Next in my blitzkrieg of product reviews is 2010 Crown Royale. I’m not going to lie, this was one of the products I was most excited about when I was looking at the 2010 release calendar over the summer. Crown Royale was magnificant in the mid-to-late 90s and I was eagerly anticipating the return of the die-cut card. Would Panini’s revival stay true to form or would if flounder through mysterious floating swatches and incoherent design flaws? Only a true box break could reveal the answer!
Hobby boxes come with 4 5-card packs for a total of 20 cards. I purchased this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $85, which translates into a salty $4.25/card ratio. I can’t say I bought any boxes of Crown Royale in its Pacific hayday, but this seems to be quite a higher price point. I actually debated skipping this box simply because of its pricetag, and did skip it on my last few purchase orders, but eventually my curiosity and the intrigue of the die-cut won out.
The pack is normal sized, but it came in the smallest hobby box I’ve ever seen!
Base Cards: 12 (0 duplicates)
Rookie Cards: 4 (included in base card total above)
Blue Base Parallel (#/100): 1
Gold Base Parallel (#/25): 1
Living Legends: 1
Kings of the NFL: 1
The Zone: 1
All Pros (die-cut): 1
Kings of the NFL Jersey (#/299): 1
Royalty Jersey (#/299): 1
Rookie Autos (#/499): 1
Rookie Autos (#/249): 1
FIRST AND GOAL’S FOUR DOWNS:
1st Down, Design: This would prove to be Crown Royale’s finest achievement. The base design is, in my humble opinion, flawless. Yes, the design is a bit busy, but the player remains the central focus, assisted by the literal centering of the player image. The armor and team logo coat of arms were a great touch on a classic design and the die-cut crown was perfectly reminiscent of the older sets I loved. The foiling was done well and rather than being an over-the-top embellishment, it only added to the pristine air surrounding the cards. The team coloring of the background was also a nice touch, especially considering Panini’s knack for creating ultra-neautral base cards. If I had to summarize my thoughts on this base set in one word, that word would be “YES!”. It’s good to be the king.
2nd Down, Inserts: For everything Panini did well with the base design of the product, it did wrong in designing the inserts. The parallels are done very well with the different colored foils, but I have to say, they were the lone bright spot in an otherwise dark age of inserts. All of the inserts, despite trying to incorporate some team coloring (at least on the Kings of the NFL set), seem terribly boring and neutral-toned. When your insert cards, the cards everyone is supposed to love, are completely overshadowed by the base cards, you have a problem. It is also painfully obvious that Panini continued its backwards design paradigm with horrendous large open areas on the base inserts where the jersey swatch or autograph label would be placed in the higher-end inserts. Most of the inserts feature a terribly truncated player image and often far too small and hard to read player names. Even the autographs were a disappointment. If you have a beautiful and generally well executed base design, don’t just slap a foilized sticker on it and call it my chase card. Off to the stockades with these pagans!
3rd Down, Collation: Meh, what do you want me to say here? With only 20 cards, its awfully hard to gauge the collation of the product. I suppose it would be easier to judge with a case, but limited finances prevented that for me. The only thing that could have thrown me for a loop in this department would have been no guaranteed hits or duplicates. In an interesting turn of events, I actually got 24 cards. I don’t remember if I pulled 6 cards from every pack or if the non-jersey card packs had more, but I guess I got all of my hits for free? I’m not sure if this is true of the entire production run or if I just got a fluke box.
4th Down, Overall Value: In a nutshell, not good. The product started off on the wrong foot by charging an average $4.25 per card from the get-go (and I would assume the box price was higher when it first came out). I absolutely loved the base cards and base parallels, but I wouldn’t say they were worth $4.25 each. I might be willing to say the hits were worth $5 each, but normally hits are supposed to be worth nearly the price of the box themselves, and that certainly is not the case here. And the other inserts? I don’t think I’d pay $4.25 for all of them combined. Bleh. I will say I could have done better with my pulls. An auto of Tim Tebow or Sam Bradford obviously would have been superior to Pierre-Paul and Easley, but that’s the chance you take on a box. The product certainly has its high points, but I’d much rather see a significant increase in packs per hobby box and/or a drastic cut in cost.
RED ZONE RESULTS: INTERCEPTION ON SECOND DOWN AS TIME EXPIRED If Crown Royale started the series on the ten yard line, it clearly got 9.75 yards on a dazzling rush up the middle with its base design. The die-cut and foil work were what I loved most about the Crown Royale products of old and for once Panini did something right. The base cards were flawless. I love them. They were fantastic. But on second down, rather than rush up the middle again with solid design work, the Panini team decided to return to its roots and try a flea flicker roll-out and drop pass to its D-rated tight end who continually runs the wrong route. Result? Interception. The inserts were atrocious in this set and, while being overshadowed by the base cards while I was opening the box, wound up negating all of the pluses of the base card and threw the entire product into disgrace. I would love to see Panini try this theme again next year, but only after completely revamping the inserts. And can I get an on-card auto? This product isn’t super high-end, but it costs enough to warrant on-card autos. Get with the program, Panini. The base card design showed that you have incredible potential, don’t let it go to waste.
NEXT UP: 2010 Panini Certified