I was a big fan of the 2020-21 Skybox Metal Universe Hockey card set, so naturally, I was excited when I heard that Upper Deck was coming out with Skybox Metal Universe for 2021-22. And they did — about halfway through the 2022-23 season. No matter. What’s important is that the cards are out now and ready to collect. Skybox Metal Universe cards are etched metallic foil (hence “Metal”) and have space-y backgrounds (hence “Universe”).
A hobby box of 2021-22 Skybox Metal Universe costs around $150 and has 15 packs, each containing seven cards for a total of 105 cards. I recently got a box of Skybox Metal Universe. Here’s what was inside.
67 Base Cards
The first 100 cards make up the base set. Of the 67 base cards that I got in my box of 2021-22 Skybox Metal Universe, none of them were doubles of each other – which is how it should be!
Card backs have player vitals (height, weight, etc.), a short biographical blurb, four years of stats, and career totals. Card backs have a brushed metal look with “rivets” splitting the card in half horizontally.
12 Base Set Alternate Jersey Short Prints
Cards 101 to 150 are the “Base Set Alternate Jersey” cards, which come on in every two packs. I’m not really a fan of these cards, as it is just another 50 cards of the same players found in cards 1 through 100 — but in different jerseys! A lot of these cards use photos of players in their Reverse Retro jerseys from the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season.
11 Base Set Rookies Short Prints
Rookie Cards, numbered 151 to 200, also come one in every other pack. These rookie cards look almost identical in design to the other 150 cards in the set, but have a helpful “RC” logo in the bottom left corner to make them stand out a bit. If the players have a bit of NHL experience from the 2020-21 season, their one line of NHL stats is on the back. If the player had no NHL experience as of the 2021-22 season — which is when these were meant to be issued — then up to four years of stats from the player’s former non-NHL team are listed.
Overall, my box had 23 short prints, meaning that some of my packs had both an Alternate Jersey Short Print AND a Rookies Short Print in the same pack. I’m good with this. I understand WHY Upper Deck short prints some cards. But considering that half of the 200-card set are short prints, I’m glad that they are a little easier to come by.
1 Autographed Card
Hobby boxes of 2021-22 Skybox Metal Universe have one “hit” per box. That hit may be a Precious Metal Gem (PMG) card, a Jambalaya insert, or an autographed card, among other cards. Fortunately, I got an autograph of Ottawa Senators young star Tim Stutzle. His autograph is in blue Sharpie marker on a sticker that was then applied to the card – a.k.a., a “sticker auto.” Personally, I have no problem with this, if the sticker applied to the card fits into the design…which here it does quite nicely.
3 1997-98 Retro Inserts
My favorite inserts are the 1997-98 Retro Inserts. I wish the whole set looked like this, as the addition of planets in the background and the chunky, oldschool “Metal Universe” logo at the bottom look awesome, really pushing the “metal” and “universe” theme. You get one of these 1997-98 Retro Inserts in every five packs. The three Retro inserts I pulled were Nico Daws (Devils), Caden Addison (Wild), and Ukko-Pekka Lukkonen (Sabres).
3 Premium Prospects Inserts
Also happening once in every five packs are these Premium Prospects inserts, which focus on the top rookies of the 2021-22 season. I find these a little redundant, but I guess it give you more “rookie cards” or “rookie year cards” to chase after. The three Premium Prospects I pulled were Cole Caulfield (Canadiens), Kole Lind (Kraken), and Robin Salo (Islanders).
2 AMPED UP! Inserts
I guess these AMPED UP! insert cards are supposed to look like a guitar amplifier, which is necessary if you want to play some heavy metal music. AMPED UP! cards occur one in every 10 packs. The two I got were Quinn Hughes (Canucks) and Mark Stone (Golden Knights).
2 Big Man on Ice Inserts
2021-22 Skybox Metal Universe has a lot of die-cut insert sets. One die-cut set is Big Man on Ice, which also features shiny silver foil letters. The two I got are Alex Ovehckin (Capitals) — which is going into my Ovie collection, so don’t ask! 🙂 — and Quinn Hughes (Canucks). Big Man on Ice inserts are the same height as a standard card, but are slightly narrower.
1 Championship Galaxy Insert
Well…this card literally has a universe as the background, as well as copius amounts of metallic foil. I kind of assumed that Championship Galaxy cards would talk about the pictured players’ playoff performance (say that three times fast). But this Evgeni Malkin card mentions his eight-game point-scoring streak in 2021, and not about any of his three championships.
1 Planet Metal Insert
OK, not to be technically correct, but these Planet Metal cards are printed on more of a shiny holofoil surface than an etched metal surface. Whatever. Still looks cool when the light hits it just right. Oh, and if you haven’t guessed, it is also die-cut.
1 The Cheddar Insert
The term “Top Cheese” or “Top Cheddar” describes a shot where the puck goes right below the crossbar and into the net for a goal. “The Cheddar” wordmark and Metal Universe logo are printed in silver foil. The card is also die-cut.
1 Metal Universe Picks Insert
Last but not least, I got a Metal Universe Picks insert of Carey Price. The card is literally shaped like a guitar pick, but bigger. The card is printed on plastic, and while big for a guitar pick, is small for a card, measuring 2.5″ wide by only 2.75″ tall.
Copious amounts of metallic silver foil literally put the metal in Metal Universe Hockey cards, while inserts such as AMPED UP! and Picks gives the set a “metal” feel figuratively. Everything about this set rocks, except the somewhat steep price. The base card design looks great, most of the inserts are eye-catching, while die-cut and/or plastic cards help mix up the status quo. Plus, you get an insert in every pack, and at least one short print per pack as well. The price of about $10 per pack is a bit much for only seven cards, but if you like Skybox Metal Universe as much as I do, then you’re going to buy them anyway and won’t be disappointed.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■