Is Dallas On Par to Have the Best Rookie Crop in Modern Hobby History?

Right now, there is nothing hotter than Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. If you need a top 5 for both rookie of the year AND most valuable player, these two will both be in consideration. Sure, during the Luck, Griffin and Wilson year of 2012, there was no chill when it came to the hobby’s reaction to massive success from day one. The difference, all of those players were on different teams. Right now, the Cowboys' crop is lighting up the value board in a similar fashion, with a record setting pace and a 7-1 clip on the season. Panini literally could not have asked for a bigger Christmas present.

Check out Dak’s cards right now, reminiscent of 2012 prices:

2016 Leaf Metal Draft Dak Prescott Auto RC BGS 10

2016 Contenders Draft Dak Prescott Auto RC

2016 Impeccable Dak Prescott Dual Relic Auto /75

Here are Elliott’s by comparison:

2016 Origins Ezekiel Elliott Auto Booklet Jumbo Patch /10

2016 Impeccable Ezekiel Elliott Dual Relic Auto /75

2016 Leaf Trinity Ezekiel Elliott Inscription Auto BGS 9.5

Even though the 2012 class was about as good as it gets for the hobby, all three players really werent playing for teams that had a huge collector base AT THE TIME. Colts, Seahawks and Redskins were definitely collectible teams, but nothing like what Dallas is. There are four main teams that a million people collect, one being Dallas, and the others being New England, Pittsburgh, and Green Bay. To have two players like Elliot and Prescott on such a juggernaut for the hobby hasnt happened for a very long time, if ever. Considering that both are playing out of their mind, and collectors live for future potential according to the play on the field, this is just nuts.

Its clear that even though Dallas is playing in one of the top divisions in football, they should lock up a playoff berth in the next few weeks according to their trends. If Prescott and Elliott remain healthy and out of trouble (Elliott), and go deep into the playoffs, we could see values that would make Roethlisberger look like child’s play. Hell, Elliott is already outselling Adrian Peterson during his 2007 run with history.

Coming into this year, we all thought that this rookie class would be one of the weaker ones in the decade. Very little buzz, two QBs that were drafted out of sheer necessity instead of talent, and not much depth in positions that traditionally have a lot of value. Lots of quantity, not much quality. As it turns out, Wentz and Prescott both have played well, Lynch even got a few snaps, and Goff is about to get the reigns. On the receiver side, there has been a lot of contribution from across the board, with Coleman, Fuller, Thomas and others all playing above their expectations. Elliott has shown that Running Backs arent dead in the hobby, coming from a widely collected college into a widely collected team. His performance would be ROY without a doubt, except the top candidate hands him the ball.

I think that this class would be setting records except for the sheer ineptitude of the Panini product team, as their sets have been so lackluster its not even worth calling their performance “poor.” With wins for Impeccable under their belt, and some good looking stuff on the way, hopefully this year wont end up the way it started. Hopefully Panini will carefully and unceremoniously remove their heads from their hind quarters and actually start to plan out how to bring some value to their products, more so for non-group breakers, and we could see something awesome.

How World Series Game 7 Could Change the Hobby

Last year, Kris Bryant was on of the most coveted rookies we have ever seen. Now that he is a front runner for National League MVP and is playing alongside other Hobby darlings in Kyle Schwarber and Francisco Lindor, there are hundreds of collectors watching with baited breath to see if this is a night that can change their collections forever.

Here are where some of the top cards are right now:

2013 Bowman Chrome Kris Bryant Auto RC

2015 Bowman Chrome Inception'ed Kris Bryant Auto Orange /25

2014 Bowman Chrome Kyle Schwarber Gold Refractor Auto /50

2011 Bowman Chrome Francisco Lindor Blue Refractor Auto

Starting with the Cubs, its no secret that they are on the verge of history, and not just because they are potentially going to win for the first time in 108 years. Its rare that a team comes back from 3-1 in the hole, and even rarer for it to be 3 games in a row that they have to win.

Both Bryant and Schwarber, along with Addison Russell have seen enormous spikes in their cards since the series started, and that’s on top of the already huge postseason boost they have already been enojying. Considering that we really havent seen Trout or Harper in a situation like this yet, its something that everyone who collects baseball cards should be paying attention to.

If Cleveland can pull it off, Lindor has solidified himself as an up and coming superstar, and that is similarly good for business. To think that he is ANOTHER rookie from the ridiculous class that made their debut last year. I just cant even put into words what these players are doing, and it shows in the wax from 2015 shooting into the stratosphere as more people look to cash in.

Personally, this was a rough year for my team in Baseball, but man this has been fun to watch. I know that when we look at the overall hobby landscape, events like this rarely happen. We have seen rookies make a splash in the NFL and NBA, but it has been a once in a lifetime type of thing where so many hobby collected players are poised to win a championship on such a huge stage at once.

I cant wait to see what happens and I hope that we continue to see matchups like this on a more regular basis.

On the Radar: 2016 Topps Transcendent Collection Baseball

There are a number of companies who have tried their hand at luxury level products, ones that are more expensive to break than even Flawless is at the Ultra Premium space. These breaks are usually repack products, but in cases like Eminence and Master Collection, they could be all original content. 2017 Topps Transcendent is a bit more than that, actually about 5 times more than any previous original product, with an MSRP set at about 25k per box.

Here are some of the cards we have seen in Luxury Level sets:

2014-15 Panini Eminence Stephen Curry Auto /5

2013 Upper Deck Tiger Woods Master Collection Auto Booklet /5

2013 Upper Deck Michael Jordan Master Collection Auto /50

The difference is that Topps is adding a TON of super high quality cards, a ridiculous checklist, and of course, a few surprises I gleaned from the sell sheet that I hope are coming. Bottom line, this product is not meant for the average collector, or even the collectors that are already opening packs on the level of what we have seen before. They are looking for 65 interested parties to engage in an offer that hasnt ever hit the market before.

Because the box and case count is so limited, its clear that they arent looking for widespread approval from us sitting here on the ground level. They know the prime target is group breakers who will be able to sell slots to a large group of individuals who can all share the tremendous burden of the product together.

My main objection as a whole, is that this is another in a long line of products SPECIFICALLY aimed at being group break friendly. Im not advocating that group breakers are doing anything wrong, just that its tiresome when all these high end products are rolling off the assembly line without a real strategy for delivering value to the single box breakers who are still out there.

Group breaking has grown the pie somewhat, that isnt really in dispute in any way. The dispute is how healthy it is to continue to cater to that setting, where the company is less and less interested in delivering value on a lower threshold. Transcendent is a bit different, because it is so high profile, that I dont think Topps can go half assed the way I have seen some recent Panini products take aim at high end.

Topps has succeeded in grabbing my attention, and many others, as the price tag alone brings in a flood of reactions. Do I think this product will sell out? Yes. Do I think this product will be sought after? No doubt. Is this a game changer or a defining moment in the hobby? Maybe – and it might not be in a good way either. Trying to attract lifelong baseball fans who have deep pockets isnt a terrible idea, as the hobby needs all of those we can get. Im curious if this just sends the wrong message, and to be honest, Topps might not care.

In terms of the look of the product, this is where I dont really see anything that really makes me go “MUST HAVE MUST HAVE MUST HAVE.” The design is kind of blah for me, and I hate hate hate those posed photographs. I know that Topps is trying to showcase a gilded set, but I wish the look was much more dynamic and less regal/traditional.

I think there is going to be some amazing content that comes out of this set, but for me, I think there are ways to be ultimately creative without slapping a ridiculous price tag on something, or using contrived scarcity to drive demand. Ill reserve judgement for now, but very interested to see how this turns out.

On the Radar: 2016 Panini Limited Football is Back With a Classy Upgrade

Is this a dream? Am I asleep? Is Panini really coming out with a mid range product that looks good and might be worth buying? Holy shit, someone call down to Hell, because its likely they are getting some freezing temperatures down there right now. Prior to it being removed from the calendar last year, Limited suffered in a similar way to how both Absolute and Prestige are suffering. It was outdated, insanely ugly, and the format really didnt make sense. Most of all collectors wrote it off much the same way that they did with the other shitty mid range products that Panini makes.

Limited has had its fair share of horrid looking cards:

2014 Panini Limited Brandin Cooks Jumbo Patch Auto

2013 Panini Limited Geno Smith Jumbo Patch Auto

2011 Panini Limited Cam Newton Phenoms Auto Patch

2012 Panini Limited Sam Bradford Jumbo Patch Auto

This year, things look different, and that is good. The design is better, the autographs are finally on card again, and the product looks pretty classy overall. Im not sure if there is one dude in the office that designed Impeccable and Limited, but if there is a dude or a few dudes, they need to be responsible for EVERYTHING that Panini does for the rest of the year.

All in all, I think Panini has crippled the market with forgettable disturbingly unattractive sets, and its getting to the point were 9 out of 10 respondents to a impromptu poll on Blowout say they are buying 50% less football this year over last year. If you arent going to bring something good looking to the market, and its not innovative either, that’s a major issue. MAJOR.

Limited isnt really all that innovative at all, but at least it looks good. It feels like 2009 era Upper Deck more than anything, and that is a very good thing. You could honestly slap an SP Authentic logo on this stuff and I wouldnt be able to tell the difference. The fact that Panini seems to be stealing from the success playbook is really cool, because they are so absolutely terrible at building from scratch. I hope we get more and more stuff like this, but Im not holding my breath. Two products does not a calendar make.

Panini Does Something Right: Why Impeccable Works So Well

Its rare that Panini can release a set that doesnt literally make me wretch. There are just so many things that drive me up the fucking wall with them, and I wanted to make sure I detail exactly why Impeccable works. It still has A TON of issues, but this was the first product this year that I actually started watching eBay again for singles.

The Use of Action Photos With NO Posed Garbage

As far as I can see, there is ZERO use of the posed photos that plague Panini products like a virus. They chose nothing but action shots and it looks a million times better. What would you rather have? A rookie in action from the Rookie Premiere, or the one that looks like someone told them to stand there awkwardly while they get a few pics? Its not even close. Rookie Premiere action shots might not be real game photos, but its better than those horrid photos of a player gently cradling a football.

2016 Impeccable Dak Prescott Dual Relic Auto /75

2016 Impeccable Ezekiel Elliott Dual Relic Auto /75

2016 Impeccable Carson Wentz Dual Relic Auto /75

No Design With Separated Autograph/Relic AreasĀ 

Panini has an absolutely unhealthy obsession with separating every element to a card’s design and building boxes for autographs especially. The segmentation looks amateurish and awkward, and rarely works as well as just fading out an area for the player to sign. Some products, the big boxes are so bad, it covers a ton of the design. Obviously, this leaves little for the rest of the elements, so everything looks squished together.

These are much better:

2016 Impeccable Aaron Rodgers Auto Relic /5

2016 Impeccable Barry Sanders Auto 2/2

2016 Impeccable Joe Namath Auto /12

No Stupid Set Names

For the record, I think Impeccable is a dumb name for the overall set. Like Flawless, Immaculate, Unparalleled, and others, Panini thinks that presumptively speaking to the set quality with a name that simulates perfection is so, so fucking idiotic. Flawless has flaws. Immaculate is great, but its not perfect. Unparalleled has lots of parallels. Impeccable is quite nice, but I have to say that the name is a detriment. All that being said, it literally has a pretty uneventful subset naming convention, and that is fine by me. For a company that recently named a set "Slant Signatures" because the stickers were at a slant, you see what I mean. Impeccable Seasons, Elegance patch autos, all fine. Action Autographs in Gala football? Yeah, that’s more typical.

Organic Product Design and Format

The ONLY other set I have bought anything of this year is Origins, which by its very definition is Topps Inception with a different name. The only other products that Panini has done in the last few years that I have bought any of are all from their Basketball team. It has literally been YEARS since the Panini football team has created anything worth a damn. Pretty terrifying when you think about it, as the football team was in desperate need for a victory, and this is the first set that qualifies as one for me. It looks different than anything they have done for a while, and definitely makes a good use of the super premium space that this takes up on the calendar.

Mostly On Card Autographs

The fact that Panini still makes super premium products that still use stickers is horrifying. National Treasures has more stickers than any other product in its space. Even Immaculate has stickers. Flawless is the only 100% hard signed product Panini makes, and that is fucking ridiculous. Topps released a few completely hard signed products last year, and High Tek did it at less than 70 bucks a box. Stickers CANNOT be the exception, and Panini makes people pay crazy money for anyone who wants on card autos. Impeccable has a lot of hard signed cards, but the stickers are still a part of this set. Funny thing is, it has taken them until week 6 of the year to get ANYTHING hard signed from the rookies in NFL gear. Sad.

No Crazy Patterned Background Stock Designs

Look at Spectra (BARF), look at Unparalleled (DOUBLE BARF), look at so many other trashy sets that Panini literally ruins with the insane background stock patterns that would make the old Trapper Keeper designers a bit uneasy. This is straight up and simple, which is so much better than anything that can be accomplished with stupid looking lava waves or whatever the fuck that is called.

After Impeccable, we have Prizm, which actually doesnt look 100% terrible, despite the funny looking posed photo cards they previewed today. After that, its a lot of rough waters until Immaculate and Contenders. Panini has literally shit the bed on 2016 so far, but I cant take away much from what they were able to get out of Impeccable. I still find it absolutely depressing that I need to get this excited over a product that both Topps and Upper Deck would be considering as standard for their effort. For Panini, this is the cream, and they should be ashamed that they are in this position. Its no wonder that so many shop owners are down this year.