Discussing The Aftermath of Panini Black Friday

The next promotion in the long line of shelf clearing gimmicks for Panini is here. Over the last few years, these types of giveaways have existed as a way for them to help distributors move their horrible products that are collecting dust and taking up warehouse space, but it has taken on a collector perception too. Since the beginning, for the shops that can afford to take on extra cases of the designated products, this is a vehicle that does get people in the door. The issue is that not all the shops are happy about making extra commitment on product that doesnt sell.

Here are some of the cards, some of which are pretty nice, some of which are pretty hilarious:

2015 Panini Black Friday Andrew Wiggins Auto – This one is pretty nice.

2015 Panini Black Friday Kris Bryant Auto – This one is one the funniest pictures I have ever seen. The fact that Panini likes this is scary to me.

2015 Panini Black Friday Johnny Manziel Auto – Another nice looking card.

2015 Panini Black Friday Jameis Winston Auto – This, on the other hand is a fucking joke.

2015 Panini Black Friday Marcus Mariota BCA Patch – Just kill it with fire. Great cause, horrible horrible card.

2015 Panini Black Friday Jameis Winston Santa Patch – Worst card in the promotion. What the fuck. Seriously. What. the. Fuck?

I really like the high contrast cards, especially on the baseball side which feature some really nice autographs. Because of the filter applied to the photos, its tough to tell they arent licensed, which is something that Panini has always struggled with. Some of the base cards look nice, while others feature offset logos that make no sense what so ever. Many of the cards feature autograph parallels, including some of the top NFL and MLB guys. The best cards in the whole promotion are the HOF autos, which continue to be hard signed and amazing.

The worst cards, per usual, are the ones that feature the manupatches, which for some fucking stupid reason Panini CONTINUES to trot out. Adding insult to injury are stupid studio posed photos or no autograph at all, and Santa hats, which just make me gag. I cant stand the photo choices and wish Panini would move away from these lame concepts. There is a reason why the secondary market value tanks on these promotions, and its because no one wants the dumb ass cards after the fact. The stuff that holds a bit better is all the normal stuff.

I dont like supporting promotions like this because of the nature of the situation with how shops have to take on additional product. If this was a true shop friendly promotion, they would receive credit for the product they have sitting around. Obviously, that wont help Panini’s partners, because their shelves will still be full of the crap they have to sell. As said before, it does get a lot of people in to buy boxes they normally wouldnt, which is a credit to the concept of the promotion. That’s a piece of this that isnt worth arguing.

My only wish is that the cards stayed closer to normal, instead of going completely off the rails. Ditch the manupatches, ditch the stupid pictures, and I might change my tone. Until then, im fine where I am.

SCU Go Live Report: 2015 Immaculate Football

Let me start off by saying that I consider Immaculate to be Panini’s preeminent super premium product. Although it does have its drawbacks, it offers the content that I believe should be in products that cost significantly more money. The design has been the best that Panini does for any of their sets, and as a result, I believe that it is much more impressive than sets like Flawless or National Treasures. This year looks to be no different.

Here are some of the bigger hits up so far:

2015 Immaculate Dan Marino Dolphin Logo Patch Auto 1/1

2015 Immaculate Todd Gurley Auto Jumbo Patch RC

2015 Immaculate Dez Bryant Auto Patch /99

2015 Immaculate Cameron Wake NFL Shield Auto Patch 1/1

2015 Immaculate Joe Montana Auto Patch /25

Because this is a direct port from Basketball to Football, the designs are basically identical – something that we should all be happy about. The best cards in the product are the jumbo patch autos, which remain some of the best auto patch cards that Panini makes. Being that they have some hard signed cards from non-rookies all over this set, it only makes these cards that much more desirable.

I also like the normal auto patch design as well, although I dont find it as attractive as the jumbos. Obviously, that is a likely situation to happen, so im not too concerned. The design is very similar to 2014, which was nice in its own right, and I think that a continued progression of the way these look should be an indicator that Immaculate will continue to be great.

Other subsets like Immaculate moments and other cards are back too, all of which look as good as last year. I especially like the college connections cards, which feature the player in college and pro uniforms side by side, with a swooping signature area in the middle. Pretty sleek looking, even though I dont really like the use of NCAA cards in a pro product when its not absolutely necessary.

The main drawbacks are pretty much the same as last year. Stickers are littered in among the hard signed cards, which detract from the overall appeal of the programs that have them. Considering there will be 100% on card sets in the future, I think its a fucking horrible idea to not put Immaculate at that level, even if it means pushing it back a few months. It deserves that kind of attention.

I also hate that there are a considerable amount of set that use the MEGA patch theme for the design, which is basically a giant swatch with a thin border around the edges. Although people in the hobby have become accustomed to chasing relics and what is inside the relic cards, rather than good looking cards, its not something I like at all. With a product like Immaculate, it is the perfect time to use a booklet format. I mean, isnt that what booklets are for? They might cost more money to make, but man they will look so much better. At the very least, using patches this size is MORE than adequate.

Lastly, with the NCAA themed Immaculate product coming out later this year, I hate that there are college cards in this set that have no pro branding on them. The dilution of pro products continues to happen, and I feel like it is beyond unnecessary if Panini is choosing to also release a full college product.

When I look forward into the competition free football landscape, Im saddened that there wont be other companies producing high end anymore. However, if Immaculate continues to look as good as it has over the last two years, Ill at least have something to chase.

Breaking Down the Best of Topps Chrome Football’s Last Hurrah

As I mentioned earlier, the release of 2015 Topps Chrome Football is both great and bittersweet. With Panini taking over the NFL exclusive next year, this will likely be Topps’ last edition of Chrome, and that should make everyone really fucking sad. Because of the way Chrome has impacted the hobby, its chase hits are the biggest of the entire card year, including the products that cost 10 times the box cost. Chrome’s release is a hobby holiday, and unfortunately, this year is the last celebration. As one of my favorite sets ever made, Chrome will always have a special place in my heart. Here are some of the top cards from this year’s set.

Rookie Auto Patches

Back in 2011, these became some of the more sought after cards in the whole product. Not only were they rare, but they offered some of the first jersey autographs of Topps’ calendar. Now, that has changed, but there is a wrinkle this year that makes these even better than they were last year. Like 2013, this year’s set is hard signed. In 2013, Chrome was released much later in the season, which made it easier for the cards to get completed. This year, they are the first hard signed relic autos of the year. Not only that but they look awesome.

2015 Topps Chrome Jameis Winston Auto Patch /75

2015 Topps Chrome Todd Gurley Auto Patch /75

2015 Topps Chrome Marcus Mariota Auto Patch /75

1989 Retro Super Rookies Auto

Ever since Topps has inserted retro autographs in their flagship and Chrome products, I have been a fan. I absolutely loved the choice to use 1987 in the first edition of the set, and I like the use of the 1989 Super Rookie design as well. These cards are crazy rare, and very tough to pull, but when you get one, they rarely disappoint.

2015 Topps Chrome Melvin Gordon 1989 Super Rookie Auto /25

2015 Topps Chrome Jameis Winston 1989 Super Rookie Auto /25

2015 Topps Chrome Todd Gurley 1989 Super Rookie Auto /25

Rookie Variation Autographs

Like we saw with the auto patches, the 2011 set also introduced the autographed version of the SP variations that were first available in Flagship. This year they are back and very low numbered at 75 copies per. Most of the photo variations feature some cool changes to the photographs, many of which look awesome with the on card autographs.

2015 Topps Chrome Marcus Mariota Variation Auto /75

2015 Topps Chrome Ameer Abdullah Variation Auto /75

HOF SSP Variations

We have seen photo variations of players in the base set since 2011, but 2015 is the first year where they have used HOF players as another variation. Players like Emmitt Smith and Steve Young populate the checklist, and if you are extra lucky, you might pull one of the autographs of these cards out of 10.

2015 Topps Chrome John Elway SSP Variation

2015 Topps Chrome Bo Jackson SSP Variation

2015 Topps Chrome Roger Staubach Variation Auto /10

Rookie Autographs

One of the main reasons people buy Chrome is because of the rookie autographs. Since 2011, they have been hard signed, and each year, remain some of the most coveted cards of the rookie class. The lower the more valuable the card. My favorite of the bunch are the Black and Red refractors, which always look really good with the borders used by Topps. These cards hold value as much as they do because of how tough they are to pull, so it might be in your best interest to buy a lottery ticket if you pull one.

2015 Topps Chrome Matt Jones Red Refractor Auto /5

2015 Topps Chrome Todd Gurley Black Refractor Auto /25

2015 Topps Chrome Amari Cooper Blue Refractor Auto /50

Again, this year’s Chrome might be last year, but its not going out without a bang. This will be one of those sets that people will miss terribly, and I dont think that Prizm is even close to measuring up. Unfortnate that we wont be given a choice any longer.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2015 Topps Chrome Football

Its here! Its here! One of my favorite days of the year!

Chrome has always been a set that I absolutely love, and being that this is the final year, Im bittersweet about the release. The cards look great as always, and the set is just like everyone expected, but its the last year this set will be done. That sucks. That sucks balls.

Even though this is the last year, I will follow the listings like any other edition, as its clear that Chrome remains a collector favorite. Check out some of the big hits so far:

2015 Topps Chrome Marcus Mariota Pulsar Refractor Auto /15

2015 Topps Chrome Jameis Winston Camo Auto /99

2015 Topps Chrome Todd Gurley Black Refractor Auto /25

2015 Topps Chrome Amari Cooper Auto RC

I love that the autographs are on card, this year with on card patch autographs as well! Considering how long it can take to print cards on Chromium stock, then get them fitted with patches, and sent to/signed by the player, this is insanely impressive. Although there are some stickers in the set, the vast majority of the rookie autos are on card. The low parallels of the autos will continue to sell well as a result.

Because autographs arent necessarily the only draw for this set, the base parallels are also a big part of what Chrome is all about. This year, some of the cards arent numbered in colored refractor form, which is disappointing as it was in previous years, but the design does lend itself quite well to the chrome structure. As with the autos, low parallels will sell well.

I also love the 60th anniversary autos on Chrome stock as much as I did when they were released on regular stock earlier in Flagship. These iconic designs featuring some updated players would have been amazing as hard signed cards, but we will have to wait for mini Chrome for that.

The biggest drawback each year to Chrome is the box break, with many of the top autographs being short printed by a large amount. This year is no exception, with another 60+ signers on the checklist. Thankfully its not the 74 of last year, but its still a lot. When Chrome was 45, things worked much better. Right now, opening a box of Chrome is a losing venture way too often, and that makes me upset. I want nothing more than to rip a case of Chrome and get the A tier auto, but its close to impossible these days.

I think the difference is that there are a few more numbered refractors in each box over 2014, which should help to shoulder the burden of a larger print run than a set like 2012.

On the Radar: 2015 Panini Luxe Football

Im not a basketball collector by any means, so I dont know much about Luxe as a product other than the way it looked. I remember seeing the Framed autos and thinking that taking those from Museum Collection is something worth copying, but outside of that, it looked like another sleek high end product. After seeing that Blowout has steep discounts on Luxe boxes, im curious if the crowded high end market in Football will support ANOTHER product of this type, similar to the rejection it seems to have taken on the NBA side.

Here is what it looked like for Basketball:

2014-15 Luxe Andrew Wiggins Gold Framed Auto /10

2014-15 Luxe Kobe Bryant Die Cut Auto /25

2014-15 Luxe Kevin Durant Jumbo Relic Auto /35

2014-15 Luxe Joel Embiid Jumbo Patch Auto /25

Next year, the football market will not be as crowded, but its definitely possible that the lack of products that feature 100% on card signatures will drive popularity in this. At the same time, Basketball has a significantly more focused high end crowd, and Andrew Wiggins to drive the market, and still looks to have struggled.

Although I like the way the cards look, and fully support 100% on card autographs, im not sure if this is something that I am buying into for 2015. It will be released in February, around the same time when Topps is looking to release their super premium type products, which means it could be vying for the same crowd. The question remains how thin the money in the hobby can be spread before people just start resenting the number of products on the market.

Panini High End Basketball has rarely disappointed in the way cards look, and Luxe FB as a copy of the BKB product does not veer from that precedent. The jumbo patch autos and framed autos looked good for Luxe basketball, and the design plays well, maybe even better for football.

This is basically a one pack version of Museum Collection, right down to the framed autographs, which should entice some of the people who are die hard collectors of that product to open a box or two. This one is a wild card for me, im curious to see what happens.