Saturday, July 31, 2010

2009-10 NHL SP Game Used

Someone asked me to continue with these, so even though I've been gone a while, I plan to catch up to the releases that I can figure out.

Right off the bat, I won't be posting anything on Champs. There simply isn't enough data to determine print run. I might go back to it later to see if I can make some reasonable guesses at the season's end, but for not, its not on the table. Today, instead we'll be dealing with 09-10 SPGU.

For the past three years, the big hist in SPGU have been the manufactured patches featuring names, numbers, nicknames or what have you. This year is no different and since we had the Olympics 'recently', SPGU decided to capitalize by having "Marks of a Nation" (see above). I've always thought of SPGU as the game used equivalent of SP Authentic. For every auto in SPA, there's a jersey or patch card in SPGU. For every auto in SPGU, there's a jersey or patch in SPA.

I'm definitely a bigger fan of the jersey design this year, as opposed to last year, even though they dropped the number of swatches from 2->1. They even managed to get some really nice photos on the basic jersey card, which is a big plus. My only problems with the set are the manufactured patches and the multi patch cards which become a series of little more than tiny head shots. To each their own I suppose.

Before I go into the the break down, I want to point out that ALL of the posted box odds are wrong.
Here's what UD says:
  • Avg of two Rookies per box
  • 2 Manufactured letter per case
  • 1 Auto & 1 GU #ed to 100 or less per box
There always seems to be more than 2 RC per box and the number of Auto & GU #<100 varies between 2 and up. About the only thing that seemed to remain consistent was the 2 manufactured letters per case. Without going into details, here's what the odds actually look like:

  • Avg of FOUR-FIVE Rookies per box
  • ~3-4 Manufactured letter per case
  • 1 Auto & 1 GU #ed to 100 or less per box
With these values, there should be about 16,800 boxes. That is around 1400 cases or 100,800 packs. The only non-numbered cards are the authentic fabrics and the regular base cards:
  • Authentic Fabrics are out of ~700
  • Base Cards are out of ~1,400
And now the interesting things:
  • Opening a 12 box case? 70% on each of these: Extra SIGnificance, Authentic Triples, Legends Classic, Triple Patch, Silver Base  & Silver Rookie.
  • Any 1/1 card from the set?  There's 3 in every 19 cases (12 box case)
  • Want a SPGU Eights 1/1 Patch? That's a 1:200 (12 box) case hit!

Some special notes:
  • Yzerman & Howe Lettermarks were treated as one normal /50 card.
  • Print runs of Authentic Fabric SP are less than specified
  • Authentic Fabrics are pulled at about 4 per box
  • Base Cards - I can barely find anyone who posts their base cards, but they're about 8 per box as far as I can tell
  • SIGnificant Numbers pull ratios are based on an average print run of 30 copies per card
  • By the Letter pull ratios are based on an average print run of  6.7
  • Marks of a Nation Black/Gold pull ratios are based on an average print run of 5.8

There's more than enough there to help you figure out your own hit ratios. Just take the print run, multiply by the numbering and divide by the # of cases to get your hit ratio. Here's an example to get you started:
Inked Sweaters: 38 different cards with a print run of 50.
38 * 50 = 1900
1900 / 1400 cases = 1.35

So, in every 12 box case, there should be at least one Inked sweaters. Every third case will have a second Inked Sweaters.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hockey Games - Where is the CCG?

I want a hockey based game to play. And its got to be a non-luck based one, where I feel like I'm in control of the game and showing down against another player.

Topps Puck Attax is a nice concept. First off, it features actual hockey players. Certainly a big plus. Then, we have an actual element of game play that isn't dexterity based. Which is great since I don't have to have a huge playing surface where I have to fire a mini plastic puck into the opponent's net. My biggest issue with Topps Attax is game play. I put 6 cards face down and so do you. I flip one, you flip one. Highest wins. Its like playing War with a deck of cards. I don't know about you, but I really hate games that are mostly left to change. Yes, Puck Attax has a small element of phychological warfare. Will I lead with my highest attack or my second highest? By and large though, it feels like luck.
Image taken from SCF

I certainly love the idea of a hockey card game. A very popular one is NHL Ice breaker. I haven't player it yet, and its had some good reviews. The only issue is that there are no players. Its team based and you play with a modified deck of cards trading turns making the best poker hand, but where are the players?

If you just want the NHL theme, but don't care about the game, there's always NHL-opoly, in two glorious versions, either Modern or Original six era tokens. To get monopoly bang for your buck though, its got to be thimble + classic style monopoly. I want to buy Boardwalk, not "Ghosts of the forum".

Image taken from 

There even seems to be a desire for some gameplay within the hobby. Afterall, collectors often take part in  pack wars.Of course, that's more like Topps Puck Attax than anything.

Really though, I want something like like Magic the Gathering, or Warlord in style. With that in mind, I'm trying to develop a Hockey CCG. It would be up to you, the coach, to assemble your actual team of players for on ice-shifts where players can get tired, have penalties, shoot and pass. I'm still dealing with the mechanics, but I've already developed about 25 cards and I'm trying to implement GVT as a way to accurately determine abilities. I also have basic ideas for card design. I just wish I could draw. I'll post the custom cards as soon as I have something developed. In the meantime, please wish me luck with GVT.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Curing the Top 5 Worst Habits of Mailing Cards

This is my follow-up post to the Top 5 Worst Habits of Mailing Cards. Each can be solved with very little effort. Read on gentle reader, read on.

Curing the Top 5 Worst Habits of Mailing Cards

1. The “White Envelope” – This is by far the easiest to solve. Just start using Bubble Mailers. They can be purchased cheaply in packages of 10 or 20 and come in a variety of sizes. Looking to save money? Read on.

2. The “Creative Toploader” - Solution: Two pieces of Cardboard at least 1.5 inches (4cm) larger in width and height than the card being sent + 2 fake inserts (you can find these in packs of UD). Center the trade card on one piece of cardboard. Cut the fake inserts in half and put them on either side of the card and to the top and tape them in place. The idea is that they should stop the trade card from reaching the edge of the cardboard or the tape. Place the second piece of cardboard over top the first sandwiching the trade card and the dummy cards. Now, tape the two pieces of cardboard together tightly on the edges (4 thick pieces of tape, one for each edge). This will help keep the trade card immobile. To open the package, someone can slice the edge pieces of tape and at worst, harm the dummy cards.

3. The “Tape Salesman” – Tape only needs to go in three well placed areas. 1. Two pieces of tape on either side of your stack of top loaders. Over the top is not necessary! If the tape is too tight, this tape can pinch the cards. 2. Once you’ve placed your cards in a team bag, close the bag & if your seal isn’t sticky, tape the bag shut. 3. Seal your envelope with tape (even if the envelope has a sticky seal on it already as these can be easily removed without evidence of it being tampered with)

4. The “Illegal Entry” – Most people don’t fill out customs forms for two reasons: Time and to save on duties. If you’re pressed for time, you can fill out and print your forms online:
USA to Canada & <$400:
Canada to USA:
The USA to Canada is much better than the Canada to US, but at least both are online. In terms of saving duties, well, not much can be done there. Shipping from Canada to the USA, there is an argument that these products were produced in the USA (ie: country of origin). USA to Canada, well, Canadians are just going to have to pay their taxes. Think of it as your OHIP contribution.

5. The “Internal Tapper” – Just remove the tape right? Hold on, we have to remember why people put tape in the envelope. They're worried about their cards moving around during transit and becoming banged up. The solution to this is a little more involved. You can start by trimming your envelopes so that cards will fit more snugly in the envelope which will stop them from moving around, but not so snug that they are hard to get in and out of the envelope. Its also possible to tape two top loaders side by side so that they are larger. A larger card is less likely to move around in the package. Really, if you've packaged your cards with top loaders, decoys and team bags, they can bang around all they like on the inside because they're already well protected.

The Best Way
Truth be told, there is no “best way” to ship your cards, but most shippers would benefit from a dollop of common sense. Before putting your cards in the envelope, shake them vigorously. Do they move too much or fall out of the top loaders? Try again! Does your envelope look like it could be mistaken for a three year old’s class project? Please re-wrap!
My preferred way of packing is the sandwich method, which provides strength and economy. Basically, for every 3 cards, put two in a top loader and sandwich the third (or, if you have 5 cards, put 3 in top loaders and made a Double-Decker sandwich). For each packet of cards, put them in a team bag. Seal the bag, then stick em’ in a bubble mailer and away they go! If you’re extra nervous, add some stiff cardboard like the dummy cards they include in packs to discourage pack searching.


Friday, February 26, 2010

The Top 5 Worst Habits of Mailing Cards

I’ll be discussing some of the ways that I’ve seen cards packaged the wrong way. If you find yourself in one of these categories, never fear, My next scheduled post will include potential ways to ship your cards to ensure their safe arrival every time.

Top 5 Worst Habits of Mailing Cards

1. The “White Envelope” – Even though the government seems like a slow bureaucratic behemoth, the mail  service has adapted to the mechanized world. The post office assumes that all white envelopes: a) contain paper and b) are flexible. This means that they can be passed through machines at high speed via rollers and past computer scanners to “read” addresses and postal codes or sorted by size and shape. While placing a card in a top loader does lend it some strength, against the crushing power of a sorting machine, say hello to unsightly creases and a ruined card. Yes, some cards get through unscathed, but a significant amount end up ruined.

2. The “Creative Toploader” – This goes out mostly to people who have over large cards. You can find top loaders for 5x7 and other strange sized, but they get rather flimsy at that size. Often, most people can't by such materials easily or cheaply. Inevitably, the trader resorts to using an office folder or a plastic film like saran wrap. This isn’t enough . The best solution I ever saw was balsa wood, but a stiff cardboard is usually enough..

3. The “Tape Salesman” – Whoever sends these cards must be putting the tape salesman’s child through college or be the tape company spokesperson. If it takes you more than 10 seconds to tape up your trade cards, you’re used too much tape! Too much tape is an issue for the person who receives the cards as well. They are trying their best not to ruin their cards, but when you have to bring in the kitchen paring knife to slice out your cards, the sweat begins to form and one day a mistake will cost you a beauty. Finally, if you’re packaged your cards in top loaders and a team bag securely enough, no tape is necessary on the inside and only a small piece needs to be used on the outside!

4. The “Illegal Entry” – This is one of those ‘victimless’ crimes where you can negotiate with your trader what’s declared on the customs forms in order to avoid paying taxes. If you knowing enter false information in a customs form you are defrauding the government! This means you can’t put a ‘support the troops’ sticker anywhere on your car.

5. The “Internal Taper” – I have to admit that I’m struggling to find #5, but I finally settled on this one. I find that I'm becoming the victim of this more frequently. People place tape on the inside of their bubble mailers are probably worried about their card falling out of the package for some reason. However, tape can get very sticky during transit and be hard to remove when it finally reaches its destination. At best it stops the card from shaking about. At worst, it makes it a pain for the person receiving the card to take it out of the envelope without damaging it. Just imagine if the card had to be inspected by customs? Do you think that a customs agent will be that gentle in trying to get something out of an envelope?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What Should I Collect?

This question is not the most common question in the hobby, but its certainly popular. If you're new to the hobby or you feel that your collection is stagnating, you often think of starting a new collection. When you think of collections, what immediately pops to mind?
  • Player Collections
  • Set or Subset Collections
  • Team Collections
Of course there aren't really only three types of collections, but these tend to be the most popular. Most player collections are for popular players and multiple people will collect the same player. With only 30 active teams and limited releases, those types of collections don't tend to be as impressive. The real question is how to make your collection unique and memorable. The answer is to find something in the hockey world that you admire and make a collection out of it.

Of all my collections from the common base sets to my vintage RC, I have two pride and joys collections. The first are my Goaltender Goals. This set has a plate (and base card to identify the plate) for every goalie who has been credited with a goal.

I also have a birthday collection. This collection has rookie cards for all the NHL players who share my birthday. Part of the challenge of this set was to find out which players share my birthday. I don't know of any website or book that arranges NHL hockey players by their birthday, so I had to get creative. My solution was to do an advanced google search on The Hockey Database. If your birthday is September 28th, 1983, just do a google search with the following:
"Sep 28" site:
This will search for the phrase "Sep 28" on the database's website. Each link will be to the player's profile page. You can even find which cards these players have had released. Its takes some time to figure out the players, but its worth it. You can modify this search to go for players born in a specific year, the player's hometown. height or weight if you want.

If you want to create a really unique and personal collection, you have to figure out what appeals to you. Here's a whole page of suggestions, the Stanley Cup Record Book and History page. It contains quirks about the cup and list of players who had memorable impacts during the cups illustrious history. Imagine starting a collection of players who have scored the game winning goal in the deciding game of the Stanley Cup Finals. Here's a brief list of collection ideas:

  • Sub-.500 Teams in the Stanley Cup Championship
  • U.S.-Based Teams in the Stanley Cup Championship
  • Stanley Before Calder
  • Back-to-Back Winners (either with same or different teams)
  • Eye in the Sky (Video Review Declared Winners)
  • Penalty Shots in the Stanley Cup Championship (goalie or shooter)
  • Gold Medalist and Stanley Cup Champion
  • Stanley Cup-Winning Goals
I know that its a little early to be thinking about the Stanley Cup, but if you want to get a head start on your collection in time for when the finals roll around, its always best to plan ahead.

Friday, February 12, 2010

2009-10 Upper Deck Series 2

Upper Deck Series 2 is the second release of Upper Deck's flagship product. This set arguably contains the most sought after rookies. While rookies from "The Cup" tend to sell for more, the demand for Series 1 and Series two young guns continues long past the release date by a multitude of collectors.

I really, REALLY wish I had something other than a stock photo to offer. If I want this out by 5 pm though, this will have to do.

Unlike Series 1, Series 2 packs each come with an extra insert card which completes the Victory Update set. Interestingly enough the Victory black parallels are  also highly sought after, as long as the print runs are low. For a relatively cheap set, to have a /5 RC or base card really tends to highlight a player collection. In previous years the most desirable victory black cards have been numbered to /5 or not numbered. Other years has seen print runs calculated to be at least 15, making them much less expensive, and also less desirable.

The problem with calculating Series 1 or Series 2 print runs is the distinct lack of numbered cards. Compounding this issue is the widespread retail boxes, blasters and retails cards. The print runs quoted here are true only for what can be found in the Hobby version of the release. Adding in retail print runs, the total print run for each kind of card should not more than double (hopefully). This years, thanks to a single card, print runs for the Hobby boxes are easily determined.

The one per case "Awesome Acetate" cards means that there are approximately 3,500 hobby cases. Base on number, the following rates for the other hits should be as following:
  •  UD Game Patch are ~1 in every two cases
  • Rookie Materails Patches are ~3 in every 4 cases
  • Fab Four Fabrics are one a case and 75% of cases should have a second
  • High Glossy's /10 are at least one a case (numbers almost suggest close to 2 a case?)
  • Exclusives /100 are 28 a case (1 a box, + every 6th box has an extra one)

We can also calculate the following print runs of the non-numbered cards:
  • Young Guns ~5,000
  • UD Game Jerseys ~800
  • Rookie Materials ~900
  • Signature Sensations ~60
  • Draft Day Gems & Playoff Performers ~ 5,000
  • Rookie Debut & Captain's Calling ~4,600
  • Victory Gold Regular Cards ~850
  • Victory Gold Rookie Cards ~1,050
  • Victory Black Regular Cards ~70
  • Victory Black Rookie Cards ~90
  • The Champions ~1,900
A couple of surprises here. The young guns have print runs as high as the inserts.  The victory black cards have a really high print run compared to previous years' /5 and /10. In general, the print runs for the rookie parallel are higher than the regular cards (see Jerseys vs Rookie materials). Remember, all these numbers are before we consider a single retail box!! Expect the numbers to go way up when taking those into account.
     Hope you enjoyed the read & knowing how unique or not your cards are.


    Monday, February 8, 2010

    2009-10 ITG Heroes and Prospects - Update

    After finding 75 box breaks of ITG Heroes & Prospects, here are the numbers. As always, most of the game used cards and game-used autos can be found here. For everything else:
    • AHL All Stars ~300 of each
    • Calder Cup Winners ~250 of each
    • Class of 2010 ~250 of each
    • Enforcers ~200 of each
    • Memorial Cup Winners ~250 of each
    • Real Heroes ~150 of each
    • Autos ~200 or each auto (not included short prints)
     Since the Real Heroes inserts are a new innovation being tried out by ITG, its not surprising that they have the lowest print runs. The rest of the inserts fall between 200-300 copies of each. Not a bad run for this kind of set. Of course, as the retail version hits the shelves, these print runs would tend to go up.