SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 National Treasures Baseball

There seems to be an internal debate among Baseball collectors, especially in terms of whether or not unlicensed products are a viable collecting option. Although many times the players are easy to identify, the lack of logos can be a complete turn off to some people. Personally, Im all about the way a card looks, logo or no logo, so I was excited to see what NT Baseball was all about.

Here are some of the bigger hits up so far:

2014 National Treasures Jacob DeGrom Logo Patch Auto 1/1

2014 National Treasures Jose Abreu Nicknames Inscription Auto

2014 National Treasures Byron Buxton Silhouette Jumbo Patch Auto

2014 National Treasures Frank Thomas Sweet Spot Auto Booklet

2014 National Treasures Jose Abreu / George Springer Dual Book Relic Auto

Here is where I dont get Panini, as some of the cards look really freaking boss. They are high quality, high end type releases, which would normally suggest the rest of the set is the same. It is far from it. Many of the cards are cheap gimmicks that look horrible, and others are just poorly designed. At 450 dollars a box, you could find 100 products that look better and can deliver similarly cool cards for the money. Hell, I would rather join Dynasty group breaks than take my chances with this stuff.

Panini seems to have a new obsession, one that plays off of their current ungodly fixation with separated areas for signatures. Acetate cuts, which are everywhere in this product, seem more like a cop out for lack of hard signed cards. Panini likely wanted us to think they were some cool new autograph type, but that is far from the truth. They are literally glorified stickers, and unlike said stickers, break the entire design of a card.

Going back to the first part of my dislike, we have a shit ton of cards where the signature area is either too small or completely cordoned off. Panini’s design team fails to see why cards that have fluid designs are much more visually appealing, and I cannot stand it for a minute.

That being said – the jumbo patch autographs that serve as the main hits are great. They are not just great, but easily one of the best Panini baseball designs I have seen in a long time. A wise person once said that there is nothing better than doing something simple in the best possible way, and that's exactly what they did with these.

Overall, this product is not my favorite or even close to acceptable in terms of design. Panini can continue to build fans of people who enjoy patch content over design appeal, but I will never be among that group. Cards need to look better and Panini generally sucks at that. Its really unfortunate, considering the potential this product had.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 Absolute Football

For as long as I can remember, Absolute has been a complete crime scene. Horrible format, horrible content, all around garbage. It has been a laughing stock among the industry circles with some pretty clever nicknames I have heard thrown around. Yet, like many dead Panini brands, it is trotted out each year with fanfare. Sometimes I just feel bad for them. Yes, we have gotten to the point where I pity their stupidity.

Here are some of the bigger hits up so far:

2014 Panini Absolute Odell Beckham Auto Quad Relic /20

2014 Panini Absolute Mike Evans Tools of the Trade Auto Relic

2014 Panini Absolute Teddy Bridgewater Tools of the Trade Auto Relic

2014 Panini Absolute Joe Namath Absolute Ink Auto – only Panini would name a sticker auto set “Absolute Ink.”

2014 Panini Absolute Johnny Manziel Auto Relic

That being said, it doesnt look bad this year, and I am shocked. From a design perspective, I actually like the way this product looks down to many of the worst offenders from previous years. Not only did they get rid of the horrid fucking die cut letters that I cant stand, but they did a great job making the card dynamic. That scares me some, because it almost gives Panini another reason to put another year behind this dumpster fire.

Unlike previous incarnations of Absolute, design isnt the issue with 2014. There are so many glaring issues with format and content that it almost renders the rest of the product moot. At 150 dollars a box, with 2 autos and a bunch of crappy jersey cards, you are asking for trouble. Who might those two autos be? In just about every box I have seen, its a mix of sticker dump checklist bombs like Aaron Dobson, Da'Rick Rogers and Joseph Fauria, or a rookie scrub that will sell for 2 bucks. Since Panini doesnt seem to get that junk relic cards sell worse than junk these days, it sets everyone up to bend over and spread their cheeks.

The other issue is that as many as 2 boxes out of the case will have what looks to be a 150 point card in them. Seriously. You read that right. They are putting point cards in boxes that cost over 100 bucks a box. As someone said on twitter, it takes talent to make people hate points cards more than redemptions. Its even worse when you can also pull 150 point cards in Score. Dont charge me for a sports car and deliver a lemon hatchback. That’s what is happening here. Its despicable and disgusting to see the way the boxes perform.

I usually make my criteria based on design first, but it is just too hard to ignore how bad these cases and boxes are looking. Design almost doesnt matter. Scary shit people. This is the company that is going to be the only game in town. Im going to keep saying that in my posts, because I need that to sink into your brains right now. Good god.

NFL Hobby Awards – 2014 Season Is OVER!

I am so sad right now because the regular season has reached its conclusion and that means its just a few more weeks of football left before the barren wasteland of sports during the summer. This was quite the year in the NFL, and ripples were felt throughout the entire hobby. Here are how I see the awards shaking out in terms of hobby performance this year.

Hobby MVP – Aaron Rodgers

When you think about it, Rodgers is really a perfect storm. One of the leagues best QBs on one of the leagues most widely collected teams. He doesnt sign much, which only means that his cards are that much more valuable. Rodgers had a ridiculous season AGAIN, and that only improves the aura currently surrounding his legacy.

2011 Gold Standard Aaron Rodgers Super Bowl Rings Auto

2005 SP Authentic Aaron Rodgers Auto Rookie Patch /99

2005 Topps Chrome Aaron Rodgers Gold Xfractor Auto PSA 10

Hobby ROY – Odell Beckham Jr

There is no hotter autograph right now than his, and it is a big reason why 2014 wax hasnt completely tanked from its pre-season peak. Beckham didnt play the whole season, but he still managed over 1000 yards, 12 TDs and one of the best touchdown catches I may have ever seen. Hobby ROY is almost more important than the MVP because of how many rookie products there are, and when the big bopper products hit to close out the year, Beckham’s main cards will be huge.

2014 Flawless Odell Beckham Jr. Jumbo Patch Auto

2014 Topps Chrome Odell Beckham Die Cut Auto RC

2014 Strata Odell Beckham Auto Shadowbox

Biggest Disappointment – Johnny Manziel

When the season started, there was no bigger name in cards than Johnny Football. Now that he finished the season in embarrassing fashion, he isnt even the top QB in the class any longer. Its really unfortunate that he didnt start the world on fire, because 2014 wax was so dependent on his good play.

2014 SPX Johnny Manziel Auto Patch Blue with Inscription

2014 Topps Chrome Johnny Manziel Black Refractor Auto BGS 9.5

2014 Flawless Johnny Manziel Auto RC /20

Most Underrated Hobby Player – JJ Watt

Defense gets no love. None. Watt gets more love than just about any other defender, but his autographs are still low for the incredible player that he is. The issue is that he doesnt get the kind of focus and ball touches that the offense does, and he plays for a team that very few people collect. Watt should be a hobby juggernaut, but he is always upstaged by the other side of the ball. Another season with 20 sacks, and also a number of receiving TDs. Absolutely nuts he doesnt sell for more.

2011 Contenders JJ Watt Auto Ticket RC

2014 Flawless JJ Watt Auto

Slow Hobby Death Award – Jay Cutler

Its crazy to believe that the Bears benched their QB in the way they did, just after signing a huge contract in 2013. Although arguments could and should be made for Adrian Peterson to win this award too, but he still maintains a ton of value for some reason. Cutler rarely signed, which made his cards very valuable, but they have tanked lately.

2013 National Treasures Jay Cutler NFL Logo Auto 1/1

2006 Contenders Jay Cutler Rookie Ticket Auto

Rookies to Keep Your Eye On #1 – Teddy Bridgewater

There was no more accurate passer in the NFL during the last few weeks of the season than Bridgewater, who won the most games of any rookie during the season. He played great for a team that had a ton of drama.

2014 Topps Triple Threads Teddy Bridgewater Triple Patch Auto 1/1

2014 Bowman Chrome Teddy Bridgewater Gold Refractor Auto /50

Rookies to Keep Your Eye On #2 – Jeremy Hill

No one saw him coming, and that is hard considering how hard of a runner he is. The guy churns up yards like a beast, and his cards go for very little comparatively. I really like what he brings.

2014 SP Authentic Jeremy Hill Auto Patch RC

2014 Topps Finest Jeremy Hill Jumbo Relic Auto

Rookies to Keep Your Eye On #3 – Mike Evans

Everyone was all over Odell Beckham, but lost in playing for a team that is picking near the top of the draft is Mike Evans who had a MONSTER season. He somehow caught a ton of TDs on a team that had no one to throw him the ball, which only makes the case more.

2014 Topps Platinum Mike Evans Red Refractor Auto /5

2014 Flawless Mike Evans Jumbo Patch Auto Logo

Overall, this has been a year that I think many people would have some issue with in regards to play of the rookie class, but it has been pretty interesting overall. The playoffs are yet to come, but it is really sad that some of the top rookies will be on their couch watching on TV. I guess we will have to see how everything plays out.



Odell Beckham Superfractor Auto 1/1 Hits Ebay!

Is this the single biggest card of 2014? Hard to believe that it might be. In the last few years, the hobby has shifted away from every position that isnt Quarterback, but with a few amazing performances and catches on national TV, Odell Beckham Jr may be the hottest thing the hobby has in 2014. His cards are selling for insane money, and I am happy to see that they are. Its about time.

Well, the Topps Chrome Superfractor Auto 1/1 just hit eBay, and it might be the biggest card of the year.

When it comes to chase cards, there is no equal to the autographed Superfractor from Topps Chrome. It will outperform chase cards from boxes that cost hundreds more per rip, and its aura is unlike any other card.

With reports of the Johnny Manziel Superfractor Auto being pulled recently, and the recent listing of the Teddy Bridgewater Superfractor auto as well, this is one of the few remaining cards left. Now that it has been pulled, im curious to see how the market responds. I can easily see this card getting money normally reserved for cars and mortgages, and that’s no joke. The non-auto version of Beckham's superfractor also sold recently.

The Andrew Luck Superfractor Auto sold for 16k back in 2013, and though this wont come close to that, it will likely get the attention of many different New York Giants collectors with deep pockets. I believe the person who pulled it has posted a comment here on the site before, and I would encourage him to post his reaction again below as well.

One can only hope this sale will add a bit of oomph to the market this year, as cards have taken a nosedive lately. There are always people in the market for chase cards, so this will be a test of how far we have come. The non-auto super sold for just under 2k, but I think this will blow that away.

Congrats to the person who just won the lotto!

SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 Bowman Chrome Football

When I first saw that Bowman Chrome was being brought back, I got VERY excited to see what they were going to come up with. Back in 2009, I thought the set had legs as a sister set for the wildly popular baseball version, before it was axed due to poor performance. After seeing the way 2014 came to be, Im feeling the exact opposite of excitement. This set is looking worse by the day, and there is no other way to put it.

With not much opened, tough to find some of the nicer hits:

2014 Bowman Chrome Johnny Manziel Gold Refractor Auto /50

2014 Bowman Chrome Odell Beckham Auto Blue Refractor

2014 Bowman Chrome Mike Evans Gold Refractor Auto /50

2014 Bowman Chrome Kelvin Benjamin Gold Refractor Auto

The situation is very simple here, and I think Topps did not do a very good job helping us to understand what was going on. I went into Bowman Chrome expecting on card autographs and a refractor structure that was done similar to baseball (red ref /5, gold /10, orange /25 etc etc). What we got was an NFL branded equivalent of 2014 Bowman Football, released prior to the draft. That is just not going to fly with people, even though they got some autographs from lower tier rookies who have had an impact this year.

Dont get me wrong, I like the way the design looks now, just like I did back then. The new "Bubble" refractor parallel type is actually pretty cool. However, the checklist quality is so crazy bad, that you should celebrate a nice pull with a bottle of Cristal. I say that because it might be easier to hit the lottery than pull a nice name out of this stuff. The only good thing is that Chrome only costs 65 bucks a box, so you wont be out a rent payment unless you bust a case.

Its severely annoying and disappointing that the majority of the autographs are stickers. One of the main reasons I was so excited was for the on card autographs, and Topps Chrome undermines the quality here with its volume of nicer on card autos through the product. I opened 3 boxes, and wound up with 4 sticker autos. Although I know Topps tried to add content by putting in extra autographs, it looks more like a dump of inventory than anything.

Like most of Topps’ products, the stuff looks really good. The die cuts are interesting, the colored refractors look great, and when you pull a nice card, its going to be valuable with so few people breaking boxes of it. All of those things I like.

I dont like that there is veritably no differentiation between Bowman and Bowman Chrome, as I expected there would be. I also dont know what is going to happen to the NFL uniform redemptions that were present in the early set, but now overlap because of the cards in this release. Its too bad, because I really though there was a lot of potential here. Yet, because Topps literally has no ability to sit on the metric ton of scrubby stickers from bad players, they need to get rid of them faster than usual. With no Magic this year, Bowman Chrome must be it.