Product Review: 2009 Playoff Absolute Memorabilia Football

Ok, I have waited to post this review to see if there was anything that could really redeem this set in my eyes, and so far there has been very little to do so. I saw a few boxes broken with pretty horrible results (unlike Beckett who had some great results, as usual) and I just cant find a reason why this set was done the way it was.


Aside from the rehashed RPM design and stale concept of the entire set, the actual design of the rest of the product’s ridiculous number of subsets is horrible. Starting with the Tools of the Trade all the way through the War Room stuff, it all just screams typical Panini crap design. In addition to an awful look, each card features weirdly cut swatch windows and the ugliest of gaudy raibow fucking foilboard.

Since the RPMs are the focus of this set, Ill start there. The design is pretty much the same it has been since 2003 or whenever. It hasn’t really changed other than the fact that they now have as many parallels as Beckett has conflicts of interest in their magazine. Yeah, that many. You have the regular “NFL”, a diecut of the NFC or AFC, their number, a jumbo jersey, a jumbo patch, a brand logo, a nfl shield, a jumbo jersey auto, a jumbo patch auto, a brand logo auto, and a shield auto, among others. The stupid thing is that so many of these parallels feature swatches that intrude into the player’s photo, thus making the card pretty pointless and fugly. In addition, they used stickers for everything, so the black autos (some of which still feature college number inscriptions) don’t really work well on reflective board and dark colors. Also, the fact that almost EVERY parallel features those stupid and needless football swatches, makes me want to scream. I don’t care about some football that a player played catch with for two throws. It has less connection than including a napkin they wiped their hands on during lunch. DITCH IT.

Moving into the subsets, Panini has pretty much outlawed square swatches in their design, as if that would solve the problem of them placing them in horrible places on the cards. Unlike the other companies, however, instead of making symmetrical borders to the windows, they pretty much just cut them out like a five year old with their first pair of scissors. Then, when you think about the crazy lines on the card that Panini has been known for, and you can see where asymmetrical swatch windows would look ridiculous. Those swatch windows are often placed where they break the line borders on the cards, making it seem like they were not factored in when the card was designed. This is pretty common with Panini products, because they parallel every one of their cards to fucking hell. First they create the base card, parallel that 10 times, then add in a swatch, then add in an auto. Its all very backwards, and leads to an awkwardly balanced card.

The only redeeming part of the entire thing may have been the Absolute patches. These cards look good because they arent paralleled (big shock). They feature jumbo patches, placed correctly, and usually with multiple breaks in a huge window. It fits well, and makes me wonder why the set wasn’t done more like these cards. These cards will be prime for the patch fakers to exploit, but they look like they may be the only part of this set that actually had some thought put into it.

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Autograph Cards

The autograph cards in this set pretty much fit in with the rest of the crap that is featured ad nauseum in Absolute. They are rarely well done, and not one of them is on card. The stickers arent focused on like Topps’ bordered boxes, but they are hard to miss on the rainbow foil board.

I would say that the Canton absolutes (a horrible conceived concept of a subset) is the best looking of all of them, but im not sure why they didn’t focus more on getting design filled with cards that could actually go well with the stickers.

The RPM autos are numbered to 299 and have five billion parallels, so the effect of pulling one is getting to be a lot less than it used to be. Then when you see some of the players STILL having stickers with their college number on it and you start to get even more frustrated. When you look at the jumbo swatch autos, its clear that there is just too much on the card to begin with, especially with the inclusion of the stupid football swatch in the corner.

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Relic Cards

Holy fuck, I don’t even know where to start.

The thing that most pissed me off were these pro-bowl tools of the trade cards, and it bothers me what people are saying in response to their addition to the product. First, none, yes none, of the pro bowl swatches are game used. They are all from an event that was held at the event. The same will be true for triple threads and everything else. These swatches will be a focus of a few more sets this year, which makes me throw up in my mouth when I think about it. Panini has singlehandedly taken a nice pull out of the set and turned it into a joke. The cards look stupid, and I cant even think as to why people are so excited over them. At least with the rookies, there is no choice, but with the vets, there is a choice. Event used crap should only be used when there isnt anything else, and to try to slip one through the five hole and make people believe these are real is junk.

Then, I saw the rest of the cards. I tried to find a relic card that wasn’t bad, and aside from the absolute patch set mentioned above, there is absolutely nothing. Most of the time, 3 out of 4 hits in your box will be a relic card, and you should see what some of them look like. None of them look like they were designed with a swatch in mind.

Lastly, enough with die cutting weird crap into the cards. Jersey numbers are one thing, but when you start diecutting the name of the fucking conference they play in, you are walking a thin line between shit like Sterling and Triple Threads and normal junk. Maybe this is just a signal to stop with the plain swatch cards.

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Value To The Collector

People freaking love this set because they are blinded by the swatches and autos they can pull. In reality, there arent many strong points in terms of memorabl
e parts of the set, so everything kind of blends together. That means that there are no cards that really are worth buying these boxes for, and the value of the whole comes down considerably. The Auto’ed RPMs will hold value until Limited and the like, but once those come out, it will be tough to get much for any of them.

The boxes will cost more than average products, and its rare that you will make your money back. Because the set is so over dilluted with poorly designed jerseys and stuff, it will be tough to find boxes that will make you feel good about the purchase you just made. As with any product like this, its always better to buy the singles than to spend 120 dollars and buy this.

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Overall Impressions

To me, its pretty sad what Absolute has become. It used to be something that was a fresh start to the products with rookie material in it, now its just ugly, boring, and poorly conceived. Even the Tools of the Trade cards have sunk to a below bottom standard, and that makes me angry. Im hoping that eventually Panini gets the point and realizes what they are doing has put them at the bottom of the barrel for design in football.

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2009 Product Leaderboard (SO FAR)

1. Topps Chrome (4/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Upper Deck Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Philadelphia (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Topps Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Icons (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Heroes (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Draft Edition (3/5 GELLMANS)
8(t). Playoff Absolute Memorabilia (2/5 GELLMANS)
8(t). Bowman Sterling Football (2/5 GELLMANS)
8(t). Donruss Threads (2/5 GELLMANS)
8(t). Donruss Classics (2/5 GELLMANS)
8(t). Donruss Elite (2/5 GELLMANS)
8(t). Playoff Prestige (2/5 GELLMANS)
8(t). Bowman Draft Picks (2/5 GELLMANS)
15. Score Inscriptions (1/5 GELLMANS)
16. Leaf Rookies and Stars (0/5 GELLMANS – NR)

My Collecting Commandments And Absolute Damnation

The first Absolute Football case break has been posted on blowout, and I think this may be the first year where I wont even buy a single or pack even. To borrow from Mario, the set pretty much breaks all of my commandments of card design, especially in the content of the set. Ill go over a few of them here in the context of the pictures posted by the user.

Thou Shalt Not Use Rainbow Foil Board

I talked earlier on how awful the use of rainbow foil and mirror board has become. Absolute is ENTIRELY printed on it. Every card. Every single fucking card. The cards look ridiculous in a bad way, almost making the practice of “collecting a rainbow” a new thing entirely. The condition of the cards out of the packs are obviously going to be the same as last year, something that everyone thought was a huge drawback to this set.

Thou Shalt Not Obscure The Player On The Card

There is no worse practice in cards than when a player is hidden by needless additions to a card. In this set, there are MANY examples of players being more than 50% disrupted by a swatch window. I really couldn’t care less about having a ginormous swatch on a card, as design will always be more important. When that mammoth swatch covers up the player, I would rather run my hand through a wood chipper than pay my money to get one of them. In 2005, DLP managed to put together a great set in the tools of the trade giant swatch set, and NONE of the swatches were intrusive on the actual subject’s picture.

Thou Shalt Not Use Event Used Football Swatches

Its one thing to use a swatch of a football from the rookie premiere that was tossed around for two throws before going in a bucket (10 per player!), but to force it into the design of the card when its not needed, deserves even more lightning from the heavens in smitten anger. Donini is weirdly obsessed with including these swatches of football into as many products as it can, despite the fact that they have less connection to the player than a jersey worn around for 30 seconds. Its really unfortunate.

Thou Shalt Not Break Line Borders With Swatch Windows

If you are going to put die cuts and oddly shaped swatch windows into a product, you have to fit it seemlessly into the design. That means creating the borders to fit the placement, not just plopping them willy nilly whereever you want. Take a look at the line borders of the cards featuring swatches, and not just the edges of the cards. Each line could be considered a border, and when you have swatches that break those lines, it looks amateurish and poorly conceived. A line should never be broken by a swatch window, unless it makes sense in the context of the design. This set is ripe with cards that break every last word of this commandment.

Thou Shalt Not Overuse Parallels In ANY Product

Although Tracy Hack-ler thinks that Donruss never uses many parallels in their products, they are known industry wide for the practice of paralleling their cards to hell. Absolute is a testament to that fact, with the set featuring humongous numbers of needless parallels of each card. Like many Donruss products, each card has a series of parallels of the non-hit base card, a jersey parallel, a patch parallel, an auto parallel, and an auto jersey parallel, and an auto patch parallel. That means there could be in upwards of ten parallels for every subset in the product (this is the DLP standard). Tools of the trade takes it to a whole new level, with a good percentage of the cards featuring more than 20 parallels, including a parallel series without a swatch. That is just absurd in every way.

Thou Shalt Not Lie About All Star Game Jerseys

If you remember, Topps has used their flagship product and Triple Threads in baseball to showcase all star game swatches, when really they are just jerseys used in a topps event with the players. All star game jerseys are extremely hard to come by, as many players want to keep them as a memento of the game, therefore making them sought after items by jersey collectors. This year, Absolute has an entire fucking subset of tools of the trade dedicated to the “jerseys,” when really they seem to be not even close to being game worn. The cards also say “event worn” leading us to believe these were just slipped on and off at the pro bowl just like the rookies at the premiere.

(This one breaks more than one commandment!)
Thou Shalt Use Bright Backgrounds With Sticker Autos

Since Panini RARELY uses on card autos, Absolute is 100% sticker autos. The problem is that many of the stickers are slapped onto cards that feature blocks of dark colors. The rookie premiere materials cards are a focus of this set, and many of the team colors are featured in some way in weirdly designed line blasts. These awful looking blocks of color created by the line blasts cross the places where the stickers go. Because teams like the Vikings and others use darker colors, those rookies autos are interrupted. At least it still looks better than Topps using bordered boxes for theirs.

Its really too bad that Absolute has made it to a point of parody, as it used to be a favorite set of mine. I bought one solitary single last year, was disappointed and gave up on the set altogether. This year im not even going to waste my time. What a waste.

First Look: 2009 Playoff Absolute Football

Here we have the first huge preview of 2009, a favorite of mine, Absolute Memorabilia football. The problem I have with this set, now, is that it has not changed since 2007. The cards look practically dead on as the ones last year. See, normally, I would be pretty excited with this set, but the cards are so similar, its almost like its an updated checklist to last year’s cards. Now, I know that DLP has gone through some major overhauls since becoming Donini, but at least put some effort into it. Jesus.

The cards that did receive some new designs are just polygonic traffic jams on ridiculously busy cards. Everything is tough to focus on, and you can bet that Donini is going to feel some heat after their products flop miserably with no new effort.

As if to rub salt in this wound, they are CONTINUING the use of event used footballs. Wonderful, glad to see that they havent heard the cries of the many people out there. Even UD stopped using the footballs in their SPX product. Save it for retail, not a 120 per box product. Gross. I may buy some singles from this product, but the overall presentation has left an awful taste in my mouth.