With the release of 2012 Prizm, Panini sure was mum on the release of Contenders – maybe for a reason. I think they believed that a lot of people were going to buy the product just because of the name on the box, and for the most part, they were right. That hasn’t stopped people from voicing their frustration over many of the different situations that are plaguing the product, and I think that in most cases, people have a legitimate gripe.
Although the 1998 tribute design is AWESOME, and there are a lot of reasons why 2012 Contenders might be the best design since that time, there are severe discrepancies between advertised content and what is being delivered in each box. On the sell sheet, Panini advertised two on card autos per box, with small print saying advertised content could be changed at any time. Everyone who has opened a few boxes knows that the live on card autos are falling one every box and a half in some cases. There are a ton of redemptions, and for the most part, collectors are unsure if they are going to be receiving an RPS card with a sticker or a hard signed signature. For the first time since 2009, some RPS rookies are being offered as stickers instead of on card.
Panini has done a bit of parallel multiplication to help people forget this fact, and for the most part, it seems to be more than welcome. The addition of Playoff Ticket Autos /99 and Cracked Ice autos /20 seem to be something that collectors are chasing, even though I believe it wasn’t a good idea to fix something that wasn’t broken.
They have also added an extra auto hit to the box, in most cases, although it is likely that the extra hit is not going to be something worth the addition.
Additionally, it is looking like every card has a variation – with very few exceptions. From 2009-2010, the photo variations were limited to the RPS attendees. Although there are two autos that have yet to show up, we can speculate that they might be the exception to the rule instead of the rule. Because of the SP list driving value above player worth every single year, Im beginning to think this could complicate things more than ever before. Obviously, when things get more complicated, collectors don’t usually react well.
When you consider how much loyalty has been invested in Contenders over the years, even in spite of constant disappointment (like this design and this design), Panini should take some time to fix the issues that have been presented. Similarly, Topps had issues with redemptions in Chrome and offered Blue Wave packs to everyone who redeemed a card. I would hope that they figure out a way to make this right, as I don’t think that we are in a good spot right now.