On the Radar: 2015 Spectra Football

Spectra might be the worst formatted product that Panini makes, save maybe Absolute football. It was so bad in 2014 in both design and format, that distributors had to literally use it as a bargaining chip ultimatum for allocations of Immaculate Basketball. Just to have access to Immaculate allocations, you had to take on cases of Spectra FB. It was fucking horrendous. If that happens with a product, it should automatically be considered for removal from the calendar.

Leave it to Panini to want to bring it back again. I literally laughed when I saw they were going to trot this shit out again for 2015. I thought to myself, they had better find a better design than the visual abortion from last year. Then I looked at the cards. My jaw dropped. Here is the gallery, just so I can show you how big of a turd this is going to be.

Here is the train wreck that was 2014 Spectra:

2014 Spectra Teddy Bridgewater Horizontal Auto Relic Blue – Worst looking design, quite possibly of the year

2014 Spectra Kelvin Benjmain Gold Auto Relic

2014 Spectra John Elway Sticker Auto Red

2014 Spectra Tony Romo Leading Men Auto Relic – Leading men? What is this, a chick flick?

At least, above all else, Panini had on card autographs for Spectra in 2014. This year, those are gone. What makes this even more hilarious is that they are going to get color matching ink for the stickers, as if Neon was a color that people wanted to see on trading card signatures. Maybe I should pick up a few boxes before popping some pills and heading to a rave. That’s about the vibe I am getting off this crap.

Even if Panini decides to take down the price tag from around 300 (not making that up) to a more reasonable price, it wouldnt matter. This has to be one of the ugliest looking sets I have seen in a long time, and this is coming from someone who just watched them solicit 2015 Certified. They have opted to put giant boxes around all the stickers that obscure the design, something that should NEVER be done. The overall look, with the crazy neon colors mentioned above, could not be more ridiculous looking. The dual autograph, dont even get me started. You know why Panini puts so many logo patches in their cards? They need incentive to buy them considering how vomit inducing their designs are.

Topps rightfully axed Bowman Sterling this year, because even they couldnt justify putting out a set that offered literally nothing special for as much money as Sterling cost. Panini? Obviously not as willing to admit defeat on their failures. Dont get me wrong, this was a MISERABLE failure, all 3 years. I will give them credit for on card non-rookie autos in 2013, but the price and pack format was terrible then too. Switching to 1 pack for 300 last year was a complete joke.

I just dont even know what to say anymore that hasnt already been said. Im pretty sure I will be done buying new cards once 2016 rolls around, and this shit show is the only game in town. Kill me now.

More Panini Previews with 2015 Prestige

Panini previewed its second product this week, after earlier posting a bunch of pics from Clear Vision. 2015 Prestige started coming off the line yesterday, being the first Panini set of the year that many collectors have a history with.

In case you forgot, last year’s Prestige was easily one of the worst looking products of the year, as Panini inexplicably combined airbrushed pre-draft shots with content obtained at the rookie premiere.

It ended up being a prime staple on all the closeout sales:

2014 Prestige Odell Beckham RC Auto

2014 Prestige Johnny Manziel RC Auto

Wait, doesnt that look exactly like the diarrhea that was Hot Rookies? WHY YES! It does!

2014 Hot Rookies Odell Beckham RC Auto

2014 Hot Rookies Johnny Manziel RC Auto

If you are wondering how someone could have fresh pro-uniform content available AND STILL opt to use airbrushed pre-draft shots that look horrendous, you are not alone. These are the types of decisions that Panini is infamous for making, and though this year’s set is a million times better looking than 2014, all on card content from previous years is gone. Its like you cant have your cake and eat it to with them, as 2012, 2013 and 2014 all had multiple sets with hard signed rookie autographs.

For everyone who is unfamiliar – since 2011, getting cards hard signed at the premiere has almost become the focus of the event. Although Topps and Upper Deck had gotten cards signed in previous years, most of them were completed DURING the weekend to be signed. With Inception, it was one of the first times that a company had brought a pre-fabricated set. In 2012, Panini followed suit and brought a ton of stuff to match their competition. It has been the standard up until this year, where Panini decided that sheets of stickers and acetate windows were more important – leaving Prestige with its fourth set of the year with all sticker content.

The rookie base design this year actually isnt bad at all. I dont mind it one bit, and even with the standard GIANT text that Panini has incorporated into every set, its a good looking base set with some nice full bleed photos. On the veteran side, this isnt the same situation, as Panini has crowded some really nice action shots with needless amounts of text.

Autographs arent terrible looking either, but there isnt any confirmation that there will be pro-uniform sticker autos as has been the case in previous years. One can only long for the days of 2012 Prestige, which still remains my favorite set Panini has done with the brand.

As for the inserts, saying they are busy and cluttered doesnt even begin to describe how bad they really are. Panini has had a history of making really obnoxious design decisions, like the giant text mentioned above, and this product is packed to the brim. On the micro etched cards, the name plates obscure WAY too much of the surface area. Text is everywhere, and completely disorganized. It looks awful and rushed.

Here is the bottom line. Without the on card stuff, I really find no reason to dive headfirst into this product, as the boxes will be below dealer cost by mid year. Panini is banking on the fact that you are bored with airbrushed and college stuff, and wants you to ignore some great products from Leaf that have recently been released. I would advise against that. Nice cards from Prestige come very infrequently, and its close to impossible to walk away with top rookie content unless you hit the jackpot.

Wait as long as possible for the good sets to start coming out, and you will not walk away as disappointed.

Clearly Lacking: Panini Gives 2015 Clear Vision Preview

CJ922fvUsAECPsx

When it comes to Super High End sets and products like Contenders, collectors are on the Panini bandwagon for the long haul. Even though I believe the loyalty is only partially earned, and somewhat by default due to Upper Deck’s departure from the NFL market, it is what it is. Now, any other product that doesnt fall into the bucket I just described above can only be described as a complete and utter clusterfuck, with varying levels of clusterfuckage included. There are sprinkles of success here and there, but over all, Panini’s track record is that of career practice squad running back.

Clear Vision is looking to be right in line with a history of crappy early year products for Panini. The only difference is this time, autographs are only 1 per case. Yes, you heard that right. They are going to trot out a new product with no brand loyalty, and try to rock the boat in a sport dependent on autographs. Although I support trying new formats and new ideas, there is a way to do it, and there is a way NOT to do it.

CJ9T0qCUwAE0m1d

At the very least, if you are going to try to create value in your product, do it with some GREAT looking cards, or at least some really cool technology. Dont expect me to get excited over a reformatted piece of shit from other unpopular and terrible products. Clear Vision has very few elements to get excited about, to say the least. Not to mention, when the Autograph content does pop up on its “AMAZING ROZDIUCKULOUS CHECKLIST OF TOP GUYS!” its a manupatch auto design with an acetate signature instead of signed shitty pieces of embroidered fabric. YAY! Sign me the fuck up for 8 cases.

CJ9T8gJUAAA31w-CJ9RW4iUEAQPY-x

Outside of that, Clear Vision is akin to Topps High Tek, which will be making its debut in football this year after making waves in Baseball last year. Just to recap, they are a similar price point, but Topps is offering TRUE hard signed acetate cards for their product, and the autograph content is a normal structure. Here is my preview. Panini thinks that relic content and tired rehashes of acetate designs will make up for a lack of an autograph per box, forgetting that relics mean nothing anymore, and acetate is everywhere.

CJ9ZoRSUYAAsGyMCJ9S6cVUAAEwiED

When they actually do get a card design right as they did with the jumbo patch layered acetate cards, they fuck it up by choosing posed goofy photographs instead of the action shots they should have used from the Rookie Premiere. That’s Panini in a nutshell. They dont know their ass from a hole in the ground on this stuff.

CJ9ZoRVVAAAPQTo CJ9OF_RUMAAT4XD

Back during the rookie premiere when they first released the sell sheet for Clear Vision, I saw some ulterior motives at play. Being that Panini overpaid so drastically for the exclusive licenses they have acquired over the last few years, minimum guarantees required in payments to the league will dictate a BLOATED calendar of sets that they will need to build if Topps does in fact get bullied out of their license. That means autograph deals in place will have to be completely re-imagined, which might not be as easy as one would think. They will need a PLAN B to have in case, and a 1 per case autograph content product could be that stop gap until new deals are done. However, we should all have a hearty chuckle if they think Clear Vision is the right way to roll that plan out. Hell, let us not forget that they chose to NOT get any of these cards truly hard signed at the rookie premiere. They barely got ANYTHING hard signed at the premiere. What a fucking joke!

CJ9cnfxUYAEvSFJ CJ9cnfwUMAAc2hu

Either way, it looks like this set is going to have a more limited run, which might be the only saving grace that it has. Panini is notorious for printing the shit out of their early sets, expecting them to eventually sell WELL below dealer cost, and this might end up in that group regardless of its seemingly lower case run. I mean, from the looks of these cards, it definitely deserves to be in the bargain bin at the release. However, we know there are collectors that will bust anything, and the group break contingent will eat up some of the cards.

CJ9ZoRIUsAAddK3

Clear Vision is a joke in the funniest possible sense, and its scary that Panini thinks this should be a set on their calendar. Although it is better than trash like 2014’s Hot Rookies, or even Score, but outside of that, I fail to see its value. You will have people who will say “WELL, IM GOING TO GET A TOP AUTO IN EVERY CASE.” This is a true statment. However, not every collector is going to open that much. Most collectors will bust one box of it, run for the nearest trash receptacle, lose their lunch, and walk away.

2015 MLB All Star Game: Hobby Stories to Watch

Of all the All Star games, Baseball is the one where people have the least potential to get injured – at least in my opinion. This leads to a game that can be played at almost full speed. Inexplicably, Bud Selig thought this was a cue to add stakes to the game, and make it count. I cant even explain how infuriating that is. Either way, this game is interesting without the prize, and I always watch every year.

This year, there are some BIG rookie names involved, as well as some bigger hobby names that continue to hold the market for MLB cards. Guys like Kris Bryant and Joc Pederson are making their all star debuts, and I could not be more excited. Here are some things to watch for.

Kris Bryant in the Derby and the Main Event

Over the last few years, there has always been at least one big name that Topps structures all their releases around. Puig, Abreu, Harper, Trout, all have taken the crown. This year its Bryant, and his cards are going absolutely fucking insane.

Check out some of the craziness:

2013 Bowman Chrome Kris Bryant Auto BGS 9.5

2015 Topps Archives Kris Bryant Fan Favorites Auto

2015 Bowman Inception Kris Bryant Auto Jumbo Patch /5

His Finest Superfractor auto is up for auction, and is already garnering huge bids. This is a rarity, considering that repack companies usually buy up all the big hits before they hit eBay.

Bryant will be partaking in both legs of the ASG festivities, with the Home Run Derby tonight and the All Star Game on Tuesday. Although a shitty performance wont hurt him at all, if he comes out a winner in either event, it could definitely help him.

He is, without a doubt, a guy that is performing on a level similar to what we saw with Puig, and that makes for good hobby results. Although Puig literally set the world on fire, he hasnt really sustained it. Bryant will have big shoes to fill if he wants to reach the level of other hobby mainstays, and this could be a step in the right direction.

Joc Pederson in the Derby and the Main Event

Like Bryant, Joc is having a great year. He is on the verge of setting every major Dodgers team rookie record, and he should be getting similar recognition to his counterpart. His cards arent selling half as well, as many dont believe his ceiling is as high, but man, he can put on a show.

Here is where his cards are sitting:

2012 Bowman Chrome Joc Pederson Blue Refractor Auto BGS 9.5

2015 Topps Museum Collection Joc Pederson Dual Patch Auto

2015 Topps Archives Joc Pederson 1990 All Star Rookie Auto

Pederson needs to make a statement on a national level to get even MORE love in the hobby than he is already getting, and this is a perfect opportunity for him to do so. Bryant was a big name from the time he was drafted, and Pederson is running the race in second place. Not bad for a guy drafted in the 11th round.

Considering he wasnt even in the top 25 for Baseball America in 2014, he has made waves since being promoted when the Dodgers got rid of Matt Kemp. Might eventually end up as a top hobby name, especially playing in LA.

Repeat MVP for Mike Trout?

I dont think Topps could be more excited than for their main spokesperson to win the MVP last year in Minnesota. Trout went on to win the league MVP, and solidify his spot atop the Hobby. He remains the top autograph in Baseball, and his production speaks to why that is the case.

2015 Topps Finest Mike Trout Orange Refractor Auto

2015 Topps Stadium Club Mike Trout Auto SSP

2015 Museum Collection Mike Trout Framed Auto

If he can repeat as MVP, I doubt it will have a huge impact for his already sky high value, but it could definitely mean a bump momentarily. Baseball is one of those sports where the minor big event can mean increases or decreases in value, and I would like to see him put on a show.

Pitching Takes Center Stage

Its really too bad that Max Scherzer will not be able to pitch due to his starting on Sunday. We almost had the same situation with Chris Sale, but I guess that Ventura and Yost worked it out. Pitching has been the story as much as the rookies this year, and its always fun to see them go one on one with the best hitters in the game back to back to back. Although its usually only an inning at a time, it makes for some fun TV.

All Star Releases in Topps Bunt

If you have been following along with me on Twitter, you know how much I love the digital apps that Topps does. Each of the last few years, Topps Bunt has made an event out of the All Star festivities, and they are knee deep in it again this year.

Here are some of the cards:

2015 Bunt All Star Legends Johnny Bench

2015 Bunt All Star Bryce Harper Card

If you opened Series 2 baseball, you probably have some of the codes for Bunt sitting around, and I would say now is the best time to use them. Get yourself signed up, get some free coins, and check out the all star sets they are running at the moment. The cards look great, and they will definitely be rocking and rolling all night long tonight and tomorrow.

I have mentioned before that the game has been generating a lot of buzz lately, and this is easily one of the biggest weeks of the year for them.

Overall – this is a fun time to be a collector of all things baseball. I hope everyone still gets the enjoyment out of the All Star Game that it brings me, or at least some entertaining hobby reactions. Here is hoping that we get a good show again.

2015 All Star Game: Fan Fest Giveaways Are Live!

I love big events in sports, especially ones that have an attached fan event. Each year, baseball has the All Star Fan Fest that runs simultaneously with the All Star Game, much like the NFL experience that runs along side the Super Bowl. This is one of the biggest sports memorabilia shows of the year for MLB, and with it, comes a lot of fun giveaways.

Here are some of the more interesting things you can pick up:

2015 Topps All Star Game Chris Sale Die Cut Auto

2015 Topps All Star Game Johnny Bench Commemorative Patch

2015 Topps All Star Game Todd Frazier Fan Fest Set

2015 All Star Game Fan Fest Mr. Redlegs Bobblehead

2015 All Star Game Oyo Minifigure Felix Hernandez

Last year in Minnesota was a big deal for me, as I loved chasing down all the Twins themed items like Bobbleheads, manu-patch cards, and posters. Some of the cards ended up being quite the desirable item. It looks like Topps really wanted to have a repeat performance, as they brought back the card giveaways, and complete sets that have special cards.

Topps Bunt is also getting involved, with All Star themed cards for the next week, some of which are already out for the players participating in the game. There will be dozens of ASG themed releases, which should include player signature cards, legends, and Fan Fest themed sets.

If you are in the Cincy area, I would definitely go check out the show, as it is worth it just to see all the booths that will be set up. From what I saw last year, its more than just cards and memorabilia, it should have some element of All Star History as well.

When you do attend, Ill be happy to get any of the Topps Digital stuff you arent looking to keep! Shoot me a tweet if you would like to make a deal!