Over the last few years, I have found myself getting more and more cynical over Panini’s ability to design cards that are even remotely aesthetically pleasing in any way to me. I have very specific and high standards before I even think of buying into a product, and barring a few exceptions, Panini has failed my checklist just about every time. For the first time in that span of time, I feel as though other collectors are jumping on this bandwagon, getting more and more frustrated with the poor quality, theme and design of many of their sets.
Limited is a perfect showcase of the two sides of the coin for Panini this year. A few of the designs are nice looking, but nothing special, while others are so ridiculously bad, I actually laughed upon seeing them. That is not the kind of reaction a product should receive from anyone. Ill start with the best of the product and go to the worst, as I think there are a few redeeming cards to this set. I guess I should have known the preview was going to be disappointing when Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon are the two rookies that grace the packaging.
My favorite card of the preview is the jumbo patch auto of RGIII, that has a nice full bleed action shot to draw your eye away from the sticker auto. No white box, no stupid pictures, just plain and simple coolness. If the rest of the cards in the jumbo set look this good, that’s a plus, but I rarely have optimism with Panini these days. We also know there will be 100 different parallels of these cards, so I will withhold final judgement until I see the rest. After the way some of these cards looked last year, this design is MUUUUUUCH better.
I also think the Phenom cards are an upgrade over last year, as they actually look less “triple threads-y” than they have over the last few years. Nothing will ever come close to the absolutely awesome 2009 phenom patch autos, but these are definitely better than the 2011 and 2010 visual disasters (here and here). Im really disappointed that they decided to spell out “PHENOM” instead of the word logos for the team, which I thought was one of the main things this product had going for it.
Moving down the crappiness spectrum, the game day cards are starting to look more like what we have seen all year from Panini. They look cheap and designed in a way that shows a lack of experience in the layout. Like the person who designed the card still hasnt quite figured out how to use the tools right on photoshop. Im sure these autographs are going to be an even larger disaster, because its obvious to me that a white box will be making an appearance.
Even further down the list are the “inked” autos, which features ink that isnt on the card. I dont really understand that choice, nor the choice of using sideline pictures instead of dynamic action shots. Not pretty one bit.
Lastly, we come to the worst of the worst. Possibly the worst of the year if it werent for the Earring cards that were released in Momentum earlier this year. Not only is the idea worthless, but the design is even more worthless. I can imagine the discussion around the conference table for this subset. I cant think of any reason why this idea was green lighted, even less idea why this design was used. Not only is the picture goofy and awkward, but the design looks like it was done on MS Paint. As a follower of mine tweeted – good thing they are issuing these cards as membership certificates, because I was unaware who played for whom! Whew!