Upper Deck has given its SPx brand some fairly radical makeovers in some sports, but the hockey version has been pretty consistent for some time. For 2008-09, the card designers get to flex their creative muscle once again on the base cards, and the autographed jersey rookie cards are once again a big draw.
Hobby boxes of 2008-09 SPx Hockey come with eighteen packs of four cards each. Every box should contain one jersey rookie and one signed jersey rookie card, as well as at least two additional memorabilia cards.
SPx Hockey has one of the most diverse base sets of any product on the market, and it begins with 100 veterans on a dynamic, horizontal card design. Prominent features include the brand's trademark 'X,' a team logo and team-colored foil that adds some dazzle without overwhelming everything else.
Rookies come in four tiers and utilize a more conventional vertical layout. The first tier consists of 30 regular cards numbered to 499.
The second tier presents 24 rookie jersey cards, numbered to 1299 and showcasing two event-worn pieces that come together to form an 'X.' Bringing up the rear are two tiers of autographed rookie jerseys, which get their own section below.
SPx takes an unusual but welcome route by using Flashback Fabrics cards to finish off the base set. The first 29 cards are two-piece game-worn jersey cards using photography from early in famous players' careers, while the final 30 cards keep the swatches and add an autograph. None are numbered, but one would expect autograph subjects like Wayne Gretzky, Patrick Roy and Ray Bourque to be pretty rare.
I opened a random hobby box for this review and found a nice representative sample of what SPx is made of, beginning with 69 veterans and one regular rookie card. On top of that, I pulled an Andreas Nodl rookie jersey and a Flashback Fabrics card of former Jets and Sabres great Dale Hawerchuk.
Autographed Jersey Rookie Cards
As mentioned above, the final 36 rookies appear on the autographed jersey cards that are synonymous with SPx Hockey. Thirty are numbered to 999, with a select group of six (Kyle Turris, Blake Wheeler, Luke Schenn, Zach Bogosian, Drew Doughty and Steven Stamkos) numbered to 499.
My review box produced as advertised, yielding an autographed jersey card of Florida's Michael Frolik.
Memorabilia and Insert Cards
On average, every box should hold a few more game-worn memorabilia cards on top of what's offered in the base set. One should be from Winning Materials, a perennial SPx insert that presents two jersey swatches from one player.
There are also Winning Combos and Winning Trios cards with swatches from two or three players, respectively. Spectrum parallels add either patch swatches or autographs to the mix.
The set has only one standard insert set, SPXcitement, which should be familiar to anyone who has collected the brand in previous seasons. The checklist includes current and retired stars on cards numbered to 999.
My sample box was Rangers-heavy, with a Mark Messier Winning Materials card and a Markus Naslund/Scott Gomez card. I also pulled two SPXcitement cards.
The Last Word
There's nothing in this season's SPx Hockey that is really revolutionary, but it does bring many positive qualities to the table. The cards look great, there are elements to appeal to several different types of collectors, and the signed rookie jersey cards are always fun to pull.
A full box is probably the way to go if your budget allows it, and it should run you somewhere in the $99 to $129 range. SPx Hockey always has its share of fans, and there's no reason to see that changing here.