Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Box Break: 2009-10 O-Pee-Chee Hockey (Blaster Box)

Collecting hockey cards (or any cards for that matter) isn't as popular as it once was. Still, the name O-Pee-Chee remains a household name in Canada. It's longstanding connection with the sport resonates far beyond any hobby shop, online auction or Wal-mart checkout aisle. So is that tradition enough for me to continue buying the set year after year? What can I say? I'm a sucker for continuity, even if the set isn't my favorite this year.

The 2008-09 O-Pee-Chee Hockey set was the first new puck and stick set I'd worked in some time. I was turned on by the large set size, low price and the fact that Wal-mart carried rack packs with lots of card in them. While not the prettiest set, it was a fun way to catch up on the sport a little that I've largely lost interest in.

Little has changed for the 2009-10 O-Pee-Chee set. It still has a big checklist, a retro design and lots of basic inserts that bring a bit of shine. While heading down to the city I asked my wife to check for a couple of rack packs and she ended up bringing home a blaster box of 14 regular packs instead. Before I ripped the first pack, the box was already a winner.

Blaster boxes contain 14 packs of six cards with practically no chance of a major hit. That's fine. I just want to work on the set so a few of the 100 short prints would make me happy.

The design has a standard O-Pee-Chee design (at least for the Upper Deck era, now in its fourth year). The brand logo dominates the front. It's way too big, in my opinion as I'd like more focus on the photography. Card backs give complete stats and little else. It's easy, it's simple, it's really quite underwhelming.

The checklist consists of 600 cards, 100 of which are shortprints. Inserted 1:2 retail packs, they make building a set challenging but not impossible. I still need a few from last year but I've been able to pick them up quite cheap. The rookies continue to be a big draw. There's 50 of them. The second half of the shortprints are somewhat disappointing. It's not that I don't like the Legends concept, but many of the ones I got I recall seeing in last year's set. I would have much preferred Upper Deck dug a little deeper into the deep history hockey has.

My blaster box had 67 singles towards the set, including seven shortprints. With no duplicates, I was very happy with this.

The inserts start with two parallel sets. The first is the Retro variations, inserted 1:2 packs. I guess the lawsuit with Topps last year over stealing designs got the best of them. Here's my take: the set already has a retro feel. If an old design can't be used then don't bother. While I like the old school O-Pee-Chee logo, the rest isn't working for me. The white borders don't work with the card stock and action shots. I don't know why this is but I don't like it. My box had the expected seven Retro cards, not that I was extremely excited.

On the more shiny side are the Rainbow parallels. Tougher to find at 1:8 packs, they are the most modern thing in the set. The foil finish, something I'm pretty particular about, compliments the design well. Although I'm not going to even consider going after a set of these, they're one of the highlights from the set for me. I managed to pull two Rainbow cards from my 14 packs. Not a huge leap odds-wise, but still nothing to complain about.

From here on out, this is where the box got a little confusing. The odds on the packs list Canadian Heroes as being 1:72 packs. So when I got one I was pleased. Then I got another and another. When I was done opening the 14 packs I had two members of the Canadian Women's hockey team and a shiny Ray Bourque. A trip to the Upper Deck site revealed the ladies are part of an otherwise unannounced set named Canadian Heroes - Other Sports. What? Since when was women's hockey not hockey? Looking at the checklist it also includes some men who wore the maple leaf as well - and played hockey. It doesn't make sense but the horizontal design is nice and I like that the ladies are getting a little attention too. But "Other Sports"?

2009-10 O-Pee-Chee Hockey also has several shiny but not too significant inserts for Team Checklists, All-Stars and In Action. To me, they're really just jazzed up versions of the base cards. They're also really ugly, taking to the Retro design and adding a foil front. Not much of a fan. I pulled two checklists, one In-Action and one All-Star.

Finally, there's the usual jersey and autograph cards, but they're a major longshot. OPC Materials are all quad jerseys and fall 1:1080 packs. OPC Signatures are a little easier but still 1:432 packs (retail). Needless to say, I got none.

Overall, I'd say 2009-10 O-Pee-Chee is a step back from last year. Nothing really jumped out then but it was fun to collect and the design was acceptable. This year the set is boring and uninspiring. It mixes old and new, but not in good ways. I still like opening rack packs but blasters don't offer much more bang.

  • Retro (1:2):7 (103. Brian Rafalski, 185. Mathieu Garon, 199. Andrei Kostitsyn, 406. Adrian Aucoin, 409. Mike Modano, 492. Scott Clemmensen, 580. Dick Duff)
  • Rainbow (1:8): 2 (31. Carey Price, 397. Mike Knuble)
  • Canadian Heroes (1:72): 1 (CBH11. Ray Bourque)
  • Canadian Heroes - Other Sports: 2 (CB-CL. Charline Labonte, CB-GF. Gillian Ferrari)
  • In Action: 1 (ACT5. Bobby Ryan)
  • Team Checklists: 2 (TC2. Ilya Kovalchuk, TC6. Eric Staal)
  • All-Stars: 1 (AST4. Evgeni Malkin)

Click here for more pictures and a full breakdown.


Captain Canuck said...

I said the same thing on my review of this set on Waxaholic. Thanks to Tricia from Cards On Ice, she corrected me to say that there are two different levels of Canadian Heroes. One that's 1:3 and one that's 1:72. The rarer one is shinier and thicker I believe.

This apparently fooled all three of us. Silly Upper Deck

Hackenbush said...

Thanks for posting the review. I think I'll stick with Upper Deck again this year. One thing I noticed was the part of the rookie cards that says "Marquee Rookie" is very reminiscent of the team name on 1972 Topps basketball cards. Coincidence?

Anonymous said...

Call me crazy, but I like the retro parallels a LOT. I didn't care for last year's parallels much at all, but I have to say I like these. I always enjoy it UD goes faux retro, they are pretty great at it. Base set is ugly as sin though. I dunno what it's supposed to be, but I don't get a retro vibe from it at all. It just looks like crap.

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