Just In: 2010-11 Upper Deck The Cup…It’s Coming!

I know I have been lacking in the Upper Deck news. However, they just aren’t putting out a lot of products with only one fully professional license. But this news is great for hockey collectors as arguably Upper Deck’s best product, and most high end, finally has some information on this year’s product.

With one of the best rookie classes since the class that brought us Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, this year’s product should not only fly off the shelves, may be a great product to invest in. I’m going to say this only once, if you aren’t into stock or into gold, this may be one of the product you want to throw a couple grand in and just sit on the cases. If I had the money, I would do it.

A new edition to this product and I believe hockey products in general is the booklet cards. They look sorta like this:

While I’ve never been a HUGE fan of booklet cards, these look like solid additions to the product. That P.K. Subban autographed rookie gear booklet on the left looks great and would make a great addition to any collection. That is probably one of my favorite rookie subsets and would almost rather pull that than a regular rookie patch. Imagine displaying that bad boy.

It will also mark the return of Limited Logos autographed patches, Property Of game used stick nameplates, Team Canada hockey autographs from stars of the past and present, and the ever popular shield autographs.

But 2011 Upper Deck The Cup comes with more awesome new goodness.

On stick autographs! (Slapshoterific!)

Base card autographed laundry tags! (Made in Canada!)

And dual cuts! (Let’s hope they aren’t as bad looking and cut up as Legendary Cuts was!)

All we really have is pictures and a retail price of $380 for one pack with 5 cards in it. And it releases sometime in August. I’m sure there is more to come. Learn more from Upper Deck’s announcement post on their blog.

A little birdie who has his own blog called the Topps Archives told me I need more pictures in my posts because reading lots of text hurts his head. I hope this post is colorful enough for him. I think I’ll add more pictures from now on though, good idea?

And here is my 2010-11 Upper Deck The Cup haiku:

My eyes shed great tears,
When I see The Cup released,
I must open it.

Let’s hope I can come up with the Benjamins to have a head to head breaking battle with 2010-11 Upper Deck The Cup vs. 2010-11 Panini Dominion. It would be the battle of the century.

More information on this product when it is announced!

Preview: 2011 Panini Rookies & Stars Football

This is the last product I have to preview for July 2011 releases and we are going out with 2011 Panini Rookies & Stars football. Panini attempts to put the “rookies” back in Rookies & Stars football this year. But we will see how that works out for them with this product. Let’s hope there is enough “stars” as well to keep things interesting and worth the price of admission.

2011 Panini Rookies & Stars football releases with 24 packs with 8 cards per back. Each pack is $4 which makes this product…some quick internet math tells me that a box would cost around $96. You will find 4 total autograph or material cards with at least 1 of them being an autograph. 24 rookies, 4 parallels, 1 Rookie Revolution, 1 Studio rookie, and 2 other inserts or parallels. So I’m guessing this is a 1 rookie per pack product this year.

The first thing I always notice is something I don’t like about the product and of course I found one right away. People who have been reading this blog for awhile now know of my hatred for manufactured patches. Well Panini Rookies & Stars carries several variations of this manufactured patch goodness. Okay Panini, I get it. Manufactured patches aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon. So I have a proposition. Hear me out, this is something that will make these manufactured patches more bearable. Stop having the athlete sign cloth. It looks incredibly tacky. If you want to keep the manufactured patches, that is fine. Embed them in the card as you would a regular patch but have the athlete sign a sticker or the card itself. Seriously, I would rather have a sticker autograph than an athlete sign a piece of cloth. 100% of the time. Take out the American flag, embed just that part in the card and add an autograph to the card itself. I know you have seen Upper Deck Black flag patches and autographs. That is the best way to do manufactured patches in my opinion. I can’t stand the signing of cloth that isn’t even game/event worn. Okay…I’m done with that rant.

Besides the manufactured patches, everything else looks to be on par what you would expect from Rookies & Stars. With a billion rookies and some sweet veteran cards you are in for a treat. If you’re a rookie collector or prospector this is another product for you with the tons of rookies and consequently probably a billion rookie autographs.

As for me, I like veterans. With some great autographs and material cards for veterans I really enjoy the look of some of these subsets, Prime Cuts being my favorite. There is a subset called Statistical Standouts with some random statistic on the front and an autographed patch version for veterans. While I’m not a huge fan of the concept as I feel it is over done, it looks nice too. Panini seems to be doing a great job in the subset and insert department. The Donruss Studio brand of old makes a slight return as an insert as well with Studio Rookies featuring posed photography. I love the back of these cards almost more than the front. They have their backs to the camera showing off the name on the back of their jerseys. Panini has a great blog post about this Studio Rookies insert set with a ton of pictures.

Finally, as far as base cards go, I love the design of this year’s base cards. Panini did a great job with action shots where the whole player isn’t cut out and you can see some of the field before it fades to a white background. It looks pretty slick to me. Everything looks pretty slick, but something needs to be done about those manufactured patches.

2011 Panini Rookies & Stars will release on July 27th, 2011 at a dealer near you.

Let’s see a picture of those Prime Cuts I love so much. Since Panini doesn’t pay to host their blog, I’m just going to hot link this photo. This is for you Jim Irsay!

Want more? Check out the Panini Peek of 2011 Panini Rookies & Stars football on their official blog.

Want a 2011 Panini Rookies & Stars checklist too?

Want to see more awesome cards from this set?

Panini Unwrapped: Opening 2011 Rookies & Stars!

This concludes all July 2011 sports trading card releases. Phew! I wonder what August will have in store for us?

Reply from Upper Deck’s Mike Phillips

So as you may have read with my interview with Thomas Fish of Blowout Cards, I asked about why Blowout Cards was not part of the Upper Deck Authorized Internet Retailers program. I was told to direct any questions about that to Mike Phillips, Director of Hobby Sales, or Richard McWilliams, CEO of Upper Deck. I figured that I wouldn’t get any response from the CEO of a large company like Upper Deck so I went to the source which I felt would give me an answer. In a short turn around time, I received an answer that completely avoided my actual question 100%.

I explained my situation of why I was asking the question and specifically asked why Blowout Cards was not an Upper Deck Authorized Internet Retailer. The response I received seemed like a form letter with my name attached to the top. No answers, no comments, nothing. This is basically like saying “no comment” to the press when you have a question. You know they know the answer, they just don’t want to say it. Here is what was said:

Thank you for your interest in Upper Deck’s Authorized Internet Retailer program. While there are many factors that Upper Deck takes into account when choosing its AIRS, first and foremost to even be considered as an AIR one must own and operate a full time brick & mortar trading card and collectibles store. Any brick & mortar store that has met the qualifications of becoming, AND has been approved as a Certified Diamond Dealer can apply to be considered for appointment as an AIR. Upper Deck will add additional AIRs to its network as it deems necessary. Upper Deck currently has eight AIRs in the US and five in Canada, with a few new AIRs pending in the coming months.”

So there is the answer. I was told that Blowout Cards has a B&M store as well and I’m guessing with their presence in the hobby they have moved quite a bit of Upper Deck product over the years. Why would you not allow one of your best retailers the opportunity to not sell your product in the first 30 days, or whatever the limitations are?

Personally, I don’t see this program lasting for the long run. Not only are collectors unhappy with this program, so are some of your top retailers over the past few years. If you really want to fix brick and mortar sales, it’s not your job to do it. It is 100% up to the B&M shops to fix themselves. I would not mind paying $10-$20 over prices at places like Blowout Cards at a B&M shop if I actually enjoyed going to the B&M shop. The ones I have been to around me are terrible. They know nothing about the products coming out, they are overpriced even more, and rarely do they get their products on the shelves in enough time. They don’t cater to the customer, all they do is cater to themselves. I am going to use my experience at Wayne’s Sports Cards in Edmonton, Canada, is my prime example of how a shop should be run. Great customer service, promotions, and tons of selection. If I lived up there I would be in there whenever a new product came out instead of ordering from anywhere online in Canada. In the end, collectors don’t want to wait to open their boxes. That is what made Chris of Cards Infinity so popular. I will show up at a B&M that deserves the support and pay whatever to open up product myself. I just can’t find one in my area that I am willing to support. And B&Ms are wondering why they are losing money.

Quit whining to Upper Deck and Panini that your sales are down. Take some of the blame yourselves and improve the experience and make people actually want to come to the store. Until that happens, people will just keep buying from places like Blowout or DA Card World online.

3 Contests Time! Score Some Free Cards!

Alright, alright, it’s the first week of July and we at Sports Card Blog have prizes to give away. That’s right, thanks to Panini for sponsoring our reviews recently I am giving away fabulous prizes!

To enter the contest is really simple. I am holding 3 separate contests.

Contest #1: Comment your thoughts on my review of 2011 Panini Luxury Suite hockey. A winner will be chosen at random. One entry per person. Winner will receive the Jeff Carter GU Jersey numbered to 599 and the Matt Duchene/Milan Hejduk Dual GU Jersey numbered to 599. If the winner is not a hockey fan, I will allow the opportunity to spin the Wheel O’ Awesome! (Could include hockey prize as well, be forewarned, or even base cards)

Contest #2: Comment your thoughts on my review of 2011 Donruss Elite football. A winner will be chosen at random. One entry per person. Winner will receive the Kyle Rudolph New Breed RC Jersey numbered to 299 and the Jimmy Smith Rookie Autograph numbered to 499. If the winner isn’t a football fan, I will allow the opportunity to spin the Wheel O’ Awesome! (Again, prize may be not as good!)

Finally Contest #3: Comment your thoughts on my review of 2011 Score football. A winner will be chosen at random. One entry per person. Winner will receive a Torrey Smith Gold Zone RC, Jason Witten Complete Player Glossy, Drew Brees Red Zone, Von Miller Hot Rookies, and Tony Romo In The Zone. There is no Wheel O’ Awesome option in this contest!

So there you have it. 3 Contests. Deadline is Saturday July 9, 2011, at 10pm PST. Winners will be chosen sometime on Sunday. Prizes will be sent sometime that following Thursday or Friday.

Oh, wait…BLOGGERS BONUS! Hey bloggers, pimp this contest in your blog and gain an extra entry into each one of the contests you enter! Just link to this post in a blog post and send me the link to get your bonus entries! I love my fellow bloggers so this time around it’s your opportunity to get some bonus action.

Interview: Thomas Fish of Blowout Cards

After the success of my interview with Adam of Dave and Adam’s Card World and my review of Blowout Cards vs. DA Card World I received an email recently from Thomas Fish, one of the owners of Blowout Cards. He was disappointed that I gave the nod to DA Card World when it came to customer service and assured me that Blowout Cards treats every customer with the same level of customer service and mentions how Blowout gives away a lot of product during the year without customers needing to buy anything. For one, I can attest to that as I entered one of their contests recently for a full case of product for showing your reaction to receiving a redemption card. After spending time in their forums, which I had never really visited, they give away items quite a bit to members on their site which is great for promotions. So I recommend people check out the Blowout Cards Forums.

So after that email and checking out what he was talking about, I decided to ask him a few questions. I used questions in my interview with Adam and also got some more input from the sports card community. Again, nothing really hard hitting but you can read his responses and maybe it will help you decide where you want to purchase your products from. So here is another uncut interview from Sports Card Blog (Caution: Another long read!):

 Sports Card Blog: I’ll start with the basics, how did Blowout Cards get its start in the trading card industry?

Thomas Fish: Blowout Cards was founded in 1998 by Chris Park. Chris started off breaking boxes and cases and selling team sets and singles to collectors and card shops across the country. His customer base expanded and he bgan to move from singles cards to unopened wax. Providing unopened boxes and cases at the best prices on the Internet became his niche. While others were focusing on card shows back in the late 90s, Chris was building an Internet presence through newsgroups and websites…one of which was eBay. In 2005, Thomas Fish partnered with Chris and began to build and market BlowoutCards.com.

Sports Card Blog: How many employees do you have working for you?

Thomas Fish: The Blowout Cards team currently consists of approximately a dozen members and that number does fluctuate depending one what projects we have and the time of year.

Sports Card Blog: In your opinion, what makes your company a better choice when purchasing products?

Thomas Fish: The consumer has many choices when making their purchases and our goal is to provide a hobby shop experience online for collectors.

Blowout Cards is focused on providing consumers with a fun place to shop, the most competitive prices and the very best customer service. We are very proud of being voted best online retailer the last 2 years by collectors. We do our best with the assistance of our community to provide as much information as possible so our customers can make smart choices when making their purchases.

Sports Card Blog: Why was Blowout Cards not included in the first batch of Upper Deck Authorized Online Retailers? Or why do you think this happened if there was no official reason?

Thomas Fish: This is a question that should be directed to Upper Deck. The director of hobby sales Michael_Phillips@upperdecknv.com or the CEO of Upper Deck Richard_McWilliam@upperdeck.com would be better suited to answer that.

(SCB Note: I have sent an email to Michael Phillips and await a response.)

Sports Card Blog: Now I have some questions from your consumers…I had a few people ask if you plan on carrying older wax products or more of a selection of older wax products then you currently have in stock?

Thomas Fish: We are always looking to enhance our product selection. If collectors are looking for any specific products the Blowout Cards team has numerous resources to procure older wax. We are always adding to our product selection and urge collectors to follow us on Twitter where we constantly update with our new offerings and restocks.

Specific out of stock items or older wax inquiries should be sent to chris@blowoutcards.com

Sports Card Blog: How are you able to keep your prices so much lower than your competition?

Thomas Fish: We run a very efficient business and negotiate with vendors the best deals possible and pass on the savings to our customers.

Sports Card Blog: An issue that several people weren’t impressed with was the way giant sales are handled by Blowout and if you planned on a different system in the future? (ex. Black Friday)

Thomas Fish: We were the first in the sports card industry to run a “Black Friday” sale on that scale on-line. The Black Friday sale was one of the most successful sales in Blowout Cards history with over 2 million page views. We were able to offer our customers thousands of boxes at prices never seen before. We did learn a lot from that sale and although mostly positive, some customers did have difficulty getting through and ordering since many of the boxes sold out within a few minutes. The Blowout Cards team is constantly looking for ways to enhance the customer experience. We are very open to any suggestions and ideas and all are appreciated and can be emailed to fish@blowoutcards.com.

Sports Card Blog: Does Blowout plan on starting a loyalty program for repeat customers?

Thomas Fish: We do appreciate all of our customers and run some of the industry’s most entertaining and fun promotions. We are planning on many more exciting things for our customers…STAY TUNED and be sure to visit us at Blowout Cards and follow us on Twitter.

Sports Card Blog: And finally, do you personally collect cards yourself? If so, what are your favorite teams or players to collect?

Thomas Fish: Although I don’t currently collect cards myself I do still have my collection from when I was younger. Somtimes I look through it and I am amazed to see how things have changed. It is crazy to think that at one time inserts “limited” to 10,000 were considered extremely rare. Come to think of it when I was first buying packs in the last 70s and 80s inserts didn’t exist. My favorite and first card I bought was a 1976 Fred Lynn at a coin show in White Plains, NY. I instantly became a Red Sox fan. I do collect original comic art and understand the passion that collectors have.

Thank you for allowing me to share with you and your readers.

Sports Card Blog: Thank you Mr. Fish and go Red Sox!

So again, I would like to thank Mr. Thomas Fish of Blowout Cards for spending his time answering these questions for me. It is obvious that he loves his job and understands the passion that collectors have out there. I think with him having a forum on his website, he clearly sees that day in and day out. I will try and get that information on why Blowout Cards was left out of the Upper Deck Authorized Internet Retailer program and see if I can get an answer. I’m not sure if I am to expect one or not but if an answer is given I will immediately post the information. It’s definitely a head-scratcher to me as to why Blowout Cards isn’t included and it would be nice to know.

If you haven’t checked out Blowout Cards for your trading card needs I recommend visiting their website. They have some of the best prices on the internet when it comes to boxes and make sure you check out their forums too. They seem to always have cool stuff going on there.