Offseason Developments and How it Impacts Hobby Value

Over the last few weeks, we have had a lot of developments with quite a few big name players. Some traded to new teams, others moving through free agency, and even a few retirements. So the question becomes, what impact does this have on their potential hobby value? What about the guys who havent moved yet, but are likely on their way to a new team?

DeMarco Murray

As of last night, the Cowboys and Murray have been said to be in contact to work out a new deal. Let me reinforce that this is the BEST possible situation for Murray, not only because they are a highly collectible team, but because I think his success is more a reflection of the offensive line than the quality of his skills. If Murray leaves and goes to somewhere like Arizona, that will be a bigger hit than people think.

2011 Topps Chrome Demarco Murray Atomic Auto BGS 10

2011 Topps Demarco Murray Rookie Premiere Auto

2014 Flawless DeMarco Murray Jumbo Patch Auto

LeSean McCoy

Obviously the NFL is no longer a league that gives two shits about a running back, but McCoy moving to Buffalo is a big deal. Not only will he likely have to carry the offense behind a new QB, but he wont have the opportunity to get the kind of protection like he did in Philly. This is not going to be a good situation for him at all.

2009 SP Authentic LeSean McCoy Auto Patch RC

2009 Exquisite LeSean McCoy Auto Patch RC

Jimmy Graham

I was literally shocked when I saw that he was traded to Seattle. Although they got back a great player in Max Unger, Graham was easily one of the best TEs in the league behind maybe Rob Gronkowski. Now, in hobby terms, this is an upgrade, as the Seahawks are one of the more popular teams in the league. Playing with Lynch and Wilson is awesome, and it puts Seattle in a new position to be champs of the NFC west again by a mile.

2010 SP Authentic Jimmy Graham Auto RC

2010 National Treasures Jimmy Graham Auto RC

Sam Bradford / Nick Foles

Again a trade I was shocked to see, especially because I think Foles is MUCH better than Bradford coming off his second ACL. This could be fodder to move up in the draft to get someone else, but Philly basically gave away a serviceable starter. Foles will do well in St Louis, but his hobby value is not as high as it was in Philly.

2012 Topps Chrome NIck Foles Black Rerfractor Auto RC

2012 Contenders Nick Foles Auto Ticket RC

2010 National Treasures Sam Bradford Auto Patch Logo RC

Ndamukong Suh

Although he is the dirtiest player in the game by just about every standard, Suh going to Miami instantly makes the Dolphins a playoff team, as their 8-8 record will surely improve with one of the better DLines in the league.

2010 Contenders Ndamukong Suh Auto Ticket Lot

Jake Locker / Patrick Willis

Crazy to believe that Locker and Willis are retiring, as its clear that they are both very young and definitely not on the list of players I consider to be completely done. Locker was just drafted in 2011, but never really caught on in Tennessee. He has been injured for the majority of his career, but playing for the Titans will do that to you. Willis was among the better LBs in the league, and though injuries are forcing him out, this could become more of a trend than we could expect. Athletes just dont want to live the rest of their lives in pain.

Adrian Peterson

I am of the people who want to see Peterson in purple again this season, despite the despicable actions he was suspended for. He is a guy that makes the team better, and the Vikings dont have many options. There hasnt been a true understanding of what he is looking to do as of yet, but I expect that to come shortly. My guess is that he moves on and one of the RB hungry teams will pick him up. He still has a lot of hobby value because everyone thinks he is going to continue being a productive player.

2014 Immaculate Adrian Peterson Auto Patch

2014 Valor Adrian Peterson Dirty Patch Auto /25

This is only day one and its pretty cool to think this is only the beginning. Curious to see what happens over the next few days. Still a lot of guys out there to fall into place.

Diving Deeper Into 2014 Topps Museum Collection Football

Museum Collection has been live for a few days now, and now that we have had a few days to digest the product, I have grown more and more intrigued by the content in the set. Not only do the cards look REALLY nice, but there are some major hits in this product that add to its overall allure. Here is a break down of my favorite parts.

Framed Autographs

Since their initial release in Baseball, these cards are easily some of my favorites that Topps does all year. As a subset in a product called “Museum,” it makes sense that an autograph set is done with build in frames. It adds a high end look to a very high end style card, and the black background with Silver/Gold pens looks awesome.

More importantly, the checklist is nothing short of the best of the best, with some of the best players a company can get for a set. When you see guys like Topps managed to get into this subset, its clear that they were swinging for the fences. Sometimes, when you take a big hack, you come up short. From what we are seeing, they knocked it out of the park.

Check these out:

2014 Topps Museum Collection Tom Brady Framed Auto

2014 Topps Museum Collection Emmitt Smith Framed Auto

2014 Topps Museum Collection Barry Sanders Framed Auto

2014 Topps Museum Collection Brett Favre Framed Auto

Signature Series Dual Autographs

Its rare to see dual autographs with hard signed signatures these days. There is just a lot of logistics in play that are required to make a set like this work, and Topps is really banking on some big names to make these cards as awesome as possible.

The set includes the first dual autograph (that I can see) of Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson, a card that may be one of the better combo autographs of the last few years. Even though it is a redemption, the chance that the card could get done shortly is enough to make the combo worth talking about.

Here are some of the better ones:

2014 Topps Museum Collection Russell Wilson Marshawn Lynch Dual Auto

2014 Topps Museum Collection Teddy Bridgewater / Johnny Manziel Dual Auto

Jumbo Rookie Patch Autographs

Last year, these cards were a really nice example of a high end type of example in a set that people werent feeling as much due to a poor rookie class. Even though 2013 really was a low point, these jumbo patch cards were pretty impressive and nice looking.

This year, the cards look just as good, and there are even 1/1 versions that have logo patches. On card autographs pop on the simple design and the players stand out. Its a very nice case hit that plays in addition to the case hit framed autos. Its really too bad that Beckham is a redemption.

2014 Topps Museum Collection Sammy Watkins Jumbo Patch Auto 1/1

2014 Topps Museum Collection Kelvin Benjamin Jumbo Patch Auto Logo 1/1

1/1 Sketch Originals On Card Autographs

The canvas collection cards are always fun to see, as Museum has had a high quality of results when commissioning the sketches. The originals, which are all 1/1s are highly coveted, and some of them are even autographed. To have the originals as hard signed pieces of sports art is so cool, and I am excited to see more of them as they turn up. These cards are really hard to find, and can go for quite a bit more than a typical 1/1.

2014 Topps Museum Collection Johnny Manziel Sketch Original Auto 1/1

2014 Topps Museum Collection Russell Wilson 1/1 Original Sketch

Overall, I have been really impressed with Museum as a surprising success for a second straight year. After seeing what Panini did with Immaculate, Museum isnt as big of an explosion, but it also focuses more on the autographs than the patches. As someone who couldnt care any less about event used material, Museum is a satisfying foray into the later part of the year.

On the Radar: 2015 Contenders Draft Picks Football and Prizm Draft Picks Football

A few months ago, Panini continued their plan of manifest destiny across the hobby when they secured an exclusive CLC (NCAA) License, pried from the capable hands of Upper Deck. As expected, they are looking to use the license in combination with their existing licenses, including the NFL. Today they announced the creation of their first two collegiate licensed products in Contenders Draft Picks and Prizm Collegiate Draft Picks. Aside from the fact that these are basically the same concept in two different products, Im a little shocked that this is the way they chose to move forward. They have had many other popular college centric product lines that would have worked very well instead.

Just for reference, Contenders used to have college uniform tickets back in 2009 and before:

2009 Contenders Matthew Stafford College Uniform Variation

2008 Contenders Darren McFadden College Uniform Variation

2008 Contenders Joe Flacco College Uniform Variation

They also had college uniforms in other sets before UD took over:

2007 Absolute Peyton Manning College Relic Auto

2007 National Treasures Jay Cutler College Auto Relic

Let me start by saying Panini will have to build a bunch of new products to support their vast overpayment for the NFL license. They will also have to support the exclusive licenses that they purchased from all the different schools and the exclusive license from the rest of the CLC group of schools. In case it isnt already clear, they need to go balls out to even come within the same zip code of the money they spent to acquire all these properties.

As far as I can understand, there are only a few ways to make that happen. Expand out print runs and try to sell more of what you already have, or make new products. They will probably do a little bit of both, but the latter really scares the everliving shit out of me. Panini has shown they are COMPLETELY fucking inept at building new products in the NFL space. Sure, they have had recent success in Immaculate and Flawless, but both were carry overs from Basketball. Home grown sets like Playbook, Spectra and others have literally fallen on their ugly faces, and its mostly because they really dont know what they are doing. Design is a big part of it, but so is format and content.

Right now, they really only have true equity in a small handful of products, most of which resides in National Treasures and Contenders. There are arguments to be made for Elite and Certified, but the brands are very inconsistent year over year. Outside of these sets, no true star products really exist at all. Immaculate and Flawless are on their way, but only if the consistency remains in tact. That is no guarantee when it comes to Panini.

To attach a top brand name like Contenders to a draft picks product is a REALLY risky play. Not only are you intentionally diluting the brand name to get a free lead in, but you also apply a set of standards. Panini wants you to lend consideration to Contenders Draft Picks just because of the name. What they dont seem to get, is that any under performance in the product is probably more damaging to the brand than it is worth.

Here is what I am referring to, mainly in the way this product is structured. Collectors already have a very strong reaction to college uniform cards. Its either strongly positive or strongly negative. Where Contenders once had a unified public perception, it now does not. Similarly, Upper Deck is going to be releasing pre-draft products to close out their CLC license, and Panini will need to outperform their products to avoid stigma. UD Inscriptions looks really good, only making it more of a tall order for Panini to compete with. This means on card autos and lots of cool content. Let me say, its going to be hard for this to happen, and now the Contenders name is further damaged.

Secondly, to release Prizm a very short time later only further puts the Contenders product on notice. It may be Chrome style vs non-Chrome style, but I can see how both products might be very similar in configuration and content. Plus, this Chrome product will be going up against Leaf Metal, Trinity and a few others that have been proven as collector favorites.

The question remains, what is the best way to do this? Honestly, I think its to start from scratch. Start a new brand identity and try to build the equity that has long been lost from Panini products. The last thing you want is for an established brand to sit on dealer shelves unable to be cleared. They havent been in this game before, and you dont want to send your best soldier out there to be killed unless you KNOW its safe. Even a product like Elite Extra Edition has roots in the MLB college market, why would they not go that direction?!?

I expect Contenders draft picks to depend on two things – on card autos and design. Content will be big because they want to sell it. However, we have seen that content can only take a product so far. If its stickers while Bowman Chrome, Leaf, UD and other products are all on card, good luck. If its on card but the typical ugly shit that we normally expect from new Panini brands, again good luck. Panini has its work cut out for them, and Im not sure they understand what they have gotten themselves into.

SCU Go Live Report: 2014 Panini Spectra Football

Usually, when Panini releases a shitty set, there is some redeeming factor that makes it worth cracking a pack or two. This year, there have been a lot of those, and some that are even worse. Hot Rookies, Totally Certified, and others were so bad, its not even worth opening a single pack. Spectra is so far beyond that because unlike the previously mentioned products, its one pack for 275 dollars. Let me say that again – 275 dollars. Good fucking god.

Check out how much of a disaster this shit is:

2014 Panini Spectra Blake Bortles Gold Auto Patch

2014 Panini Spectra Peyton Manning Auto Relic /5

2014 Panini Spectra Kelvin Benjamin Auto Relic

2014 Panini Spectra Derek Carr / Jimmy Garoppolo Dual Laundry Tag 1/1

It would be one thing if the cards looked good. They look awful. It would be another thing if you can buy a pack and walk away if you need to. Nope, just one pack. It would give it some value if the on card veterans were back and looked good. Nope, all stickers. This product is a fucking dog, and Panini should be ashamed of themselves.

The rookie patch autograph cards are easily some of the worst rookie cards Panini has done this year, and that is saying something. They must have modeled the design after 2010 Topps Finest, because they look almost identical. Even worse than that, 2010 Finest was a joke all by itself! To start, the relic covers up a lot of the player, and the rest of the card is covered up by a separated signature area and nameplate. Even moving the swatch to either side would be an improvement, but to have both the centered relic and the opaque signature area covers up over 60% of the surface area.

As if that wasnt bad enough, they took it to another level with the horizontal version. Instead of the player being covered up vertically with the signature area and the swatch, they did the exact same thing in horizontal fashion. So much of the card is obscured, that the player is jammed into a tiny box at the top. Someone needs to be fired, its that bad.

The other autos in the set are just as poorly designed, including a veteran set named "Leading Men." No, this isnt a way to describe the male lead in a chick flick, its for football cards. I just dont get how these things make it past the conference room where they are suggested.

I hope you guys all love this set, because your shops will be forced to order cases of it to get Black Friday packs and Fathers Day packs. Its going to rot on dealer shelves until someone gives up on it or it drops to under 100 per box. Thats where this is headed.

At least in 2013, they had hard signed autos of a number of different veteran big named players. They also had a design that wasnt great, but it also wasnt terrible. People could buy a 50 dollar pack and get something reasonably worth getting. This year that is all gone. Even the veteran autographs that are stickers induce vomiting on many levels.

Awful product. Just fucking awful.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 Museum Collection Football

Other than the Chrome style products that Topps has made a staple of all sports and non-sports they own, its rare that an established brand from one sport crosses over to another. Topps is very determined to build equity in brands separately in each sport, and that is why they really only choose the best to make that jump. We saw it when Inception and Five Star were brought to baseball from Football, and also in Museum Collection coming back the other way. Now that Museum is back for another year, I am really interested to see how it has improved.

Here are some of the bigger hits up so far:

2014 Topps Museum Collection Teddy Bridgewater Framed Auto /25

2014 Topps Museum Collection Kelvin Benjamin Auto RC On Card

2014 Topps Museum Collection Frank Gore Dual Patch Auto

2014 Topps Museum Collection Brandin Cooks Jumbo Patch Auto On Card

There is a big reason why I think Museum stands out for me, and it has to do with the autograph content and the way it is set up. Unlike many of the other Topps products, not only are there a lot of veteran autographs in the product, but there are a lot of on card ones. Even better, there are dual autographs and other fun things as well, all based around non-rookies.

Additionally, the metal framed rookie and vet auto cards remain some of my favorites from the year, and I love that they are almost presentation pieces all on their own. Though they are easily searched out due to their weight, the cards themselves are exactly as promised – Museum style pieces. I already have a few from last year on display, and I am eager to get this year’s to do the same thing. They just look awesome. My only complaint is the thick silver/gold pens, which can ruin one of these cards very easily. The pens have a tendency to streak, so they can look very faint in some cases.

Another rock star from this set is in the presence of some serious chops in the art department, as the Canvas Collection is always a treat. They have commissioned artists to put together some sketches and pieces, and man do they look amazing. They have 1/1 works included in packs, so you can actually pull the card that inspired the subject in the set.

Overall, I think the design improved year over year for this set, and many of the cards look pretty fucking cool. I think that as we start to close out the license in 2015, sets like this will either go out with a bang, or fall by the wayside. I hope we get more of the wow factor, personally.