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2016-17 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey Review and Blaster Box Break

 

Some products are tradition for me. In baseball, it's flagship Topps. I aim to build a set every year. In hockey, it used to be O-Pee-Chee. But that's changed in the last few years. While it still had the nostalgic side that reminded me of biking to the corner store for packs in the 1980s, flagship Upper Deck Hockey is a beautiful product year in, year out. And with a later release date, it has more rookies.

That said, Upper Deck Hockey can be fairly expensive to build. Young Guns are attainable but they add up. Seeing as how my enthusiasm for hockey isn't the same as baseball, I normally go about building the set when I find a deal.

Such was the case with 2016-17 Upper Deck Series 1. I held off for a couple of months before coming across some Canadian-exclusive retail blasters that were almost half off. That was the deal I was looking for.

I didn't find any surprises. Upper Deck Hockey is one of those products that's fairly consistent from year to year, so surprises are sparse.

Like every year with the product, my focus is on the base set. And it doesn't disappoint. It has the same glossy, slightly premium feel it always has. The design elements are straightforward but that adds emphasis to the photography. That's another big plus for the product for me.

As far as what I pulled, I got off to a good start with 71 cards and no doubles.

While Auston Matthews dominates the Series 1 Young Guns, the checklist does have some depth to it even with Patrik Laine held back for Series 2. I wasn't blown away by the two I pulled, but then again, I'm working on piecing together the set so all wasn't lost.

It's the inserts that left me with mixed feelings. It's not so much about what I pulled and didn't pull but rather the designs. I'm a big believer in inserts standing out in some way whether it's designs or materials.

Some of them have that in 2016-17 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey. UD Canvas is a good example. The set-within-a-set uses the canvas-style card stock to act as an upgrade of sorts. The fact they use different photos from the base cards and have a different checklist are also pluses.

Shining Stars and UD Portraits left me less excited. Shining Stars use very basic foil. It has been used lots over the years and looks drab. Personally, I don't connect foil stock with premium anymore, especially when paired with a high-quality base set.

UD Portraits feel more like a subset. While some have interesting headshots of players that convey plenty of personality, as a whole they feel more like inserts for the sake of having inserts.

As far as the box breakdown went, I got two UD Canvas, two total Shining Stars and one UD Portraits card. Again, to be expected.

I did beat the odds and got a UD Game Jersey card of Claude Giroux. No complaints there, especially with the player.

This blaster box also came with a pack of two exclusive Team Triples cards. These are extremely basic inserts. The exclusivity is appealing but the cards themselves were a letdown. They could definitely benefit from some sort of quality upgrade. As they stand right now, they have nothing premium going for them. Even perforations between each player would offer something a little extra.

These card illustrate a big reason why I find myself waiting more for deals on the product. The quality is still there in the most important places. However, I get the feeling that Upper Deck is counting on the Young Guns to build the set's value. And that's fine except they don't cost any more than regular base cards to produce.

I get that prices and costs change. That said, the regular price of these Team Triples blasters is $40. That's a lot, even with the slim chance of a Matthews rookie. Regular blasters, which have a total of 60 cards are $30 up here. Even that feels too much for what the product delivers.

Even at the deep discount I found this box at, I don't think I'd want to pay much more. Knowing that the ePack release is on the horizon and Young Guns are about to become much more plentiful and likely affordable on the secondary market further makes me question busting packs versus just building a set piecemeal.

If the inserts were even a little more interesting, I might think differently and feel like I got something worth the money. I'm cool with not getting something big when there's something fun to draw me in. The base set with its photos and tradition do some of that but not all.

2016-17 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey Blaster Box Breakdown:

This is based on a Canadian-exclusive Team Triples blaster.

Packs per box: 10 plus 1 Team Triples bonus pack
Cards per pack: 8, bonus pack - 2
Total cards: 80

Cards in set: 200 base, 50 Young Guns SP
Singles: 71 base, 2 Young Guns
Doubles: 0

Young Guns: 2
212 Kyle Connor, Winnipeg Jets
244 Austin Czarnik, Boston Bruins

Inserts:

UD Canvas: 2
C44 Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
C68 Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks

UD Portraits: 1
P-60 Pavel Zacha

Shining Stars - Center: 1
SS-29 Sean Monahan, Calgary Flames

UD Game Jersey: 1
GJ-CG Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

Team Triples: 2
TT-C2 Sean Monahan/Johnny Gaudreau/Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames
TT-O1 Curtis Lazar/Nick Paul/Matt Puempel, Ottawa Senators


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