Today we got a deeper look at 2014 National Treasures, and for the most part, it looks better than it has in previous years. Up to this point, I dont think Treasures has deserved the brand equity it has received, as there have always been better looking products that should be recognized above what Treasures has represented.
Here is a quick break down of previous years of National Treasures:
2010 (My other favorite year): Rob Gronkowski Rookie Patch Auto
2011 (My least favorite year): Demarco Murray Rookie Patch Auto
2012 (A bad one): Russell Wilson Rookie Patch Auto
When it was released as DLP’s answer to Exquisite in 2006, it never lived up to the best of the best. Stickers for the product rarely performed the way Exquisite’s 100% hard signed product did, for good reason. Although they added hard signed rookie cards in 2007, the product was 90% stickers until 2013. Even then, it still had a ton of sticker based content. In 2010, when UD lost the NFL license, Topps released Five Star for the first time. It looked better than Treasures, it was all hard signed, and the compact checklist was stellar. Yet, by default Panini got the new top spot. Its sad that is the case consider how much better other products have been. Collectors are weird in their loyalty.
As we roll into 2014, National Treasures is being shown up again, this time by products from Panini’s own stable. Both Immaculate and Flawless have made NT an afterthought, and Five Star football looks great for the fifth year in a row. Funny enough, this might be the best that the rookie auto patch cards have ever looked. It could be a waste, depending on how the collectors compare it to previous releases.
I think it goes without saying that the big belt buckle design in 2011 was the worst that NT has ever looked, and this will look significantly better in almost every single way. The cramped rookie auto patches in 2012 were similarly horrendous, but this will be better ten fold. But, because those products went up against only Five Star in 2012 were similarly horrendousand a late release of an NCAA branded Exquisite, there wasnt a real competition. This time, that wont be the case, especially with Immaculate looking as good as it does.
Panini is going to have a very interesting issue on their hands come 2016, with a need to build many more products than have ever been required in any league from one company. If they still want NT to be their big release at the end of the year, they need to play their cards in a more strategic fashion.
Even though the patch autographs look great with the simple approach, the set will automatically go up against the examples we will see this week from Immaculate. I have ZERO confidence that Panini will make the right call, and from what we have seen to this point, you should too.