that have a cool, 3-D effect. Like all In The Game products, you can also expect autographed cards and game-used jersey cards in every box.

Without further ado, here are the results of the box I opened:

136 Base Cards

base_mcdavid_frontThere are 150 standard base cards in the 2013-14 Heroes and Prospects set. Cards 1 to 121 make up the “prospects” portion of the set.

base_mcdavid_backThe back of each prospect card shows that player’s vital information, as well as their stats from the previous year and a short biography. The layout is clean, uncluttered and easy to read — something I appreciate as I get older and my eyesight seemingly gets worse. I can even read the copyright date without any problems 🙂

base_hextall_frontThe 29 heroes cards use illustrations, which are hit-or-miss. Some look all right, like this one of Ron Hextall with his junior team, but on others the likenesses look a little odd. I normally like “art cards,” but I am lukewarm towards these. I wish the artist was the same that illustrates the Enforcers Cards for their “Bloody Battles” inserts.

base_hextall_backOverall, I got 136 different base cards with no doubles. That leaves me 14 cards shy of having the complete 150-card base set.

2 3-D Class of 2014 cards

lenticularCards 151 to 199 make up the “Class of 2014” subset, which feature players who are draft-eligible this June. The scan above does these cards no justice. The cards use a lenticular process — like those “magic motion” prizes you’d get in a box of Cracker Jack or the old Sportsflicks baseball cards of the 1980s. The card is flat, and yet the player apears to pop off of it. Some elements, like the player’s arms and stick and the “Class of 2014” logo at the bottom, pop off even more.

These cards are awesome, but are also my biggest complaint. You only get two Class of 2014 cards per box.Two! That’s it! That makes getting all 49 a more daunting task then putting together a set of this year’s Young Guns. If these were seeded more frequently — maybe one in three packs — I’d be very tempted to put together the “Class of 2014” subset.

3 Autographed Cards

auto_virtanen auto_morin auto_manthaThere were three autographed cards in the box I opened: Jake Virtanen, Samuel Morin and Anthony Mantha. Both Mantha and Morin were selected in the first round of the 2013 NHL draft. Virtanen will be eligible for the draft this June, and is currently on a point-per-game pace with his junior team.

These autographs are signed on a sticker which is then applied to the card. Many collectors bemoan “sticker-graphs,” but I don’t have problems with them so long as that the sticker isn’t noticeable. In The Game is the ninja master of incorporating sticker autographs in an eye-pleasing, unobtrusive way.

1 Autographed Jersey Card

auto_jerseyBut wait — there’s another autograph! This card of Zachary Fucale has both an autograph and a decent-sized red jersey swatch. Fucale was selected in the second round by the Montreal Canadiens in 2013. Again, this card uses a sticker, but it looks awesome.

1 Game-Used Jersey card

jerseyMy, my, that is quite the swatch. Nick Sorensen was picked by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of last year’s draft.

1 10th Anniversary Jersey Card

jersey_anniversaryThe third and final game-used card uses a piece of jersey worn by Tuukka Rask when he played for the Providence Bruins. That’s a pretty cool jersey swatch to own, considering how Rask has made a name for himself in the NHL. But I have a few problems with this card: I wish it had a picture of the netminder on the front, as well as his first name. I’m not particularly fond of the giant, “10-shaped” cut out, but I can see how some people would like it.

 3 10th Anniversary Insert cards

anniversary_insertEvery six packs contains an anniversary insert that shows a current prospect on the 2004-05 Heroes and Prospects design. In addition to Sean Monohan, I also got anniversary inserts of Spencer Watson and Anthony Mantha. Looking at these anniversary insert cards makes me realize just how far the design of Heroes and Prospects has evolved over the past decade.

15 He Shoots He Scores Puzzle Redemption cards

decoyThis is a cleaver idea. ITG puts a decoy “puzzle piece” card in every pack of Heroes and Prospects that doesn’t have a jersey card in it. These decoy cards are thick, like a jersey card, so as to thwart would-be pack searchers. However, I wish these wouldn’t count as one of the nine cards per pack. The box states that each pack contains nine cards, but then also states that you get eight cards and a puzzle piece or memorabilia card. Personally, I see these more of an “add-in” — like an advertisement card — than a card that I’m “counting” on getting.

There seems to be several different puzzles to complete. I got pieces for Darnell Nurse, Jonathan Drouin and a few other guys. If you save 150 of these puzzle pieces, you can redeem them for a special-edition jersey card that’s hand-numbered and limited to 20 copies. I’d be torn; it would be great to own a super-limited card, but you don’t get your puzzle pieces back once you send them in. And I could see how getting all these pieces might be fun; they remind me of the puzzles that Topps used to put on the back of their Star Wars insert stickers.

What I like about 2013-14 Heroes and Prospects: Three autographs, two jersey cards and one combo autograph/jersey card give you a lot for your money. The 3-D “Class of 2014” inserts are really sweet. The base card set design is clean, with easy-to-read text on the backs. Good collation with no duplicate cards. It is interesting to see depictions of many Hall of Fame hockey players from when they played with their junior teams.

What I dislike about 2013-14 Heroes and Prospects: The illustrations used on the heroes cards could be better. Putting only two of those “Class of 2104” inserts per box — and counting them as part of the 199-card master set — is frustrating, especially since they are such nice cards.

Rating 4 out of 5Heroes and Prospects is THE set to collect if you like junior hockey or like to collect cards of future NHL prospects. Each box features a lot of variety — autographs, game-used cards and 3-D cards — and the base set is definitely a “who’s who” of current and eminent NHL prospects

You can purchase a box of 2013-14 Heroes and Prospects from Blowout Cards, DA Card World or Steel City Collectibles. (Note that these three online retailers DO NOT sponsor this website in any way. They are good retailers that I have bought from in the past.)

For a complete checklist of 2013-14 Heroes and Prospects, click here.

Special thanks to In The Game Trading Cards for providing the box for this break.

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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

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