I have been paying more and more attention to Panini products in other sports, just to see the level of sucktitude we are in for come 2016 in football. Even though Panini football products up to this point are so bad that I cant put it into words, I am afraid they will get exponentially worse without competition. 2014 National Treasures Basketball was a product I really wanted to check out, because I had seen the nauseating marketing blitz they put behind it.
Basically, let me break this down for you, just in case you dont follow Basketball cards. National Treasures basketball costs about the same as you get in the other sports, sticker autos and cigar box be damned. However, the dynamic has changed a bit with the releases of Flawless and Immaculate taking its place as the highest end products of the year for Panini.
I think that this year’s set is a sad excuse for 479 dollars a box, despite how Basketball really performs. Yes, you can literally fart into a box, slap a 500 dollar price tag on it, and Basketball collectors will line up to buy it. In fact, im pretty sure that’s happened before. That’s just the way basketball is, its easy to sell high end. This version of Treasures is sadly one step below, with some of the oddest sets I have seen.
First off, there is a printing plate per box, sometimes more than one. Its a bit more than strange that most of the plates are from other products. Aside from the fact that I hate printing plates in any high end product, isnt it a little weird that they are adding this as guaranteed pack content in National Treasures again? Its like putting a TV in a car that faces out the rear window (yes this is a thing). Completely useless, and really just adding for the sake of adding. Im guessing the conversation went something like this:
“Holy shit Joe, these boxes are pretty dry. Should we add more autograph or relic content?”
“Nah, just insert that pile of printing plates at the back of each pack. They love them plates.”
I guess it goes without saying that adding printing plates makes up for your Chris Andersen sticker auto you got in the box.
Then we go onto further box content of AT LEAST one redemption per box. I guess the whole points thing isnt going to transfer over to products where the cards per box actually matter? That was quick. To take it further, I cant believe people are okay with a guaranteed redemption per box. For a box to cost as much as it does, and for most of the autos to be stickers, how is this acceptable? Oh right, no one else can produce NBA cards. Forgot about that.
Then we get onto the chase cards – those logos that everyone is talking about. Have I mentioned that many of them can be numbered as high as FIVE? All those logo cards that Upper Deck used to make a name for themselves are all 1/1, but is it still a chase when 4 other people can pull the same card? Secondly, just how many game used jerseys are they hoarding per player? Good god! Is it cool that more people have a chance to pull one? Sure, but maybe not when it could be Enes Kanter and its not a 1/1?
Speaking of Enes Kanter, these product checklists are just wacky. They are about 80% too deep for a box that you literally have to drop a car payment on, and dont give me this crap about player collectors either. Im not saying to not include them ever on any auto checklist, but you would be pissed too if your box had JJ Redick as your main hit. Sure, some JJ Redick collector is half staff that he gets a card to collect in treasures, but does that make it okay?
When you consider that high end is crap shoot to begin with, I know its not a good idea to study box content in any high end product. However, when you take a look at the other products on this level, ALL OF THEM ARE 100% ON CARD. Exquisite, Five Star, Immaculate, Flawless, etc. No stickers. They definitely dont have a guaranteed redemption per box. The issue is that there is no competition to challenge Panini’s reign, and they dont even have autographs from the two biggest names in the sport.
Sure, this rant is overly harsh in a lot of ways, as there are a lot of nice looking cards in Treasures. I just cant help but be angry that collectors continue to settle. Everyone speaks with their wallet and for whatever reason, Treasures still has buyers. That is pretty sad, especially when you look at some of the breaks. I think I saw someone pull something like 10 Alex Len auto redemptions in 20 cases.
Topps has a lot of the same issues with complacency on the baseball side, which only goes to show how fucking stupid it is to grant exclusives to anyone. No matter how much you like or hate a company, its just blasphemous to say that exclusivity is better than a competitive marketplace. Competition has always bred innovation, or at least some minuscule level of quality in the product. Now, its just a matter how close to a fart in a box a company can get before people start asking for their money back.