What Makes a Good Buyback?

In 2016 Classics, we saw that Panini went out and got the players to sign a bunch of cards they had in their inventory. These buybacks are supposedly one per case, and for the most part, have attracted some nice attention from collectors who appreciate the cards they had signed.

Here are some of the bigger ones up so far:

2016 Classics Peyton Manning Buyback Auto 1/1

2016 Classic Tom Brady Buyback Auto 1/1

2016 Classics Curtis Martin Buyback Auto 1/1

2016 Classics Jason Witten Buyback Auto /8

Personally, im a big fan of buyback autograph cards but I know that others might not be as big a supporter of their usage. I honestly wish more companies used buybacks in their products, as it creates a way for them to use pre-obtained content to get hard signed autographs. If you dont need to print the card, all autographs no longer have an excuse to be stickers. So, the question remains – what makes a good buyback?

Base Cards

Lets face it, finding a way for an autograph and a relic to be included on such a small surface is tough. So tough that Panini seems to fail at it about 10 times more than they succeed. Base cards dont have to deal with that type of composition, so there is a lot more room for bigger player photos and uninterrupted design elements. This can mean autos might be tougher to see, but with the right design, the card can be absolutely stunning.

Rookie Cards

Aside from the fact that this can get expensive for some of the superstar players, the importance of their rookie card to collectors is undeniable. If you ask a collector which type of card is the most important to the hobby, a rookie card is easily top 3 if not the most important. Getting one autographed by the player can make the buy back insanely attractive, especially if the rookie is tough to get.

Iconic Sets

Everyone remembers 1989 Upper Deck Baseball. Everyone remembers 1952 Topps. 1986 Fleer Basketball is an institution. These sets are iconic examples of trading cards, and they arent alone. Obviously, there are a lot of reason why getting 1952 Topps stuff for people to sign wont work, but the thought is there. If you can get an iconic set combined with a rookie card for a buyback signature? Thats where things can be really special. This luxury car price tag on a 1986 Jordan Buyback is not a joke.

Chrome Cards

There is no more attractive card than a chrome card with a hard signed signature. Unfortunately, many of the chrome cards feature sticker autographs outside of Topps Chrome. I think if a company really wants to make me fall in love, this type of card would be a great way to do it. Topps has actually done chrome buyback autos a few times, and they remain valuable in many of the examples.


Can you imagine if UD did a widespread buyback program of some of their rare inserts from the late 1990s and early 2000s? Although Fleer Retro had a few examples, it was mostly focused around Michael Jordan. I would love to see them get some of the PMG cards and have them signed. I would buy the shit out of those cards. In all honesty, many unsigned insert cards do look pretty awesome. I would love to see how many would look with hard signed autograph cards.

Again, the need for more unique autograph content is huge in the industry right now. Collectors are routinely giving up on the same old shit year after year, and its time to make sure that we get some fresh content – even if its based in nostalgic connections to older sets. History sells in cards, and companies need to use it more often in creating premium content.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2016 Classics Football Product Review


A few years ago, Classics football was the first set to offer NFL rookies in their new digs. Since that time the product has been canned, and rightfully so, and then resurrected when Panini needed to scrape the bottom of the barrel to hit product guarantees. Classics was dead as a product, and I dont think that much has changed in the time it has been away.

Here are some of the hits up so far:

2016 Classics Laquon Treadwell Auto RC

2016 Classics Dan Marino Auto 9/10

2016 Classics Jameis Winston Auto /10

2016 Classics Rob Gronkowski No Name Variation

Instead of the NFL uniforms, we are stuck AGAIN with college sticker crap, only this time its on vintage stock instead. Im not sure why that makes a difference, other than a cheap gimmick, but Panini seems to think it will change people’s mind. They added in their version of Topps’ Heritage SSP ideas, but in a set that has maybe 1/240th the following.

The cards dont look bad from a base perspective, but at some point we need to ask ourselves why something like this is necessary on the calendar. Sure it adds a product with a retro feel to the mix, yet I dont see much other reason for it to exist. Sticker autographs of rookies in college uniforms have already happened way too many times this year, and over-saturation has hit hard.

Funny enough, if Panini added stickers for some of the 8x10s they got signed at the Rookie Premiere, I might be signing a different tune:

2016 Classics Ezekiel Elliott Signed Photo

2016 Classics Jared Goff Signed Photo

2016 Classics Joey Bosa 8×10 Signed Photo

If Panini is trying to create their shot at a football version of Heritage, they are so far off base, I dont have words. If they are trying to create a retro product in the same vein as other sets, even then I fail to see the appeal of this set, save the cheaper box price. Like I said, the cards dont look BAD, but I also dont think anything here is game-changing.

Cheaper box price also means fewer autographs, because Panini cant seem to deliver at the same rate we see the other companies deliver, including Leaf who gave us 5 on card autos for 80-85 bucks. Panini needs to really figure out their plan for the next few years, because if we are going to get 30 different versions of cheap crap like Classics all year, this license will be even more unsustainable than it already is. I guess we shouldnt be surprised that this is already showing up on the Father’s Day list, after all, I havent seen a ton of buzz. Then again, that is par for the course here.

2016 NFL Rookie Premiere – Saturday Takes Center Stage

nflpa-rookie-premiere-logoIf you are unfamiliar with the Rookie Premiere, today is the main event. The rookies put on their NFL uniforms for the first time, and head to the stadium for their first dress rehearsal as part of their new teams. Obviously, if you are not a fan of Panini, this day is going to be torture, but at least we can see some of the incredible things that Topps Digital is doing with their apps.


If you expected them to spend the day taking action shots of the guys running simulated scenarios on the field, yeah you picked the wrong company to follow. Even though Panini had the entire field to work with for most of the day, it looks like they spent just as much time taking rookies off the playing surface and using them for stupid gimmicks that dont involve the reason why everyone goes to the event.


Back when the event was conceived, it was to provide a place where the card companies could simulate photography that look like in game shots. Because some of the rookies wouldnt see the field during their first year, at least in time for actual photos to be available and processed, the Premiere offered a unique opportunity. Similarly with all photos taken at the premiere belonging to the companies themselves, there was no cost to acquire rights. Those principles are still in place today, and for many years Panini has completely made terrible use of this opportunity.


Their signature is avoiding the visually stunning photography that can be generated at this event, instead opting for goofy posed pictures of the rookies without their helmets on, or in a room constructed for them to pretend to tear a football in half. If anyone wonders why so many cards from Panini feature this type of horrible looking pictures, its because they spend so much time at this event generating it.


In fact, for some of their cards, instead of retouching college action shots for use in NFL branded cards, like they did in previous years, all retouching was done on publicity head shots taken around the NFL draft and during the premiere’s opening days. Yes, it seems as though Panini is DELIBERATELY moving away from photography that looks the best on a trading card, in favor of the inexeplicable Human Bobblehead and other questionable uses for the time spent during the event.


This is why I hate Panini’s cards. They opt to produce them in a way that literally drives me up a fucking wall. I love football for action on the field, not glamour shots in a studio. From the looks on the rookies’ faces, I can tell they probably feel the same way. Considering that the field is there for the best results, and they choose consistently to avoid it, makes me angry. What is the point of this event if they are not going to use it for what it is worth?

Topps Digital


For the first time, Topps is appearing at the event without a physical license. As a licensee with the NFLPA under their digital license, Topps was granted space on the field, but likely no access to the players running around for Panini’s photography. Obviously Panini wants the event to themselves, especially when the Topps Digital team has just signed a long term deal with their exclusive physical provider.


Huddle has shown that the market for football cards on the digital side is a booming industry, much the opposite of the slowly collapsing physical side of the card business. With tens of thousands of users, Huddle likely has more people engaging with their product on a regular basis than Panini does with their new physical products at any given time.

Topps had some great ideas for the event as well, with live signatures and drawn plays by the rookies all to be featured in beautiful cards featured in Huddle. It also looks like they made use of their tent space, looking for ways to get photos of the rookies for the app, despite not having the field to work with.

Topps has always produced better cards than Panini has from a design perspective, and its clear that they know what they are doing on the digital side as well. With new content delivered multiple times PER DAY, at ANY TIME of the day, collectors can engage with the app at their leisure without leaving their homes.


This is the first time the Huddle app has been NFL licensed at the time of the rookie premiere, and its going to be very cool to see how they adapt to life without the anchor of a physical license in their back pocket. Where Panini seems to be absent of a thought of the difference between their ass and their elbow, Topps continues to innovate across the brands they have left.

As we have seen from Panini, all they care about is cardboard cutouts of instagram windows and ripping off Topps’ old ideas than actually doing anything creative on their own. This is as sad as I have ever been for Football cards, and the rookie premiere is the first experience of what life will be like when Panini has full control. What. a. fucking. joke.

On The Radar: 2016 Panini Unparalleled Football Product Preview

In 2016, all products have parallels. Every. Single. Last. One of them. Some products have so many parallels that the structure doesnt make sense. Some parallels are so worthless that they have less value than the base.

Knowing all this, leave it to Panini to call a product Unparalleled. Im guessing there will be PLENTY of parallels. Its even mentioned in the sell sheet.

I understand that they were trying to use the word in context that the product would have no equal, but that is just something that most collectors are going to laugh at. Its like saying “Man, I paid an arm and a leg for this” while talking to an amputee. There are just some synonyms that arent worth using.

The product itself is a fucking joke, as has been just about every other product that Panini has on the calendar this year. We almost need a checklist for all the dumb gimmicks they use, and this product satisfies almost all of them.

Stupid posed photos instead of dynamic action shots? Check.


Separated signature area with an ugly big white box? Check.


Crazy eye pain brought on by overly busy stock patterns? Check.


Rainbow foil? Check.


Lame set names that use horrible alliteration? Check! TIMES TWO! COMBO MOVE!


Its all there. If they use acetate in this set some how, that’s the coup de grace.

Panini sucks at making cards. They suck at building new brands. They suck and creating themes for products, and the primary and secondary market performance of these products showcase that no one likes what they do. For obvious reasons, the NFL cared more about money than product performance, and now we have a Panini exclusive.

Eventually the product shelves will be so full at the distributors with unsalable inventory that Panini will have to give out free packs all year long. Fuck them for ruining football even more than it was already ruined.

2016 NFL Rookie Premiere: First Look at Panini Origins


Im not sure what to say here. We all knew that Panini has a HORRIBLE track record of building new football products, and we know that Topps literally took them to school with Inception for a number of years. In terms of products that are signed at or prior to the Rookie Premiere, there literally was no better product in the bag. Topps Inception was so good, it offered content that Panini could only dream about, before they could finally put out high end stuff like Immaculate much later in the year.

Enter Panini Origins.

When you see the pictures, you are going to look for the Topps logo and the Inception name. You will want to believe that a miracle has happened and somehow Panini does not have the exclusive. You will be wrong. Origins is very real. Panini literally has produced the equivalent of those fake sunglasses you can buy on the street. This is Panini’s Faux-kleys product.

Now, I am happy we get SOMETHING like Inception. The cards look good. They really did a good job ripping off Inception down to the blotchy background behind the player. Im glad the Rookie Premiere content that wont be 100% cards like those horrendous Pen Pals cards they have been touting.

I just find it fucking hilarious that Panini is so incapable of originality that they literally have to resort to this. You guys can all thank me for warning you when Khrome and Six Star become Panini’s newest product lines.

They arent being shy about this whole thing, and if they meant it like a middle finger to Topps, its not working. It only looks more and more like they have no idea how to cultivate their own brands from scratch. Seeing this should just reinforce how big of a mistake the NFL made. Too bad its not about the cards and its all about the money. If it were about the cards, this would be hard to shake.

I was depressed that Inception was gone, but I cant say I am less depressed that Panini is playing Weekend at Bernie’s with Topps’ dead sets.