Good:Number rookie cards, Mystery Rookie Redemptions, Solid relic incorporation, Great rookie card design, Great player combos on multi-relic cards
Bad: Card design of non-numbered base cards has taken a step back, Weak and confusing parallel system, Unappealing sticker drop autographs
The Bottom Line:
Artifacts is a solid product that lacks the luster of an exceptional hockey card offering. In season's past it thrived due to Upper Deck's exclusive license with the NHL. In 2010, Panini's recently released 2010-11 Certified Hockey is a substantially better first run hockey card offering when compared to Upper Deck's early season elder statesman. Artifacts is one of those products that definitely has it's moments, but the luster of those moments shines less brightly in 2010. If you've enjoyed Artifacts over the years, then by all means rip away, as the product is a mirror image of past versions. Each hobby box delivers 2 numbered rookies, 1 rookie redemptions, 1 autograph and a trio of relics for around $90.
The low numbered relics can look great, but the higher numbered are markedly less appealing. The base card design of non-numbered cards has taken a slight step back over last seasons. The design of the numbered base rookies and legends are a different story, they might be my favorite in Artifacts history. Per usual, the sticker drop autos are only as appealing as the player on the card. My Auto would have been far more appealing had it been someone like P.K. Subban, Nazem Kadri or Sidney Crosby instead of Yannick Weber.
The checklist really comes down to one thing, do you find rookie mystery rookie redemptions exciting or not? Personally, I find them exciting, but there are those who would rather just pull a Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle or Taylor Seguin than roll the dice on a redemption that may or may not turn out to be them. The two biggest rookies who come pack pulled are P.K. Subban and Nazem Kadri.
The value of Artifacts isn't what it once was despite being essentially the same product as years past. The reason for this is simple, it no longer runs unopposed. Panini's first year Certified features a deeper rookie checklist and delivers base rookie autographs of Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi, Kadri, Seguin, Subban and the best of the best from this year's rookie class, while Artifacts does not. The value of Artifacts isn't bad by any means, just don't expect it to be what it once was. If your collecting budget is running low, I would personally hold out for November's Upper Deck Series 1 (Young Guns!!!).
At the end of day, Artifacts is still an enjoyable product. The numbered rookies, mystery rookie redemptions and quality player combinations used for multi-relic cards makes for an exciting break. Again, if you have enjoyed Artifacts in past seasons, there is absolutely no reason you won't enjoy it this year.