Ever since the loss of Upper Deck’s NFL license and Exquisite, National Treasures has won the high end market by default. Its sad that this is the case, as I don’t think they have put out a product worthy of that title in some time. The 2012 version of NT was by far the best effort in its run, but I still think Topps has made a better product in Five Star each and every year. Although the collectors haven’t necessarily agreed with me, Five Star’s existence has prompted Panini to start thinking more progressively.
They previewed the first cards on twitter last night, and for the most part, things are looking good.
Rookie Patch Autos
These are USUALLY the draw for NT, but for the first time, they might not be the belle of the ball due to a lackluster rookie class. The design looks to be much better than last year, although I cant understand why there is such a small space for the players to sign. I like the white dominated design and the reversion back to a horizontal format, but the lack of game photos this late in the year is a detriment. We should not be getting photo shoot kissy faces in April and May, as I think there is plenty of time to get us the real thing.
NFL Gear Patch Autos
I think this was a cool set last year, and for 2013 im not as big a fan. This just SCREAMS Flawless, and that isn’t a good thing to me. Although I don’t think its as hideous as some of the other cards from the year, it could have been a lot better based on what we have seen in the past. Im just glad we are finally getting some hard signed rookie cards for 2013.
Colossal Veteran Autos
Let me say one thing. If these end up being on card autos, I will go nuts trying to chase down as many of them as I can get. If they are stickers, ill be very disappointed, but the cards should still be great looking. Its ridiculous that I have to question stickers vs on card in a product that costs 500 dollars per box, but this is the reality we live in. At least they look awesome. Last year, had major potential, but was spoiled by the big white box that sliced the player off at the waist.
Veteran Auto Patch Booklets
I love that Panini has stopped washing the jerseys as they come in, or seeking out more game used stuff that continues to be destroyed. That is really cool. These booklets not only look really nice, but my statement above about on card stuff holds true. We need to be hoping and praying these come back hard signed, but there is no guarantee. That makes little sense as mentioned above, but we can only dream.
Last Year (rookie version):
Overall, I still think Five Star is the better product, offering more to me as an autograph collector than National Treasures ever could. For whatever reason, collectors still don’t know what they have in a product like Topps has worked hard to put together, instead putting more value on cards like this that aren’t on the same level. I will say that Panini obviously has saved the best for last, and I am excited to see how this turns out. We can only hope the progression of the product takes hold and hard signed cards come to fruition. If not, it still looks nice, just not as nice.