SCU Go-Live Report: 2015 Panini Certified Football

I have never been too big a fan of Certified in any one of its many iterations, especially over the last few years. The cards have always been really ugly, save a few years here and there, including one of the ugliest modern sets of all time in 2006. Bottom line, Certified should have been axed years ago, but like many of Panini’s products, the beatings will continue until morale improves.

Witness the Carnage Yourself:

2015 Certified Rob Gronkowski Auto Jumbo Relic

2015 Certified Phillip Dorsett Mirror Red Jumbo Patch Auto

2015 Certified Eli Manning Gold Team Auto /10

2015 Certified Todd Gurley Auto RC

Just taking one look at this design, all I can think is that someone dropped an iPad and they used it for inspiration. That, or Spider-man prematurely blew his wad, and it landed all over the printing plates. Not exactly the best feelings to instill in your customers. OH BUT IT HAS COLORZ AND BIG PATCHEZ! AWWWWWW YISS.

Certified is a product for those people who have no other desire than to get big patches. Regardless of how the cards look, they just want the CAR-AY-ZAY MOJOZ! and they dont care about anything else. These cards are some of the most hideous fucking train wrecks I have ever seen, and that’s being light. The jumbo patch autos are just horrible in every single way, and the base autos are worse. The cracked glass/Spidey Spooge approach takes this product to a new level of shittiness.

There is one part of this set that deserves some attention, and it might be the only reason to even consider joining a group break, let alone a box. The on card Super Bowl autos are a cool addition to this dumpster fire, and the cards are some I would pick up if there was someone in the set I collected.

As mentioned before, Panini did not get any cards signed at the rookie premiere, and Certified continues to suffer from sticker shock on every card in the product. The relic autos are not possible to be on card at this point in the year, but to see every card a sticker without a single on card offering is a slap in the face. As recent as 2011, Certified had on card content. Now? Might as well put it in the bargain bin before it even goes on the regular shelf.

After the last few years, this is pretty much how it is.

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SCU Go-Live Report: 2015 Topps Chrome Baseball

Although retail Chrome has been live for a while now, almost inexplicably early, the main content for Hobby should start showing up today. There is potential for some really nice hits in the product, but from what it looks like, boxes can be very feast or famine. The autographs look great, and the parallels are plenty, which means this should be pretty popular.

Bigger hits up so far – retail and hobby:

2015 Topps Chrome Kris Bryant Purple Refractor Auto RC /250

2015 Topps Chrome Carlos Correa SSP RC

2015 Topps Chrome Jose Abreu Illustrious Auto

2015 Topps Chrome Byron Buxton Gold Auto

2015 Topps Chrome Clayton Kershaw Red Refractor /5

2015 Topps Chrome Joc Pederson Auto RC

The biggest news has to be the SSP rookies, which include Buxton, Syndergaard, and Correa, whose late call ups forced the cards to have limited runs per Topps' podcast. These cards are definitely going to be valuable, maybe even more than some of the autographs in the set, and I will definitely have to look at picking up a box just to see if I can pull one. Correa has been ON FIRE in the hobby, maybe even more than Bryant lately, and this could be a card that ends up being a lower tier option for collectors who can no longer afford the Bowman Chrome autos.

Considering that Trout did not have a 2011 Chrome card because of his call up timeframe, I think having guys like Buxton and Correa in the set will be a nice to have if both pan out like they are supposed to.

As expected, some of the inserts look pretty cool. However, with insert autographs being mainly stickers, I dont think that is why you buy this product. In fact, its becoming more and more clear that Topps Chrome really doesnt have the clout in the hobby that it does in football, and that poses a real problem if you are looking to get a bang for your buck.

I think that the collectors who love the nostalgia of their previous experiences with Chrome, as well as those that want a shot at the big rookies, will bust this product exclusively, but overall, others might be checked out – especially without big rookies like Sano, Conforto, Schwarber and others having cards in the product.

Going to be interesting to see if this holds up on the secondary market, if not only because Superfractors will always be popular, and the Bryant autos that could carry this set.

On the Radar: 2015 Rookies & Stars Football

We all know that Rookies and Stars is rarely ever worth paying attention to. The set hardly even lives up to its horrible name most years. Even so, its rare that a product is released that is done so without the typical sell sheet and pre-sale info that goes out to every distributor. 2015 Rookies and Stars looks to be the first football product in years that seems to have gone that direction, although it might be because the set ends up as retail only. Its probably better that as few people as possible are subjected to it from the looks of the way it turned out.

Over the last few years, and really since the product’s inception, Rookies and Stars has been the Ford Pinto of the trading card world. So bad that it is a punch line. Not a good brand identity, but Panini keeps on using the paddles to shock another few beats into its heart. I dont think I have bought a pack of this product, ever. That’s how bad it is.

This set has been inexcusably bad for almost a decade:

2014 Rookies and Stars Odell Beckham Patch Auto

2011 Rookies and Stars Tom Brady Auto Relic

2012 Rookies and Stars Andrew Luck Auto Patch RC

2011 Rookies and Stars Colin Kaepernick Auto Manupatch RC

This year’s product is so boring looking that it might not even be worth talking about. If you saw these cards in a large search on eBay, you wouldnt even notice them. It has always been a forgettable set, but this year is an exception to how bad it gets. Not even going into the horrid looking die cut cards, and even more stupid content than one could imagine. It even has manupatch cards – ones that dont feature a team logo or even anything worth making a manupatch of. It has the set logo as a manupatch. I cant even make this shit up. Of course, this is the set that originated those awful signed pieces of scrap cloth that Panini loved for so many years, so maybe its destiny?

It makes you wonder if this is like those movies they dont screen for critics because they know how bad they are. That’s definitely 2015 Rookies and Stars, a set that is about as worthwhile as making another Mummy movie. 2015 Rookies and Stars: The Mummy Attacks! This is what we have come to. Remember, there had to be someone who looked at this set and said – YES! PRINT IT! I loathe that person.

Before I show the pictures, here is a running list of Panini products that will hit shelves before the first set with any significant on card rookie autograph content. Yes TEN FUCKING PRODUCTS:

  • 2015 Prizm Draft
  • 2015 Contenders Draft
  • 2015 Prestige (1 set of same day cards)
  • 2015 Clear Vision
  • 2015 Spectra (1 set of HOF)
  • 2015 Certified
  • 2015 Rookies and Stars
  • 2015 Donruss
  • 2015 Panini Playbook
  • 2015 Gridiron Kings

Wow, someone needs an award made up. Holy shit.

On the Radar: 2014-15 Flawless Basketball

I dont spend a lot of time talking about Basketball here, mainly because it really isnt my sport to collect. A main reason is that Panini’s exclusive has huge ups and downs of the way the cards eventually turn out set by set, and it takes away from any interest I have. I think if Upper Deck was still involved, with Jordan and Lebron, I would have more interest in covering the day to day, but their departure in 2009 has been a huge loss for the sport.

Panini has tried to reclaim some of what left with the creation of Flawless, which has been somewhat successful in creating an ultra high end market. Last year’s version wasnt all that successful after the inagural set the ball in motion, but this year looks different with Wiggins and Parker to carry the set. Adding in USA Basketball is a similarly good idea, and its going to be interesting to see if collectors react well to it.

Since its release, it has had some very clean and simple designs that look really good:

2012-13 Flawless Kyrie Irving Auto Patch RC BGS 9.5

2013-14 Flawless Stephen Curry Jumbo Patch Auto BGS 9.5

2012-13 Flawless Kobe Bryant Dual Patch Auto

2013-14 Flawless LeBron James Jumbo Patch Gold

I want to pay close attention to the set, because the potential that some of these designs end up in Football is a really good thing. They look clean and sleek, and though there are some really confusing cards that look horrendous, the sell sheet looks damn good. Im still not convinced that Panini will get off their ass to actually produce a good football set this year, especially after the set under-performed in 2014. Maybe this year, the distributors wont try to jack up the MSRP well above where it was supposed to be, like they did last year.

I really like the base autos, and the jumbo patch autos also look really good. I am a huge fan of white background and minimal embellishments, letting the player stand out against the card front with a big bold signature. I also like when the patch is 1×2 instead of a square, as it gives a lot more space to play with. All of these things look to be in play for this set.

As for the multi signed cards, I dont get why Panini seems to haphazardly place players on in the places they do. It looks to confuse everyone as to where they should look, including the players themselves when signing the cards. The designs get cluttered, as we saw in Immaculate, which had some of the most terrible multisigned cards I have seen in a while.

Personally, I dont really like the ridiculous price tag that graces the boxes of Flawless out there. Without Jordan and without Lebron, it seems like those holes create enormous gaps in what could be done with a product like this. Taking out logos and other insane cards that could be possible is an even worse idea, making Immaculate look like the far superior product. To date, Flaweless has rarely offered any type of unique content that wasnt available other places, and that should NEVER fucking happen when a box costs more than 1000 per. There needs to be some crazy chase cards, and flawless rarely delivers that. Sure the cards look nice, but its basically everything you find in NT or other sets, but at 5-6x the box price.

Just thinking about what Exquisite would have delivered with this kind of budget is really a crazy thought, and I resent Panini for doing it this way instead. Shame on them.

On the Radar: 2015 Panini Playbook Football

Panini keeps trotting out products that have literally bombed every year they have been around. Like Spectra, sets like Playbook have almost never been successful in any way, with 2014 likely being the worst year of the entire run. For whatever delusional reason they have in their head, Playbook is back for another year, despite all the issues it has had in the past.

Now, in 2012 and 2013, I actually thought it was an interesting and cool product, if not only because there was plenty of other sets that Panini was offering that had true on card content:

2012 Playbook Andrew Luck Auto Patch Booklet RC

2013 Playbook Adrian Peterson Auto Patch Booklet

2013 Playbook Peyton Manning Nike Logo Booklet Patch

2014 Playbook Colin Kaepernick NFL Logo Shield Booklet

The design of the booklets was always pretty cool, using the silhouette style technology to showcase the rookies and vets. All of that basically went away in 2014, and the product was at half of dealer cost almost immediately. I mean, who doesnt love buying a box of cards when the auto hit is a hideous orange parallel from one of the worst sets of all time?

The biggest laugh of 2015 has to be that Panini already put out Clear Vision, which is basically a set of those horrible cards from 2014 Playbook. The signed acetate scrap game is large in both of these sets, and I just dont see the appeal when its done the way Panini is doing it. It also presents ANOTHER set without true hard signed rookie content. I dont know what the fuck is going on in Texas, but it seems like they have given up on getting actual cards signed by the rookie class. By the time this comes out, we will have had Bowman, Inception, Topps Flagship, Platinum, Finest, Hi Tek and more from Topps, all of which feature great looking on card rookie autographs. Nothing from Panini. Great job guys. Slow clap for the people on the short bus.

From the way the previews look for the main box hits, they may be introducing a new shape of booklet, which actually doesnt look all that horrible, except for the way the player is inexplicably down so far on the right side of the card. I dont think the faded player shot is as necessary when it makes the design look that unbalanced.

The down and dirty cards are back, which is one of the only consistently awesome part of this set over the last few years. However they are so freaking tough to pull its almost a non factor. I also liked them a lot more in white, but then it would just be the same design as the previous years.

As for the jumbo logo, I think they had a unique opportunity to create a booklet that had silhouettes on both sides similar to the Game of Inches cards that were so cool before, and yet, here we are with half a Funchess instead of bunches of Funchess (Sorry, had to do it). Just looks weird, like he has half a body. Missed a big splash with these cards as a result.

When you see the base cards for this products are booklets, all I could think was that this was an unnecessary cost to add to a product that already has an unnecessary existence. There are so many decisions like this that Panini makes on a regular basis that makes me question how much they actually know about football cards. More importantly, when you see what Panini does in Basketball, both in terms of content and on card autographs, it really makes Football seem even trashier than it already is for Panini.

What a fucking disgrace.