2016 Contenders Ezekiel Elliott Super Bowl Ticket Hits Ebay

There has been no bigger product so far this year, and there will likely be only one or two products that have cards that will be worth more than the Contenders tickets that continue to dominate the landscape now that all the superior Topps products have been removed thanks to the exclusive.

The top cards in the product are the Super Bowl ticket 1/1 autos, which are absolutely impossible to valuate in a lot of ways. For the top two guys, one of them has been pulled and it just hit ebay.

2016 Contenders Ezekiel Elliott Super Bowl Ticket Auto 1/1

Because there is no longer a Chrome Superfractor auto to eclipse this sale, this could end up as the top selling card of the year, unless the Treasures shield auto outsells it. This is likely an 8-10k card, and although its a redemption, it looks like Zeke has been signing his stuff as of late. Once the playoffs are over, that will likely continue.

Check out where the big two are landing outside of these:

2016 Contenders Ezekiel Elliott Rookie Ticket Auto Cracked Ice /24

2016 Contenders Dak Prescott Ticket Auto

There arent many cards that I will write a whole post about, but this is definitely one of them. Panini’s trash product lines outside of Contenders have sold above expectations solely because of these two special rookies, and Panini should thank whatever devil they pray to that this class has the two Cowboys to float their garbage. Contenders having a good looking design this year really will set this stuff apart, as people will want one of the few good looking sets for their collection.

On the Radar: 2017 Topps Definitive Collection Baseball

When I saw the subject of the email in my inbox that said that Topps was going to be doing Definitive Collection for baseball, I got quite excited over the possibilities of what it could be. 2015 Definitive Football was, without a doubt, the product of the year for 2015, much of what was Topps' last hurrah. To see that they have decided to port it over to baseball makes me extremely happy.

Here are some of the amazing cards from Football:

2015 Topps Definitive Collection Barry Sanders Auto

2015 Topps Definitive Collection Russell Wilson / Marshawn Lynch Dual Auto

2015 Topps Definitive Collection Jameis Winston Logo Patch Framed Auto 1/1

2015 Topps Definitive Collection Drew Brees Inscription Auto /10

2015 Topps Definitive Collection Aaron Rodgers / Peyton Manning Dual Auto BGS 9.5

Its sister product in football brought some incredible looking designs, great use of interesting embossing, and most importantly, a unique perspective on High End cards. Not only did Topps make the most of all the top production methods, but they made it look fucking amazing in the process. Its one thing to use great technology like they did in Black Gold football, its another when that attempt has relatively few good looking cards in the grand scheme. Definitive, with its use of silhouette die cuts and framed cards was seriously amazing.

They kept the design mostly the same with baseball, something Im definitely looking forward to. The frames are back, and if the checklist is as good as it was in football, I dont think there will be any question this set will be popular. Bottom line, Definitive came on in football a few years too late, as there is no opportunity to deliver a follow up product. With baseball, hopefully that changes.

The main issue is that the on card autos and top checklist isnt as much of a treat as it was in Football. With many of the football products, its rare to see on card multi signed cards or even on card HOF and vet players. When the product delivered some amazing names, with inscriptions and other treats, its quite a bit of a fun experience. Im not saying it wont be that in baseball as well, but Topps has done such a great job avoiding stickers, it might work to their disadvantage in a sport that they have rarely disappointed in delivering quality high end.

Either way, im very excited to see how this plays out, as its obvious that the Topps art team has no real competition in the hobby. If it can be executed in a way that was similar to Football, I think Topps will have a winner on their hands for years to come.

Check out the pics:

On Shelves Now: 2016 Contenders Football is Live!

The last two years of Contenders have been pretty good, and I think that ends up being the exception rather than the rule with ticket designs for a product that I feel gets more credit than it deserves. So much of the loyalty of this set comes from the inclusion of autographs from literally every possible rookie, and less about getting a good design down on paper. From early boxes, 2016 is one of the good years, much to my excitement.

Here are some of the big hits so far:

2016 Contenders Ezekiel Elliott Ticket Auto RC

2016 Contenders Carson Wentz ROY Contenders Auto

2016 Contenders Jared Goff Auto Ticket RC

2016 Contenders Will Fuller Rookie Ticket Auto RC

2016 Contenders Tyreek Hill Horizontal Auto Variation

This year’s design hasnt been the best in the mockup phase, but I actually think it has grown on me considerably. The problem is that the rookie class is driving up prices on the boxes to the point where they almost arent affordable enough to bust.

I think Panini did a good enough job with this set that it will sell better than most likely expected even a few weeks ago. Despite the inclusion of more points in boxes (NO FUCKING CLUE WHY POINTS STILL EXIST), the rest of the set looks pretty standard for much of what Contenders is known for. The NFL draft autos look to be the only set that use those shitty posed photos, and the inclusion of Sepia and Horizontal variation is a good add.

If I am Panini, Contenders needs to be a focus in A) keeping it simple B) not using a horrid design and C) not driving new features down our throats. That being said, they are including digital redemption codes straight out of Topps’ playbook, which would be nice if their app werent fucking trash. I like that they are trying to add value there, but their digital presence is that of a monkey in a pen of gorillas.

Overall, this Contenders needed to just be enough to not be so off the wall that collectors would have tons of questions. Luckily Panini didnt fuck it up so badly that Zeke and Dak couldnt save it, so…good for them?

2016 Optic Football Rated Rookie Photos Are the Biggest Disappointment of the Year

I loved Topps Chrome when it was THE rookie card to own. Products that cost 1500 a box werent generating the type of value in their chase hits that we got from Superfractors, and its clear that everyone in the hobby was jealous of the technology as a method for producing cards. In fact, Panini was so enthralled by Topps’ dominance, that they created a rip off equivalent of each of the Chrome sets that Topps put out.


Optic is new this year, and the set had the right idea going in, creating a Chromed out version of the Donruss set that I liked a lot this year – save one specific aspect. The photos used on the rated rookie cards were tagged as the base for the product, and on card autos were used as the way to deliver the one auto per box. This is where the biggest fuck up of the year was made, as the ridiculous photos used in the Donruss set were not changed to reflect action shots or game shots.


As if I havent made myself abundantly clear this year, the use of these goofy ass photos just make me angry. It makes me angry because these could have been cool if action shots were used appropriately. Instead we are left with pictures of rookies flexing muscles or being handed footballs or awkwardly looking at the camera. Just writing this post has me as fired up as seeing Panini murder Spectra for the 3rd year in a row.


People often criticize my blog for hating on Panini with every fiber of my being. This is why I hate what they do. They dont make decisions that create good looking trading cards, and save a few surprisingly good sets, 2016 was as ugly of a clusterfuck as has existed since they took over Donruss just before 2009. I cannot stand the choices they make about so many different things, and seeing the disappointment over a potentially great on card chrome set just really drives that dagger home.

Panini will say they were trying to recreate the retro cards of the golden days of the NFL. I call bullshit. Im not even sure they understand why goofy posed photos were used back in those days. It wasnt because the card companies thought those types of photos looked good. Limited access to the players during the season, lack of a Rookie Premiere (the event created for card companies to avoid posed shots), cost of buying game shots, and lack of ability to show team logos were all a big reason why the companies had to go the direction they did.

Now that the Rookie Premiere exists for rookies to get action type photos before the preseason, the need to use this type of photography is no longer necessary. PERIOD. It doesnt create connection with the player, it doesnt highlight what football is all about, and it misses out on the dynamic pictures that have made the gridiron what it is today. Panini should be fucking ostracized for the use of these dumb pictures, and I cannot wait for a year to come where 2013 repeats itself. Dak and Zeke have made it easy for Panini to mail it in on card design, and collectors are more concerned with jumping on the Cowboy bandwagon, than examining the embarrassing display that Panini has put on this year.

Optic is not the ugliest set of the year, Panini owned the ugly side of things big time with Unparalled, Gala, Spectra, Phoenix and Infinty. Its the most disappointing because of the asinine decision on the way the Rated Rookies were done. I swear to god I will fight this fight as long as I have to. Enough of these fucking photos. I dont need to see Carson Wentz doing his best impression of Captain Morgan. I dont need to see Dak Prescott posing like he is checking himself out nude in the mirror. I want action. I want dynamic. I want REAL FUCKING GAME PHOTOS. Fuck Panini and their embarassing boner for showcasing rookies like fashion models. This is why they suck. This is why Optic is as disappointing as anything. It could have been so, so, so much more.

Do Some Collectors Hate Panini Football Because They Have No Organic Brand Identity?

Maybe a better question is do some collectors hate Panini because they have stolen their brand ideas from so many of the other companies out there? I was conceiving this post in my head, and I have a clear narrative I want to tell, the problem is, Im not sure how to put it into a coherent article that will make sense to convey what I am trying to convey.

Basically, my opinion is that Panini owes the majority of their football product line to sources that are not organic to their football team. Most of the products, down to using the Superfractor pattern that was made famous by their competition, feature ideas or “identities” that arent theirs. So much of their product line is either directly ripped off from Topps and Upper Deck, or grandfathered in from the team at Donruss. Hell, some of their products from the last few years didnt even bother to change the name before taking it for their own.

To be fair, its clear that stealing from other brands is a standard practice in the hobby. Lets all remember that the jersey card started with Upper Deck in 1996. Within a few years, it had expanded to every manufacturer. Same thing with autograph cards, booklets, shadowboxes and every other creative idea. The thing is, Panini owns zero of those ideas, and they seem to make it their mission to integrate the creativity from other companies into their own products.

Adding to my personal disgust is that many of the ideas they rip off are like photocopies of the original. Just not as sharp and definitely not as desirable. I am curious if the growing negative sentiment over their imminent desire to take over the hobby’s exclusives stems from the fact that people are genuinely upset that rather than establish a brand identity on their own, they have taken pieces from the beloved corners of the hobby and tried to re-purpose them without making anything better or making anything really for themselves.

If you want to go through a super fun exercise, go through their product calendar for Football and start looking at what products are homegrown Panini fun houses, and which ones are the photocopies from previous products. Origins was a hilarious attempt at Inception, Luxe is based solely on a subset of Framed Autographs from Museum Collection, Prizm is Chrome, Select is Finest, Immaculate Collection is Exquisite with a new name and sticker autos, Spectra is modeled after a Bowman Sterling product that no one liked, there are Superfractors everywhere, and the rest of the products are either carry over loyalty products from DLP, or exercises in how ugly a trading card product can be. Wonder how a year like this could still have so many products selling below MSRP on Blowout? Is it because Panini (and the rest of the industry too), have cut so many corners that it is no longer able to sustain a quality pricing structure? Personally, I say yes.

Panini uses the minimum advertised price program as a way to prevent its products from losing value off the bat, and its really sad that that has to be in place. Although MAPP pricing exists in other industries, its not used in the way its used in trading cards. Its clear to me that the cost of making cards has gotten more expensive, but not all corners that have been cut with box content, autograph checklists, and relic practices need to be cut as much as they have. From what I have been told, in football, they negotiated such a ridiculous deal to get the exclusive, that they have set up collectors to shoulder the burden of extra licensing cost beyond what most probably are aware of.

At some point, my perceived lack of sustainability in card production catches up with the other companies as I think it might eventually, Panini likely will be the last one standing in the physical card industry. They have the most stable source of funding among the big four companies. The problem is, their lack of success around building products in the major sports that have staying power really concerns me to no end. They cant keep hoping that this plan works out for them. Collectors have tired of it, even though the Cowboys’ rookie class has masked some of the results in their dismal product line additions for the year. Take away Dak and Zeke, and the picture looks a lot different than it does right now.

We have seen many hobby shops closing doors because trends of moving towards online and group breaking has already made it difficult to operate a retail storefront. If the takeover trends continue and Panini does find a way to take over more than they already have, Im not sure the constant flow of the product shit river that runs weekly through shelves across the nation, can continue to have profitability built into it. Group breakers have even started complaining about how bad things have gotten, and if no real creativity is brought to the table, will there be a growing tidal wave of boredom that eventually envelops the entire hobby? I have often said the hobby will never die. A group of collectors will always exist. The problem is that the industry is not immune, because it has to remain profitable for the businesses that support it to exist.

For me to change my tune, Panini needs to get off their ass and start bringing new ideas to the table. They were woefully outgunned on digital, and they are building their existing products around found items from the scrap heap. I have yet to really see anything groundbreaking come from them in their entire existence, and that needs to change. I want it to change. I want there to continue to be a reason to buy boxes of cards. Right now, buying boxes as a whole is a losing venture because nothing changes week to week. I can buy the singles I want cheaper on ebay than ripping packs, and I can get the thrill of gambling from other means. A similar article like this can be written about many of the other companies out there, but Panini seems to have the trajectory that many people like me are dreading.

I want to see the industry change. I want to see Panini change. I want the hobby I have dedicated my life to begin to flourish again. The arrow is not pointing in the right direction. This lack of brand identity that Panini exhibits angers me to no end, because I know it just makes things worse. For 99% of the casual sports fans out there, Panini is a sandwich, not a card company. Organic growth doesnt seem to be happening, and good years seem to stem more from a market of people that are already aware of cards, not new collectors. Its not like Panini brought thousands of new people to the hobby with Dak and Zeke, the existing base just bought more than normal. Digital helps a bit with Topps, but not enough to fix what ails us.