2013-14 ITG Between the Pipes Hockey CardsBrand: In the Game
2013-14 ITG Between the Pipes Hockey is all about the goalie. When it comes to the hobby, not many players command attention based simply on where they play. At least outside of hockey's netminders. Boxes come with at least two autographs and two memorabilia cards.
Like past Between the Pipes sets, the product focuses on a mix of current NHL goalies, retired greats and prospects coming from the CHL. The base set has 150 cards, which is comprehensive when you consider that all the players come from the same position.
Autographs and memorabilia both fall 1:7 packs. With 18 packs per box, that does leave open the potential that some with have more. Signed cards come in a pair of styles, Goaliegraphs and Masked Men Autographs. In total, 2013-14 ITG Between the Pipes has more than 180 autographs.
Memorabilia cards come in several combinations. Jumbo Pad and Game-Used Glove center on goalie-specific gear. Full Gear and Complete Jersey both come with four swatches of memorabilia. Other sets focus on rivals and players who played for multiple teams. Top Prospects is a single-swatch set spotlighting CHL standouts.
As far as basic inserts go, Masked Men 6 (1:6 packs) sees the continuation of the popular set with a new art-inspired design. Collectors can also find additional non-memorabilia inserts that fall at a rate of 1:6 packs.
He Shoots, He Saves decoy cards are also back. They also act as a points program. Once 150 points are collected, they can be submitted for an exclusive card.
Click here for the full 2013-14 ITG Between the Pipes Hockey checklist.
Product Configuration: 18 packs per box, 9 cards per pack
Price Point: Mid-End Hockey Card
Target Audience: Goalie Fans, Set Builders, Autograph Collectors, Memorabilia Card Collectors
2013-14 ITG Between the Pipes Hockey Box Break
- 2 Autographs
- 2 Memorabilia Cards
- 2 Atomic Die-Cut Refractor Rookie Cards
- 3 Masked Men Inserts
- 162 Total Cards
2013-14 ITG Between the Pipes Product Review
Reviewed by Ryan Cracknell
Good: Great focus, solid value, interesting relics.
Bad: Lots of checklist overlap from last year.
The Bottom Line: Just like past years, 2013-14 ITG Between the Pipes comes in with a very defined and specific focus. And while it’s a nice set that offers solid value throughout, I wonder if it’s something that needs to be an annual release. The set has a lot of overlap and not a lot that’s new. This is fine for those who haven’t bought the set in the past, but it may be tiresome and redundant for those who have collected it in the past.
Card Design: 3.3/5.0
Thanks to the goalie mask, you wouldn’t know this wasn’t an NHL set just by looking at it. Add to that some very clever photography choices that show players with their backs turned and there are some very nice base cards. Things get a rough at the back end of the set as many of the portraits are soft and blurry. Cards are a visual medium and if nice images aren’t available, perhaps those players should be left out.
I’m a big fan of the basic insert designs, specifically that they’re distinct from the base set in every way. Immortals are still fairly plain as their lack of technology or premium elements but the chromium Masked Men are great.
Even though autographs are on stickers, ITG shows that they’re the best in business at making it less obvious. They’re also great at making even the most plain memorabilia cards desirable by using generous swatches.
As far as goalies go, the checklist is solid. But it has been every year it has been released. Part of the issue with being so focused is that a lot of the content gets recycled. While some players come and go, there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference over last year. That being said, this probably won’t be quite as noticeable unless you’re buying a lot of boxes or building the base set. The autograph and memorabilia checklists are large enough that there is room for more repetition from past years. The mix of current players, retired players and prospects is solid as is the balance of stars and lesser stars.
This is often a strong area for In the Game and 2013-14 Between the Pipes is no different. When setting the odds, the company often leaves room for getting more than you might expect as far as autographs and memorabilia go. This is an excellent strategy because even if you only get lower-tier players, if you get something extra, it’s better than a worst-case scenario. Often, though, there’s at least one hit that is extra special. Either it’s a superstar, a short print, a gorgeous swatch or a combination of all three.
Another thing I like about Between the Pipes over other recent In the Game products is the basic inserts. Usually, ITG’s inserts are bland and don’t really stand out as far as technology or card stock goes. Masked Men is different. This year it’s a chromium look. It’s not quite as flashy as the previous couple of years, but it’s still different from the base set and that alone goes a long way in making them feel special.
The Fun Factor: 3.75/5.0
Despite focusing on just goalies, a box of Between the Pipes has a lot more variety than many of ITG’s other hockey releases this year. Unlike Heroes and Prospects, the basic inserts are easy to spot (not to mention the chromium stock of the Masked Men cards). The memorabilia cards also show a solid mix of designs.
A box should get you very close to a full base set, which is the next best thing to actually finishing it.
That said, I wonder if the all-goalie theme is getting a little stale. Perhaps a year or two off might be a good thing for the brand in the long run, maybe have it trade off with a similar approach to goal scorers or another high-focus theme.