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.

A Comment 2010 Score Football and the Future Of Panini Football

Score football isnt worth a post on here, mainly because of its complete lack of anything worth buying the product for. In fact, I think it is THE most worthless product of the year, but I feel like I need to say something about an observation here.

When it comes to 2010 Licensed Football, Panini is pretty much it for the time being. If they are going to continue putting out stuff like Score, looking almost identical to 2009 Score, we are going to have a major problem here. I have always stood by the fact that exclusivity is a terrible thing that could lead to sweeping instances of uninspired junk and rehashed sets, but this, Prestige and Elite are taking it to a whole new level. Based on their first few previews, there has been little proof that the design team at Panini is taking their newfound exclusivity seriously. Prestige hasnt changed minus a few tweaks to the base design. Elite (Prestige Chrome) hasnt either. Score is pretty much a tweaked version of 2009 Score. Why the fuck arent they getting off their ass and earning the respect of the people who loved UD football with new designs and cool concepts? A revamped Prestige and a vastly different Elite would have definitely garnered excitement. Instead its the same old shit with different players. Those same auto Manu-patches, boring subsets, a million parallels of every card, rainbow foil, NOTHING IS FUCKING DIFFERENT. I am tired of this bullshit.
Truthfully, I am hoping for good things out of Panini Football this year, because otherwise Im stuck buying a complete slate of 2009 products instead. From what I have seen, things are not looking very good for my collecting in the foreseeable future. Also, if they continue to think that boring shit like Panini Platinum basketball converted for the NFL is going to fly with me, they are sadly mistaken. You cant just take Classics and redo it ten times for a full calendar and expect me to buy it. But, with an exclusive license (practically) I guess you dont need good shit anymore to be viable, all you need is cards for people to buy. Then again, that was the point I have been touting for the last few months anyways.
In fact, I am so certain that there will be nothing new, that I will make my predictions now. Absolute will have the exact same set up, the RPMs will have ZERO difference from 2007, 2008, and 2009, the Tools of the Trade will be back and looking like they were made for last year’s set, and the whole goddamn thing will be in foil. Classics will have a tweaked base design with a different background than 2009 (still just as terrible), the same subsets with a million parallels, and the school colors signatures will be done in paint pen despite the fact that it looks amateur. Limited will be a good set again, but not much will change other than the design of the rookie phenoms. The Threads letters will spread to other products because Panini cant think up anything else. When Threads actually comes out, the letters wont be any different, and the design will continue to puzzle just about everyone. Rookies and Stars will continue to look like it was created under a bridge while viewing murals spray painted on a wall. Gridiron Gear will continue to look like someone raided the stock background vault on Adobe Photoshop, and will still have hot boxes that 12 year olds will love to get thanks to the eight $2 jersey cards you get in them. National Treasures will be as visually disappointing as this years and will not go back to the way it was when we actually liked the concept. They will tout the on card autographs of the rookies, but the rest will still be stickers.
Total number of 2010 veteran on card autos? Zero. Total number of 2010 rookie on card autos? 3 subsets in different products. Total innovations or creative ideas? None. Total packs of 2010 product I will buy? Goose egg. Times I will rant about rehashed sets from them? Incalculable.

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.

National Treasures: How The Mighty Have Fallen

I just received some of the National Treasures images posted by Panini from a member over on FCB. Sadly, Panini has taken a product that once looked elegant and clean, and turned it into a high end version of Donruss Threads. Panini lovers will love this new direction, but to me, it takes everything that National Treasures used to be and takes a huge dump on it. Its gotten to a point beyond disappointment, more anger than anything now.

First, I want to start with the one card that I think looks awesome.
I absolutely love this card. Love it. The idea of the card is great, the design is great, and although its still a sticker auto in a $500 MSRP set, its still awesome. I would buy cards from this set in a heartbeat, this is the one thing that made me optimistic.
This card features a great group of players, but the design is straight out of a low end set. Busy, small pictures, and floating swatch windows. The card is also incredibly top heavy, and I cant believe this is going to be one of the subsets in NT.
This one isnt bad, except for the fact that the lines and blobs in the back look weird and the text on the side is all strung together like a run on sentence. Not bad, but not NT worthy to me.
I think this card may be straight out of Playoff Prestige. It just looks awfully conceived with odd placements of borders and lines that make absolutely no sense. Also, not really sure why there are two cowboy logos on here when the player pictures are less than an inch big.
This card looks better than the Emmitt/Aikman card, but the background draws so much away from this card. One of the things that made previous incarnations of NT so cool, was that it had an old fashioned type feel to match the focus on retired and star players. This looks like photoshop barfed on the legacy of these two players and I am extremely turned off by it. Why is it like this set has turned into National Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen?
Again, I am sad because of what Panini’s horrid design team has done to this once amazing set. 2006-2008 National Treasures was awesome, I have a lot of those cards, I would buy more of those cards. I would never in a million years spend $500 on a box of cards that look like this, when I can spend less than a fifth of the money and get the same thing out of early season Panini crapfests.
I sincerely hope the rest of this set looks better.

Product Review: 2009 Donruss Certified Football

After seeing the preview for Donruss Certified, I could not believe how much of a cop out Panini had gone with in terms of the design. They had basically taken the 2008 design (which wasn’t good to begin with) and updated it with minor tweaks. Now that I am seeing the finished product, it has improved over the sell sheet, but still has the look and feel of an inferior 2008 product.


There are parts of this set that are vastly improved over the previous years, and others that are lower or exacly the same. For that reason, I cant give Panini that much credit. There are so many similar cards between 2008 and 2009, that it takes away from the general feel of the set. If you look back at the 2008 set, it was full of junk, floating swatch windows, stupid looking subsets, millions of parallels. This year, many of the floating windows are gone, but the Parallels are still there, and the subsets still look pretty bad. Panini, as if anyone expected anything less, chose foilboard again for their production, which led to a number of warped, chipped and damaged cards in the boxes I got to see.

The highlight of this set is the Fabric of the Game single cards, which are definitely cool looking. They feature team color elements, and the diecuts arent bad. One of the diecuts, the team name logos, looks ridiculously cool mainly because they went with the spelled out name rather than the helmet decal cutout. It looks much better that way, and really completes the design. The others, especially the autos look MUCH better than last year, and you can see why this is the most collected part of the product each year.

The other focus of many collectors are the Freshman Fabric cards, which pretty much look like carbon copies of 2008, unfortunately. On the triples and quads, I am still confused as to why they put the windows where they did, as it looks like there is an Asteroids type swatch window squadron that is attacking the player at the top. The biggest improvements are the dual swatch autos, which went from horrible looking jersey/football cards, to cool looking dual jerseys. Im completely serious when I say that last year’s Mirror Reds may have been the worst looking cards of the year behind Topps Lettermen. This year, they don’t break any part of the borders with the swatch windows, and they actually look like they were designed correctly. They are still sticker autos, but for the first time in a long time, they look better than SPX.

As for the rest of the set, there is a lot of crap to accompany the good parts. The souveneir stamps are back, and continue to be one of the dumbest ideas in any card product for the year. It would be one thing if the stamps were actually collectible, and were put in HOFer cards to match the years, but when you do stamps from fucking stamps.com, there is a big fucking problem. On top of all of that, the autos NEVER fit very well onto the cards, and yet, year after year, the cards are back. The design is not updated, ever, and the cards are just boring motherfucking poop.

Another huge problem is the base set, and those subsets that are derived from it. I have no idea why, but every single player’s head is chopped off. I guess it was to make the players look larger than the cards themselves, but instead it looks like 40% of the whole product was cut wrong. You have a whole fucking base card, get the whole goddamn head in there.

The other subsets arent much better, as every card has about 20 parallels, jersey, auto and other, and really it just gets overwhelming and useless. Panini is continuing to think that subsets with parallels are the answer to everything, when really they just add fluff to a set that could use some actual meat.

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Autograph Cards

The autograph cards in this set range from great to shitty and lots in between. There is no consistency, and when one card looks amazing, there are others that look like a five year old put them together.

I really like the autographed Fabric of the Game cards, as even with a sticker, they look cool. The cards don’t look horribly unbalanced, and the layout is pretty much correct. The team color design and the layout of all the different swatches works really well, and its not on FOIL! YES!

As said above, the base freshman fabric dual jersey autos are great, but they are the only good version of the cards, as well as being the only updated version of the cards. The others, as shown a few weeks ago, look exactly the same. If you are going to copy an old card, you have to make sure it was good to begin with. The 2008 versions were awful, and yet we get no new version. Too bad.

When you get to the Immortal Signature cards, you have some of the most packed designs I have seen in a long time. They make the jumbo swatch auto RPM cards from absolute look empty. Not only do they have a swatch, a sticker and a giant player with half a head, but they also have IMMORTALS scrawled across the whole thing. It just looks disgusting.

Overall, it’s the first Panini set that looks like it is improving in terms of creating auto cards, but they are a LOOOONNNNGGG way from producing on the level of Topps and Upper Deck.

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Relic Cards

There are a few good relic cards and a few bad relic cards in this set, but considering that every single card in the set has a jersey parallel, it gets to be too much.

First are the Freshman Fabric cards that are only jerseys. One is a high numbered swatch or patch, the other is the 1/1 mirror black logo. Both look good for a no-auto swatch card, and I am liking the logo cards in the context of the Frosh Fab design. The big jersey cards look SO much better than the 2008 version, and I credit it solely to the way the window is cut. At least for this design, the player doesn’t have to be huge to look good, and they don’t look covered up like they did in absolute’s crapfest.

The single fabric of the game jersey cards are great, and live up to the general feel of the previous years of the product. As I said before the team name logo cards are beyond cool, and even the single swatches don’t look awful.

Moving on to the dual and up v
ersions of the fabric of the game cards, they look as awful as the other Panini cards this year. They are busy, loud, and just look like total crap. They tried to go in the completely wrong direction, and the cards look like modernized Zubaz pants as a result. In all truthfulness, the plain swatch card has become completely obsolete, and when you see a card like these, it just screams that Panini has no fucking clue what is going on.

As for the subset jersey cards like the base parallel, Immortals, and Certified potential, they are all amost stereotypical. You could put these cards in front of me with a mock up line up with UD and Topps cards and I wouldn’t even have to breathe before telling you they were Panini’s. They are a complete snooze, and the new way Panini is cutting their plain swatches is getting fucking annoying. Enough with this shit already.

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Value To The Collector

Im not really sure what direction to go with this product. The product features some cards that will be extremely valuable and highly collected, but also a good portion of stuff that will just blur together with the rest of their releases from 2008 and 2009.

I think that anything that has a logo on it will sell, as evidenced by the Mirror Blacks of previous years, but outside of the low numbered parallels, it’s a complete crap shoot. The good thing is that a box will probably not run you more than 75 bucks after the first few weeks, and from what it looks like, they have pretty good value in them with more than 1 auto in most cases.


The problem with everything Panini, including Certified, is that the formula is stale and over done. Boxes filled with worthless and poorly designed swatches among sticker autos that have no place. For that reason, this product will fall, and that could affect value in the long run.

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Overall Impressions

Certified is, in my opinion, the best Panini release so far, but that isnt saying much. Panini is obviously focusing on basketball, and from that, the football side of things is continuing to suffer. There was no heart in this product, instead being a rehash of a sub-par release from 2008. There are slight improvements, but overall, like most Panini products in 2009, it falls continually short on fronts that they always have problems with.

As of now, it’s pretty sad to see that so many of my favorite products have tanked in terms of design and feel, thus solidifying that I am going to save my money for perennial good buys like Chrome, SPA, and others.

Average Rating =

2009 Product Leaderboard (SO FAR)

1. Topps Chrome (4/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Donruss Certified (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Upper Deck Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Philadelphia (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Topps Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Icons (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Heroes (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Draft Edition (3/5 GELLMANS)
9(t). Upper Deck SPX (2/5 GELLMANS)
9(t). Playoff Absolute Memorabilia (2/5 GELLMANS)
9(t). Bowman Sterling Football (2/5 GELLMANS)
9(t). Donruss Threads (2/5 GELLMANS)
9(t). Donruss Classics (2/5 GELLMANS)
9(t). Donruss Elite (2/5 GELLMANS)
9(t). Playoff Prestige (2/5 GELLMANS)
9(t). Bowman Draft Picks (2/5 GELLMANS)
17. Score Inscriptions (1/5 GELLMANS)
18. Leaf Rookies and Stars (0/5 GELLMANS – NR)