Preview: 2011-12 Upper Deck Parkhurst Champions Hockey

I am still in a hockey mood. The NHL Draft was last week and my two favorite teams picked up vital pieces to their organizations that they need to succeed. The Oilers picked up the number one pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and a solid defenseman in the first round and my Hurricanes also picked up a much needed defenseman. I’m excited for the future of both of my favorite franchises.

But this product isn’t about the rookies. It’s about what those rookies may become someday. Legends. Lemeiux, Gretzky, Orr, Howe….they were all rookies at one time but evolved into some of the greatest players to ever put their metal on ice.

2011-12 Parkhurst Champions is going to bring you the legends of the winter like no other hockey product has before. With 20 packs a box and 5 cards a pack you are going to find some great cards. One of those cards is going to be a Champs mini. I know many people in the hockey collecting community missed Champs this past year, so Upper Deck is reviving it as a subset in this product. Remember how the last Champs product you could pull fossils and other artifacts? It’s back with Parkhurst Champions.

The main selling point of this product though is the autographs. You will find 2 autographs per box, unless you pull an artifact or fossil which would then make it one autograph a box. 100% on card autographs too on these beautifully designed cards. With base parallel autographs, wire-to-wire autographs of the players in original black and white newspaper photography, Rendition autographs with an artistic style photo, and Champs mini autographs this product is going to be loaded with beautiful autographs.

You can also find those inserts in standard non-autographed versions as well and they look sharp.

An average box break will have 2 great hits with at least one being an autograph, 5 wire photo cards, 2-3 Rendition inserts, and 20 Champs mini cards. A case will have at least one of the following: fossil/artifact, a Champs red ink auto numbered to 5, Parkhurst Masterpiece sketch, Renditions autograph, or Wire Photo multi-signed card.

2011-12 Upper Deck Parkhurst Hockey looks to be one of the best collections of hockey legends I’ve seen in quite some time. Look for this product arriving sometime in the Fall of 2011.

I’m going to beg Upper Deck for a checklist as this product looks amazing. Just look at this Super Mario base parallel autograph.

Preview: 2011 Bowman Platinum Baseball

…and the Bryce Harper chase continues. Harpermania continues with the release of 2011 Bowman Platinum baseball on July 27th, 2011. Bowman Platinum is personally my favorite of all the Bowman brands Topps puts out each year, even more than Bowman Chrome. Why you ask? Autographed relics and the insertion of some veteran autographs. See, I’m not a huge rookie collector or rookie person so I like products with some chances for veteran autographs as well and Bowman Platinum provides this for me and collectors like me.

With on card autographs and use of the Chrome technology, this makes 2011 Bowman Platinum one of the best looking sets of the baseball season. You will find 2 Chrome technology autographs per box in the regular and all of the different refractor versions that you can pull. Green, blue, gold, red, and super refractors can be found as well as printing plates. There is a checklist of 41 minor league stars to fill these autographs out, including the Messiah himself, Bryce Harper. These cards look sharp with chrome technology and on card autographs.

At one per pack you will also find refractor prospect cards with a nice 100 card checklist. Don’t worry, I will have a link to the checklist at the end of the article. Speaking of refractors, you can also find two regular refractors per box in all the colors I mentioned above plus the X-Fractor. Plus you will have your base parallels found at about 7 per box.

My favorite addition in Bowman Platinum the past couple years is the autographed relic. This autographed relic contains either regular jersey cards or prime patch cards. The patch autographs are numbered 25 or less in their refractor versions. The other refractors numbered higher are just the regular jersey cards. These don’t appear to be on card autographs though, but would definitely look better being on card.

Case hits in this product are multiple autographed cards. Dual autographed relics, dual autographs, triple autographs, and hexagraph autographed book cards with either a manufactured patch or just 6 six autographs. Finally, the 60th Anniversary autographs will be randomly found in this product as well continuing on previous Topps releases in celebration of their 60th anniversary.

In all you will find 24 packs in a box with 5 cards per pack for a little over $100. The design of this product is very solid although it looks kind of similar to last year with very small differences in the base design. Still, it’s Harpermania and these will be snatched up quick to try and pull a Harper autograph. I hope the delay in this product will bring a Harper autographed relic, kind of like Strasburg last year.

But enough about Harper. He’s an image from my favorite National League team, the Atlanta Braves.

I promised a 2011 Bowman Platinum checklist too, didn’t I?

Preview: 2011 Topps Inception Football

It may be the middle of the Major League Baseball season, but football products are coming out like hotcakes. Topps Inception football is just as the name implies. Topps is welcoming the top drafted rookies this year in their own focused product with Topps Inception. Chock full of rookies, if you’re a rookie collector or looking to try and prospect some football players before they take the field this year (hopefully) this product is for you.

This product is full of great things. I’ll start with the rookie autographs. Every rookie autographed card is hard signed. Topps has done a great job getting these done in this department. It shouldn’t be a selling point more than it should be a requirement for autographs, but Topps is making the necessary steps. There will be dual, triples, and quad autographs all on card. This is shaping up to be a monster rookie product. There is also a black version signed in silver ink which looks awesome.

The second great thing is the design. These cards look great. Sure, the jerseys on the players are photoshopped on, but the look of a very realistic painting looks really good. But the overall design of the cards makes that seem like a non-issue. The players look like they are coming out of the smoke from the tunnel for their first NFL game. Instead, they are coming out for their first high-end rookie trading cards.

The final great thing is the price. What would you pay for a rookie product with a ton of autographs, great looking design, and a ton of relics? You would need to know what you get per box. Each box comes with one pack. Inside each pack is 2 autographs, 1 relic card, 2 parallels, and 2 veteran base cards. Every card is numbered. Sounds like a lot of other products out there that cost $150+. Try $90 for this product. The lack of veteran and star autographs drives the price down to an affordable level to pick up some of the hottest rookies of this coming season. With all the low serial number possibilities, you can find some real value in this box.

The only thing I kind of don’t like about this product is the relics. Now you need to understand where I am coming from with this. Every relic is just event worn from the NFL Rookie Premiere. Worn for two seconds or worn in multiple layers, these are not game used. I don’t like event worn memorabilia. BUT! I understand the need for event worn memorabilia when there hasn’t been a game played yet. If you want to get products out before the season starts you need to use the event worn jerseys, I understand that. I just like my stuff game worn, it means more to me as a collector.

But I can’t complain about how they use these relics. Shields, jumbo relics, jumbo patches, letterman, laundry tags, autographed versions of all of those…great use of the memorabilia. They are really using every bit of the jersey for this product and for that we do thank you. So honestly, I can’t not like it that much. It’s more of a preference I guess.

Either way, this product is looking good. Right now the release date is set for August 10, 2011. It will definitely be a favorite of the rookie collectors out there and with more people getting into prospecting in football, it looks like it will do well. If you want star autographs or legend autographs, you will not find it in this product, however.

Here is one of those sweet silver signatures:

Preview: 2010-11 Panini Totally Certified Basketball

What is the difference between last year’s Certified basketball and this year’s Totally Certified basketball? Obviously this one is totally better then last year.

This product is coming out with 6 packs and 5 cards per pack for around $120. That’s $20 a pack and each pack will yield a hit with at least 2 autographs coming out of a box. There will also be 6 inserts so I am guessing there will be an insert in a pack as well, all these being serial numbered from 599 to 1 of 1. This price point is very similar to their other hit per pack products so let’s hope the 2010-11 Panini Totally Certified checklist gives us great value for the money.

Panini has always done great making sure there are multiple possible case hits to bring value to your boxes. I love how they have a list of possible case hits and the number there will be in a case. Each case will include one or more of an autograph from Kobe, Durant, Blake Griffin, John Wall, a 1 of 1, or an autograph numbered to 5 or less. I think Panini has been over doing their legends recently so it’s refreshing to not have any case hits of them in this product.

Next, all rookie autographs will be on card. Panini again is listening to the consumer to bring on card autographs and we couldn’t be happier.

But what really makes this product stand out is finding Panini’s newest technology. You will find Panini HRX video trading cards in these boxes. Now I have not seen these up close but I have a feeling they will do better then Upper Deck’s video cards. You know why? Some of these will be autographed! I’ve always wanted to see one of these since they came out, so I’m hoping to find one if I buy a box. I’m not sure how often these will be seeded but I’m excited just for the chance. Having a video trading card with highlights and seeing the player sign the card is awesome. The autograph sweetens it to the point where it’s not just a gimmick anymore. Even though 1 out of 5 of these video cards are signed, it’s still great some are going out signed. These will be redemptions so there is no pack searching the box for heavy cards. Here is Blake Griffin talking about the new Panini HRX technology.

Here are some production floor images from Panini’s Official Blog so you can check out some cards from the set. I’m not sure how I feel about the “mirrors” this year. Being called “Totally Green” or “Totally Blue” just sounds weird to me. I like that the colors are vibrant though and the player stands out but just the naming seems weird. Then again the name change to “Totally Certified” seems weird too. As it wasn’t certified before? Why the change? I understand Panini needs to transition from Donruss to their own identity but just adding an adverb before it doesn’t make sense to me. At least the cards look nice. Kind of reminds me of a mixture of Certified and classic Pinnacle/Zenith mixed together at times.

You can find this product out on July 6, 2011. And I’m seeing prices less then the $120 on the Panini sell sheet so pick them up via preorder now!

(SCB Note: Want to see what Panini pulled in their World Premiere box breaks?)

Preview: 2010-11 Upper Deck All Time Greats Basketball

Upper Deck brings you their next basketball product of the season on July 6, 2011, and this one comes with a bang. The man who really holds the crown in basketball has a ton of autographs ready for you to pull. Every 1 out of 6 boxes will have a Michael Jordan autograph. That’s right, your chances of pulling a MJ autograph are 1 in 6 boxes.

Each tin will have 3 base cards and 1 autographed card. The product will also be player specific, which means every box will have only one player in it. There will also be some mystery boxes with multiple players in it. This will be the next high end basketball product from Upper Deck however, so if you want 6 boxes to try and pull your MJ autograph, it’s going to cost you some dough. But “Sir Altitude” is not the only great autograph you can pull from this set.

There are only 20 players in this checklist. These 20 players are chosen specifically and you would want an autograph from just about any of them. This 2010-11 Upper Deck All Time Greats Basketball checklist is so small I am going to list it here for you. The checklist is as follows: Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Dr. J, Magic Johnson, Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Steve Nash, James Worthy, Jerry West, John Havlicek, David Robinson, Alonzo Mourning, Hakeem Olajuwon, Walt Frazier, Derrick Rose, Clyde Drexler, Grant Hill, Chris Paul, Larry Johnson, and finally Penny Hardaway. That is the complete checklist.

These players will be found in a number of different types of cards. Letterman signatures, Storybook Career booklet, One on One dual signature booklets, and All-Time 9 signatures which are 1 of 1s. Also is regular insert sets which are variably numbered.

One thing I don’t like is Upper Deck is bringing the Letterman subset with signatures on plastic across the top of it, not signed directly on the manufactured patch. Now I’ve always disliked manufactured patches, however, I have less of a problem with Letterman as being manufactured as it brings a fun set to collect the players whole name. But Topps tried this plastic piece over the top of relics and it didn’t go very well with collectors. I’m pretty sure this won’t go well either as it’s the same concept. Who knows, maybe the mainstream collector has changed their mind about this.

Finally there will also be some cut signatures of deceased players mixed with current legends in a dual signature booklet. I am hoping these cut signatures will be a little better designed then the recent Legendary Cuts product which wasn’t the best design in my eyes.

Otherwise, this set is filled with the current and former legends of the game and autographs will be plenty. With the odds of pulling a Jordan box in 1 every 6 boxes for around $285 a box, it’s definitely a gamble but with a solid checklist it will be a gamble worth taking.

Here is an example of the new Lettermans which I’m not a huge fan of. At least the signatures are more clear this way.