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

Another Day With The Attendees of the 2010 NFL Rookie Premiere

Today was the second time I had a chance to interact with the attendees of the 2010 Rookie Premiere, and though it wasnt as epic as Friday night, today was still a very fun time. I arrived at Santa Monica High School around 11:45 and made my way over to the event. Panini was set up there with a booth next to the merch tent from NFLPA, as well as a DJ from 102.7 KIIS FM. The music from the field was already blaring, so I couldnt really see the point of an extra place for music, but whatever. They also had Coffee Bean stuff there for sale, but they looked bored without anyone coming to buy.

Panini handed out packs of 2009 Prestige, which came in very handy in the later parts of the event. They were also handing out mammoth posters that featured all the rookie cards from 2010 Prestige, though I was kind of disappointed they didnt have current packs to open for the rookies at the event.
There were a ton of fans lining the entry way looking to get autographs, and as the event participants rolled in, they signed for just about everyone. The people I recognized immediately were Brandon Routh, who played Superman in the latest film, Bill Bellamy of MTV fame, and one of the Sklar brothers who had a show on ESPN Classic as well as some well known stand up comedy stuff.
I walked around a little before making my way up to Media/VIP check in, but there really wasnt much happening on the actual grounds of the event until things got going. NFLPA had set up huge video screens and decorated everything to the nines, so that was cool too. As I walked into the tent where all the event personnel were hanging out, I could see that once again, the NFLPA didnt mistreat its people.

Just like on Friday, the spread was impressive, this time featuring sandwiches from a great local deli, sweets from a local restaurant, salads and steak sandwiches from Morton’s steakhouse, among other stuff. No one was really there when the event started, so I grabbed some food and waited to see if any of the card people were going to come. Much to my dismay, none of them were able to make it to the event, except for a few people I had met on Friday night from Upper Deck. I later found out that some of them had some very unfortunate circumstances at the hotel involving cars and towing. It was really too bad they couldnt be there.
A few of the rookies that were still in town showed up around 12:30 in a big group, and I used the opportunity to fill out my collection of autographs from the guys I didnt have. The first person I talked to was Eric Decker, a Broncos wide receiver who walked in wearing his new jersey. He was an alum of the University of Minnesota, and a VERY nice guy, so we chatted about our common heritage and Minnesota connection. He was happy to sign a card for me, which was great, considering how few people were actually there.
CJ Spiller walked in next, with Dexter McCluster, Damian Williams, and Demaryius Thomas in tow. Ben Tate, Golden Tate, and Toby Gerhart walked in next, followed by Mardy Gilyard and Arrelious Benn. I didnt have either of the Tates, and both were happy to sign for me. Everyone who was there started taking pictures with them, and reporters from the school newspaper interviewed a few of them. That would have been an awesome experience to have as a high schooler, thats for sure.
I noticed Eric Dickerson sitting at a table waiting for his game to start, so I walked over and chatted to him about life after football. He lives very close to me in the valley here in LA, and was a very nice guy all around. I didnt realize how cool his signature looked until he was finished signing, and it was one that I was glad to have.
TJ Houshmanzadeh was also there, and here is where it was handy to have a never ending supply of Panini cards for him to sign. Everyone there had his 2009 Prestige card and he signed about 4 of them before I got a chance. He was also a class act, but laughed when his card featured him as a Bengal.
I had CJ Spiller sign a football I brought with me, and he was much more friendly about it than on Friday night. he gave me a full sig with a personalization, and I could not be happier about it. Maurice Jones Drew was also milling about, but he was extremely busy filming stuff for the NFL network. Lucky I got him previously, because I didnt see an opportunity this time around.
Because I was wearing my Vikings shirt, Toby Gerhart came up and said “Go Vikes!” before getting in line to get some lunch. I got in line behind him, and asked him how yesterday went. He said he had a blast, and it was really cool to see all his cards that were being made. He loved the first opportunity to get dressed in full garb, and said he was glad he got to attend. He was wearing a Topps hat, something I didnt expect.
All in all, this weekend was a tremendous experience, and I am glad I got to be a part of it before I left Los Angeles for good. This rookie class, with few exceptions, were a bunch of amazing guys, and I hope that somewhere in the ranks there is a few NFL Superstars in the making. Because of my interactions with them, I have acquired a few new targets for next year, and thankfully there are going to be some awesome cards. Upper Deck, Panini, and Topps did a great job putting this event together, as always, and hopefully in the future I can make it back for another one.

My Night At The 2010 NFL Rookie Premiere

Just from living here in Los Angeles, I have had the opportunity to do things that I never would have thought possible. In 2008 I was able to attend the red carpet premiere of Guitar Hero III, where Poison played a spectacular show for less than 500 people. There were celebrities, there was great food, open bar, the works. That was nothing compared to what I got to do last night.

Because of some inside information, I knew where the players were going to be and when they were going to be there. Being the autograph hound I am, I decided it was worth an effort to try to get signatures from as many of the rookies as I could. As there is every year, there is a huge party in Santa Monica the night before the main event, so I made it a point to be at the venue as the players arrived. Boy am I glad I decided to go.
I arrived around 6:45 and sat down in the lobby with a stack of cards freshly pulled from packs of Prestige and notecards for the players I couldnt get. I had a football as well, but I was going to save it for the right moment. Around 7:00 players started walking in, no entourage, no anything. I walked up to Ndamukong Suh, who was probably one of the biggest beasts I had ever seen and asked if he could sign one of my cards. He was extremely nice, and happily obliged. As soon as people saw that the players were there, three others started to walk over. He signed for all of them without blinking an eye and even chatted with us for a few moments.
Ryan Mathews was next, and like Suh, he was incredibly nice. He posed for pictures, he signed whatever we wanted and hung around for a few minutes. As a Chargers player, he had to sign for just about everyone, but he was cordial and never made any notice of being swarmed.
Dexter McCluster stopped by as well, but didnt say much. Oddly enough, he hung around the lobby the most of any of the players before everything started.
After Mathews left, Eric Berry walked in, but was more hesitant to sign for us. After he got a few requests from kids there, he ended up signing for everyone, taking pictures and so on.
Jimmy Clausen showed up while Berry was signing, and I broke away immediately to go and get him. Clausen was a BIG guy, surprisingly, and signed the first of my cards that I had brought with me. He was somewhat cold at first, but didnt have a problem playing the role once he realized that we were all there.
Demaryius Thomas showed up around the same time as Clausen, so I had him sign the card I had for him as well. He was VERY shy and just passed through on his way to the elevator.
After Thomas left, it was about 7:20, and we hit a lull. We waited for more people, but no one showed until around 7:30. Thats when things got nuts. First Maurice Jones Drew, who was there for the NFL network walked in, and no one even noticed him. Once we got a clue, who he was, he nicely signed for the two of us who walked up to him. Then CJ Spiller walked in the door, and you could tell that everyone wanted his picture and autograph. He signed a card for me, though he didnt say much to anyone. That was two big names off my list. Then the boom fell.
Tim Tebow walked in, and he was pretty much on a mission. He saw that all his player friends were signing, did a complete 180 and headed straight the other way for the elevator. I was standing right there and asked him for his autograph to give away on the site. He shrugged me off with a “not now” as a woman walked up for a picture. She shoved the camera in my hands and asked for a shot, which I took. At that point, a bald guy walked up and confronted the five or six of us that were there. He wasnt with the hotel, but told us to leave because we were “harassing” the guests. Jumping on his cell phone, he said “im going to get hotel management over here” and pointed to the door. At this point, I was more interested in avoiding confrontation because I had just received news that I was going to be able to attend the actual party that night.
Shaking with excitement over the news of my party pass, I walked outside and waited for it to arrive. In the meantime, I saw a bunch of familiar faces milling about, including Tracy Hackler, but ill get to that later.
After my pass arrived, I chilled for a while to see if anyone else was going to show up. At around 7:45, I met up with Chris Carlin and Terry Melia of Upper Deck for a pre-arranged meeting and we walked into the party. It was like a mecca of complete ridiculous-ness and awesome-ness. I couldnt believe that I was going to be able to experience it, and was glad that I brought a huge stack of notecards. There was food, there was drink, there was everything, and it was pimped out with EA sports stuff and NFL players EVERYWHERE.
Considering I had never met Chris or Terry face to face before, I spent time with them talking about life and the upcoming year. Both of them were incredibly friendly, and were just happy to be in such a cool place, just like I was. For guys who spend their days around this sort of stuff, they seemed like fans too, it was kind of refreshing in a way. Chris promised me that this year, Upper Deck’s stuff would be incredible for football, despite the fact that their NFL license was gone. He knew it would be tough to carve out a new niche, but he felt confident that the design team would continue to make Upper Deck’s products look better than any others out there.
After we were done chatting, I started to walk around. The spread they had set up was crazy beyond belief. The party spanned the entire pool area, bordering the beach and the ocean, something that added a bunch of allure to the status of the event itself. They had a station where they made their own Chili, a station with a Mini Donut making company who did fresh donuts, a table filled with candy and caramel apples, a sliders station (chicken, pulled pork, burgers, and other stuff), a mashed potatoes station, and of course, an open bar. It was the first time I wished I hadnt had my surgery, but I was okay settling on the smell of the food rather than eating it.
In the midst of walking around, I got Sam Bradford to sign another card for me, Clausen to sign my football, Arrelious Benn to
sign a card, and a few others. I still hadnt seen Toby Gerhart, which was sad, so I decided to schmooze a little more. I was introduced to a few distributors and others who were there, all of which were pretty shocked to see me. I saw Tracy Hackler again, and introduced myself, we chatted for 30 seconds and I walked away. Nothing bad, just wanted to actually meet him.
After my Beckett encounter, I started to chat with the Marketing director for Upper Deck, who may have been one of the nicest people at the party. She was so happy and excited about the weekend, and I saw exactly why she had her job. She treated me more like a friend than a blogger, which I very much appreciated, and I hope I get copies of the pictures she took of all of us (hint hint).
I was in line to get some water when Scott Prusha of Panini walked right up to me and got in my face. Decked out in Adrenalyn garb for their new product he laid into me for past posts on SCU. For a smaller gentleman, he can be quite intimidating, thats for sure. I held my ground, hoping he wouldnt go too far into our history, but he wanted to make some points, and I was more than willing to hear what he had to say. We talked for about 20 minutes, and he actually had some pretty invaluable advice that I will definitely be using in the future for this site. After he warmed up a little, he wanted me to know that he really wasnt concerned with the business side of my blog, but more the history of my actions. He understood that my opinion on Panini products was just that, and didnt really care about what I said. He told me he really didnt read the site anymore, which was fine, but he was happy that the baby was doing well. Scott and I broke our conversation on good terms, but its not like we are going out for a drink any time soon.
At this point, it was about 8:30, and I was nearing the end of my rope with being away from the baby. I still hadnt found Toby Gerhart in the sea of 250 people, but I was determined. I spotted him at a corner table sitting with Colt McCoy, and approached him immediately. I told him I was from Minneapolis and asked him how things were going. He was genuinely a class act and started laughing about the picture from his Prestige card. They passed it around and he signed it for me. Colt McCoy signed another card for me, and I had determined my night was complete.
I saw Tim Tebow again, waiting in line for something, and tried approaching him more in a different situation than before. Again he told me he wouldnt sign and shrugged me off again. Others were coming up to him as well, to which they got the same answer. From what I was told, Tebow didnt sign a single autograph all night long.
Before I left, I had a great chat with a person from the Washington Post about writing and the way each person builds their brand. Chris had told him all about the site, and he thought it was pretty cool that I would be so passionate about writing about this stuff. Being on the business side of the paper, he completely understood the building of a “character” in your writing, and wished me the best of luck with the blog. Going to school in Washington DC meant that we had lots to talk about, hopefully Ill have another shot at talking to him in the future.
I think the most surprising thing about the night, other than the accessibility of the players, was how well the card companies got along. Even though they are in a brutally competitive industry, and really would benefit from each other’s destruction, they are all on good terms with each other. The goal of the night, and the weekend really, was to promote the cards and the players, something that definitely resonated with me. I know that I can get caught up in the soft underbelly of what goes on around the hobby, but this night was a completely positive experience thanks to the professionalism of the people from Upper Deck and Panini. Congrats on that to all of them, I want them to know that.
All in all, this night was epic to say the least, something I will never forget. A huge thank you to Chris and Upper Deck, Scott and Panini, and Clay from Topps for putting on a great event with EA Sports. It was truly the best way to leave Los Angeles behind, I had the time of my life.

A Comment On What Makes A Hard Signed Card

To me, on card signatures have the rare ability to make a bad product better. They add a whole extra element of a set that becomes immediately more collectible because the signatures are not applied by someone other than the players themselves. There is much more room for the player to sign, provides space for creativity in the signature, and most importantly, looks better than a label without a doubt. Upper Deck has long been the company that has moved completely towards on card signatures with more than a handful of products done completely without labels. SP Authentic, Exquisite, Ultimate, Heroes, Black, Philadelphia, Draft, and others have all featured signatures that are hard signed without gimmicky ways of trying to fit into that category. For these sets, the autographs are signed onto the card itself, not some cloth manu-patch piece that is pre-built and signed at the rookie premiere or something. Granted, not all of the sets are done completely with good examples, and there are ones that use horrible half-gimmicks for their “on card” autos, but there sure are a lot that are done the right way.

Recently I read an interview with Panini where they got on the subject of on card autos versus stickers. They were talking about how with the Basketball products they were going to try to get as many on card signed parts to their sets as possible. They touted that they were already focusing on providing collectors with on card signatures and used Prestige as an example. Here is what I am referring to (the bold is mine):

“Panini came in and listened to collectors, as you can see by the increase in on-card autographs starting with Prestige. We feel that our wide array of non-sticker autographs helps give our products that added value, but our goal is to incorporate as many on-card autographs into our programs as we can, without passing that cost onto the collector. “
I will say that Panini has made a small effort to “increase” the amount of non-sticker autos in their products, but there is FAAAAAAAAR from a “wide array.” The manu-patch autos that Panini is counting as hard signed have been included in not one, not two, but three different products. These are not on card signatures in any way to me. Aside from being stupid, gimmicky, and ugly, they are a cop out in the hard signed realm of this business. Upper Deck and Topps both used manu-patches similar to these, but Upper Deck has far surpassed any on card offering in other aspects, thus giving them the opportunity to do so. Topps does not hide their love for labels, and does not try to blow smoke up our asses in saying that they are giving up on theirs. I hate their labels, but at least there is no bullshit on what to expect.
Panini does not have any focus at all on the hard signed elements of their products, and when they do try to break the mold, you either get this, or something like this. So, it means that when Panini does get around to actually getting on card stuff in their sets, they are awful at it. They either use horrible pens that bubble and look shitty, or they use paint pens that chip, smear and look amateurish. Then, to say you have a “wide array” of on card offerings is total and utter crap.
Bottom line, an on card signature is a signature signed on the card. Its not on a manu-patch, its not on a letter, its on the fucking card. Even if there is a set filled with redemptions, its still on card signatures that we know and love. Perpetrating some half assed attempt at trying to pass off shit as gold is not going to make anyone happy. Regardless of this stupid marketing ploy, hard signed autos need to be the rule rather than the exception, regardless of company, redemptions or no redemptions. I will wait for quality, I will not put up with rushed crap.

Donruss Becomes The Official Card Of The NFL Draft

Whatever the hell that means. Either way, here is the official statement:

Officials at Panini America have reached an agreement with the NFL to become the “Official Trading Card of the 2009 NFL Draft.” This year’s event will be held at Radio City Music Hall in New York, April 25th and 26th. Through the sponsorship agreement, Panini America will have access to photography from the event, as well as officially licensed NFL Draft memorabilia worn by the players.

“Rookie cards are key to the success of our trading card programs,” said Panini America Vice President of Sales & Marketing Mike Anderson. “The relationship allows us to be the first trading card company to have access to the top picks. The growing popularity of NFL Draft day is incredible exposure for trading cards and our company.”

The agreement will give Panini America the NFL jerseys and hats the players wear after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell calls their name. These unique items will be incorporated into future trading card programs.

“We felt the memorabilia from this events would be a great way to enhance our programs throughout 2009,” adds Anderson. “These jerseys and hats are special, they are the first time the rookies get to wear their new colors – so its going to create some some very unique collectibles.”

Officials from Panini America will also be on-hand producing and distributing cards of the top picks (with their new teams) as their names are called.

Umm, so they want draft worn hat cards? Huh? So you give them a hat, they put it on, and take it off? This is totally lame. I already do my best to avoid event used jersey cards without autos, I will avoid these like the plague.
h/t Groat