When Panini signed a contract with the MLBPA to be able to produce cards of active players, collectors were really excited. They thought that Panini would be able to challenge Topps for some of the market, not realizing that their logo-less products would be so poorly designed and produced, that this “challenge” would be more gum on Topps’ big boot, than anything. In the last few weeks, Panini has released Signature Series and Cooperstown to as much fanfare as fart in the wind.
These cards wont do much for anyone who values design and look:
2012 Panini Signature Series Mariano Rivera Auto – This picture? Why?
2012 Panini Cooperstown Don Larsen Auto – Why show a picture from the game, right? Just show the ball in the HOF.
The sets have no appeal to me at all, even with on card signatures in some situations. Five Star and the first ever Super High End “Exquisite like” product is going to be releasing in a matter of days, and these products will be buried under a storm of well designed, 100% on card, ridiculous pulls, that will make Cooperstown and Signature Series forgotten releases that should never have happened. I mean, who doesnt love the tell tale Panini Manu-patch autos with an MLBPA logo on them? No? How about recycling UD Sweet Spot with people no one cares about? No? What about cut autographs from players that are alive and still signing? Okay, there it is. It just gets better and better. Logan Morrison is not impressed.
Panini’s use of the MLBPA contract has been so unimpressive that it would make me question how they would use a full license. Its not even that they cant use logos or team colors, its that they arent creatively using any elements that Leaf has shown to be much more innovative with. If other unlicensed companies are making Panini look silly, is there any reason to even consider breaking Topps’ exclusive? As much as I hate exclusive licenses, its worthless to give Panini a shot if they are going to continue down this path.
Even without Five Star, Topps’ 2012 calendar has been nothing short of remarkable in the high end area of the baseball hobby. With sets like Museum Collection and others, they have revitalized a portion of the baseball hobby that has been long in disrepair. Even collectors like me, with no ties to a baseball hobby any longer, have bought in to the craze.
In my opinion, Panini has little claim to the hearts and minds of anyone in this segment. Considering this is where they are looking to input their target market, there is a large issue in making any progress on a license.