SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 Topps Chrome Mini Football

When Topps first announced 2014 Chrome Mini, I was skeptical but intrigued. For me, as long as we get more on card Chrome autographs, im on board. However after we saw box after box of 2014 Regular Chrome fall flat due to vast over production, things have gotten dicey with collectors. People were so turned off by what Chrome delivered on a box and case level, that it will surely impact how Mini sells. Being that it was already a relative niche product, im not sure what is going to happen.

Here are some of the bigger hits so far:

2014 Topps Chrome Mini Teddy Bridgewater Red Refractor Auto

2014 Topps Chrome Mini Johnny Manziel Die Cut Auto /15

2014 Topps Chrome Mini Odell Beckham Red Refractor Auto /5

2014 Topps Chrome Mini Derek Carr Black Refractor Auto /25

I will say this. From the breaks I have watched, Chrome mini looks to be the set we were all hoping for in terms of regular Chrome. It has a reduced autograph checklist and lower print run, and is look to run 3-5 lower number color autos per case from what I have seen. That is what we needed to see before. The number of autographs from top tier rookies is still yet to be determined, but even that should be easier considering the run is shorter.

If you liked the main Chrome design, it transfers almost 100% to Mini. There may be fewer parallels available, which is expected due to lower production run, but you should get more of them per box. Additionally, for boxes that dont have color autographs, I saw those boxes are more likely to produce color from the base side. The base parallels have a much better numbering scheme too, a lot lower than normal Chrome.

Overall, Chrome Mini is not going to get much love because of what happened earlier in the year, but I think it deserves some credit. The cards look as good as ever, and the box break improvement should be a huge improvement overall. Because fewer boxes will be broken, the rare hits are really going to sell higher than I would guess people are going to expect. I have already seen some collectors trolling the boards trying to get a head start on rainbows and sets. That is a good thing on a short run product.

My complaint is that they didnt update the pics on the cards with new pictures, which is so fucking disappointing I cant even put it into words. If we could get game shots on these cards for the whole set, and release it later, I would break cases of this product. Because its the same pics we got in mid 2014 with base Topps, Im not as excited. This was a missed opportunity, even though this product was an afterthought. Chrome takes forever to print and sign, but the wait would be worth it to me. The combine pics in February are inexcusable, regardless of the original release date.

I guess we will have to wait and see what happens.

On the Radar: 2015 Topps Triple Threads Baseball

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.

Here are some of the best of the worst from over the years, just for shits and giggles. These are so bad they are hilarious:

2008 Triple Threads Jorge Posada 36 Piece Relic Booklet – Deserves a 36 facepalm salute

2013 Triple Threads Casey Kelly Auto Relic – well who else would you be?

2014 Triple Threads Chris Archer Triple Relic – Horrible play on words

2014 Triple Threads Bryce Harper Auto Relic – ????

2014 Triple Threads Billy Butler Auto Relic – Something my dad would say

2013 Triple Threads Chase Headley Triple Relic – Really? I mean REALLY?

2012 Triple Threads Carlos Santana Triple Relic – Just a terrible play on his name. TERRIBLE.

Triple Threads has always been for the type of collector that values nothing but the name on the card, and the content of the relic that card contains. They dont care about the ugly design(s), they dont care about tired theme, and they are not people I would associate myself with. I have a generalized profile of these types of collectors in my mind, and though I know its bad, I cant help but despise what they reinforce with the manufacturers as acceptable card production methods.

Obviously, Triple Threads has always been as much about those god awful sayings they die cut into the cards, as it is about anything else. The sayings have been around for so long that they are literally scraping the bottom of the bottom of the barrel each passing year. Where Triple Threads was progressing towards more on card autographs, it seems to have stopped, once again going back to stickers to complement the awful looking design.

Although I do give Topps credit for using the silhouette style in their trifold relic booklets, instead of horrendous looking junk like this, everything else is pretty much exactly the same. It has been identical every year for the last 10 years, no joke. The only difference is in the players that are featured, and even then its not much different. They may have come up with these deca-threads books, which feature 10 relics, but I just dont see the appeal that it has. This is like the follow up to their 36 piece booklet, which was so terrible looking, they could be deemed the worst of the run.

Adding more single color swatches to a card SHOULD not help in this day and age, even if they might be patches. The card itself may look okay, but this is where the concept just doesnt work for me. I just dont care about a 10 player swatch booklet. I would much rather they focus their efforts somewhere else.

Topps Baseball has definitely created some interesting products over the years, but this is not one of them. I just hope that someday the production team will give more license to tweak baseball the way they have in football, and see what they can do. Until then, my fire breathing hatred will continue.

The Panini Showdown: 2014 Flawless vs 2014 Immaculate Football

There is no denying that Panini has really taken high end very seriously this year, albeit with some very mixed results. Some of their stuff has been quite impressive, while other stuff has been far from mediocre in the way it looks. But, without a doubt, their two biggest high end sets of the year have been Flawless and Immaculate, and its time to break down who did what better. Because both sets are a direct port from Basketball, it shouldnt be too hard to see how they made the transition. I have often said that Flawless lacked the punch that Immaculate had, and I guess this is the opportunity to compare side by side.

Base RPS Rookie AutosĀ 

Im not really interested in comparing scrub vs scrub, because Flawless really didnt have any of the non photo shoot guys. However, they did have relatively the same slate of rookies when you get higher up, so we should go that direction.

Here are Flawless’ Base Rookie Autos:

2014 Flawless Odell Beckham Jr. Rookie Auto /25

2014 Flawless Teddy Bridgewater Rookie Auto /10

Here are Immaculates Base Rookie Autos:

2014 Immaculate Odell Beckham RC Patch Auto /25

2014 Immaculate Teddy Bridgewater RC Patch Auto /25

From a visual stand point, I think Flawless is more clean, but I definitely dont necessarily believe that being clean actually sets it apart here. Immaculate definitely has a more dynamic look to it, and that almost always leads to a better looking card. I dont like that either has a separated area for signatures, but unlike Flawless, Immaculate makes it part of the design. Huge difference in look.

The rarity of Flawless’ base autographs for the rookies should be taken into consideration, but it doesnt matter enough to sway my vote. So many cards are rare these days that it is no longer the attractive situation it used to be.

Verdict: Immaculate 1, Flawless 0

Rookie Insert Autos

Flawless and Immaculate really have a lot of insert sets for rookies, and I think they did a really nice job in both sets making the cards look really good. Immaculate does have an advantage in some ways because of how many swatches they used, but that doesnt always mean its going to be a runaway victory.

Here are some of Flawless’ Rookie Insert Autos:

2014 Flawless Johnny Manziel Jumbo Patch Auto

2014 Flawless Mike Evans Jumbo Patch Auto Logo

2014 Flawless Blake Bortles Inscriptions Auto RC

Here are some of Immaculate’s Rookie Insert Autos:

2014 Immaculate Mike Evans Jumbo Patch Auto

2014 Immaculate Jordan Matthews Auto Patch RC Acetate /81

2014 Immaculate Sammy Watkins Rookie Ink Auto

2014 Immaculate Odell Beckham Signature Patches Auto

Flawless again went with as clean a design as possible, and for the most part, it worked out very well. Immaculate has a few sets though that look better above and beyond, and its kind of insane that they were able to make Flawless almost look boring.

Flawless only has one type of rookie swatch with ink on it, and it was one of my favorite looks for the set. However, when you consider that all of the rookie relic content is event used anyways, it becomes more about making the card look good.

Immaculate has more focus on relics, and copying from Exquisite’s design archive makes the cards look pretty damn good. I think that in many of the examples, Immaculate made better use of the autographs and swatches to make the cards look better and more interesting.

Verdict: Immaculate 2, Flawless 0

Veteran Auto Content

Because the sets had different focuses it seems, this could be quite the contested category between the two sets. Both had a plethora of autographed veteran content, but I think its pretty clear which sets had the main advantage.

Here are some of Flawless’ Veteran Autos:

2014 Flawless Tom Brady Auto Jumbo Patch

2014 Flawless Peyton Manning Auto Dual Patch

2014 Flawless Andrew Luck Auto /10

Here are some of Immaculate’s Veteran Autos:

2014 Immaculate Tom Brady Auto Immaculate Moments

2014 Immaculate Peyton Manning Auto Jumbo Patch

2014 Immaculate Emmitt Smith Auto Pro Bowl

Bottom line, Flawless was all on card and had a very succinct approach in building checklists. Although there were some MAJOR duds on the list, getting them all done in the beginning of the year is almost worthy of a freaking medal.

Immaculate was hugely disappointing in seeing that some of the vets were sticker autographs, almost a complete taboo for a product that costs as much as Immaculate does. Though the jumbo patch autographs in Immaculate look better than Flawless’ design, the stickers just kill it. Most were on card, but Immaculate should have had the same attention as Flawless did with hard signed cards.

Verdict: Immaculate 2, Flawless 1

Patch Content

Here is the thing. Flawless had a shorter run than Immaculate, so there wont be as many subsets to create more boxes of the product. This is where it has a distinct disadvantage just in quantity over quality. Either way, its worth talking about it.

Here are some of the top patch cards from Flawless:

2014 Flawless Adrian Peterson Dirty Patch /25

2014 Flawless Emmitt Smith Patch /25

Here are some of the top patch cards from Immaculate:

2014 Immaculate Tom Brady Giant Logo Patch

2014 Immaculate Antonio Brown Full Steelers Logo Giant Patch

2014 Immaculate Demarco Murray Full HOF Logo Giant Patch

2014 Immaculate Sammy Watkins Helmet Shadowbox

Let me start off by saying that Flawless’ run of patch cards is more simple, but looks better than 95% of the patch cards in Immaculate solely because of the design. I know that isnt what collectors think about for some stupid reason, but I definitely bring it in for consideration.

However, that’s where the advantages end, as Immaculate has some crazy shit in it. Just insane patches all over the place, and they are not all rookies either, which is only more intriguing. The problem is that they just slapped a border on many of the cards, which I think is lazy and cheap. They should have done booklets, regardless of cost, instead of trying to pack the product with Nate Washington and Anthony Fasano crap.

The checklist for Immaculate is so diluted on the patch stuff, . Flawless is significantly more compact, and the checklist reflects that.

Also, the stupid content of hats, jackets, and locker name plates for rookies is just dumb. Stick to the stuff they play in – gloves, shoes and helmets. Lucky for Panini, those all turned out nice.

That being said, there are so many duds in this product, especially the signed rookie letters, which are about as stupid and lame as it can get. I should take away a point for how bad these turned out. Just a stain on this product, right next to the stain already left by the sticker autographs.

You just cant argue with Immaculate’s chase appeal to the general collector base, so it gets the point. It also goes without saying that the fiasco surrounding the authenticity of game used material used in Flawless should never be understated. Just a completely disgraceful situation that Immaculate has YET to face. Yet being the key word, right?

Verdict: Immaculate 3, Flawless 1

Base Cards

Both products decided to keep base cards in the mix, and I am actually surprised by how much people actually want these. To me, base cards in a high end product seems to be a dumb way to add more cards to the box, but they sell well, so whatever.

Here are the base cards from Flawless:

2014 Flawless John Elway Base /20

2014 Flawless Mike Evans Base /20

Here are the base cards from Immaculate:

2014 Flawless Andrew Luck Base /99

Personally, I understand why they wanted to go with base cards that had gems in them. Flawless illicit that type of context. However, that doesnt excuse how asinine of an idea it is to put diamond chips in cards. Adding in that the authenticity of the diamonds has been questioned on the forums, and diamond melee is REALLY cheap, I dont understand the appeal.

Immaculate’s base cards look awesome. Simple and dynamic just like the rest of the set. I almost dont need to say anything else because they look that good.

Verdict: Immaculate 4, Flawless 1

Chase Cards

This was always my main complaint. How do you put out a box that costs as much as Flawless does and not have any chase content. I mean, no shields, very few logos, and no multi-signed cards at all. It makes no sense.

Here are some of the chase cards from Flawless:

2014 Flawless Nick Foles Auto Jumbo Patch 1/1

2014 Flawless Drew Brees Auto Jumbo Patch 1/1

2014 Flawless Larry Fitzgerald Logo Patch 1/1

Here are some of the chase cards from Immaculate:

2014 Immaculate Dez Bryant / Demarco Murray Dual Shield 1/1

2014 Immaculate Kelvin Benjamin Auto Shield Logo 1/1

2014 Immaculate Blake Bortles Shield Helmet 1/1 Shadowbox

2014 Immaculate Earl Thomas Seahawks Logo Jumbo Patch Auto 1/1

When you bust a box of Flawless, you almost are paying for a better checklist, which is about as bad as it gets. Its sad that we have gotten to a point where you have to pay three times as much to get a better chance at a good hit. Content has really become an issue.

Immaculate has some insane chase cards. Logo patches, quad shields, shield autographs, logo 1/1s, the craziness is everywhere you look. Every other set has some really ridiculous cards in it, and people are going gaga over them.

It should be mentioned that watering the chase down with so many cards is an issue, but that’s why people buy high end. Im all about it.

Verdict: Immaculate 5, Flawless 1

Box Break

This is where it gets really dicey, as I think both products have a horrific box breaking format. You either pay through the nose and get SOMETHING or you pay less and get burned about 75% of the time, and come out poorly another 20% of the time.

Flawless has one of the worst MSRPs to ever been put on a product, but it delivers more times than Immaculate could in five times the cases. Even though some of the encased main hits were so bad that it made me want to barf, it came through with nice stuff frequently. Immaculate has points cards in it, which is a such a fucking slap in the face that it should be disqualified from even being considered for a point in this category.

Add in that when you bust a box of Immaculate, and one of your cards could be a 400 point card, your autos could be 2 scrubs, and you are still only going to get 2 other cards in the break, and its over. Flawless wins, and I cannot believe I am saying that.

Verdict: Immaculate 5, Flawless 2

Bottom Line

Im not saying that Flawless is a bad set in any way here, even though it had some huge issues. Flawless does have some really nice looking cards, but in the end, Immaculate has the more attractive cards that will inevitably outsell anything Flawless has to offer. The chase element HAS to exist in a high end set, and when you take that away in the name of a smaller checklist, that is bad for business. I shouldnt have to pay 1500 dollars to ensure I get a good card. Flawless should have the insane content that Immaculate has, and that is the deciding factor in many ways for me. If you cant give me something special for 1500, im not touching it.

All in all, both products have enormous holes that I dont expect Panini to have the intelligence to recognize or the willingness to fix. That’s the biggest price to pay, and I remain petrified for 2016 as a result.

Final Score: Immaculate 5, Flawless 2

2014 Immaculate: Who Wore It Better?

I think its funny to compare these all side by side. They are almost direct copies, but Im actually good with copying as long as you do it well. So, the question becomes, who did it better – Upper Deck or Panini? You might be surprised as to who I side with!

2006 Ultimate Collection vs 2014 Immaculate:


I like the immaculate version except for the fact that the player looks so confined in the top part of the card. Upper Deck found a way to make the player seem more whole, although the cropped shield looks really weird.

2007 Exquisite vs 2014 Immaculate:

Again, Immaculate’s look good with the player extending down to the bottom of the card. Upper Deck did better with the swatch making the window fit right in line with the design. Almost a variation, but the whiter look is more high end to me.

Exquisite Notable Nameplates vs 2014 Immaculate:


I like both, but the Immaculate designs are nice take on this design. The Upper Deck version is a bit nicer in the way the full card looks, but the weird picture border is off putting on the Exquisite card.

2009 Exquisite vs 2014 Immaculate:


I like the Exquisite better because they didnt separate the signature area with that horrendous bar of gold. But save that, Immaculate looks nicer. UD with the cropped shields again!

2009 Ultimate Collection vs 2014 Immaculate


I like the Immaculate better. Pretty simple here. The gold foil works nicer, and though its a sticker, that’s not what I am judging here. Both should have avoided the separated area for the signature, but Panini’s looks nicer.

Immaculate has some nice cards, and I think everyone is going to have different opinions. Like I mentioned before, if you are going to rip something off, at least do it well.

On the Radar: 2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions

If you have been reading this site, you know how much I love autographs. You also probably know how much I love inscriptions on said autographs. When I heard Upper Deck was coming out with a product that prominently featured both of my favorite categories of cards, my ears perked up. Now that we see some examples, its going to be quite an interesting product indeed.

Upper Deck isnt the first to try a pre-draft inscription based product, but they are the first one to do it with NCAA CLC licensed cards. They previously did some awesome NCAA based inscriptions in 2014 SP Authentic. That adds a bit of allure to the product indeed.

Take a look:

2014 SP Authentic Sammy Watkins Auto Inscription

2014 SP Authentic Blake Bortles Inscription Auto SSP

2014 SP Authentic Zach Mettenberger Inscription Auto Patch /10

I mean, there are some really nice inscription cards out there over the year, but they usually dont come until later in the calendar:

2014 Inception Carlos Hyde Inscription Auto Gold /10

2013 Five Star Eddie Lacy Auto Quotables Inscription

2013 National Treasures Gale Sayers Auto Inscription

This will likely be one of the last products before Panini takes over the CLC license exclusive that granted Upper Deck the opportunity to produce licensed college cards. There has already been speculation that they will continue to produce unlicensed sets after it kicks in, but we have yet to hear any details. As a fan of Upper Deck’s sets and design style, I hope that happens.

Inscriptions is definitely going to turn some heads, and I like that they have previews of many of the top guys in the 2015 draft. There will be a lot of concern that the checklist will be diluted, but at the same time, college collectors are rabid in enough ways that it might not matter as much as it would in the NFL.

Leaf Trinity will be a direct competitor here, and its all going to come down to who can deliver more. Hell, there is no reason they both cant be successful. I like the design of this set A LOT, and Leaf has usually been around the same level. We will see how it all shakes out soon.

Check out the cool preview cards: