Lost a midst the drama surrounding missing cards from National Treasures, is one of the strongest high end sets I have seen in a long time. 2014 Five Star has some amazing looking cards, and from what I have seen in person and online, the product is delivering case by case unlike many of the other high end sets that are out there.
Here are some of my favorites from the set:
Not only does it have a great and concise checklist, but it also has a very sleek design that works extremely well. Although much of the relic content has been removed from the set, it does have a lot of different things that make it up for it. Considering all rookie relics arent game used anyways, its not that big of a deal to an autograph collector like me.
Five Star has been the penultimate autograph product since Upper Deck lost its license in 2010. It has always focused on the parts of the product that cater to autograph collectors, and as a result, I have loved each and every version of the set. This year’s design is perfect for the football version of the product, as every card almost presents the player as a work of sports art.
Adding in that Topps has done away with the base, and made sure every card in the product is autographed (with few notable exceptions), takes away a lot of the needless bulk. Where NT is pumping up the cards per box with 2 dollar shitty jersey cards, Five Star is focusing on what collectors should want – on card autographs from all the top players in the game.
The checklist definitely reflects this, as Five Star is less about the scrub rookies, and more about the top tier guys and non-RCs that player collectors chase until they are blue in the face. Unlike Treasures and Exquisite, all the big rookies are live, as are on card autographs from elite subjects like Brady, Russell Wilson, Luck, Favre, and Emmitt Smith. The only big name redemptions I have seen are Marshawn Lynch and Aaron Rodgers, who will both likely not be too tough to nail down.
My favorite cards in the product are the gold and silver autographs, which have improved significantly in their pen strength since Baseball rolled out similar cards. Where silver and gold autographs usually fail, Five Star succeeds more than ever before. Although some are still misses, there are a lot of really bold autographs.
Booklet cards this year have become exceedingly rare, but when they pop out of a box, they look nothing less than stunning. I dont see a bloated rookie premiere checklist on these either, as the majority of the booklets in the product are top tier guys.
Lastly, with relic content reduced, the jumbo patch autograph cards are that much more of a chase. The design is a transfer from Baseball, and I am glad they stuck with it. The horizontal 1×2 inch swatch always looks good, and provides a lot of room to sign and a lot of room for design elements.
I think that some of the major issues that plague this product havent changed year over year. This product is targeted more at people who collect great looking autographs, instead of the people who just want ridiculous patches, regardless of the visual appeal of those patches.
The industry’s focus on relics, even ones that are not game used, is so frustrating to me that I cant put it into words for everyone to digest. I am glad that Topps focused on improving the checklist, getting top signers on card, and forgetting about all those other things that Panini still worries about. However, I also understand that this choice makes it so that many collectors wont assign the same value to the rookie cards or non rookie autographs. Bonkers to me.
All year long people complain about stickers. So much so that every sticker based product gets its own thread on all the top message boards. Its the first thing people complain about with each new set that is solicited. “UGH STICKERS AGAIN. I HAS A SAD.” Then, when a product comes out that is hard signed, its either 1500 a box in Flawless, or a much more affordable box in Five Star. Yet, for some stupid reason, Five Star never gets to be the bride. Always the bridesmaid to Treasures, which people love because of the stupid oversaturation of event used patches.
I feel like the hobby is going in the wrong direction here, and that Five Star deserves so much more credit on the secondary market than it gets. We undervalue what it brings year after year, and even after Panini’s product doesnt deliver as promised, Five Star remains lower than I think it should be.
My one major complaint remains the lack of inscription cards, as they were my favorite cards of the year. I have already moved on to start collecting some of the other cards that have stepped up to replace the big hits, but the absence still stings.
This is Five Star’s second to last year in its current format. That alone is ugly enough to make me cringe. To think that come 2016, stellar sets like this will be gone is so devastating, it causes me to consider my continued place in the hobby.
Panini does a terrible job in just about every way, shape, and form. From design, to configuration, to price, all the way up to the fiasco with Flawless Jerseys and NT missing cards. They are a terrible card company, and I am sad that they will force Five Star off the map. Instead we will be left with sticker riddled National Treasures products that never deliver as promised.
Hopefully Topps will find a way to continue producing football cards, as I am not ready to say goodbye to their presence in the sport. Sets like this are just too infrequent to let go without a fight.