The Big Game is Here: Hobby Stories to Watch in Super Bowl LI

I love today and I hate today. I love the excitement, I love the pageantry, I love that we finally get to see a new champion crowned. I hate that its the last football of the year, and that until the draft, a barren wasteland of boring sports is to follow until Football gets going again in September.

For once, there are a number of things to watch for, all of which are very crucial to the hobby’s progression over the next few months.

Will Tom Brady Solidify His Legacy as the Greatest of All Time?

I already believe he is the greatest of all time, but with a win today, its not even a question. He will have the most Super Bowls of any QB, he will be the greatest success story ever, and all of that can have a nice cherry on top today. Scary thing is, Brady believes he can play into his 40s, and based on his play this season, I have no reason to disagree with him.

Already seeing some record prices already:

2014 Immaculate Tom Brady Auto Jumbo Patch

2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Rookie Ticket Auto

2015 National Treasures Tom Brady Auto Patch /15

2002 Topps Tom Brady Super Bowl Relic Auto /150

Hobby wise, there is no one that has more impact in football cards than Tom Brady, and I used to say there was no room for his autograph to be more valuable than it already is. Im not sure that is a true statement after tonight. I have wanted a nice rookie auto of his for a long time, but he has never sucked enough for prices to drop low enough. That isnt going to change any time soon.

Can Matt Ryan Get the Hobby Love He Deserves With a Victory?

Right now, he is riding a great season, an MVP award and a bright future into this game, and yet, he isnt “elite” as a person that collectors flock to. The Falcons arent a widely collected team, despite their success, and Ryan has signed quite a bit over the last few years. Much to the benefit of the companies who had Matt Ryan sign a ton since 2008, this year could be the time where he finally gets his chance to shine.

Here is where he sits right now:

2014 Topps Five Star Matt Ryan Auto Inscription

2008 Exquisite Matt Ryan Auto Patch RC /25

I actually think the Falcons have a great shot to win, and considering how Dan Quinn must feel about the last time he played the Pats in a big game, Ryan hopefully wont make the same poor choice to throw Malcom Butler’s way if it comes down to the last play of the game.

Will Julio Jones Live Up to His Season?

If the Falcons are going to win, Julio will need a similar performance to what we saw in the NFC championship game. That will be fine with all the people who waited almost half a decade for him to sign his cards from Panini, as the timing couldnt be better.

Outside of his rookie year, he has signed little to nothing in terms of cards, and that’s a problem for his fans. There just arent a lot of cards to go around, and this might be a feeding frenzy if he brings Atlanta their first championship.

Can the Super Bowl Running Backs Steal the Show?

Right now, if you arent named Elliott or Peterson, you really dont see value in the hobby. Running backs just dont get love anymore, if not only because careers are short, and the workhorse back is dead in the league. This means, for guys like Freeman and Blount, a championship wont do what it did for Marshawn Lynch. Even Le’veon Bell doesnt get the love he deserves, and that’s saying something.

Im curious how the hobby will react if one of the backs has a game like Dion Lewis did during the playoffs. This would be one of the more important games to test the collectability of the position, and I really want to see what happens.

The game is about to start, and if you are like me, this bittersweet event always takes on a hobby focus for me. Good luck to all the Pats and Falcons fans out there tonight, enjoy it, regardless of what happens.

On Shelves Now: 2016 Black Gold Football

This set needs to be split into 2 parts. Hell, if you count the horribly unsuccessful college product, maybe 3. So lets approach this horribly named product in the part that is pretty damn good and the part that should be piled in a large barrel and set ablaze. Considering all the plastic, that blaze would smell pretty terrible, much like most of the design work for that part of this set.

Part 1 – The Hard Signed Content

I am a HUGE fan of this part of Black Gold. The on card autograph designs are really good looking, including the Sizeable Signatures that have been a staple here for a number of years. These cards feature action photos, great design work to highlight a jumbo patch and a signature area, and it works extremely well all around.

Here are some good examples.

2016 Black Gold Peyton Manning Auto /25

2016 Black Gold Andrew Luck Jumbo Patch Auto

2016 Black Gold Dak Prescott Sizeable Signature Auto /225

My favorite cards are the veteran jumbo patch autos, which have a nice checklist along side the good looking cards. Panini even separated out the signature area like they have done in vomit worthy designs in the past, but for this it works. It works because the separated areas are not disruptive and the player photos arent sliced abruptly like Panini loves to do. The results are quite stunning. The whole thing pops.

Part 2 – Everything Else


Phew, now that my stomach is empty, I can submit myself to how terrible this part of the product is. We are talking about the worst of the worst player photos, terrible design work, and shitty themes and concepts that never work well in any of the sets Panini does.

These are just a fucking train wreck:

2016 Black Gold Ezekiel Elliott Metal Auto RC

2016 Black Gold Quad Relic Dak Prescott and Rookie QBs

2016 Black Gold Quad Relic Carson Wentz

2016 Black Gold Paxton Lynch Gold Mine

As we saw with Infinity, which was most likely the front runner for the worst performance of the year, the metal signatures A) looked like shit, B) sold like shit and C) are shit. That didnt stop Panini from using the concept again, despite the fact that these main hits put the previous product into the bargain bin AS SOON as it was off MAPP. Im certain that Panini has no fucking clue how bad these cards are, because if they did, we wouldnt have seen identical versions used in two separate terrible sets.

I cant go without mentioning Panini trotting out the Optic/Donruss rated rookie photos not once, but twice in Black Gold, something that has become a running joke to me more than anything. Only Panini would use the same horrendously hilarious photo FOUR fucking times during a calendar year, and it makes me happy when collectors start to question their intelligence for doing so. WE NEED MOAR DANCE BATTLE JOEY BOSA DAMMIT!

Lastly, the configuration of Black Gold wax is worse than Triple Threads, which takes talent. For 240 fucking dollars you get 2 autos per box, one of which may be points. Yes, you are not reading that wrong, Panini uses points in a product that costs this much. So, that means you could pull two autographs in your box (if you are lucky enough to avoid the points), and one may be a sticker scrub. Fuck you Panini, fuck you in your dumb face.

This product isnt even worth ripping at 150 bucks let alone almost 100 dollars more, and its why so few hits have made it onto eBay yet. Everyone is going through group breakers to shoulder the ridiculous burden of expense for this stuff, and its sad that Panini has built their product this way. Its one to spend for technology used in this product, its another to deliver absolute shit at a huge price. Not only absolute shit at a huge price, but horribly overproduced shit.

Panini should be ashamed of themselves, bottom line.

On Shelves Now: 2017 Topps Series 1 Baseball

2017 Topps Series 1

Well folks, the season begins with the release of Topps Series 1, and for the most part people live this day like its a national holiday. With baseball collectors continuing to be a set focused community more than Basketball or Football, this is really one of the only major flagship programs still in existance, something that is more a sign of the times than anything these days.

The first singles are just starting to get listed after an early hobby release and retail availability in some areas. I dont like the design as much as I did last year, but some of the cards look really, really good.

2017 Topps Series 1 Ricky Henderson 1987 On card Auto

2017 Topps Series 1 Jason Heyward World Series Auto Relic

2017 Topps Series 1 Kris Bryant World Series Relic

2017 Topps Series 1 Kenta Maeda Auto Relic /10

2017 Topps Series 1 Joe Mauer ST Manu-Relic /50

Most of what makes up the Topps flaghsip series sets illicit a response from me that is actually quite negative. I cant seem to wrap my head around why a set like this remains as popular as it is, despite most boxes being focused on delivering copious amounts of base cards. With how much the hobby has shrunk and how few people still collect sets versus collecting autographs and more premium content, this set still has a place in the hobby I dont identify with. That doesnt mean it isnt a necessary release and one that always moves the needle, but Im curious what the long term prospect of releasing a true flagship product remains in place.

This hobby has moved in a markedly different direction during the last 10-15 years as the previous 20 before that, and it mostly has to do with premium content taking center stage. So much so that Topps Series 1 has a lot of that content within the product, including some great on card sets and low numbered cards that always bring a pretty penny. Yet, as we see, the buzz generated by this product is rarely built around that type of card, and more about the base set and the way quirky collectors have to have just this type of way.

Honestly, it might just be the presence of collectors on twitter who’s hobby presence is built on their history combing through bins and binders full of cards filling holes in want lists. With the way things have changed, Im not as sure the lack of that type of experience is something they are okay with losing. As long as the flagship collectors continue to be dominant in baseball, this is the set that everyone will always gravitate towards.

As for the content, the designs this year range from the normal insert type designs to a really cool tribute to the wood grain 1987 set. As a young kid, I had a ton of those cards, especially because the Twins won the world series. Its awesome to see them with updated players and some cool chrome autographs as well.

Other than that, this still isnt my thing. Baseball and low end really were never my bag, and this is the prime time for those products. Hopefully this marks the start of a great year, and not just more of the same. I think we saw some crazy things happen in 2016, and Topps really needs to build. Going to be interesting to see if they can pull it off.

Tom Brady Changed The Way Companies Build Products

There have been many titans of the gridiron, and many players that consistently get a ton of attention from collectors. Not surprisingly, Tom Brady is the one player that remains atop the mountain of collecting for football cards. I would even go so far as saying that his career changed more about the hobby than anyone could have ever thought possible.

The latest Super Bowl run has seen some bump in his already sky high value:

2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Championship Ticket Auto

2008 Bowman Sterling Tom Brady / Joe Montana Dual Auto Gold Refractor /20

2015 National Treasures Tom Brady Auto Relic /10

2014 Immaculate Tom Brady Pro Bowl Auto

Lets start at the beginning, because that’s where this story gets super interesting. As a no-name scrub, he was not invited to the Rookie Premiere, which was still a relatively new event back in his rookie year. With only a handful of players attending, if we could even call it a premiere back then, it wasnt the same as it is today. For the 2016 Rookie Premiere, 40 players were invited, and Tom Brady is one of the reasons that happened.

Card companies started to realize how important having rookie cards of every player was to collectors, especially when so many guys become superstars from the late rounds of the NFL draft. Other players like Tony Romo werent even drafted, and went on to have a borderline HOF career. Nothing like Tom Brady though, Tom Brady set the standard, and it changed everything forever.

Each year, there is a player like Alfred Morris in 2012 or even Dak Prescott in 2016, whose collectability doesnt take off until they get on the field. Considering that by August and September, many products are already on shelves, its too late to adjust for the unexpected. By then, collectors are already starving, and companies know that having cards in products is much more beneficial by that point. Its also cheap as shit to include scrub autos in products in the first place, which helps to diversify the content. Without players like Brady, that might not have been as prevalent.

I might be reaching here a bit, as product cost was destined to go up as companies became more and more dependent on the autograph content itself. However, its no accident that every drafted QB gets an invite to the premiere these days. They cant risk having a player like Dak Prescott not have a bevy of content available. QBs are the crown jewel, and Brady has shown over and over again, that a lack of content paired with a great career is something that spikes value through the roof. The companies arent stupid, and with how common autograph content is, they know that diluting the autograph pool isnt as detrimental as it used to be.

If Brady does pull off his 5th Super Bowl win, he will have more titles than 60% of the NFL franchises combined. He has played in more conference championships than anyone in history, and isnt showing signs of dropping off. This might not even be his last hurrah. He is the greatest QB of all time, and there will be no doubting that even if the Falcons end up winning. Collectors agree, as his cards cannot be had for anything less than hundreds of dollars.

2016 Black Gold: Technology Gone Right and So Very Wrong

This is now the third year of the unfortunately named Black Gold football. The title of the set doesnt really make sense, and when you look at the examples of what this product represents, the stupid name really kind of fits. This is really Panini’s main “technology” set, which means that they break out acetate, shadowboxes, and all sorts of weird shit as gimmicks. The problem is some of the set is pure gold, other parts of it are black fucking garbage.

The cards really dont do very well on the secondary market, mainly because its such a crap shoot, and with a horrible NCAA version diluting the market, its not much better:

2015 Black Gold Marcus Mariota Laundry Tag Auto /5

2015 Black Gold Tom Brady Auto Relic /10 

2014 Black Gold Derek Carr Sizeable Signatures Auto Patch

2015 Black Gold Andrew Luck Auto /25

2014 Black Gold Odell Beckham Jr Sticker Auto Relic – What a terrible design, good god.

As we have seen with previous editions, Black Gold focuses on delivering a combination of on card autographs with a lot of acetate type stock, and in many cases it works. In other cases, the cards are so fucking horrendous, that you just have to laugh. I mean, Dance Battle Joey Bosa gets two cards! How about that, cant even find a new stupid picture to use on either one of the new stupid designs.

That being said, the Sizeable series for RCs and Vets are amazing looking as are most of the auto relics that are part of this product. Much like 2014 and 2015, if its hard signed in this set, its going to look good, where most of the other stuff might as well be laughed out of the building. That includes the hilariously designed Metallic Marks, which are identical copies of 2016 Infinity, currently sitting below dealer cost on Blowout.

Only Panini would try to pull something like that in a Super Premium Set like this, and at this point its so much fun to make fun of them, I almost dont want it to stop. So far, in the three years of this product, plus the inexplicable releases of a college version, I have yet to see anything about this product that shows me its worth opening. I can buy 2014 and 2015 well below cost, and college Black Gold at lower than that. I literally have no idea how Panini could spend so much money building out this product year after year and still want to continue after it has tanked so heavily each time.

I knew they had no clue about what makes a card look good, but this just isnt good business sense to boot. Even if it sells out at the factory, its only because some dealer bought out a huge amount at a greatly reduced cost, and I would be SHOCKED if that continues with a rookie class next year that wont have Dak and Zeke. If Im a shop, im scared about what is going to happen, because this product looks to be one of the most over-produced super premium sets of the year. When you see the track record Panini has, that’s saying something.

Do some of the cards look good? Yeah, they do. Is this product even close to the potential it would have if they didnt shit out visual diarrhea for most of the designs? Nope, and that’s Panini in a nutshell.