SCU Go-Live Report: 2015 Contenders Draft Picks Football

There isnt many more adjectives that serve as a synonym for horrible that I can apply for this product. Being that this is the first set that is offered under their new exclusive license, you would think they would like to make more of a splash. Instead they have used an old design, sticker autos, and risked their biggest product's identity in the process. Its the equivalent of opening a restaurant and using a menu from the restaurant that was there prior to you buying it. I would even go so far as saying its probably the equivalent of using some of the old food itself as well.

Here are the bigger hits up so far:

2015 Contenders Draft Picks Marcus Mariota Cracked Ice Auto /23

2015 Contenders Draft Picks Amari Cooper Cracked Ice Auto /23

2015 Contenders Draft Picks Jameis Winston Auto Ticket

2015 Contenders Draft Picks Drew Brees Alumni Ink Auto

2015 Contenders Draft Picks Melvin Gordon Auto

Now, some of the big breakers want to equivocate the new draft picks set asking prices with the values from NFL contenders released a few months ago. They would love it if you can ask 1100 dollars for a Mariota Cracked Ice and get close to that price. At first, they might, because there is a sucker born every minute. However, every single aspect of this set, save checklist size, is inferior to their competition.

I have heard from people, “WELL, WELL, WELL, MY COLLEGE HAS MORE CARDS IN THIS SET!” This would be great if that meant those cards achieved a higher price just for existing. If the presence of more players meant a larger market would be interested in those cards, creating a demand for them above the 2 dollars they are getting, it might be a bit different. Instead, the checklist may be bigger, but all that means is that the bigger hits are further diluted more than they would be in other boxes.

Similarly, the fact that this is all sticker autographs compared to on card should indicate another reason why the checklist shouldnt give this product a pass. If Panini’s license prevented on card autographs from being made, who’s bright idea was it to release a product with the Contenders name attached? Why would you risk that? Makes no sense. Why not risk a brand that has no bearing in football like Elite Extra Edition or create something new like Rated Rookies?

It definitely hurts that the 2014 Contenders design is about as horrible as it has been over the last few years. The ticket design has off center logos, giant text and a weird bunch of numbers on the side that are supposed to make this a “ticket” but really just look out of place. This was all chosen instead of the Rookie Ink design, which believe it or not, ACTUALLY LOOKS LIKE A FUCKING TICKET. I cant make this shit up, because they the did it all over again for 2015 draft picks.

Considering that this product inexplicably costs 130 dollars per box, makes me wonder why anyone would choose this box over a product like UD Inscriptions, which features a much more tightly organized checklist, on card autos and inscriptions! Hell, I would even bust Prizm next week at less than 70 instead of shelling out double for this crap.

I get it, my complaining does nothing, because the sheep will line up for bad products every time. Hell, look how many people busted Black Gold, which might have been one of the worst looking products of the year.

At least they wont be taking over the exclusive license for the NFL….oh crap. Kill me now.

SCU Go Live Report: 2014-15 Immaculate Basketball

I have always liked what Immaculate has done in terms of the look and feel of the set. Although I HATE HATE HATE the name of it, the design and content has always been great. I have actually mentioned on a number of occasions that the set feels more complete than Flawless, especially considered the difference in price points. This year's set looks to be another in a line of nice products, and Im curious to see how things shake out.

Here are some of the big hits posted so far:

2014-15 Immaculate Kobe Bryant Jumbo Patch Auto

2014-15 Immaculate Andrew Wiggins Jumbo Patch Auto

Bearing in mind that Panini has had a ton of problems recently, im just as interested to see collector reaction to another high end product being released by a company who many have lost trust in. Being that this is a different sport, I dont think the impact will be as large, but they have had problems in basketball up until this point.

I also think it should be mentioned that few card shops were able to order this product alone. Many were forced to take on cases of previous crap that Panini or the distros could not sell. Although this has been done MANY times in the past, seems like kicking a bit harder when so many stores are already down.

Either way, the cards do look really nice. There are auto patches and autograph cards that I would love to have in Football. The jumbo patch autos are easily one of my favorite basketball cards I have seen Panini put out in a long time. The swooping lines and big patches are a concept that has been in Immaculate since the beginning, and this year's definitely looks better than any previous.

The acetate autos are also extremely nice, a card that has been a big part of the set’s success in the past. New shadow box acetate styles do a great job of making the player and autograph pop. I think that this type of card is quickly becoming a focus for Panini based on what we have seen in both of their main sports, but this is the first time I have really seen it be VERY successful. Previously, I have seen poor to moderate in the designs.

Aside from the cooler parts of the set, there is a new element to Immaculate that has made appearances as Panini’s new type of go to card design. The Black Paper autograph is all over this product, and much like its predecessors, it is more of a train wreck than ever. It has replaced the manu-patch autograph as Panini’s ugliest type of card, and I just cannot understand how or why it was created. Because they are pre-produced with a paper area for the player to sign on card, it makes little sense at all. Why not just have them sign the stock? There is ZERO fucking reason to add a swatch of black paper, when it is just as easy to do it with the regular signature area. Panini is fucking dumb like that.

Overall, Immaculate is still about the wow factor for Panini, and I think they have succeeded in many ways this year. However, with recent events at play, I cant help but feel like the dark cloud over their company remains. Deservedly, of course. I dont follow Basketball much, but I know that high end is where its at. Without good high end products, your basketball brand is even further into the red than it already is. Immaculate is good, but not great in that respect. It still feels like a modest rip off of Exquisite, and as long as that exists, Panini will always play second fiddle int the hearts of collectors.

On the Radar: 2015 Panini Prestige

Over the last few years, Prestige has been one of the worst looking sets that Panini has put out all year. With the advent of Score as their top pre-rookie premiere product, the team has left Prestige to rot on the vine. And rot it has. Prestige has housed some of the ugliest cards I have ever seen, and it seems to get worse with age.

Check out the dumpster fire that Prestige has become:

2014 Panini Prestige Johnny Manziel Auto

2013 Panini Prestige Leveon Bell Auto

2014 Panini Prestige Odell Beckham Jr. Auto

2013 Panini Prestige Cordarrelle Patterson Auto

Now that Panini has secured a CLC exclusive to use NCAA logos and uniforms in their trading cards, their pre-premiere products have gotten a shot in the arm. Up until this point, Upper Deck has had the exclusive since 2010. After seeing the previews for Prestige, the question becomes whether or not that shot in the arm was healthy or hurtful. So far, we have seen that Score will feature NFL logos on cards with college jersey pictures. That's the way it was done historically as well. I am completely fine with that, especially over using airbrushed shots like years past. Nothing looks worse than a helmet off, airbrushed sideline shot with a sticker auto.

Prestige, however, looks to be a bit different, unless they decide to change things up from the mockups provided. Instead of going the direction they took with Score (the right direction), they look to have decided to go full NCAA with many of the cards for Prestige. I think this is a terrible decision, especially if they decide to use stickers for the autographs. This product will come out around or after the rookie premiere, some months after players declared for the NFL draft. Considering that they are already going to release NFL logo cards for Score, I sincerely hope they dont go this direction for the majority of Prestige’s checklist. Its the wrong move.

Prior to 2010, there were elements of college licensing in many early sets, but the focus was always NFL. Panini seems to have a raging boner for using their newly acquired license, even at the detriment and dilution of their NFL branded sets. Listen, I know I want to wear my new shirt the day after I buy it too, but you cant wear that same shirt all week just because its new. You have to go back to your regularly scheduled wardrobe, or people would be looking at you like “AGAIN?!?” Same thing here.

If Panini invades their previously NFL brands with college logos everywhere, this is going to be an even longer year than I expected it to be. If they decide to take this path, it becomes more clear to me that their team does not understand the way the card collector market works. NFL is the top billing, and always will be. There is a reason why CLC never really made the kind of money for UD that they expected it to. NCAA cards are still a niche market, and there is zero reason to cater to it in a sport like football.

I remember back to 2009, when Upper Deck released UD black with College jerseys for the rookies. Because the cards were hard signed, they didnt have the turnaround time to get the pics on the card with pro gear. People came close to boycotting the set as a result. The NFL is why we are here, although we will forgive the use of college PICTURES in lieu of something else. Logos are different, as it adds a schism to the set’s branding.

That being said, I do like the look of the base rookie, with a border-less presentation that looks very appealing. Everything else pretty much has the theme of 2012 Playbook with college jerseys. Not very good at all. The autographs look especially horrible.

Again, we will have to hold back judgment to see if they shift from their mockup design to pro-uniforms, but until then, I question their hobby intelligence and business plan.

2014 National Treasures Update: New Cards Start to Show Up

Since the beginning of this train wreck, Panini has been very quiet on the enormous mistake that was made in the collation of 2014 National Treasures. As predicted, they have used the eventual surfacing of the cards to wash their hands of the issue, despite the fact that its very clear that they are painfully aware of how much damage it did to the original boxes in circulation. Now that a “second wave” of cases has hit, the cards have started to hit ebay in a slow trickle, as more of the boxes that were unsold from Panini eventually make their way into collectors’ hands.

Here are the Odell cards up so far (still not many even to this day):

2014 National Treasures Odell Beckham Rookie Auto Patch /99

2014 National Treasures Odell Beckham Rookie Auto Patch /99 #2

2014 National Treasures Odell Beckham Booklet Jumbo Patch Auto

Here are the Teddy cards:

2014 National Treasures Teddy Bridgewater Auto Vertical Booklet /99

2014 National Treasures Teddy Bridgewater Rookie Auto Patch Gold /10

2014 National Treasures Teddy Bridgewater Rookie Auto Patch Silver /25

As expected, many collectors have already moved past their frustration over the cards not showing up. They just want the hits and they want them now. In fact, a collector from New Jersey already posted a live redeemed Teddy Bridgewater rookie patch auto /99, a card that literally took a day or two from redemption to being in the mailbox. That type of fast is what we call “GET THIS SHIT OUT THE DOOR TO MAKE SURE PEOPLE FUCKING SEE IT!” fast. Panini wants visibility, and they will milk every last connection they can to make sure collectors see that the cards do exist.

That being said, there has been no addressing this debacle in a public manner, at least in a way that addresses how long it took for the cards to finally show up. All Panini is willing to offer is that the cards are “rare to find!” and “are in the product.” Fucking perfect right there. It doesnt help that every last distributor is calling their clients and offering “BRAND NEW cases from Panini’s floor”, including a few that have tacked on a few more dollars for the service of getting “wave 2.” I talked to a west coast shop that received no less than 3 calls in one day from different distributors trying to unload their brand new cases.

All things considered – it should be mentioned that not every “wave 2” case will have these missing cards in them. After talking through it on some of the message boards, its likely that one in every three or four cases will have one of the Bridgewater or Beckham cards. Because collation is already a huge issue, its possible that concentrated pockets of the cards will show up, so people may get lucky.

I talked to a collector that purchased two cases from the new wave, and ended up with nothing worth mentioning. He actually said he did much better on the first boxes he opened, and that the two cases were far less loaded with better quality hits. Eric Ebron, he said, is all over these boxes, which isnt necessarily the best thing to have.

By this point, I dont expect Panini to address the issue, and I do not expect them to take responsibility for the problems. That would actually be doing the right thing, and we know how that works around here. Collectors will be left to search out the cards on the secondary market, especially if their shop has refused to order more until they can move the first batch. Panini has a huge black eye already from the “misprinted” Flawless cards, and this just makes it worse. However, until the collectors actually start to speak with their wallets, and stop buying boxes and stop buying into group breaks, Panini has no reason to say anything.

On the Radar: Panini Prizm Draft Picks Football

Starting in 2015, Panini’s plan for Hobby world domination takes another step, with them taking over the exclusive license for all NCAA logo trading cards. From 2010 through the beginning of this year, Upper Deck has owned the exclusive, and done well carving out a niche over the last five years. After releasing a few GREAT football products already this year, Upper Deck has left NCAA, and Panini is ramping up.

Panini just released some extensive previews from one of their new collegiate brands to be released before the NFL rookie premiere in May. Although I HATE that they have managed to lock down another exclusive, there is merit to what it can do for their products, picturing players in college jerseys. This space is where its definitely the most valuable.

Too bad Prizm remains the dog it always has been, and this preview really didnt do much for what I affectionately call “Chrome Zero.” I would call it Diet Chrome, but I dont think it even deserves that.

In a market where almost EVERY SINGLE product has on card autographs, Prizm is launching their new brand with stickers, something that I just cannot understand. Because every set that serves as their competition will feature hard signed autographs, Prizm wont be able to measure up in the least. Although the design is better than any other Prizm set to date (I know, not saying much), the usage of stickers could kill any potential it has to be successful.

Remember, this is NOT a part of the year that is devoid of great looking products, including a few we have yet to see. If Panini thinks they can waltz in and win the battle, they will fall flat on their stupid faces. College collectors are few and far between, but its different this time of year. Because so few sets have been released, many pro collectors will take a gamble out of boredom. Panini has almost ensured that the crossover collectors will choose an alternate route.

Even though this is only 60 bucks a box, come the first pro-release, these wont be worth the cardboard they are printed on. Unless something is special, most pre-draft type releases dont continue to hold their value, and Panini is playing with fire there. This goes double if things dont measure up. Of course, they dont really know their ass from a hole in the ground, so I cant blame them for being dumb about this.

Prizm is already a joke and a half, and this will further devalue an inferior brand. Regardless if the design is nicer than it normally is for this dumpster fire product, they have guaranteed that collectors will continue to give them the stink eye with each new thing they decide to try. Hey, at least this set gets some work, as they could not be bothered with Contenders to even come up with a new design. Ill give them that, but with everything else? Who cares. Cant wait to see how many packs are being offered for buying this junk at the National?