When I first saw the sell sheet for 2013 Certified, I was excited, and now that we are seeing the way the cards look, I think my excitement was warranted. I really think that for the first time, Panini is finally considering the aesthetics of the brand along with the desires of the collectors, and they are making some progress. Because they are changing the direction away from what it used to be, people will be rubbed the wrong way in some cases. However, I think there will be just as many people jumping on board as those that are jumping off the side.
Here are some of the cards up so far:
I really, really, like the Freshman Fabric design for maybe the first time in the last five years. I think we had some potential for nice cards back in 2011, but there were still issues with design. This year, its an all around strong showing, with a stylized approach instead of a played out revamp of a product that was losing steam. Its unfortunate that these are not signed on card, but I think the early release is a main factor in that. This product usually comes out around thanksgiving, and pushing it up is a risk that looks to have paid off.
The issues with Certified are more with the rookies in the class than anything, as it is going to be very difficult to make back your money on a box unless you hit something crazy. Most of the time your hits will equate for less than a 20% return, as we have seen in most products this year from both licensed companies, although I think Panini’s propensity to go for more relic content over auto content doesnt play well in this down market.
Certified will always have a place in the hobby because it has been here for so long, and this year definitely preys on that circumstance in a way it hasnt before. They decided to go off plan, and I applaud the adventurous display, as this had to be something that they knew would rattle some cages. “My god, you mean I cant have my quad square relic combo auto of my favorite player this year? I SAY GOOD DAY TO YOU!” However, this is exactly what needs to happen every year, we cant continue to build Triple Threads the same way with each release and hope collectors just forgive the lack of imagination. We really have to get down into the building blocks of the brand and keep things fresh. Did Panini do a great job of it this year? No, but they are well on their way to a good start.