Here we go ladies and gentlemen, the true beginning of the 2017 football card year. Although I think there were a few bright spots last year, as a whole, I wouldnt give Panini above a D for rolling out worthwhile products across the entire year. Sets like Impeccable, NT, and Immaculate were exceptionally nice, but they are either exclusively broken by group breakers, or by the top 1% of the hobby. The average collector isnt going to break multiple boxes of ultra premium products, and that’s where Panini failed so miserably, I dont even have words to describe it.
Im hoping that 2017 will be a better use of the exclusive that Panini began last year, and the rookie premiere is the place where much of the beginning part of the year is funded. Last year, Panini failed to generate much buzz, using a cookie cutter rehash of Inception to drive on card content. Because Topps had already carved out the path with their product, an identical looking product wouldnt stray far in collector’s minds. That was one of the only new products that Panini did even remotely okay, and it wasnt even their idea. That is scary.
Origins is back again for this year, and much like last year, its featuring a direct copy of Topps’ previous cards, made cheaper by too early of a print deadline, which forced an ungodly amount of double zero jerseys. Origins WILL be one of the best looking things to come out of this weekend, as we see the retouched Elite mug shot cards are back for a second year. Instead of rolling with college action shots retouched or even straight, Panini’s team actually took the time to go through and edit these goofy photos normally used for player designation. Its crazy.
My largest complaint from last year was the over dependence on posed photographs used in SO MANY of Panini’s product lines during the year. As we saw Upper Deck and Topps close out their product licenses, both companies RARELY used this style of photography because A) Its fucking goofy looking B) the players arent fashion models and C) company owned action shots from the premiere look more dynamic. If I had my way, these would be eradicated from ALL products. Unfortunately, Panini uses the premiere to take players OFF the field more than on it, and that is just ass backwards. The premiere was originally designed to provide the licensees an opportunity to interact with the players and get on field photos for their goods, knowing that real game photos were both expensive to maintain/obtain, and unavailable until Q3.
Instead of dynamic photos of players doing their best to look like they are in a game, Panini sets up tents, takes players into stairwells, and uses a ton of time to get posed photos of attendees using cliche poses to use on cards. From my experience, the products that use these photos in a dominant fashion are rarely ever successful, and if I had my way, they would be gone forever. Football provides the ability to capture the most dynamic activity of arguably any sport, and for whatever goddamned reason, Panini thinks they know better. Aside from the inferior design across all products compared to competition, photo choice has been the cards’ worst flaw.
Right now, Im eager to see what happens with some added time across the calendar. This is year two, and year two better be better than year one. Its clear that there are enormous reasons why improvement has to be the name of the game this season. Garbage sets like Unparalleled, Phoenix, Infinity and Gala need to either be scrapped or completely and utterly retooled. Winners like Origins, Impeccable and Optic need to have some aspect of year over year improvement. So far, that prospect is slim based on track record.