2012-13 In the Game Heroes and Prospects Hockey CardsBrand: In the Game
2012-13 In the Game Heroes and Prospects Hockey Product Review
Reviewed by Ryan Cracknell
Good: 3-D cards take technology to a new level, nice mix of autographs, great alternative to rookie-lacking 2012-13 NHL products.
Bad: Basic inserts lack pop, artwork on Heroes subset is inconsistent.
The Bottom Line: 2012-13 In the Game Heroes and Prospects gets a big boost from the NHLPA cutting off this year's rookies from appearing in NHL products. While these cards will never be considered true rookie cards, they are a worthy alternative, especially in the meantime. In particular, the 3-D Class of 2013 subset is strong. Images don't do these cards justice. They really do have to be seen to be appreciated.
The variety of game-used and autograph cards add some great variety as well as a boost in value. The deep checklist means some of the first certified autographs from the stars of tomorrow.
Card Design: 4.0/5.0
The 2012-13 ITG Heroes and Prospects base set is highlighted by a very clean design. Prospect cards use crisp in-game action photograph and have a modern nameplate that notes the player's name and team. The "Heroes and Prospects" text that runs vertically up the side of the card is a little overpowering, although the layered look mutes things a little bit.
Heroes base cards offer something of a change of pace. Instead of photos, they use drawn artwork on a generic background. I like the idea, but the results are mixed. Some of the drawings do a great job at getting to the heart of the player's likeness. Others, particularly those that are obscured by a mask, look generic.
The real standout in the design department are 3-D cards. This isn't the same 3-D collectors experienced in the 1970s and 1980s. It's sharp and shows lots of depth. It's unlike any 3-D cards I've seen, even recently.
Hits continue to be another strong point for ITG. While the signatures are still on stickers, they're done right -- on a clear surface and applied very carefully. While there are plenty of patch opportunities, even plain jerseys look good with the large swatch pieces.
Prospecting isn't nearly as big in hockey as it is in baseball, at least in the collecting world. That said, 2012-13 ITG Heroes and Prospects offers the most in-depth option for those wanting to learn more about the sport's future stars. Card backs offer good insight into the players' achievements and potential. The number of prospects is also nice, offering a balance between depth and not going a little too far. The inclusion of NHL veterans and retired greats adds star power to the lineup as well.
With such a deep checklist, some of the hits may not result to much. But this is prospecting. Some of the fun comes in the waiting game. And it's not like boxes cost a ton. They're not low-end, but they're certainly affordable -- especially for what you get.
The one major change I'd like to see with the checklist is an overhaul of the basic inserts. They look like base cards with a slightly different design. I'd suggest one of three approaches. The first would be fold them into the base set as a subset. Even better would be to see some cool technologies used. It doesn't have to be ultra-fancy, just something to set them apart from the base set. The tradeoff would be increased costs, though, which may not be worth it. Which brings me to a third option -- eliminating them entirely.
Full disclosure -- the box that was opened for this review looks like it over-delivered. It had a fifth hit. The hit quality was also strong. This may or may not be the case across the entire print run.
2012-13 ITG Heroes and Prospects boxes deliver at least two autographs and two game-used memorabilia cards. The odds are also solid that you'll land a fifth. The designs are clean and offer plenty of possibilities. The mid-range price point also helps as there's a lot less risk involved.
ITG has added some print run information to some hits this year. Previously, it has been up to collectors to seek out this info, which is easy to forget or ignore completely. For example, 2013 Draft Prospect Autographs are hand-numbered to 13. Autographed jersey cards note the version and the print run on the back. This simplifies the process and also lets collectors know right away what they've got. I hope ITG continues in this direction and expands it further to more of their hits.
The use of 3-D cards adds value to the main set as well. Short prints are easy, but the 3-D gimmick helps justify the difference.
The Fun Factor: 4.0/5.0
2012-13 ITG Heroes and Prospects is not a complicated set. That said, it has many layers that make it a blast to open. The base cards look good and have lots of information. The 3-D short prints take something familiar and expand on it. Autographs and game-used cards have lots of variety with plenty of possibilities. Above all, there's the long-term fun of following some of these players as they progress through the system. For some cards, this might mean waiting several years. But the reasonable price makes it a low-risk proposition worth exploring.
Who will be hockey's next wave of big stars? That's the question In the Game asks each year with one of their most popular sets. 2012-13 In the Game Heroes and Prospects Hockey sees the theme of emerging youngsters paired with some of the game's greats.
The 2012-13 In the Game Heroes and Prospects Hockey base set has 199 cards. Although the majority are junior hockey standouts, the first 30 spots on the checklist belong to stars who have gone on to star in the NHL. Among the "heroes" are Mario Lemieux, Patrick Roy, Evgeni Malkin, and recently inducted Hall of Famers Pavel Bure, Joe Sakic and Adam Oates. The prospects portion of the set is now dedicated solely to the CHL. These include 120 prospect cards and 49 projected 2013 draft picks. Draft picks are short prints, falling two per box. They are printed with 3-D technology.
As always, autographs and game-used memorabilia cards are a key part of 2012-13 In the Game Heroes & Prospects Hockey. Both are inserted 1:7 packs.
The He Shoots, He Scores program returns, rewarding those who buy multiple boxes. Packs without a hit come with a decoy card, each worth points. Once a collector has saved up 150 points, they can send them in for one of 30 exclusive He Shoots, He Scores memorabilia card numbered to 20. These decoy cards double as puzzles. Each of the 11 featured players all have nine different pieces, making them ideal for nine-pocket pages.
Product Configuration: 18 packs per box, 9 cards per pack
Price Point: Mid-End Hockey Card
Target Audience: Prospectors, Set Builders, Autograph Collectors, Memorabilia Card Collectors
2012-13 In the Game Heroes and Prospects Hockey Box Break
- 2 Autographs
- 2 Memorabilia Cards
- 3 Inserts
- 2 3-D Draft Picks
- 162 Total Cards