I think its a good idea for Panini to try to use products like Immaculate to continue using their MLBPA license. It has potential to work well, especially if the cards look as good as they have in other sports. However, if the product quality slips, even in the slightest, we will continue to see the enormous drop off that happened with last year’s product. Bottom line, Immaculate has huge potential to be a winner, but Panini’s consistent decisions to use low cost methods on a high end product is a terrible idea. Lack of on card content, horrible sticker replacements, and points in the product as hit replacements are horrendous ways to devalue the brand in a another sport where you are gum on Topps’ shoe.
For instance, these cards looks great, but think of how much better they would be if done with quality in mind:
2015 Immaculate Jameis Winston Auto RC /10 – Funny that the only good looking football card of the year from Panini is in a Baseball product!
These, on the other hand, are straight visual diarrhea, and are laughable attempts at making high end cards:
The best cards in the product, in my opinion, are the shadowbox silhouette patch autos and the base shadowbox autos. They look cool and sleek, and can easily stand up against most of what Topps puts out. However, when you decide its a good idea to do 8 boxes per case, the checklist gets relatively watered down. They definitely have that situation here, which is only devalued further with the lack of MLB logos in play. Either way, they are the best cards in the set.
Additionally, many of the auto patch cards, and other autograph cards look really good. The non-baseball autographs look tremendous, and should be some of the biggest draws of the product. The problem is that in every other sport they are all on card, and here – a product that really has no excuse for NOT being on card, 90% of the autos are stickers or sticker replacements. Panini could literally produce these cards at any time with no logos, and have no issues completing the signings as the year progresses. Instead, they are taking the stupid way out and using stickers in all the baseball products. Even cards that were hard signed en masse last year, are stickers this year. Not a good precedent to break at all. These could have been humongous.
The worst cards in the set are easily the nauseatingly terrible black construction paper autos, which are quickly becoming Panini’s new signed manupatch autos. These cards are some of the shittiest cards Panini makes, using the black construction paper as either a sticker replacement (disgustingly bad), or on card (which defies all fucking logic as to why you would use a black area on a white card). The contrast between the white background and the black signature area is bad enough, but to think that someone at Panini believes these to be worthy of being in so many of their products is fucking horrifying. Some of these cards are so bad, I dont even have words. There are people who will come on here and say, “WELL I HAD A GOOD BOX OR TWO! This whole product is awesome!” Yeah, go watch some youtube videos and see if that holds true.
Without a doubt, the main draw of the product are the jumbo 1/1 relics, which feature enormous swatches of some pretty unique items. The issue is that the player picture is relegated to a tiny part of the card, and the rest of the design is basically a foil embellished border. This is where I dont get the hobby. These days, people seem to care more about the content of a relic than the way a card is designed, and it could not make me more frustrated. These would be incredible cards as booklets or as silhouette style cards with a larger player picture, but Panini chooses to save that cost instead making the top cards into true PC centerpieces. Booklets cost more money than a stupid border, so they feel that they can avoid investment instead of making a lasting impact. This product seems to be plagued by this approach in so many ways.
Think about it this way. Look at the way Immaculate is produced in Basketball and Football. Now look at what Panini is trying to sneak through the infield for a dribbling single. Its no wonder the secondary market value took such an enormous hit last year. Similarly, there is no Harper, no Trout, no Puig, and none of the really big name guys that draw huge value. The only two big autograph subjects in the product are Correa and Bryant, both of which will likely be unavailable come next year thanks to exclusive deals. Bryant may not be sewn up yet, but if I had to guess, its coming soon. We also see that guys like Kershaw and company, who were in the product last year, are not making a return appearance. The diluted checklist is responsible for some really bad box breaks, and thats even if you hit one of the bigger things on the checklist.
Then we come to the points. There are points as replacements for hits in this product, which should be borderline illegal. Because Panini doesnt share the hits that the points are replacing, we cannot verify that they actually replaced any missing signers. It could just as well be a way to stretch the run from 6 boxes per case to 8 boxes per case, without producing any cards to fill those slots taken up by points. Sneaky sneaky sneaky.
Overall, Immaculate is a product that singles can produce some really nice cards. That being said, there are so many gaping holes in play that it makes you wonder how anyone at Panini can feel proud of the set as a whole. Thus, this is the problem with Panini all through their entire brand portfolio. The flash is there in a few areas, but when you put the spotlight on things, it showcases the true shit that lies beneath.