Although they may not have an NHL license, long-time hockey card collectors recognize In the Game for covering other aspects of the sport. 2011-12 In the Game Heroes & Prospects Hockey mixes upcoming stars with several of the game's current and past stars like Eric Lindros and Dion Phaneuf. Boxes are brimming with hits, including at least two autographs and two memorabilia cards. Considering the price, collectors should find good value in their breaks, particularly when the uncover one of the many patch and multi-swatch memorabilia cards.
Product Configuration: 18 packs per box, nine cards per pack
Price Point: Low- to Mid-End Hockey Card
Target Audience: Prospectors, Autograph Collectors, Hockey Card Collectors, Set Builders
2011-12 In the Game Heroes & Prospects Hockey Box Break
- Two Autographs
- Two Memorabilia Cards
- Two Inserts
- 162 Total Cards
2011-12 In the Game Heroes & Prospects Hockey Product Highlights:
- 2011-12 In the Game Heroes & Prospects Hockey has a 200-card base that mixes junior stars from the AHL, CHL and international scene with some of hockey's past greats.
- Set has the first hockey cards of highly touted prospects Carter Ashton, Zack Kassian and Andy Miele. Retired players include Red Kelly, Tony Amonte and Mike Gartner.
- Five cards in the set will honor hockey players who have recently passed away.
- The CHL Grads subset looks back on current stars as they made their mark in the juniors.
- Autograph signers include Griffin Reinhart and Sean Couturier. In the Game has also announced that they will have autographs from three of the deceased players from their Tribute subset.
- Insert sets highlighted by Calder Cup and Memorial Cup Champions sets.
Memorabilia Card sets:
- Game-Used Jersey
- Game-Used Emblem
- Game-Used Numbers
- Complete Logo
- Subway Super Series
- CHL Top Prospects Game
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2011-12 In the Game Heroes & Prospects Product Review
Reviewed by Ryan Cracknell
Good: Great-looking memorabilia cards, comprehensive checklist, makes sticker autographs work.
Bad: Basic inserts don't stand out, some weak photographs.
The Bottom Line: 2011-12 In the Game Heroes & Prospects has become hockey's premier minor league set. As far as the base set construction goes, it's similar to some of the sets Classic made back in the early 1990s for baseball. While the focus is on the up-and-comers, there is also a splattering of legends to add some familiarity to the checklist. In the Game continues to offer great value as far as hits go, promising at least four in a box with many boxes coming with five. More importantly, most of the game-used memorabilia cards seem to offer premium swatches or multiple swatches, further adding to their desirability. While not all the names in the set are well-known, many should add some intrigue in the years ahead as they transition from minor hockey to the NHL.
Card Design: 3.5/5.0
Base card fronts are highlighted by a full-color player photo. The background adds an enlarged version of the photo, cropped to show the player's face. Backgrounds are done in an antique-style brownish-yellow. The design works, but I wouldn't say it stands out either. Several of the base cards also use photos that are soft and even a little blurry. Card backs squeeze a lot of information into them, combining bios, 2010-11 stats and background information. With so many young stars a lot of collectors may not know much about, they offer great material to read and study. Also worth noting are the Tribute cards that bookend the set. Done in black and white, the cards are a classy remembrance of Luc Bourdon, Rick Rypien, Derek Boogaard and Wade Belak.
As usual, In the Game's memorabilia cards continue to highlight their releases. While they've become boring and stale in almost every other area of the hobby, ITG's focus on swatches that are over-sized, multi-colored or both shows that they can still create excitement on a widespread scale. The fact that the company also stands behind using game-used jersey and noting them as such is also a good thing for collectors.
Many within the hobby aren't fans of sticker autographs. I'm one of them, but they're also something of a necessary evil. ITG continues to make the best of them, using clear stickers that blend right in with the design of the card to the point that they're hardly noticeable.
The biggest weakness I found in the set's design was with the basic inserts. While they have great concepts and their rarity adds a good level of collectibility, they seem more like a base set subset because they don't use any added technology. I believe the best inserts are the ones that use a different style of printing, even if that's something like foil board. The tradeoff is that they add costs that collectors might not want to pay.
Like any minor league set, the true strength of the checklist won't be known for a couple of years. However, 2011-12 In the Game Heroes & Prospects does a good job of including several current and former NHLers like Red Kelly, Teemu Selanne and Carey Price. Collectors can also chase hits from legends like Gordie Howe and Eric Lindros. I am not totally sold on all the set's "Heroes," though. Don't get me wrong, Tony Amonte was a great player. But an all-time great?
Like the checklist, there are still a lot of unknowns as far as money cards go. That being said, for a low- to mid-range hockey card product, 2011-12 In the Game Heroes & Prospects makes the best of it. Whether it's autographs from several emerging players or premium game-used memorabilia cards, even when you get the second-tier players, collectors are at least left with some very attractive hits.
It was also nice to have an In the Game box that goes beyond a single pack. While I appreciate their higher-end products, I'm also a fan of ripping packs. At just 18 packs, Heroes & Prospects strikes a nice balance of hits and a focus base set.
As with other In the Game products, it would be nice to see print runs noted on the memorabilia card parallels. While the version is noted, it's easy to miss their rarity as it usually means a little online research. While serial numbering isn't necessary, simply stating the card has a print run of 50 or 10 would add extra value without creating much added cost.
The Fun Factor: 4.5/5.0
Impressed with nearly every aspect of 2011-12 In the Game Heroes & Prospects Hockey, it was a lot of fun to open. Beyond that, the amount of content squished into the cards further expanded the experience. From studying up on the players to matching up the memorabilia swatches to the specific parts of the jersey, there's plenty to do with the cards after the wrappers have settled.