Review: 2010-11 Upper Deck The Cup vs. Panini Dominion Hockey

I decided that I will do an informal “vs.” review and a formal review of each product. With Upper Deck The Cup finally having some competition, I was able to secure a box of each product for a head to head review. As you will see below (when I upload the video) in the first ever Upper Deck The Cup – Panini Dominion box break dual video, the cards from both sets are absolutely beautiful.

But which product is superior? Some people have to make a choice between buying one product or the other and this will serve as the best review guide in terms of picking the product which is right for you.

As always, let’s start with design.

On the left we have The Cup and on the right we have Dominion. The Cup base design is extremely clean with the vertical layout showcasing the player and the information on the bottom. The Dominion base design is also pretty clean, using a horizontal layout which has all the information going vertically on the left (except the player number on the top right). This allows Panini to build from the base card some subsets to put memorabilia and autographs. Upper Deck does not have this luxury and must create new designs for their subsets as you can see below.

The only thing I’m not a huge fan of with this is the foil Panini uses to denote the parallel for the patch. Sometimes, it just makes the card look a little bit off. Upper Deck also has parallels of their base cards, however they are just paralleled to 25 and 1 with basic colors that work with the design. I did not pull either of those in The Cup, but I did pull one in my box of Dominion below.

This is the black 1/1 base parallel from Dominion. The Cup is similar, as I’ve seen, but the black foil just looks a little off as a main component of the card. I don’t hate it, I just don’t like it as much as the way Upper Deck does parallels. Based on the design factor, I would give the design nod to Upper Deck.

Next, I will go to the checklist.

Everyone will immediately think the answer for this one is easy and go with Upper Deck because of their exclusive deals with Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, and Bobby Orr. However, Panini has rounded out their checklist with quite a few Hall of Famers and stars of today and yesterday with a greater number of possibilities than Upper Deck. For instance, I pulled these two legendary player autographs from Dominion.

Not too shabby. But the real issue I have with the checklist is with Upper Deck’s usage of rookie players. There seems like there are a billion different subsets that include autographs from the best rookies of the past year. Lots of Taylor Hall, lots of PK Subban, etc. With all the different versions of these hot players, they are diluting the market with first year autographs that aren’t really rookies. A lot of them look very nice, but the relative ease to pull these players in their rookie year is just well…easier. Easier is not better. Panini did a great job limiting the amount of rookie autographs from those top rookies, and top rookies in general. You may not be guaranteed one of these autograph rookie patches, like I got in The Cup, in Dominion, however this keeps the value high for those rookie patches. They are even numbered lower in Dominion.

But at least they are pretty rookie patch autographs. Some people are going to be pissed about this, but I’m giving the checklist nod to Panini. The variety, the rarity, and the selection is just better. I’m sure everyone who hasn’t pulled a Gretzky, Orr, or Howe would love to pull one, but they seem to be in every Upper Deck product now and are getting diluted by the year. Sometimes you don’t need the best names to sell a product. I’m not saying I hate The Cup checklist, I just think variety is better.

Finally, I will hit the value button. This area is tough. Going by current prices, The Cup is $420 at DACW and Dominion is $390 at the same shop. A $30 difference. You get 6 cards (sometimes 5) per pack/box of The Cup and 10 cards per pack/box of Dominion. Based on sheer numbers which we can turn into possibilities for a big hit, Dominion gives you more bang for your buck. You get almost double the amount of premium cards for $30 less then The Cup.

However, based on eBay sales, The Cup seems to hold a little bit of a higher value then Dominion, and also doesn’t have as many plain jerseys. Although I did pull some plain jerseys from each product as seen below.

And I know some of you are going to mention the players on the card, however as a collector, I am happier to pull the Cogliano jersey because he plays for the Oilers and I collect the Oilers. I’m probably just going to sell the Crosby/Ovechkin/Malkin/Stamkos quad to the left. So I’m happy the product with the better aftermarket prices I hit the higher end sale card, but it’s just not a card I’d want for my collection. Again, I like the variety in Dominion. It may dilute the value a bit, but you get players you may not find in Dominion.

I’m adding this just so collectors have the information, it seems you have more of a chance to get less value from a box of The Cup versus a box of Dominion based off of a number of case breaks I have seen. However, it appears the case hits may be worth a little more if you hit one in The Cup.

Based on all of this information, I am going to give the value selection to both products. You really can’t go wrong purchasing either product. Personally, if you are opening the product by the case, I would go with Upper Deck The Cup. If you just wanted to get a single box of either one, I would go with Dominion.

So basically it is a toss up to which product I would deem the most superior. It also really depends on what type of collector you are as well. If you are more casual you will probably be better off with Dominion because of the additional cards and less price. But if you are hardcore and just care about hits and resale, The Cup would be a better gamble, especially if opening by the case.

I, of course, have other goodies from both products that I didn’t show, but I’ll save those for the official reviews. So stay tuned for official reviews from both products.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wk-1Rbtk3iI]