2010 Panini Threads Is Live, Completely Stale

This year’s version of Panini Threads might as well be last year’s version, that’s how identical these sets are. They have the same looking rookie cards, a very similar base cards, and the main box hit lettermen autos have barely even changed one single bit. If I was a collector of stuff like this, having a continued rehash of sets like this would be EXTREMELY frustrating to me. Yet, as we do with seemingly every Panini set, the cards have not changed to a point where they are distinguishable from the previous year’s set. Its really unfortunate, especially when you consider that the lead dog in the card design and visual appeal world has bowed out of the licensed game rather ungracefully.

As with many of the Panini sets, there are highlights of cards that the design fits well with, but they are so low numbered that its going to be tough to see them as a factor in overcoming the failures. Due to the way these cards are always designed by the horrid design team over there, those successes will be greatly overshadowed by the parallels that look like someone forgot to affix the sticker. I mean, honestly, are we really supposed to be happy when cards like these are pulled out of our $100 box as one of the few hits? Give me a fucking break.

I don’t care how awesome Beckett thinks the horizontal card orientation is, the bottom line is that they are trying to draw your attention away from the train wreck hidden below. People continue to buy this product because they like spelling out weird shit with the letters, not because Panini decided that they were going to station the cards horizontally instead of the tried and true vertical. Eventually, manu-letters will lose their appeal (not sure why they havent already), and Panini will still churn out this set each year like its their brand new baby. Hopefully sometime in the future someone on their team will stop sleeping through deadlines and actually spend some time revamping each product to make it fresh again.

The first of the cards are showing up on eBay, and I guess its only a matter of time before we get a more in depth look at what Threads has (re)brought to the the table. Ill update this as more cards and big hits get posted.

Dez Bryant Rookie Collection Auto Jersey /25 – Compare with 2009’s Percy Harvin Auto Jersey

Joe Flacco Auto Jersey /10

Louis Murphy Auto Jersey /15

Dexter McCluster Letter Auto

Ndamukong Suh Letter Auto

Tim Tebow Rookie Jersey /299 – Ridiculous price for a jersey card!

Ryan Mathews Letter Auto /280

Tim Tebow Letter Auto /250

When it Comes to Rookies & Stars, Save Your Money

The upcoming Panini release calendar is packed with products. Threads, Absolute, Certified, Limited, they are all on the way, and are all sets that are not new additions to the slate. Panini uses this part of the calendar to bank on previous years’ success, mostly with a tried and true formula of a mid range price point and 3-4 hits per box. Rookies & Stars is beginning of the products I have dubbed the “Panini Blur,” as each of the products is so similar in the concept, that they actually are indistinguishable for lack of a better explanation. I stopped by Sports Cards Plus in San Antonio today to get a look at the latest batch of Panini splatter paint, and despite a nice pull from a customer there, the results were far from impressive.

Aside from the normal Panini cookie cutter of stickers, foilboard, parallels and busy designs, Rookies and Stars brings absolutely nothing of worth to the table. Its a product that rarely holds its value, the concept and content of the set hardly looks like it was designed by a professional, and it is full of rehashes that produced its share of groans from the peanut gallery at the shop. I opened a few packs after some prodding, and I was lucky enough to pull not one, but two of the stale and played out manupatch autos. Not only was one of them a redemption, but the one that was live was snooze worthy at best.

Because Topps is locked and ready to roll with the meat of their calendar, Panini desperately needs to pull their heads out of their ass to stay relevant. I mentioned in the post below this one all the reasons why I like the low end Topps products as much as I do, and I can honestly say that from what I saw, Panini did not deliver even one of them with R&S. If you can stand to save that hundred bucks you were going to spend on a box of this junk, you are going to have that much more fun opening what is coming on wednesday from Panini’s main competitor.

Personally, I love that the people at Panini use my posts as toilet paper, because it just shows the level of commitment they have to taking what people like me say to heart. I have loudly sung the same tune for 3 years, and over that time frame, Panini has gained its share of haters that function similarly to the way I do. Its funny the amount of times I have started to hear the boos on the boards, twitter, and blogs, when a product preview is posted, something that can easily catch up to your P&L statements. You cant churn out the same shit over and over again, and not expect your customer base to get tired of the apathetic approach. The brass at Panini doesnt seem to get that despite the numerous industry people letting them know how they feel.

I think that once the rest of the Panini Blur hits the shelves, we are going to start to see a lot of angry collectors start to make their voices heard. Its easy to overlook the “YES! LOOK AT THIS CARD I GOT!” when there are a lot of “Nice pull, but it looks like shit.” reactions right after it. I didnt even take the time to review this product last year because it was so terrible, and I am glad to see that Panini decided that one year of poop wasnt enough.

2010 Panini Certified Looks Worse Than Anything Yet

Leaf Certified Materials, now Panini Certified has been around forever. The Fabric of the Game subset has produced some amazing cards across the span of the product’s existence, and it is usually a celebrated part of the football calendar. Over the last few years, Certified has gone from a celebrated product to “meh” to absolutely terrible, and this year’s set may be the worst thing I have ever seen to come out of Panini’s house. Although we only have a few cards from the set, the common theme and design of the product is so bad, that I actually laughed.

The fact that Panini is willing to stake one of their most popular sets on a shitty design like Certified showcases this year, makes me wonder if the people over there are even trying with football anymore. If this year’s National Treasures Basketball is any indication, its not like they are focusing on the Basketball designs either, so this begs a very important question: WHO HIRED THIS BUSH LEAGUE DESIGN TEAM? Jesus, this is just terrible.

Starting with the base cards, it looks like someone was carrying the printing plates and dropped them on the floor on the way to the press. The result looks like a fractured mirror and it looks absolutely horrid. When you add in jersey and autograph in typical Panini fashion, like they did for the rice, it becomes a complete and utter Dexter McClusterfuck.

Oddly enough, the only cards that anyone cares about are not present in this preview, and those are the freshmen fabric cards. Last year’s werent a complete disaster like 2008, but they still left a lot to be desired. I figure these will shape up more like the 2008 than anything, if not a hell of a lot worse.

Lastly, the Fabric of the Game cards don’t look terrible, but that isnt the point. They are basically the 2009 design with minor tweaks, and that is BEYOND frustrating. It shows that Panini is getting very lazy with their updates, and its going to be a long time before we get any sort of innovation again.

Panini, you are heading the way of worry faster than I can say Ndamukong Suh, and that is a pretty scary situation for football collectors who depend on good looking cards to build their collection.

Another Reason to Hate Panini – Peyton Manning Signs the First NFL Exclusive Deal

UPDATE: According to an alternate source MANNING IS NOT EXCLUSIVE FOR AUTOGRAPHS, just for packaging. Rovell was mistaken. Jason has forwarded me the official release, and it looks like Manning is just their new “Trading Card Ambassador.”

This is bad, and I didn’t even think it was allowed actually. From what I am getting, it seems as though Panini has secured the first exclusive license to a player in the NFL. In the past, the players of the NFL have not been encouraged to sign specific deals with card companies that prevent them from being used in other products, maybe even prevented from doing so. Although both NBA and MLB allow similar player deals, and those deals were responsible for exclusives like LeBron James and Ken Griffey Jr, the NFL has never had that type of situation. Leave it to Panini to open pandora’s box, if it has indeed been opened.

Exclusive deals are the succubus that drains the hobby of its lifeblood. I actually should have added them as number six to my list of terrible things going on right now. Even though Topps is seemingly doing a good job in baseball with their exclusive, I think its pretty obvious how terrible the Panini license is in Basketball. If you don’t believe me, go check out a video break of any of their products. Compared to Upper Deck’s track record on the awesome Basketball products they have made, Panini’s products might as well be NSA patch cards. Because LeBron and Jordan are Upper Deck exclusives to begin with, the whole exclusive license has a ginormous hole where they should be.

The bottom line is that exclusives suck harder than an IHOP waitress in Tiger Wood’s hotel room. I hate them in every way, especially player and league exclusives. Besides being completely counterproductive to the overall spread of the industry, they prevent a lot of the best things of the past from happening. We will never be able to have Jeter sign a card with A-rod because of the exclusives that are in place for both players. Michael Jordan will never be able to be on another card with Kobe under the current arrangement, even when Kobe probably breaks some of MJ’s records in the future. League exclusives are even more terrible because of the way it prevents some of the collector’s favorite products from being released. I may despise some of the products Topps makes in football, but I do not want them to be prevented from at least trying to improve them. Same with UD in baseball and basketball. Variety is the key to hobby success and from what we have seen, without competition, there is very little good that comes out of an exclusive.

Beyond all of this bullshit regarding league exclusives and player exclusives, the NFL has never been one to buy into it. Whether it was by force or by choice, they found NO reason to limit the exposure of their players. Now that Peyton Manning, one of the biggest draws in the NFL has supposedly signed an exclusive with Panini, its going to be a mad dash for the companies to scoop up whatever players they can. Then they are going to start in on the rookies, and then who knows. By the end of this year, National Treasures may have some players or rookies and Topps Triple Threads may have others. As much as I thought NT was eye burningly terrible last year, Triple Threads was worse, and I do not want to be forced out of getting autographs I could normally secure without need for consideration of exclusives.

All I can say is that this is not good for anyone. Fuck Panini and their stupid exclusives if they think this is good for cards. Ill just add it to the long list of reasons why they are the Kia of the sports card business. Hope all you Peyton Manning collectors love stickers and foilboard.

2010 Panini Classics is Live, Disappointing

Classics is live, and from what we see in a case break on blowout, there are going to be some pretty disappointing results for this product if things hold true for the rest of the cases out there. Although there is a reported two autos per box and two jersey cards per box, the presence of veteran player autos and worthwhile rookies is looking small. That is definitely the bad news that no one wants to hear, but there is more bad news that comes along with it.

First, the floating swatches are back. Some of these cards are so obvious in the backwards design that I am left wondering if Panini just forgot to add the sticker to the card. See, because Panini has the same formula for every one of these sets, the parallels make no sense along the way. Instead of starting with the blank base card and moving forward, they start with the auto jersey and take things away until they get to the base card. What happens is that you are left with weird looking cards that have swatches in weird places. The obvious solutions would be to avoid the jersey cards all together and add another band of autos to the checklist, but we know that Panini is still all about keeping the simple jersey around for posterity’s sake. Another solution would be to start with a good looking base card and add the jersey, then add the auto to avoid the look like they are floating. I know it takes some elbow grease, and that isnt something the Panini design team may be used to using, but it needs to be done.

Lastly, they really needed to re-evaluate the autos in this set, as the stickers are not looking like they show up against the background and player. These cards are 150 million times better than last year, but they still make me want to jump face first onto a pile of forks when it comes to the overall presentation. It really makes me angry that they are so lackadazical when designing their cards, as it is blatantly obvious that these cards were made without any creativity or effort. Again, still MUCH MUCH better than last year, but it leaves massive amounts of potential on the table.

Overall, I am pretty disappointed with what I have seen, hopefully things get better as more of the product is opened.