I think my biggest gripe with the collecting public in general is the fact that people have started to value patch quantity and size over design and look of the actual card itself. This was extremely evident over the last two years with Five Star football, performing against National Treasures. The only advantages that Panini had in their NT rookie patch autos were two: Age and Patch Size. Design, look, photography, etc, all were extremely better in Five Star – most evident with NT’s horrid 2011 belt buckle design.
So, even though the cards looked better, had better pictures, and a better design, because NT has bigger patches, they sell better. Mind you, these patches are worn for less than a second at the Rookie Premiere each year, so is it even worth the time to put value on these relics that are only “mildly” connected to the players? I dont think so, but many people do. Check out some of these comparisons from the last two years:
This year, I begged Topps to stick with the formula of focusing on the most important things – design, photo size, auto space for the player to sign. After some previews have been popping up on twitter, I have to complement the Topps design team for adjusting the game plan, while still maintaining the best looking set released every year. All of these things remain high end. Its very difficult to adjust patch size when design and signature have already been determined for the previous two years. Five Star, as long as the proof sheets stay similar, will be one of the most well designed products of the last 5 years without a contest.
Although we have not seen a preview for NT yet, Panini looks to be on track for another APRIL release. Last year’s set came out almost at the same time as the NFL draft, not to mention up against ANOTHER high end Panini product in playbook. Yeah, they released two high end sets in one week – in case you forgot. Even though the design of NT was widely panned here and on many of the message boards and blogs, it still sells well because it has large patches. Even though the signature space is SMALLER than the size of a sticker, and looks like a visual train wreck due to the needless ornate border around the swatch window, it remained more valuable than the vastly superior Five Star.
This year, with larger patches, I believe NT will still outsell Five Star, if not only because it has been around longer. Not only is this a travesty, but its the truth. Im honestly not sure how this happens year in and year out, but it does, and that sucks. At least Topps continues to produce cards, like the ones in their preview, that make me excited to see the finished product. Panini has a long way to go in that respect.
Here are pictures of the proof cards they previewed: