If you have been reading this site over the last three years, you know that I love autographs. In fact, I believe I have mentioned a few times that I am not a card collector by the traditional definition, because almost every card in my collection is autographed. With the changed landscape in 2010, Topps released what I believe to be the only true dedicated product left. One that sings more to people like me than anyone else – Five Star Football.
Five Star is about to be released for the third time, and for the third time, I am beyond excited. Topps had posted some live cards on their facebook page earlier this week, and after seeing the results, its clear that we are going to be in for a treat. Previous years have been incredible, but this looks to be better. Not only has the design continued to evolve, but with a rookie class that is likely to be the best since 2004, it is going to be a fun product to watch in action.
The allure of Five Star is not driven by the usual tactics we see employed by both companies after their participation in the Rookie Premiere last May. That is one of the main reasons I love this product so much, as it focuses on highlighting the autograph content as much as possible. Aside from featuring 100% hard signed signatures, and quite a few surprises along the way, the relics are only present as embellishments for the main event. Where National Treasures has continually been the top high end product available since the demise of Upper Deck’s NFL license, its mostly because of the continued dedication to providing top swatch content instead of delivering the top autograph content people have asked for.
As a result, autograph collectors have flocked to Five Star’s spectacular look and top checklist, while other collectors have gone to the more relic centric Panini product. That’s not saying Five Star does not have its share of cards that feature relic content, but the design has always been done in a way that promotes space for a larger than life signature. As we have seen in the past, this was not always the case for National Treasures.
Five Star is a representation of what I believe a Super High end product should look like. All hard signed signatures, beautiful presentation and design, and a checklist that features more of the top talent and a lot less of the lower tier players. Its not saying there wont be less desirable autographs, but they are fewer and far between than many of the other sets that either company has put out.
The best part is obviously the inscription cards, which have been my favorite cards of the year for the last few years. These cards are, by far, the most desirable in the set for good reason. Although Panini has shown that they have also tried to get these types of cards in their products, with inscriptions from Andrew Luck and also from Robert Griffin III, its nothing like what we get from Topps.
Bottom line, Five Star is about as close to autograph perfection as it comes. Its not everything that it could possibly be, we all know that, but its something that I believe to be a beacon of hope for what the future could hold. It has already spurred Panini to add hard signed veteran and retired signatures into NT for the first time in almost 7 years, and I hope more competition will lead to bigger developments.
We saw that Topps has already created the first card with 35 on card autos, posted earlier this week on eBay, and we know there will be more surprises in store as we see full sized redemptions are back this year as well. I will be refreshing my eBay searches like a mad man on thursday night and all through the weekend, and I assume I am not going to be the only one.
Congrats to Topps on a great looking set.