For the first time in the history of the set, we saw on card autos make their way into Absolute. The rookie premiere materials set, which were the focus of the product, still left a lot to be desired in terms of the design of the card. Outside of a disregard for visual appeal, the set was actually an improvement on everything but format and box price. This year, we are seeing an improvement in design for parts of the set that were awful in 2011, but a regression in ones that were improved last year.
Starting with the rookie premiere materials cards, Panini continues to fumble through this new on card approach to the set, without focusing on the design elements that have made other cards under their brand so successful. These SHOULD NOT be vertical cards, as there is rarely a way to make a vertically oriented jersey autograph work. God forbid you have to throw in a jumbo swatch on top of it. Even last year, the design for the jumbo swatch cards was so poorly done that it makes this one look that much worse. Stacking the elements on top of each other like blocks creates a busy look and a TINY space to sign the card. If Panini had done this card correctly, in a horizontal orientation, there easily could have been success. This way, its hideous.
The Elway card is similarly stacked like blocks in its composition, but not in a way that promotes a good use of the space. The squared off elements look like they are pieces of a puzzle put together like tetris instead of flowing together like the Griffin card.
In terms of the good looking parts of this preview, I think the Griffin (mentioned above) is a good looking card in a set that has been historically horrendous. However, as with the other good example in this blast, I wonder what the lower parallels will look like. These are the best possible parallel you can pull, but what happens when its the .50 jersey card and not the jersey auto patch?
My favorite part of this entire preview has to be the tools of the trade card, which gives me a very retro movie screen cap vibe. Think the heist scenes from Oceans Eleven with the different parts of the scene being shown parallel on the screen. I love the way this “best of the best” card looks, and I hope the parallels we usually see have a similarly good design to them. Honestly, the solution to this whole issue could be to just use different printing plates for each parallel, similar to the New Breed set in Elite. The jersey card design looks completely different than the Jersey auto design, and I could not be more happy they tried it that way.
The worst part of this whole product remains the format, a situation exacerbated by the over bloated checklist for every set. At 40-50 dollars per pack, to pull the kind of junk that Absolute is infamous for, is ridiculous. This product remains one of the worst buys in pack form you can have, and I cannot understand why it stays the way it is when jersey cards are as worthless as they are.
Everyone knows how much I dislike the ways Panini designs their products, but I have actually enjoyed Prestige and Elite more than I ever thought I would. As we go further towards products like Absolute, I worry we will be right back where we started last year.