Panini Announces Huge Changes To Their Redemption Programs

Panini announced today that their redemption programs would be changing, being replaced by points in packs that can be “redeemed” via an app on your phone or computer. These points are not player specific, and it will let collectors choose their card to be redeemed as the players sign. Different players get different points.

All this being said, I have an opinion, obviously. It may be surprising to you, but I don’t have a problem with Redemptions, and in all honesty – you shouldn’t either.

Redemptions ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. The problem is what happens when they are not fulfilled in a timely matter, if at all. Most people are fine with waiting a few months for their player to sign, as long as they sign. As I have said before, most collectors have a scope to their collections, whether it is a team or a player. Wax breakers also have a scope, especially when it gets to the ones that bust high end. If the redemptions no longer have player names on them, it removes a big element to a main pillar of the hobby. If the majority of customers function in this fashion, im hesitant to say its a good idea to remove that element from any program run by a manufacturer.

Redemptions can carry immense value, and for the most part, they do eventually get filled. All of these big cards were redemptions at one point:

2012 National Treasures Russell Wilson Auto Patch Logo

2013 Panini Crown Royale Peyton Manning Silhouette Auto Patch

2012 Contenders Nick Foles Auto Ticket Variation RC

2013 Topps Chrome Yasiel Puig Red Refractor Auto /25

2013 Immaculate Kyrie Irving Auto Jumbo Patch

That’s not saying this isn’t a great idea. Not at all, I give Panini a ton of credit for taking a risk like this. It begs a million different questions surrounding points expiration, box content, schedule of signings, communication of store offerings, all sorts of stuff like that. On paper this could work, barring any of the above situation. It also gives Panini a ton of incentive to get their content live in packs, because otherwise its not going to be on the checklist until its available in the app’s store.

Here is the main issue. Big name players, especially non-rookies, only sign a few times per year. Does this mean that products now go without those names until they do sign? Doesnt spell good for cards that would have been redemptions in the past. Don’t let this fool you, there are still redemptions, just not in the same fashion, and that might create some ripples that Panini doesn’t quite understand yet. Eventually, if only the lower tier players sign, does that mean the content of the store is just a bunch of junk no one else wanted? Collectors will just be left holding their points in the same fashion they used to hold redemptions. Although this time, there is no guarantee of what player they will be able to get.

In my opinion, what should have happened, is that the player name is still on the redemption. If you are waiting for too long, you can choose to take the points to buy stuff from the store. Then, if you want, you can pick out what you want as a replacement. This would basically kill two birds with one stone. Points will have an exchange rate, and their allotment per card can be determined by the market. That way, in a hobby where collection targets will be injured by any content that cant be packed out at release, you still can have that promise of the card in your mailbox IF it is made. If it isn’t made, well then you get your points.

Here is another thing I have to give credit to Panini about, especially in regards to the scope of the program. If the above solution was implemented, its obvious that the center stage would still be the cards outstanding. Instead we now have full scale implementation, which FORCES them to put great stuff in the app store if they want people to continue buying their products. This includes, from what I understand, a lot of content signed through Panini Authentic, which is a great outlet for a program like this. I would guess unopened product will also be an option, as will some of the promotional stuff like the black boxes.

I see a plethora of open doors now that we know something like this can exist. It gives collectors an out, but it may not be the solution we deserve. Hopefully we get some more clarification of the program, how it effects box hits, and all those rules that we know are coming. I am giddy at the idea of a new world, but extremely skeptical of what it will mean for the content I like. Currently I have 15 redemptions in process with either of the big two. I will wait for signing on all but 2, regardless of timeframe. That should say something.

EDIT:

The more I think about it the more concerned I get. There was a Q and A posted, and already we are getting responses like this from Panini: “unless we are running a specific promotion and we want to add points just to reward the consumer.” Does anyone else see this as a vehicle to replace the addition of cards to a certain product? Lets say Panini doesnt want to design another group of cards for an upcoming release, what’s to stop them from just throwing a bunch of points in there instead? Whose to say they wont add them to their big giveaways, or even sell them on an exchange rate. There is no guarantee of monetary value, so fluctuations in value will be RAMPANT. That creates a lot of insecurity if you ask me.

Add that onto my nightmare scenario, which now exists instead of pulling a big name player redemption:

  • You pull a huge point card from a box or pack to replace the previous redemption
  • You go online and see that the only things available are scrubs and huge point items from Panini Authentic
  • You decide to wait for a cool card to be released because you are short of the major point items
  • Cool card gets released, but because everyone has been waiting for something awesome, you are one of 100 people waiting for a card that has 25 copies.
  • Because you werent there immediately when the card hits the store, you now miss out and are left with your original choice of junk or waiting because you dont have enough to pay for a bigger item that is available.
  • Repeat as necessary.

Similarly, for everyone that doesnt break wax, they are now left to wait. They can either buy points online and HOPE they arent beaten out for the card they want, or wait for the cards to show up on ebay. At that point, its worse than a redemption, because you are counting on someone selling their high point value card at a reasonable price, or at all.

I am quickly formulating the opinion that Panini created this program as a vast overreaction to the part of the process that wasnt the issue. Basically, my car is running slow due to this flat tire, let me get a more powerful engine to go faster! The part of the process that was broken was the replacements for unfulfilled or lagging cards, NOT the existence of redemptions in the first place (as mentioned above). Uneducated collectors confuse the two vastly different situations, and have created an uproar over it. As a result we now have to suffer through this. Every passing moment makes me more frustrated over this.

All we wanted was the choice of waiting for our card or taking the out in a manner we deem acceptable. We just traded one problem for another because we gained the second part, but lost the first.

Early Case Breaks Provide First Look at 2013 National Treasures Football

One of the ONLY positive things to come out of the 2014 Industry Summit is the amount of boxes that are going to be broken. Kind of interesting that an event made for networking becomes about breaking wax, but I digress. Last night, a few cases of the brand new 2013 National Treasures Football were broken, and as expected the cards look pretty damn good. I was beyond excited to see how it turned out, and I was not disappointed.

Here are some of the cards from the break last night:

2013 National Treasures Eddie Lacy Triple Relic Auto

2013 National Treasures Giovani Bernard Auto Patch Booklet

2013 National Treasures Tyler Eiffert Rookie Patch Auto /99

2013 National Treasures Knowshon Moreno Two Color Century Patch /10

The good things about last year’s treasures look to be back with a few extra goodies. The Century collection autograph cards that were some of my favorites from 2012 are back with a larger swatch. Although they are still sticker autos from what I saw during the break, they look awesome. The booklets are back as well, this time with veteran players, and those all look tremendous too.

Here is the main draw back, of which may not be that big of a deal. With the release date a month early, it looks like many of the on card autos minus the ones Panini has shown on their blog over the last few months, will be redemptions. That will piss a few people off, but I think I am MORE than happy to wait for the on card stuff. Its not an issue at all if you have patience.

I wish the NFL gear cards were not vertical, as they do not look properly proportioned with the autograph choking the player at the top of the relics. There are so many elements on this design that its the equivalent of a vertically oriented jumbo swatch auto. Not pretty.

We are sure to see more as the week moves on and I cannot wait.

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2014 Heritage: Non Hit Cards Take Center Stage

I posted earlier on the release of 2014 Topps Heritage, and like last year, I am shocked at how much some of the cards are selling for. Even more shocking is that these cards are not the normal variety anyone would expect in today’s hobby. Its become clear that Heritage has a cult following that may only come out once a year, and they are coming out in droves for a heritage year that everyone is fond of. There are autograph cards in the set, but the value in these cards isnt close to where we are seeing for other programs. Only a few are really worth the price of admission.

Heritage Chrome Parallels

First, let me say how glad I am that there are cards of this sort that are worth this kind of money at release. In the last 10 years, there are so few non-auto non-memorabilia cards that carry value in the hobby, but when you see how much interest the parallels are drawing, it might show hope after all. This is a set in a vacuum however, but there are similar situations that exist. I hope we can see more in the future.

2014 Topps Heritage Mike Trout Gold Refractor 5/5

2014 Topps Heritage Derek Jeter Gold Refractor 5/5

2014 Topps Heritage Stephen Strasburg Black Refractor /65

2014 Topps Heritage Manny Machado Black Refractor /65

Heritage Gold Embossed All Stars

I mentioned before how much I think these cards are horrible, and I still feel that way. Despite my feelings, they are selling at prices I never would have expected, especially considering how rare they are. Some people were saying there are less than 15 per card in existence, and they might not be that far off. They come in autograph and relic versions as well, but they arent worth as much. Talk about a deviation from normal protocol!

2014 Topps Heritage Yasiel Puig Gold Embossed

2014 Topps Heritage Justin Verlander Gold Embossed

Coins and Stamp cards

This type of card is interesting, but is not something I have anywhere close to my wish list. The cards feature items from 1965, embedded in the window of the cards with a player adjacent. The numismatists out there who are also card collectors must drive the market, as the cards sell quite well.

2014 Topps Heritage Felix Hernandez 1965 Dime Mint

2014 Topps Heritage Ernie Banks 1965 Churchill Stamp

Throwback Uniform Variations

Remember last year when these cards broke the 1K barrier on the rarer varieties? Well Topps obviously took notice and put out quite a few of them for different players. They arent selling near where they did last year, even though many of them are still quite scarce. Im interested to find out how many there really are.

2014 Topps Heritage Derek Jeter Throwback Uniform SSP

2014 Topps Heritage Mike Trout Throwback Uniform SSP

Again, Topps Heritage is not my bag and I dont really care to go buy a bunch of packs any time soon. However, this is the type of set that Topps must love, because the cost is minimal and the most valuable cards dont have autographs. That’s a winner.

Sports Card Album Changes the Game Once Again

Let me start off this article by talking about the way that the card community works. Basically, if you collect and you are online, you have to show everyone what you have. It makes collecting fun, because it uses a level of competition and pride in combination with the obvious vanity that we all inherently possess.

As a reuslt, for ages, collectors have repurposed photo sharing sites to show off their wares. Popular services like Photobucket have been around for ages, but they were never meant to be used for sharing cards in any way. We have all had the frustration of dealing with a type of site that never was meant to handle the type of situation we are all desiring.

Sergio from SportsCardAlbum.com has made it his life’s work over the last year to change that, offering a site completely dedicated to card collecting online. Aside from a place where collectors can go and share their photos, the site also offers messaging for trading and selling as well. That’s only the half of it. For the first time ever, Sports Card Album has now been made into an app on the Apple store designed to make it that much easier.

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I downloaded the app last week, and have had nothing but awesome results in using it. As good as the mobile site used to be, the app is that much better. Although it costs 3.99, for less than the price of a pack of cards, I was able to get the full functionality of uploading images and tweeting out pictures with the touch of a button. Its incredible to see all the things that Sergio and his team were able to come up with.

If you are still using one of the old photo sharing sites, its time to switch – NOW. They are already working on a batch of upgrades that should be ready soon, which adds even more functionality of the main site. Check out the video below and buy the app via the link below. I rarely vouch for something on this site, but this is one of those things that we all need to support for the good of the hobby. Its rare that someone comes along with the dedication to spend the time and energy to actually change things instead of just talking about it like I do.

Great job Sergio, you have definitely made some waves.

SPORTS CARD ALBUM – CLICK HERE FOR THE APPLE APP STORE

2014 Topps Heritage is Live, But Not My Type of Thing

For us autograph collectors, a product like Topps Heritage is like buying a veggie burger when you love eating meat. It just doesnt make a whole lot of sense to go running to the shop to buy a case. Although its been around for years and years, the focus of the set is not delivering autograph content (it does have some), but giving set collectors something to chase. I am not a fan of these sets and usually stay quite far away.

Here are some of the bigger hits:

2014 Topps Heritage Keith Olbermann Auto SSP

2014 Topps Heritage MIke Trout Gold Embossed Insert /15

2014 Topps Heritage Derek Jeter Action Photo SP Variation

2014 Topps Heritage Bryce Harper Black Refractor Chrome Variation

First off, I am a big fan of the 1965 design, as my dad had a bunch of them when I was growing up. It was the year the Twins went to the World Series, so he had the whole team set. I think its a pretty iconic year for Topps, and I can see why people were excited. I have always liked when retro designs are applied to modern players in this fashion, and when it comes to the base cards, 2014 heritage is nice.

The different variations are plenty, including a chrome version with refractors of every base card. Transferring these cards to chrome stock has been a staple of the product, and I only wish the autos were on the chrome too. The rare refractors tend to sell for tons of money, and it has a lot to do with how many people out there build the set each year.

There are also Gold Embossed box loaders and cards, which look horrendous to me. This is all understanding of the fact they are updates from the original set, but people are going nuts over them. I guess they are impossible to pull, and have autographed versions as well. Personally, I would be happy to pull one, only to turn around and sell immediately to avoid having to look at its ugly presentation.

Not much has popped up yet, but we will be getting some really ugly cut autographs which include living players, as well as even uglier autograph relic cards. Topps does as much as possible to keep the set design close to what the cards would look like in the year of release, but I hate the way these cards look. Big yellow boxes dont sit well with me.

Ernie Banks Auto Relic

Roger Staubach Cut Auto

As I mentioned above, Heritage and I are never going to be a match made in heaven, but with all the hoopla, you might want to check it out.