There isnt a week that goes by where I don’t laugh at some horrid looking card that Panini has put out. They really have taken the art of card design and set it aflame. My main gripe, in most cases, has to do with the overall look of a card, mainly the foil they use or the way a card is laid out. Because of examples in recent releases, it almost seems as though they just don’t care how a card looks, as long as it fills out the set. In a recent twitter-fest with industry guru Steve Judd, he asserted that the reason they do cards the way they do is to minimize the cost of creating a product. Although this is not surprising, it begs the question as to whether or not Panini has destroyed the use of regular jersey cards in card products singlehandedly.
Don’t act like you don’t know what I am talking about, as many of you break wax on a regular basis. In each of the boxes you open, how many of the hits are autographs and how many of them are jersey cards. Panini has staked their industry claim on products that feature 4 hits for 90 or so dollars, even though AT LEAST 2 of the hits are jersey cards worth as much as a base card at this point. This brings me to the discussion of whether design and content of jersey cards has factored into the value of said hits as much as prevalence. Don’t get me wrong, Panini is a repeat offender of both design and prevalence of the cards, but if they looked like they were designed correctly instead of the way they have turned out, would the value change? Im going to say that after years of 4/1/$90 products from Panini, probably not, and that is actually very sad. We have lost the part of this hobby that was once populated by valuable jersey cards, a part that is never coming back. I blame the overproduction of the cards by all the companies as much as anything, but recent design trends perpetrated by Donruss, now Panini, have played a big part in my opinion. Could I say that Panini is SOLELY responsible? Not a chance. But they have been more of an offender than anyone, especially in the last few years.
Here is why it happens the way it does. As it stands currently, Panini starts with the design that will function as the jersey autograph parallel of the card. These are usually ridiculously low numbered, and don’t make up much of the content of a product. Its because these cards are the most expensive to produce by a mile. To fill out each product, they create a ton of parallels of that card to make sure that people can open packs and get lots of cards in their box. First they remove the autograph, and create the jersey parallel and the patch parallel. Then they put the autograph back on, and create the auto only parallel. Finally they remove the autograph and the jersey, which leaves only the base card, to which they can create however many numbered parallels of that card. As of right now, Panini is the only company to function in this fashion. Personally, I understand why they do this, as it is the cheapest possible way to create a product, but I don’t understand why people continually buy these products when the cards turn out as ugly as they do.
Topps and Upper Deck have also made jersey cards with other parallels in their sets, but to my knowledge, they rarely do the parallels the way Panini does. Even in Triple Threads, where Topps is worse about parallels than Panini is, they adjust each parallel to make it look complete. Panini does not, and that is why many of the worthless jersey cards they produce look incomplete, like someone forgot to affix the sticker to the space. Even in their super high end products like National Treasures, Panini STILL produces cards this way, and in my opinion it has greatly contributed to the fact that many collectors have abandoned all hope of valuable jersey cards. Hell, even single patch cards have lost appeal, with some multi-colored patch cards being as worthless as their jersey parallels.
All in all, this is just a way to cut cost, maximize profit, and still get the product on the shelves, and despite all of this, collectors still buy. At some point, the reactions that populate this thread will overtake any positive buying tendencies, and Panini will have to change. It’s the same reason why stickers have become taboo among the people that populate the hobby. Collectors EVENTUALLY want to see progression, and right now, Panini has done nothing but move in the opposite direction. That’s not saying they don’t get a card right every once in a while, its just that each of their competitors have found ways to operate without having to resort to the cost cutting measures that Panini has based their entire product line on. We wonder why they rehash design after design, its because the cost of creating a new design each year is much more expensive than just tweaking a previous year’s design to make it look updated. I would not have a shocked face if you told me that foilboard was cheaper to produce cards on, as that would obviously explain why Panini uses it with every single chance they get.
When you see that base Topps value has bottomed out to the point where case breakers arent even buying it any more to resell, its easy to see that things are not going well in terms of secondary market value. Based on that observation, im surprised to see that Panini refuses to put effort into their products, instead relying on creating entire brand lines in 3 of the four sports that all are the same year to year. I also realize that a lot of the people out there reading have similar feelings to the way I do, the difference is that many of those people still buy regardless. That is where the hobby will need to change before we can buy a box without 2-3 worthless jersey cards in it.