I have already posted prior that I very much think this year’s Contenders is drastically improved over 2011’s offering. I have also said that there are a number of drawbacks that have been problematic in the overall release of the product. Now that we are getting a more complete picture, I think its a good idea to break down my opinion on these things.
RPS Ticket Design – PLUS
I love the 1998 ticket design, and this design is practically identical. Last year’s was absolutely a visual train wreck, where these look a lot nicer in every way, shape, and form. There was a shift in where the player was going to be pictured, which made the design a little less nice, but it is still one of the better designs I have seen in a while.
Big Ticket Pulls – PLUS
Even though there is a greater chance of losing money than ever on Contenders, there are a lot of parallels to give people a big pay day when they hit a big name. This includes cracked ice autos /20, playoff ticket autos /99, and of course the championship ticket out of 1. There are also golden tickets for the third straight year, so those should be starting to pop up soon.
RPS Stickers – MINUS
For some reason, Panini is using sticker autos for players at the photo shoot for the first time since 2009. This is a huge drawback, even though a lot of the guys arent really THAT special. I think it is a much more likely situation that the cards wouldnt have gotten completed, so rather than adding to the massive amounts of redemptions, they decided to go with stickers. Im not sure I agree with the decision.
Box Breaks with 1 on card auto – MINUS
I broke three boxes of Contenders today, and only pulled one live on card auto – IN THREE FREAKING BOXES. There were two per box over the last few years, and I wish this were the case again. Even though there are now 6 autos per box, many of them will end up being junk. Considering the price tag can range from 140 per box to 160, that is a big drawback. I didnt do horrible on my boxes, with my best pulls being Cousins, Kuechly and Richardson. However, it should have been a lot better. I got 2 redemptions for Toon and Stephen Hill, which sucks, as I dont even know if they will be stickers or on card.
Design of Non Photo Shoot Rookies – HORRENDOUS MINUS
Man, these cards are a complete wreck, if not only because Panini just slapped the white box at the bottom of the card, instead of extending out the player. It looks like the players’ legs are amputated.
Design of Inserts and Insert Autos – PLUS
I really like a lot of the die cut inserts and insert autos that are available in the product, even though all of them are sticker autos. The photography in the rookie stallions set is tremendous, and I think that Panini really stepped up their game this year. Hopefully as we see more of what is actually going to be the norm, they will go back to this well.
Redemptions on top of Redemptions – MINUS
Its not even possible to put into words how many redemptions are in this product. Considering it was delayed a couple of months as it is, there should not have been this much of a problem. Panini has a horrible track record for the last few sets, and Contenders looks to be the worst. So far, the biggest name redemption on the list is Russell Wilson, but there are plenty of others too.
Ridiculous amounts of variations – Jury Out
Every ticket has a variation, and they are photo variations instead of just stupid airbrushing like last year. The issue is that this will create a huge over saturation of autos for each player. There is no saying if there will even be SPs this year because of the situation that every ticket auto seems to have a variation.
Overall, Contenders has a long way to go, but it is definitely getting better. That is always welcome in my book.