Let’s not beat around the bush, for a while now the perceived quality of Ultra Pro deck protector sleeves has been on the decline. Ask anyone who plays card games on a regular basis and they will tell you that Ultra Pro sleeves are the ‘cheap and nasty’ ones you purchase for a booster draft or to slap in something you don’t really care about. Not to mention the infuriating holographic logo that for many games would cover important information.
It’s a shame really; as someone who has been involved in tabletop gaming for decades now I can remember a time during the 90’s when Ultra Pro reigned supreme. Sometime during the last ten years or so something changed though, production quality dropped and the negative reputation began to settle in.
Recently though we’d begun hearing rumours about the new ‘Eclipse’ from Ultra Pro and we were hearing good things. We reached out to Banter Toys & Collectibles who are the Australian distributor for Ultra Pro and they were more than happy to send us out a selection for our own inspection.
I’m pleased to say the rumours are true. Ultra Pro has absolutely returned to form with the Eclipse range of sleeves. Clearly Ultra Pro have listened to their customer feedback and designed this sleeve from the ground up to please.
The sleeves are truly opaque with a coloured back and black interior. I inserted a number of different cards from different games into the sleeves and was not able to see the card back (or front for that matter) at all. Fantastic to know that you won’t have to worry about any judge decisions at the next major event.
A matte finish on the front and ever so slightly textured back ensure the cards don’t slip, even fresh out of the packet. After sleeving up my Modern deck I was pleasantly surprised when the deck didn’t ‘explode’ all over the table in a slippery mess or out of my hands while shuffling. I was able to go immediately into a game without having to ‘warm the deck up’.
The holographic logo? Gone!
Ultimately though it all just comes down to feel and Ultra Pro Eclipse just feels good in the hand. They shuffle well, play well and look good.
‘Wear & Tear’ for the most part seemed pretty good. Through some extensive play over the Amonkhet pre-release weekend the deck came out the other side in good condition. While I’m not expecting the sleeves to be indestructible they seem to be holding up well so far. I attempted to simulate split sleeves and tearing by attacking a half dozen sleeves and found for the most part that I had to put in quite a bit of effort before they came apart, a good sign, considering the older matte sleeves all but disintegrated in your hands.
Possibly the best part of this deal is the price, a pack of 80 sleeves will set you back $14.99 (Recommended Retail) or $11.99 (Recommended Retail) for a pack of 60 small sleeves, putting it on par with current leading brands.
I handed out a couple of packs to other ATGN contributors and friends at my local gaming store. Here is what they had to say –
Anthony – The sleeves are of a light weight and thickness which stands them apart from many other ‘premium’ brands which look and feel heavier. The fogginess of the front is much less pronounced compared to Ultra Pro Pro Matte sleeves, making the cards easier to see on camera. The coloured backs offset the dark inside of the sleeve, drawing attention to the difference in texture. The back has a very faintly bumpy texture whilst the inside is smooth – assisting in the chore of sleeving a new deck.
Being a Pokémon TCG player, I shuffle cards a lot – multiple times a turn due to the nature of the game. When it comes to shuffling, the sleeves strike a comfortable middle ground between ease of shuffling and durability which tends to be the trade off. After a day’s worth of play, I’ve yet to note any wear and tear and certainly didn’t need to replace any.
Barnet – I spent the weekend at the Magic: The Gathering Amonket pre-release and after avoiding Ultra Pro sleeves for some time was pleasantly surprised by Eclipse. I tend to riffle shuffle and play with cards in my hand while waiting for my opponent; Ultra Pro Eclipse stood up to the constant abuse quite well. I spent more time judging than I did playing but the time I did spend with these sleeves left me impressed.
While I noticed some ‘crinkling’ of the sleeves, I felt overall they were very durable, certainly a lot more than previous Ultra Pro sleeves.
Jessica – The Ultra Pro Eclipse sleeves are easy to handle, lightweight and durable. This is important in Pokemon as I am heavy handed and primarily mash shuffle.
I also took the time to speak with a few retail owners/managers about their thoughts on the new product range and the response they have received so far. While none were prepared to put their name and rubber stamp of approval on them just yet, they had nothing but positive comments to make. There was more than one mention of customers now preferring Eclipse over KMC and Dragon Shield sleeves, a very positive sign for Ultra Pro.
So is Ultra Pro back in top spot? They may well be, although it’s a little too early to tell just yet. From my own experiences with them though and those I spoke with it’s clear Ultra Pro Eclipse is a solid sleeve and a return to form for Ultra Pro. I’d definitely urge you to pick up a pack from your local gaming store and test them for yourself.
For a look at the full range of Ultra Pro Eclipse products available locally, head over to the Banter Toys & Collectibles website here.
If you are looking for more feedback from players, take a look at this Reddit thread for some honest feedback.