If you are a Panini fan or supporter, last night was one of the bigger nights of the year. The VIP party is basically a “reward” for either spending 10k on specific unsellable product as a dealer, or 7.5K if you are a collector buying from the same list. To be completely honest most of the products on the list are so bad, that they deserve a party like this for buying it. As you are well aware, that’s the point, as a party of this magnitude only happens because the distros cant move Panini’s crap without it.
Here are some of the giveaways from the VIP party:
For attending the party, VIPs get the chance to hob knob with players (autographs were pre-signed in the past), obtain specific VIP packs of wrapper redemption cards, and eat and drink with the top brass of the hobby. The guest list includes all the distrubtors, a who’s who of the hobby, and just about every group breaker there is. This year, players like Joe Namath, Tom Glavine and Kyrie Irving were scheduled to appear, only making things more lucrative for the attendees.
The cards are interesting as the look completely different than the ones included in the packs sold to the general floor. They also seem to have stooped to a new low, ripping off Topps’ Superfractors for 1/1s and autographs. Its basically like building a new brand of car and stealing the body design and look from a superior competitor to create additional value. The lowest of the low begets Panini, and I cant say that enough times. Panini is unable to cultivate anything of value on their own without stealing from the other manufacturers. Even then its still not even close to the real thing.
This party not only looks big, but it represents a lot of what Panini is going to bring to the table in 2016. Its clear that a lot of money is spent on an event like this, as many of the players are not there just out of the kindness of their hearts. To add in the cost of catering and production of all the giveaways, and its starts to make a lot of people wonder why this money is being spent in this fashion instead of being used to improve product that has been underperforming.
Considering so few people are actually capable of spending this kind of money to attend, having these types of parties only serves to flaunt the funds that Panini has. They are run more like a record label than a responsible manufacturer of consumer products, and that is a major issue. As I have mentioned before, you dont do stuff like this because you love the people that open your product. You do stuff like this to show the bankroll and what you can offer to the people who really run this hobby. If you really wanted to pay people back for the year long shit show of Panini products, you wouldnt make shops and collectors take on thousands of more dollars worth of horrid releases that they cant sell as it is. People might say you can sell the giveaways to make back the money spent to attend, but that is not the point.
Because Panini recently secured the NFLPA exclusive starting in 2016, I want to make sure everyone FULLY understands what the potential is to sweep the landscape of cards. I want you to think about what this list of products will be like when they have to create a dozen more products to fulfill the 200 million dollar licensing contract they signed through 2026. Will the hobby end? No, that will likely never happen. Yet, the environment, the cards and the people involved are going to get much worse without any competition to keep them honest.