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Retro Retail Review: 1998-99 Upper Deck MVP

July 13, 2011

I recently had to go on a day-long business trip to the eastern part of the Greater Toronto Area and as I often do on these sorts of trips, severely overestimated the amount of time I would need to make the trip south for my meeting.

I found myself with a fair bit of time to kill before my meeting was scheduled to start, so I decided to take a slight detour and make a pit stop at the local Wal-Mart just to see what they might have in terms of cards.

As I have written about a number of times over the past few months, my hobby-related spending has been kept to almost non-existent levels lately.  Every now and then I would get the desire to go pick something up just for the sake of it, but my self-control won out and I passed on making any purchases.

On this day, however, that self-control was nowhere to be found.  The itch got the better of me and for the first time since the my 2008-09 Black Diamond Rack Pack Box purchase at the Toronto Spring Sports Card and Memorabilia Expo I bought myself something to crack open.

What I came across on this trip caught me by surprise.  Generally speaking, Wal-Marts carry Blaster Boxes of relatively current products, along with a smattering of repackaged cards that are often filled with junk.

The box that caught my eye was what looked like a full-sized box of 1998-99 Upper Deck MVP.  Further inspection revealed that is was a retail box that contained 21 packs, but it also revealed that those 21 pack boxes had been discounted to just $10 a piece.

With 10 cards in each of those 21 packs, I figured less than fifty cents per pack was a pretty reasonable price for a larger than usual retail box break.

This was the first edition of the MVP brand, a “value” brand that Upper Deck utilized each season other than the locked out 2004-05 campaign all the way through 2009-10.  The brand was nowhere to be found in Upper Deck’s 2010-11 offerings, but will be reborn as an insert set theme in the soon to be released 2011-12 Victory product.

I really don’t mind the foil “MVP” logo that is featured in the design of each card, but I wish Upper Deck had left it to just that. The giant, squared off “MVP” on the front of each card looks awful though.

As for the inserts, I actually found them to be fairly attractive across the board, save for a few minor complaints.  I’m not usually big fan of all-foil cards, but these actually won me over, especially the sets that use the more muted foil instead of the overly bright rainbow foil that now seems to be a staple in many products.

There is a bit too much in common when it comes to the Special Forces, Power Game, and Snipers sets, as each use the silhouette-in-the-background look, but overall they still look pretty good in my books.

The Silver Script parallels are pretty underwhelming (so much so with some of them that they will make for future From the World of “Why?” fodder) and the Special Forces inserts don’t offer much from a design perspective other than being bright, but that’s really all I can find to I dislike about this Upper Deck offering.

When it comes to what I actually pulled from the box, I feel as though I did quite well for myself.

From my 210 card haul I got 188 (or 85%) of the base set to go along with 22 insert cards that included: 11 Silver Script Parallels; 1 Dynamics; 3 OT Heroes; 3 Power Game; 3 Snipers; and 1 Special Forces.

I definitely cannot complain when I avoid pulling any doubles and also get inserts at a rate slightly better than one per pack.  Anytime I pull a Yzerman card I am happy, regardless of whether or not I already have the card, so to pull two different inserts in this box was a nice surprise.

I also beat the odds by pulling a Dynamics (1:28 packs) and three of each of the OT Heroes and Power Game inserts (1:9 packs).  Sadly there was no ProSign autograph insert to be found, but the combination of the long-shot odds (1:216 packs) and my general lack of luck make this far from a surprising result.

Overall this was a really fun break for the tiny $10 price tag.  I was very happy with the return on my expenses and have since headed back for a few more boxes, allowing me to finish the base set and get close to finishing a couple more.  Every single box has offered a pretty decent return and these are definitely something I will be keeping an eye out for any time I feel like cracking some packs.

Look for the inserts and maybe even some base sets to make their way into my eBay store over the coming months or get in touch by email (, on Twitter or Facebook, or by leaving a comment in this article if there’s anything you’re looking for from this product.

Until Sunday, all the best in your collecting pursuits!


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