2011-12 In the Game Enforcers Hockey Cards
Like it or not, fighting is a part of hockey. Other than the occasional insert set that dances around it, the gloves are rarely dropped on modern licensed cards. 2011-12 In the Game Enforcers Hockey isn't a licensed NHL set. It takes advantage of that freedom, dedicating an entire release to hockey's greatest tough guys. 2011-12 In the Game Enforcers embraces a niche side of the hobby that has been ignored, offering a hard-hitting mix of hits and thoughtful main set content. Boxes promise five autographs, two game-used memorabilia cards and five base cards.
Product Configuration: one pack per box, 12 cards per pack
Price Point: Mid- to High-End Hockey Card
Target Audience: Hockey Fans, Fans of NHL Tough Guys, Autograph Collectors, Memorabilia Collectors
2011-12 In the Game Enforcers Box Break
- Five Autographs
- Two Game-Used Memorabilia Cards
- Five Base Cards
- 12 Total Cards
2011-12 In the Game Enforcers Product Highlights:
- The 2011-12 In the Game Enforcers base set consists of four subsets, all of which look at a different aspect of hockey's toughest players:
- Record Holders compiles the stats.
- Tale of the Tape offers a glimpse at both combatants in classic battles.
- Bloody Battles is an artistic rendition of notable scraps.
- Tough Franchise pays tribute to the legacy of various teams' enforcers.
- Five base cards per box.
- Autographs fall five per box. Early signers include Marty McSorley, Tony Twist and Rob Ray.
- Game-used memorabilia cards (two per box):
- Combatants - dual memorabilia cards
- Tough Franchise - quad memorabilia cards
- Fight Strap (/8)
- Fight Strap (/1)
- In the Game is promising a limited print run and no redemptions.
2011-12 In the Game Enforcers Product Review
Reviewed by Ryan Cracknell
Good: Tremendous value in every box, extremely focused, fills an underserved hockey card niche, comprehensive checklist, autographs look great.
Bad: Many of the designs are overly busy and cluttered, obscure players lead to some less-than-ideal photos being used.
The Bottom Line: Like it or not, fighting and rough play are part of hockey history. Collectors who love the tough side of the sport are going to be very pleased with 2011-12 In the Game Enforcers. Unlike a lot of modern sets where it's tough to figure out the need they're filling, this is one of the most focused sets ever produced. While it's unlikely you're not going to find a mega-hit, every box is crammed with value. For around $70 at release, boxes promise five autographs and two game-used memorabilia cards. While I wish the design of the base set was better, the autographs look great, even with stickers.
Card Design: 2.5/5.0
Like all of their sets, In the Game does a good job masking their lack of NHL license. Most of the photos are head shots, showing the shoulders and up. While this works stylistically, it also leaves lots of space that needs to be filled on the cards.
2011-12 In the Game Enforcers goes overboard, cluttering card fronts from corner-to-corner. For example, in the Bloody Battles subset, the art-based cards would have worked nicely with a white border. Instead, a blood spatter effect makes them far too busy. I like the style of the artwork on these cards, however it would have been nice to see more of the featured combatants. One of the cards we pulled had one face not showing at all, while the other offered a better look at the players' helmets than their faces.
Other subsets include Tough Franchise, Record Holders and Tale of the Tape. While each ties very nicely into the theme of the set, the overall look doesn't connect from one subset to the next.
Another issue comes with the photographs. The base cards we received featured a some grainy shots. This is particularly noticeable on multi-player cards where one subject has good resolution and the other does not.
Card backs are also packed, but with text, which is a great thing. Every card offers generous bios or game-specific commentary. They're insightful and extremely informative.
As a collector, sticker autographs are normally a last-resort for me. I accept them, but too often they don't hold a complete signature or they're not incorporated into the cards design. Although 2011-12 In the Game Enforcers uses stickers, they're hardly noticeable. For one, the stickers are large enough to hold even the wildest of signatures. They're also worked into the design, acting as a part of a bandage look. As far as sticker autographs go, these might be the best I've seen.
Because many are not superstars in the goal-scoring sense, hockey's tough guys are often overlooked in the hobby. Many are lucky to make many base set checklists. 2011-12 In the Game Enforcers gives them their due. While there aren't a ton of big-name players in the set, those that appreciate the enforcer's role will love the depth of the checklist. While the bigger names like Wendel Clark, Bob Probert and Tie Domi are to be expected, I love that are also lots of small-time players as well.
Five autographs and two game-used cards (early breaks are showing that one of the memorabilia cards is often a dual memorabilia card) for $65-70? Yes, please. It makes you wonder how other products can charge similar prices for one or two hits. Part of this is due to the fact that there aren't many superstars making acquisition costs much lower. But those buying this set hopefully know what they're buying. If not, they're going to be hugely disappointed. But those who want to dig deeper into hockey should be very pleased by the focus on overlooked players.
The Fun Factor: 4.0/5.0
I had a blast busting through an Enforcers box. Sure, it was over in about the same amount of time as it took Tie Domi to drop his gloves, but the varied elements and generous text made me revisit them more than I normally do. Plus, it's pushed me to look up some of the smaller players I'm less familiar with.
2011-12 In the Game Enforcers probably isn't a set for everyone. It doesn't try to be. It caters to a small but enthusiastic audience that will likely be very receptive to it. Over the past couple of months, the set has received lots of mainstream media attention, much of it unjustified and petty. A set for dedicated hobbyists, they're the ones who understand where In the Game is going with the concept. They're also the ones who are going to love every bit of the release has to offer.
2011-12 In the Game Enforcers Hockey Cards,