Today marks the release of a product I put on my list for the worst products of the new millennium. Spectra is so bad, that it sucks on more levels than just design, or price or content. It sucks on all of them. Other bad Panini products like Certified or Clear Vision suck on multiple levels too, but nothing of this type of suckage. This product blows so hard, that it makes the duds of previous years look like winners. That is not a good way to get into the market with a product on the highest price tier. Here is a breakdown.
Since its inception, Spectra has been a whopper at close to 300 per box. In 2013, there was a lot of on card content, and the design wasnt horrible. Last year, there was a lot of on card content, but the design was god awful. This year, the autographs are all stickers, and the design is legendary in how fucking horrible it is. When you have a product that costs above the normal expectations, there has to MANY things that make the set worth buying. Whether its a combination of great looking cards, on card autographs or even great looking relic cards, something has to justify the price tag and exceed what people expect. Spectra not only does not exceed, but it doesnt even meet the basic expectations we have for low end. That is a disaster waiting to happen.
This is where Spectra takes terrible to a whole new level. When you see the first design, you think to yourself that there is no way things could get worse. Then you see the next and the next, and it all goes downhill from there. The cards are plagued by giant boxes behind the sticker autographs, odd swatch placement, and terrible design composition. The dual auto patch cards are by far the worst, with Panini choosing that the heads of the player are really the only part they feel like showing. There is not a single good looking chrome stock card in the entire set.
Spectra’s cards seem to showcase a general lack of brand separation from the rest of what Panini has put out this year as well. When you look at the way the cards look, the similarities in the structure of the design is pretty easy to spot. It would be one thing if the design they replicated was good to begin with, but its not even close to that level.
I cant even find the right adjective to describe how the cards look with the neon pens used to sign the stickers and what I have started calling "seizure stock" due to its likelihood of inducing seizures when viewing it. The crazy patterns used on the card stock have been used in other sets before, so Im not saying that it hasnt been bad until now. It has been. The seizure stock has never been used in this way in a high end set that I can remember. Coupling the nauseating look with rookies who signed their stickers in neon colored pen onld makes things more disgusting, and that isnt really giving the correct gravity to the terrible look.
Panini also chose to steal the card stock design from Topps' wildly popular Superfractors, which just looks like a dick move. Dont get me wrong, things get ripped off all the time. Hell, Panini even ripped off an entire Upper Deck product back in 2013 – name and all. It happens. The issue is that Superfractors kind of have Topps’ brand name written all over it. Stealing the look only makes it look like your team doesnt have the creativity to come up with a similarly valuable parallel structure. When you see what Panini typically has to offer, I guess that isnt a surprise though.
The biggest complaint is that just a few weeks ago, Panini released 2015 Certified, which offered a jumbo patch auto with a sticker for 1/3rd the price of this shit. Both products have been panned online, but the difference in price showcases how few elements of unique content are available in this. Although on card autographs of some Top HOFers are included, the use of Seizure Stock, combined with general rarity makes it almost a moot point.
Panini should be ashamed of themselves with this product. I sincerely feel that way. With every product release, there are certain people I look to as a barometer for how it will perform. Every time something comes out, one of those people seems to think there is some redeeming factor worth looking at. This time, none of them do. I may be biased towards Panini the same way Fox News is biased towards democrats, but even the more objective individuals think this is a bloodbath. Pretty telling.