Since I wasn't able to jump full force into hockey collecting until earlier this year, I missed out on the big release of 2011-12 Upper Deck Artifacts. Now, sure, I could have purchased a box or two on line, but seeing as though I buy all my wax through my LCS, if he's out of the product, then I just move on to the next thing.
This year, however, was different. I was ready to go, and although I had to wait until payday to acquire my Artifacts, I finally got my hands on two hobby boxes.
Artifacts boasts a 100 card base set, featuring current and former players in both their regular-season uniforms and various all-star uniforms. The set continues on, though, with serial-numbered subsets to 999. Cards 101-125 feature goaltenders and 126-150 features players in their Team Canada uniforms. Cards 151-198 are all rookie cards /999 and feature players who made their debut late last season or in the playoffs. Cards 199-240 are also rookies, but are done in redemption form. This way, they can release their product before the new crop of NHL rookies make their debut, but still include them in the set. More on that later.
Typically, the 2012-13 Artifacts boxes will contain a total of four hits, with at lest one being an autographed card and one being a patch card. Either way, ALL relics from Artifacts contain two swatches, which I think is pretty cool.
The hit of the box, for me, was a jersey/patch card, numbered 19/24 of Luc Robitaille. It contains a plain black jersey swatch, and a NICE patch that gives equal attention to the purple, black, and silver that Robitaille wore during his latter Kings days.
The box also contained another rare serial-numbered relic card, a Mike Green dual jersey, numbered 31/36. The dual relic base parallels look just like the regular set, but they also have a much more rare horizontal design, which they serial number. Plus, they look WAY cooler.
My only non-serial-numbered relic card out of this box was a dual jersey card of Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton of the Boston Bruins. Unlike the Mike Green card, the two jersey swatches here are in two different colors, which looks so much better than the identical ones.
My one auto of the break was of New York Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. Artifacts has a five-tiered system for its autographed cards, and this Nabokov falls in "Tier D," which has it at an insertion rate of 1:59 packs. All things considered, I could have done worse.
As can be expected from a product released before the season begins, most of the top rookies are not included. Due to licensing restrictions, companies cannot print a card of a player until he has appeared in an official NHL game. Upper Deck gets around this with their rookie redemption program. They produce a redemption card for each team's top rookie and 12 "wild" cards for teams with more than one. This way, they are able to include them in the set, but not have to produce the cards until players appear in a game.
Each box appears to include two rookies and one redemption. My two rookies were a Casey Cizikas emeral parallel numbered 73/99 and an Andrew Joudrey numbered 470/999. My redemption card was for the San Jose Sharks, so we'll just have to wait and see who that ends up being.
Judging primarily from the two boxes I opened, each box also contains two cards from their /999 serial-numbered cards 101-150 and one low-numbered parallel. This box had Team Canada cards of Wayne Gretzky 116/999 and Ryan Getzlaf 960/999, as well as a Shea Weber sapphire parallel numbered 82/85.
Well, there you have it for box #1. This looks to be a great set with some cool inserts and great hits. Stay tuned for the contents of box #2.