For years, Collector's Choice has suffered from the same "stigma" as "First Edition", "Kick Off", and many other extremely "cheap" products. To my surprise, this years' Collector's Choice Hockey was one of the best experiences I've ever had opening a cheap product. I probably got close to $100 worth of cards! I would expect that type of return from a middle of the road product like Upper Deck Series 1 or Black Diamond, not a .99 cent per pack afterthought like Collector's Choice.
Good:Simple, Tons of Rookies, In-expensive, "Reserve" Parallels are well done and valuable (especially rookies), fun stickers and tattoos for kids
Bad: No autos or relics, Inserts are confusing and not very appealing
The Bottom Line: I never thought that I would recommend that people buy "Collector's Choice", but that's exactly what I am going to do. It seems that this years rookie class has created the "perfect storm" for the otherwise brushed aside Upper Deck brand. I pulled a John Tavares, Victor Hedman, Tyler Myers, Ville Leino, Jhonas Enroth, Cody Franson, Michael Neuvirth, T.J. Galiardi, Ryan O'Reilly, and a total of 32 Rookies! Many of which were parallels! Overall, if your a Fan of Value and of Hockey, I would highly suggest grabbing a few packs. Packs that cost $1 aren't supposed to have cards this good in them!
I can honestly say that 2009/10 Collector's Choice is the best .99 cent pack I've ever opened and I've opened my share of "cheap" packs! I have the red-bordered 1990 Donruss to prove it!
The design is very "basic" as would be expected in a $1/per pack product. Yet, there is something very appealing about the base cards. The stock and gloss is comparable to Upper Deck's MVP Hockey series. The "non-rookie" base cards are as basic as it gets, the photography is un-inspired. The "rookie" cards look awesome, I personally like some of the Photos used better than the ones used for the Young Guns (Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey). Especially the pictures used for Tavares and Hedman.
The simplistic nature of the "Reserve" Parallels (1 per pack) are refreshing. The only thing that differentiates them from the regular base cards is a silver stamp. Upper Deck always seems to do an excellent job with parallels in Hockey.
The inserts are interesting, but at times feel a bit over the top. The comic book inspired "Warriors of Ice" are extremely confusing and don't look like the players at all. Also, I would like to see a company "re-conceive" the concept of the "sticker" card. Though annoying, you have to remember that this product is geared toward kids. The rookies are for the grown up collector, the inserts for the kids.
The checklist is filled with a ton of variety (3-Star Selections for each team), 70 Rookies, and all the current greats of NHL. The only thing missing is retired players, though I can't say I miss getting another Gordie Howe or Bobby Orr. It seems every sport tends to "over-print" greatness these days. Although I'll take as many Gretzky's and Lemieux's as they want to give me.
As I noted above, I got 32 Rookies in a 36 pack box! You won't catch me complaining about getting a $25 John Tavares Rookie! The only place where the checklist gets confusing is when it comes to the inserts. The "Stick-Ums", "Warriors of Ice", and "Cup Quest" inserts seem to have no direction. Hopefully they make a little more sense to kids. If kids enjoy them and want to collect them that's good enough for me.
Although there are no Autographs or Jerseys present, there are some great pulls to be had in a box of Collector's Choice. The "Reserve Prime" Parallels (1 per box on average) have the potential to boost the value of any rookie to "Young Guns" territory. The regular "Reserve" parallels (1 per pack) can double the value of any rookie card, which would put them eye to eye with 2009/10 Upper Deck MVP Rookies (roughly double).
Outside of the parallels, none of the inserts stand out as something of substantial value. Really, the pulls in 09/10 Collector's Choice are all about getting the right rookie and the right parallel. I pulled a Ryan O'Reilly "Reserve Prime" Parallel that books at $25. Although, it's "Goodwin Champions-esque" foil stock makes it look far more valuable; the Tavares or Duchene would be awesome to have ($120 and $50 each).
Although Hockey isn't my favorite sport, I will say this; it's hands down the best bang for your buck when it comes to Sports Cards. I've probably ripped about 10-15 boxes of hockey this year and I have yet to be disappointed. It might be because of the strength of both the rookie class (Tavares, Duchene, etc.) and the veterans (Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin, Brodeur), but that's neither here nor there.
The low price point makes it nearly impossible to walk away empty handed. Even if you don't pull the Tavares, there are plenty of other solid rookies to pull such as Duchene, Tyler Myers, Van Riemsdyk, Del Zotto, Gustavsson, and many more. 2009/10 Upper Deck Collector's Choice Hockey is a low risk, high reward proposition. Rarely do low end products offer so much value.
There's something extremely enjoyable about being able to open 36 packs for less than $40! I don't know how hockey does it, but Hockey is the only sport where it's truly exciting to get a 'Non-Auto" rookie. Upper Deck has somehow found a way to make getting a John Tavares Rookie this late into the season as exciting as getting some of his early rookies. I wish it were this way in Football and Baseball. There's not a non-Autographed Percy Harvin Rookie that could satisfy me!
Collector's Choice has something for everyone. Rookies and Valuable Parallels for adults, stickers and comic book style inserts for kids. Every so often, I am surprised by how much fun I had opening something. I just never thought in a million years it would be Collector's Choice.
Box Break- Here's the result of my 36-Pack 2009/10 Collector's Choice Box Break.