There are few things in this hobby that shock me any longer. Very few. A box that costs $1250 for 10 cards? Thats pretty high on the holy shit-o-meter.
Panini released some initial images and details about 12/13 Flawless Basketball, which might have one of the most laughable names in history. That is until you also see that they are releasing Immaculate Basketball also this year. Flawless, which immediately calls for people to seek out its imperfections, offers on card autographs and jumbo swatches, but that isnt all that special when you see what is in National Treasures each year. For some god forsaken reason, Panini decided to include cards encrusted in emeralds and diamonds, which totally gives new meaning to “gem mint.” (Thank you Ryan!) Diamonds have been done before too, with non-spectacular results.
Honestly, Panini has some nice looking cards in the preview, and the on card autos are cool. Yet, is it really that necessary to bump the price tag to insane heights, even though the two biggest names in the sport wont be signing for you? Hell, for that much money, are the players hand making these cards? Do they auto-list themselves on eBay when you take them out of the box? Im curious, maybe you can print out a congratulatory letter that recognizes your ability to afford the box? Im not sure, because I see absolutely NOTHING that makes this anything special.
When you consider that a Jordan Exquisite Auto costs about that much money, or that you can buy just about any other autograph of any other player, INCLUDING Pete Maravich for a little more than 1250, I cannot see why anyone would open a box of this stuff, unless they were just trying to show that they can. Basketball is more about super high end than any other sport, but I fail to understand why this even comes close to what we have previously seen in the original licensed versions Exquisite Basketball that can be had for less than half the price.
More important than my reservations with the price point, do collectors really care about stones in their cards? Are there people out there looking at their autographed cards of their favorite players and thinking, “man this would look so much nicer with diamonds.”? I doubt it. Pure gimmickry, that’s what this is. At least Exquisite, the benchmark set for everything a basketball product can be, had Jordan and LeBron readily available.
Panini has brokered a special deal to include Leaf exclusive Damian Lillard signatures in the product, but unless it comes embedded with sequential DNA so I can clone my very own Lillard, it makes little to no difference. He is the reigning rookie of the year, and he has not had licensed autos yet, but good god, he cannot star alongside Tom Chambers, Mark Eaton and Dikembe Mutombo to get my vote for this colossal price tag.
I get it, when you put out 25 sets in a year (yes, you heard that right), and the license is costing you more than its worth, you try drastic things. Drastic does not include me paying 1250 for 10 cards, diamonds or no diamonds. I would much rather Panini create National Treasures series 2 than try to rape me with this rusty fork of a price. Add in Jordan, LeBron, Tiger, Jeter, and the rest of the UD exclusives? Maybe we can talk.
I included some of the horrid names on the checklist in the pics below, just so you can see what I mean: