Saturday, September 7, 2019

2019-20 Upper Deck Hockey MVP Hobby Box Break

With my birthday coming and my family and friends scattered all around the globe, I was pleasantly surprised to see an early present from my Mom ring my bell a few minutes a go - on a Saturday! It was a "Retail" box of Upper Deck's 2019-20 MVP hockey cards, coming in at 36 packs of 5 cards apiece.

This year's set has a nice, simple design that compares to that of previous years (semi-futuristic lines, a contour that lets the picture reach the border on at least one side) with a greenish grey tint that sets it apart (last year's set had bronze borders, for example), with the backs including statistics of the five preceding seasons:
Now while UD is known for great action photos, in time, those can become a little redundant, as can be attested by the similar position, team, jersey colour, position on the ice in regards to the boards and general feel of the two cards above, featuring the Vegas Golden Knights' Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty. It's just one of many flagrant example of cards that can easily be mistaken for one another in this set.

There are more inserts this season, but the classics remain, such as the "Silver Scripts", with facsimile autographs in silver, of which I landed Henrik Lundqvist, Tom Wilson, Jake Muzzin, David Rittich, Nazen Kadri and Tomas Tatar:
What's cool about them is that this year's version has the silver signature atop a black background, similar to "real" autograph cards like the 2011-12 Parkhurst Champions set that had the picture a little bit whitewashed to underline the signature.

As usual, the MVP set pays tribute to a collection from the past, and this year, it's the 1999-2000 MVP Stanley Cup Edition design, as can be seen on the four "Silver Script" parallels of Phil Kessel, Brayden Point, Mackenzie MacEachern and Sebastian Aho:
Another fun detail with these is the variant zoom of the same picture used in the parallels and the "original" versions of cards, as can be attested from the Brayden Point cards:
Notice how the "retro" card shows the puck, so we're catching Point in the offensive zone, either attempting a pass or winding up for a slap shot; the "regular" version of the card is zoomed in, and it looks more like he's waiting/calling for the puck than about to do something with it.

Of course, there are also Rookie cards, in my case of Alexandre Texier, Max Jones, Teddy Blueger, Quinn Hughes and Erik Brunnstrum:
There are two insert sub-sets I could do without, chief among them the Checklists, particularly when they're of the same two players from the past 15 years, one of the three best shooters of all time in Alex Ovechkin, and a fine player from current-days, Sidney Crosby:
The the Puzzle Backs... I didn't think it was a great idea when Donruss did it for their baseball cards in my youth in the 80s, it's definitely passé now, and poorly done with the copyright text taking up too much of the "real" card:
You can count the Evander Kane, Jack Eichel and Seth Jones cards as doubles (I got their regular-issue cards in the same box), but the Yanni Gourde was the only one of its kind, and possible the first and only card I have of his so far, so it's a bit if a waste that way.

In terms of new sub-sets, Supernovas looks cool on Brock Boeser:
Laser Shots are also nice, though they're a tad reminiscent of UD's McDonalds cards sub-sets:
Connor McDavid always makes for a great foil card, and it was also nice to get the "red" variant for Victor Hedman.

In terms of team breakdowns, it was pretty even; if you forget about the Toronto Maple Leafs and trade them for Vegas, my Canadian team pulls were as follows (including inserts):

Ottawa Senators: 4
Edmonton Oilers: 3
Vancouver Canucks: 7
Winnipeg Jets: 6
Calgary Flames: 5
Montréal Canadiens: 5
Golden Knights: 6

All told, there was a pretty good collation (no actual doubles, but four or five cards that came with regular and variant versions), a nice variety of jerseys (home away, third, outdoor games), new and original inserts that allow for some players to be featured twice and - best of all - the continuation of MVP cards no longer having facimile autographs on all cards, enabling fans to try to get them signed themselves.

Additional points for being a low-price purchase, more points for being the first set of the year and at times the only chance to get a player in a uniform they weren't in for long; points of for tired sub-sets like Checklists and Puzzle Backs, and some choices in photos used.

Still, it's a solid 7.5/10.

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