We are more than halfway through the football card year, and now that the regular season is starting to wrap up, I wanted to talk about some of the things I have really liked about football this year, and what hasnt worked as well. Its actually kind of interesting to look at the product listings on Blowout, as there is still A LOT of red slashes through prices, even though the Cowboys are creating a hobby perfect storm. Here are my thoughts so far.
Leaf Pre-Draft Products – Best
I was kind of scared coming into 2016, as Panini has a history of going off the deep end with their exclusives. As if on cue, Leaf made them look absolutely fucking goofy with Metal Draft and Trinity looking amazing with on card autos, and all of Panini’s products being sticker garbage. Leaf needs to be commended for what they were able to accomplish. Trinity’s inscriptions alone were worth the price of admission, and Tom Brady in the draft product was worth a box break and then some.
Here are some of my favorites:
Inception Origins – Best
No surprise that Origins was good, it was literally a pound for pound rip off of Topps’ popular product, right down to the design and name. That being said, Panini needed to take note of both the stock and finish of the cards Topps used, because Origins looked cheap. Sadly, there were more 00 jerseys than Topps ever had, with only 5 or 6 players getting their actual jersey numbers. Topps usually waited until the last possible second to go to press, and Panini didnt seem to do that. Either way, since there wasnt a lot of good so far this year, im giving this a thumbs up. Kind of sucks to win by default, but that’s what we are categorizing as a victory.
Some of the better cards:
Panini Impeccable – Best
This was one of the only legit bright spots of the entire year. Impeccable is a great product from top to bottom, and looks like I would expect most super premium sets to look like. On card autos, great looking design, nice checklist, and only a few redemptions. I think that if I am building a new set, this is how I look to cultivate a brand. No stupid posed photos, no giant white boxes for the signatures, and overall flow to the set. I loved it.
Check these out:
All Other Panini New Products – WORST
I literally think the rest of the products Panini created this year are so fucking horrendous that I cant even put enough nasty adjectives in this sentence to describe the shit fest. Unparalleled and Infinity are so bad, that they are already below dealer cost in a year that every product should be selling like hot cakes. Phoenix is even worse, with one of the worst looking designs I have ever seen. I still dont understand why its called Phoenix either? Then lets talk about Gala, which isnt 100% new, but I fail to see why Panini even decided to port it over from Basketball. It tanked there too, and yet, here it is. As close to an F minus as something to get. If Rotten Tomatoes had a ranking for these products, they wouldnt even crack Gigli numbers.
Just the worst cards in a long long time:
The Invasion of College Products – Worst
I understand that NCAA branded cards have a niche out there, but that niche cannot support a whole product line, let alone 8. Panini has diluted good brand names with some crazy shitty products, and I dont get why they even used something like Black Gold, which doesnt sell on the pro level. Bottom line, Panini is flooding the market with so many shitty products, that the shops cant even sell what they have before they are burdened with 3 more things on their shelf. This is a disaster made worse by a needless license they shouldnt have bought.
Panini’s Low End Offerings – Best
I was actually surprised by the way Panini used low end to create some good products. Donruss wasnt bad, and Playoff isnt actually horrible either. I liked Donruss better last year, but in comparison to the rest of the products you have to look hard to find good stuff.
Topps Digital Football – Best
Well, Topps is out of football, but Huddle is still around and creating some cards that are showcasing much better design than Panini could ever hope for. They just released the digital version of Inception last week, and it comes on the heels of an incredible thanksgiving campaign that really was quite impressive. While Panini’s digital app continues to shit the bed, Topps continues to showcase that they can be dangerous without a physical license.
The Cowboys’ Rookie Class – Best
Im pretty sure someone at Panini sacrificed something to the football gods, because the only reason they are even reasonably successful is because Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are having historic seasons. In a year where bad products out number good products 3:1, these rookies make everything much more bearable. If they can put it together and get to the Super Bowl, look out!
Football’s Future – Worst
Right now, its abundantly clear that Panini has done everything in their power to make us hate their products, only for the rookies to save their ass. If that isnt scary enough, I dont see much evidence that they are bringing that many more new people to the hobby. It looks like they are just getting more out of people who are already collectors. In order to make up the massive minimum guarantees they have made to the NFL, they are going to need something like Dak and Zeke to happen every year or they will be quite a bit in the red. Considering most sports fans think Panini is a sandwich and not a card company, there is no national presence to build a new hobby around. Its bad, as Topps at least had a brand that so many of us recognized outside of the hobby. You need to expand the pie or this industry wont be sustainable. Shops are suffering because they cant make money on wax, and when another 2013 rolls around, its going to be a blood bath with 31 flavors of turd put out by Panini NFL and NCAA. Im frightened.
As we get further into the year, Im wondering how the big products are going to shape up. They better be on point or Im going to lose my shit. That’s all I gotta say.