2010 Panini Limited Fails To Capitalize On Past Success

Leaf Limited used to be one of my favorite sets, and last year it actually succeeded in the places that Panini tends to fail. After seeing the pictures from the 2010 offering, I have to say that I am underwhelmed to say the least. Considering the part of the calendar that Limited has come to fill, it is going to have a very tough time competing this year when it looks the way it does.

My main disappointment stems from the new phenom rookie patch autos, which are a complete downgrade over last year’s great looking offering. Although they are going to continue to use the team word logos as cutouts, they went in a completely terrible direction with the general layout of the card. When you factor in that last year’s cards featured complete player pictures, the cutouts, AND the stickers, these new cards are epic fail all the way. Companies need to realize that having the brand logo and the team logo the same size as the player picture is the polar opposite of what should be happening. Right Triple Threads?

I will say that I LOVE the base design this year, which will definitely make a difference in the amount of cards that Panini parallels, but thats about it. All the other cards are pretty much exactly like last year, and I will fall asleep opening this, just like every other Panini product this year.

Panini Gives Us All A Good Laugh With Limited

So far, the cards out of Limited are showing strong on both ends of the spectrum. They range from amazing and really cool to complete and utter fucking shit that we are used to from amateur cards inc. Hailing from the definite cool end of the spectrum, the rookie phenom patch autos look AMAZING. The problem is, some of the checklist seems to be redemptions. Normally, that wouldnt be a problem if the cards were hard signed, but these are all fucking stickers from players who were present at the rookie premiere.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the NFL rookie premiere, let me enlighten you. For an entire day, you have the players at your disposal to take your photos, do your intereviews, and MOST importantly, sign their goddamn shit. As we are slowly starting to realize, Panini had one of the biggest and most EPIC fails with their planning, as obviously they did not get the stuff signed that they needed to. Hell, maybe the players didnt have enough fucking time to sign Panini’s complete slate of sticker auto cards. There may just have been that many. This is of course, after they had over 50 helmets to sign for different friends of the company, hundreds of cards for the attendees, and football after football for other people in attendance. Again, not out of the ordinary in terms of what usually happens for every company, but when you force yourself into redemptions because of it, you become a quintessential bush league player. Then again, when you see stuff like these bubbly autos in other products, it becomes clearer why things look like they are being run by monkeys.
You see, this isnt the first time Panini, or DLP at that point, has failed to get their shit signed. Back in 2007, 99% of the Adrian Peterson auto stickers in limited were redemptions as well. He was even the guy on the fucking packaging for half the products. This was also the case with Troy Smith, and Chris Johnson, as well as others. Of course, if these were hard signed cards, it would be completely different, let me reiterate that point. However, Panini is more focused on inserting 2008 hard signed cards into their 2009 packs than really doing it the right way.
So far, here is the list of redemptions for their 2009 stickers:
Hakeem Nicks
Tyson Jackson
(Among others, surely)
This begs the question, if they couldnt sign all their stickers at the premiere, just how many labels is Panini actually using? It has to be above the number humanly possible to be signed, which then makes me laugh even more, especially with all the “We are moving towards hard signed stuff” marketing that they are shitting out their ass.
Considering this is a set that again features smoke and mirrors with the event used pro-bowl jerseys, and ball and pylon stuff from the super bowl that may not even be game used, a black eye has started to develop for 2009 Limited. Its really too bad, because this set definitely had potential, even though their cuts dont have pictures on them.

A Comment On Donruss Certified

After seeing that Brett Favre is going to have his first Viking “auto” in Certified on Panini’s webpage, I want to say a few things about the set preview they posted. Certified is next on the calendar, I believe, and is another in the mid end set line up that Donruss releases every year. Threads, Certified, Limited, Gridiron Gear, they all usually blend together.

First, I am actually surprised that Favre’s auto card looks pretty good. Aside from the horrid foil board that its printed on, and the fact that it looks EXACTLY like last year’s set, its not bad. The problem is that its just too easy to slap a sticker on the card and call it his first Viking auto. When you are almost 100% stickers in your sets, its kind of a cop out to claim that you are first. You could have put him in a Twins uniform and called it his first Minnesota auto. That sticker sort of invalidates the claim. Besides, it wont be about quality as the card will probably go for hundreds, despite the Playoff hologram background on the Donruss sticker, and that it will most likely only have 5 copies.
Second, the preview shows some pretty cool looking cards from the set, which made me feel weirdly anxious. Of course, these are all some of the best hits of the product, so I will withold total judgement until I see the rest.
The dual swatch freshmen fabric cards look great this year, surprisingly. They went back to the horizontal stack rather than the vertical stack, and it works SOOOOO much better. I may actually want a few of these, even though the rainbow foil is completely distracting.
The fabric of the game autos look good as well, but again, these are rare ass fucking cards, maybe limited to 5 or 25 copies at the most. The swatches are even in the right place, yet, I am very scared as to what the normal, non-auto versions look like.
The triple and quad swatch freshmen fabric cards are just as bad as they were last year, floating swatches and all. The quads are almost too busy to comprehend, and they break the design borders, unlike the duals which look cool. The souvenir stamps also look as bad as they usually do, mainly because that stray swatch looks extremely out of place. Although the rookies finally found a way to fit their signatures into the window below the stamps in these cases, others wont be so lucky.
Lastly, these Immortals cards are ridiculously awful. Yes they feature swatches and autos in some rare cases, but the player is being chased by huge obscuring text and out of place windows and stickers. Just a poor design and a poor decision to try to stuff all those things onto the cards.
Overall, I am still VERY apprehensive about this set. If these cards are the best of the best, and they just spike my awesometer to a normal expected level, what will the rest be like?

Its Funny Because Its True…

The fact of the matter is that Kobe is only one brick in the wall that needs to be built for Panini to actually have the success they need to counteract the license money they spent already. Per many industry people, they grossly overpaid for the ability to produce NBA cards, then spent absurd money to sign Blake Griffin and company, followed by throwing more money at Kobe, when they still have no Jordan, LeBron or others.
Design is also going to be a huge factor, there is no question in my mind. With UD being the overwhelming fan favorite, to go from the best looking sets of the card year, to the ones that look like the unholy abominations they create in a lab somewhere for football, is not going to go over very well. Basically, Panini is not going to compete, especially with UD most likely continuing their basketball production. Even if they get Jordan or LeBron some how some way, I would still see collectors going away than continuing to buy the Panini junk. Think of it this way, if Mercedes left the market and all that was left is Kia, people would still go buy old Mercedes for their luxury cars rather than switching to a inferior brand.
Dont get me wrong, there will be some who will embrace the change, but not the collectors that UD hinged their continued success on. Basketball is a different animal, with the majority of the collectors focusing on super high end rather than the base stuff and mid end like the other sports. This is only further evidenced by the fact that even at 800+ dollars a box, 09-10 Exquisite sold out in 3 hours, even though 08-09 Exquisite was less than two months old. Without Jordan, LeBron, Garnett, and the other UD exclusives, Panini has lost the ability to duplicate that cash flow to subsidize the brand. They can pump out shit like Prestige and Limited all they want, but its not going to make up for their inability to cater to the existing install base.
Personally, I feel bad that Basketball collectors will now have to settle for this:
Instead of this:
Thanks to Mario for the UD poster.