2010-11 Upper Deck Black Diamond HockeyBox Price: $90-$100
Good: One UD Ice Premieres RC per box, Great parallel system as always, Rookie gems, Improved card design, Decent box price, More value per box than last year's
Bad: Out of pack card condition can be poor at times, Easily de-minted cards, Weak swatches used for Quad Jersey cards
The card design is a bit crisper, cleaner and sleeker than last year's Black Diamond. While not revolutionary by any means, Black Diamond's card design is consistent and doesn't try to do too much like all too many products nowadays. Good old fashioned foil board seems to suite the product just fine. The Quad Jersey cards, which are seeded two per box, feature weak swatches. The best a collector can hope for is a multi-colored swatch. The Ice Premieres Rookies haven't changed a bit since last year, which is just fine with me as the cards look great.
My biggest complaint with the card design is the "PSA Paranoia" that sets in when opening a box of Black Diamond. The foil board leads to an easily de-minted card, the worst thing is when poor card condition isn't due to anything wrong done by the collector. At the same time, when a product as a whole suffers from condition issues, the market corrects itself by factoring it into card value (See 1993 Derek Jeter's 1993 SP).
The checklist is extremely solid, featuring a great mix of current day stars, rookies and legends. Black Diamond's parallel system is consistent and as always, extremely collectible and well done. There's something really cool about the "diamond" system, which features 1-4 diamonds on the front of a card, the higher the diamond the better. The addition of the Upper Deck Ice Premieres RC to the product brings substantial intrigue and added value to the checklist (though I'm not certain whether they will be considered part of the Black Diamond set).
To sum up the value, take last year's Black Diamond and introduce the hobby's highest booking non-auto rookie cards, the Upper Deck Ice Premiere RC (Taylor Hall's has sold for as much as $600 on eBay). What you end up with is an extremely valuable and collectible product. Between the Quad Diamond cards, the Rookie Gems, the UD Ice Premiere RC and the stack of Double & Triple Diamond cards each box delivers, the value is as good as it's ever been for Black Diamond in the 2010-11 hockey card season.
Fun Factor: 4.25/5
Isn't it awesome when the best card in a box is also the worst conditioned one? The card I'm speaking of is a Gold Quad Diamond Bobby Orr numbered to 10. This brings into play the most frustrating thing in cards, you have an awesome card that you can't sell and by the time the replacement comes, the product will be old news. If this were Topps or Panini it would be replaced in a timely fashion, unfortunately Upper Deck can be pretty bad when it comes to timeliness.
That being said, it's the most fun I've had opening a box of Black Diamond for one big reason, the addition of the Upper Deck Ice Premieres RC. I just wish they would have randomly seeded them in the product rather than deliver them via a predictable bonus pack.
The Bottom Line: 4.4/5
There's not a product that I am more terrified to pull a great card from than the easily de-minted Black Diamond series. I'm not sure if that's a knock on the product or not, as the latest rendition might be Upper Deck's best Black Diamond of all-time. Although I'm saddened that Upper Deck Ice was killed off, it sures adds some fantastic value to 2010-11 Black Diamond, as each box delivers a "bonus" pack featuring Upper Deck Ice cards, including one Ice Premieres RC!
If you're a hockey card collector that's enjoyed Black Diamond in the past, there's no reason you shouldn't thouroughly enjoy this year's, as 2010-11 might be the brands finest hour. Each hobby box delivers at least 2 hits, 1 bonus pack containing 4 regular Ice cards and 1 Ice Premieres RC, 4 Rookie Gems and a stack of Double, Triple and Quad Diamond Parallels.