On Shelves Now: 2016 Panini Optic Football Go-Live Report

Some collectors have been going through a commonly discussed exercise lately, and its one I find absolutely depressing. On a few hobby message boards, I have seen people asking which of the Panini products will eventually unseat Topps Chrome as THE product to buy. Every year, the Chrome Superfractor Autograph was the most valuable rookie card for the top name. Just like clockwork, every year, Panini trotted out their diet version to try to wear big boy pants and sit at the adult table. It never worked. Now that they have bought their way to killing Chrome for good, it leaves Prizm to fill the gap, and results have been good but not great. Optic is hitting early, as a secondary offering, and its not looking good at all.

Check out the horrible photos on these cards. Just horrendous:

2016 Panini Optic Jared Goff Rated Rookie Auto

2016 Panini Optic Ezekiel Elliott Rated Rookie RC

2016 Panini Optic Joey "Dancin' Machine" Bosa Auto Rated Rookie

2016 Panini Optic Josh Doctson Blue Rated Rookie Auto /75

First off, Panini made some TERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRIBLE choices with the set configurations, as is their nature. For some idiotic reason, they chose to make the Rated Rookie set from Donruss as the flagship autograph for the set. As we know, this is the set that might feature the most hilariously fucking awful photos of the year, and that’s putting it lightly. Similarly, it remains a huge question as to why they chose a new product like Optic to house the on card autographs instead of Prizm, which has a more likely chance to be the Diet Chrome replacement. At least get rid of the goofy fucking pictures of Joey Bosa mid dance battle, and Carson Wentz after a very satisfying fart. That’s how bad those cards look.

If Prizm were to offer some sort of on card rookie autograph, with the simple design it has featured in 2015 and 2016, I think Panini might actually be on the right track. Knowing them, they will do such a thing in 2017, but A) the rookie class will be shit and B) they will fuck up the design or the photos like always. With Chrome, we got our cake and we got to eat it too, and prices reflected the consistently great looking on card autograph cards. With Panini its rarely a total win. They always have to fuck it up some god forsaken way. Optic may have had potential, but all that was trashed with these disgusting Rated Rookie cards of Dak Prescott looking longingly into the distance like the cover of a Christian Rock album.

At some point, I want Panini to remove their head from between their cheeks, and recognize that their products that focus on these photos are dying on the vine. I dont think Optic will be even close to what Prizm is selling for, and Contenders is going to be the product that makes Optic a forgettable part of the calendar. Its unfortunate that the product team at Panini has no clue how to build a good set, as I feel that the retro feel of some of the designs are actually pretty interesting.

I have a feeling when we look back on 2016, we are going to be really disappointed with the way Panini has fumbled their first year of the exclusive. They FINALLY had the house to themselves, and instead of throwing a raving party that everyone had a blast at, they literally just stayed home in their sweatpants and jerked off to the thought of their time when people actually gave a fuck about what they did in the industry.

A Hobby Festivus Airing of Grievances: 2016 Edition

frank-costanza-1In the immortal words of Frank Costanza, I got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re going to hear about it. 2016 has had its hobby ups and downs but Festivus isnt about anything more than removing distracting tinsel, high strength to weight ratios, and my favorite part – airing of grievances. Its a time where you gather the family around and tell them all the ways they have disappointed you during the previous year.

Panini NFL exclusive is a huge disappointment

Holy shit, Panini got fucking lucky that the Dallas Cowboys rookie class can cure cancer, heal the sick and clothe the poor. Without Zeke and Dak, this year would be as bad as everyone thought it would be, with Goff sitting until Fisher’s ineptitude forced his hand, and Wentz starting hot but cooling off considerably. Panini’s new product lines are so fucking terrible that I dont even have any more adjectives that can describe the hobby equivalent of a cat coughing up a hairball it just licked from its ass. Product after product was terrible, save a handful of surprises. Coming soon we have the part of the calendar when everything costs 800 dollars a box, so it can only get better! Its clear the NFL made the move because Panini offered a laughable amount of minimum guarantees that no company would ever turn down. I cant wait to see what happens next year when the class looks to be worse than 2013.

Panini’s photo choices are a huge disappointment

I can only believe that Panini’s design team has never really collected cards, because there is no other logical explanation for why Panini continually chooses photos for their cards that feature players posing like they are nude in front of a mirror. You would expect that they would use the opportunity at the rookie premiere to get the top guys in uniform out on the field and running around, but leave it to Panini to actually build a structure on the field where they can do their vogue glamour shots out of the sun. To Panini, nothing looks better than a player acting like they are smashing a football in their bare hands, and for the rest of us, its nothing but a fucking joke.

Building products for group breaker formats is a huge disappointment

Im not saying that products provided any insane amount of value before, which is kind of how the group break phenomenon started. That doesnt give the card companies a pass from creating high quality products that wont be sold as slots. Its rare that a box will consistently deliver an ROI that gives a person any shot of making back 10% of their money, and its even less so with super premium releases. Topps took the opportunity this year to build the hobby’s first 25k per box product, and the top market for those boxes? Group breakers. Panini’s football release this week is so group break specific that the rest of the population is literally risking a 180 dollar loss every time they rip a box at a time. This is becoming a terrible trend, and its not going to do much to grow the hobby. The industry is not sustainable as it is, but catering to a group of collectors that literally are unwilling to invest in product without going halfsies kind of defeats the purpose of growing the business.

Panini Replay Basketball is a huge disappointment

I dont collect basketball, but I literally cant look away from this car accident in progress. Multiple casualties, and its been a long time since I have seen a card company release a product that was so bad, they needed to release a second product to give to the people who opened the first one. There have been production mistakes that have caused giveaway programs to be needed across every company, but this was a legitimate product offering that Panini tried to slip through the five hole. There was such a huge public outcry over the disgusting results people were seeing, that they are going to release a second round of Prizm that will be distributed in an effort to smooth over this train wreck. Its hilarious how terrible they are for the image of the industry, and this is a company that owns more licenses than any of the big three. Not a good state of affairs. Someone needs to pin their shoulders to the floor so we can end this holiday.

The lack of creativity in new products is a huge disappointment

Every week, new products come out. Every week, its the same goddamn shit over and over again. Mike Trout had like 5000 autographs this year, and very few of them showed that creative spark that would necessitate a whole product being built. Dak Prescott will have over 15000 autographs during the course of his rookie year, and every single one of them is a variation on a theme. Even worse, stickers still remain the favored way of delivering autograph content, although the shift to on card is more pronounced with Topps and its products. The issue is that I dont understand how the industry will create more interest in cards if every product that is released is just some version of another product already released. There are only so many cards that can be stomached before someone realizes this Tom Brady auto is just like every other Tom Brady auto, and decides its better to just walk away from the hobby. No wonder things have shrunk so significantly over the last 10-15 years. We’re all bored out of our collective fucking minds.

The slow crawl of product development in digital is a huge disappointment

Somewhere in upwards of 5 companies produce some sort of digital based trading cards. Since 2013, not much has really been created, despite some major advancements in technology. Panini digital is such a sorry state of affairs that they cant even figure out how to make their apps worth playing in the smallest possible way. Topps has taken a golden goose and made it so uninteresting that people are starting to leave digital all together. Product functionality in the apps hasnt changed since 2014, and even with a new build, the once promising medium seems like it needs a major facelift to remain a long term profitable venture for any of the companies involved.

The amount of scams that still remain in the hobby is a huge disappointment

I cant believe that some of this shit still exists with how many people have google searches at their disposal. Fake patches, counterfeit autographs and all sorts of other ways to take advantage of people still are a big money maker for scammers on the internet. Even more concerning is that people still place huge value in high grade cards, which is a giant scam in its own right. Its only getting worse, especially as more people find out how easy it is to take money off the ignorant people who refuse to educate themselves. The 2007 rookie premiere autographs from Topps still sell regularly on eBay, despite the first three pages on google being stacked with content telling people to stay away.

The amount of products that still consider single color relics a hit is a huge disappointment

I cannot believe that Panini can sell a box for as much as they do, when 3 of the hits are single color relics that no one gives a shit about. How is that still worth advertising on the side of the box? How does Panini get away with text that says “4 hits including at least 1 autograph!” Its misleading as shit, as its clear that these junk cards are barely worth the cardboard they are printed on these days.

The fact that Panini Rewards still exists is a huge disappointment

I dont care what the card replaces, its worse than a redemption. Collectors literally cringe at pulling points cards, and I have literally seen people throw them across the shop in anger. I have seen boxes of 500 dollar packs have points in them, and Panini should be ashamed of themselves. Its a complete fucking slap in the face that these are added to premium products, and that’s just the beginning. It doesnt matter that they still inexplicably charge for shipping, and have so few cards that are actually worth using the points on. I havent even begun to explore the false expansion of a print run due to points, something that still concerns me as it did when this was first announced. Bottom line, I could pull a 10000 point card, but if Im not sitting there hitting refresh when they load new cards into the system, im stuck with a choice from 100 different Devin Smith autos.

As we all know with Festivus, there has to be a better way!

SCU Go Live Report: 2016 Preferred Football

NOTE: Please read the following post knowing that Preferred costs almost 200 a box.

Well, Preferred is out, and we finally get to see the garbage that Panini felt necessary to add along side the silhouettes in these boxes. Because the only card anyone wants is the silhouette, in the past, they felt it gave them a pass to include nothing but visual diarrhea in the rest of the product. Its been so bad in some years that I have seen shelves filled with Crown Royale boxes from other years, and that was when this set was significantly cheaper per box.

Here are the hits up so far:

2016 Preferred Dak Prescott Silhouette Auto /199

2016 Preferred Dak Prescott Great X-pectations Auto /10

2016 Preferred Ezekiel Elliott Panini's Choice Auto 10/10

2016 Preferred Boomer Esiason Silhouette Auto Patch /10

This means for the grand scheme of things, Panini has increased the price of the box, but Im not seeing much else they added to justify such a huge hike. Not to mention, when you study the checklist, its easy to see that someone could buy one of these boxes and walk away with less than ever. Since the only thing people are chasing are the box hits, one would expect the normal rookie crop, plus some nice veteran names that add significant value to the case hit. Instead we get Jaelen Strong, Byron Jones, Mike Davis, Dorial Green-Beckham, Nelson Agholor, Jeremy Langford, and others that literally have no business being throw ins in a product like this. At 80 bucks a box, where this will likely end up? Sure, toss them in.

I get that these players have leftovers that need to be used to recoup some of the comical losses that card companies knowingly set themselves up for at every rookie premiere (not just Panini either), but that is what trashy retail products like Rookies and Stars is for. Not Preferred. Last time I checked 3 plain jersey swatches a Silhouette of a scrub and 3 sticker autos is not preferred at all. Its the complete opposite. That’s what most of these boxes will turn out to be.

Oh lets not forget points. Everyone’s favorite autograph replacement is making its way into another super premium product, and I still cant understand what makes Panini think these cards are acceptable. Even if they replace one of the scrub autos that was mentioning above, it feels like you are being shorted. It feels like shit. Not surprisingly, if you get 250 points, the value of the card is like 5-10 bucks. When it costs 5 bucks to ship any reward, that sucks up quite a bit of the value of the card, no? But fuck it, lets put it in this product that costs double what it should!

Lastly, I want to spend some time on Stare Masters. Yes, some time in the last 6-12 months, someone on the Panini team thought it would be a fun exercise to bring back this subset, that was first used during the mid 1990s in donruss products. For some reason, this time in card history has been of much inspiration to Panini in the last few years, because they know nostalgia is a powerful drug when you literally have no ability to create nice things on your own. What they dont get, is that the set was fucking lame back then, and makes even less sense now.

Bottom line, Contenders is on the way. You know that all the Panini robots and group breakers will tear off body parts to open as many boxes as possible. Its going to be insane, and there is ABSOLUTELY no reason to open this junk. Dont. Lock your credit cards away with a timer until then, and put your fingers in your ears until you can open those packs. Nothing will be worth your time to open before that, and its essential that you dont fall for the bullshit that Panini’s adverblog will crap out daily. There is not a Dak every five boxes. There are not Zeke Elliott autos flowing like rivers as shown in their breaks. You will end up with a single color Mike Davis silhouette, and you will wish you had saved your 190 bucks to spend on a product actually worth a damn. Trust me. Save yourself the heartbreak.

Is Prizm Football Still the Best 2016 Rookie Set to Buy?

I have had a long and very difficult history with Prizm. Starting in 2012, it was one of the ugliest sets of the year, and it only got worse in 2013 and 2014. In fact, the 2014 set might be the worst looking rookie autograph set I have seen in the last 10 years, and that’s saying something considering the shit Panini has come out with as of late.

Here are the ugliest cards Prizm has to offer:

2012 Prizm Andrew Luck RC Auto BGS 9

2013 Prizm Leveon Bell Auto RC BGS 10

2013 Prizm Derek Carr RC Auto BGS 9.5

Something clicked, because in 2015 and in 2016, the set actually became a good looking product. Although it trailed Topps Chrome by a mile, it was no longer the fucking joke it was in the previous few years. That doesnt mean all is well, as the product still features sticker autographs, and a lot of ugly subsets. This is one of the main reasons it hasnt reached the level it should have reached now that Chrome is gone, and its really unfortunate in a year like this.

Here are the much improved designs:

2015 Prizm Marcus Mariota Gold Refractor Auto RC /10

2016 Prizm Paxton Lynch Auto RC /5

2016 Prizm Ezekiel Elliott Camo RC /25

2016 Prizm Jared Goff Gold Auto RC /10

Because of the strong rookie class, we are seeing 2012 level prices for the Cowboys' rookies, a very welcome situation for a lot of reasons. The issue is that its clear that these prices would be BLOWN out of the fucking water by much of what Topps would have produced this year, and its a sad reminder of how Panini still has yet to get their shit together on the most important sets of the year.

Its clear that they just dont know how to build a good product like Chrome was, as Panini inexplicably reduced the configuration options from Hobby and Jumbo to just Jumbo, which makes no sense at all for a set designed to cater to the mid range of spenders. Even though the product’s boxes are still selling above MSRP, imagine what would have happened without Dak and Zeke. Fucking disaster, that’s what. Lets not forget that there are still points in packs for this product. Yes, Panini is still trying to make “fetch” happen with the points shit.

I still think that of any product right now, Prizm is still the one that is worth buying – especially compared to trash like Infinity, Unparalleled, Gala and basically any other new set Panini has put out this year. I would say that Impeccable is much more of a great looking product, but it is not rookie focused as much as Prizm is.

As the year closes out, and we start to approach Treasures and Flawless, I have a feeling that there is going to be a larger focus on Prizm as a premium but not super premium set. Panini tends to flood the market with high end as the calendar comes to a close, and that will only make this set that much more attractive.

If the Cowboys run deep in the playoffs, this could be a banner year for cards, and I sincerely hope that Panini can make the most of what is going on. History is not kind in that respect, so Im not holding my breath. It all depends on the back end of 2016, and there are a lot of opportunities to knock it out of the park. Lets hope they remove their heads from their ass, and actually showcase better planning than what we got from Prizm.

Star Wars Autographs – Big Names Bringing Big Bucks

There may be no more rabid fan base than Star Wars out there, and trading cards have been a part of the collector focus since 1977 when the first Topps set was released. Now that Topps is focusing more energy on using Star Wars as a marquee licensing vehicle, its clear they are starting to get a lot of eyes from the giant numbers that are being paid for autographs of the big name guys.

Check these out:

2016 Topps Star Wars Chrome Daisy Ridley Auto XFractor

2016 Topps Rogue One Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso) Auto

2016 Topps Star Wars High Tek Adam Driver (Kylo Ren) Auto Red /5

2016 Topps Star Wars Force Awakens Harrison Ford Auto 10/10

This has not been more evident than the inclusion of John Boyega and Daisy Ridley in Transcendent Collection, which was a bit of an odd choice considering that it was a Baseball product. Obviously, both autographs are quite valuable with their roles in the new Star Wars trilogy, but these wont be SW themed cards.

With the release of the new movie today, Rogue One products are getting more attention with the film getting such good reviews. Felicity Jones is a signer for the product, and her redemptions are going for quite ridiculous numbers. Other top actors from the film are also getting similar attention, although male characters not named Ford rarely get the attention we see for the female counterparts. Insert joke here, because this is pretty expected.

Adding Adam Driver to the list of subject has been pretty cool as well, with Kylo Ren getting first action in new products released this month. Like Females, Villains get to be fan favorites as much as anyone, especially when they wield a lightsaber.

High Tek was a surprisingly awesome product last year with so many on card autographs being an exception to the rule for non-sport products. This year’s set is that much more impressive with newer characters from Force Awakens added to the mix. I think Tek works better for this type of setting than it does in the sports they have released prior. It just fits.

As we continue down this path, Im curious to see what more can be generated to keep interest high as new Star Wars movies are churned out almost yearly. I think there is a lot of room for hard signed super premium products, something that hasnt been as much of a focus in the past few years.

Star Wars has potential to be big business if done right, and the continued integration with Digital is a huge plus for these cards. Im more than surprised that Topps hasnt dove in more headfirst with the positive reaction seen across the hobby. I want more products, as for the first time in my life, im considering large scale purchases of non-sport cards.