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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.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

2015-16 Artifacts Box Break

So, just a few short weeks ago, I posted a really cool Charlie Coyle jersey patch card from 2015-16 Artifacts, and made mention of my indecisiveness on whether or not I even was interested in purchasing a box of the product this year. Well, just days later, I placed an order for a few boxes of cards, one of which was 2015-16 Artifacts.

As far as my base Penguins go, I'd say I pulled one and a half Penguins. You have Malkin, obviously, and then you have Kessel, pictured in his Toronto Maple Leafs gear on the card, but is now a Penguin, after an off-season trade brought him to Pittsburgh.

Each box has eight cards, three of which will either be an autograph or memorabilia card. The five packs that do not contain a hit, will contain a serial-numbered SP or parallel. The four I pulled were Anze Kopitar SP 929/999, Ryan Hartman Rookie SP 870/999, Zemgus Girgensons Ruby Parallel 69/399, and Brian Elliot Sapphire 26/85.

Of the five serial-numbered cards, one is a rookie redemption. These basically take the place of this season's rookies, as Artifacts was produced before the season began, which limited who they were actually able to print cards of. Each tame gets one, plus there are "Wild Card" redemptions, which cover teams with more than one rookie. Only time will tell who this one will be.

My first memorabilia card is of Nashville Predators center Calle Jarnkrok. He is actually now in his third year with the team, and seems to be staying put. Not the greatest rookie to pull, but much better than the ones who play one game in the NHL, never to be heard from again.

A little bit os a bigger name is Victor Hedman, who is featured on this Treasured Swatches jersey card. Hedman was the 2nd overall selection in the 2009 NHL Entry draft (behind John Tavares), and this card features a nice blue swatch from his Tampa Bay Lightning jersey.

Lastly, was another redemption, but a pretty good one: a Rookie Relic Redemptions II. Any hits for the rookie redemptions are assigned a number to a corresponding player, and player II is Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings. He has had a great season so far, and started things off with a bang, netting his first assist in the first period of the season opener, and his first NHL goal in the second period of that game.

Well, I took a chance on Artifacts, and I'm glad I did. This product, admittedly, can be hit or miss, but no matter what, I've always found it to be a fun box to open.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

2015 Allen & Ginter 2-Box Break

Even though I'm mostly a hockey guy now when it comes to card collecting, I don't think I'll ever give up on Allen & Ginter. Truthfully, it's one of the set that got me back in to card collecting in 2010, and it is consistently not only one of the best looking sets as individual cards, but the absolute best when a complete set is presented in a 3-ring binder.

A few months have passed since its release and I hadn't picked any up yet, so when I had some money to spend on a big order, I decided to pick up two boxes of the product. Now, anyone who has ever busted open this product knows that it is chock full of inserts and minis. I simply don'e have the energy, nor the desire, to post up every single mini, insert, and parallel, so I'll just throw up here the things you all really want to see: the hits.

While not technically a "hit," I decided to show some of these off anyway. With this being Allen & Ginter's 10th year, Topps decided to insert cards from the past few years with a special "10th Anniversary" stamp. I neither love these or hate these, but I figure that somebody may be curious about them, so here you go:

There wasn't really anything too exciting hit-wise, so I'll just kind of breeze through these all with VERY short descriptions.

Joc Pederson Mini Jersey: 2015 All Star and Home Run Derby runner-up

Christian Yelich 10th Anniversary Jersey: Croatian immigrant & 2014 Gold Glove Winner

Jonah Keri Shirt(?): Writer. Podcaster. Canadian.

Dee Gordon Silk 6/10: Cool insert. Low numbering. Might not be considered a "hit," since I got 3 other relics in the same box.

Nick Castellanos 10th Anniversary Jersey: 2012 All-Star Futures Game MVP.

Julio Teheran Jersey: Columbian who signed with the Braves at the age of 16.

Henderson Alvarez Mini Jersey: Threw a no-hitter in 2013. Has two last names.

That's it for the hits. Nothing two spectacular, unless you're a fan of the Marlins. I haven't really sorted out my cards for my set needs, but if anyone is interested in these hits, or is wondering about the minis and inserts I might have up for trade, be sure to let me know.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Two Tins of 2015-16 Upper Deck (Connor McDavid!!!)

A couple weeks ago, I purchased a base set of 2015-16 Upper Deck Series 1. I mostly did it for TTM purposes, just to keep my stock up to date, but it was just the base set, and included none of the Young Guns SPs. These are the first big rookies that new players have each year, and the top draft pick's cards can command a high dollar amount in return. Luckily for me, I was able get a few of them for cheaper thatn what I would spend on a hobby box, when I found some tins at WalMart. The tins each contain 12 packs of 8 cards, and on average, 3 Young Guns, plus a few other inserts, and an occasional memorabilia card.

I bought two, figuring at $30 a piece, I wouldn't be out as much as I would for a hobby box, but still have the same amount of Young Guns cards. Well, about halfway through the first box, I hit the big one!

Connor McDavid, who is touted as the most promising young prospect since Sidney Crosby, and I was lucky enough to hit it on my first go! He is currently out for a couple of months with an injury, but the demand on anything with his name & number on it has not waned in the least. Most Ebay listings have this finishing out at around $200, which is not bad at all for a $30 box of retail.

I also was fortunate enough to pull one of my other favorite rookies from this year's class, Max Domi of the Arizona Coyotes. He has really become a scoring machine in Arizona, and with Anthony Duclair right beside him, and Dylan Strome just a year away from the NHL, Arizona's future is pretty bright.

I also pulled four other Young Guns: Evgeny Medvedev, Brett Kulak, Stanislav Galiev, and Colton Parayko. The only notable name out of the three is Medvedev, who is a 33-year-old "rookie" that came over from the KHL.

I think memorabilia cards fall at a rate of one in every other box. Well, I hit those odds, as two tins gave me one jersey card, of Vancouver Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller.

I also pulled two canvas cards out of each box. These are cards of players from Series 1, using alternate photographs, and on a rougher canvas-like cardstock. Mine were Aaron Ekblad, Ryan Miller, Niklas Kronwall, and Adam Henrique. They look fantastic autographed, but unfortunately for me, I don't think any of these four are great TTM signers.

My less-exciting inserts were Winter Classic Jumbo Box Toppers (Duncan Keith, John Carlson), Shining Stars (Devan Dubnyk, Braden Holtby), and UD Portraits (Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Pavel Datsyuk, Corey Perry).

That's it for the two tins. After pulling the big one, I highly doubt I'll be investing any more into these, although some extra money and a lack of new product may convince me otherwise in the near future. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

2013-14 Upper Deck AHL Box Break

Keeping along with the minor league focus of my last post, this is a box break of 2014 Upper Deck AHL. This product focuses squarely on the NHL's top farm system league, and comes in a complete set format. Each box will contain a full 100-card set, along with five autographs. Dave & Adam's had it marked down to $24.95 (from $59.95), and at an average of $5 per auto, it was a deal I simply could not pass up.

There are three Penguins in the set, Eric Hartzell, Harry Zolnierczyk, and Brian Gibbons. All three are currently in the AHL still, but are no longer with the Penguins organization. Zolnierczyk is signed to the Anaheim Ducks, Gibbons is signed to the New York Rangers, and Hartzell is with the Stockton Heat, on loan from the ECHL team he signed with.

All is not lost, though. Considering the players available, I think I did pretty well on the autographs I pulled.

Oscar Lindberg is up witht he New York Rangers full-time this season, and doing well, too. In just 18 games, he has notched 7 goals and 5 assists, and is currently third on the team in scoring

Another player who has found a permanent home in the NHL, Sceviour has spent 17 games with the Dallas Stars, scoring 1 goal and 5 assists.

Cousins is still in the AHL with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, where he is lighting it up with 5 goals and 10 assists in just 11 games.

Ortio made a big splash at the beginning of this season, performing so well in training camp, that the Flames decided to risk placing Karri Ramo on waivers to send him to the AHL, and left Ortio with the pro club.

Lastly, is Brandon Pirri. He bounced up and down between the AHL & NHL for a few years while with the Chicago Blackhawks organization. Ever since being traded to the Florida Panthers in 2014, he has stayed in the NHL, and this season has scored 3 goals and 4 assists in 14 games.

Overall, I was very happy with this product. Now that the price is so low, this is an absolute steal. You won't get any NHL superstars' autographs, of course, but as you can see from this box, you can get some very good players, and at an average of 5 bucks a piece, you can't do much better than that.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

2015 Onyx Platinum Elite Box Break

While 2015 hasn't been one of my most active years since getting back into card collecting, I have made some big purchases, most notably, my most recent one with Dave & Adam's Card World. I decided to go all out, both by picking up some major high-end products, and trying out some major discount deals. One of the lower-priced items on the bill was a box of 2015 Onyx Platinum Elite.

Originally retailing for $29.95, and discounted down to $17.99, one box of Platinum Elite contains just four cards, with one guaranteed autograph. Every other box will have two autographs, giving an extra bonus at some pretty good odds. This is a prospect release, which is a big part of the reason why the price is so low. My box was one of the lucky ones to contain two autographs, and here's a look at what I got.

Tyler Kolek base: Kolek was selected by the Miami Marlins with the second overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. He has been clocked at a 102 MPH fastball, and spent 2015 with the Marlins class A team, where he went 4-10, with 81 strikeouts and a 4.56 ERA

Avery Romero base: Another Marlins prospect, Romero was a third-round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. He spent 2015 with Miami's Class A+ team, where he batted .259, with 3 home runs and 42 RBIs.

Avery Romero autograph: I've already given you the rundown of him, but the fact that I got two cards of the same player in a 4card-per-pack product, doesn't say much for their collation.

Bradley Zimmer green autograph 38/50: Well, at least there's one player who isn't with the Marlins organization. Zimmer was drafted by the Cleveland Indians with the 21st overall pick in 2014. He spent 2015 with Cleveland's AA team, where he batted .219, with 6 home runs and 24 RBIs.

Like any prospect-related product, there's always a risk and a long waiting game, just to see if any of these players will be able to contribute at the Major League level. Still, it's worth somewhat of a risk, considering the price is so low, and for me, $18 for two autographs was a pretty good deal. I may have felt differently if I got one of those one-autograph boxes, but at least it worked out this time.

Friday, November 13, 2015

2015-16 Artifacts Charlie Coyle Jersey/Patch Card 32/75

Well, I haven't picked up any boxes of 2015-16 Artifacts, and I'm not sure if I will, but I did decide to dip my toes into that water, and picked up a really nice hit from one of Upper deck's latest sets.

This is a jersey/patch parallel of Charlie Coyle, numbered 32/75. The patch looks like it has only two colors, which is fine, but if you hold it at an angle and look into the bottom right corner of the swatch, you can see just a sliver of red. I like Coyle a lot, and he is well-known in the area for being one of Minnesota's brightest young stars. Across the rest of the hockey world, however, he is mostly known for this: where a simple pre-game hello put a big smile on a young fan's face:

Thursday, November 12, 2015

I Needed a Future Watch Patch Card, and Came Home With All of This

So, after trading away my Bo Horvat Future Watch autographed patch card from my box of 2014-15 SP Authentic, I felt like I wanted something to replace it. Of course, it was literally replaced by some Sidney Crosby printing plates, but still, as big of a pull as those patch cards are, I still wanted to have one in my collection, even if it is of a different player.

The advantage here, is that I can select the player and the patch, and be sure it's of a player from a team I really like. Of course, I'm a Penguins fan, but living in Minnesota, I have a certain affection for the Wild, and settled on this card of Justin Fontaine. It's numbered 37/100, is hard-signed, and features a nice three-colored patch. Of course, he's not as big of a name as Horvat, but that's just fine with me. It's a great new addition to my collection.

Of course, I just had to click on the link to see the seller's other items, and picked up the following six cards at some really good prices. The cheapest card was mine for $.99, and the most expensive was just $4.36.

2013-14 SP Authentic Sign of the Times Arturs Irbe

2014-15 SP Authentic Future Watch Auto Jiri Sekac 788/999

2014-15 SP Authentic Limited Johan Franzen 

2013-14 Titianium Antoine Roussel Rookie Gear Patch 25/25

2013-14 Dominion Time Warp Dual Patch Ron Francis/Ryan Murphy 30/50

2013-14 Dominion Social Signatures Matt Moulson

Not a bad bit of loot. Any of these cards, except for the Fontaine and Francis/Murphy are up for trade, so if anything entices you, be sure to let me know.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Sidney Crosbys I Got In Return for My Bo Horvat

As I mentioned in my last post, I struck quite a deal for the Bo Horvat redemption. I threw in a couple Seth Jones autographs (SPX auto/dual jersey & Contenders auto/patch) with the Horvat, and here's what I got in return:

Well, not that card, so much as three of the elements used to produce that card, specifically ones colored in black, cyan, and magenta:

That's right, THREE out of the four printing plates used to produce Sidney Crosby's 2011-12 Pinnacle card.
I was very excited at the idea of getting these and being so close to the set of four. It would be great to find that yellow one, but the guy who traded them said he wasn't able to get anywhere in that quest, so I definitely have my work cut out for me.

So needless to say, if anyone comes across it, be sure to let me know.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

2014-15 SP Authentic Box Break

So, after not making any hockey purchases for what seems like forever, I stopped at my LCS, and picked up the most promising-looking product that I hadn't tried out yet. In this instance, I got myself a box of 2014-15 SP Authentic. It's a mid-range product, but the big draw with these is the Future Watch rookie cards, both in hard-signed for, and hard-signed with a patch. The Future Watch Auto Patches can net big bucks if you get the right one, so let's see how my luck turned out:

Base: They aren't really that different than previous year in it's theme, which is a matte white background, a team-color-related pattern on top of that, and a semi-glossy player photo. I got five Penguins: Mario Lemieux, Evgeni Malkin, Tom Barrasso, and Chris Kunitz. These are cards 1-150 in the set.

Cards 151-20 are Modern Moments and All-Time Moments. The Modern Moments cards chronicle important moments from the past year, and All-Time Moments...well, you get the idea. All are SPs, with the All-Time Moments cards being slightly more rare.

Next in the set at cards 201-260, which are the unsigned Future Watch cards. Usually, these are they guys who either had less of an impact, or don't have a whole lot expected of them. They are numbered /999, and my three were Petteri Lindholm, Nikita Nesterov, and Landon Ferraro. Cards 261-320 are the autographed Future Watch cards, but I'll go over those when I get to my hits.

There's also a few inserts, including the SP Retro cards. These pay tribute to the 1994-95 SP set, and feature current and former players.

While not quite an insert, Upper deck did include updated cards to their flagship set. Most of these revolve around players who switched teams late into the season, and rookies who had yet to make their appearance in either series 1 or 2. I got two base cards and two Young Guns.

Each box promises three autographed cards, but I was lucky enough to pull four. The first one is a Ryan Murphy autographed card numbered 16/99 from the 1993-94 SP Premier Prospects set that was inserted into packs of 2013-14 SP Authentic. I guess they had quite a surplus from last year, and threw some extras into this year's product.

Now, each box guarantees that one of the autographs will be a Future Watch rookie card, but all three of mine turned out to be. The first is of Kerby Rychel, numbered 697/999, who is the player Columbus selected in the 2013 draft with the first-round pick that the New York Rangers sent them in the Rick Nash trade.

Next, I got Trevor Van Riemsdyk, numbered 45/999. Trevor may be the younger Van Riemsdyk brother, but as of last season, he is the one with his name on the Stanley Cup.

Lastly, I was lucky enough to pull one of the Future watch patch cars, and with it being 2014 No. 8 overall pick Bo Horvat, a pretty good one at that. Unfortunately, it's a redemption, so the waiting game will have to be played.

Well, it would, but within minutes of pulling this card and posting it on Facebook, I began working out a deal with a Horvat collector, and it was on its way before I could even scratch it. I'll post the results of that trade soon, and it's something that made trading this card a VERY easy thing to do.

That's it for SP Authentic. I'm sure there are better boxes of this out there, but I know there are MUCH worse. With an extra autograph, and three Future Watch autographs of some pretty decent rookies, I was very happy with what I pulled.