Another set that was released a year after it was supposed to is 2021-22 SPx Hockey by Upper Deck, which came out at the end of March 2023. A box of SPx costs around $130 and contains four packs. Each pack contains one card.
I’ll say that again for emphasis: a box of 2021-22 SPx Hockey costs $130, and contains four one-card packs. Math may not be my strong suit, but that averages to $32.50 per card.
With a buy-in like that, SPx is not for the meek. It’s a high-risk / high-reward type of set where you get at least two “hits” per box — those hits being either autographs, memorabilia cards, or one of each. The other two cards are referred to as “Tech Cards,” presumably because they go above and beyond standard card design.
I recently opened a box of 2021-22 SPx Hockey. Let’s see what I got.
The Allure hockey card set that was supposed to come out last year — during the 2021-22 season — came out this year, in 2023. That’s pretty standard these days, with the trading card industry still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some sets come out on time, while others — such as the 2021-22 Allure hockey card set — are late by a season or more.
Allure cards are known for their thick, chromium cardstock, giving the cards a nice heft and a metal look to them. A hobby box of 2021-22 Allure has eight packs, with each pack containing eight cards. Allure promises you one autographed card per box, on average. Not too long ago, I opened a box of 2021-22 Allure. Let’s see what’s inside.
Don’t let the release date fool you. The 2021-22 Synergy Hockey set was released in February 2023, about a year later than it should have come out. Part of the reason for this is that the plastic used to make Synergy cards was in short supply during the COVID-19 pandemic. But now, things are starting to normalize again — at least with trading cards, which are coming out, *ahem*, less than a year late instead of over a year late.
Two features make Synergy base cards unique. The cards are twice as thick as normal cards, with a top layer that is printed on die-cut foil board and a bottom layer printed on Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol (PETG) plastic, usually referred to as acetate. Synergy cards are similar to the “two-layer thick” Fleer EX cards from the 1990s and in various retro-themed sets over the past decade. Synergy base cards, and even more so the insert cards, feel like they would fit right in with the zany, overdesigned hockey cards from the 1990s.
This is the fifth year that Upper Deck has released Synergy as a hockey card set. A box costs about $100 and contains eight three-card packs, for a total of 24 cards. I recently broke a box of 2021-22 Synergy. Let’s see what’s inside.
Normally an early-season release, the 2022-23 O-Pee-Chee Hockey set was released on March 1, right as the regular season was winding down. Releasing the set later later in the season allowed Upper Deck to include rookie cards of players who made their debut early in the ’22-23 season, such as Shane Wright of the Seattle Kraken and first-overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky of the Montreal Canadiens.
A hobby box of 2022-23 O-Pee-Chee costs around $60 for 18 packs. Each pack contains 10 cards, so a box yields 180 cards. As usual, O-Pee-Chee has numerous parallels, as well as popular inserts, such as Playing Cards.
I recently opened a box of 2022-23 O-Pee-Chee Hockey cards. Here’s what was inside.
Upper Deck is a little more on track with the release of 2022-23 Artifacts Hockey. Whereas the 2021-22 Artifacts set did not come out until September of 2022 — a good three months after the ’21-22 season wrapped up — the 2022-23 Artifacts set came midseason at the tail-end of January 2023.
Like last year’s Artifacts set (reviewed here), a box of 2022-23 Artifacts Hockey contains eight four-card packs. It is currently selling for about $130 per box. The box states that you can get “at least 2 hits per box (on average).” However, product descriptions from online card sellers state that you get three autograph, memorabilia or “tech cards” per box, either one rookie redemption or Clear Cut card per box, and four serial-numbered cards per box.
Last week, we talked about 2022-23 Artifacts in episode #147 of the Puck Junk Podcast. But here’s the full box break, including some additional images.
The Law of Diminishing Returns is in full effect when opening packs of stickers. The first box is always fun because you need every sticker. The second box is also fun because you will need most of the stickers. Any box after that is will most likely be mostly doubles, with a few needed stickers mixed in. And that was pretty much the case with my third box of 2022-23 Topps Hockey Stickers. While most of it was doubles of stickers I got in my prior two boxes, I still got a lot of new stickers towards my set.
Here’s my breakdown of my third and final box of 2022-23 Topps Hockey Stickers.
It isn’t necessarily hard work, but it is time-consuming work.
For my second box of 2022-23 Topps Hockey Stickers, I streamlined opening the packs. Normally, I would open a pack, look through the stickers, and sort them by 100s. This time, I would open the pack and remove the stickers, but just put it in a pile until I opened 10 packs. Then, I’d thumb through the stickers and sort them. This seemed to make opening and sorting the stickers go much faster. With a pack of cards, I want to savor the moment, look at each card — and hopefully get a hit. With stickers, there are no “hits” and you don’t get anything rare; just four paper stickers and one foil sticker.
One of the packs was put into the box sideways. This caused some of the stickers to “curl,” but fortunately they were easy to flatten out. If they were creased, I’d be annoyed.
Another pack was — gasp! — missing a sticker.
Here’s my breakdown of my second box of 2022-23 Topps Hockey Stickers.
Every year, I usually purchase three or four boxes of Topps Hockey Stickers for the difficult-but-not-impossible task of completing the annual sticker album. This year’s sticker collection has 679 stickers: 539 regular stickers and 140 shiny “foil” stickers are needed to complete the album. Stickers measure 1-7/8″ wide by 2-5/8″ tall.
A few weeks prior to my birthday, my sister asked me what I wanted. I sent her a link to an online retailer who was selling boxes of 2022-23 Topps Hockey Stickers for about $38 per box. I asked for three boxes — asking for four seemed greedy — as well as two sticker albums. And before you ask, yes, it is because I put stickers in one album but still want to have an empty, “mint” album. Weird, I know, but what do you expect from a guy who blogs about hockey cards and collectibles?
A box of 2022-23 Topps Hockey Stickers has 50 packs, with each pack containing five stickers — four regular “paper” stickers and one shiny “foil” sticker. This year, the stickers have soft paper backings instead of the hard backings of the prior three years, which made the stickers seem more like little trading cards. Also, the wrappers are not like trading card wrappers that are “crimped” shut at the top and bottom edges. This year, the wrappers are two pieces of paper glued together, just like the way Panini stickers were. No idea why Topps made these changes, but my guess is that it was to cut down on production costs.
The three boxes that I was gifted — thanks, sis! — would put me at 750 stickers. I know that many of those will be doubles, so there will be some trading involved.
And that’s another thing that makes collecting Topps Hockey Stickers so challenging: you can’t just buy the last few stickers you need from Topps. When Panini was producing an annual hockey sticker album from the late 1980s to the late 2010s, you could purchase the last few stickers that you needed directly from them. It wasn’t cost-efficient for buying a whole set, but if you needed 30 stickers or less, it was a worthwhile option. With Topps, you have to trade with other collectors, keep buying packs, or overpay on eBay, to finish your album.
No one said collecting was easy. Or cheap.
Anyway, let’s see what the breakdown was like for my first box of 2022-23 Topps Hockey Stickers.
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.
Once upon a time, Black Diamond was a challenging set of cards to put together, usually consisting of 100 base cards, plus numerous short-printed Double Diamond, Triple Diamond, and Quadruple Diamond cards. It also cost around $100 per box.
However, in 2015-16, Upper Deck refocused Black Diamond into a set consisting of hits, inserts, and autographs. And while it still has base cards, they are now serial-numbered. Thus, Upper Deck also raised the price of the set; in 2015-16, it was around $250 for a six-card box.
Black Diamond is not for the faint of heart. A box of 2021-22 Black Diamond Hockey cards will cost you around $370 for a six-card pack. That’s over $60 per card. I know that the pandemic has both raised the demand for and reduced the supply of trading cards, but this has gotten out of hand.
Although I’m more of a set builder than a hit chaser, I still love to open hockey cards. So, let’s see what’s inside a box of 2021-22 Black Diamond Hockey.