By Karine Hains aka Pheebs888

For hockey collectors, the Upper Deck monopoly era has not been filled with positive experiences only so when the NHLPA announced that a second card manufacturer would be granted the right to produced licensed NHL cards, many jumped for joy. The anticipation was palpable as the collecting masses patiently awaited the release of the first Panini hockey product; 2010-2011Certified. As October rolled on, numerous boxes of Certified were busted across the online collecting community and over two months later, I now get a chance to crack open a box myself as I am finally back on the right side of the ocean. I thought it would be a perfect occasion to review Panini’s first offering.

First Impressions

When breaking a new market, making a good first impression is always advisable. With Certified, I would say that Panini managed to do that. Even though there was a delay in the release of the product, once it arrived it oozed professionalism. The packs are contained in a neat cubic box and once you remove the plastic wrapper, the packs are standing there ready for you to crack. Slotted in the box is also a copy of the checklist for the product which I think is definitely a good idea, who wants to have the checklist on a card as part of the set? It’s a waste of a set slot if there ever was one.

Description

From the get go, the very noticeable aspect of certified is how very shiny it is. Each and every card is glossy and the base cards can be differentiated from the parallels by the absence of the words “Mirror” on a colored pattern (red, gold, emerald, blue, black). Overall, the look of the base cards is satisfying, it gives the impression that the player depicted is under some sort of spotlight which is a nice effect. However, I am not crazy about the inclusion of the Certified logo at the top of the card in the middle, since it just makes it look like each player has an halo. It takes a bit of getting used to but when you get passed it, this is a nice looking product on the whole. As for the card stock, there is an issue with some of the parallel cards bending perhaps due to the extra layer of color or gloss added to reflect their parallel nature. This is quite a big problem as most collectors prefer their cards to be in as good a condition as possible.

Box Details

Packs per box: 10
Cards per pack: 5
Base set: 212 (including rookies)
Price: $75.99 to $89.99
Check out http://www.paniniamerica.net/pis/preview.cfm?product_id=223&product_configuration_id=557

Sets

Panini packed a big selection of insert sets in this product, whatever floats your boat you will probably find something in this checklist that you could enjoy chasing: Big Men on Campus, Certified Champions, Certified Legends, Certified Potential, Certified Top Choice, Collision Course, Immortals, Masked Marvels and Throwback threads on top of all the parallel versions of each of these some of which include game-used material. Speaking of game-used material, there are a few sets of those as well: Shirt off my Back, Fabrics of the Game, Junior Legacy Combos and of course the popular Freshman Fabrics. On top of this, there are also autographed cards Legends Signatures, Top Choice Signatures, Freshman Fabrics Signatures and Junior Legacy Combos Signatures to name a few. A complete break down of all sets and parallel versions is available on Panini’s website here: http://www.paniniamerica.net/checklists.cfm

The Break

The odds when breaking Certified are that you will find 4 memorabilia or autograph hits in each hobby box with one of those being a guaranteed autograph. As for the inserts, there should be one in every two packs but of course this applies to the entire production run and not to each and every single pack or box.

My box yielded the following:

Inserts and Parallels:

Certified Mirror Blue Parallel: 137. Dion Phaneuf 70/100
Certified Mirror Red Parallel: 50. Brad Richards 221/250
Throwback Threads: 1. Ray Ferraro 483/500
Collision Course Mirror Red: 4. Steve Ott 107/250
Masked Marvels: 23. Jason LaBarbera 158/500

Game-Used and Autographs:
Certified Mirror Red Dual Materials: 95. Henrik Lundqvist 64/150
Certified Mirror Blue Material Jerseys: 67. Anze Kopitar 95/100
Certified Mirror Blue Signatures: 49. Kari Lehtonen 39/50
Freshman Fabrics Signatures: 193. Magnus Paajarvi 362/499

Comments

Overall, Certified was a fun product to bust, however I am not sold on the parallel overkill. As a player collector, I do not want to have the same card of my PC guys over and over with only a slight color variation. Of course, not everyone will share that view, some people thrive when chasing rainbows, I personally don’t and I fail to see the pot of gold at the bottom of it. As mentioned earlier, some of the parallel versions appear to be curling upwards which is no doubt the main issue with this release. Props must be given to Panini however for the effort they put in their game-used sets, it was revealed that they really did go the extra mile by buying some of the Habs Centennial Celebration jerseys to use them in game-used cards, this has made the delight of numerous Montreal faithfuls.

As for the design, my previous critic about the halo still stands but aside from that, I really do like the shiny aspect of the cards. On the autograph front however, just like most collectors, I would rather see a product which is entirely hard signed but this is a first attempt by Panini and it is understandable that they would use sticker autographs to simplify the process and cut down on the redemption cards.

Final Ratings
Overall Design: 3.5/5
Value: 4/5
Fun: 5/5
Rebuy: 3.5/5
Variety: 4/5
Total: 80%

To be honest, I think that this was a very good first effort by Panini and I look forward to seeing what they can deliver on the other releases. I will most definitely be busting some Score, Donruss and Limited in the near future. Let us know what you thought about Panini Certified Hockey by commenting on this article or on www.sportscardforum.com.