Upper Deck SPx hockey cards are hard to miss. They are shiny, usually horizontal and have a giant “X” in the background. But as I’ve stated many times before, collectors don’t really buy a set like SPx for the base cards — they buy it for the hits.
A box of 2013-14 SPx Hockey costs around $100 per box and promises four hits on average. Each box contains 12 four-card packs, plus one bonus five-card pack of Upper Deck Ice, which has been relegated from stand-alone set to an impossible-to-complete insert set.
Here is what I got in this box of SPx:
38 Base Cards
The card backs are interesting. There is a lot going on, but they don’t feel busy and are actually quite legible (not being able to read the back of a card is usually my number one complaint about typical Upper Deck card design). The backs look kind of tech-y — almost 1990s, but in a good way.
6 Rookie Cards
That white diagonal stripe says “ROOKIES,” but it feels like an autograph should have been put there. Perhaps the word “ROOKIES” could have been darker, to really drive home the fact that the card is a RC. The six I got were Ryan Murphy, Mikail Grigorenko, Fredrik Anderson, Hampus Lindholm, Marke Mazanec and Tyler Toffoli.
As stated on the box, SPx gives you four hits. The first hit was an autographed, serial-numbered rookie of Jacob Trouba. The card has two dark blue jersey swatches. If using two swatches from the same sweater, why not use different colors? The card is signed in blue Sharpie marker on a sticker, which is kind of annoying since SPx costs $100 per box and was released mid-season. But at least the sticker was put on straight. This card is actually part of the numbered set.
I also pulled this Rookie Materials Trio card of Alex Galchenyuk, Sean Monohan and Jonathan Huberdeau. Not a bad threesome to put on one card, which uses three red jersey swatches, giving the card a cohesive look.
This Rookie Materials card of J.T. Miller uses a blue swatch cut from a Rangers jersey, which is nice considering how much white is already on the card (in both the design and in the photo of Miller).
2 Retro Inserts
These retro inserts are designed to look like the 1996-97 SPx set. However, there is one major difference. The 1996-97 set used actual holograms that changed when you tilted the card. These new ones just print the photo on foil. If you’re going to do retro, at least do it right. Still, the cards are quite colorful.
Bonus Ice Pack
What I like about 2013-14 SPx Hockey: The jersey and patch cards found in this set look great, with careful swatch selection and no “Franken-cards.” The base set is OK, but the card backs are a cut above the usual for a set like this. Six rookie cards per box (one in every two packs) is generous. And though not the main draw, the Ice cards have a decent design.
What I don’t like about 2013-14 SPx Hockey: A second autographed card in lieu of one of the jersey cards would have been preferable. The Retro inserts miss the mark by “copping out” and not using holograms like the older cards did.
SPx is not the kind of set I collect, but for people who really enjoy jersey cards and hope for that big hit, this year’s SPx is very good. The jersey cards do not disappoint — especially considering that a high percentage of them (in my box, all four of them) are of rookies. Getting six (non-game-used) rookie cards in a 12-pack box is a nice change from the usual one or two RCs per box you’d expect in a pricier box of cards. The Retro or Ice inserts are good trade bait if you decide not to collect them. If higher-end rookie cards and/or jersey cards are your thing, SPx is definitely worth a shot.
Special thanks to Upper Deck for providing the box for this break.