It took Panini years to show up to the booklet party, and they were exceptionally late. However, they havent really had much issue creating some great cards using the technology. Although they havent always made decisions that would normally be expected of a fully functional licensed card company, they have done well. 2012 Playbook and 2012 National Treasures both had great examples of making it work well, and it should be no surprise that it is back for another year.
The Rookie Booklets
The base rookie booklet autos were incredible last year. They not only made great use of both sides of the card, but the inclusion of silhouette style die cuts and acetate signatures in a shadowbox style was gorgeous. No joke – I just called a Panini card gorgeous. They were in every sense. This year, they are bringing the design back almost exactly the same, which I am fine with. If it aint broke, dont fix it, right? However, we all know that isnt going to sell the product. To make up for it, they added veterans to the checklist, which is a great idea, and I hope we get those autos on card as well. Even if they are stickers on the clear acetate, im fine.
Down and Dirty Booklets
This is really a unique style of card, and I think it is a tremendous idea, although Im a little worried how the cards might smell, haha. Either way, collectors have always paid a premium for swatches that are USED and USED well, and with all the questions surrounding the player connected swatches actually being player worn, this is a welcome change. Last year’s vet swatch books were kind of boring, but this is a HUGE upgrade.
The Rookie Playbook Booklets
Here is the thing with these. Topps already did this in 2012 Supreme, and they were really cool. The thing is, their playbooks were sticker autos with a special drawn out play insert that the players did at the premiere. Panini, from the looks of it, is going to do the EXACT same thing, but their inserts are signed. I think it works well both ways, but I wish it werent such a blatant rip off.
The Base Autos
Last year’s base autos were great looking. Clean white dominated design, and very little to detract from the true subjects of the card. It was simple and it fit well. I liked them a lot. For 2013, they ditched that concept completely, and went with this sticker auto on a design that looks like notebook paper. What a joke. Complete downgrade and train wreck.
2012 Playbook Veteran Auto
Flywire Triple Books
I know, I know, everyone is going to freak because Panini is going to get the whole collar into a card. I have actually wondered, as a result of these collars, how a card like this is even possible?
The problem is, you are basically getting a chopped up collar with a border slapped on it. The design looks awful, just as it always does in Triple Threads. Its funny, because last year, they had a stupid Triple Threads style rookie booklet, and this year its this crap. Panini is definitely playing to the people who couldnt care less what a card looks like and just care about the swatch on it. That is truly unfortunate, as it reinforces that behavior. This card looks like a black hole thanks to the dark border, and the frame job isnt even that well done.
Overall, I am surprised that Panini has managed to keep this brand going for three years, considering how it was released the exact same day as NT in 2011 and close to NT in 2012. Either way, Im glad its back with the way this looks.