On the Radar: 2017 Panini Certified Cuts

I dont even know what to fucking say about this shit show. This whole product is so bad, I equivocate it to watching someone take your favorite card and purposefully ding all the corners. I have no idea why Panini wanted to make this product, based on similar cards from cards in the early 2000s, as it was a disaster then and its a disaster now.

Here are some of the previous cut sigs instead of sticker cards from Panini’s awful past:

2006 National Treasures Reggie Bush Cut Auto RC

2004 Leaf Certified Cuts Ozzie Smith Auto

2008 National Treasures Roger Staubach Cut Auto

2017 Immaculate Yoan Moncada Black Paper Cut Auto

Think about it. Some idiot is sitting at a conference table and actually has the balls to say out loud that using cut autographs from active players is a good concept to bring back over using stickers again. This is clearly the result of the product pool being extra shallow due to the horrible licensing guarantees that Panini “negotiated” with the league, and we are left to suffer through it at a whopping 150 bucks a box.

Seriously, look at the garbage Panini has brought to fill the gaps in the insane amount of sets they have to produce to hit quotas this year. Trash like XR, which is basically Absolute with more foil, and other stuff pales in comparison to actual winners like Impeccable and other sets they ripped off from former competitors.

Listen people, stickers suck, and I agree all card companies need to work on eliminating them at every turn. That doesnt mean replacing them with signed scraps of acetate or manupatches or black construction paper is the answer. Just work on disguising the use of stickers better, or release fewer sets that depend on them. One could argue licensing demands prevent fewer sets, but obviously this is not a better way of doing business.

Panini’s creative team has a lot to answer for, and this one just takes the goddamned cake. I literally cannot fathom how we got to this point, where a card company is willfully resurrecting concepts that were never successful to begin with. Its the hobby equivalent of trying to make another Howard the Duck movie. Im not kidding either, Panini is dead fucking serious here, and that should scare the shit out of people. They actually put this festering boil of a product on their calendar, and had no qualms whatsoever. I dont know how any company that puts the approved stamp on ideas like this still has a license.

On the Radar: 2017 Panini Prizm Football

For the longest time, Topps Chrome ruled football. In a lot of ways, it still does. When I was at the National Convention, Chrome autos of Derek Carr and Jameis Winston were about the hottest thing to wheel and deal at a table selling football. When Panini introduced Prizm in 2012, it was clear that they wanted a seat at the big boy table. Problem is, they didnt put together a good looking design until 2015, with the previous years delivering some of the worst looking cards I have ever seen in my fucking life. Diet Chrome, as Prizm should be called, has delivered some great looking cards over the last 3 years, and this year looks to be no different. Hopefully Panini will wise the fuck up and get Optic on track, because that garbage is a god damned shit show.

Here is Prizm before Panini bought the upgraded suite of Adobe products:

2014 Prizm Derek Carr Auto Green /50

2013 Prizm Leveon Bell Auto RC BGS 10

Last few years have been really nice:

2016 Prizm Ezekiel Elliott Auto Blue Wave

2015 Prizm Jameis Winston Auto Purple BGS 9.5

Here is what makes a good Topps Chrome style card. Small border, full action style photo, on card auto, nice parallel structure. Prizm has delivered on most of that, save the stickers they cant get past for some dumb reason. This year looks to be pretty nice, with a few new types of cards baked in. That Randy Moss preview is a thing of beauty. Sadly, the stickers are back, despite the fact that Optic still gets on card autos. I mean, look at the bullshit that Optic is putting out there. Posed photos ruin that design, and yet that dumpster fire gets on card? Cmon.

I have ripped a lot of Prizm over the last few years, only because Topps hasnt been around to dominate the Chrome landscape anymore. If they somehow found their way back to make Chrome again, I would abandon ship faster than you can say Tracy Hackler. Prizm is and will always be sitting at the kids table when it comes to its place in the hobby, looking up at Contenders like “damn son, how did you get to sit with Chrome after all those horrible years.” Yet, because we are living in a Panini football world, we have no choice. Im sad and bitter that Panini gets the privilege to produce football cards, and cant seem to remove their head from squarely betwixt their ass cheeks 93% of the time.

Most importantly, Panini is likely experiencing some major PTSD about pushing out this sell sheet after last year’s Prizm debacle with Dak Prescott, and needs a big display to bounce back. So far, I havent gotten the feeling they have learned much from it, but at least its all getting figured out somehow. Considering all of Dak’s cards ended up hard signed, it gave quite the example of what could happen if these cards were treated the way they should be.

At least Prizm is on the up and up. It could be a lot worse, right 2014 Prizm Johnny Manziel – Red Carpet Pose Editon?

On Shelves Now: 2017 Spectra Football

Triple Threads is gone from football, but alas, here is Spectra to ruin that absence with a set that looks worse than Triple Threads could ever dream of. Its literally the cardboard equivalent of Lisa Frank trapper keepers, with a design reminiscent of the way Disney treats stickers for their Princesses. Nothing I have seen has had as bad a track record in any sport as Spectra has had in football. The cringe is strong with this over priced trash, and for some reason a lot of people really like it. Im dumbfounded.

Check out this crap:

2017 Spectra Dalvin Cook Neon Green Auto Patch

2017 Spectra Kareem Hunt Neon Pink Auto Patch /15

2017 Spectra Christian McCaffrey / Curtis Samuel Dual Auto Patch 1/1 – This might be the ugliest looking design of the year so far.

2017 Spectra Mitch Trubisky Auto Patch 1/1

Lets start with the stock. Many of the cards, like last year, are printed on stock that features insanely busy patterns and prints, most of which make my eyes hurt. As cool as Chrome technology can be, this is the worst thing any company can do to it. At least the overall design that was used for the year’s card has improved in 2017, but man this stock is like dangling keys in front of a bored baby. Collectors inexplicably go fucking apeshit over shiny dumpster fires, and this is no exception.

Oh, but it gets better.

I can imagine the pitch meeting. Some dude talks about Spectra like its some new breath of fresh air. But the torture of that look wasnt enough, they decided that most of the cards werent going to be hard signed as they were in 2013. Not only that, they wanted the stickers signed in neon paint pen, which I just dont understand the reason for. Its crazy to me that someone threw that out as an idea, and others agreed it was a good idea. What a fucking joke. Yes, in the end, this is a $300 per box product that is built around stickers and neon paint pens. Im not making this up, as you can clearly see. Just let that shit sink in.

Overall, Spectra is as bad as it gets. To complicate things further, Unparalleled functions in a very similar space for a DRASTICALLY reduced price. Contrived scarcity is employed to “create” further value in unimpressive cards through most of Panini’s calendar, and Spectra is the worst offender. Just because someone signed a shitty looking card in pink and numbered it to 2 doesnt mean its unique.

I hope someday, Panini wises up. As good as Origins is (ripped off of a Topps product, natch), Spectra shows the ugly underside of what Panini’s team is severely lacking in talent.

On the Radar: 2017 Panini Impeccable Football

I do not like most of what Panini puts out. Its shitty looking with a bunch of foil and stupid looking photos like 90% of the time. I loved 2016 Impeccable, so, so much. I might even say its the best set the modern Panini team has ever made. Sleek design, great looking action photos, all the things that Panini rarely does well. To see that it is coming back for another year, I am beyond excited.

Check out these beauties from last year:

2016 Panini Impeccable Dak Prescott Dual Patch Auto

2016 Panini Impeccable Ben Roethlisberger Patch Auto

2016 Panini Impeccable Adrian Peterson Auto 2/2

2016 Panini Impeccable Andrew Luck Numbers Auto /12

Panini rarely takes an approach that is understated yet beautiful. Its what Topps had mastered, and Upper Deck before them. Where Panini had often failed, Impeccable has delivered and then some. I love the black and white focused background, with a drive to deliver cards that remind us of the luxury price that is attached to this product.

For a long, long time, Panini rarely put out anything on card. They used every trick in the book to avoid getting players signed on card, whether it was scraps of signed construction paper, or even manupatches. With Impeccable being hard signed almost 100%, it adds a level of allure to the cards that isnt there for junk like Pantheon or Majestic. Both cost a shit ton of money, both are performing horrendously for a reason. Impeccable is different, even though stickers are still present.

I hope we get more of this stuff for years to come. Its that good looking, on the level I usually expect from everyone but them. Not much has changed since 2016, and that is a very good thing.

On Shelves Now: 2017 Panini Origins Football

When Topps was master of the football game, a cornerstone of the pre-season product line was Inception. Starting in 2012, Topps brought special design concepts to the rookie premiere to have players sign on card with retouched photos of them in their pro uniforms. It had never been done before on such a large scale, and in all reality, was a really creative idea. When Topps was forced out football starting last year, Panini took inception and rebranded it with their own name. Because Origins is basically Inception under the Panini umbrella, obviously im a fan.

Check out the top hits already up:

2017 Origins Christian McCaffrey On Card Auto 1/1

2017 Origins Mitchell Trubisky Patch Auto Booklet /25

2017 Origins Deshaun Watson Patch Auto /99

2017 Origins JuJu Smith-Shuster Glove Logo Auto Booklet /2

2017 Origins Six Way Auto Booklet – Trubisky, Fournette, McCaffrey, Davis, Williams, Mahomes

This year’s set doesnt break from the formula at all, so its clear why the set looks as good as it did last year. Although there are more 00 jersesy than Topps ever had in any year, the concept is still quite solid. I love the on card autographs, and the different ways they incorporate different ink parallels in the identical way Topps did, and the books are super premium pro branded content early in the year. None of this has changed since 2015 Inception, and therefore, its great.

My only complaint is that Panini hasnt taken this to another level, incorporating veteran content or bringing the rookie content a bit more forward. Being that this is a rookie program, there are arguments that Vets have no place – however, thats maybe where Panini can separate this rip off to be something worthwhile on its own. Topps incorporated veteran content through retro photos and flashback themes, and it could DEFINITELY work here too. Again, Panini has not differentiated this brand at all, which isnt a bad thing for people stuck in the past like me, but it doesnt speak all that well of the current landscape.

I bought a bunch of Origins and will continue to buy as long as there is a rookie I collect. I just wish there was a roadmap for this product that has more instructions than Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V from Inception.