SCU Go Live Report: 2016 Preferred Football

NOTE: Please read the following post knowing that Preferred costs almost 200 a box.

Well, Preferred is out, and we finally get to see the garbage that Panini felt necessary to add along side the silhouettes in these boxes. Because the only card anyone wants is the silhouette, in the past, they felt it gave them a pass to include nothing but visual diarrhea in the rest of the product. Its been so bad in some years that I have seen shelves filled with Crown Royale boxes from other years, and that was when this set was significantly cheaper per box.

Here are the hits up so far:

2016 Preferred Dak Prescott Silhouette Auto /199

2016 Preferred Dak Prescott Great X-pectations Auto /10

2016 Preferred Ezekiel Elliott Panini's Choice Auto 10/10

2016 Preferred Boomer Esiason Silhouette Auto Patch /10

This means for the grand scheme of things, Panini has increased the price of the box, but Im not seeing much else they added to justify such a huge hike. Not to mention, when you study the checklist, its easy to see that someone could buy one of these boxes and walk away with less than ever. Since the only thing people are chasing are the box hits, one would expect the normal rookie crop, plus some nice veteran names that add significant value to the case hit. Instead we get Jaelen Strong, Byron Jones, Mike Davis, Dorial Green-Beckham, Nelson Agholor, Jeremy Langford, and others that literally have no business being throw ins in a product like this. At 80 bucks a box, where this will likely end up? Sure, toss them in.

I get that these players have leftovers that need to be used to recoup some of the comical losses that card companies knowingly set themselves up for at every rookie premiere (not just Panini either), but that is what trashy retail products like Rookies and Stars is for. Not Preferred. Last time I checked 3 plain jersey swatches a Silhouette of a scrub and 3 sticker autos is not preferred at all. Its the complete opposite. That’s what most of these boxes will turn out to be.

Oh lets not forget points. Everyone’s favorite autograph replacement is making its way into another super premium product, and I still cant understand what makes Panini think these cards are acceptable. Even if they replace one of the scrub autos that was mentioning above, it feels like you are being shorted. It feels like shit. Not surprisingly, if you get 250 points, the value of the card is like 5-10 bucks. When it costs 5 bucks to ship any reward, that sucks up quite a bit of the value of the card, no? But fuck it, lets put it in this product that costs double what it should!

Lastly, I want to spend some time on Stare Masters. Yes, some time in the last 6-12 months, someone on the Panini team thought it would be a fun exercise to bring back this subset, that was first used during the mid 1990s in donruss products. For some reason, this time in card history has been of much inspiration to Panini in the last few years, because they know nostalgia is a powerful drug when you literally have no ability to create nice things on your own. What they dont get, is that the set was fucking lame back then, and makes even less sense now.

Bottom line, Contenders is on the way. You know that all the Panini robots and group breakers will tear off body parts to open as many boxes as possible. Its going to be insane, and there is ABSOLUTELY no reason to open this junk. Dont. Lock your credit cards away with a timer until then, and put your fingers in your ears until you can open those packs. Nothing will be worth your time to open before that, and its essential that you dont fall for the bullshit that Panini’s adverblog will crap out daily. There is not a Dak every five boxes. There are not Zeke Elliott autos flowing like rivers as shown in their breaks. You will end up with a single color Mike Davis silhouette, and you will wish you had saved your 190 bucks to spend on a product actually worth a damn. Trust me. Save yourself the heartbreak.

Is Prizm Football Still the Best 2016 Rookie Set to Buy?

I have had a long and very difficult history with Prizm. Starting in 2012, it was one of the ugliest sets of the year, and it only got worse in 2013 and 2014. In fact, the 2014 set might be the worst looking rookie autograph set I have seen in the last 10 years, and that’s saying something considering the shit Panini has come out with as of late.

Here are the ugliest cards Prizm has to offer:

2012 Prizm Andrew Luck RC Auto BGS 9

2013 Prizm Leveon Bell Auto RC BGS 10

2013 Prizm Derek Carr RC Auto BGS 9.5

Something clicked, because in 2015 and in 2016, the set actually became a good looking product. Although it trailed Topps Chrome by a mile, it was no longer the fucking joke it was in the previous few years. That doesnt mean all is well, as the product still features sticker autographs, and a lot of ugly subsets. This is one of the main reasons it hasnt reached the level it should have reached now that Chrome is gone, and its really unfortunate in a year like this.

Here are the much improved designs:

2015 Prizm Marcus Mariota Gold Refractor Auto RC /10

2016 Prizm Paxton Lynch Auto RC /5

2016 Prizm Ezekiel Elliott Camo RC /25

2016 Prizm Jared Goff Gold Auto RC /10

Because of the strong rookie class, we are seeing 2012 level prices for the Cowboys' rookies, a very welcome situation for a lot of reasons. The issue is that its clear that these prices would be BLOWN out of the fucking water by much of what Topps would have produced this year, and its a sad reminder of how Panini still has yet to get their shit together on the most important sets of the year.

Its clear that they just dont know how to build a good product like Chrome was, as Panini inexplicably reduced the configuration options from Hobby and Jumbo to just Jumbo, which makes no sense at all for a set designed to cater to the mid range of spenders. Even though the product’s boxes are still selling above MSRP, imagine what would have happened without Dak and Zeke. Fucking disaster, that’s what. Lets not forget that there are still points in packs for this product. Yes, Panini is still trying to make “fetch” happen with the points shit.

I still think that of any product right now, Prizm is still the one that is worth buying – especially compared to trash like Infinity, Unparalleled, Gala and basically any other new set Panini has put out this year. I would say that Impeccable is much more of a great looking product, but it is not rookie focused as much as Prizm is.

As the year closes out, and we start to approach Treasures and Flawless, I have a feeling that there is going to be a larger focus on Prizm as a premium but not super premium set. Panini tends to flood the market with high end as the calendar comes to a close, and that will only make this set that much more attractive.

If the Cowboys run deep in the playoffs, this could be a banner year for cards, and I sincerely hope that Panini can make the most of what is going on. History is not kind in that respect, so Im not holding my breath. It all depends on the back end of 2016, and there are a lot of opportunities to knock it out of the park. Lets hope they remove their heads from their ass, and actually showcase better planning than what we got from Prizm.

Star Wars Autographs – Big Names Bringing Big Bucks

There may be no more rabid fan base than Star Wars out there, and trading cards have been a part of the collector focus since 1977 when the first Topps set was released. Now that Topps is focusing more energy on using Star Wars as a marquee licensing vehicle, its clear they are starting to get a lot of eyes from the giant numbers that are being paid for autographs of the big name guys.

Check these out:

2016 Topps Star Wars Chrome Daisy Ridley Auto XFractor

2016 Topps Rogue One Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso) Auto

2016 Topps Star Wars High Tek Adam Driver (Kylo Ren) Auto Red /5

2016 Topps Star Wars Force Awakens Harrison Ford Auto 10/10

This has not been more evident than the inclusion of John Boyega and Daisy Ridley in Transcendent Collection, which was a bit of an odd choice considering that it was a Baseball product. Obviously, both autographs are quite valuable with their roles in the new Star Wars trilogy, but these wont be SW themed cards.

With the release of the new movie today, Rogue One products are getting more attention with the film getting such good reviews. Felicity Jones is a signer for the product, and her redemptions are going for quite ridiculous numbers. Other top actors from the film are also getting similar attention, although male characters not named Ford rarely get the attention we see for the female counterparts. Insert joke here, because this is pretty expected.

Adding Adam Driver to the list of subject has been pretty cool as well, with Kylo Ren getting first action in new products released this month. Like Females, Villains get to be fan favorites as much as anyone, especially when they wield a lightsaber.

High Tek was a surprisingly awesome product last year with so many on card autographs being an exception to the rule for non-sport products. This year’s set is that much more impressive with newer characters from Force Awakens added to the mix. I think Tek works better for this type of setting than it does in the sports they have released prior. It just fits.

As we continue down this path, Im curious to see what more can be generated to keep interest high as new Star Wars movies are churned out almost yearly. I think there is a lot of room for hard signed super premium products, something that hasnt been as much of a focus in the past few years.

Star Wars has potential to be big business if done right, and the continued integration with Digital is a huge plus for these cards. Im more than surprised that Topps hasnt dove in more headfirst with the positive reaction seen across the hobby. I want more products, as for the first time in my life, im considering large scale purchases of non-sport cards.

SCU Go Live Report: 2016 Topps Transcendent Baseball

This is where it happens. This is where High End becomes Dubai End. Topps went and built a box of cards that costs more than a brand new Honda Accord, and its kind of interesting because they sure didnt have much issue selling the whole run. Although the buyers looked to be more group breakers than regular collectors, its worth mentioning that this product has quite the checklist, and the invitation to hang with Kris Bryant is pretty cool.

Here are some of the cards so far:

2016 Topps Transcendent Collection Kris Bryant Retro Auto 1/1

2016 Topps Transcendent Vin Scully Auto /52

2016 Topps Transcendent Derek Jeter Auto 1/25

2016 Topps Transcendent Mike Trout Auto Inscription /52

Seeing Transcendent in action is a good representation of how far the group break phenomenon has penetrated the mindset of the product teams, as 10 years ago, this idea would have been laughed out of the building by every distributor in the market.

So, here is what you get for more than the yearly salary of 50% of Americans. A framed base set, 50 framed autos, a jumbo framed cut 1/1, a 1/1 Kris Bryant auto, an invitation to the Topps Kris Bryant party, a 1/1 sketch, and a set of serially numbered sketch cards. The signer checklist has pretty much everyone who is anyone on Topps’ roster, including John Boyega and Daisy Ridley. Jeter looks to be the best on the baseball side, although guys like Trout and A-rod have signed inscriptions on all cards they signed. Including that with guys like Aaron, Koufax, Harper and Bryant, and it becomes quite a bit of content that makes a group break pretty cool to participate in.

I think that the cards all look really nice, but its a little concerning that there isnt a single set in the product that has relics, which is disappointing. For 25k, you would expect at least a shot at an MLB logo auto or something per box. Dynasty is a better break at that end.

Personally, there isnt really much in this product that hasnt been offered before in some capacity, and although the cards look nice, I feel like the wow factor on the card side of things is missing. I really love the Bryant 1/1 set, and I love that most of the cards are framed, save the sketch set. Adding in the party invitation is a great perk as well, but again, I just feel like some of the content choices needed to be flushed out a bit more.

Regardless of how I feel about the content, I dont think Topps is having any issue moving the boxes, and I would guess that the people participating in the breaks and getting their hands on some of these cards feel pretty good too. I cant help but look at this for the full product, not seeing that most of these cards are sold as 160 dollar slots and someone is walking away with a windfall in just about every instance.

I think its a bold move to even try something like this, and I do give Topps credit for having the balls to release this without fear. However, I think there is room to go up from here, and to think that is pretty scary.

SCU Go Live Report – 2016 Topps Dynasty Baseball

Im not going to sit here and say that anything in this release is more important than the first autographs from Derek Jeter since UD's last few baseball products back in 2009-2010. Considering that the baseball world was literally put on hold while Jeter retired last year, it was disappointing that he didnt have autograph cards when he was the topic of discussion for the entire nation.

Dynasty is literally one of my favorite products that Topps makes, and its not even close. The last two years of Dynasty were so incredible looking that watching group breaks became a second job just to see all the crazy hits come out. Now that Jeter was going to be involved, a lot of collectors really started to go nuts in tracking down cases and boxes to get a shot at what they believed would be the best product of the year.

Here are some of the cards that are garnering quite the buzz so far:

2016 Topps Dynasty Derek Jeter Tag Patch Auto 2/5

2016 Topps Dynasty Derek Jeter Patch Auto 10/10

2016 Topps Dynasty Ichiro Suzuki Auto Patch /10

2016 Topps Dynasty Kris Bryant Auto Patch Logo /5

2016 Topps Dynasty Mike Trout Auto Patch /10

Although I agree that it is still loaded from a card quality perspective, I am not a fan of the design, photos or look of the set at all this year. The closely cropped posed photos and bland design without ornate elements is really a detriment to the set, and I am shocked that Topps decided to go this direction. Although I like that they are taking card stock cues from Definitive Collection football, I dont think the design created as dynamic a look as it did in its football use.

As for the man himself, saying prices are insane right now is a bit of an understatement. Jeter is generating exactly the kind of attention that I would guess Topps was expecting from a set like this, and it will make your year if you can hit a nice one. Although there will be more of his cards on the way, this could end up being one of the best Jeter cards to own, solely because the game used relics are so big.

Im quite disappointed with the final result here, but I know I will be in the minority. I could have just wrote Jeter Jeter Jeter over and over again for this article, and it would be a perfect representation of what everyone is thinking. Sadly no one is going to give a shit about the design, and thats just the way it is.