Even back in 2006, I don’t think we had to wait THIS long for a preview of what National Treasures is going to look like. Now that Panini has given us a first look into what the set is going to be looking like, there are some parts to it that I really like, and others that continue to be well below where a high end product should be. I honestly believed they were waiting this long to preview the cards because they were going to get on card autos like Five Star, but obviously that is not happening.
Starting with the good, I think its about time that Panini got on board with the book cards that have been in every other product. Although, in the past, many of the cards of this nature have been unnecessary, I really like the Jim Thorpe card. It will be an IMPOSSIBLE hit at 1/1, but it will no doubt be the most valuable card in the product. Even more than the rookie 1/1s. Its well designed, and I think that the chronicle of his exploits that is laid out over the three cards is a perfect way to do this.
I also like the design of the quad autograph booklet card, aside from one ciritical mishap that diminishes the possibilities. We just saw that Topps Five Star is going to have a hard signed dual autograph of Rodgers and Starr, and to see them done in stickers is wholly unacceptable in a product like this. That being said, the card looks to be well above Panini’s past track record, and the results are nice.
As for the Unitas card, I think the design is pretty nice looking, compared to what some of these cards have looked like in the past. Although I don’t understand why we need a goal post swatch instead of a jersey, I think the card looks cool. I will likely be able to guarantee that for players that are still living, the big white box will be in full force, which pisses me off. If they slap a sticker on these cards to the right of the window, it would be a successful card, even though National Treasures should not have any stickers to begin with.
Onto the bad.
I still think the Rookie Patch Auto design is lackluster, mainly because it provides such a small space for the rookie to sign. The ornate belt buckle design continues to look overwhelming on such a small card, and its obvious that Five Star’s huge space for signatures will trump these cards where it counts – in look. Although value is often determined (wrongly) by non-game used patches, I would never buy a card that looks like this over the ones in Five Star.
Moving onto the Brees card, I HATE it when companies try to do jumbo swatch cards in a vertical fashion. If a design calls for a jumbo swatch, the orientation will not work correctly if done with the player picture on top. It forces the photo to be squished up at the top, when it could have been large and in charge if it were designed correctly. I have no clue why Panini wouldnt diecut the player photo into the swatch like they did in Crown royale, or even do it coming in from the side to preserve the swatch window. Think of how awesome it would look if it was done more like this.
I also cannot stand the vertical orientation on the base cards. Rather than going horizontal, and actually taking the time to adjust the design for each parallel, Panini has chosen to cut corners again, and design the cards backwards. Therefore, when you remove the swatch piece, the autograph sticker, and are left with just the plain card, it looks incomplete. Its very easy to see where the swatch and sticker will be applied, and its unfortunate that we cant get a card built correctly for a product that costs as much as this one.
Bottom line, National Treasures is going to be structured exactly the same as it was last year, packed to the brim with worthless jersey cards of back up players and a bunch of autographs that no one wants. Five Star will be the faaaaaar superior product, and I am continually shocked by what collectors let Panini get away with.
They can show people all the big hits from the product to generate excitement, but I know exactly the reactions people will have the minute they crack the first box. At least there are a few more cool cards to chase this year, but that’s about it. With Five Star hitting later this month, and with the addition of redemptions for full sized gear and a lot of extra surprises, a release of this product on March 21st is not a good idea.