On the Radar: 2015 Topps Inception Football

I love me some Inception. Its one of the first REAL higher end products of the year, and has a ton of on card content that looks REALLY good. Panini has taken cues from this set and tried to replicate elements in other products, but have mostly failed. Inception is the top of the mountain, and in one of my previous posts, I still say the inscription autographs are some of the best cards of the year.

Here are some of my favorite Inception cards from previous runs:

2014 Topps Inception Teddy Bridgewater Nike Logo Auto Patch 1/1

2014 Topps Inception Odell Beckham Laundry Tag Booklet Auto /5

2011 Inception DeMarco Murray Silver Signatures Auto /25

2012 Inception Andrew Luck Auto Red /25

2012 Inception Russell Wilson Silver Signatures Auto /25

The set even made a transition to baseball a few years ago too:

2013 Bowman Inception Yasiel Puig Gold Auto RC

2013 Bowman Inception Kris Bryant Green RC Auto

As we have seen in previous years, the design and look/feel of the cards rarely goes off the reservation. Inception has worked very well now since 2011, and there is no reason to switch it up during the last year of the run. This may even be one of the main products that Topps might be able to keep doing, even after the loss of their license, but that is yet to be seen.

Inception delivers some big boppers in a time where there are literally no cards to compete. This includes on card booklet autograph logos, inscriptions, and all sorts of amazing looking stuff that is better than any other product that is released during the pre-premiere timeframe. Although the box breaks can be hit and miss, the design never disappoints.

This year’s stuff looks good, and I really cant wait to see how everything turns out once the cards have NFL uniforms on them after the draft. Remember, these are just mockups:

The Chase is On: What Are the Best 1/1s of the Year So Far?

There are a lot of reasons why the 1/1 still remains the chase that many collectors strive to build their PCs around. They are the top of the mountain in value, and in a lot of ways, they are the cards that many products are built around. So, with that, here is a breakdown of what I think are the best 1/1s released so far this year.

Topps Chrome Superfractor Autos

Even through the box breaks were brutal, Topps Chrome Superfractors are still going to be the most valuable chase cards for top rookies. Player collectors and team collectors fawn over them, and they continue to outsell even the best of the high end products. Cant beat consistency.

2014 Topps Chrome Kelvin Benjamin Auto Superfractor 1/1

2014 Topps Chrome Odell Beckham Superfractor Auto 1/1

2014 Topps Chrome Teddy Bridgewater Superfractor Auto 1/1

Immaculate Shield Auto 1/1s

These cards come in two flavors and both are pretty good. Although I am not a huge fan of the white space for the signature, the on card autographs and design still look as nice as any other logo this year. They havent sold as well as I thought they would, but definitely some of the top on card autographs of the year. Considering that Flawless had no logo 1/1s, it made these even more of a quest.

2014 Immaculate Odell Beckham Auto NFL Logo Shield 1/1

2014 Immaculate Sammy Watkins Auto Logo 1/1

2014 Immaculate Russell Wilson Auto NFL Logo 1/1

Topps Supreme Logo Booklet Auto 1/1s

I am not a huge fan of sticker autos, but supreme has a knack for making it work well. These cards feature giant swatches of team logos and other logos, and they are a sight to be seen just like they were in 2013. Because Supreme has only been out for a few weeks, only a few have surfaced, but when they pop up, they look awesome.

2014 Topps Supreme Teddy Bridgewater Auto Logo Booklet 1/1

2014 Topps Supreme Paul Richardson Auto Logo Booklet 1/1

Black Gold Shield Auto 1/1 Sizeable Signatures

Although the product is train wreck for design, these cards are amazing. because flywire makes the collar tough to display, using a vertical orientation works very well. Usually that means that the player gets left behind, but Panini found the best possible way to make it work.

2014 Black Gold Eric Ebron Auto Logo Sizeable Signatures 1/1

2014 Black Gold Mike Evans Auto Logo Sizeable Signatures 1/1

Inception Inscription 1/1s

I never expected a pre-premiere product like Inception to be as popular as it is, but man these cards are so freaking cool. The ones out of 10 are nicknames, but the 1/1s are more focused on whatever the player wanted to write.

2014 Inception Blake Bortles Drawn Play Inscription 1/1

2014 Inception Marqise Lee Inscription Auto 1/1

2014 Inception Tom Savage Inscription Auto 1/1

Museum Collection Jumbo Patch Auto 1/1s

A sleeper hit over the last few years, these cards have really been quite jaw dropping in the logos combined with an on card auto. Adding in the simple design has worked REALLY well.

2014 Museum Collection Mike Evans Jumbo Patch Auto Logo 1/1

2014 Museum Collection Sammy Watkins Jumbo Patch Auto Logo 1/1

Any Acetate Auto 1/1 from Topps Strata

Sadly forgotten again, despite some of the better looking rookie cards of the year, Strata’s cards remain a beast in the 1/1 department. Doesnt matter if they are the clear cut version or the shadowbox version, the cards look really cool.

2014 Topps Strata Jimmy Garoppolo Logo Auto Clear Cut 1/1

2014 Topps Strata Kelvin Benjamin Gloves Parallel Auto 1/1

2014 Topps Strata Bishop Sankey Logo Auto Clear Cut 1/1

2014 Topps Strata AJ McCarron Nike Logo Rivet Shadowbox 1/1

Becin that there are so many products released every year, I am sure I am missing a few. Either way, these are the ones that made an impression with me off the top of my head.

SCU Go Live Report: 2014 Black Gold Football

I remember back when Panini first started previewing Black Gold, and how impressed I was with the cards that were similar to the Clear Cuts from Strata. Now that the product is live, I see why they led with those cards. So much of the product looks absolutely terrible, that I am shocked at how awful it turned out. I understand why people would like the cards, but I see it in a situation that is very similar to Topps Triple Threads. As we continue to see, people dont care enough about design, and only care about things related to patch content.

Sizable Signatures

I absolutely love these cards, at least the ones that are on card. Although the sticker versions arent even close to as cool, the overall concept is the best of the product. As I have said before, if you are going to rip off a concept, do it as good or better than the original. Compared to the Strata Clear Cuts, which look to be the inspiration here, they did that and then some. There are a ton of parallels, but the rarer ones definitely are pretty cool in just about every way.

2014 Black Gold Mike Evans Nike Swoosh Sizeable Signatures

2014 Black Gold Teddy Bridgewater Sizeable Signatures Auto Relic

2014 Black Gold Kelvin Benjamin Sizeable Signatures Auto Relic

Verdict: WINNER

Veteran Patch Autos

Like we saw with sizeable sigantures, the on card content in this set looks really good. I like that they signed over the swatches on acetate, as it gives the appearance of a signed swatch without the mess of an actual signed swatch. This is copied directly from a few sets that Upper Deck has done in the past, but they are clearly on par.

2014 Black Gold Demarco Murray Signed Patch Acetate

2014 Black Gold Ladanian Tomlinson Signed Patch Acetate

2014 Black Gold Terrell Davis Signed Patch Acetate

Verdict: WINNER

Triple Relics and Dual Relics

It is obvious that Panini spent a ton of extra money on technology for this product, but it only worked out in about 30% of the print run. These cards look really nice, and actually have a pretty interesting layout that works very well. Unlike some of the other relics, I like the design. The use of the dual layer presentation really works well in many cases, and I think that if Panini had been able to correlate this to the terrible parts of the set, I wouldnt be as disgusted with Black Gold.

2014 Black Gold Sammy Watkins Triple Relic Mother Lode

2014 Black Gold Dez Bryant Dual Relic

2014 Black Gold Derek Carr Triple Relic Mother Lode

Verdict WINNER

Hood Ornament Team Logos

I hate these cards. I hate just about everything about them. Dont get me wrong, the concept isnt bad. Manu-relics are proving to be a viable replacement for single relic cards that sell for nothing. However, the way Panini did these are fucking horrendous. First off, the logos are too small, so it leaves a TON of empty space on the card. Its even worse on the vertical versions, where Panini inexplicably chose to cram the player on the top of the giant window.

2014 Black Gold Richard Sherman Hood Ornament Logo

2014 Black Gold Andrew Luck Hood Ornament Logo

2014 Black Gold Aaron Rodgers / Davante Adams Dual Packers Hood Ornament

Verdict: LOSER!!

Rookie and Veteran Acetate Sticker Autos

There are a bunch of different versions of the stickers on acetate, and each one is worse looking than the one before it. For the reasons we see here, companies rarely design products with dark backgrounds unless they are going to be hard signed. Panini thought they could sneak one past the design goalie by creating windows of dual layer acetate to house the sticker auto. Boy did they mess this up. 2014 Black Gold Odell Beckham Jr Base Its more reminiscent of the infamous 2008 Topps Lettermen train wreck than cards worth anyone's time Card. But as we are seeing, the sheep will buy anything.

2014 Black Gold JJ Watt Acetate Sticker Auto

2014 Black Gold Derek Carr Acetate Sticker Auto Patch

Verdict: LOSER

Rookie and Veteran Paper Autos

I didnt understand these cards when Panini did them in Immaculate, and I DEFINITELY dont understand them now. These are printed to be hard signed, not signed paper inserted like a cut autograph after the fact. Why? Someone needs to explain to me why Panini thinks this looks good? It is so visually disastrous that I dont even know what to say. If it werent for the quad relics, these would be the worst cards in the set, but they are definitely the worst of the autographs. Panini should be ashamed of themselves. These cards are hot garbage.

2014 Black Gold Jeremy Hill Paper Auto RC

Verdict: BIG LOSER!

Rookie Jumbo Patch Sticker Autos

Every part of these cards are inferior to the sizeable signatures. Sticker autos instead of on card. Rookie photo shoot player pics instead of game shots. Terrible design instead of a good design. To start, its now March, there is no reason you need to continue to use photo shoot pics. Game shots are readily available. Secondly, these stickers were definitely signed just for these cards, so why not just get them hard signed? Lastly, the vertical orientation, with the player crammed at the top looks fucking horrid. Jumbo patches NEVER work with vertical cards. Stop trying to make it work, its not going to work Panini.

2014 Black Gold Teddy Bridgewater Vikings Head Logo Sticker Auto Patch

2014 Black Gold Johnny Manziel Jumbo Patch Sticker Auto

Verdict: LOSER

Rookie Quad Relics

Not only did Panini AGAIN try to use the vertical presentation, but they used some of the GOOFIEST fucking pictures I have ever seen. Seriously, look at the pics of the players. Its almost like Panini thought they could sneak them through because everyone would be looking at the relics. I cant stand that. These are easily some of the worst cards in the product, and that is saying a lot. When your picture choice inspires a caption contest, something went horribly wrong.

2014 Black Gold Johnny Manziel Quad Relic

2014 Black Gold Blake Bortles Quad Relic

2014 Black Gold Teddy Bridgewater Quad Relic

Verdict: BIGGEST LOSER

Base Cards

I really like the base card design. However, this is a high end product, and base cards really dont matter all that much. The dual layer approach works really well.

2014 Black Gold Odell Beckham Jr Base Card

Verdict: WINNER

Overall Black Gold had so much potential to be one of the better products of the year. Instead it turned out to be more dud than anything, and Panini’s stupid decision making is to blame for that. Half of the cards in the set would be a million times better if they actually knew what good design work consisted of, but as always, they prove they know nothing. Too bad, because all those thousands of extra dollars put into the technology are wasted.

With a great looking Five Star set released next week, and National Treasures the first week in April, no one should waste their fucking time with this horse shit. Both Treasures and Five Star will be FAAAAAR superior singles set, and these cards will drop like the dense poop they are. Im still in shock that Panini will be the only choice for licensed NFL cards in 2016. That should scare the crap out of everyone.

2015 Topps Tribute Recalled Due To Autograph Issues

I dont really talk about baseball that often anymore, but I really like Tribute every year because of the on card autographs and chrome style cards. This year, something went very wrong somewhere along the production line, and many autographs had some huge issues with quality.

Here are some examples of the way the cards turned out, where you can see the odd streaks and scratches in the signatures:

2015 Topps Tribute Mike Trout Auto /75

2015 Topps Tribute Ken Griffey Jr Auto Gold /25

2015 Topps Tribute Pedro Martinez Auto Purple /10

2015 Topps Tribute Lou Brock Auto Gold /25

Topps has issued a full recall of the product due to these issues, and I have to applaud them for taking this step. That being said, I am curious as to how they are going to execute a product recall, as this type of thing has never been done as long as I have been around the hobby. They have done make good bonus cards before on old redemptions, but this is a bit different.

Bascially, if you still have the autographed cards from Tribute, you will be able to exchange them for a card of similar value, plus a make good card. If you have a box that remains unopened, you can return for a full refund. Pretty nice all things considered. Then again, if you have a nice autograph in hand, are you going to want to give it up because the autograph is a little off? Tough choice.

My main concern has to do with processing the opened packs, as you would guess there is going to be a ton of people waiting to return their cards and get them exchanged. I reached out on Twitter to find out if there will be extra reps on staff, but have not yet gotten a response.

Even though Topps has promised a make good on these cards, I am curious if this is going to slow down the business to a point where customers waiting on other redemptions and other replacements will be forced to deal with the massive amount of Tribute cards that now need to be processed.

As someone who bought a few packs, I think I would be happy with this announcement. As someone who has other stuff I am waiting on, I am a bit concerned as to the ripple effects.

Here is the full statement from Topps:

“Dear Valued Topps Collectors and Customers,

Topps has been investigating complaints regarding the quality of the autographed cards in the just-released 2015 Topps Tribute Baseball and has confirmed that many autographed cards are damaged due to a UV contamination on the card.

As a result of our investigation and to rectify the situation, Topps is initiating a complete recall of the product.
Those in possession of unopened boxes should return them no later than Friday, March 27, 2015 to the authorized distributor or store from which the box was purchased for a full refund.

In addition, between now and June 30, 2015, anyone in possession of a damaged autographed card (not in pack) can exchange the card by contacting Topps Customer Service. Exchanges will be made for another card of equal or greater value, plus a bonus autographed or relic card (valued at the company’s discretion).

Topps appreciates your understanding in this matter. We stand firmly behind all our products and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

On the Radar: More Info on Contenders Draft Picks Football

Despite the fact that Contenders has produced some of the worst looking modern cards I can think of, it has a legacy as the first product to really focus on RC autos. Collectors have a nostalgia attached to the product, and Panini has already taken the opportunity to exploit that legacy for the first product of its NCAA exclusive.

Yesterday at the Panini adver-talk at the Industry Summit, they previewed some of the cards from the upcoming product. To say I was shocked by their decision making is something that should not come as a surprise. Not only did they decide NOT to create a new design for the set, but they chose to go with stickers from what it looks like. This is after Upper Deck had already released a stellar product in UD Inscriptions that was live before the summit began.

Check out these UD cards:

2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions Jameis Winston Auto RC

2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions Marcus Mariota Auto RC

Compare to what the Contenders mock ups look like, at what seems to be an identical price point:

panini-america-2015-contenders-draft-picks-football-season-ticket-preview-9panini-america-2015-contenders-draft-picks-football-season-ticket-preview-41Capture

In my opinion, Panini has lofty standards to meet when releasing pre-draft products while competing against companies that offer nothing but on card autographs. Seeing that this product could potentially be stickers for the rookies is a disaster. Secondly, they could have made a statement by creating a bold new look for the first of many NCAA collegiate based products, but instead they pooped out a retread of one of their ugliest versions of Contenders to date. Someone (or many of the people) at Panini just doesnt fucking get it.

We already saw some incredible work from Upper Deck and Leaf with their first products of the 2015 draft class, and we havent even seen previews from 2015 Trinity yet. To see that Panini isnt taking this seriously is a slap in the face to all the collectors who loved Upper Deck’s college products over the last five years.

For the umpteenth time, Panini has used daddy’s money to bully their way into an exclusive they didnt deserve, which only hurts collectors in the process. I hate exclusives, but at least if you make the best products and get it, its better than making inferior products and receiving the reward. Panini’s stuff is already looking like a watery pile of shit, and its only going to get worse when their NFL exclusive kicks in before the 2016 season.

Hopefully they can get some butter to lube up the opening, so that someone can forcefully remove their heads from their own asses. Im guessing that will be someone from UD or Topps that they can lure away to design better looking cards, and not make horrible decisions in regards to the company’s most important brands.
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