Panini wants to make Flawless into their version of brand immortality, similar to what Exquisite has become. Much to their chagrin, I would say that they are much further away from that than they expected, and they might not be alone in the NBA market if rumblings turn out to be true coming up. I have never been all that impressed with what Flawless brings to the table, other than a better checklist of players, and that hasnt really changed. All the cards available in the set are nothing that hasnt been done before, and I dont think that its fair to expect consumers to foot the bill when that is the case.
Here are some of the hits up so far:
Although the checklist does offer better shots at Kobe and Steph Curry, the lack of Jordan and Lebron remains a detractor, above and beyond lack of insanely unique cards. I just dont see how this set in delivery is any different than Immaculate or National Treasures, and box break format isnt going to convince me its worth dropping a rent payment on a few cards. At least they have brought logos to the product, but Immaculate and Treasures have had them for years. I dont see multi signature or logo cards that measure up to the ridiculous price tag, and I have to believe that if collectors had other options in the ultra-premium space, they would see how little effort Panini puts into Flawless.
That’s the whole thing here – there are no other options, and collectors are forced to deal with what they have, so Flawless has buyers. It helps that Basketball is a highly premium sport, and Panini is definitely taking advantage. The question is what might happen if there were other sets? Ones that capitalize on the lack of unique content that Flawless has swung and missed on? Now we are talking!
As we saw with Flawless football last year, Panini expects us to look the other way when costly content is removed but the price still goes up. Big reason why Football doesnt look to have gotten much traffic from anywhere outside of group breaks. Box price alone cannot dictate secondary market value. You need special content.
I really do like some of the designs, but that shouldnt be the exception on this stuff. So much of the rest of the product is under designed and over foiled. Just look at the dual patch cards, absolutely boring and hideous. If collectors are forced to endure this configuration, at least do more design than a bunch of foil on a stark white background.
Basketball collectors and Panini apologists might disagree with my assessment, but you and I both know that if Upper Deck or Topps ever came back and really created some content in this space that was worth consideration, you know it would make this look like low effort garbage with gimmicky gems in the cards.