Hockey Card Holiday Gift Buying Guide
It has been a tough couple months for hockey fans -- at least those who live and breath the NHL. Despite the ongoing labor dispute, it hasn't stopped Panini and Upper Deck from releasing new hockey cards. At least, not yet. That's great news for hockey card collectors. It also helps those looking for gifts for hockey fans.
Here are our picks for some of the best hockey cards to give this holiday season. The products we've highlighted are for hobby boxes, which, typically offer more autographs, memorabilia cards and other special insert cards that packs found at retail stores. Because there is such a broad mixes of collectors and budgets, we have also sorted our picks by price.
Hockey Card Boxes Under $75
Few names bring up the tradition of hockey card collecting than O-Pee-Chee. This release is aimed primarily at those who like to build sets. Chiming in at 600 cards, the set is also the largest of the year. Targeting an old-time feel, 2012-13 O-Pee-Chee Hockey cards are printed on old-fashioned cardboard card stock. Although autographs and memorabilia cards aren't guaranteed in boxes, there are a ton of other inserts to ensure a fun break and solid value.
The cheapest of the 2012-13 releases, Score Hockey is filled with fun. Ideal for young collectors learning about the game and its stars, cards are loaded with stats and information. Every pack comes with a Gold Rush parallel. Hobby boxes are also loaded with short-print rookie cards and other inserts. Autographs aren't guaranteed in every box, but they do exist and add to the chase.
Although 2011-12 In the Game Enforcers came out last year, it's a timeless release that packs a lot of punch (pun intended). Honoring hockey's tough guys, every box has five autographs and two memorabilia cards. That's a bargain for a set that can be found for well under $50. While there aren't a lot of big-time signatures that will bring huge returns on the secondary market, the set is easy to enjoy by those who appreciate the hockey's history of toughness.
Hockey Card Boxes Under $100
Promising a lot of modern-looking cards filled with foil and flash, 2012-13 Panini Certified Hockey looks and feels like a high-end set. But by limiting the number of packs per box to just ten, the price tag is kept in check. Highlights in the release include autographed rookie cards. Every 2012-13 Panini Certified Hockey hobby box has one autograph and three additional autographs or memorabilia cards.
Traditionally, the Upper Deck Hockey base set is the most widely collected hockey card set of the year. Many collectors take great pride in piecing together a complete set. Base cards are highlighted by strong photography and a clean glossy finish. Young Guns rookie cards are among the most popular in the entire hobby. As a result, prices for top players are always strong. Every hobby box of 2012-13 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey has six rookie cards and a pair of jersey cards.
A favorite among memorabilia card collectors, 2012-13 Upper Deck Artifacts hobby boxes have three game-used cards and an autograph. Game-used cards have pieces of jerseys, sticks and other equipment used during games. At least one card in every box has swatches from two or more players. Other highlights include base set short prints and autographed rookie redemption cards.
Hockey Card Boxes Over $100
Panini's final release from last season, 2011-12 Dominion is all about the big cards. Autographed rookie patch cards, which are among the most valuable of last year's sets, fall one per box. Boxes also have at least two more autographs and three additional signed or memorabilia cards. Popular in the set are autographs that are signed on game-used stick tape and over-sized patch cards.
Another late release, 2011-12 Panini Prime Hockey is very similar to Dominion, although it focuses a little more on the memorabilia side of things instead of autographs. That said, every box still has at least two signatures including a rookie card also comes with four jersey pieces. Prime has a massive checklist, which keeps production numbers for individual cards down. Among the most popular cards are Prime Ties, which have the laces from the front of a jersey.
When it debuted, The Cup was hockey's first ultra high-end release. The tradition of autographs and premium memorabilia cards continues with 2011-12 Upper Deck The Cup. Every box comes with an autographed patch rookie card, another autographed patch card, and a memorabilia, signature or parallel card. With just five cards per box, the focus is on rarity and quality. Few checklists are stronger.