Panini has a slate of products in their stable that have been around for a VERY long time. I talked recently about the 20th anniversary of Contenders, and today marks the release of a similarly tenured set in 2012 Panini Certified football. Over the last few years, we have seen Certified go from a set with very questionable aesthetics, to a product with a commitment to on card autos, and now with the release of this year’s set, by all accounts the cards seem like a regression.
Here are some big ones posted already:
The focus of the product centers around two specific sets, both of which have significant issues with their design this year. So much so that I have to believe that Certified will drop like a rock against other products set to hit the shelves in the next few weeks. The freshman fabrics card give me the biggest frustration, because the design isn’t that bad – it’s the execution surrounding the autographs. Panini decided to switch from on card autographs last year to sticker autographs this year, and as a result, the cards aren’t as desirable. Even more than that, they decided the big bright silver, green gold and blue foil was not enough to make the signatures show up, so they added a HUGE white box that destroys the design of the card and looks ridiculous.
To be honest, Im surprised that the Freshman Fabrics aren’t even the worst cards of the product, as the entire line of Fabric of the Game cards are as close to visual diarrhea as you can get. Each year, these cards are some of the most widely collected, and for the last few years, they have been a disaster. This year, the rookie design that traps the player in their photo off to the right side, and then segments out the rest of the layout is awful looking. There is no reason to continually play tetris with Panini design schemes, as this has been a running theme over of the bulk of the 2012 sets. As for the rookie autograph cards, they might as well be lower end Triple Threads autos, with complete separation between the auto, cut off bust style player pic and the bottom swatch laden part of the card. Its hideous.
The veteran FOTG cards are so bad, I don’t even think I need to explain why. Just feast your eyes on a few of them, and you will not return with your retinas in tact.
There are redeeming parts of the set, don’t get me wrong, as the base design and the base autos really do look nice. Additionally, the John Elway cards combined with the rest of the immortals design work looks REALLY good. For the first time in a long time, these cards may not look like the player is being overrun by text and swatches on the card front (For a laugh, check this out). On the other hand, I think that the checklist managers over at Panini have a lot of reason to be concerned, as I continue to wonder why guys like Bobby Engram and company are referred to as Legends or Immortals. Regardless, the design is nice enough to mitigate a lot of the issues that the checklist presents.
Lastly, there have been reports that not all the boxes contain a non-scrub auto, which for 100 bucks is inexcusable. There is no reason I should pay that much money, and come away with two rookie autos from guys who were not at the premiere. Im not sure if this was intended by Panini, but it has scared me away from buying a box – as if the design of the big hits have not done that already.
As with the last few years, I think I am staying away from Certified, and wondering if Panini really has a plan for keeping these types of older products fresh and exciting, instead of played out and forgettable.