SCU Go-Live Report: 2015 Panini Luxe Football

For both Football and Basketball, I understand why Panini went the direction they did with Luxe. The framed autographs from Topps have been insanely popular, so why not rip them off? Unfortunately for everyone, when you rip something off, like Panini does FREQUENTLY, it rarely turns out as well as the original. In the case of Luxe, it pretty much flopped in Basketball, mainly because no one really saw the appeal. Im guessing Panini felt they could turn the brand around in football, but now that we see the results, its clear that was a bad choice.

2015 Panini Luxe Marcus Mariota Gold Frame Auto Patch /25

2015 Panini Luxe Andrew Luck Gold Frame Auto Patch /5

2015 Panini Luxe James Harrison SB Continuity Autograph

2015 Panini Luxe Jameis Winston Gold Frame Auto Patch /25

2015 Panini Luxe Dan Marino Die Cut Auto /10

The main issues with Luxe, aside from the name of the set, is the condition of the cards and the checklist. Gambling on a box of Luxe is pretty much the hobby equivalent of gambling on a fart. Either way, you are going to end up with something smelly and potentially worse. Plus, who in their right mind names a product something that rhymes with “sucks?” Waaaaaaaaaay too easy there.

Starting with the worst part of this whole things, the cards and frames in this set are beat to fucking hell. Its so unusual to find a frame that looks good, especially when they are the color parallels. Most of frames suffer a horrible fate. Paint is peeling off, its dented, card is popping out, I have seen it all. For a product that costs as much as Luxe does, this condition is inexcusable. Not just inexcusable, but bush league.

After seeing so few people outside of group breakers bust Black Gold because of a weak checklist, seeing Luxe’s checklist is a second strike. The usual firepower we see in many high end products is absent, leaving shitty rookies and shitty veterans to populate the majority of the readily available checklist. Brady and Luck are there, with a few of the normal legends, but you have a better chance of getting a 9.5 on a framed Luxe auto than getting one of those guys. There are so many bad autographs to be had. So many. Have fun with Vince Mayle, Aaron Dobson and garbage autos like that. The good stuff seems to be MUUUUUUUUCH more short printed than it should be in a crazy expensive high end set.

Products like this make me curious what they were thinking taking on so much for 2016. Its obvious the football team cant pull new products out of their ass unless they go balls deep in the Basketball team, so what are they going to do? I hope everyone is excited for the return of every defunct product Panini football has ever made, because they dont have the chops to do it on their own. Luxe is a prime example of how much the football team can fuck up a bad basketball product even more. Its actually pretty hilarious.

Just when you think it cant get any worse, they find a way. They always find a way.

Topps 60th HOF Auto Packs Are Live!

A few weeks ago, Topps announced that they would be releasing a small batch of online exclusive packs that contained one of a short list of HOF autographs. These autographs would have a 60th anniversary reprint of the player’s rookie card, and would be one per pack for 75 bucks. Some of them have already started to surface, and for the most part, no real surprises.

Here are some examples up so far:

2016 Topps 60th Anniversary Cris Carter Reprint Auto

2016 Topps 60th Anniversary Dan Marino Reprint Auto

Definitely not as nice as the on card ones from years past:

2001 Topps Archives Barry Sanders Reprint RC Auto

1998 Topps Walter Payton 1976 RC Reprint Auto

The only drawback is that the autographs are stickers and not hard signed, which makes sense if these were supposed to be used for the flagship set. If these were on card, I would have bought a few myself, and Im still tempted even with the sticker. Im not sure how much value these might hold, as promo sets tend to get much softer with time, as opposed to standard issue. I dont really get why, but they do.

I think that pulling someone like Marino, Rice or Elway would definitely be cool, especially for the cost of a mid range box of regular cards. At the same time, these types of reprints have been done so many times, Im wondering if the market is so over-saturated that it almost doesnt matter.

Topps has really been pushing online exclusive content like this since they started running programs through their store, and I would love to see them turn this type of thing into a way to bypass the loss of license – similar to what UDA does. If that is the ultimate goal, im on board.

If you are interested in buying some of the current packs, they are still available on Topps.com.

On the Radar: 2016 Topps The Mint Baseball

With the absolute rousing success of products like Dynasty in Baseball and Definitive Collection in Football, Topps has turned one of the weaker genres of their brand into a tremendous strength. The ultra premium landscape in Baseball is one that has gone generally uncharted for the last few years, and I have to believe its for good reason. With Dynasty proving that Ultra Premium products can have success, the Mint is the next iteration of that adventure.

If the Mint turns out anything like this, it could get nuts:

2015 Topps Dynasty Kris Bryant Tag Patch Auto /10

2015 Topps Dynasty Mike Piazza Mets Logo Auto /5

2014 Topps Dynasty Chipper Jones Braves Logo Auto /10

2015 Topps Dynasty Mike Trout Angels Logo Auto 1/1

Although I am not a fan of any product name that starts with “The”, I think that the concept of what it represents should play very well into the content of the set. This is going to be high end to the nines, and for someone like me who collects this stuff almost exclusively, Im very intrigued.

The question remains of whether or not this is the real direction Baseball cards should go, especially considering how many set and low end collectors still remain in the sport. Releasing a slate of products like this is music to my ears, but it could serve to disenfranchise more collectors in the long run.

When you add in that game used memorabilia is steadily increasing in cost to acquire, mainly because quantity available is steadily decreasing, products like this might not be sustainable long term. Dynasty literally had some of the best patches I have ever seen in a baseball set, and I am not sure that Topps has the inventory to continue churning out the insane content for multiple products year after year.

Similarly, signers like Trout, Ichiro, Koufax, Aaron, and others of that caliber are slowly being devalued by the quantity of signatures on the market. Though new stars like Bryant and Correa could get there too, it seems like super premium baseball autographs just dont have the same draw like they would in Basketball or even Hockey.

As for design, I love the look. The presentation of the cards looks luxurious with blacks and golds, and the auto patches look pretty incredible. Im curious if the Seager card means they are going to do inscriptions, which I would go nuts for. Additionally, the Tim Robbins Bull Durham card might signal that Kevin Costner could also make an appearance in this set, which will continue that program through 2016.

Im sure there will be more content revealed as we get closer to the launch, and I would guess that we havent even seen close to what Topps is capable of. My sustainability concerns aside, the Mint is on my list. I cant wait to see the finished product, as I am confident its going to deliver.

On the Radar: 2016 Topps Triple Threads

Today we got the preview for 2016 Triple Threads baseball. Since the product doesnt change much, I think its worth mentioning that my commentary has a right to continue to be as scathing as ever. Here is the way I started out last year’s post. Seems to be fine to basically say the same shit.

For the majority of the time I have spent writing this site, I have waged a war on Triple Threads that knows no hotter fire. Although Football has improved in terms of design and concept over the years somewhat, Baseball has remained as horrifically bad as ever. Now that we see what 2015 is bringing, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the one Baseball set that needs a complete overhaul.

Im pretty sure that what I say here means little to nothing in the way Topps approaches Triple Threads each year, and now that football will no longer be around to give any sort of progress to this STALE brand, I have no fucking clue why it is still being trotted out each year with so little of a change to anything the product offers.

Here is what the product is to me. Laughable at best:

Terrible Looking Designs

Sticker Autographs

Stupid Phrases Die Cut Over the Relics

Ugly Printing Plates

Horrible Rainbow Foil

I have commented many times that cards will need to continue to provide a reason why this Mike Trout auto is better than the 10000 Trout autos that came before, at least in order to be sustainable. I see Triple Threads as a prime example of why this is so important. This is the 11th year of the brand. Practically nothing has changed about this brand in many years, and I would even argue it has regressed. There used to be on card content that was available in the set, and now even that element is much more limited than it was in previous years.

Yes, you read that right. Collectors will pay close to 200 a box for this garbage and there is 2 autos per box and none of them look to be on card. Because the product offers those SICK MOJOZZZZZ PATCHES, it doesnt matter the way the cards look to deliver them. I get the appeal of nice patches, but when they come in ugly packages, why bother? When they come in ugly packages that havent changed in 8 years, good fucking god.

Topps’ addition of Kevin Costner relics to this product seems a bit forced and that’s just the start. For a product like Triple Threads, I dont see how the character or the content really fits in, especially when you see how they plan to use the likeness. I would much rather it be in Archives or Ginter and leave it at that. No reason to flood the market, especially after Leaf did the same thing. It takes the novelty out of the whole thing.

Either way, here are the pictures. Im about done giving a shit about this.

2016 Topps Heritage: Finding Extreme Value in Non-Hits

Every year I am continually shocked by Topps Heritage. Not only are people rabid about collecting the set, but the way the value is maintained through the box break is beyond surprising. For a hobby where almost everyone focuses on the hits in the box, Heritage has the most value arguably outside the hits. That’s not saying the big autographs dont sell for a lot, but its everything else that is shocking.

Check out these listings, you will be SHOCKED at some of the prices:

2016 Topps Heritage Carlos Correa Throwback Uniform Variation

2016 Topps Heritage Mike Moustakas First Name Error SSP

2016 Topps Heritage Matt Carpenter Throwback Uniform Variation

2016 Topps Heritage Kris Bryant Black Chrome Variation /67

2016 Topps Heritage Joe Mauer No Stat Line Error SSP

2016 Topps Heritage Francisco Lindor Gold Chrome Variation /5

The biggest source of surprising enormous value are in the errors and variations, some of which are estimated at around 10-25 copies. Master set collectors can drive the price of these cards into the hundreds, despite the fact that the only difference can be a piece of text or something as small as a dot above an "I" in someone's facsimile autograph.

Other cards like throwback uniform variations, color swaps, and wrong name error cards are also pretty valuable, and can bring a lot of value to a box break that has a cheap relic card as a box hit most of the time. Funny enough, the relic cards that are available in many products arent always as cheap as they are elsewhere either. Heritage is a different beast than just about any other set, mainly because of those loyalists mentioned before.

Additionally, the Chrome cards and rare parallels can also sell for a ton, which isnt necessarily out of the ordinary for the brand. Chrome cards have a history of selling high for low numbered parallels, although Heritage has taken that to a whole new level.

As we start to approach iconic designs that should be used in the coming years, I am curious to see how high some of the sets can sell. Heritage boxes are always in high demand, and though I am not a huge fan of the product, I appreciate any way a company can derive value in a set that doesnt use autographs or relic content.

Its become quite the phenomenon, and baseball might be the only place it can work.