With a few low-end releases out of the way, Upper Deck Artifacts ushers in the mid-range card year with Artifacts, released earlier this week. While products like MVP and O-Pee-Chee mostly just focus on base cards and inserts, Artifacts gives collectors the first chance each season of getting some really great hits.
Each box of Artifacts contains 8 packs of four cards. There are a guaranteed three hits in each box, along with a rookie redemption cards and four serial-numbered card, so no matter what, each pack will at least give you something other than just base cards. New for this year is Aurum cards, which are considered a hit, are gold cards that fall at a rate of 8 per 20-box case. There are also Year One Rookie Sweater cards that contain pieces of actual game-worn sweaters, as opposed to just the "event worn" ones.
Anyway, here's how I did:
As usual, the base cards look great. Even though this is by no means a high-end set, they do have that look to them. There's minimal space taken up on the left and bottom for the brand name, team logo, and player name, and they are done in a way that isn't too flashy, which I like. As a TTM/IP autograph collector, Artifacts always look amazing when signed, and I hope to prove this to be the case throughout the upcoming season.
There were four serial-numbered SPs this year, and they didn't really do things that much differently thatn in years past. You won't find too many rookies of prominence in this product, as they are basically guys who played a few games toward the end of last season, and hadn't been issued any cards yet, as my Oliver Bjorkstrand (236/999) goes to prove. I also got high-number SPs of Glenn Anderson *345/499) and Joe Pavelski (255/499), as well as an emerald parallel of Mark Messier (39/99).
My Rookie Redemption card is a "Wild Card," which is unassigned to a particular team. Since Artifacts is released before any players are able to make their NHL debut, they insert these redemption cards, which are fulfilled at a later date, after those rookies have played. Each team gets one, and there are 10 wild cards that are there for teams who have more than one rookie debuting who deserve a card. Of course, the big rookies will be the top ones on their team, but this one is numbered 211, which is the first of the Wild Cards in the set, so hopefully this one will at least give me the best out of the rest.
Frozen Artifacts is an insert set that returns every year to Artifacts. It features a single jersey swatch, and usually with a white, icy background. This Jacob Trouba card looks great, as the Winnipeg Jets colors match perfectly with the card design.
One of the other big insert sets they do every year, is really just their base set, but with something extra. This John LeClair card is essentially just the base card with two jersey swatches added and a low (3/99) serial number. Lower parallels also will have variations to the fabric used, like patches, fight straps, or laundry tags.
My big hit of the box was a very big hit for me. Not every box contains an autograph, but if it does, it may as well be of one of the biggest stars of your favorite team, right? I absolutely love this Evgeni Malkin card, even though I have always been puzzled by what his signature is supposed to be. It is a sticker auto, as all of the Artifacts autographs are, but the fact that it contains that,a s well as two black jersey swatches and a low serial number (5/25) makes this quite an awesome pull.
For me, Artifacts has always been a great go-to box when you aren't sure what to buy. The cards look great, and there's always a chance at pulling something amazing.