The last two years of Contenders have been pretty good, and I think that ends up being the exception rather than the rule with ticket designs for a product that I feel gets more credit than it deserves. So much of the loyalty of this set comes from the inclusion of autographs from literally every possible rookie, and less about getting a good design down on paper. From early boxes, 2016 is one of the good years, much to my excitement.
Here are some of the big hits so far:
This year’s design hasnt been the best in the mockup phase, but I actually think it has grown on me considerably. The problem is that the rookie class is driving up prices on the boxes to the point where they almost arent affordable enough to bust.
I think Panini did a good enough job with this set that it will sell better than most likely expected even a few weeks ago. Despite the inclusion of more points in boxes (NO FUCKING CLUE WHY POINTS STILL EXIST), the rest of the set looks pretty standard for much of what Contenders is known for. The NFL draft autos look to be the only set that use those shitty posed photos, and the inclusion of Sepia and Horizontal variation is a good add.
If I am Panini, Contenders needs to be a focus in A) keeping it simple B) not using a horrid design and C) not driving new features down our throats. That being said, they are including digital redemption codes straight out of Topps’ playbook, which would be nice if their app werent fucking trash. I like that they are trying to add value there, but their digital presence is that of a monkey in a pen of gorillas.
Overall, this Contenders needed to just be enough to not be so off the wall that collectors would have tons of questions. Luckily Panini didnt fuck it up so badly that Zeke and Dak couldnt save it, so…good for them?