I was excited when I first saw the promotional images of Upper Deck Full Force, a new hockey card set for the 2015-16 season. From what I could tell, it seemed like a set that would have a very 1990s look and feel to it, with lots of fun inserts and/or subsets. Plus, the name “Full Force” just sounds like it would have been right at home with other 1990s sets such as “Metal Universe” and “Electric Ice.”
A hobby box of Full Force has 18 five-card packs and costs in the $65-$75 range online. Here is a breakdown of a box I recently got my hands on:
73 Base Cards
The horizontal lines and the diagonal stripes behind the player add a sense motion. Using a drop shadow and a black and white background make the player really pop off of the card. 1990’s me approves.
The back follows a similar design as the front. The text is easy-to-read. There is a lot going on here, but the back doesn’t feel too cluttered.
Like almost every Upper Deck hockey card these days (not counting UD Series One, UD Series Two and O-Pee-Chee), Full Force only lists five years of statistics and career totals. Biographical data, like height, weight, birth date and such are also included.
1 Full Force Freshmen Rookie Card
The “Full Force Freshmen” — hooray for alliteration! — come one per box, which would make completing the rookie set difficult. The cards are printed with lenticular technology, meaning that they look 3-D when viewed in person. I like these cards enough that I wish the base set looked like the Freshmen cards, even if it meant increasing the price of a pack.
Any inserts? Why yes, there were!
The premise of Full Force is that it has a lot of inserts sets. Just like one would buy Artifacts or another similar set for the high-end jersey cards, one would buy Full Force not so much for the base cards, but for the inserts. You get an insert card in almost every pack. My box had 16 inserts.
1 Valuable Assets insert cards
The Valuable Assets inserts feature foil and die-cutting.
1 Valuable Assets Foil Rookie insert cards
Three different Valuable Assets of 2015-16 rookies were made: Max Domi, Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid, which you see here. These get the full-foil treatment, and thus are a bit hard to scan.
2 Goooal! insert cards
Yes, these inserts aren’t called GOAL! They’re called GOOOAL! The two that I got were Wayne Gretzky and Josh Jooris. I would have preferred that this insert set, which is die-cut, focused only on famous goal scorers like Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. Like the Valuable Assets inserts, these also feature die-cutting and foil.
2 Draft Board insert cards
These cards are printed on shiny foil stock. The two that I pulled were Steve Yzerman and Jacob de la Rose. Like the Goooal! inserts, I wish Draft Board inserts focused solely on famous retired players. It’s cool to see a draft day photo of a legend like Yzerman, but it is hard for me to get as excited about a draft photo of a guy who was picked not so long ago. Perhaps this is because draft day pictures of older players are hard to find, while draft photos of newer players are pretty easy to find online.
2 Rising Force insert cards
It seems that the cooler the insert set, the more likely I am to get a Buffalo Sabres player. Call it a blessing, or a curse, depending on your opinion of the Sabres. The Rising Force inserts I got were Jack Eichel and Zemgus Girgensons. These are a lot like the EX inserts put into boxes of 2012-13 Fleer Retro a few years back, as they are die-cut, double-thick and printed on plastic. These are numbered out of 999 copies AND they get the foil treatment, too.
6 Blueprint insert cards
The majority of inserts I got in this box were from a set called Blueprints, which is printed on shiny blue foil stock. A cut-out player image is superimposed over what looks like an old blueprint, complete with grid lines and notations. (Wait…are those notes in Comic Sans?) These remind me of those “Technician” subset cards from 1991-92 Pinnacle, which also used a blueprint-like design. And yes, that is Connor McDavid in the lower left corner.
2 Thermal Threats inserts cards
TRIGGER WARNING: These may give you nightmares.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Yes, boys and girls…it’s Connor McDavid and Andrew Hammond as Oompa Loompas. Either that, or they spontaneously combusted. What would have looked better if their faces were, I don’t know…normal-looking. Keep the explosion in the background — FYI, cool guys don’t look at the explosion — but just use a normal headshot.
Now, I’m old enough to appreciate cheesy inserts that look like they are from the 1990s. But I’m also old enough to remember the threat of a nuclear war in the 1980s. So, calling a set of cards Thermal Threats creeps me out as much as the pictures used on the cards.
What I like about 2015-16 Full Force: The base set looks good and the rookie cards look great. The insert sets, like Blueprint, GOOOAL!, Draft Board and Rising Force are fun and reminiscent of 1990s inserts.
What I don’t like about 2015-16 Full Force: Only one RC per box. Only one autograph in every other box. It’s also a bit pricey — an average of $3.50 for a pack of five cards.
Full Force is a better-than-average Upper Deck Hockey product. The base card design is so much better than cards like MVP or Victory. The Full Force Freshmen rookie cards look great, but at 1:18 are a tough pull. At around $70 a box, the price is a bit steep for a set that is really just base cards and inserts and maybe an autographed card. Seeding autos one per box and maybe throwing in another one or two RCs would have put this over the top. Still, this retro-inspired set feels fresh. ■