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2012-13 In the Game Forever Rivals Hockey Cards

2012-13 In the Game Forever Rivals Hockey Cards

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Few sports rivalries are as strong as the one between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. It's hockey's version of the Yankees and the Red Sox. 2012-13 In the Game Forever Rivals takes the unique approach of honoring both teams and the rich history they share together.

The 2012-13 In the Game Forever Rivals Hockey base set has 100 cards. It spans several eras, going from the teams' early roots all the way up to the present day. Collectors can find such greats as Jean Beliveau, Dave Keon, Patrick Roy, Howie Morenz and Ace Bailey alongside current stars like Dion Phaneuf and Carey Price.

The autograph checklist runs deep in 2012-13 In the Game Forever Rivals. The checklist has more than 120 players, some of whom are rare signers. Although In the Game has mastered the sticker autograph and made them almost unnoticeable, some signatures will be on-card. Maple Leafs signers include Howie Meeker and Wally Stanowski of the Maple Leafs. 2012-13 In the Game Forever Rivals also has the last on-card autographs from Habs captain, Butch Bouchard, who passed away in April, 2012.

Game-used memorabilia cards also figure prominently in 2012-13 In the Game Forever Rivals Hockey. Franchise greats are highlighted from both teams in different combinations of basic jerseys, patches and autographed memorabilia. While the Canadiens have several generations to pick from for Cup Winners, any Maple Leafs cards in the set are guaranteed to be vintage. This is a set where dual memorabilia cards are a natural fit. Goalie-focused hits get a familiar name, falling under the Between the Pipes banner.

Click here for a full checklist from the In the Game website.

Product Configuration: 1 pack per box, 12 cards per pack
Price Point: Mid-End Hockey Card
Target Audience: Montreal Canadiens Fans, Toronto Maple Leafs Fans, Hockey Card Collectors, Autograph Collectors, Memorabilia Card Collectors

2012-13 In the Game Forever Rivals Hockey Box Break

  • 3 Autographs
  • 3 Game-Used Memorabilia Cards
  • 3 Inserts
  • 3 Base Cards

Card Gallery:

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Product Review

2012-13 In the Game Forever Rivals Product Review

Reviewed by Ryan Cracknell

Good: On-card autographs, comprehensive look at two of hockey's most storied franchises, proves even basic, single-color swatches can still be attractive.

Bad: Lacklusture basic inserts, beading on some autographs.

The Bottom Line: 2012-13 In the Game Forever Rivals is clearly aimed at fans of the Maple Leafs and Canadiens. However, there's enough variety and depth that the product should appeal to all hockey fans. The lineup of autographs and game-used memorabilia cards is impressive. It's also nice to see that ITG is shifting back towards on-card autographs. The premium look of the base set is also a nice change from some of the company's other recent sets.

Staff Rating:
3.8 / 5.0

Card Design: 3.0/5.0

2012-13 In the Game Forever Rivals base cards come with a foil front, giving them a premium look and feel. A player's head shot is in the middle of the card, held in by large top and bottom borders. They're color-coded according to the team - red for Montreal and blue for Toronto. I love the contrast these color elements create against the foil board. Card backs focus largely on the players' time with the Canadiens or Maple Leafs. As is the norm with ITG, they're extensive given the short limitations of the medium. My only quibble with the base cards is that some have blurry photos, even when they're not that large.

It's excellent to see ITG shifting towards hard-signed autographs once again. As far as stickers go, they're one of the best at concealing them. However, few would argue that an on-card autograph is better than even the best stickers. Basic autographs have a horizontal design where the player gets a small spot in the bottom-left corner. This provides a signing space large enough for even the biggest of signatures. A nice touch is that Maple Leafs cards are signed in blue, while Canadiens players have red ink.

I don't know if my box was an isolated issue, but both of my Montreal autographs showed signs of beading. The ink didn't want to stick to the glossy surface initially and left some of the pen strokes very thin. My lone blue signature was very vibrant, though.

As a general rule, I've grown tired of basic jersey cards. However, 2012-13 In the Game Forever Rivals does it right and proves some excitement can still come from a single-colored swatch. For starters, there's substance to the size. The square swatches take up a dominant part of the card. The design is also fairly simple. The jersey and the player are allowed to speak for themselves. A nice touch is the fact that basic Blue (Maple Leafs) jersey cards lineup nicely with the rival Red (Canadiens) cards.

The area that's lacking is with the basic inserts. I've come to expect inserts to hold a premium over base cards. Even if there's no difference monetarily, I want my inserts to stand out with different and better technologies. Inserts here are plain. While the layouts and themes are solid, they're lacking when placed against even the base cards. In this instance, I'd have preferred to get fewer total cards if these basic inserts were given the same foil treatment as the base set.

Checklist: 4.0/5.0

While all hockey fans can enjoy Forever Rivals, the core audience comes from two teams. And it's from there that Maple Leafs and Canadiens fans will appreciate the checklist. Sure, the set has its stars like Patrick Roy, Mats Sundin, Carey Price, Andy Bathgate and Doug Gilmour. But that's expected in a set like this. Just like any successful team, Forever Rivals needs a strong supporting cast as well. That's where the Russ Courtnalls and Allan Besters come in -- to provide some depth that diehard fans will appreciate. It's kind of like Topps Archives Baseball cranked up full-blast.

It's easy to appreciate the mix of players in the set, especially when the cards go to great lengths to place them in their respective franchise's history.

Value: 4.0/5.0

Value for this set is ultimately going to depend on whether or not you're a fan of the featured franchises. If you are, pulling a Bobby Smith or Dave Ellett won't seem so bad, even from a product that's hovering around $100 per single-pack box.

If you're not a fan, you may be a little more concerned about recouping your investment. As usual, ITG does a good job of mixing up the hits, either by inserting multiple stars or with one of the rarer inserts.

Like any box, there's some risk. However, it's much less so for Habs and Maple Leafs enthusiasts.

The Fun Factor: 4.0/5.0

While I don't loathe either team, I'm definitely not a big fan of the Habs or Leafs. Even still, Forever Rivals was a nice break. I'd hope any collector can enjoy and appreciate attractive cards, even when it's something they'd not normally seek out. With 12 cards per box, there's a nice split among the designs, offering a sample of both the basic elements and the hits. While each has its areas of improvement, as a whole, this is one extremely solid product. Why? It's got an appealing focus, which goes a long way in making a product work. Every card shows its purpose. The assortment of individual cards might be random, but that's about the only thing in Forever Rivals that is.

Ryan is a former member of The Cardboard Connection Writing Staff.   His collecting origins began with winter bike rides to the corner store, tossing a couple of quarters onto the counter and peddling home with a couple packs of O-Pee-Chee hockey in his pocket. Today, he continues to build sets, go after inserts with cool technologies, chase Montreal Expos and finish off his John Jaha master collection.

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