Review: 2004-05 Upper Deck All-World

2004-05 UD All-World #36 Patrik EliasPatrik plays Charades. His card reads: Snowman on fire.
2004-05 UD All-World #36 Patrik Elias
Patrik plays Charades. His card reads: Snowman on fire.

The homeless scuffle over crumbs, the poor haggle over bites, and the millionaires and billionaires?

The latest NHL lockout is proof, once again, that we’re just people and pie. No matter the size, there’s always going to be a fight for a larger slice.

With that in mind, whenever the NHL starts play again, I’ll be back. Castigating men for greed is better left to a monk.

What I do hope is that this lockout produces a curiosity as memorable as this one from hockey’s last nuclear winter.

2004-05 UD All-World #5 Milan Hejduk
2004-05 UD All-World #5 Milan Hejduk

Milan Hejduk looks as befuddled by this color “scheme”—”scheme” implying actual forethought—as many collectors were when Upper Deck released 2004-05 All-World.

In the midst of a lockout that would eventually see the entire season wiped out, a number of NHL stars played overseas to stay in shape and in the black. Upper Deck capitalized on the now apparently once-in-a-decade opportunity to capture familiar stars in unfamiliar surroundings. Continue reading “Review: 2004-05 Upper Deck All-World”

Review: 2012-13 Upper Deck Series One

No season? No problem! Upper Deck shines despite lack of strong rookies

2012-13 Upper Deck #60 - Nicklas LindstromYear-for-year and dollar-for-dollar, Upper Deck is the best hockey set a collector can buy. It’s combination of exciting action photography, broad player selection and desirable rookie cards make this a perennial favorite of causal and serious card collectors. Driving Upper Deck’s immense popularity for the past decade were its short-printed “Young Guns” rookie cards, where collectors can hope to pull a card of one of the top new rookies for the season.

But a work stoppage of the NHL is currently preventing new players from entering the league. Since a player has to appear in one game to appear on a card, how would Upper Deck Series One fare without any of the 2012 draft class? Continue reading “Review: 2012-13 Upper Deck Series One”

Review: 1997-98 Pinnacle

 1997-98 Pinnacle #93 - Curtis JosephIn the quest to put out product quickly and cheaply, sports cards manufacturers, like drug dealers, have consistently undervalued the power of quality.

Of course, it’s because they know the junkies will keep buying.

This doesn’t mean that the addicts have lost all discernment, however. Personally, I fiend for powerful sports photography in my cards.

Granted, investing in sports photography is not a moneymaking venture for card companies.

 1997-98 Pinnacle #171 - Kevin HatcherBut occasionally, those of us who appreciate a beautifully-photographed set are given a treat. From the first years of Upper Deck to Topps’s Stadium Club, and even now, with Upper Deck’s annual flagship release, we see cards that capture the grace of Sergei Fedorov gliding and the crunch of Rob Blake hitting and the explosion of 16,000 fans screaming.

Pinnacle, which debuted so ignominiously by having different sports share the same funereal design in 1991and 1992and 1993, finally chucked the black for sun dresses in their 1994-95 flagship release, continuing this theme until their last release in 1997-98 (before the brand’s recent revival by Panini).

1997-98 Pinnacle was one of my first boxes ever because of its affordability and stunning photography. I also pulled one of my first big pulls from it. But before we get to that, let’s spotlight a few of those wonderful pictures: Continue reading “Review: 1997-98 Pinnacle”

Review: 1988-89 ProCards AHL/IHL

A major league set of the minor league teams

1988-89 ProCards AHL/IHL - Mark RecchiIn 1988, a trading card company called ProCards issued a large minor league hockey card set. It consisted of teams from the American Hockey League (AHL) and the old International Hockey League (IHL). Many players who would go onto NHL careers appeared in this set–including Ed Belfour and Mark Recchi. Continue reading “Review: 1988-89 ProCards AHL/IHL”

2011-12 Hockey Cards: Year in Review

With the 2012-13 hockey card collecting season around the corner–actual hockey season pending–now is a good time to take a look back at some of the sets released during 2011-12.

Many online sellers like DA Card World and Blowout Cards have dropped the prices on boxes of 2011-12 hockey cards. Likewise, many eBay sellers will try to sell off their 2011-12 sets for bargain prices before collectors get too focused on buying the new cards. This makes for an advantageous time to go back and pick up anything you missed out on.

Below are 9 micro reviews of the various sets from the 2011-12 season. Continue reading “2011-12 Hockey Cards: Year in Review”

Review: 1984-85 O-Pee-Chee Hockey

The set that was truly a “head” of its time

1984-85 OPC #67 - Steve YzermanPerfection. There is no other word to better describe the 1984-85 O-Pee-Chee Hockey set. Hands down, it is the best hockey card set from the 1980s. It might even be the best hockey set made during the “O-Pee-Chee Era” (1968-1993). The ’84-85 O-Pee-Chee set achieves perfection because of its fantastic design, excellent photography and comprehensive player selection – not to mention that it includes the rookie cards of five future Hall of Fame players. Continue reading “Review: 1984-85 O-Pee-Chee Hockey”

Review: 2002-03 Fleer Throwbacks

91-card set “punches it” old school

2002-03 Fleer Throwbacks #62 - Ken Linseman

There are hockey card sets dedicated to goaltenders. There are hockey card sets dedicated to leading scorers. And then, there’s Fleer Throwbacks.

At a glance:
– 2002-03 Fleer Throwbacks
– 91 cards
– 1 “bonus” Bob Probert card
– Size: 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
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The term “throwback” implies something that hearkens back to an earlier time period or age. The 2002-03 Fleer Throwbacks hockey set features 91 former players who aptly fit that description – men who were tough enough to play in any era. Most of the players in this set were known for their rough-and-tumble style of play, while others were just gritty. No, this isn’t merely an homage to “goons” or “enforcers” – though Fleer Throwbacks has plenty of those, too.

Continue reading “Review: 2002-03 Fleer Throwbacks”

Review: 2009-10 O-Pee-Chee Update

200-card factory serves as a nice addendum

2009-10 OPC Update #771 - Tyler MyersReleased in April 2010, the O-Pee-Chee Update Set featured 200 cards that extended the O-Pee-Chee set issued earlier in the 2009-10 hockey season. This was a smart move by Upper Deck, who currently leases the “O-Pee-Chee” brand name from Topps.

In 2009, Upper Deck released a 200-card Update Set for its 2008-09 O-Pee-Chee set, but in 5-card packs. Three out of 5 of the cards in the pack were parallels, making this a particularly hard set to piece together. Fortunately, Upper Deck did not repeat that mistake, and instead issued the 2009-10 Update as a pre-collated factory set. Continue reading “Review: 2009-10 O-Pee-Chee Update”

Review: 1979-80 Topps Hockey

An iconic set from an amazing year

1979-80 Topps #175 - Gordie Howe

1979-80 was an epic year for hockey for so many reasons. It was a changing of the guard, with Wayne Gretzky playing his first NHL season, and Gordie Howe playing in his last. It was also the first season after the NHL absorbed four WHA (World Hockey Association) teams. And it was a year that a team of Americans would pull off one of the biggest miracles on ice. But that’s another story.

Like the year it represents, the 1979-80 Topps set was a landmark release, and still remains popular among collectors today. Continue reading “Review: 1979-80 Topps Hockey”