We are all in awe of many of the big hits out of National Treasures, as previewed by Panini and pulled over the recent breaks. As I have said over the last few weeks, 2013 NT is easily the best looking set of the run, and its not even a competition. With the exception of a hideous card design here and there, I am liking Treasures top to bottom this year. Its clean, stunning, and stays true to the original concept of the product released back in 2006. All that being said, is this the most worthless version of NT as well?
Here are some of the big hits so far:
The reason I ask, is because that collectors are almost guaranteed to take a bath with each box they open, as the top rookies in the class wont cover half of the box price, unlike previous years. With 2012, its clear that after the ridiculous price increases due to scarcity of unopened boxes, its also tough to break even. This is much different as the 2013 class is completely unable to support any type of value in this market. Panini made the right call in pushing for more veteran content, including a bunch of on card autographs. But, as we have seen so far, those cards dont pop up enough to save the non-group breakers from disaster. Add in that there is an inexcusable amount of stickers in this product, and it makes you question what could have been done to make this more like Five Star and Exquisite with all on card.
I actually like the fact that the group breakers exist, as it is MUCH easier to stomach a 100 dollar loss when buying a team you collect for a case than suffering a 450 dollar loss on a whole box. So far, I have bought two Adrian Peterson autographs, and an 80 dollar slot in a group break, and still not hit the price of a single box. THAT is saying something. This isnt really Panini’s doing either, its just the way things are. Topps is going to go through the exact same thing with Five Star on April 25th, and though that product also looks amazing, its not going to do much good with such a shitty class.
Please do not take this as a commentary on High End products as a part of the hobby these days, as so much of my collection is made up of the cards from crazy boxes. I love high end, almost to a fault, as I have been practically spoiled by the tremendous autographs and patches you can pull from Five Star, Exquisite and Treasures. That doesnt mean its for everyone, especially when you get up into the range of Panini Flawless, which I see as the most expensive average product ever created. If 1250 dollars MSRP is what it takes to get a box with autographs that arent scrubs, we need to reevaluate our strategy. Dont get me wrong, Flawless’ cards really did look cool, but they werent anything unique. The price tag was only reflective of the CONTENT in the packs, which shouldnt really happen. It was almost like Panini sold a product JUST because it was expensive. We all want an AMEX black card right? Same concept.
We all know that the football market is soft, but the market is derivative of the people who want to buy, and player collectors get their stuff way too early to sustain a product past 1 week from release. Once the guys get their card, things drop by 35-50%. Not a good thing, because it just goes to show that less and less people are buying because they like to collect. Its also not a direct correlation to the hobby dying, but its likely that the hobby is getting more focused and compact. Dont give me this crap about kids and stuff like that, because in all honesty, we need some help now – not 10 years from now.
When you look at the grand scheme of things, its easy to see that rookies drive the NFL, and without a good class, all boats sink. 2012 is a great beacon of hope for the hobby, and it shows that cards still matter in football when there is a big story. I hate Johnny Manziel, but hot damn do I want him to play well. I want him to break every record in the book and do it in the first game. I then want Jadeveon Clowney to play up to his talent and for both Bortles and Bridgewater to knock it out of the park. The more a rookie explodes the more attention the hobby gets. Maybe we were setting unrealistic expectations after one of the biggest years ever. If you remember back, 2006 was a similar feeling until we realized that Leinart, Young and Bush all were mediocre at best. Those years come along, but its all about what happens in between.
Panini has already announced that both Flawless and Immaculate will be coming to football, and I am very interested to see how they turn out. Lets just hope there is enough gas in the tank to make them worth the time to produce.