On the Radar: 2014 National Treasures Extended Preview

Here is the previous write up on the first preview if you want more commentary about the cards.

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:

2006:Brandon Marshall Rookie Patch Auto

2007: Calvin Johnson Rookie Patch Auto

2008: Jamaal Charles Rookie Patch Auto

2009: LeSean McCoy Rookie Patch Auto

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

2013: Eddie Lacy 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.

On the Radar: 2014 National Treasures Football Sneak Peak

Over the last few years, Treasures has undergone a transformation that has made it much more of a high end product for the money. Previous years have been spotty at best, and I continue to have no clue why it was given a pass to be the top valued set of the year. After starting the run with a bunch of sticker autos and cards that wouldnt be out of place in their lower end brands, Panini has made an effort to get more higher end content for the set. It has paid off, even though they continue to fail with some terrible designs and concepts each time it is released.

Here are past designs from 2012, where the set first started to go in the right direction. I hated the rookie patch auto design, but the overall look was great:

2012 National Treasures Tom Brady Virtuoso Auto

2012 National Treasures Russell Wilson Rookie Patch Auto

2012 National Treasures Andrew Luck Jumbo Patch Auto Booklet

2012 National Treasures Russell Wilson Jumbo Patch Auto Booklet

In 2013, the set continued to improve, even though the product tanked thanks to the rookie class being so bad:

2013 National Treasures Colin Kaepernick Auto Colossal

2013 National Treasures Michael Irvin Inscription Auto Nicknames

2013 National Treasures LeSean McCoy Jumbo Patch Auto Booklet

This year, lets hope the trend continues.

We got our first preview yesterday and I found myself praying that this is the design for the main Rookie cards of the set. The last few years has gone from awful to not great but not bad, and this design would be a nice change with some great looking cards. It cant be worse than 2012, so I have that going for me.

Im still disappointed that they are going to be using shots from late May, taken at the rookie photo shoot. We have seen with other examples that game photos are easily obtained and used for a set released as late as treasures will be released, yet they opted out in 2013 as well. But, the design is pretty enough that I dont think that will matter all that much.

My only concern will be that they will try to poop out another horrible design for the main rookie patch autos, and these will be an insert. At least I will have a card to chase, as these are easily worth the price of admission. Simplicity and Panini are usually a recipe that doesnt mix well, but it seems like they embraced it for these cards. The results are great.

Last year’s design wasnt actually bad at all, and the majority of the set was pretty damn good in the way it looked. I hope that Panini continues to use Treasures as an opportunity to produce simple cards with great photos and nice patches. It really doesnt need to be anything more than that. This is a great start. A great start indeed.