Saturday, June 17, 2006

Box Break and Review: 2006 Ultra

Two Boxes of 2006 Ultra baseball (paid $59 each).
24 packs per box, eight cards per pack (MSRP $2.99/pack)

The Details


Chiptoppers: One advertisment for 2006 Flair Showcase. (Looks pretty good).

Base Set: 251 cards
Broken Down by Short-Print Scheme:
Short Set: 200 cards
Retro Lucky 13: 50 cards (1:4)
Kenji Johjima Redemption Card: one card

Parallels:
Gold Medallion: 200 cards (one-per-pack*)
Retro Lucky 13 Gold Medallion: 50 cards (1:18/packs*)
* Pack odds retrieved from fleer.com

Inserts#:
RBI Kings: 20 cards
Home Run Kings: 15 cards
Strikeout Kings: 10 cards
Ultra Rising Stars: 10 cards
Diamond Producers: 25 cards
Midsummer Classic Kings: 10 cards
# Stated odds of finding an insert (from any of the sets) are one-per-pack.

Autogamers$:
AUTOGRAPHics: 35 cards
Ultra Fine Fabrics: 60 cards
Feel the Game: 30 cards
$ Stated odds of finding an autogamer (from any of the sets) are two-per-box, or 1:12/packs.

The Pulls.



Box One


Base Set: 115 of 251 (45.82%)
No doubles
Broken Down by Short-Print Scheme:
Short Set: 109 of 200 (54.50%)
Retro Lucky 13: 6 of 50 (12%) NOE-MAH! Helton, Cuddyer, F. Lopez, Baldelli, and P. Fielder.

Parallels:
24 Gold Medallions
1 Retro Lucky 13 Gold Medallion: A. Gonzalez

Inserts:
11 RBI Kings: Griffey, Ortiz, Teixeira, Sheffield, Sexson, Pujols, Helton, Delgado, C. Lee, V. Guerrero, and L. Gonzalez.
8 Home Run Kings: Pujols, A. Rodriguez, D. Lee, Teixeira, Dunn, Konerko, Sheffield, and Piazza.
5 Strikeout Kings: Santana, Peavy, Carpenter, Prior, and Zambrano.
5 Ultra Rising Stars: Street, F. Hernandez, Utley, Kazmir, and Taveras.
14 Diamond Producers: Edmonds, Griffey, Ortiz, M. Ramirez, Kent, Helton, Cabrera, Matsui, Tejada, Cantu, Burrell, Abreu, Dunn, and Chavez.
5 Midsummer Classic Kings: Jeter, Clemens, Soriano, G. Anderson, and I. Rodriguez.

Autogamers:
1 Ultra Fine Fabrics: Teixeira.
1 Feel the Game: V. Guerrero.

Box Two



Base Set: 115 of 251 (45.82%)
No doubles
Broken Down by Short-Print Scheme:
Short Set: 109 of 200 (54.50%)
Retro Lucky 13: 6 of 50 (12%) Jeter, P. Wilson, Jenkins, Verlander, Burroughs, Weeks.

Parallels:
24 Gold Medallions
1 Retro Lucky 13 Gold Medallion: Z. Greinke

Inserts:
11 RBI Kings: Griffey, Ortiz, M. Ramirez, Teixeira, Sheffield, Sexson, Kent, Pujols, Delgado, C. Lee, and V. Guerrero.
8 Home Run Kings: Pujols, Griffey, A. Rodriguez, D. Lee, Teixeira, Konerko, Sheffield, and Piazza.
5 Strikeout Kings: Santana, Peavy, Schilling, Carpenter, and Prior.
6 Ultra Rising Stars: Howard, Street, Utley, Duke, Kazmir, and Taveras.
13 Diamond Producers: Jeter, C. Jones, Ortiz, M. Ramirez, Kent, Helton, Matsui, V. Guerrero, Tejada, Burrell, Abreu, Bay, and Dunn.
5 Midsummer Classic Kings: Piazza, Jeter, Clemens, G. Anderson, and P. Martinez.

Autogamers:
1 Ultra Fine Fabrics: E. Chavez.
1 Feel the Game: F. Thomas.

The Review.



UpperFleerDeck does it again! Hot on the heels of Fleer baseball and the first series of Upper Deck, 2006 Fleer Ultra makes it 3-for-3 for the boys from Carlsbad. (or is it North Las Vegas now?)

The 251-card base set is pure Ultra. Just like how 2006 Fleer was a dead ringer for '94 Fleer, 2006 Ultra is Ultra just how you remember it was before it jumped the shark in 2001. The first 180 cards are arranged by team, followed by a twenty card "rookie" subset that is (are you ready for this) NOT short-printed. All 20 of these cards have the standardized MLBPA "ROOKIE CARD" icon, and yes, some of them are parenth-RCs. Cards 201-250 make up the "Retro Lucky 13" subset, and are SPed (1:4). After all, it wouldn't be an Ultra set without some short-prints? It shouldn't be all that difficult to complete the set, being that you get six of them in each box. And besides, unlike other recent card sets that shall remain nameless, it's not like they come autographed or anything.

The theme of the Retro Lucky 13s is that all were among in the first thirteen players selected in the first round of the amateur first-year player draft. Get it? Yes, there are all the usual suspects, but there are a few guys you don't normally find in a short-printed subset. Seriously, when was the last time Paul Wilson, Tony Clark, and Dustin Hermanson had SPed cards? And all the player's are current Big Leaguers -- no Brien Taylors or Josh Hamiltons in this bunch, but no Alex Gordons or Justin Uptons either. What makes the Retro Lucky 13s cool however, is that they really are Retro. The pictures used correspond directly to the year (or at least the general time frame) in which the player was drafted. For example, Ken Griffey, Jr.'s Lucky 13 shows him in one of those ass-ugly late-80s royal blue Mariners jerseys.

To finish off the base set, UpperFleerDeck was able to sneak in a redemption card -- right in the nick of time -- of The Hobby's current "Man of the Hour:" Kenji Johjima. On the checklist posted to fleer.com, Johjima is listed as card #251 in the set. However on the actual redemption card, it clearly states "NON-AUTO RREGULAR CARD #210 ... KENJI JOHJIMA." (And yes, if it says "NON-AUTO," feel free to assume that UpperFleerDeck's going to get Johjima to sign a handful as well.) If Johjima is indeed card #210, that must mean that Billy Wagner's Retro Lucky 13 card (#210 on the checklist) was pulled from the set. But it wasn't. I found at least one eBay auction for a Billy Wagner Retro Lucky 13 card. Is the redemption card right? or is the checklist? That remains to be seen.

Also, word on the street is that the Johjima redemption card was seeded at the rate of one-per-case (each case has 12 waxboxes). If this is true, then the Johjima redemption is short-printed in relation to the other Retro Lucky 13s at a rate of 30%. And since this card is only available as a redemption, could we see a repeat of the 2001 Donruss Albert Pujols situation? Stay tuned.

Moving on, just like with '06 Fleer and '06 UD I, there are an absolute crap-load of non-parallel inserts: 90 in all (not quite the "shit-load" of UD I, but a "crap-load" nonetheless). They're spread-out amongst six different insert sets, and you get one-per-pack -- at least that's what it says on the wrapper (more on that later). If you're like me and like chasing after non-parallel inserts, this is a good thing. Unfortunately, just like with Fleer and UD I, the pack insertion ratios for each specific insert set are not listed anywhere on the wrapper. In fact, since there are no checklists included with the product (tisk, tisk), you have to go Fleer's website to find this information. In addition to the one advertised insert in each pack, you also get a Gold Medallion parallel in each pack. Thankfully, it's the only parallel set in Ultra. Yes, the de-Donrussification of The Hobby continues!

Wrapping up '06 Ultra are the autogamers. Each box promises two from three different sets: Either an AUTOGRAPHic (and yes, THEY USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS), Ultra Fine Fabric, or Feel the Game card. The latter two are game-used inserts. Of course, in mid-level premium products like Ultra, such cards are merely window dressing. Chances are, you're probably not buying a box like this to pull autogamers, but you don't really mind pulling them either. Think of them as the scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of your slice of apple pie-a-la-mode.

The Bottom Line:



Both boxes yield everything advertised and then some. Instead of the advertised one insert per pack, in both boxes, I got two. Apparently, this is not an abberation, as most collectors are reporting that you get two inserts per pack -- three if you count the one-per-pack Gold Medallion parallel. If you are building the short set -- and if you're even considering buying this product, you probably are -- you'll need to buy at least two boxes. So tap that 401k, cash in your kids college fund, do whatever you can to buy that second box. You'll be glad you did.

Product Rating: 3 1/2 Gumsticks (out of five)

Do I recommend this product?



Hell yeah! It's Fleer freaking Ultra, for crying out loud. If you don't like this product, then get the hell out of The Hobby now!

...and another thing


For some reason the Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander Retro Lucky 13 cards I pulled both have the MLBPA "Rookie Card" icon on them. According to the MLBPA's own guidelines, they shouldn't, because they both made their Major League debut before the September 1, 2005 cut-off date. Also, Ryan Zimmerman's card (also with the icon) is placed among his Nationals teammates and not with the 20 other rookies.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just thought I'd mention...the price of these boxes has dropped considerably on Ebay, as I picked up one back in late July or early August for about $32 after shipping. Very nice product, yes :)

Dave © said...

This continues to be one of the best bang-for-your-buck products in the last few years. I picked up nine boxes from Dave and Adam's last month for $22 each, delivered, a little less than $200 in all. Total book value of the cards I pulled was just shy of $2,400. Sweet cards. Great value.

Dave © said...

This continues to be one of the best bang-for-your-buck products in the last few years. I picked up nine boxes from Dave and Adam's last month for $22 each, delivered, a little less than $200 in all. Total book value of the cards I pulled was just shy of $2,400. Sweet cards. Great value.