Sunday, January 24, 2016

Box Review: 2015 Upper Deck Dinosaurs (Hobby)

The 2015 Upper Deck Dinosaurs set is a 150 card base set (with the final 50 cards all short printed to varying degrees).

As part of my ongoing Box Review series, this review is based solely on the box that I am opening for the purposes of the review (my second such box of 2015 Upper Deck Dinosaurs).  As you will see, I did better with my first box - but not by so much so as to change the overall score.

Anyhow, I bought this box off of eBay and it arrived with a massively damaged corner (mostly because the seller shipped the box in a padded envelope?!  Luckily, Upper Deck made the box have some empty space around all four sides which ended up acting as a bit of a cushion of sorts for the packs.  I'm pleased to report no damage to any of the cards in the box!

The standard base cards all follow the same basic design.

You get the set logo along with the name of the dino of record at the bottom of the card.  The rocks are actually a card design element that exist on all ground dwelling base dinosaurs.  The flying dinosaurs in the base set get a tree element instead of the rocks.  It's a small touch but it works well - and helps to make the set seem more cohesive given how many different styles of dinosaur images are used throughout!

The back of the cards is another highlight of the set - you get the same front image (albeit cropped a bit) but you also get the card number, dino name, and then a bit of a bio of the dinosaur (along with the "vitals").  I like learning about the various dinosaurs so I found most of the card backs interesting - especially for dinosaurs that I wasn't as familiar with (such as Cryolophosaurus).

My box came with a total of 63 of the 100 regular base cards (0 duplicates).  With a bit of luck, two boxes will give you the full base set (not in my case though).

The second portion of the base set (cards #101 - 150) are the short prints (#101 - 125) and super short prints (#126 - 150).  The short prints are seeded 1:2.7 packs while the super short prints are found 1:8 packs.  Upper Deck continued with a thematic approach to the short prints making the regular short prints all sea creatures and the super short prints make up the ice age creatures.

My box was disappointing on the super short print front - with 20 packs in a box you'd expect to pull two or three super short prints.  My box yielded exactly zero.  That's right, I got shut out which really sucks since I want to build the full base set.

Instead of getting my allotment of super short prints, I ended up with a ton of regular short prints (the sea creatures).  As you can see from the above card, the sea creature short prints are easy to spot at a glance because they have a water element at the bottom of the card.  Again, it's a simple thing but it works well.  My box provided me with ten of the regular short prints.

It should be noted that the wrapper actually states that short prints and super short prints are seeded at a combined rate of 1:2 packs which means I actually ended up with the ten short prints that I should have...unfortunately for me, all ten were of the more common variety.

While that does it for the base set, one of the real draws of buying boxes is the wide variety of inserts and "hits."  For me, the only insert set that doesn't interest me is the canvas mini cards (seeded 1:2 packs) though there is nothing particularly wrong with them, I'm just not going to chase after that set.
I ended up with the expected ten minis (though it is interesting to note that two of my ten minis were from the super short print portion of the set plus one more mini short print).  I guess Upper Deck counted the minis and the base cards together.  The other bummer thing about the minis is that all the minis have the same rock design at the bottom of the card - even the super short prints from the Ice Age portion such as the Smilodon that I pulled.

The next most common insert set is the Stickers set.  This is a 30 card set with stickers falling at a rate of 1:4 packs.  As expected, I pulled exactly five (again no duplicates).

The 3-D Lenticular Dinosaur insert cards are slightly rarer than the Stickers set (1:5 packs) but are way, WAY more cooler!  The 3-D effect works well on most of the dinosaur images that I pulled.  The downside to this set is two-fold.  First, it's size (42 cards but rarer than the stickers) and second, it's tiered into different levels of rarity.

The most common cards in the set (#1 - 24) are the Herbivores.  Three of my four 3-D cards belonged to this portion of the set.

The next most common cards (#25 - 33) are the Predators.  My final 3-D card was a Predator (Allosaurus).  I didn't pull any of the rarer 3-D cards (Marine #34 - 39 or Flying 40 - 42).  The Herbivores are seeded 1:7.5 packs, Predators 1:25, Marine 1:50, and Flying 1:150.  Needing 450 packs with perfect collation to nab all three of flying 3-D cards seems excessive to me.

Each hobby box of 2015 Upper Deck Dinosaurs promises two "hits" of sorts.  The first is a 1 of 1 sketch card.  Mine wasn't very cool (to me) - it's the Neanderthal Man as a single panel sketch (there exist two and three panel sketch cards as well).

I would have much rather had pulled a sketch of, you know, a dinosaur.  That said, it's still a one-of-one so I guess that's something to be pleased with.  I can't help but think this Neanderthal is actually an prehistoric version of Albert Einstein.

The second promised hit is a patch card.  My patch was of Amargasaurus.

Like many of the parts of the set, the patch cards also have a variety of rarities.  The cards don't go in numerical order according to rarity, so you need to consult an online checklist to know exactly what you have.  For what it's worth, my Amargasaurus is part of Group D which is the most common group and is seeded 1:32 packs.

As for promised cards in a box, that does it.  However, there are still some rarer sets that you could hope to pull including Artist Autographs, Authentic Fossil Relics, and "ROAR" Audio Booklets.  I didn't pull any of those, but I did luck out and get a single card from the final insert set:  Predators of the Deep.

The Predators of the Deep cards are AWESOME.  They have a shadow box design with two images (the dinosaur on top printed on some sort of acetate and the "background" on the bottom) which are separated by a cardboard frame which acts as a spacer.  You'll have to trust me that the scan does not do these beautiful cards justice - pulling one makes the entire box opening experience seem much more worthwhile (which is good because these cards are rather rare:  seeded 1:40 packs or one every other box).

As you can see, you get a whole lot of dinosaur goodies in a single box of 2015 Upper Deck Dinosaurs.  It's pretty clear that this set is only of interest to a rather small group of collectors - one that's narrowed even further by the approximately $100 price tag on a new hobby box of the set (I got mine for less than that but that is the going rate).

For me, my first box of Dinosaurs was so much fun I had to go out and buy a second box.  This one was undoubtedly worse than the first one, though I did luck out and nab my second Predators of the Deep card.  However, this review is based solely on the contents of the box being reviewed, so here goes - my final thoughts!

Overall, I give the 2015 Upper Deck Dinosaurs (hobby) box the following rating:
Set design:  A-
Collation:  A-
Opening thrill:  B+
Overall:  A-

Although there were no duplicates in the box (yay!), I had to knock the collation score slightly because I didn't get any of the (seemingly) promised base card super short prints.  I also think the set design suffers slightly because the minis not using the varied images on the bottom of the card (the rocks).  The opening thrill of this box also took a hit because of the disappointing (to me) sketch card.  All that said, this box was still pretty great - and definitely a lot of fun!  I probably won't go after a third box of the product (base set is too small, inserts too rare) but I could be convinced to buy another if the price drops substantially (and ultimately, that's the real kicker here - the price).  It's hard to justify this product being worth $100...but if you love dinosaurs, the quality of the set is good enough that you probably won't suffer from too much in the way of buyer's remorse!  I can't help but make this set highly recommended!


Anonymous said...

I love the look of these cards, but I'm not sure I'm willing to invest in an entire box, and I've yet to see these cards in any sort of brick & mortar store. I'll keep looking our for them, hopefully they'll turn up somewhere. It'd be a shame if these are only available in box form.

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