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Group Break entries are now closed, the boxes have been ordered and secondary teams have been randomized. Follow THIS LINK for final team assignments.

Monday, September 22, 2014

2013-14 National Treasures Sidney Crosby Century Materials Prime Jersey 42/50

A couple of weeks ago, I opened up a box of National Treasures, and actually pulled a Penguin, getting an Evgeni Malkin Prime Jersey Booklet /25. I pulled a few other good cards as well, and was able to flip one of them for another Penguin. I parted ways  with a Brendan Gallagher autographed card and got this one in return:

From the Century Materials insert set, this is the Sidney Crosby Prime Jersey Parallel, numbered 42/50. I'm always glad to add another Sidney Crosby card to my collection, and it's even better when I can get a multi-colored swatch as part of it. Like Panini usually does, the seam of the swatch goes right down the middle, with the black and white clearly visible. It's a great card, and as much as I would have been ok holding on to the Gallagher, I had no problem swapping it for this one.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Gint-A-Cuffs VI, Part 5: The Conclusion

My Gint-A-Cuffs score has been pending for the past month, as I waited for the Commissioner to make a ruling on my box-topper, which was a five-card pack of red-bordered minis, serial-numbered to 33. Up to this point, my point total stood at 176.6.

According to the ruling, the cards are worth 4 points each, and with no favorite team or favorite player bonuses, will give me 20 points.

Pack Total: 20
Box Total: 196.6

As of now, this puts me in third place, but hopefully a generous bribe will help me create a few points out of thin air and I can pull ahead.

Either way, this is my second year doing Gint-A-Cuffs, and win or lose, I had a great time putting my portion of the contest together. See you all next year for Gint-A-Cuffs VII!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

2-Box Break of 2013-14 Upper Deck Ultimate

So, I opened up 2 boxes of 2013-14 Ultimate about a month ago, and any time it takes me that long to post a box break, you know it didn't go that well. Anyway, Ultimate is Upper Deck's precursor to the Cup, and is their second-highest-end set of the year. For about $100, collectors will receive a four-card box, which will contain one base card, one rookie card, and two autograph or memorabilia cards, with at least one of those being an autograph.

Here's the video of my break:

Base cards: Pavel Datsyuk 50/499, Mike Ribeiro 55/499
Ultimate Rookies: Eric Hartzell 104/499, Sami Vatanen 396/499

The Hits

Hampus Lindholm Ultimate Rookie Jersey

Sean Monahan Ultimate Rookie Jersey

Mikael Granlund Ultimate Rookies Autograph /299

Jeff Skinner Autographed Threads 67/99

...and that's it.

This was my first time giving Ultimate a try, so I wasn't sure of exactly what to expect, but for some reason I felt underwhelmed. It seems like for a $100 2-hit box, there would be better than an un-numbered jersey card. At least all of the autographs are on-card. But when you compare the money I spent on these two boxes to the same amount spent on Prime, there are miles apart when it comes to value.

Man, I'm really going to miss Panini this year.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

2013-14 Panini Prime Box Break

After going in for three boxes of 2012-13 Panini Prime last year, and pulling my top 2 hits of 2013, naturally, I had to give in to this year's product. Prime, every year, strives to be the top-of-the-line product when it comes to game-used memorabilia cards, and this year, they went big. With Panini's NHL & NHLPA licenses running out at the end of the 2013-14 collecting season, they dumped all of their leftover autographs, jerseys, patches, skates, gloves, and whatever else they had in stock, and the collectors benefited in a big way.

Each seven-card box of Prime is guaranteed to contain seven cards, which should consist of one base card, one autographed quad-jersey rookie card, one autograph, one memorabilia card, two additional autograph or memorabilia cards, and one additional base card or insert. Many boxes also contain an extra card or two of hits left over from previous releases.

Here's what my 8-card box gave me:

Base: Jonathan Quick 230/299, Erik Karlsson 102/299
The base cards this year actually combine elements from the previous two years. We have the diagonal design for the player name & brand logo like from 2011-12, and there's a closer-up photo in front of a smoky team-colored background, which is similar to 2012-13. I was also pretty happy with the players that I pulled. Of course, I wanted a Penguins, but with Quick and Karlsson, I could have done much worse.

Prime Rookies Autographed Quad Jersey 37/199
They did a great job this year of tying the design of the rookies with the design of the base cards. I know they have done similar things in the past, but I think this time they made them the most similar.  Laughton was drafted 20th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Since then, he made it up to the NHL for 5 games during the 2012-13 season, but failed to register a point. He was returned to the Oshawa Generals of the OHL for the 2013-14 season to get some additional seasoning, and he lit it up, scoring 40 goals and 47 assists in 54 games. He seems like he'll turn out to have a pretty good NHL career once he's ready. If only he wasn't a stinkin' Flyer.

Dave Dziurzynski 2013-14 Contenders NHL Ink Autograph
This is my bonus hit from the box. I'm not sure if these were leftover cards, or if they ended up being unfulfilled redemptions that people requested replacements for, but either way, I'm always happy to accept a bonus autograph.

Joakim Nordstrom Prime Time Rookies 26/50
The Prime Time Rookies cards are weirdly low-numbered,  considering it's just a jersey card. Of course, it is a jumbo swatch, so maybe the size has to do with the rarity. It's also a really cool card when you get into the patch /10 and NHL shield 1/1 variations.

Taylor Hall/Adam Henrique Prime Duals 77/200
These are the cards Prime is known for. Basically, anywhere from one to four players are depicted on the card. Jersey swatches are placed behind die-cut letters that tie the two players together. In this case, "FIRE" is in reference to the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL, where Hall and Henrique played junior hockey.

Viktor Fasth/Frederik Andersen Prime Signatures Gold 5/25
These are just great looking cards. You get player images on the left side, which are a bit pushed together, but there is plenty of room to the right for both players to leave their signatures. Like the Prime Duals card above, the Prime Signature Duals tie the two players together with some kind of connection. In this case, both players were Anahem Ducks goaltenders during most of the 2013-14 season. Andersen worked his way up to a starting position with the team, and Fasth was traded to the Edmonton Oilers, where he will compete with Ben Scrivens for the starting job. And as an extra bonus, this card is a gold parallel, with a /25 serial number.

Jamie Benn Prime Skates Extreme 1/1
Now this card is really what Prime is all about. The product has built up a reputation for showcasing some truly unique pieces of memorabilia, and this year saw the debut of Prime Skates Extreme, which is a 1/1 card showcasing the brand logo from a player's skate. In the case of Bauer, the logo is almost like a bubble, with it literally bursting out of the card, in fact, from the side, you can even see where the top layer of cardboard couldn't even make it to the rest of the card, due to it being pushed out so far. 

Just a day or two after opening this box, the card was already out of my hands. I sold it to another member of a Hockey Cards Facebook group that I am a part of. I almost made my money back on the box & it was just too good of an offer to pass up. I used that money, along with a little of my own, to purchase another Prime Skates Extreme card. I'll be sure to post it when I get it, but be assured, while I wasn't sure of whether or not I wanted to part with the Benn in the first place, it was a no-brainer to get rid of it for the card I landed.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Contest Results: We Have A Winner!

Hey everyone. Thank you all for following my new blog, Not Pulled From Packs. I had a total of 12 people enter, which gives me a great start on bringing in some traffic for my latest blogging endeavor.

All 12 people were placed in the randomizer in the order that their comments appeared on the Contest post. Two people promoted the blog on their own blog, giving them one extra entry each. I randomized the list 3 times, and here's what we have:

Random 1:

Random 2:

Random 3:

Congratulations to Al Kawamoto! E-mail me your address to matt-pederson(AT)hotmail(DOT)com and I'll get your prize out to you.

Thank you to everyone for your support!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

CONTEST: Promoting My New Blog

Hey, everyone, I just wanted to make all of my followers aware of a brand new blog that I have begun publishing. It is called "Not Pulled From Packs," and focuses on in-person autographs, through-the-mail successes, game-used memorabilia, and every other part of my collection that is not found on a piece of cardboard.

So, anyway, to promote this blog, and by "promote," I mean "pander to my readers of this blog for follows on that blog," I am holding a contest. Basically, all you have to do is go to Not Pulled From Packs, follow the blog, and leave a message here saying you've done so. That's pretty much it. This Friday at noon CST, I will randomize the entries and award someone their prizes.

What are those prizes? How about this:

Since there's no way for me to know of an entrant's favorite sport, I'm throwing in one really cool card from each of the four major sports:

2010 Panini Century Collection Tony Gwynn Souvenir Stamps Jersey/Stamp 228/250

2013-14 Fleer Showcase Richard Panik Hot Prospects Auto/Patch 357/375

2010-11 Treads Wayne Ellington Century Collection Materials Patch 34/50

2012 Crown Royale Dwayne Allen Silhouette Auto/Patch 225/349

One lucky winner will receive all four cards.

Entries will be gathered just from the replies to this post, and from no other means. Also, if anyone wants to plug this contest on their blog, I will award one extra entry. Be sure to note that in the comments of this post as well, if that is the case.

That seems to be it, so get those entries in & I'll see you all on Friday!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

2011-12 Limited Sidney Crosby Team Trademarks Aurographed Prime Jersey Card

Here is an item I have been eager to get my hands on for quite some time. A couple years ago, I went on a pretty hardcore spending spree with 2011-12 Limited. I was just starting to really go all in with hockey, and it was my first experience with a high-end set. Maybe for that reason, I was just blown away seeing the base cards, inserts, and hits of a high-quality set, and I still have an affection for this particular year of limited. 

In fact, on my very first pack of the product, I pulled a Sidney Crosby Prime jersey card numbered to 25, but I now have a card even better than that one.

This beauty comes from the Team Trademarks set, and actually is a parallel. The base version is just a basic insert, but rarer versions contain a jersey swatch or an autograph, or a combination of the two. This version is serial-numbered 23/25 and contains a prime jersey swatch, along with an on-card autograph. I always love the prime swatches, because you are always guaranteed to get that seam down the middle. A good patch is better, but you always run the risk of the dreaded single-colored patch. Either way, this one gives me a clean autograph and a beautiful two-colored memorabilia piece, making it an amazing addition to my collection.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Quad Contenders Auto With A Duo of Penguins

Here's a pretty cool card from 2013-14 contenders that I picked up on Ebay, featuring two players from the team I love, and two players from the team I hate.

Besides being soiled with two stinkin' Flyers (Scott Laughton and Matthew Konan), this card features autographs from the top two Penguins rookies this year not named Olli Maatta. Beau Bennett was actually a rookie during the 2012-13 season, but due to restrictions stemming from the lockout, didn't have any cards produced until 2013-14. Jeff Zatkoff saw quite a bit of playing time last year, as Tomas Vokoun was out with an injury, and did pretty well, although he stunk in EVERY game I saw him play including the one NHL game I attended live this year, when they visited the Minnesota Wild. This coming year should give Bennett a good chance at a big opportunity, as he is a leading candidate to line up next to Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist. Zatkoff on the other had, will really have to fight for a permanent NHL slot, as newly-signed Thomas Griess is expected to be Marc-Andre Fleury's backup on the pro squad.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

2013-14 Panini National Treasures Hockey Box Break

So after a bit of a wait, Panini's swan song in the hockey market has arrived with the release of 2013-14 National Treasures.

The high-end release hit the market Friday, and each box is loaded with lots of great cards. Collectors are promised "8 NHL Trading Cards" on the front of the box, which should at the very least include the following: 1 rookie autographed patch card, 1 autographed memorabilia card, 1 booklet card, 1 printing plate, plus whatever else comes with it.

Due to Upper Deck's upcoming exclusive on the hockey market, Panini will no longer be producing NHL-licensed hockey cards, but boy, did they go out in a blaze of glory!

Here is the video of my box, with scans to follow:

Staring off from the least to the best, here's a card-by-card look at what I pulled from my box:

Patrick Marleau Base Card 50/199

Look, there really isn't a "bad" card out of this box, but we had to start off somewhere. Panini does with National Treasures what I really like about a high-end set. Keep it basic, and clean, and the card just looks better. It doesn't need a bunch of bells and whistles, the design really stands on it's own.

Reilly Smith Colossal Jersey 1/50
It is your basic run-of-the-mill jersey card, but there is a little extra size to it, plus the low serial number. Of course, this, like many other jersey cards like it, contains a few parallels, which will give collectors more than just a plain white swatch, like the one found on this card.

Austin Watson Dual Mem Autographed Dual Jersey
Based on the various box breaks I've seen on-line, the Dual Mem insert often serves as the guaranteed "autographed memorabilia card." It serves its purpose well, with a sticker autograph and two small swatches. It is also un-numbered, allowing Panini to use as many as they need to fill the boxes.

Chet Pickard/Calvin Pickard Duals Autograph 81/100
While I'm not a particular fan of either player, I really do like this card. Multi-autogaphed cards are always great, but what makes a card extra special is when they are able to link the players in a way beyond just the typical team or position connection. In this case, Chet and Calvin play the same position, but beyond that, they are also brothers. Maybe it's just me, but I always like the "family connection" type of cards even when the family's last name isn't "Howe" or "Hull."

Cameron Gaunce 2011-12 Prime Yellow Printing Plate 1/1
The printing plate touch is something a little extra, but really cool, as each box of National Treasures is guaranteed to contain at least one 1/1 card. Panini is able to do it at this rate, because they are going back through their past releases for the plates, not just using National Treasures plates.

Erik Gudbranson 2011-12 Prime Cyan Printing Plate 1/1
While boxes are guaranteed to contain one printing plate, mine came with two. This one is of Erik Gudbranson, who followed me all over the place during the 2011-12 collecting season. Each year, individual collectors seem to have one player that they seem to pull out of boxes at an astounding rate. This year that seems to be Seth Jones, but two years ago, it was Erik Gudbranson. Well, two years later, the 2010 third overall draft pick still is finding a way into my boxes.

Stan Mikita Timeline Jersey 69/99
This set features a jersey swatch from the player behind a die-cut lettering of the player's last name. Not only does it look really cool, but the card also focuses on one significant game in a player's career. For Mikita, that game was on February 27, 1977 against the Vancouver Canucks. On this night, Mikita scored his 500th career NHL goal on a backhander with just 6:04 left in the third period.

Brendan Gallagher Rookie Riches Autograph 18/99
Unlike a few other autographs from NT, this one is hard-signed. For some, an autograph is an autograph, while others need the hard-signed card, just for the idea that they player himself actually touched the card to sign it. For me personally, I'll take a sticker if I have to, but man, it makes a huge difference. I'm not as concerned with a player having touched the card, but it just looks so much cleaner. Besides, this way if a player "colors outside the lines," it goes onto a different part of the card surface, instead of being "cut off" when a sticker is removed from its original surface to be affixed to the card. (Note: I already traded this card, just hours after posting the box results to Facebook)

Jonas Brodin Rookie Treasures Rainbow Parallel Autographed Patch 24/25
Here is my guaranteed Autographed Rookie Patch card, and it sure was a good one. While the Penguins are my team, I live in Minnesota, so I am somewhat of a Wild collector. Not only that, but with all the rookies out there, this one is still a pretty good pull. This card is done, on the front and back, with an acetate surface, that is printed throughout, which is something I've never seen before. It gives the surface more of a sheen to it, without having to add some kind of chrome effect, which makes the card look a lot cleaner.  The signature is done on the card's surface, which it needs to be for a product like this, and there is a significant amount of space devoted to the patch. My beef with it though is with the fact that it is a single-colored patch. For a product that is this high-end, and for the amount of money that collectors have to pay for a box, there should be extra care given to make sure you have the best memorabilia pieces possible. Especially if that card is from a jersey-number parallel (base versions are numbered /99). I know they can't all be logo patches with 10 different colors, but even a two colored patch with one seams down the middle would be something. I like the card, though, and my plan is to sell this one and buy another /25 Brodin with a better patch. I already found one on Ebay, so I just have to hope there isn't too much of a gap in the final selling prices.

Evgeni Malkin Jumbo Booklet Prime Jersey 8/25
Now this is a pretty sick-looking card. Sure, they could have done a little bit more with the blank space next to the player photo (parallels have this space autographed), but it is still a great pull for me, being a Penguins fan. There was a minimal use of foil, which I like, and I love how they use as much space as possible for the jersey piece. If it were just the regular jersey version of this card, it might look like too much space for just a solid piece of fabric, but with the prime swatch, it's a totally different story. I also have a close-up scan of the jersey part of the booklet, but it really doesn't do justice to juts how great that piece looks in person. With the larders size, the detail of the seam can better be seen, and it makes for one fantastic pull for me.

Henrik Lunqvist Frozen Treasures Prime Jersey Autograph 1/15
I was a little conflicted on whether to consider the Malkin the best pull from the box, or this one. What it came down to is that putting my allegiance to my favorite team, this is simply just a better card. Of course there's the ridiculously low serial-number to begin with. What makes this card cool, is how they are able to do so much with it, which still keeping the clean, un-cluttered look of the high-end set. There is the prime jersey swatch, which still has a significant size to it. Then what they do, is put a clear window on the top of it and have the player sign that in a white marker, which allows the signature to be placed over the memorabilia piece. I have seen some cards in other releases where the player signs the patch or jersey piece, and the issue there is that sometimes the texture can distort the signature, and over time, the ink can bleed throughout the fabric. By placing the signature over the jersey piece, you are able to give the same effect, while retaining the signature for a longer period of time. Simply put, this is just a beautiful card.

This, admittedly, is a tough box to break, simply because of the astronomical price point. I know that the price is close to that of Upper Deck's The Cup, but unless there are a bunch of throw-ins this year, Panini gets the award for giving MUCH more bang for your buck. I was promised 8 cards, but actually pulled 11, and I always appreciate the extras. Also, I pulled three cards which could easily be considered the best card out of any box they were pulled from. Yes, I spent a lot on this product, but I think Panini definitely gave me my money's worth.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

2013-14 Prime Sidney Crosby Prime Trios Triple Jersey /100

 Let's keep this week's theme going with yet another Sidney Crosby card I picked up from Ebay.
"250" 69/100

From 2013-14 Prime, this card comes from the Prime Trios insert set and features three jersey pieces, numbered 69/100. The die-cut swatches spell out "250," which is in reference to his 250th NHL goal, which was scored on Nov. 22, 2013, in a 4-3 win over the new York Islanders. For all three years of Prime's release, Crosby has been featured by himself on a Prime Trios memorabilia card. I believe he is the only one to receive this treatment as most Prime Trios will have three players, instead of one player three times.