Every once in a while, a preview for an upcoming product is released, and you just have to say “Wow.” When 2010 Five Star was posted, I had that type of reaction. At the time, it was shocking to me how awesome the cards looked. For today’s National Treasures preview, I had that same reaction. For a long time, National Treasures has been an inferior set to me, mainly because of design. Combine that with sticker autos for the majority of its signature content, and it was worse. Things looks to be VASTLY different for 2013 Treasures.
This isnt the first time these players have had on card autographs recently, as Topps has managed to include them frequently in Five Star and other products, and Panini has done so in Treasures last year:
Although this is only a small sliver of the product, it is beyond impressive so far. Topps has yet to show us anything other than solicitation pictures for Five Star, which I expect to be done on a similar level of awesomeness, but these cards are really amazing. Panini is one of the best in the business in hyping up their stuff, and to be honest, its been a complete and utter failure on the Topps side. Five Star will forever be compared to Treasures because it closes out the season, but it never compares to NT's value for a variety of dumb reasons. This year, high end products will be a HARD sell, and I dont think I have seen enough to get me excited about buying product that costs as much as these sets do. The rookie class is a disaster, and the veteran content will drive the sales. Panini is definitely trying to highlight their efforts.
Here is the thing. No one can actually say that their hype machine actually contributes to better sales, but I can guarantee it doesnt hurt them when the posts are done like this. Topps deserves all the credit in the world for the last three years of Five Star. Collectors havent given said to them because the product wasnt around when Exquisite was still going strong in 2008 and 2009. That is STUPID. Panini hasnt deserved the value in NT from 2008-2011, and yet the name on the box has granted them a reprieve. I cant even put into words how angry that makes me. For 2012, we saw a glimmer of what was possible when they actually put some work into their best set of the year:
For 2013 we are seeing an evolution of that commitment to improvement. However, its still only a tiny part of the grander product hierarchy, and that still sucks. There will be stickers in NT, there will be shitty one color jersey cards inserted at an inexcusable rate. Five Star will be on card 100% and have a larger commitment to the content than any NT set has ever had. Its sad that we reward Panini for a tiny (but incredible) grouping of cards, but dont do the same for Topps when the cards have looked awesome for 3 years running. I hope that changes this year, but Im not holding my breath.
Check out these beauties: