If you are a casual basketball collector like myself, it probably isnt as obvious how much focus is placed on high end. Exquisite is the biggest in the game, but it kind of goes without saying that the higher end the product is and looks, the more popular it will be. This is why there was such a collector outcry over UD leaving, and why people have been less than lukewarm about Panini’s time as the exclusive provider.
Here is what high end SHOULD look like in Basketball:
Panini hasnt been as committed to high end as Upper Deck was, even though they have their moments. Because there is such a huge focus on the international side of the hobby in basketball, the amount of people that are chasing certain cards can be astronomical. Obviously, more demand means higher prices, and the more rare a card is, the more people want it. There is also a sense of vanity unlike any other sport, where basketball collectors need to have the best of what they chase. High end fits that bill, and that is why its so important. Being the top of the mountain is just the culture.
Yesterday, Panini gave us the first glance at National Treasures basketball, the first NT set in two years. National Treasures has definitely had a huge impact in its first couple of years, but how much of it was due to lack of options? Blake Griffin continues to be the most valuable NT card ever produced, but its definitely not as pretty as the Upper Deck RAPs of years’ past.
For this year, they decided on a white dominated design again, but I really think the composition is less than stellar. Let me put it this way, Panini’s obsession with the big white box extends into on card signatures too. Instead of ghosting the area below the player where they will sign, they decided to do a clean slice below the waist and give a clean white area to house the signature. No gradient fade, just a clean slice. As a result, the card’s visual appeal is severely handicapped, to the point where it just looks odd.
They employed the same tactic in National Treasures football this year, ruining a stunning design. You will notice they even sliced off the smoke effect in the background by accident too. Its just not a good use of the artistic elements that we see all the other companies use much more effectively.
Here is the thing. People will drool over these cards because of the content of the patches. This is standard, and like I have said before, presents an unfortunate reality in our hobby. People care more about patches than they do about design, and that is freaking sad as hell. Even sadder is that the design COULD have been amazing if they had just used basic photoshop effects to ease the white area for the signature into the design instead of just amputating the bottom half of the player.
Im just happy I am not a basketball collector, because I would be banging my head against a wall right now.