Thursday, July 30, 2020

Cardboard History History of Cardboard: 2000-2009

I don't know why, but, as I noted at the conclusion of the last post, the cards of the 2000s were never the same as they had been previously. One of the worst "innovations" in the hobby began in 2001 when exclusive licenses made their debut in sports cards, when NASCAR gave Press Pass the exclusive. During this decade, Fleer went out of business and the memorabilia delivery systems began to replace actual card sets...

2000-01 Hoops Hot Prospects

2001 Enduring Freedom

2002 Topps Simpsons

2003 Press Pass

2003-04 Topps Chrome

2005 Topps Revenge of the Sith

2006 DC Direct Who's Who

2007 Wheels High Gear
2008 Press Pass UMI
2009 Element

What symbolizes the decade more than a jersey card? This one for 2000 was the first I ever pulled from a pack- Christmas Day, 2000. 2001 saw the world rocked by September 11th. Topps actually got a card set out of it. 2002 was a rough year, as I lost my dad to cancer in February. 2003 saw me pull one of my favorite cards I've ever pulled- this one, from a single pack purchase at the Target in Kingston, NY. It brought me back to NASCAR fully, for the first time since 1996. 2004's set is from the 2003-04 season, but Topps Chrome was a very late season release. I was slowly losing my interest in the NBA, and during 2004 (I think) my Excel file corrupted, and I lost everything- I had only one copy, stupid-which took away most of the enjoyment I was getting. 2005 saw me purchase non-sports cards for the first time since 2002, when I had gotten the Simpsons cards shown at the Toys R Us in Lake George, NY, and some Attack of the Clones cards. 2006's set is one where, while I was not actively purchasing the non-sports cards, I was still getting some anyway...these came with figures that you had to assemble...not quite models, but close. Sometime between October and Christmas 2006 I decided I was done with the NBA forever. That didn't hold, but I would not purchase another NBA card during the decade. From 2007-2009, I was collecting NASCAR only, and barely at that. I was unhappy with Press Pass's cards and got very little in 2007. In 2008, I got only 14 cards documented for the entire year, my record low since I started recording dates in 1999 (but surely my lowest total for any year). While I did get more than 14 cards from the year, I only wrote down the date of 14 of them- 13 of which came from this UMI promo set that came with the Cup Series Yearbook, which I got for Christmas. 2009 saw me get back into hobby full time...although I didn't even truly leave in 2008, I did consider it. My brother surprised me with some cards from the local Target in 2009, including some from this Element set, and I really enjoyed them. That got me back was in 2009 that I began my Excel files anew (which I've since put on the backburner as I've made them obsolete) and I also began scanning my entire card collection, which, 10 years later, has a long way left to go. In the ensuing decade, everything changes...

Friday, July 24, 2020

Adding a card I never thought possible

There are some cards I don't think I'll ever be able to get. I have a pretty strict self-imposed price limit, and some cards just don't come down below that.

A couple of those cards have ended up on my Top 10 Most wanted list. Since I recently (4 years now!) got into hockey, I've discovered that my favorite player- Henrik Lundqvist- has autographed a lot of cards for Upper Deck. However, he's many people's favorite, not just mine. His autograph seemed like something I would never be able to get.

Enter Kenny, the president of the Luis Torrens Fan Club....who made me an offer I couldn't refuse!

This incredible card joined my collection yesterday! (or today, as I'm writing it). I can't believe it. I can't believe I actually have his autograph in my collection. It's the first one I've ever even actually SEEN in person! And I saw it in my own hands!

The year is just about only half over, but I suspect that this will be THE card of the year for me.

I now have the autographs of my favorite player in all three of the sports I follow!

This is only the second card in my collection from The Cup brand, an ultra-high-end set that is WELL out of my price range. It's the hockey equivalent of Exquisite Collection.

I don't know if I'm properly conveying how important this card is for me. I can write for hours on end about cards, but this one has left me pretty much speechless.

Here's the back...

Oh, and that's not all. It wasn't just this one card that arrived to me. I knew there would be others, but as is typical for Kenny, he sent more than was expected...much more!

And there's more. I've only scanned a fraction, these aren't even all of the cards of Henrik Lundqvist he sent me!

Thank you so much!

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Upper Deck's 30th Anniversary Retrospective & Brand History

Upper Deck issued it's first NHL set for the 1990-91 season, and in the time since has become the flagship set of the sport. I thought I would take a look at the brand's history, and also see how my collection is progressing. Since I took up collecting the sport in 2017 some of the UD sets have proven more difficult to locate than others, in fact, one of them wasn't even in my collection at all until this past week. To see what I've got, or more accurately what I've scanned so far, click on the year. (Only about half of my NHL collection has gotten scanned at this point)

Percentages and totals do not reflect parallels, inserts, or if applicable, French versions. Just base cards. Percentages calculated by the Trading Card Database (1991-92 through 2011-12, 2013-14) or the Bing percentage calculator (1990-91, 2012-13, 2014-15 to present)

1990-91 - 521/550, or 94% complete
The first set is one of the most common sets, and going into this post, the one I believe is the closest to completion. I did open a hobby box of Series 2, the high number series, which was a mix of both series in the early years. Although sometimes difficult to see in scans, the blue bar where the name and position has an ice texture. I like the team colored textured areas surrounding each photo as well.

1991-92 - 433/700, 69%
 I like the 75th anniversary logo in the bottom right of this set. The backs are pretty similar to the previous year's issue, but with gray instead of blue. It works, why change it? I have done a factory set of the High Series.

1992-93 - 141/640, 22%
 Don't know why this set has proven to be less common than it's predecessors, but I really like this set design. The team logo on the puck, clearly showing a puck moving at a high rate of speed, it works well. I also like the texture of these cards. The 1992-93 release in the NHL and NBA have a unique feel that only appears in that one year, which is a shame because I like it a lot better than the texture that followed.

1993-94 - 95/575, 16.3%
 Although I have a fairly low number of these right now, I know there is a batch of them in my "stash" waiting for me. This was the first year that UD cards came with full UV coating, which is what I alluded to in the caption for the previous year's release. It's been used on every set since, unfortunately. The bars around the photo are semi-team colored, with the black being standard, the are that's red for Vancouver varies.

1994-95 - 15/570, 2.6%
 I don't have many of these at all. This is the first time UD would use a unified design across multiple sports, something I am a fan of. I like having a unified look to a brand across multiple sports in a different year, something that can't happen anymore thanks to exclusive contracts, which all 5 major sports have. I have never gotten a "batch" of these at any time, all 15 cards came to me randomly, this one shown from a repack. The first UD set to feature foil on the card front, and the only hockey flagship to have gold foil.

1995-96 - 36/570, 6.3%
 This set looks so weird to me because it looks similar to the sets for the NBA and NASCAR, both of which I got extensively when new, but it's different. The name is at the top instead of the bottom, the team name is in a color-coded box off to the side instead of under the name...familiar but strange at the same time. Most of the cards in my collection are in relatively poor condition and in need of an upgrade.

1996-97 - 55/390, 14.1%
 I really like this favorite 1990s flagship from UD. Granted, the name can be fairly hard to read at times, since it's silver foil on textured silver foil, but not enough to make me like it any less. (It's actually easier to read in scans than in hand). What I like the most however is that each and every base card tells you the exact date the photo was taken! I got a batch of these from my friend back in 2015 that I've mentioned several times and that's where most of my collection of this set comes from. (Interestingly, the 1996-97 NBA set is my favorite Upper Deck flagship in the NBA, ever.)

1997-98 - 91/420, 21.7%
 This set is similar in design to the NBA and NASCAR flagship of the same year, but is better because the names are in gray foil, not silver foil, and are much easier to read. The left column above the Upper Deck logo is team-specific foil, as is the team name, but they generally always scan as black. Some cards include a floating "TM" for the Upper Deck logo, which it seems was going to be in the top right corner but moved to the bottom left sometime along the way.

1998-99 - 19/420, 4.5%
 This exact same design was also used in the NBA and NASCAR, and I'm not a particular fan of it in any of the three sports I collect. It's not a bad design, it just doesn't really resonate with me.

1999-00 - 21/335, 6.3%
 This same basic design was used in every sport, but the color scheme varied, as did the foil in both texture and color. It's an OK design, but I don't like the last name being listed before the first name. The smallest flagship of the 1990s. The backs are the darkest in the flagship brand's history as well, being dark blue with white text.

2000-01 - 5/440, 1.1%
 One of the least-well represented UD flagships in my collection. When I was able to get NBA repacks, early 2000s cards were not common. I was only able to get a couple of NHL repacks before they disappeared and it seemed like it might be true for the NHL as well. I know it won't be the lowest represented, but I certainly have a LOT of space to expand my collection of this set.

2001-02 - 63/441, 14.3%
 One of my major dislikes in cards is when two series of a set have a totally different look, and that thankfully is a rare problem. It occurs on this set, where series 1 and series 2 have different foil colors. The design is nice enough. Most of the 63 that I have are from series 2, which had blue foil, although the Mottau shown is series 1, which has silver.

2002-03 - 47/456, 10.3%
 I got all but one of the cards in my collection from a single PIF in 2017, however most of them still await scans, only 2 of the base cards have been scanned to date. I like how it features the jersey number in a "may be a puck" circle. I look forward to getting more of these scanned.

2003-04 - 4/475, 0.8%
 I suspected this would be the rarest set in my collection, and I was pretty much right (not counting the next year, which I'll get to in a moment). This is the only one of the 4 cards I've scanned to date, and it's the only year where I had to show a horizontal card, which I tried not to do since it doesn't represent the rest of the set well. With no other choice here, I must use it. Not even a full percentage point on set completion, something I hope will change some day.

2004-05 - 1/210, 0.5%
With the 2004-05 season being lost entirely to lockout, this is anything but a normal set. This was the last Upper Deck flagship to join my collection, with my first and currently only card arriving to me as a gift from Mark/avsbruins65 on the Database just last week. I had intended to do this post for a while, but knew that I couldn't until I got a card from this set. Now that I do, I was able to write up the post, and the delay actually did me some good, since I refined how I wanted to tackle the Brand History series that I've been planning for over 2 years now...more on that at the end. Series 2 was cancelled by the lockout, making this the smallest UD flagship in their history.

2005-06 - 101/487, 20.5%
 Post-lockout, UD became the primary NHL brand, having the exclusive license for most of that time. The sets also get a bit more well represented in my collection post-lockout, although I don't know if that's because they are just newer, or they are truly more common. This is only the 4th time I hit 100 cards from any year. It won't be the last.

2006-07 - 58/495, 11.7%
 Design wise, this is my second-favorite set of the 2000s, and  I think it might have been #1 if the name and team bar was placed at the very bottom, The name bar is color coded to each team, something I like, but that was nothing new- UD had been color-coding every flagship set since 2001-02. The next two years would not be color coded, however.

2007-08 - 75/500, 15%
 UD returns to copper/bronze foil for the first time since 2000-01, in a very minimalist design. The player name sometimes doesn't show up well in scans, although it's very easy to read in person. This is the 5th and final time to date where the flagship cards featured a foil in the brown family (gold, copper, bronze) after 1994-95, 1995-96, 1999-00 and 2000-01. Almost all of the cards in my collection came from Shane/Shoebox Legends.

2008-09 - 12/500, 2.4%
 This is the rarest post-lockout set in my collection, and I don't know if there is a reason for that, or just pure luck. Very similar to 2007-08, this set mostly lets the picture do the talking, not much design in it at all.

2009-10 - 15/500, 3%
 My favorite flagship design of the 2000s. UD returns to team colored designs, and I like it a lot. This would be the last time that the UD sets in multiple sports shared the same design- because they lost the NBA license during the 2009-10 season, something that as a long time NBA fan am not happy about. I believe this is the only UD flagship where I have more inserts than base cards. I've scanned 23 inserts already, and there may be more awaiting scans.

2010-11 - 43/500, 8.6%
 I don't know why, but this set just refuses to "register" in my head. I've got more than a few, but I almost never think about this set unless I'm looking at a card in hand.

2011-12 - 35/500, 7%
 I actually found a blaster of Series 2 at my local Toys R Us right before they closed. That is my pretty much only memory from this set, which I otherwise would have had very few cards from. I have not actually finished opening the blaster yet.

2012-13 - 31/300, 13.6%
 The first Upper Deck flagship set that wasn't available fully in Upper Deck packs- the first series was a standard 250 card release, but instead of issuing a second series, the final 50 cards were available in SP Authentic packs. Beginning in 2014-15, the third series of UD would be in SP on a regular basis, making it significantly more work for me to figure out my actual collection percentages. Another, shorter lockout caused the second series to be issued this way.

2013-14 - 59/500, 11.8%
 This is the only flagship from the 2010s I have not opened a single pack of, all 59 cards in my collection came to me from other collectors.

2014-15 - 29/530, 5.4%
 The very first pack of NHL cards I ever opened was a pack of this set, which I got via Dave & Adam's program of free gifts. That's pretty much my only memory of this set, as it's not one I have a whole lot of....I just got my hands on 2 packs of it in June 2020 which nearly doubled my collection.

2015-16 - 240/530, 45.2%
 Series 2 of this set was still available at retail when I began officially collecting the sport in January 2017, and that plays a large role in why I have so many of these cards. I don't remember for sure, but I think the first blaster I ever did of the sport was from this set. I also got a large number of cards from gifts from fellow collectors. This is the most recent set to be color coded to each team.

2016-17 - 308/530, 58.1%
 This was THE current set when I began collecting the sport, having begun watching regularly earlier that season. Hockey has been a part of every day of my life since then, and it will be every day going forward as well! I did a hobby box of Series 2, series 1 will likely always be out of my price range due to Auston Matthews' rookie card.

2017-18 - 419/521, 80.4%
 Although not my favorite design of this decade, this set holds the best memories and as such I think I have to label it as my favorite UD flagship. It was the first set I did a box of both series of, it was the first one I got to experience in full (the previous year's set was released before  I began collecting) and it was where I got my first Golden Knights cards, which is how I got into the sport in the first place, thanks to a thread on the Trading Card Database discussing - but not showing - their logo. I put on NHL Network to see what it was, caught a rerun of On the Fly, and was hooked. I've told that story before, but it's part of why this set is so important to me. I also acquired most of these cards from packs, and the Series 2 box is the only box I've done that I bought in person- not mail ordered, at least for this sport. I probably should have showed a Golden Knights card here, but I like this photo way too much to not include it- it makes me laugh. This set also has the highest scanned percentage of all of them (Discounting 2004-05) as I made an effort that season to keep up to date on scanning new additions...although I have gotten a couple since then that still await scans, since I like to do them in full 9 card pages, and I don't have enough to do another full page yet. I completed the base veterans for series 1, also the first time I was able to do that. I don't expect to ever complete the set thanks to the short printed Young Guns, but I am sure going to try.

2018-19 - 287/529, 54.2%
 After doing a hobby box of the three preceding series (Both 2017-18 and 2016-17 2) I didn't do a box of either series in 2018-19, and the low number of cards in my collection shows that. I don't dislike this set, it just didn't work out for me to get boxes of it. Maybe someday I'll be able to.

2019-20 - 389/542, 71.7%
You didn't think I'd do this project and leave out my all-time favorite player, did you? I don't know why, but the 2019-20 design just "spoke to me" and, design wise, it's my favorite set of the 2010s. After an off year, I did a box of both series again. I didn't have as much luck pulling the  cards I needed, however, and ended up with less cards and more duplicates, though I did complete the veterans from series 1 once again. At 542 cards over 3 series, it's the 7th largest set in the brand's history, and the largest since 1995-96! I don't know if my thoughts on the set will remain the same over the years, or if the design just stands out to me because it's the newest one, but I suspect it will not change too much. However, even though it's my favorite design, I don't think it can supplant the memories associated with 2017-18's set. This was the first set where I pulled the #1 draft pick's Young Guns card, as well.

If you do the math, which I did (with Excel) I have 3648 out of a possible 14656 Upper Deck base cards, or 692.4%...err, no, that's just for fun. (I let Excel add up the percentage points for all the sets combined) According to Bing, it's 24.8%

So there you have it, that's the entire Brand History of the Upper Deck NHL Flagship. Brand History is a series I have been in the process of launching for over 2 years, and thinking about for at least a year before that. I hadn't really decided how I wanted to go about doing it, but I think I've settled on the format I will use here, and so this gets the nod as being the first in the series to be published, though an Ultra NBA post does exist, albeit nowhere near ready to post yet. My original plan was to show an example of each insert and parallel for each set, as well as each subset in the base set (if applicable) but I don't have all the cards that would be needed even in my collection at all, so I think I will do it this way instead. (I may still do a deep dive into certain sets at some point) However, the Brand History posts take a lot of work to create...not as much as the Uniform History series...but still, this post took me about 4 hours to create. So don't expect them very often.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Willie O'Ree!

Thanks to a gift from Mark, aka avsbruins65 on the Trading Card Database, my most wanted missing person is missing no longer....since he sent me my very first Willie O'Ree card!

If you don't know who Willie O'Ree should. He was the first Black player in NHL history, breaking in with the Boston Bruins in 1958- despite only having vision in one eye from a puck to the face. It didn't stop him from spending more than 20 years in the sport as a player, and he's still involved in the sport, now in his mid-80s.

He doesn't have a whole lot of cards...and only one was issued during his NHL career, a Bee Hive issue. (He does appear on the team card for the Bruins in 1961-62, and on two minor league cards issued during his playing career, one of which before joining the Bruins) So, it's fitting that my first card of his is from the first revival of Bee Hive, by Pinnacle, in the 1997-98 season.

Like the original Bee Hives, this card is much larger than a standard card- it's the size of 4 standard size cards in a square. Not only that, but it's also the first time I've ever even seen one of these cards in person, so it's most definitely one that was on my Sets missing from my Collection chart. On that note...earlier this week, Mark sent me a different mailer which knocked 14 sets off that list,, bringing me under 200 missing NHL sets for the first time ever! I say for the first time ever instead of just "under 200" because they do a lot of high-end, single pack boxes which I can't afford (or choose not to since I don't like that format) so the missing sets chart actually tends to go UP every season. There are 11 sets listed from 2019-20 alone and I may not have included all the newer sets, I tend to update it at the conclusion of each season. I'm still missing 17 sets from 2003-04, the current record holder for the NHL.

I'm lucky I was able to get into the sport when I did, because I was able to see his Hall of Fame induction back in 2018.

I don't do a whole lot of single card posts, or show many card backs, but this is a special occasion and I'm truly thrilled to add this card to my collection.

I mentioned that he was my most-wanted missing person from my collection...he was so important to that list that now that he's no longer on it...I have absolutely no idea who now holds the top spot! This is the first time in my collecting history that there's not a single person standing out as a glaring omission from my collection. I'm sure that I will determine who holds that top spot at some point...after all, SOMEBODY's got to be the most wanted, at least until I have everyone represented in my collection, which simply will never happen. So it's somebody. I just don't know who yet. It's probably going to be an early NHL star, since I have all the major NBA and NASCAR people.