SCU Go-Live Report: 2015 Topps Stadium Club

When it comes to sets that I identify my youth with, its a very short list. Topps Chrome, Topps Finest, Upper Deck and Stadium Club. Ever since Stadium Club went away and came back, there have been a number of attempts at recapturing the glory that this set once had. Last year’s set was the closest I believe its come to what I loved about the product, but this year seems to be that much better.

Check out some of the main hits:

2015 Topps Stadium Club Mike Trout Lone Star Signatures Auto

2015 Topps Stadium Club Kris Bryant RC Auto

2015 Topps Stadium Club Mariano Rivera Lone Star Auto

2015 Topps Stadium Club Bryce Harper Crystal Ball Case Hit /30

To me, Stadium Club was always about the full bleed action photos that highlighted the dynamic atmosphere of the game, combined with some crazy inserts that 13 year old Gellman loved to find.

What we see in the set this year is just that – ESPECIALLY in the way the inserts and the photography. There are some incredibly interesting photos in this set that I absolutely love, and even more interesting inserts that hearken back to what I always gravitated towards.

The autographs are simple and pretty understated, but I dont think autographs are really what this set is all about. I am beyond excited about the buyback autographs, where Topps took cards from those nostalgic sets of my younger years and had them signed by the players. Just awesome. They are crazy rare with only 5 copies, but man they are amazing looking.

This isnt necessarily a box I am going to run out and buy, but I would definitely be chasing singles like crazy if the people I collect were in this product. Boxes wont set you back a ton, and you get to open a bunch of packs. Definitely a fun rip. I think Topps has done a pretty good job with Stadium Club this year, and I am curious to see if there are more surprises we have yet to uncover.

Breaking Down Top Players in 2015 Bowman Football

I think that people are still finding their way with the 2015 rookie class, especially in trying to determine which players are worth the most over comparable examples. Only a few auctions have ended so far, but based on what I have seen, this is the way I expect it will eventually shake out.

1a. Jameis Winston – QB, Buccaneers

I am putting Winston only slightly ahead of Mariota, solely because he was the top pick. His off the field stuff may eventually put him at a solid number two in the class, but Mariota has similar bust potential based on the system he played in college.

Top Cards:

2015 Bowman Chrome Jameis Winston Orange Refractor Auto

2015 Bowman Chrome Jameis Winston Printing Plate Auto 1/1

2015 Bowman Chrome Jameis Winston Gold Refractor Auto /75

1b. Marcus Mariota – QB, Titans

As mentioned above, Mariota is about as good as it gets off the field. On the field, I dont think he is as complete a prospect as Winston is. He played in a system offense, which many people have posed as the main reason for his potential bust status. Even though he is a bust, everyone seems to think his drive and character will carry him far. Hurts that he basically has no one to throw to and a crappy running game though.

Top cards:

2015 Bowman Chrome Marcus Mariota Orange Refractor Auto /50

2015 Bowman Chrome Marcus Mariota Refractor Auto

3. Amari Cooper – WR, Raiders

I dont think Cooper has the raw speed or the raw craziness that we saw in some of the other top receivers that have come out at this draft position in the past. What he doesnt have in speed or general pizazz, he has in raw talent. The guy catches the ball better than anyone, and should end up being one of the safer pickups in the class. Derek Carr turned out to be pretty good last year, so that should help too.

Top Cards:

2015 Bowman Chrome Amari Cooper Blue Refractor Auto /99

2015 Bowman Chrome Amari Cooper Refractor Auto

4. Todd Gurley – RB, Rams

People love watching a talented Running Back play the game. They love long runs and exciting jukes to shake defenders. All that being said, they dont assign value to their cards, at least not recently. RBs have shown to be disposable, and that means that there isnt a long term value in their hobby stature. Gurley already had a knee blown out, so im surprised that people want his cards so much.

Top Cards:

2015 Bowman Chrome Todd Gurley Blue Refractor Auto /99

2015 Bowman Chrome Todd Gurley Mini Auto

5. Bryce Petty – QB, Jets

Kevin White is also a distinct possibility here at number 5 once this set settles down. If Petty was drafted by any other team, I dont think he would have the value he does to reach this spot either. Because the Jets’ QB situation is a complete freaking mess, he could get a chance to start if he plays well during camp and pre-season. We know that Geno Smith hasnt had much success, so what is the hurt to throw out a guy with very low expectations to see what he can do?

Top Cards:

2015 Bowman Chrome Bryce Petty Xfractor Auto /10

2015 Bowman Chrome Bryce Petty Gold Refractor Auto /75

The first big products to be released each year always incite a fun chase to start to pick up all the different cards of players the hobby wants to collect. As more sets are released, im sure the chase will intensify to the point where we will start to get a clearer picture of who the top guys in the class will be.

Breaking Down the 2015 Panini Father’s Day Promotion

Ahhhh yes. The time of year where Panini gets around to doing their spring cleaning. Having put out some of the worst performing products of the year, someone needs to to do something clear out all those shitty boxes before the real customers start getting angry. I forgot to say, if you think the people opening packs are the real customers, keep reading.

Father’s Day is upon us, a time where collectors are happy to spend their hard earned money to buy the aforementioned shitty boxes, for a pack of cards that everyone will forget about in a few months. In fact, its gotten so bad with these shitty boxes, that Panini now needs to run a giveaway style promtion 3 times every year! Father’s day, National Convention, and Black Friday. Here is the list of “products” to gorge yourself on all the Cracked Icy goodness. Wow, that’s a lot of poopy packs to open. No better way to celebrate Dad than with a box of some of the worst sets of the year! Im sure Panini can come up with a clever hashtag for that. Maybe they can put it on one of these stupid Manu-patches.

By opening those packs, here is what you can get in your free father’s day ones:

2015 Panini Father's Day Marcus Mariota Portraits Auto

2015 Panini Father's Day Odell Beckham Auto

2015 Panini Father's Day Sammie Coates Auto Jersey – What a hideous card. Gross.

2015 Panini Father's Day Brett Hundley Auto – This combine uni card makes no sense with the NCAA exclusive.

2015 Panini Father's Tom Brady Game Used Pylon Super Bowl – no mention if SB game used? Not sure here.

As I have said before, its rare that a company does a massive giveaway like this out of the goodness of their hearts. Nope, in fact, its not out of the goodness of their hearts, as this is the time where Panini makes good with all the distributors out there who have their allegedly “built for closeout” products ROTTING in their inventory.

If you arent familiar with the closeout process, im going to oversimplify it for the sake of this post. Its basically when a product cant be sold out at the factory to the distributors/online retailers who will move it to group breakers and shops around the country. At that point the manufacturer has to slash prices to move the remaining inventory. When you have popular products like Treasures or Contenders, this type of thing rarely happens. When you have a product like Totally Certified, well, that’s a very different story. Even in 2012, during one of the most profitable years in football as of late, Panini was still closing out their crap. Not shocking to me, as product quality has always been an issue with them.

In terms of this promotion, go ahead and go to your shop and ask the staff about the way they were able to get a hold of their father’s day packs. Was it because they have spent extra thousands of dollars taking on case after case of Spectra football just to get access to Immaculate Basketball? Nope that’s not it. Were they rewarded for the tens of thousands of dollars they have spent on Panini’s terrible crap all year long? Nope, not likely. Did they have to take on MULTIPLE extra cases of dogs like 2014 Prestige, 2014 Totally Certified, 2014 Absolute, and other horrendous products that they couldnt sell the first time around? Ding ding ding, WINNAH!

Because distributors have SO many cases of these turds that they cant sell, regardless of how much they mark it down below cost, Panini wants to give them a break. Distributors are the real customers that the manufacturers care about, as without their orders and relationships, their current business model wouldnt work.

Now, there are some shops that can afford to take on the extra product. They can probably ride the wave of adverblog hype to sell off some of the junk they have to buy. My shop doesnt discriminate, offering packs for any Panini product you buy – only because they are one of the only remaining shops that has the customer base to eat it up. Many of the other shops out there maybe arent doing as well, and those are the ones a promotion like this can kill. Collectors love free shit, especially when its shiny, and to hear the shop owner say that they arent participating is a great way to lose a customer.

Im not saying this promotion is all bad, especially if your shop is like mine. I am saying its good to know how the proverbial sausage is made here, because it might be something you want to voice your opinion about. Promotions like this show the true colors of the industry and how things are run, and it really doesnt look sustainable. Maybe Panini should focus on building products in a manner that doesnt need a Black Friday pack to sell the box. Maybe, just maybe, Panini should look to improve product quality instead of having lavish VIP parties and tossing around their cash like someone who just turned 18 and wants to go nuts at the strip club.

That’s on us to speak out, especially if you feel the way I do. Remember, come next year, Panini will likely be adding a very large sport to their roster of exclusives in Football. Its not because they are the best company, far from it. That should scare the bejesus out of you – especially when there are 20 more terrible products that have to be closed out. Shit, they might just run a Father’s day promotion year round!

Go Live Report: 2015 Topps Series 2 Baseball

Its rare that Series 2 is a set that means something to someone like me, a football collector that doesnt really buy many baseball cards. Thanks to some promotions and some cool cards in the set, I am definitely paying attention more than I ever have. As a set, its not all that different from Topps Series 1, but oh man, it has some surprises.

Check out some of the bigger hits so far:

2015 Topps Series 2 Kris Bryant Acetate Clear RC /10

2015 Topps Series 2 Kris Bryant Auto

2015 Topps Series 2 Rickey Henderson Auto Patch Highlight of the Year

2015 Topps Series 2 Bryce Harper Auto

As a set, Topps Series 2 continues to be pretty standard for what they have put out over the last few years. Base set, a few rookies that have been called up, photo variations, and sparkles. I think its a nice mix of cards that appeal to the set collectors out there, as well as some of the higher end collectors who give away all their base cards that they get in packs.

2015 Topps Bunt Promotions

If you havent played Topps Bunt yet, check out my other site digitalcardcentral.com to read up on some of the awesome things that Topps digital has brought to the game. Its really amazing how in depth it goes, and with the ability to print on demand, you get more up to date cards than waiting for Series 2 and Update. Watch out, its addicting.

For the first time, Bunt is all over a Topps product, and I could not be happier. They have cards that you can redeem for free coins in the game, which can be used to buy the digital packs of cards. They also have player boost cards that are RARE as hell, at 25 copies, which are selling for some crazy money right now:

2015 Topps Series 2 Felix Hernandez Bunt Player Redemption 5x Boost /25

2015 Topps Series 2 Giancarlo Stanton Bunt Player Redemption 5x Boost /25

Bunt is here to stay, and I would even go so far in saying its likely on a more positive trajectory than the physical card business at the moment. The cards will be back in Update, and I cant wait.

Framed Cards and Acetate Parallels

I like that Topps has made the parallels a bit more special by taking a different approach with them. Instead of just slapping another serial number on the cards, the parallels out of 10 and 20 are different technology. I love the silver frame, as I think it adds a display quality each time it is used. The acetate is something I am always a sucker for. It just looks cool.

2015 Topps Series 2 Alex Rodriguez Framed Parallel /20

2015 Topps Series 2 Joe Panik Acetate /10

Topps Strata

We got word at the industry summit that Strata is going to be its own product (FINALLY!). It has been a staple high end insert in the base series for a few years now, and its back again for Series 2. I absolutely LOVE these cards, and cannot wait to see what they do when they make this into its own product.

2015 Topps Series 2 Chipper Jones Strata Signature Relic

2015 Topps Series 2 Jacob deGrom Strata Signature Relic

Baseball Royalty Autos

Wanted to call your attention to these cards because I think the on card autos with the gold pen look really cool. For a set that is meant to be lower end in Series 2, these cards look VERY high end. Im pretty impressed with the way they look.

2015 Topps Series 2 John Smoltz Baseball Royalty Auto

2015 Topps Series 2 Ozzie Smith Baseball Royalty Auto

Overall, it looks like I am going to be breaking some series 2 for the first time in a long time.

SCU Go Live Report: 2015 Bowman Football

Over the last 3 years, Topps has made Bowman its primary driver for pre-premiere cards. Although this could even technically be called a pre-draft product, there are elements of rookies with NFL logos on base cards. The product has been relatively polarizing, mainly because of its presentation style, which means that many either love it or hate it.

Here are some of the first cards up so far:

2015 Bowman Chrome Marcus Mariota Orange Refractor Auto /50

2015 Bowman Chrome Bryce Petty Red Wave Refractor Auto /25

2015 Bowman Chrome Ameer Abdullah Gold Refractor Auto /75

2015 Bowman Chrome Shane Ray Blue Refractor Auto /99

2015 Bowman Breshad Perriman 1948 Mini Auto RC

Although I understand that generic pictures of the rookies in retouched college pictures isnt the ideal situation, I would buy singles and boxes of this before venturing into stickers that are comprising 100% of Panini’s product line so far for 2015. I love Chrome and I will tolerate the photograph situation so that we can have on card autographs, and that is that. On card is essential at this point in the year, as we have seen with releases for Leaf and Upper Deck. When stickers are used, it just kills all the appeal for the card, especially when there are on card examples available elsewhere.

In all honesty, I think the best solution is to wait for the NFL stuff to be ready, but that means forgoing most of the profit that can be gained from an early release. In fact, Bowman surprisingly remains valuable through the year, especially in high grade examples of the numbered refractors. Considering how much some people hate the pictures, many other people dont seem to care all that much.

The scariest thing is that Panini doesnt even value on card autographs enough to get many cards signed at the premiere, opting instead for rookies to sign scraps of paper, sketches, cloth or anything that can be used as a sticker replacement. Based on what we saw from Twitter and other social media, Topps got THOUSANDS of on card autographs signed a few weeks ago, and that 2015 looks to be the year of the hard signed card for them. I could not be happier. Considering that they were able to get Bowman done with no redemptions is pretty impressive. Lets hope the rest of their stuff turns out similarly. The only draw back is it seems that the signing of a late autograph deal means Melvin Gordon will only have base cards in the product.

I actually like this year’s design, and as mentioned above, think its whole-heartly a better approach than using stickers. I will definitely bust a few boxes as I do every year, and remain hopeful that this is potentially the only Topps football product that might be able to survive Panini’s sad acquisition of the NFLPA exclusive.

And so begins the last year that I will likely be fully invested in football cards. Thanks Panini and your shitty products. Cant wait for 2016.