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Retail Review: 2008-09 Black Diamond Blister Pack Retail Box Break

May 11, 2011

Breaking packs and boxes of cards is one of my absolute favourite parts of my hobby of collecting sports cards.  Those who read my review of the 2011 Toronto Spring Sports Card and Memorabilia Expo last week will know that my usual splurge on boxes was significantly impacted by what I felt to be a major lack of options available that provided any sort of potential for a solid return on investment.

I must have walked up and down each aisle four or five times trying to figure out what to buy and where.  At one point I was seriously considering not buying any wax at all given the selection and prices, which would have been a first for me at this show.

Finally, however, I found myself back at one of the major suppliers of wax at the show and came across a box that I had overlooked on each previous pass of their booth.  Buried at the back of one of their tables was a completely inconspicuous brown box with a three-pack blister pack of 2008-09 Upper Deck Black Diamond that you would expect to find in retail outlets such as Wal-Mart or Toys R’ Us taped to it.

I looked at the box a little closer and noticed the sticky note with the price of $110 taped to it also indicated that there were 108 packs in the box.  I remembered that these three-pack blister packs typically retailed in the neighbourhood of $13 each back when they were first released, so I asked the dealer if I could take a closer look at the packs to see what the odds of pulling anything of quality were.

After a quick look I realized that just over a dollar a pack for this product was a deal I could not pass up, particularly given my complete lack of success at finding anything else worth considering, let alone buying.

The odds on the box broke down as follows:
– Double Diamond SP were inserted 1 in 4 packs
– Triple Diamond SPs 1 in 8 packs
– Quadruple Diamond SPs 1 in 24 packs
– Parallel Cards (Gold #/10 according to the pack) 1 in 80 packs
– Premier Cuts inserts of various degrees of difficulty in pulling averaged out to 1 in 12 packs
– Gemography autographed cards 1 in 96 packs
– Quad Jersey cards at 1 in 24 packs

Based on those odds I should technically have received the following:
– 27 Double Diamond SPs
– 13 Triple Diamond SPs
– 4 Quadruple Diamond SPs
– 1 Gold Parallel
– 9 Premier Cuts inserts
– 1 Gemography Autograph
– 4 Quad Jersey cards

What I actually pulled hardly managed to match the odds on any count aside from the Premier Cuts cards of which I pulled precisely the nine I had expected to receive.

For the Double Diamond SPs I pulled a grand total of 29.  I beat the odds there, however of the 29, only 19 were unique.  I ended up with four copies of Kopitar, three copies of Cheechoo, and thee copies of Osgood, along with doubles of 3 other cards.  The best of the lot are pictured here:


On the Triple Diamond end of things I had some better luck.  The pack stated that the Triples, both “Regular & Rookie Gems” were inserted 1 in 8 packs.  When examining the packs to figure out if this was a worthwhile investment, I took this ratio to mean the overall odds of a Triple Diamond card was 1 in 8.

Turns out I was either wrong in that assumption and got slightly less than what I should have, or I was correct and I beat the odds substantially.  In total, I pulled twenty-four Triple Diamond cards, including thirteen regulars and an additional eleven Rookie Gems.

Since my expectation was to only receive thirteen in total and that expectation level was the premise under which the box was purchase, I feel like I beat the odds regardless of what the correct ratio was intended to be.

Again, some duplication popped up in the Triple Diamond cards, which is always disappointing to see, but overall I am happy with my haul of them.


Moving on to the Quadruple Diamond SPs, my expectations were once again shattered compared to what I had honestly expected to receive from the box.  Five regular Quadruple Diamond cards were accompanied by four Rookie Gems, and while none of the four were Stamkos, I did pull Schenn and Oshie, two of the better rookies available in this product.


One major downfall, however, was the condition this Quadruple Diamond Rookie Gem of Michael Frolik came out of the pack in.  Like many collectors, I have had my share of cards come out of the pack damaged, but I have never seen anything quite as pathetic as this:


The picture really and truly does not do justice to how horrifically damaged this card is.  It looks as though someone literally tried to roll it into a tube, got halfway done, flattened the card back out, and put it in the pack.  It was the only card in the pack to have any damage to it, so needless to say this wasn’t a packaging issue.  My favourite part the bit that is torn and folded back right in the middle of his face!

I already know that Upper Deck has a policy of not replacing factory damaged cards that are more than a year old, however I still plan on sending them the card to illustrate just how pathetic their quality control processes can be.  Thankfully it was a card of Frolik and not of Stamkos, or else I would be much more upset about enduring this embarrassing performance from Upper Deck.

Regardless, Upper Deck should be embarrassed this card was allowed to be packed out.

For the remainder of the box, things came in on the negative side of the odds pretty much across the board.  While I did pull the expected nine Premier Cuts inserts (scans below), I came up short on the Parallel, autograph, and jersey cards.

In 108 packs I did not pull a single Gemography card, nor did I get a single Parallel card as I ought to have.  Disappointing to say the least, but not entirely unexpected given my past experiences with Upper Deck retail products.  The “across the entire production run” term slapped on every pack needs to be heeded on their retail products as cards rarely come out of the pack at the odds stated.

In addition to those disappointments, I also came up short on the sum total of jersey cards I pulled, though one of the three that did come out of the box certainly helped make up for the missing fourth that I had anticipated at the outset.


This Jose Theodore card is the “Diamond” or “Onyx” parallel variation of the regular jersey cards and is serial numbered to a measly ten copies, easing the pain of the negative aspects of the chase cards in this box.

One final bonus was also that I managed to pull two complete single base sets from the box and came up only two cards short from finishing a third and twelve cards short of a fourth.  A quick look through some singles I already had on hand from this product allowed me to finish off the third set and reduce the need list on the fourth to just five cards.

If you have the following, please shoot me an e-mail at, I would love to get this set finished off!  I need numbers 6, 32, 33, 36 and 82.

Overall I am still pretty happy with my choice of wax for this edition of the Expo.  The sheer volume of short prints and Rookie Gems that I pulled means there is a strong chance of recovering my $110 investment, and the Theodore jersey card should help that along as well (auction link here).

What did you think of this product?  What about my break?  Do you agree that I received a pretty decent return or am I looking at this box through rose-coloured glasses?  Let me know your thoughts by shooting me an e-mail at, leaving a comment on this article, or connecting with me on Twitter or Facebook.

Until Sunday, all the best in your collecting pursuits!



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