2016 Black Gold: Technology Gone Right and So Very Wrong

This is now the third year of the unfortunately named Black Gold football. The title of the set doesnt really make sense, and when you look at the examples of what this product represents, the stupid name really kind of fits. This is really Panini’s main “technology” set, which means that they break out acetate, shadowboxes, and all sorts of weird shit as gimmicks. The problem is some of the set is pure gold, other parts of it are black fucking garbage.

The cards really dont do very well on the secondary market, mainly because its such a crap shoot, and with a horrible NCAA version diluting the market, its not much better:

2015 Black Gold Marcus Mariota Laundry Tag Auto /5

2015 Black Gold Tom Brady Auto Relic /10 

2014 Black Gold Derek Carr Sizeable Signatures Auto Patch

2015 Black Gold Andrew Luck Auto /25

2014 Black Gold Odell Beckham Jr Sticker Auto Relic – What a terrible design, good god.

As we have seen with previous editions, Black Gold focuses on delivering a combination of on card autographs with a lot of acetate type stock, and in many cases it works. In other cases, the cards are so fucking horrendous, that you just have to laugh. I mean, Dance Battle Joey Bosa gets two cards! How about that, cant even find a new stupid picture to use on either one of the new stupid designs.

That being said, the Sizeable series for RCs and Vets are amazing looking as are most of the auto relics that are part of this product. Much like 2014 and 2015, if its hard signed in this set, its going to look good, where most of the other stuff might as well be laughed out of the building. That includes the hilariously designed Metallic Marks, which are identical copies of 2016 Infinity, currently sitting below dealer cost on Blowout.

Only Panini would try to pull something like that in a Super Premium Set like this, and at this point its so much fun to make fun of them, I almost dont want it to stop. So far, in the three years of this product, plus the inexplicable releases of a college version, I have yet to see anything about this product that shows me its worth opening. I can buy 2014 and 2015 well below cost, and college Black Gold at lower than that. I literally have no idea how Panini could spend so much money building out this product year after year and still want to continue after it has tanked so heavily each time.

I knew they had no clue about what makes a card look good, but this just isnt good business sense to boot. Even if it sells out at the factory, its only because some dealer bought out a huge amount at a greatly reduced cost, and I would be SHOCKED if that continues with a rookie class next year that wont have Dak and Zeke. If Im a shop, im scared about what is going to happen, because this product looks to be one of the most over-produced super premium sets of the year. When you see the track record Panini has, that’s saying something.

Do some of the cards look good? Yeah, they do. Is this product even close to the potential it would have if they didnt shit out visual diarrhea for most of the designs? Nope, and that’s Panini in a nutshell.


On The Radar: 2016 Panini National Treasures Football Preview

If you think back to 2009, National Treasures maybe wasnt even the top 3 for products that collectors cared about. When Upper Deck lost their NFL license the next year, it left a giant hole in the super premium market that NT eventually filled by default. The product never really earned any of the brand recognition that it got, it was just lucky that no one else had a product with history in that space.

Over the next few years, Panini’s designs went from meh, to awful, to good to okay, and now that we are seeing the follow up to a very mediocre 2015 set, Im actually ready to say that this is one of the better looking versions of the product that I have seen since it’s creation. I really like the look, and I think it will end up being quite good.

Now, we are already seeing the stupid hat set is back, inexplicably for another year, which is fucking trash. Considering how bad these cards look, I actually find it funny how they have spread to other sets. As I have made clear in previous posts, the posed photos are such a visual train wreck, that it makes these cards completely horrendous.

Im sure there will be other posed photo sets, as Panini has shown their raging erection for these photos to anyone who will look. Lets just pray to the card gods that Panini decides to tape their boner down for as much of this product as possible.

Overall, this is looking like a good year for treasures, and hopefully they can execute like they did for Limited. Considering how bland Flawless looks from the same preview post, Treasures might be it.

Not a bad finish for the year when you consider how bad it started and continued through the middle of the year. Panini got very lucky with Dak and Zeke, and if they had started using better design work in the lead up as much as the completion, who knows what this year could have been. Pretty clear that collectors have spat on the terrible mid year products they put out, as there are so many red numbers on Blowout’s product page. They seem to be focused on driving good sets when it matters, and Treasures is definitely one of the only brands they have that matters. Too bad so little effort was used for the rest of the year.

On Shelves Now: 2016 Panini Limited Football

I think Limited has had a VERY up and down past. When jersey cards and that type of hit was still valuable in some ways, Limited had a much more solid approach to the game. Now that no single jersey card is worth shit, it relies on the autographs and chase hits in the product to really deliver the goods. In some years, the product fell so short that there isnt an excuse. Luckily for this big year, Limited might be the best looking mid range product Panini has delivered all year. That is saying something.

Check out some of the big hits already posted:

2016 Limited Dak Prescott RC Auto Patch

2016 Limited Carson Wentz RC Auto Patch

2016 Limited Ezekiel Elliott Draft Booklet Auto Patch

2016 Limited Aaron Rodgers/Eddie Lacy/Jordy Nelson Triple Auto /5

2016 Limited Warren Sapp Auto On Card Redemption

Bottom line, I have missed SP Authentic in football with the fire of a thousand suns. This year’s format might not hearken back to those days, but the design sure as hell takes a welcome page from Upper Deck’s handbook. Although the shitty jersey cards are inexplicably still a huge part of the product, the rest of the cards look so good it doesnt matter.

Switching back to on card autos with a white dominated design is insanely welcome, and I hope that people really respond to a product that doesnt use Panini’s demonic posed photos that they are obsessed with. I hope that this type of trend continues, as we are seeing some clutch designs really start to take hold in previews we are seeing from NT as well.

If Panini can remove their heads from their ass for a quick minute, we could see more designs like Limited take hold. Whatever artist designed these cards should be given a lot more work to do, as they know whats up. Action photos, sleek look, modern approach, much like SPA. All good things.

I want this to continue but Im not holding my breath.

Panini Points and Rewards: Why Does This Garbage Still Exist?

Think back a couple years and remember the overly gleeful refrain about how Panini points were going to transform the one thing about ripping wax that everyone seemed to hate. In fact, the article I posted back then still gets a ton of hits each day, because the message I ran with then is still as true now as it was. The Panini Points program is a complete fucking joke, and even if there are collectors out there who have found ways to make the system work for them, for the majority of us who populate this hobby, its a source of anger and rage.

In reality, the system does have functionality that COULD be useful if done in the correct way. The main thing about this program is not that its a terrible idea, its because it is solving the WRONG problem. As I have been saying for years, pulling a redemption in packs is not what drives collectors up the wall. Its the fact that 9/10 times, the redemptions take fucking forever to get done. Not all of that is on the company either, its just as much on the league and player as well. If redemptions took a short timeframe and didnt have a reputation, there wouldnt be an issue. Because of the history, collectors have come to associate redemptions as the problem, and not a symptom of a larger issue.

This means that using the points program as a solution for redemptions, isnt really going to do much. Its just going to replace one problem with another, and that’s putting it lightly. In reality, Panini (and every company for that matter) should find a way to incorporate a great method for helping collectors realize investment ROI when the redemption process goes sideways.

Lets face it, I would much rather pull a redemption for a Tom Brady or Kobe Bryant auto than not have those autographs available in products. Other people may not agree, but I would much rather include everyone they expect to be able to sign, than not have those people at all. At the same time, I dont want to wait 18 months for the completed project like I have waited for 6 cards currently in my queue. I also am too afraid to ask for replacements, because like the points program there are a myriad of horror stories out there. I want a slam dunk and a sure thing, and that just isnt available right now. Paying what I did for the redemptions I am waiting on limits what my perceived value of replacements chosen by another individual would be.

The answer is choice. The answer is fulfillment in a way that makes people feel like ROI is achieved. Points just make me want to throw a hammer at someone’s head. Points solve nothing, mainly because the rewards store is as much a game to be exploited as ever, and I dont have the time or desire to play that game. Im actually in the upper class of awareness, because I guarantee there are others who dont even know the rewards game even exists. Bottom line, you need to know when the stuff hits the store, and be ready to redeem when it does. Miss that time? Have fun with your cheap jersey cards that litter the front page.

I say the answer is choice, because there is no reason we shouldnt have a choice to begin with. If a collector pulls a redemption, they should have the choice between the player and the points, and if they choose the player and it falls through, points should be offered. Similarly, Panini should be held accountable to ensure the store is geared towards product specific redemptions, meaning I shouldnt be able to use points from Score to collect cards from Flawless.

Points are trash as it stands right now, and nothing makes me more upset than pulling them in a box. Its even worse when the product is high end, or even if its meant to be an extra hit. It makes me feel like I was shorted a hit, because there is so little I can get for the points, and actually redeeming a 150 point card will almost cost more in shipping than I would have gotten out of the points themselves. Think about it – 150 points goes for 5 bucks, shipping is 4.33. That means the effective value of 150 points is 67 cents, which is terrible.

These things need to go through a complete rebranding, and soon. As long as we continue to see them used the way they are, the more vitriol we will see from collectors that pull them.

What Do We Do Now That The Cowboys Are Done?

I was on the edge of my seat through most of the fourth quarter, and seeing the way it turned out has me a lot sad, but not necessarily devastated. I hate the Packers, so so much. They seemingly have a divine presence on their side, much to Tim Tebow’s chagrin, and for the people who put a lot of money in two Dak and Zeke, it was not a fun night. The fact that the Cowboys are now done in the playoffs, it only begs the question of what happens to value now that dreams have been dashed?

The Good

Its clear that Dak and Zeke are special players. They played extremely well last night, and if the defense had even gotten on the bus to play, the story would be different. The sheer stats alone probably saved Dak’s numbers from taking a larger dip than they would normally during the offseason, and Zeke likely will get the same benefit of the doubt. They showed they are ready for prime time, and I dont see many collectors who want to jump off a bridge after watching them, let alone jumping off the bandwagon.

The good news is that prices havent plunged overnight:

Dak Prescott Autographs

Ezekiel Elliott Autographs

For me, its all about watching this as a long term dive into value for these two, with Dak having the edge a bit as a QB over Zeke as a RB. The career life can be longer if good play is sustained, but lately, QBs move around a lot more now that the guaranteed money is so low. Lets hope Dak has a long career in Big D, and we wont need to revisit this.

The Bad

Even with a good performance, the Cowboys didnt make the Super Bowl. I have been hanging on to a few cards on the sheer off chance that they went all the way, but now that isnt going to happen. To be fair, Russell Wilson lost his first time in the playoffs too, and we all know what happened in year two. Collectors are not known for being patient, so there will be a dip in value regardless of what the smart play is. If you are a good investor, if prices drop more than a little, buying a good amount in the offseason is far from a bad idea. The chances that Dallas can replicate performance next year isnt that big of a stretch, and though the rest of the national buying public might move on, its not because they dont have potential long term to be champions.

The Indifferent

Right now, the NFL has re-opened the investigation into Ezekiel Elliot’s domestic assault case. Although I doubt it will go anywhere, I cant help but feel there is some bad stuff looming for him. It might not lead to a suspension, but he hasnt exactly shown he is squeaky clean since being drafted. Hopefully it turns out to be nothing, and the league will move on, but the fact that SOMETHING is out there, doesnt add to Zeke’s appeal. At least now, it doesnt detract either.

Bottom line, the dream is over for 2016, and we are now going to have to play the waiting game to see what investments the Cowboys make in the offseason. Its been a great year for buying wax thanks to these two, even though the actual products have been garbage for the most part. Hopefully it pays off more next year.