SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 Absolute Football

For as long as I can remember, Absolute has been a complete crime scene. Horrible format, horrible content, all around garbage. It has been a laughing stock among the industry circles with some pretty clever nicknames I have heard thrown around. Yet, like many dead Panini brands, it is trotted out each year with fanfare. Sometimes I just feel bad for them. Yes, we have gotten to the point where I pity their stupidity.

Here are some of the bigger hits up so far:

2014 Panini Absolute Odell Beckham Auto Quad Relic /20

2014 Panini Absolute Mike Evans Tools of the Trade Auto Relic

2014 Panini Absolute Teddy Bridgewater Tools of the Trade Auto Relic

2014 Panini Absolute Joe Namath Absolute Ink Auto – only Panini would name a sticker auto set “Absolute Ink.”

2014 Panini Absolute Johnny Manziel Auto Relic

That being said, it doesnt look bad this year, and I am shocked. From a design perspective, I actually like the way this product looks down to many of the worst offenders from previous years. Not only did they get rid of the horrid fucking die cut letters that I cant stand, but they did a great job making the card dynamic. That scares me some, because it almost gives Panini another reason to put another year behind this dumpster fire.

Unlike previous incarnations of Absolute, design isnt the issue with 2014. There are so many glaring issues with format and content that it almost renders the rest of the product moot. At 150 dollars a box, with 2 autos and a bunch of crappy jersey cards, you are asking for trouble. Who might those two autos be? In just about every box I have seen, its a mix of sticker dump checklist bombs like Aaron Dobson, Da'Rick Rogers and Joseph Fauria, or a rookie scrub that will sell for 2 bucks. Since Panini doesnt seem to get that junk relic cards sell worse than junk these days, it sets everyone up to bend over and spread their cheeks.

The other issue is that as many as 2 boxes out of the case will have what looks to be a 150 point card in them. Seriously. You read that right. They are putting point cards in boxes that cost over 100 bucks a box. As someone said on twitter, it takes talent to make people hate points cards more than redemptions. Its even worse when you can also pull 150 point cards in Score. Dont charge me for a sports car and deliver a lemon hatchback. That’s what is happening here. Its despicable and disgusting to see the way the boxes perform.

I usually make my criteria based on design first, but it is just too hard to ignore how bad these cases and boxes are looking. Design almost doesnt matter. Scary shit people. This is the company that is going to be the only game in town. Im going to keep saying that in my posts, because I need that to sink into your brains right now. Good god.

NFL Hobby Awards – 2014 Season Is OVER!

I am so sad right now because the regular season has reached its conclusion and that means its just a few more weeks of football left before the barren wasteland of sports during the summer. This was quite the year in the NFL, and ripples were felt throughout the entire hobby. Here are how I see the awards shaking out in terms of hobby performance this year.

Hobby MVP – Aaron Rodgers

When you think about it, Rodgers is really a perfect storm. One of the leagues best QBs on one of the leagues most widely collected teams. He doesnt sign much, which only means that his cards are that much more valuable. Rodgers had a ridiculous season AGAIN, and that only improves the aura currently surrounding his legacy.

2011 Gold Standard Aaron Rodgers Super Bowl Rings Auto

2005 SP Authentic Aaron Rodgers Auto Rookie Patch /99

2005 Topps Chrome Aaron Rodgers Gold Xfractor Auto PSA 10

Hobby ROY – Odell Beckham Jr

There is no hotter autograph right now than his, and it is a big reason why 2014 wax hasnt completely tanked from its pre-season peak. Beckham didnt play the whole season, but he still managed over 1000 yards, 12 TDs and one of the best touchdown catches I may have ever seen. Hobby ROY is almost more important than the MVP because of how many rookie products there are, and when the big bopper products hit to close out the year, Beckham’s main cards will be huge.

2014 Flawless Odell Beckham Jr. Jumbo Patch Auto

2014 Topps Chrome Odell Beckham Die Cut Auto RC

2014 Strata Odell Beckham Auto Shadowbox

Biggest Disappointment – Johnny Manziel

When the season started, there was no bigger name in cards than Johnny Football. Now that he finished the season in embarrassing fashion, he isnt even the top QB in the class any longer. Its really unfortunate that he didnt start the world on fire, because 2014 wax was so dependent on his good play.

2014 SPX Johnny Manziel Auto Patch Blue with Inscription

2014 Topps Chrome Johnny Manziel Black Refractor Auto BGS 9.5

2014 Flawless Johnny Manziel Auto RC /20

Most Underrated Hobby Player – JJ Watt

Defense gets no love. None. Watt gets more love than just about any other defender, but his autographs are still low for the incredible player that he is. The issue is that he doesnt get the kind of focus and ball touches that the offense does, and he plays for a team that very few people collect. Watt should be a hobby juggernaut, but he is always upstaged by the other side of the ball. Another season with 20 sacks, and also a number of receiving TDs. Absolutely nuts he doesnt sell for more.

2011 Contenders JJ Watt Auto Ticket RC

2014 Flawless JJ Watt Auto

Slow Hobby Death Award – Jay Cutler

Its crazy to believe that the Bears benched their QB in the way they did, just after signing a huge contract in 2013. Although arguments could and should be made for Adrian Peterson to win this award too, but he still maintains a ton of value for some reason. Cutler rarely signed, which made his cards very valuable, but they have tanked lately.

2013 National Treasures Jay Cutler NFL Logo Auto 1/1

2006 Contenders Jay Cutler Rookie Ticket Auto

Rookies to Keep Your Eye On #1 – Teddy Bridgewater

There was no more accurate passer in the NFL during the last few weeks of the season than Bridgewater, who won the most games of any rookie during the season. He played great for a team that had a ton of drama.

2014 Topps Triple Threads Teddy Bridgewater Triple Patch Auto 1/1

2014 Bowman Chrome Teddy Bridgewater Gold Refractor Auto /50

Rookies to Keep Your Eye On #2 – Jeremy Hill

No one saw him coming, and that is hard considering how hard of a runner he is. The guy churns up yards like a beast, and his cards go for very little comparatively. I really like what he brings.

2014 SP Authentic Jeremy Hill Auto Patch RC

2014 Topps Finest Jeremy Hill Jumbo Relic Auto

Rookies to Keep Your Eye On #3 – Mike Evans

Everyone was all over Odell Beckham, but lost in playing for a team that is picking near the top of the draft is Mike Evans who had a MONSTER season. He somehow caught a ton of TDs on a team that had no one to throw him the ball, which only makes the case more.

2014 Topps Platinum Mike Evans Red Refractor Auto /5

2014 Flawless Mike Evans Jumbo Patch Auto Logo

Overall, this has been a year that I think many people would have some issue with in regards to play of the rookie class, but it has been pretty interesting overall. The playoffs are yet to come, but it is really sad that some of the top rookies will be on their couch watching on TV. I guess we will have to see how everything plays out.



Odell Beckham Superfractor Auto 1/1 Hits Ebay!

Is this the single biggest card of 2014? Hard to believe that it might be. In the last few years, the hobby has shifted away from every position that isnt Quarterback, but with a few amazing performances and catches on national TV, Odell Beckham Jr may be the hottest thing the hobby has in 2014. His cards are selling for insane money, and I am happy to see that they are. Its about time.

Well, the Topps Chrome Superfractor Auto 1/1 just hit eBay, and it might be the biggest card of the year.

When it comes to chase cards, there is no equal to the autographed Superfractor from Topps Chrome. It will outperform chase cards from boxes that cost hundreds more per rip, and its aura is unlike any other card.

With reports of the Johnny Manziel Superfractor Auto being pulled recently, and the recent listing of the Teddy Bridgewater Superfractor auto as well, this is one of the few remaining cards left. Now that it has been pulled, im curious to see how the market responds. I can easily see this card getting money normally reserved for cars and mortgages, and that’s no joke. The non-auto version of Beckham's superfractor also sold recently.

The Andrew Luck Superfractor Auto sold for 16k back in 2013, and though this wont come close to that, it will likely get the attention of many different New York Giants collectors with deep pockets. I believe the person who pulled it has posted a comment here on the site before, and I would encourage him to post his reaction again below as well.

One can only hope this sale will add a bit of oomph to the market this year, as cards have taken a nosedive lately. There are always people in the market for chase cards, so this will be a test of how far we have come. The non-auto super sold for just under 2k, but I think this will blow that away.

Congrats to the person who just won the lotto!

SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 Bowman Chrome Football

When I first saw that Bowman Chrome was being brought back, I got VERY excited to see what they were going to come up with. Back in 2009, I thought the set had legs as a sister set for the wildly popular baseball version, before it was axed due to poor performance. After seeing the way 2014 came to be, Im feeling the exact opposite of excitement. This set is looking worse by the day, and there is no other way to put it.

With not much opened, tough to find some of the nicer hits:

2014 Bowman Chrome Johnny Manziel Gold Refractor Auto /50

2014 Bowman Chrome Odell Beckham Auto Blue Refractor

2014 Bowman Chrome Mike Evans Gold Refractor Auto /50

2014 Bowman Chrome Kelvin Benjamin Gold Refractor Auto

The situation is very simple here, and I think Topps did not do a very good job helping us to understand what was going on. I went into Bowman Chrome expecting on card autographs and a refractor structure that was done similar to baseball (red ref /5, gold /10, orange /25 etc etc). What we got was an NFL branded equivalent of 2014 Bowman Football, released prior to the draft. That is just not going to fly with people, even though they got some autographs from lower tier rookies who have had an impact this year.

Dont get me wrong, I like the way the design looks now, just like I did back then. The new "Bubble" refractor parallel type is actually pretty cool. However, the checklist quality is so crazy bad, that you should celebrate a nice pull with a bottle of Cristal. I say that because it might be easier to hit the lottery than pull a nice name out of this stuff. The only good thing is that Chrome only costs 65 bucks a box, so you wont be out a rent payment unless you bust a case.

Its severely annoying and disappointing that the majority of the autographs are stickers. One of the main reasons I was so excited was for the on card autographs, and Topps Chrome undermines the quality here with its volume of nicer on card autos through the product. I opened 3 boxes, and wound up with 4 sticker autos. Although I know Topps tried to add content by putting in extra autographs, it looks more like a dump of inventory than anything.

Like most of Topps’ products, the stuff looks really good. The die cuts are interesting, the colored refractors look great, and when you pull a nice card, its going to be valuable with so few people breaking boxes of it. All of those things I like.

I dont like that there is veritably no differentiation between Bowman and Bowman Chrome, as I expected there would be. I also dont know what is going to happen to the NFL uniform redemptions that were present in the early set, but now overlap because of the cards in this release. Its too bad, because I really though there was a lot of potential here. Yet, because Topps literally has no ability to sit on the metric ton of scrubby stickers from bad players, they need to get rid of them faster than usual. With no Magic this year, Bowman Chrome must be it.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 Topps Strata Football

Although I cannot understand why there are two products again this week, I do love me some Strata enough to forgive the odd schedule. In its 3rd year after the initial release in 2012, the big hits from the product are some of the best looking rookie cards of the year. In terms of the main hits, they remain some of the more innovative cards around, but its clear that there cannot be a lot invested in the rest of the set as a result. It hurts the box break, which in turn hurts the product.

Here are some of the bigger hits posted so far:

2014 Topps Strata Teddy Bridgewater Shadowbox Auto /50

2014 Topps Strata Jeremy Hill Auto Clear Cut Patch – Nike Logo 1/1

2014 Topps Strata Sammy Watkins Clear Cut Auto Relic

2014 Topps Strata Mike Evans Clear Cut Auto Relic

The concept and box break are not even the biggest issue with products this year, as the rookie class will have more impact than any box break could have. With Odell Beckham and the rest of the WR class being the top guys on the field, it doesnt leave a lot of value to be had. Receivers dont have the collecting impact that quarterbacks have, and Derek Carr and Teddy Bridgewater dont have the stats to carry a class in that way. Manziel has shown nothing but question marks this year to boot, which means that the tentpole that held up the big top is weak for 2014.

Being that Strata is a rookie based product, it will suffer. The later release will also have a large impact, especially now that collectors can compare on field results with their own personal perception of what they think the card is worth. Bottom line, Football is degrading faster than ever, as many of the buyers out there have resorted to putting the money behind cards of players who they feel have a higher ceiling. In the general public’s opinion, there arent many who fit that bill in this year's class, other than the aforementioned receivers who never really carry the torch the way a QB does.

As for the product itself, the design is still as awesome today as it was when the product was first released. The shadowbox style cards are still amazing, and I will continue to chase my targets with rabid tenacity. I think that this product at the price for the two box hits is a really great deal, the design is still as awesome today as it was when the product was first released. Being that there is not a Shadowbox card per, means that you may not get much. However, because this isnt 120 dollars, its not as big a hit.

Collectors just dont like opening a bunch of packs that have a lot of repetitive base, and I am still curious why Strata hasnt shifted to a 1 pack configuration. It really would help solidify how incredible the box hits really are, and not bore people with all the base. It understandable that Topps needs the extra packs for a retail release as well, but many of us couldnt care less about that.

Even the clear cut autographs with acetate on card autos are a star, despite the fact that the better players can be really hard to pull. There are also a lot of redemptions as well, which seems a bit odd considering that most of Chrome and Platinum on card got done in time. Obviously those sets take priority, but Topps is lucky that the Strata cards are worth the wait.

Its pretty crazy that Strata is a largely forgotten product because of some of the issues it has, because I really think it is sorely underrated.