Recapping the Best and Worst Rookie 1/1s of 2013 So Far

When constructing a set, the 1/1 rookie chase content is always a factor in how collectors will receive the cards. So much so, that almost every set created has some sort of super rare elements that makes people buy a million boxes. Here are my favorites so far this year, as well as a few that havent exactly lived up to standards.

2013 Topps Platinum Superfractor On Card Autos – HIGHLIGHT

Going back to 2010, when on card content really took off, Topps took to retouching the rookies’ photos from college days to have them done on time. For the first time ever, Topps was able to get premiere photos on these cards, instead of having to retouch. As a result, the cards really look THAT much better, as the cartoony type of photoshop work is nowhere to be found. Superfractors always have an aura about them, its just never been this good this early in the year.

2013 Topps Platinum Eddy Lacy On Card Auto Superfractor 1/1

2013 Topps Platinum Justin Hunter On Card Auto Superfractor 1/1

2013 Playbook Shield Booklet Silhouettes – HIGHLIGHT

I was a big fan of the way Panini has gone back to the Playbook design from 2012, especially with creating more chase content centered around capturing the whole collar from the jerseys. The only draw back that would prevent me from buying one of these cards is that the swatches are event used. Its really too bad they couldnt find space to add in an autograph, because that is something these cards need. Regardless, these booklets look awesome, and are definitely something I like.

2013 Panini Playbook Giovanni Bernard 1/1 Shield Booklet

2013 Panini Playbook Keenan Allen 1/1 Shield Booklet

2013 Absolute Rookie Premiere Material 1/1 Shields – LOWLIGHT

If you have been following along with this site, it should not be surprise how bad these cards look. Not only were the normal rookie premiere material cards absolutely horrendous, these are worse. I questioned the lack of surrounding collar material in 2012 Absolute’s shield parallels, and this year is no different. Both years must have taken these off pants or something that arent jerseys, as evidenced by how the shields REALLY look as mentioned above. Putting them inside a big square window, set below the goofy studio style player photography is just laughable. Yuck.

2013 Panini Absolute Landry Jones Auto Logo Shield 1/1

2013 Panini Absolute EJ Manuel Auto Logo Shield 1/1

2013 Topps Platinum 1/1 Red Shield Parallel Autos – HIGHLIGHT

There isnt much that Topps hasnt done well this year. They knew the rookie class was going to suck, and rather than calling off the dogs like Panini did, they continued building great products. The shields in Platinum, like 2011 and 2012, are just plain awesome. Sure they are stickers, but these are typically the best of the best in that category all year. I love the way the cards look with the shield fitting so perfectly alongside the player and autograph. These are really well done.

2013 Topps Platinum Montee Ball Auto NFL Shield 1/1

2013 Topps Platinum Tavon Austin Auto NFL Shield 1/1

2013 Topps Inception 1/1 Inscription Autos – HIGHLIGHT

If there was a product that really needed some help this year, Inception was it. Adding in on card gold ink inscriptions was a great idea, and boy did they turn out amazing. Most of the rookies signed big and bold, and player collectors are really going nuts over them. Because these were the first really nice looking on card autos of the year, its always cool when Topps takes it to the next level.

2013 Topps Inception Mike Glennon Auto Inscription 1/1

2013 Topps Inception EJ Manuel Auto Inscription 1/1

2013 Panini Certified Mirror Black Auto 1/1 – LOWLIGHT

Over the years, collectors have really loved the Certified mirror black logos, even though I think they have represented some of the shoddiest design work in recent memory. For the first time I LOVED the freshman fabric design a ton, as they did away with the tiny swatches arranged in a square. The problem is, the 1/1s really werent that special, just being normal patch cards instead of logos. Big disappointment for a lot of people who have collected these over the years.

2013 Certified Geno Smith Freshman Fabric Auto 1/1

2013 Certified Tyler Wilson Freshman Fabric Auto 1/1

2013 Topps Platinum 1/1 Red Team Hat Logo Autos – LOWLIGHT

When these cards first came out, I thought they were jersey patches. Then I realized that was likely not the case. When Topps confirmed the cards contained swatches of knit hats the players wore at the premiere, I was repulsed by that thought. I had no idea why anyone would care about a swatch from a knit hat, but then again, these are the same collectors that bought swatches of stupid Santa hats from Panini in 2012. Not a good idea.

2013 Topps Platinum Jonathan Franklin Hat Logo Auto 1/1

2013 Topps Platinum EJ Manuel Hat Logo Auto 1/1

2013 Topps Finest Nike Logo Auto Black Refractor 1/1 – HIGHLIGHT

I have liked the jumbo swatch autos since they were introduced in 2011, and this year’s addition of the 1/1 black refractors with the swooshes off the jerseys are really cool. Nike has a worldwide place among the most recognizable brands, which will obviously resonate with collectors. I thought these examples were a great use of the 1×3 swatch window, and I am not the only one.

2013 Topps Finest Andrew Luck Auto Nike Swoosh 1/1

2013 Topps Finest Tyler Eiffert Auto Nike Swoosh 1/1

2013 Panini Prizm Finite Auto 1/1s – LOWLIGHT

Of all the new products last year, I really despised Prizm. This year was no different, as the design found a way to get even worse. Because we all know that Topps Chrome will feature a ton of on card content from the rookies, having these continue to be stickers is both lazy and a poor choice in execution. This is basically the diet version of Chrome, as I said before, and the design and stickers used in these cards are completely awful. Cropping the player at the knees, to insert a large opaque box for the sticker to be applied, is horrid. Similarly, because Panini continues the diamond pattern over the photos, the card is hard to make out.

2013 Panini Prizm Matt Barkley Auto Finite 1/1

2013 Panini Prizm Geno Smith Auto Finite 1/1

2013 Panini Momentum 1/1 Shield Autos – HIGHLIGHT

Of all the sets Panini put out so far, Momentum is the most improved. These 1/1 logo autos are really awesome, and make me long for more people to open these boxes. Because the box cost was so ridiculous, and the class is so horrible, its unlikely most of these cards will ever be unearthed. Its just too bad, because they might be some of the only vertical auto patches that actually look great.

2013 Panini Momentum DeAndre Hopkins Shield Auto 1/1

2013 Panini Momentum Ryan Nassib Shield Auto 1/1

To be honest, this year has been both a huge disappointment in the quality of the class, but a test of resourcefulness on the card side. I think both companies have had their nice cards, but Topps has continued to kick Panini’s ass up and down the field. All of the big sales are on the Topps side, and its evidenced by how many of their boxes are still selling above dealer cost, while Panini’s are headed for closeout. I think we have some great cards still to come in Topps Chrome, Five Star and Panini Contenders, but its all a matter of how the big cards of the year shake out. The lack of on card autos in Panini products this year have been concerning, and I expect that to continue moving forward. Not a good showing so far for them.

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