On the Radar: 2016 Playbook Football

In looking at this product, I am dumbstruck by the boredom and lack of differentiation in the products Panini is puttting out. Playbook is different in that it offers a booklet format, but honestly the approach is the umpteenth product to SCREAM “I AM PANINI GARBAGE” in a row. Panini already didnt make good products, and now we see that Panini isnt even good at making Panini products.

Playbook has had its highlights from previous years, but they are getting lost in recent versions:

2012 Panini Playbook Andrew Luck Auto Patch Booket

2013 Panini Playbook Cam Newton Auto Patch Booklet

2014 Panini Playbook Marshawn Lynch Down and Dirty Logo Booklet

2014 Panini Playbook Doug Martin Game Of Inches Patch Booklet

This year’s design is back to a vertical booklet format, because they obviously want to cram as much as they can into this booklet to hide the fact that they have no chops in making cards. Each of the cards looks amateurish, or just bad, and that’s not even talking about the names they have for the subsets. Yes, someone at Panini thought they should name a set “Slant Signtaures.” When you see how the card looks, it becomes one of those horrible dad twitter jokes that people tell you to delete your account over.

Back when this set was worth buying singles, NO ONE was buying boxes. It has literally tanked every single year it has been around, and yet it is back every fucking season. Even worse, last year they actually had the nerve to put stickers on the playbooks that were left over from other products. Unbelievable.

I mean, these sets are getting so repetitive in the way they are done that I dont really know what else I can say. It is like eating a hamburger for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – eventually you just get sick of hamburgers. Sure, there are some REALLY good ones, but its still a fucking hamburger at the end of the day. What is even worse, is that Panini isnt a hamburger, its the white castle version of it. Some people like it, but man does it have a lot of people that find it disgusting.

Honestly, Playbook isnt the worst product that Panini makes, but that is pretty sad when you think about it. I mean, how do you put that goofy posed picture on the left hand side like that? Its a complete train wreck. I remember in 2013, this set was actually one I thought was pretty okay. Now, its just another white castle hamburger just like all the other garbage. Slant fucking signatures. Fuck. I give up.

On the Radar: 2016 Panini Impeccable Football Product Preview

Wait, they actually called a set Impeccable? Are we that thin on synonyms for “perfect?” That is fucking hilarious. Only Panini folks, only Panini.

Either way, it looks like Panini might be bringing a bit of Eminence to Football, which should not be surprising at all – especially considering that they have to fill more holes on their calendar than anyone should ever try to undertake.

Regardless of the stupidity of the name of the set, the cards do in fact look really good. Better than I expected could come out of the Panini camp, especially with how much of a hot mess their products have been up until this point. As far as I can tell, no goofy photos, no big white boxes, no insanely giant text, and no separated sliced off players in trying segment out a design.

I especially like the HDR type filters used on the photos, which end up making this a painted type approach for the set. I think that on card autos will only serve to make this set better, and hopefully the rookies do look as nice as they do on this sell sheet.

My only concern is that this set is going to be insanely expensive, similar to what we see on the Basketball side with Eminence. If that is the case, and those lame gimmicky silver pieces are the reason, Im going to be very disappointed. Those cards didnt do much for the first time they were released, so im not sure what they are trying to do bringing them to a sport where high end isnt as big a deal.

Looking forward to see what info comes in the next few months, as I have been waiting to see how they can show us they actually deserve a look for any of their bullshit so far.

2016 Unparalleled Football: An Unparalleled Nightmare

When I saw the preview for Unparalleled, I literally laughed for about 3 minutes. Not only was I completely shocked that Panini actually had the balls to call a set by this name, but also that they chose to do it with some of the ugliest parallels I have seen since 2015 Spectra. Then to see them decide to do an entire set with rookie content that uses posed photos, and it becomes premium filling in this shit pie.

There are always going to be sets that invoke a violent reaction from me. Panini has really hit the jackpot with two in as many years, and I dont think they are far from stopping. I am actually curious who believes the approach they are taking is the right one, as I am seeing more and more evidence that the final sellers of their product are not happy either.

I mean, lets break this down just so that we can all have a lesson in how NOT to build a product.

First, I am looking at the base design and I just dont understand why they look the way they do. The player is way off to the side, there is a big blob background of color, which is only made worse by the UNPARALLELED amount of foil used in this set. The worst part is, this disaster is just the start. Its almost like they are using this as the testing ground for new terrible patterns that make Lisa Frank look tame, and its getting annoying that anyone even thinks this trash is worth putting out to the public.


Secondly, football has amazing photography available as a main point of attraction. They literally JUST got done taking tens of thousands of company owned photos at the rookie premiere, where the players can be pictured as close to game ready as possible. Instead of using these photos, they choose to trot out these posed wet farts and hope that collectors appreciate the feel of seeing gladiators without their gear. Football is violence, not touchy feely bullshit, and this is a set built around all the wrong elements. It is literally UNPARALLELED in its stupidity.


Then, to see the main hits, with a typical Panini approach of a posed photo, a big white box, and a sticker autograph, who WOULDNT be excited? These rookie auto relics might be the ugliest rookie cards in a long time, and considering the hot mess that Spectra was, that is saying a lot.


Panini is literally sitting on the pot and trying to squirt out that last bit of diarrhea, and as horrible of a visual as that is, this set is on that same level. They need to fill their product calendar and it should be obvious how much of a task that is turning out to be. They have already shown time and time again that they have no ability to create new brands in football, at least without stealing directly from their competition, and that should scare everyone.

Unparalleled is the new face of Panini ineptitude, and I dont think we are done with crafting this face quite yet.

2016 National Convention: General Thoughts

CaptureThis is a fun time of year. Its the only time when all the collectors of the world descend on a space to show that the hobby is still relevant to a few thousand people. I have been to a few of the NSCCs over the years, and they are definitely a blast. If you havent been, its definitely a pilgrimage that everyone should make. Its amazing to see all the top dealers and related entities in one spot, and the giveaways are a huge focus too. This is a time where we see people drop the money they save all year, and some even a bit more than that. The floor is huge, the tables have some amazing stuff we could only dream of, and the companies come in guns blazing.

For many of these giveaways, the purpose is clear – move all that product at the show that no one can sell without free packs attached. Well, at least for Panini that’s what its about. If you have seen the way some of the recent products have been selling, well…. a giveaway is more necessary than ever it seems.

Here are some of the giveaways from the show:

2016 Bowman Chrome NSCC Promo Kyle Schwarber Auto Red Prism

2016 Panini National Convention Shaquille Oneal HOF Auto

2016 Panini National Convention Laquon Treadwell Auto RC

2016 Upper Deck NSCC Dylan Larkin Auto /10

Topps, Upper Deck, and Leaf all have a big presence at the show too, and it looks like Panini VIP party will again take money out of products and put it into a ridiculous show for people who obviously have nothing better to do with their money.

I actually like the Panini national set this year, as I think they usually do a really good job designing the base and the rookie cards that are used in the set. The autographs are almost non-existent this year from what I hear, which is really disappointing to see. The content of the Panini packs have been going more and more down hill by the year, and 2016 looks to be nothing but the same. Of course, only Panini would continue using the stupid manupatch crap in these packs, so I guess downhill trajectory is par for the course.

Topps’ Ginter die cut packs last year were a huge hit, and it looks like the Bowman set they chose to run this year is really cool too. Although their set isnt as big a deal as Panini, it should be mentioned that because of their printing and production process there is a lot less they need to move. Topps prints to order in a lot of cases, where as Panini’s enormous commitments to the league put them in a much different bucket. They love to close out product, and it shows in a situation like Father’s Day, Black Friday or the NSCC.

Upper Deck looks poised to have a huge close to the year, especially if Ben Simmons pans out the way everyone expects he will. From what their signage at the show is looking like, they are making a big push to get back in with the NBA, something that would make collectors throw a parade down the aisles of the NSCC.

Overall, this year’s show isnt the norm. Its in a place that is insanely difficult to get to, much more expensive to stay at, and delivering products that seem to be heading in the wrong direction. That might change by next year, and I hope it does, because the NSCC is a fun place to be. These types of giveaways arent really the main reason why that is the case, but it is still fun to see what comes out of the show’s main floor.


2016 Topps Chrome Baseball: The Last Bastion of Hope for the Chrome Brand

Topps-Chrome-LogoWe started off with Chrome for Baseball, and expanded into all of the major sports. With exclusives in place now for all 4 leagues, Chrome is down to its last brand, something that makes me infinitely bitter. Since I was a kid, saving my allowance for the high end offerings of the Chrome universe, the cards have brought me decades of joy through the years. Every one of my favorite players has a place in my collection steeped in chromium stock, and now that Football is gone, we are back to basics with Baseball. Luckily, this years baseball product is pretty great looking.

Here are some of the nicer cards up so far:

2016 Topps Chrome Carlos Correa 2015 Purple Refractor Auto /250

2016 Topps Chrome Corey Seager Green Auto /99

2016 Topps Chrome Julio Urias Auto RC

2016 Topps Chrome Nomar Mazara Refractor Auto RC

2016 Topps Chrome Trevor Story Blue Refractor Auto

2016 Topps Chrome Kris Bryant MLB Debut Auto

First off, I knew the base Topps design would be great to transfer to a chrome setting. The way the parallels were set, the modernized nameplate and even the layout are great for transfer. The way the autographs turned out are even better than I expected, as in hand they really seem to pop. The colored parallels are really a consistent uptick after a banner year in 2015. Although the rookie class isnt as insanely strong, the product still looks nicer than it has in a long time.

With the jumbo configuration being added to the product, it creates a better opportunity to get a ton of autographs in your box. With all the autographs being hard signed, this is a nice box for the price. Its not cheap to buy jumbo, but man you can get a lot of stuff for what you pay.

Carlos Correa’s 2015 Chrome Cards were signed too late to include in last year’s edition, and seeing them included in 2016 is a nice value add to the product. He might not be setting the world on fire like he was last year, but the cards will be valuable regardless. He is still a superstar in the league, and shouldnt be written off just because he hasnt been a world beater.

Overall, Chrome has gone from the gold standard to outdated, back to a reinvigorated part of the calendar for Topps. Even with a rookie class that is a bit weaker, its a good idea to get in on a few breaks.