2014 Panini Black Friday – Should We REALLY Be Excited for These?

Well, Black Friday is upon us, and with it another edition of the Panini set that is put out every year. Although I feel like free stuff is good as long as the price is what its, then there is a positive situation to this program. However at the same time, there is so many horrible back end things going on with Black Friday, which I also feel would probably be pretty negative if collectors had a real understanding of it.

Here are some of the bigger cards that have already been posted:

2014 Panini Black Friday Johnny Manziel Cracked Ice Auto Patch

2014 Panini Black Friday Drew Brees Auto Manupatch

2014 Panini Black Friday Andrew Wiggins Auto

2014 Panini Black Friday Jabari Parker Auto Patch Cracked Ice

2014 Panini Black Friday Russell Wilson Auto

2014 Panini Black Friday Teddy Bridgewater Auto Patch

In terms of the way the cards look, many of the base and base autos look pretty cool. I mean, they dont look awful like they have in the past. The autos and auto relics are a pretty simple design, and I am always a fan of simplicity. I even think the sideways stickers on some of the cards are a nice change.

However, there are also a ton of cards that I could easily say are some of the worst ones I have seen from Panini all year. These are all highlighted by new “Black Friday” Manufactured patch cards, which not only are not autographed, but are the ugliest design I have seen in any of these packs. Seriously, someone at Panini approved a manupatch card where their stupid piece of cloth is more important than how the card looks. Just fucking ridiculous.

I also hate all these stupid Santa hat cards and towel cards, as I have for years. Not only are they kitschy as shit, but they dont even do it in a fun way. Just players standing around looking crazy and goofy. That’s Panini for you.

The cards arent even the worst part of all this. Its the way Panini forces the local shops into a position that is borderline entrapment. Because so many of the dealers have the Panini products collecting dust on their shelves, they created a program to help their most important customers clear their shelves. If you are a shop that can afford to take on EVEN more of the product than you already have, then you are in luck. But, if you follow the program as intended, your CUSTOMERS now have to buy these boxes too. Its the products that are so bad that no one would even think about touching them without a free pack attached. BAD FOR EVERYONE BUT THE DISTROS.

Panini runs their business like a strip club, and it is beyond frustrating. It would be one thing if it meant they could produce better stuff, but they just end up sitting on the debt because they have so much money they can throw around. If you are a VIP customer, you get the VIP treatment – and I am not talking about favorite shops. Those are the people who end up footing this bill. Sad, because collectors just think this program is all about them. It isnt. Its making up for seasons worth of crap that Panini’s important “partners” cant get rid of.

Diving Deeper Into 2014 Topps Chrome Autos

As I mentioned yesterday, Chrome is easily one of my favorite products of the year. Not only does it deliver a ton of fun for a very inexpensive break, but it also can pack a punch with some huge hits. I think that although the production run is increased significantly this year, it only adds more of a chase for the top cards. Here are some of my favorites so far.

Rookie Autos and Refractor Autos

I liked the design when I first saw it back at the beginning of this year. Seeing how it translates to the Chrome version is better, as the autographs fit very well into the layout. Adding in the way they changed the refractor borders to just be the sides of the card, and it adds a pop of color that isnt too overwhelming. I like it a lot. The big rookie autos are super SP this year, a la 2012 with Luck and Griffin, although that only increases the value of the pull when you do find one. With the 2014 class sinking other than the WRs, this will help the secondary value significantly.

2014 Topps Chrome Johnny Manziel Auto Inscription RC

2014 Topps Chrome Teddy Bridgewater Auto RC

2014 Topps Chrome Derek Carr Auto Refractor RC /150

2014 Topps Chrome Sammy Watkins Auto RC

2014 Topps Chrome John Brown Gold Refractor Auto /10

1985 Autos /15

I really love these cards. When they used the 1985 design in the flagship with inception style retouched photos, I chased a few of them. Now that they have updated photos with on card autos, Im fawning over them. The 1985 Topps set was iconic for a lot of reasons, but the design is really why so many people love them. I cannot be more excited for these cards, and if previous years are any indication, these will be highly sought after.

2014 Topps Chrome Austin Sefarian Jenkins 1985 Auto

2014 Topps Chrome Tre Mason 1985 Auto

Rookie Auto Patches /50

Does it suck balls that they arent on card? Yes. It does. Are the cards still awesome regardless of the sticker? Yes they are. This design reminds me of the set from 2006 Exquisite with the swooping lines and autograph placement, and that is a very good thing. Because I really hate the base rookie relic design, these look that much better in the long run.

2014 Topps Chrome Jonny Manziel Auto Patch /50

2014 Topps Chrome Brandin Cooks Auto Patch /50

Die Cut Rookie Autos

I think that of all the die cut designs for these cards over the years, the 2014 is the best version. The spiky pattern of the diecuts hearken back to the 2012 Platinum ones, and I absolutely loved those too. Although, like the 1985 autos, these are extremely rare, they are boss looking cards that many collectors will chase. I believe there are superfractor versions as well.

2014 Topps Chrome Sammy Watkins Die Cut Auto /15

2014 Topps Chrome Jeremy Hill Die Cut Auto /15

Veteran Autos

I really like that they brought these back for a second year, and I only wish they had enough time in their licensing to make these on card eventually. Either way, they are a huge plus for any player collectors, and I expect that they will be quite rare. The checklist is nicer than last year, too – only making things better overall.

2014 Topps Chrome Andrew Luck Veteran Auto /10

2014 Topps Chrome Alfred Morris Veteran Auto /10

As we get further into the set, Im sure there will be more surprises, but things are looking good so far.

SCU Go-Live Report – 2014 Topps Chrome Football

There arent many holidays left in my football holiday, however the release of the year's Topps Chrome set still makes me excited every single time. Its hobby royalty, and no matter how bad the year’s rookie class is, Chrome is popular. Consistency is the name of the game, and Topps has ALWAYS delivered in droves.

Here are some of the big hits so far:

2014 Topps Chrome Kelvin Benjamin Auto RC

2014 Topps Chrome Odell Beckham Refractor Auto RC /150

2014 Topps Chrome Drew Brees Photo Variation SSP

2014 Topps Chrome Derek Carr Variation Auto RC 4/75 – Huge price already

2014 Topps Chrome Aaron Murray Auto RC – Nice auto on these. Wow.

2014 Topps Chrome Martavis Bryant Auto RC

Like we saw in the release of 2014 Topps, the design is pretty nice. Its not as nice as 2012, but it is still awesome – especially the color refractors. Despite the mislabeled sell sheet, the on card autographs are back, and this time, it seems as though more of the rookies have signed for the set outside of the normal RPS guys like Manziel and Bridgewater.

Even cards like the rookie diecut set look great, and we are seeing from Topps’ twitter page that there are also on card autographs for them as well. My favorite remains the 1985 cards, which now feature updated RPS photos, unlike the inception style retouched college shots from the flagship sets. As we have seen since 2012, there are autographed versions that will sell for A LOT of money.

As they were in 2011 through now, the auto patches are back, and they are BAD ASS. I absolutely love these cards, and they are some of the first on card memorabilia cards at an affordable price all year. These have been some amazing cards in the past, and I am glad they are here for another year.

The craziest part about Chrome is that the 1/1 Superfractors and Autographs from the top guys will be the chase set this year. There is no more expensive rookie card than the top guys in the class and their superfractors. I have even seen un-autographed supers sell for more than logo patch autos from other sets.

Lets face it, Chrome is king. With this being the second to last year of the product, people are going to get protective. That means that this set, despite a reported ginormous print run, will still sell. Even though you are likely not even going to pull a top auto in every case, it wont matter. There are reports that the top autos will be the toughest pull since 2012, and I am saying it may not matter all that much. Chrome is going away, and nostalgia will keep this product afloat.

I love Chrome as much as anyone, and as far back as I can remember, I have bought the Chrome RC of my favorite players. Knowing that wont be available after 2015 saddens me.

2014 Rookie WRs Challenging a QB First Hobby

Football is a QB based hobby. Its so abundantly clear that this is the case, that every collector needs a literal firestorm of potential to start recognizing players in other positions. Not only is it sad that we have reached this point, but it is hurting the value of products. Without a strong QB to carry a rookie class, wax is dead. Or is it?

The 2014 class of rookie Wide Receivers has been STELLAR. That might be an understatement. Receiver after receiver has made huge impact for their teams, and we arent even done yet.

Odell Beckham Jr.

If you missed the game on Sunday Night, you might have missed the best catch in pro football, arguably ever. It may not have been the most IMPORTANT catch, but it was like watching something worthy of a super hero. Beckham was injured in the first few weeks of the season, but since returning, he has been nothing short of remarkable on a Giants team that consistently shows that Eli Manning should not have the leash he has been granted. Beckham’s hands are legendary, and his route running is improving by the week. He is destined to be a top flight guy, and that shouldnt be a surprise.

His cards have been on fire:

2014 Flawless Odell Beckham Jr. Jumbo Patch Auto

2014 Topps Odell Beckham Jr. Topps Variation Auto

2014 Inception Odell Beckham Jr Jumbo Patch Auto Booklet /5

Mike Evans

Lost among all the Odell Beckham hype over the last few weeks, Mike Evans has quietly put together an awesome rookie campaign. He plays for a horrible team in Tampa, which silences his production significantly, but he has been great all around. Now, one could argue that Beckham also plays for a terrible team, but there are faaaaaar more Giants fans than Bucs fans. Evans is well on his way to a 1000 yard season with over 10 TDs, which hasnt been done for a while by a rookie.

Like Beckham, his cards have been selling very well:

2014 Topps Chrome Mike Evans 63 Tall Boy Mini Auto /15

2014 Flawless Mike Evans Jumbo Patch Auto Red /15

2014 Topps Valor Mike Evans RC Patch Auto /75

Sammy Watkins

Like the two mentioned above, Watkins has done very well this year, and it should go without saying that his ceiling may be higher than both. The issue is that like both of these guys, he has dealt with some QB issues, although Orton has probably played the best out of Manning and Glennon/McCown. Watkins had a slow start to his season, but single handedly beat a few teams all on his own. He is shaping up to be quite the player.

2014 Topps Finest Sammy Watkins Gold Refractor Auto Patch

2014 Leaf Trinity Sammy Watkins Inscription Auto

2014 Topps Sammy Watkins Jumbo Patch Auto

Jordan Matthews

Its no secret that Matthews is a character on and off the field. He is just one of those guys who seems to be having a great time out there. Of the three receivers mentioned above him, his team seems to be the most likely to make the playoffs, which will mean better value for his cards. He has a huge issue in his AWFUL signature, which curbs appeal for his cards, but his production has been really nice.

2014 Flawless Jordan Matthews Jumbo Logo Patch Auto

2014 Topps Prime Jordan Matthews Quad Relic Auto RC

Brandin Cooks

Coming out of the preseason, he was the most talked about receiver coming into the year. Playing with a future HOF QB in Brees only lifted his stock further, and everyone was quite excited to see what he could do. Unfortunately for collectors, the Saints have only mustered an airy fart of a season so far, but have been inexplicably lucky playing in the worst division in Football. If they can win tonight, they will be on track to win the division, which is shocking with a 4-6 record. Cooks had some great games, but is still coming into his potential.

2014 Topps Finest Brandin Cooks Nike Logo Auto Patch 1/1

2014 Flawless Brandin Cooks Logo Patch Auto 1/1

Martavis Bryant

High round pick? Check. Plays for Pittsburgh? Check. Hobby equation for success? Check. Bryant is Mike Wallace version 2.0, a speedster deep threat who can burn the defense for some major plays. The issue is that he didnt play the whole year, and only recently came on board as favorite deep threat target for Big Ben. As a result, his card options are very limited, but lots of people are looking to get some of his stuff because of on field play and team affiliation. 6 TDs in as many games will do that.

2014 Elite Martavis Bryant Auto Red Status

2014 SPX Martavis Bryant Inscription Jumbo Patch Auto

The jury may still be out on these guys, but fear not, there is lots of football left. I am excited to see what they can do in the coming weeks leading up to the post season.

2014 Topps Chrome Football Retail Hits the Shelves!

Im sad. Im sad because this is the second to last time we are going to see Topps Chrome in Football. It has become the penultimate football product every year, a set that appeals to both the set collectors, who enjoy more lower end products, and the hit collectors who chase the high end autos and such. That rarely happens, and it should be maddening that this is not going to continue being the one holiday we can look forward to every year. Instead, we will be left with crappy knockoffs that have never and will never measure up.

Here are some of the retail cards already up:

2014 Topps Chrome Blake Bortles Orange Retail Refractor

2014 Topps Chrome Kelvin Benjamin X-Fractor RC

2014 Topps Chrome Johnny Manziel 1963 Mini RC

2014 Topps Chrome Lot of 1985 Rookie Retro Flashback Cards – Cant wait to see the autographed versions!

The retail cards from 2014 Chrome have started to pop up recently, and as we get closer to Wednesday’s release, more and more will surface. Its crazy that a product costing less than 80 dollars per box delivers the top chase cards of the year. Those card DONT come from products that cost 150 bucks or even 1500 bucks per box, just Chrome. Its a testament to the staying power of the brand, and also how much it will be missed after 2015.

When looking at retail, it does actually deliver some reasons to buy. Different parallels, autographs, and other content make it worthwhile trip to Target or Wal Mart to pick some up, and I would suggest taking a gander next time you are there. I absolutely love this set because it can deliver so much value in the non-hit cards, and that only serves to make the retail version that much more attractive.

There have been numerous reports that this is the largest production run for Chrome in a long time, but I dont think it will have much effect. Topps knows people will want to get as much out of this set as possible, and it wont matter that guys like Manziel and company will be tough pulls. People buy Chrome because it always looks great, and always is a fun rip. Its cheap and can pack a punch if you hit something nice. Retail, since 2012 has been a major reason why Chrome’s popularity has increased, and I am probably walking out the door as you read this to go pick some up.