Let me start by saying that last year’s elite was a complete train wreck, in terms of pricing and content, as well as design. In fact, I would even go so far as saying it was one of the most poorly designed sets of the year, outside of maybe Timeless Treasures. The rookie cards looked utterly ridiculous, even more so with the signatures attached, something that was especially troubling considering how good it was the year before.
Although the set has improved a lot over last year, going from absolutely hideous to passable, isnt enough of an improvement when Topps is lighting it up left and right with great looking previews to their 2012 calendar. Most disturbing is that Panini is refusing to give up on jam packing worthless jersey card after worthless jersey card into their products, a fact that has caused a lot of dissatisfaction among the people that buy the boxes.
Additionally, I have no clue why the rookie cards are on a completely different background than the base cards, which look pretty good with the white dominated design. Because all the rookie cards should have signature parallels, putting them on the dark background will either force the horrid big white box to highlight the sticker, or create a new set of problems with indistinguishable autographs on the cards.
I am a big fan of the rookie inscription cards this year, which look to be simple in design and created specifically for on card autographs at the rookie premiere. These will be the gems of this product and I think they look good from the mock ups. Overall, I assume these should take the place of the worst looking cards of Elite last year, which I hope wont be making a comeback.
Outside of the usual crappy looking inserts design to fill out a product with unneeded bulk, there is a throwback to the Passing the Torch autos that were done in back in 1999. This set is not only a beloved and valuable set for collectors, but it is one of those that could have been done to perfection if the autographs were on card. Of course, Panini went with stickers, which will hurt these cards signficantly, especially when considering how many people will have a connection to them. If I couldnt get on card autos, I would never touch a set like this.
In the grand scheme of things, its pretty obvious that this will be another throw-away set at the beginning of the year for a company that is quickly losing their grip on how to produce a well thought out set. Elite will sell because of its history, but this one COULD have been a lot better. Instead its a forgettable addition to a calendar that features the best draft class in recent memory.