by Rich Klein
Let's face it, the biggest challenge for any card company is to create their first products in a new sport (for them) and making sure all the elements collectors today ask for are there. That includes memorabilia and autograph cards and including as many minor "hits" in a box as possible to keep sales flowing. That is what Panini faced in producing the new Certified Hockey product.
In Certified, every card is numbered so there is no guesswork in determining how easy or difficult any of the cards pulled from packs are. All the base cards are numbered to 999 and ever other card was issued in lesser quantities.
Some of the rookies who have made their NHL debut this month are featured. Certified includes the official rookie cards for prospects like P.K. Subban, Nazem Kadri, Zach Hamill and others.
Among the autographs randomly inserted are Gordie Howe, Phil Esposito, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Hull, Patrick Roy and more.
Some lucky collectors will latch onto Platinum Hot B.oxes, where all commons are replaced by exclusive, limited-edition parallels.
As we write this review, the online price for 2010-11 Certified hockey boxes, which contain 10 packs with 5 cards per pack, was between $80-90. Each box says that the average number of insert cards in the box is approximately one in every other pack but that is not guaranteed.
As we later found out, our box turned out to be a "Hot Box" in which every card was serial numbered. Well, needless to say, our positive review just took a personal turn for the better. In all seriousness though, we do understand all boxes can not be "Hot Boxes" but even if the cards we originally assumed were commons are platinum reds, we were still happy with this box even if those cards had been commons instead of numbered parallels.
So how did we do in our box?
For that, I turned the box over to this household's resident hockey maven, my beloved wife. She loved the two-tone design of the cards and was very pleased by how attractive they were and like any good wife, she knew that cards with signatures and jersey swatches are good. She also enjoyed trying to pronounce some of the player's names.(Wojtek Wolski drew her attention on that front).
For my point of view, when we review what we pulled from the box, you'll see why I enjoyed this product so much:
Base Cards (#d to 999): 31 of 150
Immortals (#d to 500) Pat LaFontaine
Platinum Blues (#d to 250): Ondrej Pavelec, Nathan Gerbe, Brandon Sutter, Chris Stewart, Jamie Benn, Jeff Deslauriers, Daniel Alfredsson, Erik Johnson, Jaroslav Halak, Jonas Gustavsson
Platinum Gold (#d to 25) Zdeno Chara
Platinum Emerald (#d to 5) Brandon Sutter
Mirror Red (#d to 250) Antoine Vermette
Mirror Blue (#d to 100) Jarome Iginla
Potential (#d to 500) John Carlson
Champions Mirror Blue (#d to 100) Cam Ward
Dual Materials Mirror Red (#d to 150) Zach Bogosian
Big Men on Campus: Paul Stasny (#d to 250)
Freshman Signatures Mirror Red (#d to 250): Maxim Noreau
Signatures Mirror Gold (#d to 25) Sam Gagner
In my book, that's four major hits, two other inserts and 14 parallel cards.
Not a bad box, I would say and one that any collector should enjoy opening thanks to the attractiveness of the product and the sheer volume of hits. If this opening salvo is any indication, Panini will be able to keep their job as a key producer of NHL cards.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]