We all know that Panini has trotted out quite a few products over the last few months, many of which have not been met with the best reaction on the internet. Gridiron, the re-titled version of the previously released Gridiron Gear, is definitely one of the products that I have said is one that has never really offered anything all that special. With close to 20 products being released this year from Panini’s camp, its obvious that its going to be tough to find something worth releasing with each product. Some of the sets are going to be the exact same cards with different designs, and its been that way for years. As a result, Gridiron continues to be a forgettable product that has no real reason for being done each and every year.
I will say this, the rookie box hit “Gridiron Gems” have been a complete disaster for the majority of the last 5 years. A consistent lack of chops in designing out the cards has made it close to impossible for me to go buy any of it. This year, the cards look A LOT better, but again, its just another notch on the belt for the bloated release calendar that sports 4 similar products before this set even hit shelves.
On top of that, its getting very troublesome to see a constant need to have signed material in Panini products, jersey and otherwise. Gridiron Gear’s main hits over the last few years have been the stupid pull out autographs that are back again this year. Even though the autos are usually faded or heavily bleeding when they are pack pulled, Panini still puts them out year after year. I thought the swatches were at least player worn at the premiere, but after seeing their preview pictures earlier this year, we found out that they are not. That begs the question of why these cards exist then? If the autographs never turn out well, there is no connection to the swatch they are signing, why do them? It makes no sense, much like this whole product.
As for the rest of the cards, I am not seeing much that shows there is any dedication to providing top notch designs on any of Panini’s inserts or autographed cards. Its basically an exercise in patience every time I pull up the new auctions, and these rookie “X” autos are a great example of how not to design a card. Im not sure why the red lines around the rookie were done in that fashion, and I definitely get a vibe that these are based on Level Two of Contra. There are plenty of other examples of poor design quality with this set, as Panini seems dedicated to separating out pictures and the other elements of the card, instead of seamlessly blending the elements together.
When Panini finally gets into the practice of designing more products like the Prestige base cards or even the recent Prime Signatures rookie autos, Ill shut up, but when products like this continually water down the reasons we go out an buy packs and boxes, its a problem. Im glad the tide on collector opinion has started to turn. I would expect the wallets will start speaking next.