Panini’s latest product that delivers a couple of hits and a couple of relics per box has hit shelves, and much like its bountiful bretheren, there isnt much it offers above and beyond other products that they put out. Even worse, this is a product line that many people already identify with Upper Deck, which isnt a good thing when your product doesnt measure up to previous versions.
Here are some of the big hits so far:
My favorite design of the entire product is the rookie black signatures, as the idea was conceived well, especially in the way it looks. Its a clean design with a simplistic approach, something I like a lot. I say it is successful in concept, because in some of the cases, the execution was a mess. Not only were paint pens used in the signing of the cards, but it looks awful when that happens. Thick, bulky and streaky signatures cause major issues with the presentation, much like they did in Inception and Five Star baseball this year. It prevents a clean signature, and from what it looks like, it can even lead to smears.
Outside of the rookie auto patches, there are little to no cards in this product that separates it from others. I still have zero understanding in the concept of Black as a whole, especially in the preparation. UD Black was all done on card, and looked awesome, which means they could pull off gold and silver signatures on every card. Panini has opted, inexcusably, to use the normal stickers, signed in blue ink. Therefore, a white box has to be placed behind each sticker, a stark contrast from the jet black background. It draws the eye away from the focus of the card, and prevents visual appeal.
Considering that Panini knew this would happen prior to creating this set, why continue? Why opt to use a predominantly black background with stickers signed in dark blue ink? That is just poor planning. Obviously UD overcame this obstacle by using hard signed autographs, and that is the ONLY reason it worked at all. Not good for Panini.
I will say that a lot of the relic cards do look pretty good. For the most part, Panini’s attempt at creating nice looking jersey cards is lost in a product that costs as much as this does. For 200 bucks, I dont think I would break a box of this stuff, even if I had the money. I just dont see any way to come out ahead, even if you pull a big name. The relic cards are nice, but as of this point, we have reached the point where they dont mean anything.
Lastly, from the feedback I get from the dealers out there, none of them can sell the same product 15 times over and over again during the year. Without offering a new unique content that separates a product from others, you are basically asking your customers to buy the same cards multiple times with different designs. That isnt a good situation. Topps is guilty of this too, but usually finds some way to make it fresh. So far, this year is about as stale as it can get for Panini.
Who knows, we still have some big fish to fry with Contenders and National Treasures on the horizon, maybe they can figure it out.