SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 Bowman Platinum is a Rare Bust For Topps Design

Now that we are well into the 2014 year for Baseball, Topps is starting to release those products that I can tell are a result of having to produce too many sets each year. Collectors are soon going to be facing a very similar situation in football come 2016, especially as Panini tries to build out a nauseatingly huge calendar to make up the money spent on licensing.

Here are some of the cards up so far:

2014 Bowman Platinum Byron Buxton Red Refractor Auto Jumbo Patch

2014 Bowman Platinum Jose Abreu Canary Diamond Refractor Auto

2014 Bowman Platinum Kris Bryant Red Refractor Auto

2014 Bowman Platinum Miguel Cabrera Cutting Edge Die Cut Auto

2014 Bowman Platinum Miguel Sano Relic Auto

Bowman Platinum is another prospect and rookie focused product that follows other recent releases that also have a very similar checklist. The difference is that unlike previous releases, this one is about as hideous as it gets. The design of some of the cards is so bad, that I am actually surprised that Topps put their name on it. Although concepts can get repetitive, you dont usually see ugly sets from them. Its just not like Topps.

In fact, previous years of Bowman Platinum have been a very simple design, although that doesnt necessarily support the need for this set to exist. There are already closer to 10 prospect products that Topps puts out, and I would argue this has been the weakest historically.

Funny enough, Panini actually put out a very similar looking concept back in 2009 with Limited Football, which was actually just as ugly save a few nice cards. This set literally is a complete fucking dog, and I really dont know how else to put it. Not only is the checklist strikingly similar to Inception, Finest and other rookie/prospect heavy releases, but it is literally hard to look at. The boxy lines and triangular type motif does not do the card any favors, and the jersey swatches are almost lost in the mix.

Inception had its issues, but for the most part the cards looked pretty clean and simple. These are literally some of the busiest cards of the year, and as most can attest, busier does not mean better.

Now, the base cards with on card autographs arent horrible, which is probably because they dont feature a lot of the same angular elements. However, adding colored parallels make the cards look like alien spaceships are hovering over the players, which looks really weird. The design is more simple, and it doesnt feel like I am looking at the Empire Strikes Back in baseball card format. The oddly composed die cut inserts and relic autos more than make up for this in horrendous composition, especially when the background is more prominent than anything on the card.

I sincerely hope you havent subjected yourself to this, as it is really, really not even close to good.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 National Convention Wrapper Redemptions

I posted yesterday on the pending release of the thousands of wrapper redemption cards that are flooding the market right now, and we are just starting to get a good look at what each company is doing.

Panini Booth

Basically, anything outside of the main new content they built for this program is complete junk. Manupatches and other stuff not worth your time. However, they did make some nice looking base and base autos. In fact, Im kind of pissed they wasted such a good design a on free giveaway program.

2014 Panini National Convention Johnny Manziel Auto Patch Ice /5 – Ugly. UGGGGLY.

2014 Panini National Convention Sammy Watkins Auto – These are pretty cool.

2014 Panini National Convention Teddy Bridgewater Glove Patch Ice /5

Topps Booth

I love the Ginter minis to begin with, and to add football players to the mix is awesome. There was a HUGE line at the booth from what people were saying on Twitter, so it might just be worth your time to buy the singles on eBay you want.

2014 Topps National Convention Johnny Manziel Ginter Mini

2014 Topps National Convention Jose Abreu Ginter Mini

Upper Deck Booth

Lots of nice autos and from what I am hearing, a lot more to come. The packs are pretty popular because they have potential Jordans, Lebrons and Manziel, where Panini doesnt have those. Not bad.

2014 UD National Convention LeBron James Welcome Home Commemorative Card

2014 UD National Convention LeBron James Auto /10

2014 UD National Convention Teddy Bridgewater Auto /10

As we head towards the VIP parties that will be happening in the next few days, Im sure we will get more cards to see too. Keep checking back for more coverage.

Panini Announces NFLPA Exclusive at NSCC

If you havent been on Twitter today, Panini made the announcement at the national convention that they had acquired rights to the NFLPA exclusive starting in 2016. We already knew that though, as the rumor had been all but confirmed on twitter over the last few weeks.

I have already posted two lengthy explanations of why this is bad, and you can read them at the links below.

Twitter Hints at Panini NFL Exclusive – Could This Be the Hobby’s Worst Nightmare?

Futher Implications of a Possible Panini NFL Exclusive

Similarly, there is a second part of this announcement that is floating around that Im sure will come either later this week or sometime in the near future. Dont worry, no more exclusives are coming – yet, but there is another license up in the air that Panini looks to have secured a part of. Scary thing is, it only puts them one step closer to their eventual goal of eliminating all competition in the market.

Here is what you need to know:

  • Starting in 2016, NFLPA exclusive rights will be given to Panini
  • Although NFLP License which controls logos and uniforms is not exclusive yet, its very difficult to operate without the full NFLPA cooperation
  • They have been granted room to expand their product line past the number they had in the last few years
  • Topps will likely be out of football cards for the length of the license
  • This is unusual in the way they went about doing this – as usually the PA follows the league license, not the other way around
  • Make your voice heard by tweeting @NFLPA, @NFLPlayersInc and @NFL

The scary thing is, I spoke about cash flow in a previous article (above), and how Panini presents a level of stability in that regard. With that stability comes the notion that they can spend enough money on licenses that it almost makes it a foregone conclusion that they will shoot for the stars when other licenses come up. Baseball will come eventually, and without NFL revenue and the things that come with it, its possible Topps may not be able to outbid them. Considering they are already in a situation where they need money, it could get worse earlier rather than later.

Everyone seems to think that Panini will want to buy Topps or buy Upper Deck, but I am not sure if its that simple – especially when the company value and worth can be cheapened through pot shots at their licensing situations. Panini’s people are rumored to be more concerned with eliminating them than buying them.

So, officially, 2015 will be the last chance you have to buy any Topps Football products licensed by the NFLPA. Although Topps Football isnt quite dead yet, its definitely on life support and I could not be more distraught about that.

2014 National Convention: Wrapper Redemption Roundup

Well, its time for the biggest card show of the year, as the 2014 National Collectors Convention opens today in Cleveland for show VIPs. There will be a flood of news coming, including some potential information about Panini and their quest for hobby domination, but nothing set in stone. For these first few days, the biggest news will be surrounding the wrapper redemptions, most of which will be the most coveted items at the show.

The cards can fetch some crazy money as we have seen from previous shows:

2010 National Convention Michael Jordan Upper Deck Wrapper Redemption

2012 National Convention Robert Griffin III Panini Auto /5

2013 National Convention Yasiel Puig Leaf Wrapper Redemption Auto

Here is a break down of what to expect for this year, especially as pre-sales ramp up and are fulfilled.

Panini’s Wrapper Redemption Program

As I have mentioned on a number of previous occasions, this wrapper redemption is not for collectors – its for everyone else who needs to clear their shelves of the slew of terrible Panini products that have been collecting dust all throughout 2013. All that being said, the cards really do look much nicer than they have in years past, and I really like the way they are using the patch motif as the design for the cards.

Panini’s gallery is here.

Here are some of the cards on pre-sale:

2014 Panini National Convention Wrapper Redemption Johnny Manziel RC

2014 Panini National Convention Wrapper Redemption Andrew Wiggins RC

2014 National Convention VIP Jose Abreu RC

2014 Panini National Convention Wrapper Redemption Teddy Bridgewater RC

Again, this year’s set looks as good as it ever has, with more of a focus on designing great looking rookie content from guys like Manziel and company that will sell like hotcakes in Cleveland. I still detest the stupid manupatch autographs that have been a virus in this hobby year after year, and the cracked ice is still not done correctly. Similarly, these towel cards make no sense to me, as I dont get why collectors want swatches of material specifically used for collecting bodily fluids.

If only this money could make it back into the products instead of a million wrapper packs and an overly extravagant VIP party.

Topps Wrapper Redemptions

I love that Topps produces the exclusive Ginter minis to give away each year, as these types of cards are really what the wrapper redemptions should be about. They tend to be pretty rare and coveted by the crowd to the point where security needed to be called in last year.

Here are some of the cards up for pre-sale:

2014 Topps National Convention Wrapper Redemption Masahiro Tanaka Ginter Mini

2014 Topps National Convention Wrapper Redemption Jose Abreu Ginter Mini

The national show presence should always be more about engaging with your customers and less about giving away free shit, but this is what it has become. The reason I know this is the case is because the Topps booth is empty by 2pm. Topps still tries to make it work, though.

Upper Deck Wrapper Redemptions

In the last few years UD has become more like Panini in creating content for the show rather than Topps, and it has caused more interest at their booth as of late. They also just announced a special LeBron James card to be given out, which features a quote about his return to cleveland. Just not the same without NBA licensing like Panini has for theirs.

2014 UD National Convention VIP Johnny Manziel RC

2014 National Convention Upper Deck VIP Set

Leaf Wrapper Redemptions

Brian Gray always puts on a show, and this year looks to be no different. I saw posted that he has a deal or no deal station set up where collectors can play for boxes, as well as a bunch of points that count towards autographed items and giveaways.

2014 Leaf National Convention VIP Jadeveon Clowney RC

2014 Leaf National Convention VIP SET

He also has a card set that will be given out over the next few days.

Overall, the National has become a big party, and that does serve to increase the hobby’s presence in a lot of ways. You want this to become like San Diego Comic Con, and that’s no joke. The more people that can come to the show, the more the hobby will flourish. If that can happen in conjunction with more content in the actual products themselves over the whole year, I would be pretty damn happy.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 Exquisite Golf Builds High End Into a New Sport

I have always been a fan of Upper Deck products because they usually live up to the best in terms of design, theme and look. Exquisite, over the course of its history has established a brand of the best cards in the business, always rising the top of the value spectrum as a result. Even after Upper Deck lost licenses in the NFL and NBA, Exquisite remained a product that collectors love, and will continue to love regardless of licensing status. We know expensive golf cards can sell, as Tiger has been in high end products before, but never like this.

Here are some of the big hits so far:

2014 Exquisite Golf Tiger Woods Dimensions Shadowbox Auto

2014 Exquisite Golf Tiger Woods Masterpieces Auto

2014 Exquisite Golf Rory McElroy Lustrous Shirt Auto

2014 Exquisite Golf Jack Nicklaus Dimensions Shadowbox Auto

2014 Exquisite Golf Michael Jordan Endorsements Auto

For me to talk about a Golf product, it has to be crazy awesome, which Exquisite is looking like it might be. Not only are there the jumbo swatches and autographs that have always been a staple of the product, but these cards look like Exquisite has always looked – amazing.

Adding in UD black and other brands like they have done in Football and Basketball was a great call, as I think that many of the golf fans out there will chase the big names. Most of the different subsets all hearken back to the way they have looked in other sports, which will help collectors draw connections if they arent intimately familiar with golf as a whole.

That is also going to be the main challenge, as its clear that Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus cant be in every box. Although there are guys like Arnold Palmer and even Michael Jordan, most of the names will be people that the average joe hasnt heard of. When you bust a box of 500 dollar cards, you need the mass appeal to help carry the cost of singles that arent the case hit. That’s what Exquisite usually can do in Basketball and Football, but its still unclear what could happen in Golf. Easily, the collectors could come out of the woodwork and buy these guys up, but it could also go completely the other direction.

Either way, I have always been a fan of cards like the Lustrous patch autos and the Dimensions shadowbox autos, which use acetate technology to present the cards in very unique ways. In a lot of these products the cards jump off the stock because they look the way they do.

In my opinion, Exquisite and ANY high end product has been tough to break by the box, as there are some major duds in every product’s print run. The trade off has always been that the cards are all 100% hard signed, and have always looked like they are worth the price of the box.

I dont think this version of Exquisite will come up short there.