In continuing the trend of bastardizing old products into mid-shelf, re-hashed sets, Panini has released its most recent rendition of the Rookies & Stars line. In what use to be a solid set produced under the Leaf name has now become yet another vehicle for Panini to cash in on tired designs and meaningless inserts and parallels.
Hobby boxes come with 24 8-card packs for a total of 192 cards. I purchased this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $90 (Yep, free shipping and packs!), which translates into a $0.47/card ratio. At that price range, Rookies & Stars is being positioned beside Panini Prestige as a low-to-mid shelf product as the price per card isn’t as high as say Donruss Elite or Panini Classics, but it certainly isn’t as low as Score.
Turns out I was right about Peyton’s spokesman role
Veterans (#1-150): 178 (27 duplicates)
Elements (#151-165): 2
Rookies (#166-250): 6
SP Rookies Signatures (#251-300): 1
Longevity (#/249): 1
Longevity Holofoil (#/99): 2
Longevity Gold (#/49): 1
Crosstraining Black (#/100): 1
Gold Stars Gold (#/500): 1
Studio Combo Rookies Gold (#/500): 1
Studio Rookies Gold (#/500): 1
Studio Rookies Materials (#/299): 1
Studio Rookies Prime Materials (#/50): 1
Dress for Success Jersey Signatures (#/100): 1
FIRST AND GOAL’S FOUR DOWNS:
1st Down, Design: Does the word “lackluster” mean anything to you? I feel like I have seen this time and time again from Panini in the past year. Here we have a cutout player on top of an ultra-neutral background that consists of random shapes and lines. Sound familiar? It seems the design team at Panini came up with this template last year, thought it was brilliant, and has been on autopilot ever since. The design in and of itself actually isn’t awful in my opinion, but it has quickly become played out and does nothing for me at this point. Another odd thing is how fake a lot of the player photographs look. Panini has obviously been doing some PhotoShop filtering here. I can’t exactly describe why they look doctored, other than they seem too contrasted. Take Darren McFadden’s arms or Brett Favre’s jersey in the scan above for instance. Should I really see every vein or wrinkle that clearly? Also, there are only a handful of products out so, and I’m already noticing a lot of repeated images. Almost all of the Donovan McNabb cards are looking an awful lot alike thus far (and I know he’s not the only one). Last, by this point in the release calendar, there have not been any official NFL games yet, but training camp has given plenty of opportunity to snap shots of rookies and traded players in their new unis. None of us expect these to be great shots, but is that really the best shot of Sean Canfield they could get? Yikes.
2nd Down, Inserts: I will never understand why Panini feels the need to produce parallel after parallel of each base and insert set in all of its products. The Longevity parallel of the base cards isn’t bad, but do we need several levels? And why does every insert need multiple levels, besides just base/jersey/auto-jersey? For most of these cards, I had no clue what I had pulled until I compared the serial numbering to Panini’s sell sheet. If you are just as confused with your pulls as I was, you can see the list of every parallel set here. The inserts also tend to have the same old issue of Panini backwards designing. Producing the high end chase card and then simply deleting elements to arrive at the base insert is a poor idea. I will say, though, that I actually really like the Studio Rookie concept. The cards look clean and simple and are great, except for the backwards design problem. But overall, these are much better than the very busy designs of all of the other inserts.
3rd Down, Collation: Blech. I understand that of the 300 base cards, #151-300 are supposed to be short printed. That is still no excuse for the number of duplicates I pulled from one box. I didn’t even get all of the veterans (no #101 for me). And why on earth would you make half of your base set short printed? The whole point of this set is ROOKIES and STARS. They got the stars part right, but rookies are way under represented in the average box. And what’s up with the 15 Elements cards? It seems like a poor excuse to not include 15 additional players but still have 15 more short printed cards. I was very annoyed by the number of duplicates. Very. Give me more rookie base cards. I don’t give a damn about your short prints.
4th Down, Overall Value: I suppose it depends what you pull. Overall, these cards are probably not going to be worth your time. However, there are single cards (a.k.a. anything featuring Tim Tebow) that will demand a premium on the secondary market. If you really enjoy mid-shelf products, I would at least suggest you pick poison before buying. With all of the similar products hitting hobby shop shelves recently (and more to come in the near future), pick one or two you like and will enjoy busting rather than trying to get lucky with one or two boxes of each. This is the point in the year where I’m starting to regret this quest to open and review one box of every 2010 product.
RED ZONE RESULTS: MISSED FIELD GOAL There isn’t a lot more upon which I feel the need to expand. This product left me underwhelmed to say the least and I couldn’t help but feel like I’ve seen this same product before, even though this was my first (and last) box. It is always nice pulling jersey and autograph cards, and I’ve never pulled one of those manu-patch rookie cards before, but somehow that didn’t overcome the poor qualities of this product. I would much rather pull base rookies of top names than have a sliver of a chance to pull a grand card of a no-name rookie. Not everyone will agree with that statement, and that’s fine. To each his own. For me, this product simply wasn’t worth it and does not do well by the Rookies and Stars products of the past.
NEXT UP: 2010 Topps