Two big previews to discuss today, and both of them actually look pretty damn good. I think we are starting to make a lot of progress in design for both Topps and Panini, which is a great thing. Though the rookie class is more likely to be able to support the higher end products this year, I think it’s nice to see that the companies continue to improve design.
2014 Topps Finest
I was a huge fan of Finest’s design last year, especially for the hard signed cards that have become a staple. The product has been the beneficiary of a complete resurgence, as collectors have flocked to the boxes as one of the first higher end products of the year. In 2009 I would have said this product was dead. Now, its one of the best.
This year’s design looks similarly impressive, check out some of the best of the best:
Its no surprise that the LATE draft will impact the card year, likely leading the card companies to have to make tough decisions in the way their early products are constructed, and this might be the first time we see how much that effect will take its toll. I think all the cards look improved, especially on the patch autos and the base cards. However, the on card autos from 2013 look to be stickers this year – VERY disappointing. On the jumbo jersey autos, which have been a favorite of mine for a few years now, the border around the swatch is WAAAY to thick to the point of ruining the aesthetic of this design. There is no reason for a border that thick, so much so that it bleeds into other elements of the card. I reached out to Topps with the hopes that they change the design before production, so we will see.
NOTE: these pictures are just mockups – rookies will be in their NFL uniforms.
2014 Score Retail and Hot Rookies Hobby
Things look to be changing for Score this year, with a lower end product for retail and a more middle of the road product for hobby. Because last year’s score was nothing short of a visual disaster, combined with horrid performance on the market, I don’t think this is a bad idea. Hot rookies will be structured like 2007 Upper Deck Elements Baseball, with mini boxes promising different content in one factory box.
The design for the cards is vastly improved as well, even though the rookies are still sporting sideline shots with their helmets off instead of retouched action shots. I really like a lot of the insert sets that they are doing for the retail side of it as well, including some really creative ideas to build out the interest for a different target market. Will this product knock your socks off with content? Not even close, but at least it seems to look a lot better than last year’s train wreck:
2013 Score Cordarrelle Patterson HOT Rookies Auto – One of the ugliest sets of recent memory
2013 Score Kenny Stills Auto RC – An iconic design does not solve these eyesore’s problems
2013 Score Tavon Austin Auto RC – horrible!
Now that we are starting to see more previews for 2014 products, I am really starting to get ramped up for the draft. Its one of my favorite times of the year, and 2014 is looking to be one of the deepest there is. Still a bit concerned that there has yet to be a 2014 licensed preview with Manziel, but Im sure that will work itself out.