Tear-Iffic Tuesday: 2015-16 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Hockey

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All right blog fans, it’s Tuesday and you know what that means, time for so Tear-iffic product previews. Due to a very slow and boring release schedule last week I elected to take time off, but I’m back and ready to rock some awesome products! This week’s feature product (or one of them anyway) is the 2015-16 edition of Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Hockey. The high-end mem and auto focused product remains a fan favorite. With plenty of 1/1 NHL Shield cards, and rumours of an e-pack release, this looks to be one of the hits of the season. So let’s drop the puck and tear some packs!

Ultimate Collection – Product Configuration

There is no hiding that Ultimate Collection is designed with high-end collectors in mind. At a minimum price of $280USD per hobby box, fans will have to dig deep to grab their favorite stars. The last couple of years has seen an evolution of Ultimate Collection as it moves to a hit focused format. It has gone from 2 hits in 2013-14, up to 5 hits this year (hence the increased price). Each hobby box contains a single pack of 5 cards, all of which are relic or autograph cards. In addition Upper Deck has promised that all autographs will be hard signed, which likely means waiting for redemptions. Of the 5 promised hits in each pack, Upper Deck guarantees that at least 1 will be a rookie auto or rookie auto/mem. This means McDavid hunters can continue their party for a little bit longer.

Ultimate Collection – Base Relics Set

Ultimate Collection Base Jersey Gretzky Auto
As a hit driven product it is hard to identify a true base set for this product. I guess the closest thing that Ultimate Collection has to base cards is the Base Jersey Relics set. This 50 cards set is numbered no higher than /199 and have several short-printed parallels sets. Plain relic parallels include the Gold Patch variety, numbered /15, and the Platinum Blue Relic variety, also /15.

Turning to the autograph parallels, we see a total of 3 sets to chase. The Spectrum Silver Autograph Jersey set features a plain jersey swatch, alongside the signature of the selected player. This set in numbered /99 or less. The Spectrum Gold Patch autos will undoubtedly be a popular set, and are numbered /25 or less. The same is true of the Spectrum Teal Autograph Relics, also /25 or less. With a solid variety of parallels and big names such as Gretzky, Price, and Roy. This promises to be one of Upper Decks best “base” sets of the year.

Ultimate Collection – Autographed Ultimate Rookies Set

Ultimate Collection Ultimate Rookies

Autographed Ultimate Rookies is a bit of a misnomer, given the fact that the set has 3 non autoed parallels. Plus it includes Jack Eichel, who as we all know has an exclusive signing contract with Leaf. Putting those two little caveats aside, Ultimate Collection seems like it has done a good job on their rookie set. Personally I see no challenge in collecting rookies, but many people do, and I respect what Upper deck has done here.

The main checklist for this set contains 70 cards, but this may vary according to the individual parallels. Looking at the unsigned versions, the Silver Jersey parallel is numbered /49, the Gold Patch /25, and the Platinum Blue Tag is /5. For the autographed version, the main  set is numbered /299 or less. For the auto parallels, Spectrum Silver Autographed Jumbo is /149 or /49, depending on the player. Spectrum Gold Autograph jumbo Patch is /10, and the Spectrum Teal Autograph Shield is 1/1. These Shield cards are allocated to physical packs only, meaning they will be unavailable in the e-pack release. The obvious chase card for this set will be Connor McDavid, with Larkin and Panarin trailing behind.

Ultimate Collection – 2005-06 Ultimate Rookies Autographs Set

Ultimate Collection 2005 retroIt seems as late that every set that comes out has at least one retro “throwback” type set to it. For Ultimate Collection it is the Rookie Autographs set. This 25 cards checklist throws back to 2005-06 and has a base version numbered no higher than 275. As was the case in the previous set, there exists 3 sets of parallels that are non-autoed mem cards, as well as 3 autographed parallels. Of course. As always, Eichel is included, but not signed.

The first of the non-auto variations is the Silver Jersey #/125, this is followed by the Gold Patch /10, and Platinum Blue Tag set, #/5. For autographed versions (in addition to the base version), we have the Spectrum Silver Autograph Jersey /99, the Spectrum Gold Autograph Patch /15, and the Spectrum Teal Autograph Shield 1/1. I have seen no word on whether this Shield set will be included in e-pack, but I would hope not. Collectors should be aware that not all listed players are included in the base version. Panarin, Domi, Rantanen, Ehlers, and Plotnikov are exclusive to parallel sets.

Ultimate Collection – Debut Threads Sets

Ultimate Collection Debut Threads

Eichel Patch /5

Two separate checklists fall under the blanket of Debut Threads, the basic version, and the autographed version. These are not to be thought of a traditional parallels, as they use completely separate checklists. Although, each does have a Patch parallel of its own.

The primary Debut Threads set is essentially just a rookie jersey set. Featuring a medium sized jersey swatch in the middle of the card, this set relies on the rookie status to be a seller. This is not the set where you will be looking to make money (unless of course you get McDavid). The list contains a total of 30 names and all cards are serial numbered /149. There is also a Patch version /5 that will likely be considerably more valuable than the jersey set. Dallas fans should take note though, as Radek Faksa’s card has not been included in the patch variation.

Ultimate Collection Debut Thread Auto

McDavid Debut Thread Auto

The real win for fan of the Debut Threads set is the autographed variety. This list has been trimmed down to 26 names, focusing on the biggest of this year’s rookie class. The basic jersey variety is numbered /99, but with the likes of McDavid and Larkin signing, these could still sell nicely. The Patch parallel in numbered /10, and as usual will be more sought after, especially if Upper Deck has decided to focus on multi-coloured patches. With multi-coloured patches in mind, it should be noted that Chicago’s Artemi Panarin is exclusive to the Patch parallel.

Ultimate Collection – Honoured Materials Sets

Ultimate Collection Honoured Materials

Robinson Tag /3

Leaving the world of rookie exclusivity behind, we turn to the Honoured Materials sets. Like the Debut Threads, this set uses separate checklists for the autoed and non-autoed varieties. These are the types of sets that are more my speed, as the inclusion of legends such as Guy Lafleur and Patrick Roy make my own personal collection take notice.

The non-autographed Honoured Materials set has a total of 3 variations. The base set, which is numbered /99 (or/35 for select names) includes a total of 24 cards. These will just be your standard jersey cards, but fortunately even a “standard” Gretzky jersey is worth money. On the parallel side of the coin, we have the Gold Patch version, which is limited to 10 numbered copies each, and the Spectrum Gold Tag version. This Tag variety is /3 and will include a piece of laundry tag or makers mark. Take not that not all names are included in each parallel and collectors should consult a checklist to know where their favorites are.

Ultimate Collection Honoured MAterials Signature Patrick Roy

Roy Patch Auto /3

For the autographed version Ultimate Collection slims the checklist down to 13 names, mixing both rookies and veteran/retired stars. Here names such as Price, Crosby, and Roy cross paths with Fucale, Larkin, and Ehlers. This creates a best of both worlds for collectors and will surely make for a popular set. The main set is #/85 or less, while the Gold Patch is /25 or less, and the Gold Tag is /3. It should be noted however that the Dominik Hasek card is not included in the Gold Patch parallel.

Ultimate Collection – Iconic Fabrics Sets

Keeping with the theme of separate lists for the signed and unsigned varieties, Iconic Fabrics focuses on current stars and rookies for the basic version, and saves any legends for the autoed version. These look to be nice cards, with 4 windows for mem they will likely be some of the harder to find cards, and even the regular jersey version will generate interest.

Ultimate Collection Iconic Fabrics Eichel

Eichel Tags

Highlights of the non-autoed checklist include McDavid, Eichel, Jagr, and Patrick Kane, names that any collector should recognize immediately. This version of the cards has a 20 card checklist, with the base version being #/65. The Gold Patch version #/5 will definitely be a big draw, but for me the Gold Tag /3 will be the monster hit of the set. The 4 window format ensures that these would be the highlight of any collection.

As I said before, the autoed Iconic Fabrics cards are where the legends are hiding. Lemieux, Roy, and Yzerman make up the3 legends in this 8 card set. They are accompanied by names such as Price and Ovechkin, which means that there isn’t a bad name in this entire set. Ultimate Collection seems to have gone with jersey numbers as the basis for this sets numbering system. This means that prices is /31, Roy is /33, and Larkin is /71. The exceptions to this rule are Ovechkin and Lemieux, who are numbered /8 and /6 respectively. As for the parallel sets, we see a return to traditional numbering, with the Gold Patch being /15 or less, and the Spectrum Gold Tag being /3. Once again Chicago fans will be unable go get base versions of Panarin, as he is only in the parallel sets.

Ultimate Collection – Jumbo Materials Sets

Ultimate Collection Jumbo materials

Holtby 1/1 Shield

They say bigger is better, and this is especially true of memorabilia pieces. This will be a fun set to pull, whether you are going for to autographed list, or the non-autoed list. Both sets are limited, and both have 1/1 Shield Parallels, which of course is one of the highlights of Ultimate Collection in any year.

The main checklist of the Jumbo Materials (non-autoed) consists of 54 cards, however there are a few of these that only exist in the parallels. The base jersey version is #/40 and hopefully Upper Deck has seen fit to include multi-coloured swatches in here, but I doubt it. The Spectrum Silver Patch #/5 should be nice, especially for teams such as Chicago or Florida, teams whose logos lend themselves nicely to card mem. Of course the main focus of the set will be the 1/1 Spectrum Teal Shield cards, which I hope will not be in Ultimate Collection’s e-pack release.

Ultimate Collection Jumbo Auto

Seguin 1/1 Shield Auto

As is almost always the case, the autographed version of a set will be more desirable than the non autoed. While this may be less critical on the Base Jumbo Jersey Autos (/40 or less), it is clearly the case for the Spectrum Silver Patch cards which are all /10 or less. Names like McDavid, Roy, Forsberg, and Tavares are sure to demand top dollar. This is even more of a fact when it comes to the 1/1 Spectrum Teal Shield cards. I can’t begin to fathom what the Connor McDavid 1/1 Shield Auto will sell for on the secondary market. The only setback that I can see is that multiple sets of 1/1 Shields exist, which weakens the overall value of any single set.

Ultimate Collection – Material Achievements Sets

The duo of Materials Achievements sets are very much reminiscent of the Iconic Fabrics sets, but instead of 4 windows and letters, this set has 2 windows in the shape of the player’s numbers. In this respect it is very similar to The Cup’s Honorable Numbers set. Which is likely what Upper Deck wants, with a larger price and a more hit oriented product it seems clear that Upper Deck is building Ultimate Collection to be on The Cup’s level.  additionally many of Ultimate Collection’s other cards are very similar and I wonder if we may see the two products merge or have one of them be retired.

Ultimate Collection Material Achievements Anyway, speculation aside, the Material Achievements non-autoed set consists of 20 cards, all numbered /99. This set is very reliant on retired stars, with a few current players tossed in for good measure. This means names such as Lafleur, Messier, Hasek, and Yzerman are all available for collectors to snatch up. The addition of the usual parallels of Gold Patch /5, and Spectrum Gold Tag /3, mean that some very nice relics cards will be floating around in a few days.

The Signature Material Achievements set is much smaller than it’s little brother, numbering only 9 cards, however the names it boasts are impressive. Ovechkin, Price, Brodeur, and Gretzky all crop up a potential hits. The basic jersey version is numbered /40 or less, while the Gold Patch is /25 and the Spectrum Gold Tag is /3. These are definitely cards I wouldn’t mind pulling, if not for my PC, than for my PayPal account, lol. There’s some mega resale value here.

Ultimate Collection – Material Relics Multi Sets

Ultimate Collection Material Relics DualBuilding directly on the main base jersey set, this collection of multi player cards are likely to be a fairly common pull, even with overall odds on the dual being only 1:10 packs. Available in dual, trio, quad, and sixes versions, these cards are likely to be prevalent, especially given the lack of any autographed versions.

Starting at the top of this set list, we have the Material Combos Relics, this set features swatches from two different players. The base version is not numbered, but instead has pack odds for each card. The Spectrum Silver Patch cards are numbered either /15 or/10 depending on the card, while the Spectrum Teal Relic cards are /15 or less. The Teal Relics do not necessarily contain jersey pieces, with sticks, gloves, blockers, etc. all being possibilities.

Ultimate Collection Material Trios ParallelThe basic version of the Trios Relics Set has only 10 cards in it, again distributed according to pack odds. The over all odds for the set being 1:20 packs. For the parallels, a 14 card list has been assembled with both the Silver Patch, and the Spectrum Teal sets being numbered /15 or less. One example of a possible hit is the combination of Owen Nolan, Jaromir Jagr, and Martin Brodeur.

Ultimate Collections has also decided on a 10 card list for the base and Silver Patch Quad Relics set, and a 12 card list for the Teal Relics parallel. Odds of hitting one of these card are 1:30 packs, the Silver Patch cards are limited to 10 of each, as is the Teal version. The big money card here will consist of McDavid, Eichel, Hanifin, and Rantanen.

Ultimate Collection Material Sixes6 player mem cards are always popular, especially if all 6 players are of high quality. For this set the base and Silver Patch version have a 6 card list while the Teal has a 7. with an overall odds ration of 1:50, these are among the tougher pulls. The Silver Patch in numbered /15 or /10 depending on the card, while the Teal set is /10. The only exception to this numbering is the Teal card of Lafleur/Gilmour/Bucyk/Hasek/Savard/Messier, this is limited to 5 copies due to the caliber of players.

Ultimate Collection – Signature Laureates Sets

Ok, so this seems like a fun little set. Coming in two separate lists, the Signature Laureates is #/15 and has only a 5 card checklist, while the Signature Materials Laureates Patches has 19 cards numbered /40 or less. The auto only set is clearly the better, as the names included are Bobby hull, Bobby Orr, Gilbert Perreault, Johnny Bucyk, and Wayne Gretzky.

Ultimate Collection Laureates On a separate, but still related note, the Signature Material Phenoms Autograph Patch Relics set is dedicated to the 2015-16 Rookie Class, with 21 cards all numbered /10. Here all the major rookies are represented, with the exception of Jack Eichel due to his contractual restrictions. This means that fans will have another chance at McDavid and the gang before the 2016-17 rookies take over.

Ultimate Collection – Ultimate Dozen Booklets

Ok, so these cards are monsters (and the bane of checklist writers everywhere). This 14 card list contains a series of booklet cards that are numbered /40 or less. Each of the booklets contains 12 different players! Unfortunately these are not autographed (that would be a headache and a half), but should produce some really nice mem cards. Without a doubt, the hit of the set is the rookies booklet, which contains, McDavid, Eichel, Larkin, Domi, Panarin, Ehlers, Bennett, Fabbri, Hanifin, McCann, Fiala, and Fucale. I can’t begin to imagine the secondary market value for that beast.

Ultimate Collection – Signature Sets

Ultimate Collection Signatures OrrIf the Dozens Booklets didn’t settle your booklet cravings, perhaps the Rookie Autograph Booklets will. These booklets are all single player cards with an autograph, but no mem. Number /99 or less, this 17 card list is yet another shot at McDavid, Panarin, Larkin, and the rest of the rookie crew.

A mainstay of Ultimate Collection since its inception, the Ultimate Signatures set are single player on card autographs, featuring some of the best in the game. With overall pack odds of 1:5 it shouldn’t be too hard to find some of these floating around. However the Group A autos of players like Price, Ovechkin, Lemieux, and Gretzky will be considerably harder, with odds at 1:43 packs.

Ultimate Dual Signatures follows much of the same line as the solo variety, but are numbered /15 rather than inserted by pack odds. This 14 card list will have fans chasing duos such as Brodeur & Hasek, Price & Roy, and Gretzky & McDonald. I personally would love the Price/Roy combo, but any of these cards are sure to be mega hits.

Ultimate Collection – Ultimate Skills Jumbos Sets

Ultimate Collection Skills Jumbo

Drew Doughty Skills Jumbo

As we near the end of the product line, we may as well have another set of jumbo relics to look at. The Ultimate Skills Jumbo Jersey cards fall at a ration of 1:25 packs and the checklist contains 27 single player cards. The Group A names fall at a rate of 1:1097 packs, and consist of Bobby Ryan, Duncan Keith, and Jukub Voracek. None of these are names that I would expect to be Group A quality, but at least it improves the odds for some of the other bigger names.

Running along the same line is the Ultimate Skills Jumbo Patch and the Spectrum Teal Shield variations. These come on a 34 card list and are numbered /10 and 1/1 respectively. There are no major names on this list, just your average run of the mill players like Kessel, Burns, and Nash.

Ultimate Collection – Updates Set

Oh, thank the hockey God’s the end of the checklist is in sight. This final set of cards consists of updates from the 2013-14 and 2014-15 editions of Ultimate Collection. Fans can find cards such as the 1/1 Ultimate Signature Logos of Gabriel Landeskog (13/14), or the  Gold Spectrum Rookie Shield of Vladislav Namestikov from last year’s release. There is no specified numbering system on these sets, so fans will have to just hope for the best when it comes to pulling these.

Ultimate Collection – Wrap-Up

Wow, that was a long list. After going through it I am not entirely sure what to think about Ultimate Collection. It is clearly a quality product, but very repetitive, with the same basic set being recycled with minor changes throughout the list. Additionally, as I noted, the entire Ultimate Collection brand seems to be drifting closer and closer to Upper Deck’s The Cup, with similar card designs and a price to match. I’m never sure of what UD is thinking, but this has me really puzzled. As for the price, I am not overly surprised by it, yes it is expensive, but there are definitely people willing to pay that price for these cards. Not sure how it will work on e-pack, as the average person doesn’t have $230 to shell out on digital cards. Also will the removal of (at least one) the 1/1 Shields affect the price point and demand online? I guess this will be a wait and see type situation, but I predict problems. Hope you’ve had a good Tuesday, and I’ll see you tomorrow when I wrap up the rest of the week’s releases.

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