Tomorrow marks the release of the most expensive mainstream product ever put out by a league licensed company. Panini Flawless retails at 1250 a box, but I would guess that price is only temporary, as the limited production run will increase box prices significantly. Although we have had master collection boxes in the past from Upper Deck, this is on a very different level. Although I am surprised it took this long for someone to try this type of configuration, I dont think there is enough in Flawless to separate it from the Exquisite benchmark set years ago.
Take a look for yourself:
Here is the thing. The cards look great, and are on the level of what we are usually seeing from an Exquisite release. They are well designed, and hard signed, which makes this product one of the first from Panini that uses this approach. However, none of the big signers from outside their ring of Panini exclusives are included in this release. The biggest miss is really out of their control for now, as Michael Jordan and Lebron James are still exclusives of Upper Deck. However, there is also no Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett, or others that command value of a significant hobby status. We also see that there are MANY players on this checklist that do not belong in a box that costs this much. Its really crazy to believe that a guy like this would be included, I have never heard of him (h/t Scott in comments).
The addition of Damian Lillard to this product is a big plus, as the deal with Leaf was not in place when National Treasures was released. As a result, Flawless is the first real high end product to have his autos. That is a big win.
So, this obviously begs the question, what specifically makes Flawless so expensive? Obviously the packaging is pretty expensive by normal standards, as is the fact that they decided it was a good idea to include gemstones in cards for some stupid reason. To be honest, the previews we have seen for the similarly high end (and also horribly named) Immaculate Collection look much more attractive.
The odd thing is, licensed Michael Jordan autos out of Exquisite can be some of the most expensive modern cards of this era. Same thing with Lebron James, and Kobe Bryant. Considering these cards were available in a box that cost less than half of what Flawless costs, I dont know what to say. Upper Deck has set a mark for special products with Exquisite, and Panini still hasnt found their place at that table, and its not even close. Although the design is well done, Exquisite’s release in basketball was an event. Panini is trying to make this release into an event, but I fail to see anything that remotely resembles what we got in the years Exquisite was licensed.
To be completely honest, the price of Flawless is not the issue, as eventually we will get a product that costs more per box, and is all 1/1s. Mark my words, it will happen, and it will be in basketball. The problem is, Panini is looking at this from all the wrong angles. They have not done anything to show that Flawless is anything special. Hard signed autos and crazy jumbo patches? Nothing that hasnt been done a million times over. Diamonds in the base cards? A worthless idea that shouldnt have ever been explored. Nothing about Flawless shows that it is worth our attention in a manner like Panini is suggesting. It looks very nice, but I would much rather drop $2000 on a case of Exquisite than continue to reinforce that Panini has the right approach by buying Flawless.
Exquisite is and always has been groundbreaking as the first Super High End product. This is nothing more than a rebranding with a higher price tag and a much more lacking checklist.
<a target=”_self” href=”http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=4&pub=5574773276&toolid=10001&campid=5336520001&customid=&mpre=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com%2Fitm%2F2013-Panini-FLAWLESS-Emerald-Damian-Lillard-RC-Auto-4-5-Rookie-OnCard-Autograph-%2F221304341160%3Fpt%3DUS_Basketball%26hash%3Ditem3386c442a8″>Flawless is the first real high end product to have his autos</a><img style=”text-decoration:none;border:0;padding:0;margin:0;” src=”http://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=4&pub=5574773276&toolid=10001&campid=5336520001&customid=&mpt=[CACHEBUSTER]“>