By now, it is an annual tradition for many collectors.
We monitor EBay like hawks on mice, gawking not only at the quality of the singles, but at the prices being paid for them. If we're among the lucky few to be breaking tins (no matter how many, or how few)... we pray.
Yes, folks... Upper Deck the Cup has arrived.
This time around, Upper Deck has pulled out all the stops to make their annual super-product truly memorable. The inclusion of Rookie Draft Boards (limited to 25) and fresh new takes on old favourites (Limited Logos, Signature Patches... and how can we forget the prized Property Of... singles?) ensure that 2008/2009 The Cup will be a blast to collect, and very easy on the eyes.
After a week or so spent meticulously monitoring EBay activity and following breaks on hobbyinsider.net (the best online forum for collectors on the Web), here is my first impression of this product, in a simple Pros Vs. Cons format:
Pro: Less Redemptions. Upper Deck has become notorious with lengthy waits for the fulfilment of redemption cards, but have done their very best to eliminate them this time around. The release of the product was pushed back by several weeks while more signed cards came in, and although the wait for the product's release was frustrating, the result has been tremendous.
It appears as if some of the product's highlights (Dual Shields, Dual Scripted Swatches, Cup Enshrinements Autographed cards featuring multiple players) remain redemptions this year, but concensus around hobby circles is that many of these cards are waiting in the warehouse to be shipped out. I wouldn't want to put a Dual Autographed Shields card in a tin, either.
Con: Too much... wait. WAY too much emphasis on Rookies.
When is it going to stop, people? Really.
This year's Cup checklist has me confused... which Cup is Upper Deck referring to... the Stanley Cup? Many subsets should have been saved for a "Memorial Cup" set.
Each tin guarantees an Autographed Patch Rookie Card, but the set's checklist is also littered (and yes, that is an appropriate term, in most cases) with basic autographed Rookie Cards of third-tier rookies and an INNUMERABLE quantity of Rookie Press Plates. Combine those with the "Gold Parallel" (25 of each rookie) and the Gold version of the Autographed Patch RC's (numbered to the player's jersey number), and this product is crammed to the gills with rookie content. Oh yeah. They've got the very fetching "Rookie Draft Boards" set, too.
But it doesn't stop there. Every major subset is jam-packed with rookies as well. What has Kyle Turris done to merit a "Limited Logos" card? Who IS Colton Gillies, and why does he have more cards in this set than Martin Brodeur?
Many have stated that it is inexpensive for Upper Deck to obtain signatures from younger players. Their game-used (or photoshoot-worn) memorabilia is also inexpensive. So what? The price per-tin has gone up from last year, so why has the overall quality of the checklists taken an absolute nose-dive?
Last season, the top ten or so Rookies were included in some subsets. We're talking Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane (twenty cent, holla!), Carey Price, Nicklas Backstrom and the like. This year, Petr Vrana (16 NHL games, one point) has a Limited Logos card, but Patrik Elias, the Devils all-time leading goal scorer has been left off the checklist completely. And again, who IS Colton Gillies, and why haven't I heard of him until now?
Let's cool it with the Rookies, ok? When Micheal Boedker and Cory Schneider become household names in the NHL, and have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup, their inclusion in some of these sets will be justified. Until then, people'd better be pretty peeved to pull their singles from a tin of 6 cards that costs upwards of $400.
Pro: Grammatical revision - for several years, anyone with an interest in the preservation of the english language complained ad nauseum about the name of one high-end subset... "Emblems of Endorsements" (two pieces of game-used Emblem and a signature). Cards were signed once, by one player, so why was "Endorsements" pluralized. Thankfully, the error has been corrected! Kudos to Upper Deck!
A generalization, I know. Many who took the plunge and opened cases of this product are upstanding individuals who are fair and demonstrate compassion and good business sense. Others, however, are clueless.
The fact that you bought a case of the Cup for $3,000.00 does not mean that your common Rookie Patch/Auto (normally $20) will sell in the triple digits.
Recently, one EBay seller in particular turned heads when he listed several cases of Cup singles on EBay and flat out refused to deal with customers outside of the United States. Sure, there is the potential for mix-up in the mail when shipping accross boarders, and our currencies are different (but easily converted!), but why would anyone in his right mind refuse to open Cup auctions up to bidders around the globe?!
It is common knowledge that the average US citizen does not have hockey on the brain, and here's the proof:
Patrick Roy Cup Foundations Quad Jersey /25 (8 Breaks) - $10.
Same Card, all white swatches... ships to Canada - $31.
Congrats, seller A. Good luck breaking even on your break!
Pro: 552 reasons to smile.
Most who read this blog in its early days will already know that I am a huge fan of the New Jersey Devils and Martin Brodeur. Those who don't will learn that very quickly.
This year's Cup product is again loaded with Brodeur autographs, but there is something very special about 65 of them. Marty has inscribed his "Emblems of Endorsement" and "Cup Chirography" cards with a "552 Wins" inscription!
I am unsure why this inscription was only included on copies of two particular cards, but buyers of Brodeur singles have taken notice, as evidenced by these early auctions:
Emblems of Endorsement /15 - $200+.
Chirography - the first to hit EBay sold for a staggering $153!
Pro: Quality Assurance.
I had the displeasure of picking up a doctored patch card at a show in Toronto in the spring (thankfully the dealer I bought it from was an upstanding individual, and I was refunded).
Upper Deck has teamed up with a very determined Jeremy Lee, who photographed every single card packed into tins of this year's product to send a strong message to the criminals who alter patch cards to make a buck. For more information on the discovery and exposure of a patch forger, please pick up the August issue of Insider's Edge.
Check out some of these auction prices, and take a look at some of the beautiful patches below, and it is clear that collectors are certainly reaching into their wallets this year, picking up cards they KNOW have not been tampered with.
Crosby/Malkin/Fleury Triple Patch /10
Ty Wishart RC Patch/Auto $275
Joe Thornton Limited Logos $227
Mike Modano Limited Logos $184
That's all for now, happy collecting!