I rarely turn my head at a one card preview, but this is one of the biggest Panini sets of the year. Last year was a good looking product despite the horrid class, and 2012 was similarly nice for most of the main autographs. This year isnt looking like they were able to put together a three peat.
Let travel back, because this set does have QUITE the rich history:
Contenders has as loyal a collector base as Chrome, even though I dont feel that the set has consistently looked as good. There are some years of Contenders that are lost because of horrendous design work, and it makes me wonder how this set is still as popular as it is. Let us not forget the dumpster fire that was 2011 Contenders. If you think that is bad, check out 2009’s autographs. Some of the worst ever.
This year’s version has a number of issues with the design we are seeing in this preview, and most of them stem from the layout of the card and the massive amount of wasted space. A pretty common situation from past years as well. Even without seeing the base white version of the card, its already evident that the giant text and logo for the set take up as much of the layout as the player picture, which is the first strike. The separate but not defined auto space takes up more space, leaving a picture that needs to be cropped to the top 1/3rd of the card instead of being more of a focus. All of my pet peeves in one.
Personally, I really liked the ticket design for 2013, and 2012 was great, even though the latter was a copy of 1998. In fact, I cant even give them credit for 2012, because when the Panini design team had to alter the design for the stickers, it was the usual train wreck. Seriously, 2013 may have been their biggest success, and its sad that the class was as bad as it was.
Contenders is going to continue being Panini’s main squeeze, even more so than products like Flawless, Immaculate and Treasures, as it is their most accessible brand. The continued focus on delivering autos over relic content is a good formula if their design team could figure out how to avoid these terrible layout issues.
Here is the big reveal of the 2014 Ticket design: