When Panini released previews for Crown Royale and Absolute, there were definitely some great strides made in individual subsets present in the two sets. Now that we are getting some of the pictures of the completed cards themselves, I have differing reactions on some of the cards, while others are some of the best I have seen from them in a long time.
First, starting with the good, the Crown Royale die cuts are absolutely amazing. Not only are they hard signed this year, but they are non foilboard and look amazing. The cards are by far the best we have seen from Panini during the entire 2011 season, but also back as far as 2007 possibly as well. The cards are just the best they have done, and I cant understand why there are not more done in similarly stunning fashion. I mean, we can see that they have the potential to turn it on, but yet we see the same shit over and over and over again from them. There is no reason to believe that these are the best they have in the tank, but when we consistently see them fall on their face, its less of a question and more of a complaint.
Also, we get a better look at the rookie premiere materials autos this year, and from what we see, the on card autos and horizontal orientation dont do much to help when all is said and done. They are better than they have been, dont get me wrong, but its far from the level of awesomeness that Topps has delivered set after set this year. The rainbow foil and swatch windows that break the design lines dont do much to make these cards more appealing, and the event used football crap swatch is laughable. Event used footballs are the lamest of the lame, and yet Panini still puts them in a number of sets for no apparent reason.
I did like the Certified freshman fabric design on paper, but it isnt as nice looking for the finished product. Again, its still better than they were before, but there is a long way to go to greatness just like Absolute.
Lastly, the reebok swatch cards continue to make me laugh with how bad they look, mainly because the diecuts around the swatch looks so wacky. I have no idea who thought to put that swatch in that place on the card, with such a lackadaisical attempt at die-cutting. It looks so hideous that even the hard signed signature cant save it. Leave it to Panini to ruin the cards again for the fourth year in a row.
I know there are a lot of fans of Panini cards out there, and I think even they are starting to question how things could swing even more in Topps’ favor. Now that we have seen how high the top of the mountain can get with Five Star, these cards look trashy and cheap. I do understand that I am comparing apples to spaghetti, at least in terms of price point, but its shocking how far behind Panini can be. We will wait for National Treasures to really hammer the final nail in the coffin, but there is still some potential that Panini could get it together for the final set of the year. Its not looking good, and getting worse with every preview they show. Topps Chrome, with on card signatures for the first time in years, hits on October 26th, and its only going to get worse for Panini from there.
Here are the pics: