On Black Friday, or Cyber Monday - I'm not sure which - I did my usual prowl of Dave & Adam's Card World website for some deals. You've already seen my blister-inducing rip of 36 rack packs of 2015 Panini Prizm, but after that slumming I decided to class it up a bit with an all-time favorite - 2015-2016 UD Champs Hockey.
Things went well, but first, the brew:
Being a Thin Man Brewery offering with Hudson Valley banger Captain Lawrence Brewing, I knew it would be good, and it was. As I heard on the IFS Podcast once, you can't go into a New England IPA half-assed. You need to whole ass-it, and these two powerhouse breweries did just that. 4.25/5, but unfortunately long enough ago that I cannot replay the details. It's good, okay?
On to the packs.
There's some small details in there, but Champs is a hit-driven box (two memorabilia, one autograph guaranteed per box) with some unique inserts splashed in. Despite a beautiful base set, it's not one for collectors despite a 350-card set with 50 short prints rounding out this offering.
The base cards are beauties, with the faux-vintage look, medium cardboard stock, and frosted window photos. One nice bit of the set was the amount of rarer jerseys found in the photographs, including this black New York Islanders alternate:
There's only so much you can do with hockey card photographs (Upper Deck S1 - don't read this) but UD make sit work real well in Champs.
The backs match (and there's some variants I won't get into) with the rough cardboard stock. They're not terribly easy to read, and for the Maple Leafs haters out there, this is the only one that will be featured in this post:
There's a fair amount of horizontal cards, too, like this Victor Rask:
And lots of rookies mixed in, like this Brady Skjei, who recently rose to some somewhat stardom in this recent Saturday Night Live skit with Chance the Rapper. Note: that's not Brady in the skit, and Chance manages to embarrass the rest of SNL's currently garbage cast.
The simple, framed design lends itself to the older-style jerseys.
There's also some bronze or gold or somethingorother parallels which I could absolutely do without, but at least there's a player collection in there:
To my baseball faithful that may have skipped UD Champs' baseball equivalent known as Goodwin Champions (which, well...wasn't very good), the Hockey offering is mostly the same aside from a Canadian-heavy offering of inserts. In 15-16 Champs, Famous Foods, Fish and Northern Wonders are inserted, but unlike baseball, are offered in standard stock, and not minis (thankyouthankyouthankyou.)
The foods are fine, but the Northern Wonders are spectacular, though the only one I managed was Banff National Park. Banff might have been the best to come away with if pulling only one, and it's an extremely important place geologically and within the paleontology world.
I pulled all of my hits in the first five packs, which really hurt the momentum of the box break, but let me appreciated the inserts and base cards more. My low-grade hit was this Matt Puempel jersey swatch.
Puempel has struggled outside of the AHL, playing just 79 NHL games since his debut in 2014-2015.
Now on to my favorite aspect of Champ's, the fish. I managed four, including the bluegill, brook stickleback, common carp and one of my favorite fish - the Muskie, or muskellunge, depending on your local vernacular.
They're an introduced hybrid, but are by far the king of predators in any water body they live in the Northeast states.
For some more traditional hits, we have an autograph of known face-punching enthusiast Scott Hartnell. Again, the semi-gloss cardboard stock with frosted photos is perfect for inking, and the blue of Hartnell's auto here really stands out in a real beauty.
There was one more major hit in the box, and it nearly paid for the entire box itself. Here he is, with a bright orange but inaccessible jersey swatch, McJesus himself:
|Does he ever stop making that face?|
Auston Matthews is better.