Panini Makes Big Announcement Surrounding the Future of Patch Cards

Panini was really making waves at the Summit this week, which has been the case for the last few years.

I already posted my thoughts on the new Panini Rewards Redemption Program, but I want to cover the other piece of news, which I find to be that much more interesting and beneficial for EVERY collector who buys Panini Products.

Over the last few card years, the quality of patches released in products has grown to an almost unsupportable level. As game used jerseys have become commonplace and lost values, companies have relied almost exclusively on finding ways to keep them as a valuable part of a product’s checklist. One way to do that is to introduce more and more crazy patches in as many cards as possible. Prior to that, logo and multicolored patches were so rare, that any quality patch was enormously valuable above and beyond the normal card. Whenever something gains popularity in this fashion, the scammers come out of the woodwork to find ways to exploit it. What happened was the removal of the low quality patch from the card via a variety of techniques, and replacing them with some of the logo patches that were are now all used to.

Because so few cards had logo patches, and many of the fakes looked almost identical to one another, it was easy to tell when something wasn’t real.

Many companies tried to work against faking patches, some by encapsulating cards, others by listing the patch content on the actual card themselves. None of these worked well, as the criminals always found a way to take advantage of the people who weren’t in the know.

Fast forward to today, after years of problems. One of the ripple effects of this new era of patch quality is that it is no longer easy or possible to tell the good fakes from the real cards. Because the practice has been around for so long, and because any card in any set can have a crazy patch, we are at the mercy of these idiots.

All these cards are high numbered:

2012 Panini National Treasures Russell Wilson Logo Patch Auto /49

2011 Exquisite Cam Newton Logo Patch Auto RC /99

2012 Limited Joe Flacco Jumbo Logo Patch Auto /10

2012 Panini Black Nick Foles Auto Patch Logo

For a long time, collectors have asked for a database sponsored by the manufacturer to showcase each card. Up until yesterday, no one was able to make that happen. Well Panini is taking a bold and needed step forward in adding a QR code to the back of each prime patch card to be linked to an image of the card at packout. This is a huge step in combatting fakes, even though it doesn’t solve the whole problem. It solves enough of the problem that the rest almost becomes moot.

In fact, I used to cover fakes on my site all the time, but its just not feasible anymore. That is a shame that I cant be the person I used to be, as everyone needs education on these matters. You cant tell, and this is going to be great.

I sincerely hope this becomes a main focus for Panini in their product development, and I am eager to see what happens when it comes into play next year. There are so many patch cards from each product that I am curious to see how they will be able to execute this problem, but I almost don’t care as long as it happens in SOME capacity.

When you see how many of the hobby’s biggest cards are now unable to be purchased because of fear over fakes, this is huge.

There was also talk at the summit around adding photos of the game used jerseys to the back of the card in which they are used, also a big deal. There is a lot of talk, mostly unwarranted, surrounding the authenticity of game used material in cards, and this should help alleviate that situation somewhat. Although we still have to take the company’s word in some cases about the source of the jersey, we now have more of a roadmap to confirming authenticity of our swatches. This doesn’t solve the usage of event used material, which has become its own monster, and wont likely solve that any time soon.

My thoughts are simple. There is no reason for Topps, Panini or anyone to knowingly defraud their customers on the authenticity of game used material, regardless of guarantees on the back of the card. It just isn’t worth it, especially with the amount of access many of the companies have directly to the locker rooms in the major sports. Topps has piss poor wording on their cards to CYA, but I don’t see that as a risk. No one will be or can be perfect in a venture like this where there are more fakes than real material. One of the companies will get burned eventually, but it just does not make sense to risk it. We have all heard the stories about UD and their shady business, but I am forced to believe this is a different time.

Panini has tried sets that source GU jerseys to a specific game, and they haven’t done any better than non-sourced material. It just doesn’t do much for the average collector. That doesn’t make it any less of a nice to have, but we should all be realistic.

As much of a hater as I am over the previous announcement, I absolutely love this.

Panini Announces Huge Changes To Their Redemption Programs

Panini announced today that their redemption programs would be changing, being replaced by points in packs that can be “redeemed” via an app on your phone or computer. These points are not player specific, and it will let collectors choose their card to be redeemed as the players sign. Different players get different points.

All this being said, I have an opinion, obviously. It may be surprising to you, but I don’t have a problem with Redemptions, and in all honesty – you shouldn’t either.

Redemptions ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. The problem is what happens when they are not fulfilled in a timely matter, if at all. Most people are fine with waiting a few months for their player to sign, as long as they sign. As I have said before, most collectors have a scope to their collections, whether it is a team or a player. Wax breakers also have a scope, especially when it gets to the ones that bust high end. If the redemptions no longer have player names on them, it removes a big element to a main pillar of the hobby. If the majority of customers function in this fashion, im hesitant to say its a good idea to remove that element from any program run by a manufacturer.

Redemptions can carry immense value, and for the most part, they do eventually get filled. All of these big cards were redemptions at one point:

2012 National Treasures Russell Wilson Auto Patch Logo

2013 Panini Crown Royale Peyton Manning Silhouette Auto Patch

2012 Contenders Nick Foles Auto Ticket Variation RC

2013 Topps Chrome Yasiel Puig Red Refractor Auto /25

2013 Immaculate Kyrie Irving Auto Jumbo Patch

That’s not saying this isn’t a great idea. Not at all, I give Panini a ton of credit for taking a risk like this. It begs a million different questions surrounding points expiration, box content, schedule of signings, communication of store offerings, all sorts of stuff like that. On paper this could work, barring any of the above situation. It also gives Panini a ton of incentive to get their content live in packs, because otherwise its not going to be on the checklist until its available in the app’s store.

Here is the main issue. Big name players, especially non-rookies, only sign a few times per year. Does this mean that products now go without those names until they do sign? Doesnt spell good for cards that would have been redemptions in the past. Don’t let this fool you, there are still redemptions, just not in the same fashion, and that might create some ripples that Panini doesn’t quite understand yet. Eventually, if only the lower tier players sign, does that mean the content of the store is just a bunch of junk no one else wanted? Collectors will just be left holding their points in the same fashion they used to hold redemptions. Although this time, there is no guarantee of what player they will be able to get.

In my opinion, what should have happened, is that the player name is still on the redemption. If you are waiting for too long, you can choose to take the points to buy stuff from the store. Then, if you want, you can pick out what you want as a replacement. This would basically kill two birds with one stone. Points will have an exchange rate, and their allotment per card can be determined by the market. That way, in a hobby where collection targets will be injured by any content that cant be packed out at release, you still can have that promise of the card in your mailbox IF it is made. If it isn’t made, well then you get your points.

Here is another thing I have to give credit to Panini about, especially in regards to the scope of the program. If the above solution was implemented, its obvious that the center stage would still be the cards outstanding. Instead we now have full scale implementation, which FORCES them to put great stuff in the app store if they want people to continue buying their products. This includes, from what I understand, a lot of content signed through Panini Authentic, which is a great outlet for a program like this. I would guess unopened product will also be an option, as will some of the promotional stuff like the black boxes.

I see a plethora of open doors now that we know something like this can exist. It gives collectors an out, but it may not be the solution we deserve. Hopefully we get some more clarification of the program, how it effects box hits, and all those rules that we know are coming. I am giddy at the idea of a new world, but extremely skeptical of what it will mean for the content I like. Currently I have 15 redemptions in process with either of the big two. I will wait for signing on all but 2, regardless of timeframe. That should say something.

EDIT:

The more I think about it the more concerned I get. There was a Q and A posted, and already we are getting responses like this from Panini: “unless we are running a specific promotion and we want to add points just to reward the consumer.” Does anyone else see this as a vehicle to replace the addition of cards to a certain product? Lets say Panini doesnt want to design another group of cards for an upcoming release, what’s to stop them from just throwing a bunch of points in there instead? Whose to say they wont add them to their big giveaways, or even sell them on an exchange rate. There is no guarantee of monetary value, so fluctuations in value will be RAMPANT. That creates a lot of insecurity if you ask me.

Add that onto my nightmare scenario, which now exists instead of pulling a big name player redemption:

  • You pull a huge point card from a box or pack to replace the previous redemption
  • You go online and see that the only things available are scrubs and huge point items from Panini Authentic
  • You decide to wait for a cool card to be released because you are short of the major point items
  • Cool card gets released, but because everyone has been waiting for something awesome, you are one of 100 people waiting for a card that has 25 copies.
  • Because you werent there immediately when the card hits the store, you now miss out and are left with your original choice of junk or waiting because you dont have enough to pay for a bigger item that is available.
  • Repeat as necessary.

Similarly, for everyone that doesnt break wax, they are now left to wait. They can either buy points online and HOPE they arent beaten out for the card they want, or wait for the cards to show up on ebay. At that point, its worse than a redemption, because you are counting on someone selling their high point value card at a reasonable price, or at all.

I am quickly formulating the opinion that Panini created this program as a vast overreaction to the part of the process that wasnt the issue. Basically, my car is running slow due to this flat tire, let me get a more powerful engine to go faster! The part of the process that was broken was the replacements for unfulfilled or lagging cards, NOT the existence of redemptions in the first place (as mentioned above). Uneducated collectors confuse the two vastly different situations, and have created an uproar over it. As a result we now have to suffer through this. Every passing moment makes me more frustrated over this.

All we wanted was the choice of waiting for our card or taking the out in a manner we deem acceptable. We just traded one problem for another because we gained the second part, but lost the first.

Early Case Breaks Provide First Look at 2013 National Treasures Football

One of the ONLY positive things to come out of the 2014 Industry Summit is the amount of boxes that are going to be broken. Kind of interesting that an event made for networking becomes about breaking wax, but I digress. Last night, a few cases of the brand new 2013 National Treasures Football were broken, and as expected the cards look pretty damn good. I was beyond excited to see how it turned out, and I was not disappointed.

Here are some of the cards from the break last night:

2013 National Treasures Eddie Lacy Triple Relic Auto

2013 National Treasures Giovani Bernard Auto Patch Booklet

2013 National Treasures Tyler Eiffert Rookie Patch Auto /99

2013 National Treasures Knowshon Moreno Two Color Century Patch /10

The good things about last year’s treasures look to be back with a few extra goodies. The Century collection autograph cards that were some of my favorites from 2012 are back with a larger swatch. Although they are still sticker autos from what I saw during the break, they look awesome. The booklets are back as well, this time with veteran players, and those all look tremendous too.

Here is the main draw back, of which may not be that big of a deal. With the release date a month early, it looks like many of the on card autos minus the ones Panini has shown on their blog over the last few months, will be redemptions. That will piss a few people off, but I think I am MORE than happy to wait for the on card stuff. Its not an issue at all if you have patience.

I wish the NFL gear cards were not vertical, as they do not look properly proportioned with the autograph choking the player at the top of the relics. There are so many elements on this design that its the equivalent of a vertically oriented jumbo swatch auto. Not pretty.

We are sure to see more as the week moves on and I cannot wait.

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2014 Heritage: Non Hit Cards Take Center Stage

I posted earlier on the release of 2014 Topps Heritage, and like last year, I am shocked at how much some of the cards are selling for. Even more shocking is that these cards are not the normal variety anyone would expect in today’s hobby. Its become clear that Heritage has a cult following that may only come out once a year, and they are coming out in droves for a heritage year that everyone is fond of. There are autograph cards in the set, but the value in these cards isnt close to where we are seeing for other programs. Only a few are really worth the price of admission.

Heritage Chrome Parallels

First, let me say how glad I am that there are cards of this sort that are worth this kind of money at release. In the last 10 years, there are so few non-auto non-memorabilia cards that carry value in the hobby, but when you see how much interest the parallels are drawing, it might show hope after all. This is a set in a vacuum however, but there are similar situations that exist. I hope we can see more in the future.

2014 Topps Heritage Mike Trout Gold Refractor 5/5

2014 Topps Heritage Derek Jeter Gold Refractor 5/5

2014 Topps Heritage Stephen Strasburg Black Refractor /65

2014 Topps Heritage Manny Machado Black Refractor /65

Heritage Gold Embossed All Stars

I mentioned before how much I think these cards are horrible, and I still feel that way. Despite my feelings, they are selling at prices I never would have expected, especially considering how rare they are. Some people were saying there are less than 15 per card in existence, and they might not be that far off. They come in autograph and relic versions as well, but they arent worth as much. Talk about a deviation from normal protocol!

2014 Topps Heritage Yasiel Puig Gold Embossed

2014 Topps Heritage Justin Verlander Gold Embossed

Coins and Stamp cards

This type of card is interesting, but is not something I have anywhere close to my wish list. The cards feature items from 1965, embedded in the window of the cards with a player adjacent. The numismatists out there who are also card collectors must drive the market, as the cards sell quite well.

2014 Topps Heritage Felix Hernandez 1965 Dime Mint

2014 Topps Heritage Ernie Banks 1965 Churchill Stamp

Throwback Uniform Variations

Remember last year when these cards broke the 1K barrier on the rarer varieties? Well Topps obviously took notice and put out quite a few of them for different players. They arent selling near where they did last year, even though many of them are still quite scarce. Im interested to find out how many there really are.

2014 Topps Heritage Derek Jeter Throwback Uniform SSP

2014 Topps Heritage Mike Trout Throwback Uniform SSP

Again, Topps Heritage is not my bag and I dont really care to go buy a bunch of packs any time soon. However, this is the type of set that Topps must love, because the cost is minimal and the most valuable cards dont have autographs. That’s a winner.

Sports Card Album Changes the Game Once Again

Let me start off this article by talking about the way that the card community works. Basically, if you collect and you are online, you have to show everyone what you have. It makes collecting fun, because it uses a level of competition and pride in combination with the obvious vanity that we all inherently possess.

As a reuslt, for ages, collectors have repurposed photo sharing sites to show off their wares. Popular services like Photobucket have been around for ages, but they were never meant to be used for sharing cards in any way. We have all had the frustration of dealing with a type of site that never was meant to handle the type of situation we are all desiring.

Sergio from SportsCardAlbum.com has made it his life’s work over the last year to change that, offering a site completely dedicated to card collecting online. Aside from a place where collectors can go and share their photos, the site also offers messaging for trading and selling as well. That’s only the half of it. For the first time ever, Sports Card Album has now been made into an app on the Apple store designed to make it that much easier.

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I downloaded the app last week, and have had nothing but awesome results in using it. As good as the mobile site used to be, the app is that much better. Although it costs 3.99, for less than the price of a pack of cards, I was able to get the full functionality of uploading images and tweeting out pictures with the touch of a button. Its incredible to see all the things that Sergio and his team were able to come up with.

If you are still using one of the old photo sharing sites, its time to switch – NOW. They are already working on a batch of upgrades that should be ready soon, which adds even more functionality of the main site. Check out the video below and buy the app via the link below. I rarely vouch for something on this site, but this is one of those things that we all need to support for the good of the hobby. Its rare that someone comes along with the dedication to spend the time and energy to actually change things instead of just talking about it like I do.

Great job Sergio, you have definitely made some waves.

SPORTS CARD ALBUM – CLICK HERE FOR THE APPLE APP STORE