Taking Two Leaps Backwards With 2010 Absolute Football

I think that if you read my previous post about suggestions for moving forward in the industry, Absolute is the one set that infringes on just about every single one of those rules. Aside from the fact that the product hasn’t changed design-wise at all in the last however many years, Panini never seems to get how poorly the product holds up against others in the same price range. What used to be a fun product with innovative cards has become stale, overpriced, and poorly designed to say the least. I would even go so far as saying that this is the one product that Panini needs to axe or revamp, because right now, it’s a dinosaur compared to what it could be.

Now, I will say that this year’s offering looks better than last year’s horrid excuse, but it still has not veered from that same old design that never offers anything worth collecting in my opinion. This product will again be riddled with damage evident foilboard on EVERY card, sticker autos across the product, subsets that are paralleled to hell in the typical panini way, and cards that are so weirdly conceived that I don’t even know where to look. When you hearken back to 2005 and see how cool and popular Absolute Baseball was, this is a vanquished shell of that former greatness. Really too bad.

Here are the preview cards:

Why Aren’t There More Signed Base Card Parallels?

If there is one thing I think is vastly overlooked in set creation, is the use of signed parallels of the veteran base cards in a given product. Most of this feeling of mine stems from the ridiculous and terrible names that card companies give to the auto and jersey subsets, as well as the designs those names necessitate. Instead of having signatures of the cards that are just the product name and the player themselves, a lot of products leave base cards as base cards rather than capitalizing on some of the better designed portions of the set.

For once, I have to applaud Panini on this front, even though their signed veteran base cards are usually VERY low numbered and tough to come by. However, they do exist, and in a lot of cases, are the best looking cards of the sets they are a part of. National Treasures 2006-2008 had AMAZING looking signed base cards, even better when they contain auto and a relic. In 2009 they resorted to terrible looking base cards with even worse placement of the swatches and autos, so that was a fail in general. In other sets, including the early ones like Prestige, Elite and Classics, signed vet cards have been included again in 2010, which have garnered my interest in some of my favorite players and their autos.

Although Panini does offer a lot of what I am talking about, they still havent brought the potential to the level it has been with other products. Like with every veteran auto that Panini has, they are 100% NOT on card, and that is pretty disheartening in general. But with a set like 2007 SP Authentic Baseball, Upper Deck offered signed versions of a handful of the base cards – ALL ON CARD. They were unfortunately numbered incredibly low at 5 copies, but they looked amazing for what they were. There was no crazy name for the subset, no ridiculous splatter paint or odd designs. It was just the player, the team, the set name and an on card auto. In fact, so many people are looking for those cards that they sell for astronomical prices when they are posted.

Obviously the limitation is filling out the rest of the set when cost is spent on cards that don’t add any titles to the content or another set of odds to the pack wrapper. Even though I couldn’t care less if there is another subset like Down and Distance or whatever lame idea for a name they have, there are quite a few collectors who want those opportunities. With players like Adrian Peterson, and the other top names charging in upwards of 200 dollars a signature, many of the companies have to choose their battles. Its too bad that they don’t choose correctly a lot of the time, in my opinion.

Think about it. How fucking awesome would a hard signed version of the Chrome cards or the UD Masterpieces cards be for players like Brett Favre, Peterson, or even players like Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady? Hell, I would even take stickers and not complain. The cards would be epic to say the least. For a low end set like flagship Topps or the Chromes, there is nothing I want more. I would BUY those products exclusively if there was nothing else than rookie and veteran autos inserted at a higher rate. Who cares if there is another jersey auto of a guy in a subset that makes no sense? There needs to be more signed base in my mind.

Of course, this is like saying I want a Mercedes for 5 dollars, because it aint gon’ happen. There just isnt a way that a company would stake a set adding more signed base cards, even though the success of Topps Chrome functions solely on people chasing signed versions of the rookie base cards. Its really too bad, as I think there is a tremendous opportunity to showcase a base set to collectors that throw the base cards in the common bin and never appreciate the design.

Panini Epix Puts Me To Sleep

Remember when I said it looked like Panini was finally getting on the right track? Remember? Yeah, I was wrong. Very much like the Threads, this set doesn’t offer a single bit of difference from Panini’s normal product line, even going so far as making those lame ass field signatures a focus of the preview. Really? That’s the best you guys can come up with for a new set? A card that has been offered in every gridiron gear set since 2007? Come on. Even if this set does end up taking the place of Gridiron Gear, I couldn’t care less, mainly because neither set was geared in the right way.

Personally, I think that what made Upper Deck and Low End Topps cards successful, were the elements they brought to each product and the ways they were updated year to year. Panini has yet to figure that out with any of their products. Threads has those letters that may have been popular 8 years ago, but have lost all semblence of originality in the last few years. Has there been an updated focus to that set? Not a chance. It’s the same product it was back in 2007. Epix is very similar, in that respect, especially when you look at the cards they previewed. I can already tell you that its going to be card after card, paralleled to hell, with “four hits per box (at least one autograph)” as usual, and each box isnt going to be much more than a few shitty jersey cards and scrub auto.

If Epix brought something new to the table, maybe like a flagship card the way the SPA RPA’s usually are, it would be one thing. But to have the same stuff, set after set fosters nothing but boredom. Look at the Bradford for example, especially the way the card is oriented. Diagonal text and lines, weird fonts and a parallel friendly set up. There can be a base card of it, a jersey, an auto, a jersey auto, a patch and a patch auto, all from that one design. That’s the way that EVERY Panini card is designed. In fact, they have championed that horrid concept so hardcore that we have come to expect it. Personally, I was even looking for those signed manupatches they usually put in ten products each year.

Funny enough, my usual distributor contact who emails me when the new previews come out included a comment with his email this time that I think I need to repeat. It gave me a nice half-LOL today, and I hope it will do the same for you:


Just got this in for Panini Epix or whatever they are calling Gridiron Gear these days. Typical junk that I am going to be forced to peddle instead of good looking stuff that people actually want to buy. I saw that Beckett already had a preview up, hilariously polishing Panini’s pole for a new groundbreaking idea. You mentioned yesterday that one of the reasons you started SCU was to combat the positivity for positivity’s sake, and I never really considered it until I read the joke that Beckett put as a preview for this junk. Have fun with this, im eagerly awaiting your comments.


My thoughts exactly.

More Details On Friday’s NFL Rookie Premiere Event

On Friday, the biggest public event of the weekend will be taking place, and I just got some details through some simple detective work. The event will be taking place at the Wal-mart in Oxnard, and it looks like Panini will be the people responsible for putting it on.

The shitty part about it is that it runs from 1-3pm, and I cant fathom a way that most people will be able to go. They have already announced that 15 of the rookies will be there signing and opening packs, though they have not told anyone which 15 it will be. That means the one hour trip each way, the traffic, and the lack of knowledge is prohibiting my attendance. Im guessing it will be whoever is free to do it, much like Hakeem Nicks and Beanie Wells last year. They should have done it around 7 or 8, which would be much more likely that people will come.
Another shitty part of this event is that it replaces other great stuff from the last few years. None of the local shops in the area will be getting players to sign, something I am pretty pissed about. Last year’s sigining with Beanie Wells was fucking awesome, and the year before with DeSean Jackson was sweet too. It was a very personal atmosphere and the giveaways were cool as well, but this year there doesnt seem to be any room for that aspect. I still havent decided on autograph hunting this weekend, even though I know where the players are staying, but who knows. Ill have to wait until tomorrow to see how the baby is doing.
Either way, if anyone is planning on attending, please shoot me an email at sportscardsuncensored@gmail.com, I have some questions.

Examining The Effects of Upper Deck’s Exclusive NCAA License

Starting this past month, Upper Deck took over the exclusive license for all NCAA related likenesses and images. This meant that sets like Press Pass and SAGE were left without a way to picture the players in their uniforms or helmets. What you may not know is that sets like Prestige and Elite will also have to adjust pretty drastically, and that’s where things get pretty hairy.

As we have seen from previews recently, the Prestige rookie cards look god awful. When I say god awful, I mean that I would rather look at a bloody corpse in some cases. The design is terrible, the horizontal orientation makes the cards look weird, and the final product looks like it was built with the auto in mind. The right half of the card looks way too wide open, like there should be a sticker there, but someone forgot to put it on. Then your eye gets to the player picture and im sure that many of you had a “WTF?” moment just like I did.

See, because of the Upper Deck exclusive contract, Panini had to picture the players without any logos or likenesses regarding the schools they went to. In previous years, the players were pictured in full college garb, and actually looked like they should. This year, they are pictured helmetless and close up, and for some players, saying that they look goofy is an understatement.

It would be one thing if this were baseball or basketball, because for those sports, the player’s likeness centers around their face, because that is the way we see them on the field. The uniform is secondary, and many baseball and basketball players have made lots of money on that fact alone. In football, many player’s persona centers around their helmet and uniform, because that is the way the fans get to see them so much of the time. When cards feature players up close and personal, they get a much different reaction due to the way that people expect to see their favorite players. I couldn’t tell you what Ndamukong Suh looks like without his helmet on, but if I saw him in full uniform, I could point him out in a crowd.

When you also factor in that Donruss Elite is going to have to find a similar workaround, it becomes more and more likely that a lot of collectors are not going to like the way the cards look. If you don’t believe me, compare the cards from the Press Pass set that was out before the exclusive with the one that was released after. Its no comparison, especially when considering the look of the card.

Upper Deck may have made a dent in the first few releases of the year, but I wouldn’t say that it is something so big that people wont be able to get over it. For people like me, having helmet-less players on the cards is an immediate deal breaker, but not everyone is like that. Regardless, it has forced Panini to switch up their game, and so far, the results have been horrid. Point made, Upper Deck. Point made.