Every so often, something outside of football and baseball cards catches my attention. I rarely paid attention to Basketball cards, as it was, but now with Panini having the exclusive NBA license, I have paid even less attention because of my feelings on the way the cards look. Obviously the NBA collectors out there need something to buy, and though they might still clamor for the days of Upper Deck and Topps driving a competitive market, they still buy.
Recently, with the release of 2012-13 Panini Chrome, I mean Prizm, collectors have been brought back to the days where Topps’ chrome technology was available for the NBA hobby. Chrome has always had a following in every sport, including basketball, and Panini was hoping to capitalize on that success with a release like this. After seeing the results of the cards, its more a combination of Topps Chrome and Topps Finest with a much more boring design, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from going nuts for the low numbered parallels.
Ill be honest, I do not see the appeal of the look of these cards. Chrome, for the most part, has been a medium perfected by Topps in the decades it has been around. Its clear that Panini does not know how to make it work. For Topps, there was a focus on full game photography, rather than silhouetted players against a blank or manufactured background, and usually, that meant people were going to get pretty dynamic looking cards. Prizm, like the way it looks for the upcoming football version of the set, doesn’t use that same formula. I have a feeling its just because Panini doesn’t really have the understanding of the ways this stock can work to their advantage.
Additionally, the main success factor of Chrome is the way the parallels perform on the secondary market, and from what we saw in baseball and football – they are milked for all they are worth. In Prizm, there aren’t enough, especially on the 1/1 side, which means that collectors don’t have the same opportunities they would in a normal Topps style product. Regardless, the gold refractors out of 10 are selling extremely well, but I have a feeling that they missed out on a golden opportunity by not including more rare parallels.
Panini and I will never see eye to eye on a lot of things, and that makes a lot of sense considering that I am just one person. However, when the basketball hobby is based almost 100% on high end and chase cards, products should be built with a laser focus on that concept. Its not even a question. Panini still hasn’t figured that out, and its why Exquisite was more buzzworthy than their entire calendar put together. Maybe they will figure it out eventually.