There are two products I look forward to when the new season starts. One is Upper Deck’s flagship Series One and Series Two, and the other being SP Authentic. These two releases seem to be very solid year after year. So I stopped by my local shop and picked up a box for $100. I rushed home to break open this box with my wife. Here are the results.
70 Base cards
With a product configuration of five cards per pack and 18 packs per box, there is no way to complete the 100-card base set from just one box. Which is disappointing because in past years, one box would get you a full base set, or just a few cards shy. Every year, SPA’s design has that clean look. So people may say the mostly-white backgrounds is bland and boring, but I enjoy it. It really puts a focus on the player on the card and makes the colors of the players jersey pop.
3 Red Parallels
You will average three of these red parallels per box. The three I received where Jeff Carter, Nathan Mackinnon and Mario Lemieux. I am not a fan of these parallels at all. If your going to make a parallel set, do something that really distinguishes the cards from the base card, like when Topps used to make parallels of older sets. These remind me of the gold parallels in products such as MVP and Ultra. Boring. The only saving grace for me is pulling Le Magnifique. With Mario being my favorite player of all time, I will take anything that features him on it.
3 Authentic Moments
Averaging three to four of these per box, I landed the former. The three I pulled were:
102 Sidney Crosby 1,000 Career Points – Pittsburgh Penguins
106 Corey Perry Game Winning Goal – Anaheim Ducks
110 Roberto Luongo 455 Career Wins – Florida Panthers
Unlike the red parallels, I love these cards. The photography is always great and if you put this set together it’s fun to look back years later and remember these moments. I was lucky enough to be at Crosby’s 1,000 point game, so that card is one I would had to track down. But I was lucky enough to pull it. I hope they continue these for years to come.
4 Rookie Year Milestones
These inserts have the same odds as the Authentic Moments (three or four per box). I got four:
RYM-SY Steve Yzerman – Detroit Red Wings
RYM-DH Dale Hawerchuk – Winnipeg Jets
RYM-MB Mike Bossy – New York Islanders
RYM-MM Mike Modano – Minnesota North Stars
I really like the Rookie Year Milestones and I am considering completing the 30-card set. I think its cool to look back at legends of the game when they were in their early 20’s or in some cases even teenagers.
3 2017-18 Upper Deck Update Set
With these update cards falling 1:8 packs for base cards and 1:13 packs for Young Guns I have mixed feelings on this idea. I like the updated cards for players who have been traded to see them in their new sweaters even if they are just a rental player. But on the other hand, I try to complete Upper Deck Series One and Two every year, and I find adding the updates to a different product to be kind of annoying.
Instead of shorting those who collect SPA a potential hit or base card towards finishing their base set — or making collectors who build Upper Deck Series One and Two have to track these down — why not just release an Upper Deck Update box set? Even if the Update sets are only sold online, I think they would still sell.
The three Update cards that I got in my box of SPA were:
501 Rick Nash – Boston Bruins
509 Drew Doughty – Los Angeles Kings
512 Casey DeSmith – Pittsburgh Penguins
1 Spectrum FX
You will find one to two of these cards per box on average with the odds being:
Base – 1:18
Future Watch Level 1 – 1:36
Future Watch Level 2 – 1:90
Future Watch Level 3 – 1:360
My box featured only one and it was:
S-7 Brent Burns – San Jose Sharks
I was very happy that I got only one of these for multiple reasons. The main reason being if these replace autographs as hits in boxes. I don’t think that is right. I get that Upper deck is trying to push its Bounty Program again, but I don’t think that Spectrum FX cards should replace a nice on-card autograph.
I also have zero interest in the Bounty Program. If a card company is going to make people track down 99 cards that are tiered and come only one or two per box, then make it worth their while. Instead of giving card #100 and a gold parallel set to the person who just built that set, give them something worth going after. Perhaps card #100 and a signed Brock Boeser jersey to the first person to complete the Spectrum FX set, and a signed puck to the next 49 who do. That would really drum up interest in the set.
The only positive feedback I can give for these cards is a quote from my wife when after she seen this card she said “OHHH! Shiny!”
1 1990-91 Retro Draft Picks
These inserts fall 1:45 packs I was lucky enough to pull one — and of Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (RDP-AM). I find these to be just amazing! Any kid who grew up in the 90’s recognizes this design instantly. When I busted this from a pack I was just as excited as when I pulled my first Jaromir Jagr from 90-91 Upper Deck.
I believe one thing Upper Deck does really well is use the nostalgia of its older products to pull us old guys back into the hobby.
Depending on the cost of these, I may put this set together. The only thing I noticed — and it might just be me — is that the card is off-center quite a bit. Let me know if you think so too.
Moving on, I was lucky enough to pull three autographs from this box.
1 Autographed Future Watch
175 Nick Merkley – Arizona Coyotes 526/999
When I pulled this card I had no idea who the player was, so I did a little research and it doesn’t seem to bad of a pull. Merkley was drafted in the 1st round, 30th overall by Arizona in 2015. He had 63 points in 63 games in 2016-17 from the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. He played one game for the Coyotes registering 2 PIM.
But here is where he shows promise: he had 39 points in 38 games playing for the Coyotes AHL affiliate, the Tucson Roadrunners. So the kid shows potential. I will be waiting to see if he cracks Arizona’s roster come the 2018-19 season. As far a the card goes its a nice design and has something that seems to be disappearing from the hobby — AN ON-CARD AUTOGRAPH! This is the one thing that draws me to SPA every year; almost every autograph is on-card.
1 Sign of the Times Autograph (2016-17)
2016-17 Sign of the Times SOTT-JO Ryan Johansen – Nashville Predators Group C- 1:1,460
One thing I don’t like at all is when companies put older products into new products. If you cant get everything into the product the year it comes out, maybe you should cut down the checklist to a select few players so you know the cards will be signed in time for the release date. I have a feeling some of these get thrown into the newest product while the rest of the stack sits on a shelf as redemption fillers. And not to knock on Ryan Johansen but one in 1,460?
1 Sign of the Times Autograph
SOTT-PT Pierre Turgeon – St. Louis Blues : E 1:1,099
This isn’t too bad of a pull. Turgeon was the 1st overall pick in 1987 and has 515 goals and 1,327 points to his name. He was a pretty solid player. Hall of Famer? We can visit that another day. But I will say he signs a very nice, clean signature with all the letters being borderline legible. Compared to Johansen and Merkley signatures that I pulled before, this Turgeon card shows how the players from the earlier eras took pride in their autographs.
As a side note, if I ever pull a Dale Hunter autograph, I’m just going toss it in the trash and call it a day.
Overall SPA is a very solid product. I wasn’t lucky enough to pull a Mcdavid buy back /#97 or a Future Watch Auto patch / #100. I still had fun and I will be re visiting SPA come next season. ■
Travis Shaw is a blue collar steel plant worker from Pittsburgh who is borderline obsessed with everything hockey and is married to a woman who is waaayyyy out of his league. Follow him on Twitter @Tshaw311