“Three shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither shalt thou count to two, excepting that thou then proceedeth to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the number of the counting, be reached…” you shall then open your box of 2018-19 Upper Deck Trilogy.
I hope the Holy Grail reference didn’t go unappreciated as my lead in for reviewing this year’s Trilogy product from Upper Deck. As you may have already guessed, Trilogy has always been focused on groups of three, whether it’s three players pictured on a card, three parallel levels, three autographs, serial numbers to three, etc. Even the set logo has a three in the title in place of the “g.” Is it a conspiracy? A puzzle? The Illuminati? I don’t know, but the 2018-19 edition of this mid-range product is no different.
The autograph and memorabilia laden Trilogy will generally run about $100 to $120 per box, depending on the outlet you may choose to purchase from. I was lucky enough to be able to break a couple of these, although it would have been more fitting if it were three. For your money, a box consists of eight packs of four cards, or 32 total cards (30 or 33 would have made more sense). Within this mix, you will find three hits which should include at least one autograph, even a signed acetate card or autographed piece of hockey puck.
From a design standpoint, the base cards look similar to the annual Artifacts release, or even a non-white SP Authentic design. For 2018-19, the cards feature a cropped player photo over a gold, pin-striped heart shape anchored by a foil Upper Deck logo. The design pattern makes it look like the players have wings, or hockey angels if you will. At the bottom, the player name is printed along with position and team name on top of a black, diamond-top shape.
The backs feature a zoomed-in head shot of the same player photo that appears on the front. However, instead of being a cropped image, it is the actual photo with the real background showing through. Does that count as a second photo? I’m going with no but it does mix things up a bit. The remaining real estate is taken up by an abbreviated career stat sheet (that I love…not) as well as the player vitals.
For the set-builders out there, the standard base set is easily attainable at only 50 cards and features current or young stars…with one exception. Card 50 for some reason is Patrick Roy (perhaps because he is number 33?). Base cards can be found in the standard gold color, Blue Parallel #/799 and Red Parallel #/425 (in other words, three different versions). Cards #51-80 feature a good selection of this year’s rookie crop (labeled as Level 1), all serial numbered #/999 (divisible by three). These can also be found in the Black Parallel version serial numbered #/99 (divisible by three).
In addition to the base cards, like Artifacts featured earlier in the season, there are both jersey and patch versions of most of the base cards. All 50 players are available as a Green Parallel and mostly, from what I can tell, feature single-color jersey swatches, serial numbered out of various amounts depending on the player. The Black Parallel is a prime version, meaning it should feature a multi-color swatch. These too, are serial numbered to various amounts but only feature 45 of the 50 base players (Galchenyuk, Forsberg, Shattenkirk, Hoffman, and Domi appear to be missing).
Cards 81-110 are the Rookie Premiere Autographs subset (labeled Level 2…see where this is going?) and feature signed versions of the same run down of rookies as the previous 30 cards (a multiple of three)…with two exceptions. Boston’s Ryan Donato appears to be left off the checklist for some reason. I’m not sure why that is the case or if it was a typo but he doesn’t appear to be on there. Also, the card of Buffalo’s Rasmus Dahlin isn’t signed. (He is 6’3″, which is divisible by three.) The majority of these are serial numbered #/399 (which is divisible by three), however cards 102-107 are serial numbered #/249 and 108-110 are serial numbered #/149. Black Parallel versions of each of these are available as well, serial numbered to various numbers.
Cards 111-140 are part of the Rookie Premiere Rare Autograph subset (labeled…you guessed it, Level 3). These 30 cards feature a more zoomed-in close-up of one of the players from the previous set (with Donato back in the mix) as well as an autograph. Many of these also feature the phrase “Go [team name]” or the players Twitter handle; all but Dahlin, that is. These are serial numbered #/49, with a Black Parallel version #/9 (which is a multiple of three and since there are three levels of rookie, three times three equals nine). Card number 141 features three top rookies (Pettersson, Svechnikov, and Kotkaniemi, who together have 30 characters in their last names…divisible by three), autographed by all three, and serial numbered #/25. If anyone is keeping score, I received none of the Rare Autos nor the super short printed card 141.
Rookie cards have jersey and prime versions as well with the jerseys being serial numbered #/499 and the prime versions, which feature jersey tags, are serial numbered #/5. There is also a Rookie Patch/Fight Strap version that are serial numbered #/49 (except Dahlin, who is #/15). And let’s not forget the 15th Anniversary Rookie Premieres Retro cards that hearken back to the initial 2003-04 Trilogy design. There are six of these with base and parallel versions.
For the non-sequentially numbered portion of Trilogy, there are numerous subsets, dominated by autographs and memorabilia. Some of these sets include Triptychs, Honorary Triple Swatches, Triple Relics, Ice Scripts, HOF Plaques, and various versions of Signature Pucks. Many boxes could feature at least one of these if there are no rookie autographs; however, the odds are higher that there won’t be. With the exception of the Signature Pucks, I didn’t receive any of these inserts in either of my boxes.
I very much enjoyed tearing through 2018-19 Trilogy and seeing what was available. While my boxes were definitely not breathtaking, I thought they were pretty solid, especially with the Pettersson rookie. The design this year was a nice change and even though the hockey angels are a bit weird, somehow it works. I have my typical “stats on the back” gripe as with most modern sets but there isn’t much else to complain about here. Player selection is small but for a mid-range product, the focus is on the rookies and hits. 2018-19 Trilogy delivers on that. ■
Tim Parish is a writer-at-large for Puck Junk. Follow him on Twitter @therealdfg.