SCU Go-Live Report: 2016 Spectra Football is Back With More Garbage

I hate Spectra. I have hated it since 2014, and this year is no different. It was so bad last year that I added it to my worst products of the last 10 years list, and I dont see it getting any better this year. Everything about the product makes my stomach turn and my eyes hurt, and aside from Unparalleled, this is another feather in the cap for Panini in making the worst products in the history of the hobby.

Check out these cards – please have a vomit receptacle near by.

2016 Spectra Dak Prescott / Ezekiel Elliot Dual Patch Auto Pink

2016 Spectra Laquon Treadwell Logo Patch Auto Orange

2016 Spectra Michael Strahan Auto Pink – This white box is so big you can see it from space.

2016 Spectra Carson Wentz / Jared Goff Dual Tag Auto 1/1

Spectra has four enormous things that all work against it. First is design. The whole look of the product, even without the other three things in play, would be a shit sandwich just because of base concept itself. When you add in Price, the ridiculous patterns on the card stock, and those horrible stickers with neon pens, its a storm of epic proportions. Worth mentioning that when Panini decided to rip off Topps’ entire slate of chrome based product lines with Prizm (Topps Chrome), Select (Finest), and this for Bowman Sterling, they didnt realize how many people already despised Sterling. Its basically the same setup, but Bowman Sterling rarely had design issues, and never used these god awful neon stickers.

Its kind of scary that anyone would really consider dropping the insane price point for this, as it just doesnt deliver much worth buying. The autographs for the main hits are not on card, and the theme of the set is literally nothing new for Panini. Its almost built for group breaks, which is becoming a normal thing for their product lines, and that should really scare everyone more than the ineptitude displayed in actually building the set itself. Its clear that orders werent all that strong, as they added case incentives to try to get the rest of the product off their shelves.

Have our standards dropped this low? How are people not soiling themselves with anger over the slap in the face Spectra represents. They couldnt even get these cards done in a way that reflects the price of the box, and to see such a terrible looking set get into the mix with an even worse history, why do people stand by and let Panini go without repercussions from their spending habits.

Its kind of funny how many collectors who were once Panini fans have emailed me with their disapproval of the garbage this year. Here is one from Jason, who said he has been a Panini fan for a while. I have gotten quite a few of these, but nothing as interesting as this one was.


First off, I really dont agree with much of what you say on your site. Although you have a good thing going in the style of your blog, your ideas never really resonated with me. I have been a Panini fan for most of the time, mainly because I love their Basketball stuff so much, but have dabbled in football too. 

It was only natural that I was happy they got the exclusive, and I fully expected you to go off the deep end, which you kind of have. 

That being the case, all I can say is that all those things you complained about possibly happening when the exclusive took hold have seemingly been woven into the fabric of their 2016 football line. One product is worse than the next and I am completely bored out of my mind. I still dont think that I fully agree with the way you trash their product setups but their design has fallen off a cliff and these products are pretty laughable for people like me. 

I bought a number of Panini boxes and cases last year, and at least one of every product. So far, I have spent close to nothing this year. I hope they change, because I have liked what they did before, but if it continues to go this way, Im staying out of football for good. My shop owner down here said his sales have dropped so much that he doesnt pre-order cases anymore. He cant afford to let their crap collect dust on his shelf with how little he makes as it is. 

Anyways, just wanted to give you some fuel for your fire, as I think your rants might actually end up being mutually beneficial.


Interesting stuff indeed, and I only expect it to get worse as Panini waters down their brand names with identical NCAA and pro releases side by side. This industry was already going down the toilet, Panini only makes it worse.


Top Hobby Stories from NFL Kickoff Sunday

I love this time of year. As I have said from the beginning of this site, I have one or two religious holidays, and opening weekend for the NFL is one of them. I religiously watch and consume all the football I can during the weekend, especially with Topps Huddle being such a huge factor. There were some big things this past Sunday with so many new players on the hobby radar to watch, and many delivered in spades.

Dak Prescott

There was no bigger rookie during the preseason than Prescott, who played out of his mind versus the vanilla, and played relatively pretty well during the first real action too. Although the Cowboys lost, he threw for a respectable 227 yards. No TDs on the board was a bit disappointing, although the Dez Bryant catch might have been one that should have stood. I think the Cowboys need Prescott to do well, and the hobby sure does as well.

His cards have cooled some, but still very hot:

2016 Origins Dak Prescott Blue Auto RC Base

2016 Donruss Dak Prescott Rookie Phenoms Auto Relic RC

2016 Certified Dak Prescott Freshman Fabrics Auto Patch

Carson Wentz

Even though the Browns are a terrible team, this performance might have been the top of the week in terms of Hobby relevance. Wentz looked like the real deal and had some nice throws for scores along the way. The Eagles traded away Bradford for good reason other than Wentz’s skill, but they sure looked like they made the right move. Wentz already had top rookie value because of his draft position and field position, but this should keep that value high as we go into the first quarter of the season.

Wentz has had good prices all preseason, but not insane after a good start:

2016 Origins Carson Wentz Auto Variation RC /25

2016 Absolute Carson Wentz Triple Relic Auto /199

2016 Score Carson Wentz RC Auto

Jimmy Garoppolo

Im wondering how many people bought a ton of his cards just for a moment like last night. We knew the Patriots were going to be good because they are the Patriots, but seeing the way Garoppolo played was pretty impressive considering the spotlight. When Brady’s suspension went into effect, his cards already hit their ceiling, but its going to be interesting to see what happens when Brady comes back. Im not sure how many more years he will play, and if they see their backup as the future, he could have a nice residual in his value through then. Otherwise, it could be another Osweiler type of situation.

Still a number of deals to be had:

2014 Topps Platinum Jimmy Garoppolo Auto Patch RC

2014 Immaculate Jimmy Garoppolo Auto Patch RC

Ezekiel Elliott

After a tumultuous type of week surrounding him and potential substance issues, Elliott came back and had a nice touchdown run in a game that was overall kind of a wash. I think that he will find his way as the year goes on, but it wasnt a 100 yard type of day for him. Hobby wise, people are always skeptical when there are drug issues, as looming suspensions might follow. Even if he ends up staying clean, and I hope he does, those types of things hurt the open market. Luckily, he plays for an enormously popular team.

Here is where he sits right now:

2016 Contenders Draft Ezekiel Elliott Auto Ticket
2016 Origins Ezekiel Elliott Variation Auto RC /25

Brock Osweiler

Ah yes, one of the bigger acquisitions of the offseason got a good look yesterday, and came out on top. The Bears arent what they used to be, but the new franchise QB of the Texans put up some nice numbers with 230 plus yards and 2 TDs. When he got some time for the Broncos last year, many collectors jumped on the bandwagon knowing that Manning was likely out after the year. I dont think many expected that he would be wearing navy instead of the orange though. Will Fuller put up some good numbers in his first game too, which adds some promise for a Texans team that needs a good year at QB after what happened last year.

2012 National Treasure Brock Osweiler RC Auto Patch /99

2012 Five Star Brock Osweiler Rookie Auto Patch /50

Thursday Extra – Trevor Siemian

The Broncos pulled out a squeaker on Thursday, and this whole QB situation is interesting. Although he threw 2 picks and looks like a serviceable starter, Siemian is not the long term answer in Denver. Paxton Lynch will play, and will play as soon as late 2016 depending on record, and yet we see card prices that dont seem to reflect this. A few years ago, I started talking about the Brady effect, or a guy without many cards who has since become a worthwhile target. Happened with Tony Romo, and for some reason, people are thinking its going to happen with Siemian too. With a first round pick spent on Lynch, I feel like he will not go without every chance to succeed, even if the 2016 season ends with another playoff berth. Supply is trumping everything in this case, as people seem to think its worth dumping 100 bucks into him on the off chance he catches on. Its not a worthwhile look for me. Be cautious people. All I have to say.

Insane for a player like this:

2015 Contenders Trevor Siemian Auto Ticket

I am beyond happy football is back, and even more happy to see how things pan out this year. Although the products have been less than mediocre to poor this year, I have to believe that that a fun season will help everything be at least somewhat better in dealing with the situation in the hobby.

SCU Go Live Report: 2016 Absolute Football

If you go back 10 to 15 years ago, Absolute was a relevant product. You could even argue that in 2011 and 2012, when the product was hard signed that it was somewhat relevant. These days, when barely any single relic cards have any value, and sticker auto relics are EVERYWHERE, this product is as forgettable as it gets. In fact, the same could be said about many/all of the Panini products released in 2016, save Origins. Well, we all know how Origins came to be, so maybe that isnt a good example of a victory. Hope Topps gets a nice thank you basket for that rip job.

Here are some of the cards up so far:

2016 Absolute Ezekiel Elliot RPA 5 piece Relic Auto 1/1

2016 Absolute Dak Prescott Rookie Premiere Materials Auto

2016 Absolute Brett Favre Marks of Fame Auto 5/5

2016 Absolute Jerry Rice HOF Relic Auto

2016 Absolute Cam Newton Glass Redemption

I mean, the design isnt that bad this year all things considered, as the rookie premiere materials actually are as good as they have been in recent memory. The problem is that they dont really add anything to a product that is desperate for something to happen. Just because a product has been around so long, doesnt give it a pass to be ordinary. It surely doesnt give it a pass to be stale year after year.

The funniest thing is that Panini is already adding redemptions for sticker autographs of their main rookies and has been doing so for a few products now. Considering they just had a CAPTIVE audience at the rookie premiere, where these things should have gotten done, is beyond laughable. Maybe breaking out the crayons for sketch cards and doing Instagram human bobbleheads isnt the best plan, boys. Even if the players and NFLPA is complaining, you overpay so much for this event and license, its time to get busy and figure it out. Redemptions in September are not acceptable for stickers.

They also have redemptions for Glass cards, which look interesting to say the least. Absolute used to offer oversized glass cards a number of years ago, and they actually ended up being relatively cool display pieces for the time. If they can get these glass pieces shipped and set, they could be a focal point of the product again. If they turn out lame and unimaginitive, then it will just be Panini’s par for the course as usual.

Bottom line, here is the issue. Panini is responsible for too many products when they ALREADY did such a poor job with product differentiation. Outside of Treasures, Contenders, Flawless and Immaculate, I dont see much worth in what they do. Prizm continues to be sticker, Impeccable is a wild card (and potentially more expensive than its worth), and the rest just blur together. Just a sad state of affairs. They really need to put those heads together and find a way to innovate that doesnt involve consistent theft from the competition.

Who Are the Best People to Collect in the NFL?

I just posted a few days ago about how injury has such a huge effect on people, and how careers can change in an instant. With all of that consideration, what does that leave for collecting potential in the NFL? Who are the best people to collect when the environment is so uncertain? Here is my take, and some of the cards you need to pick up.

#1 – Aaron Rodgers

As a Vikings fan I hate the Packers. I hate them so much. Mainly because year after year they are in contention despite not having the weapons or having a ton of injuries. One reason is because Aaron Rodgers is easily the best player right now in the NFL. Although Tom Brady’s resume is far better, its clear who is more talented at this particular moment. Rodgers already has a Super Bowl under his belt, and might be on his way to another. Collectors love that accomplishment, and also like that he is a TOUGH signature to get. Because he wasnt at the rookie premiere in 2005, he doesnt have 1/4th the bulk others do now. Some rookies, especially with Panini at the helm, will have 10,000 autographs their first year. Rodgers, during his whole career, cant even be close.

His autos obviously sell for huge dollars already, so be prepared to open your wallet:

2005 SP Authentic Aaron Rodgers RC Auto Patch /99

2015 Black Gold Aaron Rodgers Sizeable Signatures Auto Patch /10

2015 Flawless Aaron Rodgers Red Auto /5

#2 – Tom Brady

He will be a unanimous first ballot HOF inductee. He is at the top of or near the top of the greatest NFL players of all time, and his career is almost over. Although his signature has been more common because of deals with Topps in 2014 and Panini in 2014-16, you cant buy a nice card of his for less than 300. He has won more Super Bowls than anyone in the last generation, and he has been in more AFC title games than anyone in history. The guy owns pretty much every meaningful record when it comes to winning, and though he likely wont reach Manning, he has put on a career unlike anything I have ever seen. He might be a product of a system with Belichick, but collectors dont care.

With his career, his top cards are some of the highest asking prices on eBay:

2002 Topps Ring of Honor Tom Brady Auto

2015 Immaculate Tom Brady Jumbo Patch Auto /10

2014 Topps Five Star Tom Brady Auto

#3 – Andrew Luck 

He may have had a rough year last year, but he is still the brightest young star in the collecting world. He has shown that his skill is capable of bringing a mediocre team deep into the playoffs, something that many QBs would be incapable of doing. Collectors already know that he is worth the hype, and his cards are not cheap. Its for a reason. As the Colts draft more stars, and shore up their defense, you can be sure that Luck will continue to grow and win. This potential drives his value, and I dont see it dropping anytime soon.

You can see he is already a top collected player:

2012 Topps Chrome Andrew Luck Auto 1985 RC

2012 Contenders Andrew Luck Auto Ticket RC

2012 Exquisite Andrew Luck Auto RC /99

#4 – Cam Newton

The loss and subsequent press conference at the Super Bowl aside, Cam Newton has a very bright future in the NFL. Even though the Panthers should have been much more of an opponent for the Broncos than they were, it isnt the end of the road for Cam. The only issue is that im not convinced many of his autographs from his rookie year are real, as his signature doesnt make sense when held up next to his verified one. Cam doesnt sign a ton, and has a reputation of being a diva with the manufacturers, so its possible that his card signings could end up being limited in the future. I suspect the Panthers will be competitive for a number of years to come, so collectors are going to recognize that he is worth dumping money into. If only Panini hadnt made 2011 their personal trash heap for card design. Man, each one of their main sets had one of their worst years in history.

These prices are post Super Bowl and still going strong:

2011 Topps Chrome Cam Newton Atomic Refractor Auto RC 50/50

2011 Topps Five Star Cam Newton Auto Patch RC

2011 Exquisite Cam Newton Auto Logo Patch RC /99

#5 – JJ Watt

This is my bold and amazing hot TAEKZ for this article, as I believe that defense is WOEFULLY undervalued in the hobby. Watt is one of the people who continued to have value even though he played on the other side of the line. If you need any more convincing, Watt is quickly on his way to being the next Peyton Manning as the face of the NFL, and that will make a difference in the way see his value on the secondary market. The only drawback is that Watt has already started talking about the injuries and how it could prevent a longer career for him, and that might be a big piece of a reason he shouldnt be on this list. I just think he deserves credit for bringing some sort of worth to defense.

Here are his top cards:

2011 Topps Platinum JJ Watt Auto Green Refractor RC – Not many on card RCs exist. This is one of a few.

2011 National Treasures JJ Watt Auto RC

2015 Flawless JJ Watt Auto Red /15

With a big trade today, and big injuries already grabbing headlines, this season is already shaping up to be ridiculous. Hopefully we will see that the NFL headlines continue to favor hobby friendly situations, as its clear that sales are not heading in the right direction all around.

Teddy Bridgewater Injury Highlights Tough Spot for Football Collectors

Yes. I am heartbroken by Teddy’s freak injury. One that seems just completely unlikely, and might take away the prime of his abilities if it doesnt heal the way it should. That is a scary thought for many football collectors, as this sport is prone to situations where injuries can make things go horribly wrong.


Although Baseball and Basketball have injuries too, career longevity in MLB especially makes for less of an impact on things. In football, making it 10 years is beating the odds and then some. Players can play for a long time, but with the cheaper contracts for draft picks, we have seen teams decide to rip and replace much more often. When injuries take away a full year, especially ones like this, it can change the whole trajectory of a player’s future, even if he comes back full strength.

As a Vikings fan, I bought Teddy because I collect Vikings. Having met him a few times, I also collected him because he was nice to the fans and a great guy off the field. It seems like he has a great head on his shoulders, so I definitely bought in. He was going to be the face of the team with Peterson having so many issues, and I was fine with that. My collection hasnt gone to waste, and im definitely not selling, but its hard to go through this year long absence for the second time in a few years. Peterson’s situation was self imposed, and much more of a detriment to my fandom, but the fact that the Vikings were supposed to be so good makes this even more difficult.

Every year, there is at least one player that gets bit by the injury bug, and this year it was the Vikings’ turn. Collectors feel the pain too, with values dropping amid uncertainty, and its clear that the market doesnt sustain these types of disruptions well. We already see the football market and values dropping as more people leave the hobby, and its just crazy to me that people still “invest” in cards.

Seeing that careers can be over in an instant highlights that poor investment quality even further, and I am curious to see what happens when collectors really start to see career shelf life shorten even further. Players like Calvin Johnson retired much earlier than expected because of injury concern, and I dont think he will be the last big name to do so. Collectors need to be more and more wary of what is going on in the game, and take notice of the value trends before dropping huge dough on something that isnt just for “fun.”

I hope Teddy returns and has the career that we all hope he will have. Even if you arent a VIkings fans, bad injuries are never something you like to see.