When I heard that Panini was putting up Rookies and Stars against one of the most popular sets of the year in Topps Flagship, I had to laugh. In fact, its relatively comical that Rookies and Stars is still a product at all. Off all the sets that Panini puts out, this brand is notoriously assigned to a lower class, as it has been so bad for so long.
Now that it has been out for consumption, we are starting to see what it has:
Although during 2012, the product's design was actually not bad, the residual value in the brand was next to nothing. I actually think its not all that bad looking again for 2013, but it makes you wonder what the business plan is for a set that has little to nothing special to offer. To see that Panini thought it was a good idea to release it against flagship, it makes me question their intelligence.
Like I said, the product doesnt actually look all that bad. I think the rookie auto patches are actually pretty cool. The full bleed design with the faux game shots looks really nice, even though they chose to use foilboard (shocking, right?). I think they have started to catch on that the rectangular jumbo swatch is too perfect for card design, and have started to incorporate it more often. Topps has been doing this now for a few years, and has perfected its usage, and Im glad that Panini is finally getting on board.
There is one part of this product that continues to be a fucking train wreck. The slideshow autos are back for the umpteenth year, and each time I see that they are back, I have two questions. First, who thought this idea was actually worth doing in the first place? I get that back in 2007, they were trying to find creative uses for photography, but Slides? Just what I want – a card that reminds me of my third grade science class!
Secondly, who knew slides were still available? I have a great idea. Instead of using slides, why not pre-produce acetate squares with retouched photos on them, and use THEM instead of a medium synonymous with boring relatives’ vacation recaps. That way, you still get that see-though presentation, and they can be signed at the premiere just like the slides. Let’s face it, acetate looks good.
Lastly, if Panini was going to make cards like this, at least give me a design worth talking about. Studio shots of rookies with their helmets off NEVER WORK. EVER. In fact, using non game photography detracts from every last shred of aesthetic appeal. Football players are not known for being photogenic in a lot of ways, and this is a perfect example.
Here is the bottom line. Rookies and Stars is a dead brand in a sea of products that blur together. If you think about how many of these products Panini puts out with the exact same configuration, there is NOTHING that makes this set special. In fact, its so forgettable, that I didnt even know it was out until the day after release. I understand this set has a history, but its not like its loved in the same way that SP Authentic is. If Rookies and Stars were to go away, I dont think many people would miss it.