by Rich Klein
Some people would consider not having a license a disadvantage because one could not then use team logos or team names in preparing products. Not only will some collectors not purchase those brands but also sometimes photos end up being horribly airbrushed or worse. Other people, including some hobby insiders will tell you there is significant freedom in having a wider range of photos to choose from. After all, if you have ever seen the Upper Deck Goodwin Champions photo of Gale Sayers in the "peace jacket" you would have to admit that is a cooler shot than the 100th different game action photo of the "Kansas Comet".
In the Game has survived for many years now creating mainly hockey products but occasionally branching out to other sports without having a license for many years. Although the license issue prevents them from creating a true mainstream set the company does create many neat ideas for sets, some of which are so successful they carry on from year to year. One of the longest running ideas is the "Between the Pipes" series which has run for several years now.
The 2012-13 Between the Pipes issue again includes many topical subsets including honoring older goalies by decades through some of the leading prospects of tomorrow. One of the reasons this concept works is goaltenders are, along with football quarterbacks, the most popular position among collectors. At least since I started at Beckett in 1990, and probably going back way before then, the concept of goalies, even the worst ones, being worth more than the average position player has been a hobby tradition.
The 200-card base set is designed with full-color borders, the photo in the middle and the ITG Between the Pipes Logo, with the player's name and subset at the bottom. The backs have biographical information and career statistics. The unopened boxes have 18 packs per box with nine cards per pack.
The box does mention autograph cards are issued one per seven packs which means that either two or three autographs should come out of a box. The memorabilia cards are usually issued at the same rate as well so the total number of hits can vary from four to six if a collector hits the perfect collation box. My local card store does not carry ITG products but leading on-line hobby retailers are currently at the $86-95 level.
If you're OK with minor leaguer autographs mixing with the NHL content, you'll probably be OK with this product.
And here is how we did from our box:
Base Cards: 139 of 200 all different or a little less than 70 percent of the set. Please note that you do need two boxes to complete any base set
Masked Men: Ron Hextall, Denis Herron, Garth Snow
Game-Used Jersey Silver: Don Beaupre, Ed Belfour
Autographs: Jordon Cooke, Dennis Riggin, Garret Sparks
We did beat the odds and got that third autograph and did get the two jersey cards. So overall, especially if as a collector you get lucky and get the 5-6 hits possible then the reasonable price point makes this a neat product to open to learn more about hockey goaltenders yesterday, today and tomorrow. Click here to see what these are going for on eBay.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]