Have you heard? Leaf is back. That’s right, THE Leaf. But this isn’t the 1948 Leaf your Grandpa collected. This is 2011 Leaf. The Leaf being run by Brian Gray, former president of Razor Entertainment Group. And, having acquired nearly all of Razor’s product lines, this is the Leaf that now features high-end entertainment and sports cards. The first football product from the “new” company is 2011 Leaf Metal Draft. This is a review of that Leaf:
Hobby boxes come with just 4 cards. I got this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $82, which translates into a rather salty $20.50/card ratio. One item of note, however, is that EVERY card in the entire set is autographed. So even in the worst box of the production run, you are getting 4 autographed cards. If you compare prices amongst all hobby boxes that come with 4 autographs, $82 actually isn’t such a high price after all.
All Americans (#/25): 1
FIRST AND GOAL’S FOUR DOWNS:
1st Down, Design: This is usually the place where I talk about the base cards. There are no true base cards in this set of which to speak. But since this area is called “Design”, we’ll run with it anyway. The cards are very sharp. Each one has that super sleak silver sheen a la Topps Finest or Fleer Platinum cards of old. There is not much in the way of design elements with just a few simple lines and a pigskin texture on the card edges. The focus of the card is definitely the player photo and the autograph, which works perfectly. The card backs are also very basic with just a CONGRATULATIONS and authenticity statement. On a side note, I think it’s amusing that each card celebrates your luck in pulling an autograph card…considering every single card in the entire set is autographed. One last observation, I think it’s interesting that Leaf went with straight-up game action shots with airbrushed helmets. Hopefully there are no that’s-too-close-to-a-license-violation-so-we’re-going-to-sue-you-anyway lawsuits from that. I will say, the airbrushing techniques must have come a long way, because I remember off brand sets from the mid-90s always looking “off” while I had to remind myself that these helmets were missing something. I did note that two of the four cards in my box had guys who played for teams without any helmet logos anyway, which obviously made the job easier.
2nd Down, Inserts: Several times in the past, I have suggested that certain products just drop the base card from their set. Certain products are so geared for hits that no one cares a bit for the base cards. So what did Leaf do? It forgot all about inserts and just gave the collectors the hits. That’s a pretty nice way to save on card stock purchases. Despite all cards being autographed, there technically are inserts. There are Blue, Red (#/5), and Super (1/1) Prismatic parallels, as well as Young Guns, Touchdown Kings, and Leaf All-Americans. I’m not sure if there is a 1 insert per box ratio, but I did pull 1 All-American card. The card is essentially the same as the base, but has a slightly different design, a nearly rainbow refractor look to the silver backing, and is #/25. I would love to see a Super Prismatic 1/1 in person. The scans of those cards look really sweet.
3rd Down, Collation: How in the world do you judge collation when you only get 4 cards in a box? You don’t. So I should probably just ignore this aspect for this set. But I will say that with pulling 1 insert out of 4 cards, there is a good chance you will not just end up with 4 “base” cards in a box. I’m not sure what the exact print runs are, but I would imagine the base cards weren’t super higher than the rarer serial numbered cards. Also, from a purely personal stance, 25% of my box was composed of Penn State grads, which was awesome. Royster’s less-than-stellar and sub-expectations senior year had to hurt his NFL prospects and inclusion in pre-draft sets, so it was really nice to pull this card. I don’t know that it has to do with collation, but I really liked that each card was sleeved and in its own toploader straight from the box. There was obviously a great deal of care and human touch that went into packing out this product, and that is a huge plus in my book.
4th Down, Overall Value: This is such a crap shoot for a product that comes in 4-card boxes. At $20.50 per card, you’d think it would awfully tough to recoup your money. And honestly, it probably will be. For every $50 card I’ve seen on eBay, there might be 5 $5 cards. You do the math on that. You could get absurdly lucky and pull a $350 gem, or you could have my luck. Either way, while I love the concept of only making hits for a set like this and scrapping the worthless base cards, it still turns any box into a lottery ticket. Sometimes you hit the jackpot. Sometimes you just hit yourself.
RED ZONE RESULTS: FIELD GOAL I have a feeling I’m going to be a little more generous with my red zone results this year as I make an effort to be more positive about things. But then again, what’s the point of having a hobby if it only ticks you off? That being said, I do like this set. I admit that I was very skeptical and almost didn’t pull the purchase trigger. I thought, how can a box with just four cards be worth my while and money, especially after the 2010 Topps Supreme debacle (that is one of the product reviews yet to come). But now I’m glad I bought it. The cards are sweet and it’s a great reminder that some people still care about card design and value. Due to my conservative nature, I can’t highly praise a product that has such a big risk factor, so I just can’t allow 2011 Leaf Metal to find paydirt, but it definitely deserves to light up the score board. If you are like me and don’t particularly care for gamble boxes, but find yourself loving these cards, go buy yourself some singles of your favorite prospects. These cards are great and will be a fantastic addition to your collection.
NEXT UP: 2011 Press Pass Football