Wednesday, April 28, 2010

HOCKEY POOL: Ready for Round 2

Well, can you believe it? The Montreal Canadiens have come back from a 3 games to 1 deficit to beat out the Caps in Game 7 tonight. They are the first #8 seed EVER to come back from 3-1 down to beat out a #1 seed.

That puts a bit of a dent in my hockey pool.

I mentioned how I hated my team originally. I'm actually quite surprised that I'm sitting in first.

I doubt I'll stay there long.

I ended up losing 5 players in the first round. Ovechkin and Poti (massive disappointment), Doughty and Smyth (could have....could have), and Derek Roy (Buffalo really performed poorly).

Only a handful of Detroit guys and Mike Richards can take me to the promise land.

The guy in second right now lost ONE PLAYER...and he was a defenceman. Not good. I need more Halak magic (as he has a lot of Pens).

Such a fine line this year in the playoffs. Colorado, Nashville, and LA came close to really making this a wide open pool.

We'll see where things go in round two. Go Wings!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

ONE SHEET, ONE SET - 2008/09 Be A Player

This installment of 'One Sheet, One Set' includes some cards that I received in a huge trade a couple weeks ago.

For a few insert and jersey cards that have been sitting in my tradebox for years, I was able to snag over 1500 base cards. Most in 10-12 card groupings. Some releases, only 3 or 4 cards....but it's a start.

So far, I have put together about 50 different sheets just from this one trade.

I never thought I'd be so excited to receive base cards.

Here's one of the sets that caught my eye.

2008/09 Be A Player

This 180 card set comes from a series that has a larger focus on autographed cards than jersey memorabilia.

Single, dual, triple, quad and 'six-pack' autographs really made for a desirable break.

The base cards that accompanied these inserts almost felt like an afterthought. I didn't see too much of them when they first came out (maybe that's why it caught my eye a bit when I was going through all these base cards).

It looks to be a fairly solid checklist (being only 180 cards). There's also a 100 card Rookie subset - nice for those who like fresh faces in their sets.

The first thing I noticed when I saw these cards was the vibrant color associated with the team. I like the boldness to be honest. The team color in the right side bar and the tint in the background image really gives the card an immediate team identity.

The right side graphics look pretty basic and I like the font style choices. Simple, yet effective.

The Be A Player logo over the two vertical color bars is a nice simple touch. So far, so good.

The player cutout is fairly stock. Some cards (like the Richards) look good. Others (like the Hunter or the Mike Smith), look a little weird. I like how they went with the drop shadow as opposed to a glow on the player. It really adds depth to the card.

Now the background. As I said earlier, I like the tinted team color in the picture. I kind of like the 'graph paper' square texture as well. The photo actually OK in this instance. I think though that they could have been a little more dynamic in the difference. Zoom in a little more on the pic. If it were a head and shoulders shot, it would have been perfect. Still, I'm OK with the picture doubling up in this application.

Aarrrgggh! This third usage of the same photo....I do not like it. Here would have been a great opportunity to use a different pic. And putting the color tint on the player just doesn't do it for me. The texture on the background is good, but doesn't feel consistent with the front of the card.

The name bar and team logo are OK. Again, simple and effective. The team logo lacks the drop shadow similar to the BAP logo on the front. Point deduction on that. Here's one thing that bugs me too. I realize that there are registered logos and trademarks and all that, but I hate the little 'R' with a circle in with the logo. It just disrupts the flow way too much. Why is it there? Why isn't it there ALL THE TIME? Like on the actual player jerseys? I say ax it.

The stats are decent. The font style fits the card. Sadly, five years of stats is all you get. That's it. Still a downer for me.

The (what has become) standard indication of what set I'm looking at is on the bottom, along with the 'junk'.

A decent card back, but not as solid as it could have been.

Overall, a pretty good set. One that was fun to look at, mostly because I never really took the time to sift through these cards when it was released a couple years Linden in the checklist.

While there is nothing to blow you away, the eye-catching look of the cards alone make this a would-be fun set to build.

Not overly expensive if you can find singles (as opposed to opening packs), and a smaller checklist make this something to consider for those who like to build simple, inexpensive sets.

3.5 out of 5

Thursday, April 22, 2010

BOX BREAK: 2008/09 Upper Deck Legends Masterpieces

Another box break to show off. This one was from my afternoon of splurging back a few weeks ago.

I bought this box the same day I picked up a couple of Between The Pipes boxes.

All I have to say is...I'm glad I did.

2008/09 Upper Deck
Legends Masterpieces

I had been seeing cards from this set popping up on ebay, at card shows and being shown off in trade boards. I must say that the concept and design of what I saw was really nice.

The box was a little pricier than I would normally consider (anything over $125 is normally a no for me...especially after a couple of BTP boxes).

First off is a real nice box topper. This 5x7 jumbo card really shows off the essence of the set. A canvas looking card with a painted picture. I really like the border on the item as well. Bobby Hull...not bad.

The base cards are really eye catching. Capturing some of the most iconic moments in hockey. How can you go wrong. The quality in the work is fantastic. My only beef is that the white border is a bit of a letdown when you compare it to the insert cards.

Now these I like. The bordered cards really complete the effect that this set is going for. I had a third card but I was kind enough to trade it away to someone who was building the set.

This Jari Kurri card has a blue border and is serial numbered /50. A great box hit...and it's only just beginning.

The jersey cards are quite nice. At first, I didn't appreciate what I had. It wasn't until after I opened the box that I went back to look at the cards and realized - hey, I've got a Bobby Clarke Jersey and a Darryl Sittler jersey. Now that's cool.

I got two autographed cards in my box to finish off the hits.

This one, Walt 'Don't call me Keith' Tkaczuk is a bit of a ho-hum. He's probably one of the more common base cards in the set.

He's got a neat looking signature and it's hard signed on the sticker. Nice.

But the king of the mountain for this box break really gave me great excitement...even if he is my nemesis.

This Mark Messier autograph is the green border version and is numbered to just 15!

A hard signed Messier...numbered to 15...LOVE IT!!!

Mark Messier in a Rangers jersey...not so much.

I guess I can look the other way until I unload this card. The last one went for $250 as a 'Buy It Now' on ebay. If I can get that much, I'd be more than happy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

1 vs. 100 - Another one off the list

Mail day today was a small one. One addition to the 1 vs. 100 project and one more person added to the plain white envelope list.

2005/06 UD Artifacts
Treasured Swatches
#TSD-ZP Zigmund Palffy /65

The first dual-jersey piece to enter the collection. Nothing spectacular...other than the fact the card is numbered out of 65.

I was bummed to see the card (along with two others) show up today in a folded white envelope. Two of the cards just had a flimsy penny sleeve and then they were both taped to a top loader containing the third card.

Upon asking, I received the "I ran out of bubble mailers" line.

Really? You know, I would have appreciated you taking an extra day or two until you get some....and then send the cards. Throw me an e-mail to let me know. Take an extra week...I don't care.

Lazy. That's all that is. No excuse for it.

Thankfully, the cards arrived unscathed. Lucky if you ask me.

Alright, enough of the frowny-face. Time to enjoy this card.

38 out of 100 (38% complete)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


The playoffs are in full swing!

That means tight checking, great goaltending, low scores...I can't wait.

What? How many goals? Are you kidding me?

Have you noticed how many games there have been thusfar where a team pots 5 or more goals? Even with some of the inexperienced goalies out there, I never would have thought there would have been as many as there have been (9 with 2 games remaining on Tuesday night).

What does that have to do with this card?


2009/10 Upper Deck Series II
#363 Brent Seabrook

To capture a moment like this really takes a keen's not just luck.

What I love about it are the ice shavings flying up onto the glass, the fact that Brent isn't the main focus when you take a first's Kariya. Not a good look for him. And Seabrook's expression is priceless.

Actually, this card reeks of the style of play that I dream of seeing in the playoffs.

Laying everything on the line, giving more than 110%, turning it up to 11 - that's what I want to see.

At times, there has been some great playoff hockey. Other times, a dud of an egg has been laid.

Seabrook and his fellow Hawks are knee deep in a battle with Nashville...can you believe it?

Hopefully, the style of hockey that got them to the dance will get them a second song.

BEHIND THE MASKS: Gold Medal Masks

Part of the big mail haul I got the other day was some of this year's Between The Pipes insert sets.

In addition to adding a near full set of Masked Men, I snagged some of the Net Brawlers (very nice cards) as well as some mask cards from a few seasons ago.

My first show and tell will be the Gold Medal Masks cards.

What a great set. The quick turnaround on these photos is really impressive.

The concept is pretty obvious. Closeups of the goalie masks worn at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics - with photos of the goalies actually wearing the masks.

It was only a 9 card set, but still it's better than nothing.

Here's a closer look at the Roberto Luongo card. It was one of my more favorite masks from the Olympics.

I've said it once and I'll say it again...I'm a sucker for goalie masks.

Monday, April 19, 2010

LINDEN CARD OF THE WEEK - 2002/03 OPC Premier Red Line

Oh, it was a grand mailday today. In a nutshell, it was one of the biggest for my PC ever. I added a shwack-load of mask cards, some great goalie stuff and even had a nice surprise or two for my 'One Sheet, One Set' project.

But the highlight item today was this baby...

2002/03 O-Pee-Chee
OPC Premier Red Line /100

Now, a card numbered out of 100 doesn't seem to be very rare nowadays. But this one is definitely an exception.

I saw this card pop up on ebay earlier in the month and the moment I saw it - I knew it would be added to my collection.

Cards that are almost 10 years old and numbered to 100 almost never come up for bids...and I can honestly say that I can't remember another copy of it ever showing its face.

So who knows when the next one would show up.

I was thrilled when the bidding ended and I learned I had won the auction. The bad news is that the finishing price was a little above what I had expected.

This card probably books in the $3-5 range. I ended up paying almost 10 times that amount. Yikes!

After the initial shock died down, I was pretty relieved though. For every Linden card that I've bought for a song, or traded for some discard...this has made up for it.

You get the good with the bad. I can live with the price I paid.

It also helps when I can subsidize my hobby with hockey pool winnings.

I'm very happy to knock this card off my list.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

1 vs. 100 - I can't wait anymore!

OK. So I've been sitting on a few of these cards for almost a month. I was waiting for one more card to come in, but sadly it has not yet arrived. I'm thinking it's either caught up at the US border, or it is lost.

I will still keep a lookout for it as I have faith it will one day turn up.

That said, I've made some solid strides in my project. So let's get going.

This Steve Kariya (yes, that's Paul's younger brother) is the Premiere Date version /73.

I purchased this card as well as the next one off of one of the Hobby Insider board members. I know without a doubt that the completion of this project will rely heavily on the transactions I make on that site.

This Hasek /92 is a card from a set I've never seen before.

I think it's kind of cool to add some cards that are unique to the really adds to the diversity.

Next up are a couple of ebay purchases.

This Conklin /89 is a really nice card (the scan does it no justice). The blue really pops and is quite vibrant. A nice add.

The Richards /38 was the lowest numbered card in the lot (until I went to the local card show last weekend).

Again, it's a great looking card in person. Funny thing is, I once owned a different copy of this card. I saw it at the card show and knew someone who collected Brad Richards. I grabbed it cheap (not as cheap as I got this copy for) and passed the card along to the collector.

I'm happy to have this one back.

Next, a trade from the HI boards. This Primeau /69 came all the way from Finland. The scan is super ugly, but the card looks great in person. It's got a 'rainbow-mirrored' look to it.

The final card for now is a real find.

The 2009/10 SP Game Used set was recently released and in it is an insert set that will be a huge help to me. The 'Significant Numbers' set this year has cards numbered to the player's jersey number. Thank you Upper Deck.

Shane Doan's card is /19. And to make things even sweeter, it's got a piece of his jersey on it AND it's autographed.

A great looking card, low numbered and it didn't cost me an arm and a leg.

I'm really happy to add these to the set. I hope to have a few more here to add in the not too distant future.

37 out of 100 (37%)

Friday, April 16, 2010

HOCKEY POOL: Playoff Edition

Here it is! The knowledge base that sent me to the top of the regular season pool somehow figured that THIS would be the winning playoff draft.


First of all, let me say that I hate my team. I hated my team half way through the draft. I cringed when I said the name Drew Doughty. I cringed more when Mike Richards came out of my mouth. I was banging my head on the wall when Tom Poti was my final selection.

This is one ugly team.

Just so you know, I chose 3rd in a 9 person reverse draft. I was stunned to get Ovechkin (although after last night's game he's not looking too swift).

It seemed that goalies and defencemen were being snapped up at an alarming rate. As well, it was in almost every round that I would have my pick ready only to have the guy choosing before me take him. Once or twice in a pool is common. Seven or eight times is ridiculous.

It'll be a miracle for me to somehow pull this rabbit out of the hat.

That said, I have been known to dabble in magic.

SCRIBBLES & SCRIBES - Between The Pipes

Well, the overwhelming popularity of this year's Between The Pipes set has lead to one of the most extensive and desirable autograph sets.

With the huge checklist of goalie greats, heroes and 'up-and-comers', there's sure to be some examples of stud autographs and dud autographs.

I was not disappointed...

Jamie Tucker

I stand corrected...I am disappointed.

Wow! This guy must be popular. How else would reason with his quick, rushed, lazy signature.

I sure hope his jersey number is 33....that's the only thing I could make out on this card.

Brian Hayward

Thank you Brian for bringing some quality to the show.

A great autograph to go along with one of my all-time favorite goalie masks. It would have been nice though if it was a little more prevalent (the mask that is).

A lesson from the vet in penmanship is in order.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

LINDEN CARD OF THE WEEK - 2005/06 Artifacts Spectrum 1/1

Well, it's going to be a short but sweet Linden card this week.

2005/06 Upper Deck
Artifacts Spectrum 1/1

I'll admit, the reason I'm going with this card is because it was the only other Linden card I currently have scanned.

That said, I'm quite proud of it.

I acquired this one in a trade with another Linden collector. I had a dual jersey 1/1 card and he was very interested in it. He offered up this one. Hey, a 1/1 is a 1/1....I had no problems at all with the trade.

This was the second 1/1 to land in my collection. I have some show card 1/1's, but they don't count as the TRUE 1/1's.

Alright....I'm done typing 1/1!

2005/06 marked the last year where Trevor had what I would consider a 'significant' number of cards to chase. In the few years since, the numbers have dwindled.

This year, he only has 1 item (in my opinion). It's a Panini sticker that has his retired jersey number on it. Yes, it's a technicality, but at this point, I'll take whatever I can get.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


There's some talk this week about the Calgary Flames and the justification of building a new arena. The Flames organization feels that the current arena is out of date. A new rink would spawn more interest in the team as well as a multitude of other events (concerts, shows, sporting events, etc.).

I for one am having a hard time thinking that the Saddledome is already out of date.

Finished in 1983, the 'Olympic Saddledome', as it was originally known, was constructed for the new NHL team in town - the Calgary Flames (coming from Atlanta in 1980) as well as the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in 1988.

It received a major facelift in the mid-90's and has been a staple of the downtown environment. The Calgary Stampede, concerts, tourism and infrastructure all take into consideration this distinctly recognizable place.

So, where am I going with all of this?

Well, I was 11 years old when I got to go to the Saddledome for the first time. It was for what would be one of the best hockey games I was ever (and will ever) be at.

The 1985 NHL All-Star game was THE game to be at if you lived in Calgary back then. The lineup of stars participating in the game that year was a who's who.

Wayne Gretzky (who got booed BIG TIME every time he touched the puck), some rookie named Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy, Marcel Dionne, Ron Francis, Mike Gartner, and in about Pelle Lindbergh!

There were a few players that I couldn't figure out why they were in the game. Players like Phil Russell, Mike Ramsey, Miroslav Frycer and Steve Payne. I later found out that a player from each NHL team needed to be represented at the game.

The Wales Conference beat out the Campbell Conference 6-4 (yup, that's it) and Mario Lemieux won MVP honors with 2 goals and an assist.

Wow! I honestly didn't think I'd find anything. Cool!

Here's the program I've carefully kept all of these years.

I was going to get everything matted and framed (if I could find a couple pictures and stuff), but it never came to be.

At one time, I had the All-Star Game belt buckle (which was pretty cool I thought...I was going to add it to the framing). I also bought this item which I still have in my possession.

This is the media guide for the event. It's full of stats and interesting facts. No photos though (bummer).

The best part of these mementos is that it brings back fond memories of going to the game with my dad. I still remember when he came home with the tickets. It was the day of the game and was a real last second decision on his part. I never appreciated the fact that I got to go see this game (I just thought it was going to be like any other game...boy was I wrong.

I still collect cards to this day partially because of the enjoyment of reliving my youth and memories of my dad.

Monday, April 12, 2010

ONE SHEET, ONE SET - 1999/00 Upper Deck Century Legends

This past weekend brought about a trip to the local card show. It was the last monthly show of the season. I was happy to pick up a few items for my various collections.

A few of these cards included some vintage sets and some vintage my opinion, the nicest stuff I picked up all weekend.

This set is one of my favorites as it celebrates the best the game has ever seen.

1999/00 Upper Deck
Century Legends

The first 50 cards in the set commemorates the Top 50 players of all-time as announced by the Sporting News earlier that year. They released a great looking magazine celebrating the best of the best.

Actually, it was only 49 cards as card #23 was not printed. It was supposed to be of Ken Dryden. Not sure of the reason why he was not included in the set. I don't know if it had to do with the omission of memorabilia /autographs from Dryden at the time or not. It's a shame as I feel it leaves a bigger hole that just "missing a card".

The front of the card has a nice look to it. A gold border around the three sides, separating the background from the player of note. The Upper Deck Logo and Century Legends icon in the top right corner is a nice finisher.

The right side of the card has an angled silver lined pattern (that looks a lot better in person than on the scanned card), the position number on the list and the name and years played along with the position.

I like how all the elements blend together. Not overly complex. A nice, sharp simple design. The lack of color in the design element lends nicely to the fact that the photo has just the foreground in color while the background is monotone.

The photo selection on some of the cards is the only setback on this set. Some of the cards have that 'old fashioned' posed shot. The only reason why I'm not a fan is that I've seen cards with what I think is a better photo selection of the player.

The back of the card marries nicely with the front. Again, the big 'Top 50 Players' logo. A head shot of the player (losing points for the re-use of the same photo on the front). A nice simple blue border to indicate the name, years and position.

Note: I love how Gordie Howe's name is now a registered trademark. What gives there? Something to do with the 'Mr. Hockey' thing I suppose.

I appreciate the full stats and the fast fact on the side. The team logo finishes out the bulk of the card (say for the obligatory logos and 'mice-type' at the bottom....yuck.

While the back is clean and free from a lot of excess, it could have had more of the 'distinguishability' that a word??? as the front of the card has.

The front looks like it was made for the set. The back looks like it was a leftover from a lost set. They work, but I know for a fact it could have worked better.

Overall, the set is real sharp. Of course it is the ultimate in player selection and some of the photos look really nice. A good overall design puts this as a desirable set to have.

What's nicer is that the release came with some fantastic inserts. A parallel set numbered out of 100, one of the nicest signature sets of all time (23 card featuring the best of all-time) and a 'Jerseys of the Century' set that has only a few cards and incredible odds of pulling, but c'mon....jersey cards of the games greatest are always desirable.

A nice set to build...a better set to sit back and appreciate once built.

3.5 out of 5

HOCKEY POOL: V is for Victory!

Well, it was inevitable. This year's hockey pool was a no doubter. I finished with a 165 point cushion (that's almost a month's worth of points).

My big guns were my two goalies (Brodeur and Miller), the top d-man in Green and two guys named Stamkos and Malkin.

I had a great supporting cast as well and the injury bug didn't hit nearly as bad as some of the other guys in the pool.

I collected my winnings yesterday and then proceeded to plunk a portion of it into the playoff pool.

One word came to mind after that draft...

Pulling the double won't be an easy task.

I'll post my team in the next day or two.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I have heard or have read from a few people commenting on the "value" of their collection.....or should I say lack of value.

Disappointment over card prices dropping once they hit the secondary market. People angry that their "rock bottom" sale prices are being subjected to offers looking for a better deal. Cards that were purchased a few years ago no longer holding the prices they once held.

In my opinion, this is not a new thing. In my opinion, if you are going to "play the stock market" that is sportscards, you need to know that there will be ups and downs. Volatility is a part of the game.

And guess what - YOU don't get to dictate the prices. The market does.

Who plunked tons of money down on Lindros cards? Jagr, Daigle, the list goes on. Who had the foresight to see that Yzerman, Hull, this brand, that brand would skyrocket in desirability? Some of us? Sure. All of us? Nope.

Crystal balls in this industry don't exist. If they did, I'd have bottled them up long ago.

Value is a word that some people cling to a little too much.

For example, a card is worth only what someone will pay for it.

If I have a Wayne Gretzky rookie card and I slap a $100 price tag on it, if nobody buys it - it's not worth $100. I might completely disagree with that, but there is nothing I can do or say to change that.

What I find interesting is that people tend to look at the negative side of the equation.

I know that there are cards that I've taken a loss on (there have been a bunch actually), but there have also been a bunch of great deals that I have been able to find. I wouldn't say it has balanced out, but it's not as grim as I think some people make things out to be.

If you are constantly getting shafted by resale prices on your cards, I would suggest that you get out of the hobby - clearly you're not in it to collect.

Value is a very subjective word. There is no book that dictates value (there are guides, but it's the individual's choice to use that guide or not). Value can often not even involve a dollar amount. There are cards in my collection that I value a great deal (and yet I only plunked down a dollar or two to get it).

Am I frustrated by value - sometimes. I'm not a big fan of getting $5 on a $50 card, but I know that doesn't happen everyday. I also know that eventually I'll find that $50 card for $5.

This hobby can provide the ups and downs of a roller coaster. If you aren't strapped in and ready for the ride, it can be pretty uncomfortable.

Know as much as you can before you get in and be mindful of your surroundings and the ride can be one of the best experiences out there.

Make sure you're getting enjoyment for your dollar. Now THAT'S value!

TO THE BIKE SPOKES!!! - Troy Mallette


Troy Mallette????

Never heard of him!!!!

Well, that would mean you would have no idea what he looks like.

That's the problem with this installment of To The Bike Spokes. You tell me which one he is.

1991/92 Topps Stadium Club
#134 Troy Mallette

"Stand up if your name is Troy Mallette!"

OK, that eliminates the guy on the far left. And I think the guy leaning on the right is Tie Domi. I'll excuse him too.

It can't be the coach....that's Roger Nielson. Maybe it's the fan wearing the Flyers jersey in the crowd....or the only guy sitting in the crowd....or dude with the slick looking grey sweater with diamonds!

Nope. It's #26 - Troy Mallette. How embarrassing that Troy's hockey card is a group bench shot. C' guys got nothing of him on the ice.

The back of the card says he's a "hard-working, big guy who plays the role of enforcer". It should says he's a "guy who wears a uniform, is good with national anthems and plays the role of bench warmer."

A 'hockey card' should include a photo of a player playing hockey. Period.

On the upside, this is probably more face time Troy Mallette has had in over 10 years.


To the bike spokes!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

BOX BREAK: 2009/10 ITG Between The Pipes (box2)

As promised, here are the hits from my second box of this year's Between The Pipes.

After cracking open the first box and being really impressed with the results, I splurged and purchased the final box in the store. Good thing or I would have bought a third!

2009/10 In The Game
Between The Pipes

I'm going to pass on scanning any of the base cards. Check out my first box break of the product to get a rundown of what they look like if you'd like.

I will say this. After opening two boxes, I was a little disappointed that I didn't end up with a full base set. 150 cards didn't happen....I came up two cards short.

I've got over half of a second base set (85 cards) along with a handful of triples. Still,it would have been nice to land a full set. Luckily, I am in the process of completing a huge transaction that will land me almost a complete set of the Masked Men II cards. I asked if there was a chance to snag the final two base cards. They're on their way.

The first insert I hit was one of the AHL Rookies. Meh, it's a nice design, but in all honesty, it doesn't do much for me. No clue who the guy is. No wow factor when I pulled the card.

The opposite can be said for these cards though. If you haven't already guessed, this insert set is my favorite. Snagging a couple more for the collection was exciting.

This is the Gold Parallel Masked Men II card I got. It's a Labarbera, but it could have been could have been some no-name youngster.

I think there are 30 of each card made. The silver foil looks real slick in person. The gold - awesome!

A couple more autographs to add to the pile. Some young goalies who may or may not make an impact in the NHL. Not bad (but not as nice as the first box). Oh well, the balance will return in my favor soon enough.

A pair of jersey cards. Again, youngsters. I would have loved to have pulled a more 'name' goalie, but the 2-color jersey on the J.P. Anderson card is really nice (and the stitching is super thick).

Now we're getting to the good stuff. This Curtis Joseph pad card is quite nice. The stitching is a bonus. This is the black version and is 1 of 60 made.

Now if that was the big hit in the box, I wouldn't have been too disappointed. But when I saw the next card, I was really happy with the results of the box.

Yes, it's a Patrick Lalime pad card. Whoopie - right? Well, this card just happens to be the gold version and is a 1/1. That's right....the only one in existence. This marks the first time I have ever pulled a 1/1 card (that said, the opportunity hasn't come up very often as I don't break a lot of wax. Plus, there are a lot more 1/1 cards out there to be found. Hey, I gotta stop typing, it's bringing me down!!!).

I just opened my first 1/1! How cool!

Now I just need to find a Lalime collector.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

REVIEW: 2009/10 ITG Between The Pipes

Well, here we go. The first box of this year's Between The Pipes that I have cracked. It took a little longer than I hoped, but I think the results are worth the wait.

This first box will be more of a review of the product whereas the second box will be basically a show-and-tell.

Let's get it goin'!

2009/10 In The Game
Between The Pipes

First off, let me just say that the price point on this box is very impressive considering the amount of 'hits' per box.

I purchased my box for just over $100. There are 18 packs per box and 9 cards per pack. The average number of 'hits' in a box is 9. A great assortment of base cards, subsets, inserts and memorabilia leaves one anticipating not just every pack opened...but each card revealed.

The base cards (or at least that's what I call them) are the 'Future Stars' cards. There are 75 cards in this set (half of what makes up the total 150 card base series). The design on these cards are really sharp. Distinct, crisp. A little more variety in the photos would have been nice, but with the idea of full body shots cut out, one is limited to what can be done.

Some solid names in the checklist as well. A few guys have had a cup of coffee in the NHL while most are top prospects.

The 'Stars Of The Game' subset features current NHLers and the closeups on the masks look awesome. The photos are treated to look more like pencil sketches colored in with pencil crayons. Real nice stuff. There are 31 cards in this subset. Again, the design of the card is unique and distinct to the rest of the set. I really like this aspect of the base cards.

The only drawback to me is that some of the mask drawings look a little blurry. When I see the top notch ones and then compare them to the less sharp - the difference is pretty obvious.

'Great Of The Game'. Now we're talkin'. This 34 card subset shows off the all-time greats (well, mostly....the player selection is a little weak. Allan Bester? Brian Hayward? Sorry, that's filler for me). On the upside, the vintage masks are spectacular....except for those who are sporting the Chris Osgood special (Pete Peeters and Ron Hextall, I'm talking to you). Some great closeups - which for me is great because I collect anything with a closeup of a goalie mask. Again, some photo quality issues (some are pretty blurry, but I guess you work with what you have available).

I wish ITG would do more with this aspect of the set. 'The Rival League' focuses on the WHA players. While I like the addition of these cards, I was disappointed that there were only 10 cards included in the set. A fairly limited player and photo selection made this subset inferior to some of the previous year's attempts. I hope to see better.

Now on to the inserts! As I mentioned, 9 'hits' were the average - and that's what I got. Some good, some ok - and some AWESOME!

The 9 card CHL Rookies set gives a unique look at the future stars of this set. There's also a 9 card AHL Rookies set that has a similar design. Nothing fantastic, but a tough set to build with only 1 card per box average.

The 'Net Brawlers' subset is born from the overwhelming demand from a couple years ago. ITG released a dual memorabilia card identical to this set. The catch - they were all 1 of 1's. The demand was huge.

Clearly, ITG got permission to go ahead with a regular insert set and I love it. A unique look at the rare side of goalies.

The cards again have a 'drawn' or 'painted' look to them. I really like the art that is this set.

In this 9 card insert set, Felix Potvin makes a couple of apperances, as does Chris Osgood and Patrick Roy in their infamous tilt. And of course, no goalie goon set would be complete without a call from Ron Hextall. Great stuff.

Another great aspect of the Between The Pipes cards has been the goalie mask inserts. This year, ITG has upped the goods.

The amazingly quick turnaround on the 'Gold Medal Masks' set is to be commended. This 9 card set features closeups of the masks used at the 2010 Olympics - including the gold medal winner Roberto Luongo. At 1 GMM per box, this again will be a good challenge for those looking to build the set.

And speaking of masks, we now get to my favorite inserts - the Masked Men set.

This year is the second year for the Masked Men insert set and again ITG has included a good variety of vintage and current players as well as the stars of tomorrow.

The scans do these cards no justice. They are really crisp and the silver foil is real shiny - REAL SHINY!

My only beef is that in the 50 card set, there should be more vintage. Just look at the Favell - AWESOME. The Fuhr's pretty sweet too.

I snagged 3 autographed card in my box (the average) and with 2 of them being 'Greats of the Game' I consider my hits to be a success.

Ron Hextall has a pretty sweet sig, while Liut and Schnieder round out a great trio of cards.

ITG does a great job again of incorporating the sticker auto into the design of the card. If you don't look closely, you'd never know.

A 132 card 'GoalieGraph' set makes for one of the toughest to build this year. Good luck!

The memorabilia cards are also aplenty in this release. Too many inserts sets to list. Head over to the ITG website for the full details. What I can say is that I am really impressed with the quality of some of the jersey, patch, glove, pad, whatever cards that have been pulled and I can say that it is the memorabilia cards that really enticed me to give a box a shot.

While my jersey card is nothing on the realm of spectacular, the next card definitely heads in that direction.

A big, fat, leathery piece of goalie glove. Yum! These cards are spectacular in person. A huge swatch (and while mine is just a single color, some of the designs are truly amazing). This is the Black version and is limited to just 30 copies.

NOTE: Foreshadowing the second box - it gets better!!!

My only beef with these cards is that from the scan, it looks like the top of the card is torn off. Not the case - it's supposed to look like that. Whatever. I gotta huge chunk of Giguere glove!

Well, that's it. My, fun and fun. So much so that I bought a second box. I never do that. You don't get a full base set (you get about 2/3 to 3/4 of a set) and there are a bunch of insert sets that never surfaced in my box break.

A great product with amazing 'hits'. Very nice price point and good value for the dollar.

My only beef is the subpar photo quality on some of the base subset cards.

My only other comment is - if you haven't got your box, get it now....when the second wave of them hit stores, I would expect the prices to go up.

Good luck and let me know how you fare.

4.5 out of 5