SCU Go-Live Report: 2015 Flawless Football

I was shocked last year when Panini decided to bring Flawless to football, especially at a price tag that was suited for Basketball. The singles havent performed very well long term, and though the box price remains high, its more because of group breaking than anything. The thing is, because the product came out SO early last year, it had a completely different appeal to it. There were no high end cards of that caliber even close to the stuff in Flawless and that added a lot. This year, its the last product, and boy its looking like that was a huge mistake. Thankfully the design is much better than NT was, so I can look to get some singles of the guys I collect.

Here are the big hits up so far:

2015 Flawless Jameis Winston Auto Patch RC /20

2015 Flawless Marcus Mariota Auto Patch RC /15

2015 Flawless Amari Cooper Quad Photo Auto RC /20

2015 Flawless Peyton Manning Auto Jumbo Patch /10

2015 Flawless Dan Marino Auto Jumbo Patch /20

Right now, the football market as a whole is insanely soft for singles, with many collectors already into offseason mode and planning for the upcoming draft class. Similarly, Panini JUST released National Treasures a few weeks ago, and the dust hasnt even settled on that set. Production delays happen all the time, but this is a bit ridiculous. There is no reason why the two biggest Panini products of the year should hit within two weeks of each other. No way.

My biggest gripe with Flawless has always been that it offers nothing unique. In fact, it offers less chase content than both Treasures and Immaculate, by a significant margin no less. Add in that at $1500+ per box, it costs 3 times the amount, or 5 times the amount if you consider where Immaculate is in price right now. Asking people to pay that much for what they get in Flawless is so insane I cant even put it into words. People will come in the comments and say “Well the price supports what people will pay…” but Im not sure that is a true representation with group breaks in the mix. This is a set built almost explicitly for that format, and its maddening to see how little Flawless offers outside of an encased hit per box. I wish Upper Deck was around so we could see what they would do with a price tag of this nature. I have a feeling it would literally be the most crazy content ever put in a box.

That isnt saying the Flawless cards dont look great, but with NT delivering such similar content so recently, its not special at all. I really like the quadruple exposure cards that Panini previewed a long time ago, and the main autograph patches in the set are definitely the best looking cards Panini has made so far this year. I just dont see why we dont get something more on the level of what NT and Immaculate offer for chase content, and that is why Flawless singles dont hold up. Treasures literally has cards with like 50 NFL logos on them, including logos all over the product. Flawless has none of that, despite Panini offering them in just about every other product this year. Panini has so much Event Used shit in their warehouse that they can put 18 logo cards in Black Gold but none in a box that costs a ton.

I havent even started discussing some of the names on the checklist, which is like a who's who of college players that didnt pan out in the NFL, mixed with HOF guys who dont charge much for their autograph. Paul Hornung, Charlie Joyner, and Dan Hampton are all there, and they are coupled with FLAWLESS MEDIOCRITY in Danny Amendola, Julius Thomas, and other current guys. Lets not forget guys like Antonio Freeman and Dallas Clark, who were good but dont sell. These guys probably dont want 150 bucks a card like Montana or Emmitt, and collectors cant see how they are in there to cut corners where corners shouldnt be cut.

Of course, guys like Montana are in there, but I have already seen him, Thurman Thomas and Tony Dorsett in uniforms that arent their main team, which cuts value even further below on the secondary market. No one wants a Dorsett Broncos card over a Dorsett Cowboys card, and its poor planning to buy those relics knowing people are going to devalue their presence.

Bottom line, if you are looking to enjoy Flawless, pick up some singles, because they are nice. The cards are good looking and they do hold Treasures like value for the first few weeks. Once the novelty wears off, the prices will drop hard. Just join in on the massive amounts of group breaks before diving into personal boxes. It will be much more price friendly and if you get skunked, you wont be out 3 grand on a case.

I hope that the day of reckoning for this highway robbery comes fast. Its disgraceful to see them too lazy to even put on a ski mask when they mug their customers.

EDIT: User Pazerbaijan on Blowout just posted this analysis and I think it is amazing. Panini is such a fucking joke.

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SCU Go-Live Report: 2016 Gypsy Queen Baseball

I like Gypsy Queen a lot, especially because of the retro themed nature of the product. Its all on card autographs, with a retro design and that painted type HDR filter that I really have come to like more and more over the years. Although there are always some major duds on the autograph checklist, as a whole, the set looks really nice this year, as it always does.

Here are some of the bigger hits so far:

2016 Gypsy Queen Kenta Maeda Green Parallel Auto /99

2016 Gypsy Queen Jeff Bagwell Framed Mini Auto MVP

2016 Gypsy Queen Kyle Schwarber Auto SP

2016 Gypsy Queen Frank Thomas Mini Auto Book

The biggest news for Gypsy queen this year is the inclusion of the first Kenta Maeda autographs, who figures to be a big draw all year. Another import from Asia, much like Darvish and Tanaka, Maeda’s value will be high until his performance shows his true potential. At that point, its a skyrocket or a plummet, and hopefully he does well.

This is designed as a more involved amalgamation of a set builder’s product and a hit chaser product, with lots of fun inserts and base cards along side high end content with autographs and patches.

My favorites are the mini autographs that come in the included SP Mini pack with each box, as I think they just look really cool. Although the cards are smaller, the pictures and autographs still look really different and interesting. They have a different photo than the normal autos in most cases, which is also a cool change. There are also framed mini autos of some players, but those are exceptionally rare.

The autographs range from the base variety all the way up to autograph mini patch booklets and a bunch of others. There are also SSP photo variations and SP base that make the set a bit more fun in the main base area of the box.

Overall, GQ is a pretty underrated product as a whole, mainly because Topps has made on card autographs such a standard occurrence over the last few years. I really like the look above and beyond most of their main products, and will definitely be busting a few boxes if I have the chance.

Some Thoughts on Topps NOW

Over the last few days, Topps has been teasing their new online exclusive product called Topps Now, which is an on demand printed set commemorating daily moments from the previous day’s MLB action. This is really the first time a physical product has been branded around timely printing of recent results from Baseball, and it could be very interesting to see how it plays out.

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Being that Topps Now has the ability to print cards that celebrate items as they happen, it could be a very interesting way to special content onto the market as quickly as possible. If you think back, players like Yasiel Puig and company stormed onto the scene, and had very few cards to support the enormous demand of their production on the field.

To counter this situation, Topps is pledging to print the cards within 3-5 business days and ship quickly, which could ensure that extra value is maintained for cards of players who dont have any on the market, or do something huge on the field. If Clayton Kershaw pitches a perfect game, the card that is made for the event could end up being valuable above the $9.99 Topps is charging.

The only thing is that certain cards are going to be higher run, as there seems to be no limit on how many are printed with each release. Topps has said they are going to announce the runs as they have them, which could mean that a low count version can have some added success on the secondary market.

To be honest, this type of content has been available for years in a digital format, and some of the cards have quite high prices on eBay. Since Topps has had such huge success with Bunt, its not surprising that they want to get these built on a physical side of things as well.

The only piece of this that is still in question has to do with awareness. How many people are going to know about the set, care about the set, or even want the set. Same question can be asked about individual pieces. I think that Topps just wants to make sure that Topps Now remains somewhat of a collectors item, even if the final product eventually gets stale. Going to be very interesting to see how this all plays out.

I have to say, for me, its worth a look right now.

Odd Things Afoot with 2012 Contenders Russell Wilson Autographs

I have talked about issues with Panini and autograph authenticity at length in previous posts. Even as recently as 2015 National Treasures, they have used autographs that look close but not similar to player autographs used in other products. On Blowout, a user has brought up a new question surrounding the Russell Wilson autographs from 2012 Contenders, a set that has already had many questionable situations with Robert Griffin III.

Here is a few of the Russell Wilsons I would gather to be authentic based on previous signatures:

2012 Panini Contenders Russell Wilson Rookie Ticket Auto Variation

2012 Panini Contenders Russell Wilson Rookie Ticket Auto BGS 9.5

Here are the ones in question:

2012 Panini Contenders Russell Wilson Rookie Ticket "Auto"

2012 Panini Contenders Russell Wilson Rookie Ticket "Auto"

Now, Wilson has a give up signature to begin with, so you would think it wouldnt be hard to fake. However, the slant, signing direction, letter shape and flow of the questionable versions dont match any known example in the slightest. This was the same thing that occurred with RGIII's problematic examples.

Its also worth mentioning that the Russell Wilson variation has a Panini stated print run of 25, despite 64 graded copies being tallied by Beckett and quite a few more by PSA. Considering its possible that someone cracked open a few cases here and there, and resubmitted, you never know. That would mean the entire run has been pulled, redeemed and graded, which doesnt really make sense.

Clearly something is going on, and it might not be something that Panini is on the hook for. One scenario I could think of was that Panini sent Wilson all the cards, plus some “overs” to ensure that they would have enough for the run, plus a few extra in case of damage or returns.

The overs some how made it into the hands of a guy who decided it was worth his time to crank out some fraudulent autographs, knowing that they sell for a considerable amount. Because the cards are “real” no one is going to question the autographs also being real.

This scenario has basically destroyed the market for the infamous 2007 Topps Rookie Premiere autographs, and its looking like its rearing its ugly head again. I am curious if anyone can get an answer out of Panini, because obviously this doesnt look good.

SCU Go Live Report: 2015 Topps Diamond Football

Here it is, the final product that Topps will produce under its NFL license. After 60 years of producing sets, Diamond football is the period at the end of the brand’s sentence. As I mentioned yesterday, this is not something I think is a good situation for the hobby, and I do give them credit for going out with a big bang. The cards look nice, and the set features some amazing looking examples.

Here are some of the nicer hits posted so far;

2015 Topps Diamond Aaron Rodgers Auto /10

2015 Topps Diamond Jameis Winston Jumbo Patch Auto RC /50

2015 Topps Diamond Amari Cooper / Kevin White Dual Patch Auto Booklet

2015 Topps Diamond Jerome Bettis Jumbo Patch Auto

What I like about Diamond is more about the cards without the autographs signed on them. I like the design, I like the monochrome look, I like the way they chose to model this set. Its a very different take on a super premium set, and I think for a one time thing, its really nicely executed.

Boxes are VERY hit and miss. At 275 bucks, its not like Supreme where it can afford to be hit and miss. Its a 3 card pack, all cards are autographed, and one is almost always a redemption. Obviously that hurts considerably, but its not like they can push the product back, right? We have already seen that Topps is continuing to get the signings done, as many of the redemptions from Definitive look to be coming along nicely. Either way, you need to have nice cards in all the slots to get close to a favorable ROI.

I dont like that they used the crazy paint pen colors to sign the cards. Although they arent even close to the shitty examples we saw in Spectra, its hard to see them as a viable option for signing cards. That being said, gold and silver signed cards arent really special anymore, so I get why they wanted to try something different. The design helps the pen color stand out, and for the most part, its something I can overlook.

Is Diamond as good as Definitive was? I think that is comparing apples and oranges in a lot of ways. Definitive was more of a traditional looking product, where this is like the concept car on the show floor. Its there just to show that its possible to make something in that manner.

Topps ending its run with as many on card products as they did was beyond awesome. It showed that a calendar with a slew of hard signed sets at affordable prices is possible, and that is where I think we are going to see a HUGE dropoff next year. Panini loves stickers, and they love holding back on card for their super premium lines. Its a shitty thing for product quality, and I think we will continue to come back to products like Tek, Museum, Diamond, and Definitive when Panini goes on their sticker frenzy in 2016.

RIP Topps Football, things wont be the same without you.