Preview: 2010-11 Panini Luxury Suite Hockey

2010-11 Panini Luxury Suite hockey is one of last hockey products I have yet to preview that is set to come out this season. But rest assured, your preview is here hockey fans!

Your next mid-high end product from Panini is Luxury Suite and boy does it look luxurious from the what I can see. Each box will deliver 8 autographs or memorabilia cards. That’s right 8! At least two of them will be autographs, but I’m sure it’s safe to assume that you will find more. This product will be loaded with the hits you want.

There will be 4 packs in a box. Each pack will contain 2 autographs or memorabilia cards. But that’s not all. Every pack will also contain a rookie card. This product will contain a ton of rookies. 125 different rookie cards have made it into Luxury Suite making it one of the biggest crops of rookie cards. All rookies will be numbered to 899 copies so make sure you grab who you want for your collection. 50 of the rookies will contain an autograph or memorabilia on them. Some of these players are the highly collectible Taylor Hall, Jeff Skinner, and Tyler Seguin.

Did I mention yet some of the cool memorabilia cards you can pull from this set? Every base card has a memorabilia insert associated with it. You can pull game used swatches of jerseys, patches, and sticks. Sticks have been under used for the most part when it comes to the hobby and Panini is right there by including game used sticks in their memorabilia pieces. The possibilities of hits in this product are definitely up there with higher end products, but for about half the price. Plus the base parallels numbered to 10 and 1 make it a chase for your favorite players more rare cards.

Now a lot of people have been criticizing the designs by Panini on some of their products. However, those critics will be speechless for some of the designs in this product. In my opinion, this is probably one of those most visually appealing designs that Panini has put together across all their products. Luxury Suite looks great. Nice big patch windows, looks to be on card autographs, and fluid designs featuring the player first and foremost. I would put the designs along the lines of SP Authentic of old with Panini’s own twist to it. It’s definitely a good thing. The rookie patch/autographs look amazing and I really enjoy most of the designs. Good work design team.

The end of June will bring you the most luxurious set to come to Panini hockey for a little under $200. I can’t wait to see some of the cards to come out of this product.

Want more? Check out the Panini Peek: 2010-11 Luxury Suite hockey

And as is mandatory in my hockey previews, ladies and gentlemen, Taylor Hall.

Preview: 2011 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Football

2011 Upper Deck Sweet Spot football is back with all your favorite players in their college glory.

This year, every pack you open will feature an autograph! With 4 packs per box and 8 cards per pack, you are guaranteed 4 autographs from the hottest rookies of the year to some of the great veterans and retired players of the game.

Back again is the on-helmet autographs embedded into the cards. Though I’m not a huge fan of players signing manufactured materials, I think Upper Deck does it right when it comes to that regard if it HAS to be done. The signings on “By the Letter” patches or on other fabrics just look messy and incoherent. Athlete autographs are already messy and incoherent, like my doctor. At least on a hard and smooth surface these autographs come out nicely. There will be two of these on-helmet autographs in every box with several different helmet variations. Also back again is Sweet Beginnings autographed cards and it looks like they are including Ultimate Collection Rookie Signatures in this product as well combining one of their old products with Sweet Spot.

New this year are two different autographed parallels to change things up a little bit. It appears as if Upper Deck has signed on with Todd McShay and Chris Mortensen of ESPN to feature their likeness on a new subset of Scouting Report inserts. These cards feature a picture of the analyst along with some of the players they have reviewed on their scouting reports. Some of these inserts will have an autographed parallel. While I’m not a huge fan of Mortensen or McShay staring at me from the card, I applaud UD for trying something a little different. I wonder what kind of information will be on the back of the card?

There is also the new Sweet Spot Rivalry booklet featuring two on-helmet autographs in booklet form. From the sound of the set and what I can see, it looks like these will feature some of the biggest rivalries in college football with autographs from each side in the booklet. I hope to see a “Civil War” booklet featuring an Oregon and Oregon State autographed helmet on each side. How could you possibly leave out one of the longest rivalries in all of college football?

In all, at a $100 price point for 4 autographs, it appears to be right around where it should be as far as price goes. I know collectors would rather have an NFL licensed product, however, these cards do look sharp and the autographs are just the same as any other product. Upper Deck is the only NCAA license in town, so for those who love college football and the pros, this should be a fun product to open when it comes out at the end of June. Roll Tide.

Note: Okay, I’m not an Alabama fan but I thank the Bama fans who were chanting “Roll Ducks” during the National Championship game. At least you stand by your team and don’t cheer for the whole conference.

Celebrating Pat Tillman on this Memorial Day

By now we should all know who Pat Tillman was.

By now we should all know the story that brought Pat Tillman from fame and fortune in the NFL to his tragic death in Afghanistan in 2004.

Today being Memorial Day will bring that story once again to the sports media and will surely be on ESPN numerous times throughout the day. Pat Tillman is just one of 1598 Americans who have died in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and one of the 2495 total deaths including all the countries fighting along side us. And Pat Tillman was  just one of the millions who have died for our country.

But this is a sports card blog and Pat Tillman was an athlete as well as a soldier.

Pat Tillman’s cards still are being bought, sold, and traded for today. He only has 5 cards made from his rookie season in 2001 and those are the only 5 that were ever made. Pat Tillman cards are a rarity. While they aren’t worth much monetarily, to some they are worth much more than that.

Here is a list of Pat Tillman cards:

  • 2001 Fleer Tradition
  • 2001 Fleer Tradition Glossy
  • 2001 NFL Showdown
  • 2001 UD MVP
  • 2001 UD Rookie FX

In my opinion, the most valuable or the most inspirational of his cards should be his 2001 Fleer Tradition card. Have you seen this card before? I think the insert set name says it all.

Unsung Heroes.

In the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals, Pat Tillman was an Unsung Hero. But in the United States for the US Army Rangers, Pat Tillman was a hero to them all.

Remember to keep all those who have died for our country and along side us in your thoughts on this day.

Show and Tell: 2006 Bowman Chrome Jon Lester Rookie Autograph

I thought adding a little show and tell post every now and then would be fun. I will post a card that I own, write about it, and just have fun with it.

This show and tell is about my favorite card that I own. My favorite card I own is not my most expensive card. It’s not the oldest card I own. For me, my favorite card is the card that means the most to me.

When I watched Jon Lester come up from the minors and pitch, I knew that he would be something special. He had a great live fastball and a nasty change and curveball. I was mentioning him with the likes of Johan Santana and everyone laughed at me. Maybe it was part of the hometown bias since I was a Red Sox fan, but I kept watching him and rooting for him. Then came the news.

Late in 2006 Jon Lester was diagnosed with lymphoma. I was shocked and surprised. Cancer in a 22 year old? I had just turned 21 and that hit me pretty hard. I couldn’t believe this pitcher I had been following through the minors was just diagnosed with cancer. I was thankful to see it was treatable but I was still sad for him. The days and months went by as I read every last piece of news about his recovery and attempts to kill the cancer inside him. I wanted to send a get well letter but his family wished to keep it private, so I just kept up the positive thoughts.

I had only one card of his at that time. I had a 2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premiers Jon Lester card. It was his first card made and really his true rookie card. But I wanted an autograph. I scoured eBay for a week or two while building up money and finally found one in my price range. For just under $20 at the time I grabbed this card, 2006 Bowman Chrome Jon Lester Rookie Autograph Refractor:

As you can see, it sits front and center in my baseball card case of my favorite cards. It’s been front and center in my collection since the day I received it.

Needless to say, Jon Lester made a full recovery from lymphoma and no one fan was happier then me. I was so excited to see him come back and pitch again one day. I remember watching the highlights of his return on ESPN and the way the crowd stood behind him with a standing ovation. I believe I was standing too, just watching the highlight. He was back! And boy was he ever. Within a year he would throw a no-hitter and clinch Game 4 of the 2007 World Series against the Rockies. All after beating cancer. How cool is that?

Last year, I finally had the opportunity to watch him pitch in person. For my birthday, I was given tickets to a Mariners – Red Sox game up in Seattle. The one in five chance to see him pitch paid off. I made sure I had a Jon Lester jersey to wear and went to the game, had great seats too. I was able to see in person why he is one of the premier pitchers in the league as he struck out 10 and gave up 1 run. The Seattle Mariners Sasquatch sat in front of me and wasn’t happy all game. But I was.

If Jon Lester could come back from cancer to do the things he did, what could the rest of us do?

Note: This post is loosely based off an article I wrote for Sports Card Forum in July 2010.

Acetate Card of the Day: 2003-04 Upper Deck Glass Caron Butler

In honor of the Heat and the Mavericks making it to the NBA Finals as well as my Connecticut Huskies taking home the Men’s Basketball Championship earlier this year, I bring you Caron Butler.

Now I’m not a chemist, but I’m not entirely sure these are made of acetate. These may be more of a plexiglass then they are a thin acetate material. Either way, I can see through it so I don’t care.

Featured acetate (kinda) card of the day:

2003-04 Upper Deck Glass Autofocus Caron Butler

After I noticed there were autographed cards on the acetate style design, I knew I had to grab some of them for my collection. I had already had a Cam Ward so I decided to try my luck with UCONN basketball players. It was late 2006 when I had just moved into my dorm at Portland State University. I hadn’t brought many of my sports cards with me across the country and I needed something that felt a little more like home. What better then a sports card featuring a Connecticut Huskies player? I scoured eBay and found this in it’s beautiful acetate-sty goodness.

UD Glass was fun when it was out because of these autographs in the set. These are on a very thick acetate/plexiglass surface, almost as thick as some Exquisite cards. These cards will not bend in any way and make an interesting sound when they hit the table. Thought I would have liked to see the autograph more on the clear area as far as design is concerned, this card was very innovative for it’s time and it continued as a staple in the UD Glass series for years to come. Speaking of years to come, I really need to get a Brandon Roy rookie autograph from UD Glass. That would be awesome. If anyone has one let me know!

Caron Butler was originally drafted by the Miami Heat out of the University of Connecticut where he starred for Jim Calhoun’s Huskies. I saw him play in person several times while he was in college as well as on TV, and I don’t think he ever fulfilled his college potential before he left early for the NBA. His first few years with the Heat and the Wizards were okay, but he has finally grown into his own the past few years with the Wizards and now the Mavericks. This season, he was playing extremely well until his unfortunate knee injury derailed him for the season. I could only hope he would return for the NBA Finals, but I don’t think that will be a possibility.

We from Husky Nation salute you Caron Butler and everyone around the world, except for Miami, hopes you can comeback and put baby Bron-Bron in his place by defeating the Heat in the Finals.