Friday, November 7, 2008

Review: Fleer Ultra Hockey

When it comes to the 2008-09 Fleer Ultra Hockey, you're going to get what you pay for. It's not a high-end product. Nor is it a bargain basement offering. At best, it's a mid-priced product (hobby boxes for about $55-$60) that, from where I sit, is better suited to card collectors than autograph hounds.

After buying a couple of retail boxes ($20 for 60 cards) and fat packs ($5 for 38 cards), eschewing pricier hobby boxes this time, I'm afraid this product, though somewhat useful, will get passed over next season.

Why? For autograph hounds, and that's the filter I run these reviews through, there's very little in terms of putting together a deep set of cards for any in-person hounding.

Trust me, I have more than enough cards for, say, New Jersey's Zach Parise or Boston's Marc Savard. What I'd rather see are more cards for players like New Jersey's Bryce Salvador or Boston's Stephane Yelle.

Again, my biggest complaint I have with this early season release are the outdated photos. Given today's computer technology, when images can be transferred in seconds and prepared for offset printing in moments, seeing cards of players in old uniforms, such as these four shown above, shows a lack of hustle.

To me, preseason games or training camps allow ample opportunity to get updated photos.

The best thing about this release, or at least in the retail version, is the array of inserts, including some that seem perfect for signing.

From Rookie Sensations, a gathering that primarily features last season's call-ups, to Total D, a goalie-specific subset, these are suitable for in-person hounding.

Other insert sets also provide autograph stock for last season's top rookies -- Chicago's Team Leaders card shows Calder Trophy winner Patrick Kane and Montreal's Carey Price is featured in the Difference Makers set.

Puckhound's snapshot

Product: 2008-09 Fleer Ultra Hockey
Vital stats: 200-card base set with Gold Medallion parallels. Hobby boxes average two game-used or signature cards, six rookies, a Rookie Redemption card and three EX Hockey cards
Something good: Crisp action photography, useful inserts within the retail product and a pair of rookie cards (shown above) for Phoenix's Kyle Turris.
Something bad: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, there are way too many cards showing players in the uniforms of their old teams
Puckhound's score: 2 of 5 pucks

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