Right now, 2014 Immaculate Football is a wave of buzz and hype that is sweeping over the people in this hobby. In many ways it deserves some of the nice things people are saying about it. In other ways, it deserves to be kicked in the head and thrown in front of an oncoming bus.
It should also be mentioned that arguably the biggest card in the product hit eBay recently, and it has a price tag around 10k. Behold:
I mean, at least its not a card like this, where you literally cannot understand why it was even created:
Beckham has been doing well though:
With that, here are some other thoughts on the way the first few days of this release are shaping up.
Panini did a good job in making the product appeal to a wide range of collectors. I think that if you are a patch collector, this set is for you. If you are an autograph collector, this set is for you. If you are a rookie collector, this set is for you. It is one of the better singles product that Panini has put out in years.
A card like this is just insane. Pure insanity:
The star of this set is the on card autograph content that composes about 50-60% of the set, with almost no redemptions. Manziel is the notable exception, but Panini just tweeted out his cards are in stock. Like Flawless, Panini did a good job taking care of business and getting Beckham, Teddy, and all the big rookies to get their cards done. They also got some really nice on card content from Manning and other vets, including a surprising inclusion of Adrian Peterson.
Additionally, there are some rreally huge patch hits in this product, including QUAD logo cards. This is what I dont understand, as a product like this has a ton of crazy patch logos and Flawless has almost none. How does that make sense? Although I dont like the layout of many of the patch cards in the slightest, and would rather they be made into booklets to showcase both a good design and a huge patch, im not going to say they arent going to be big hits.
I think there is some definite kudos to be passed along on the design of the Immaculate Moments cards, even though they are almost a direct copy of some other cards we have seen in Upper Deck. They look great, and they celebrate moments that many of us have a nostalgic connection to. Im a bit shocked that Franco Harris isnt in this set, as the Immaculate Reception seems to be a ridiculous exclusion. Upper Deck got it done, right?
I also really love the acetate cards, which come in a number of different flavors. The patch autos on the acetate stock are amazingly awesome. They are just really cool cards, and I consider myself a connoisseur of fine acetate cards.
Lastly, the Helmet logo cards, presented in a shadowbox style format, are a really interesting addition to the lineup of different swatches available in the product. They turned out awesome in most cases and are really tough pulls.
When I first got wind of this product, I heard it was going to be all on card – even the non-photo shoot guys. Obviously that didnt happen, and the number of stickers all around are a stain on an otherwise amazing autograph lineup. There should not be stickers in this product with a $375+ price tag and a release in February. That is just inexcusable, especially considering how much the stickers detract from the high end look.
Similarly, the autograph checklist and patch checklist is so beyond diluted, that I question why Panini continues to include some of these players in their biggest products of the year. Second string non-RC scrubs like Gavin Escobar should not be in Immaculate, and Nate Washington and Delanie Walker should not be either. There are other products during the year where these guys would be more than welcome, but not in a set like this. After watching about 8-10 cases broken online yesterday and 3 in person, there are some people I saw pulled where I wanted to hop in my car, drive to Dallas and chuck them at the guy who built this checklist.
Panini is notorious for choosing cost cutting measures over making a product look good and have a good checklist. Its a main reason why their products struggle to build brand equity after the first year. Collectors feel so cheated in a lot of ways that they stop buying the second and third year of a product because the first was not produced correctly. Buzz or no buzz, you cant continue to chip away at people’s confidence and loyalty. The community is just not big enough that you can let high end buying customers walk away feeling like they got kicked in the nuts after a break. You have to give them SOME reason to come back, and if Panini made the investment to use a Silhouette format on some of the giant patches, or a booklet format, people might feel like there is a reason to keep buying. If its just a border on a card with no design, its only going to appeal to some people, and you can only pack so many event used logos into a product before it gets tired.
It should be no surprise that I am going to talk about the points situation here. This program is a fucking train wreck, and to see the cards replace hits in boxes of Immaculate is a kick in the nuts all by itself. Panini made a conscious decision to include these cards in the product instead of using redemptions, and that should not go unpunished. To open a 375 dollar box and see that one of your hits is a 250 point card? I might throw some shit. I might tip over a table or two. That is not the type of reaction a box break should illicit.
Panini almost expects that a lot of their crap is going to be broken in group break format, where the pain wont be as tough to stomach, but they have lost sight of a significant problem. Points give them a cost free way to expand out a print run without adding any content. Not a good situation for collectors.
Similarly, lets say that by some fucking miracle they actually add some Immaculate cards to the Rewards Store (unlikely, I know). Do you really think the average 250-400 point card is going to buy anything worth missing a hit for? No. When you also factor in that they are going to charge 5 dollars for shipping and processing, you are basically allowing them to short you a card and replace it with a shitty leftover from a more undesirable product. How is that okay? At the very least, they should make Immaculate point holders the only people that can buy the Immaculate cards if they are ever introduced into the store. I mean, that’s only if they continue to roll with this fucking bonkers idea of not giving people the choice of waiting on the redemption they are entitled to.
God forbid, would it damage the program to say “YOU HAVE WON A REDEMPTION FOR JOEY ROOKIE’S AUTOGRAPH OR 500 POINTS”? No, but Panini is not staffed by people who get that. They are staffed by people who were absorbed from other defunct card companies and really only care about making money NOW. They dont care about brand perception or worth. That is a huge problem, because anyone with any fucking sense in their head would know that this program shouldnt have even entered the conference room discussion about product format. It should have stayed in the trash bin next to the intern’s desk. Thats where it belongs.
I have a theory on how the points cards are being used in this product, as replacing hits is something that really should never be done with these cards. Because there is no checklist of how many points cards are included in the products, or how many cards they are meant to replace, Panini can actually beef up a product print run without adding cost to the product. As an unverifiable situation, Panini can actually scam collectors out of cards they should have gotten, because they chose to run a few extra hundred cases off the line.
Here is how it works. Basically, as an example, I have 1000 cards that need to be replaced with points because the scrubs didnt sign. That brings an allocation of boxes that go with it, because the points cards replace hits in the box. Then, lets say I want to add another 1000 points cards, because no one can ever say they werent meant to replace a card that never came in. That gives me an extra allocation because I can basically add a box to my run for every 5 that I create. Do that enough times, and you have hundreds of thousands of dollars that basically came out of no investment to the product. Its like printing free money, and there is nothing we can do about it.
The scariest thing? How much do you all think a stupid decision like the ones described above will affect Panini or their terrible mindset for producing products? NONE. NONE AT ALL. Who else cant wait for 2016?