One Week Left


Don’t forget, there’s just one week left to pre-order hobby boxes of 2011 Panini Prestige Football. Boxes are currently $90 shipped (+$5 for Canadian orders). This is the first NFL-branded product of the year and will contain the very first true NFL rookie cards of the year.

You can pre-order your box(es) today through our Pre-Sales Store. All orders will ship within 1 business day from when we receive the product. If you pre-order multiple products at the same time, we will ship them as they become available. No need to wait until all products have been released.

Also, don’t forget our Pre-Sale Guarantee: If our final release date price drops after you order, we will reimburse you the difference. On the other hand, if our final release date price increases after you order, you won’t be charged an extra dime. That’s our promise to you: to deliver the best possible products at the best possible prices.


Product Review: 2010 Panini Gridiron Gear


Yes, it’ March. Yes, it’s officially college basketball season (and has been for several months for those of you who have been hibernating since the Fall Classic). Yes, I’m excited ( is both the greatest and worst thing ever when you’re spending 60+ hours each week in a fabric cube). And yes, there is still time for a review of a product that was released well before Christmas. Enjoy.

2010 Panini Gridiron Gear box
The Box – Click for Detail

Hobby boxes come with 18 8-card packs for a total of 144 cards. I purchased this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $87.40 (there must have been some sort of discount for an odd price like that), which translates into a moderate $0.97 $0.61/card ratio (who needs math anyway?). Considering the time of year, that is actually rather cheap. It’s nice to see a low- to mid-shelf product being released in December (I told you this was another late review). Certainly beats all of the ridiculously overpriced crap that usually crops up this time of yer.

2010 Panini Gridiron Gear Pack
Peyton sure does make a good a poster boy

The Breakdown:
Base Cards (#/499): 132 (5 duplicates)
   Rookies: 18 (included in the total above)
   Silver (#/250): 4
   Gold (#/100): 2
   Platinum (#/25): 1
   NFL Nation: 1
   NFL Nation (#/250): 1
   Crash Course (#/250): 1
   Rookie Orientation: 1
   Rookie Auto (#/299): 1
   Rookie Orientation Prime Jersey (#/25): 1
   NFL Nation Auto Jersey (#/15)): 1
   Rookie Gridiron Gems 3-Piece Relics (#/50): 1

2010 Panini Gridiron Gear2010 Panini Gridiron Gear
Click image for full-sized scan

1st Down, Design: Are you ready for this? Brace yourself. I don’t think your ready. Take a deep breath and bear down. Alright. Here goes: I LOVE this set. It is a shame it took Panini so long to figure things out, but they absolutely NAILED the design for Gridiron Gear. There are definitely graphical design elements, even mildly intricate ones (they aren’t just solid color shapes or paint splashes), but they are subtle. There are team color schemes AND team logos. Holy crap! There are easy-to-read player names. There are nifty ghosted fade zones. There is a distinct yet quiet set logo. Even the player photos have a little embellishment that really adds something. You may remember I noticed a similar thing with 2010 Panini Rookies & Stars and thought it looked “off” there. Without closely examining the cards side-by-side, I’m not sure why it works here and not there, but it does. There are two points, however, on which I am not completely sold. The first is why the rookie cards have a different design. I like the simple “ROOKIE” text on the side of the card. That is a classic way to distinguish an RC, without using a repetitive RC shield logo (*cough…Topps…cough*). But I’m not sure why the player names are in larger font, the team helmet circles are replaced by plain team logos, and the ghosted side bar is completely gone. Even the card backs are slightly different, but only in where the card number is. Odd. That brings us to the other item I wasn’t wild about: the card backs. I like the use of team color, but all Panini card backs start to look the same after a while. Give me a different player photo. Give me more stats. Even give me a cartoon (anyone else miss those days?). But overall, Panini smashed this base set out of the park, even if it was just a solo-shot in the top of the third.

2nd Down, Inserts: Unfortunately for Panini, all of the great ideas may have been spent on the base cards for this set. The inserts are definitely lacking that special pizzazz. The base parallels aren’t bad in that Panini didn’t get crazy carried away with tons of parallels, but a smidge of colored foil seems like a weak parallel concept. The serial numbers were pretty low, though, so that was a saving grace. Next we have the “Crash Course” insert. Not a bad concept, although I don’t know that I’ll ever be a big fan of multi-player and multi-team cards. One way to make this better would have been to have the helmets smashing into each other like Fox used to do before game broadcasts. That would really have sold the “crash course” theme. Next is the “NFL Nation” insert, which once again shows that Panini may never know how to effectively design cards that have different levels (basic, jersey, jersey/auto). Even the Matt Ryan that does have the jersey and autograph label still looks lackluster. The jersey window is haphazardly placed and the team text logo is trying awfully hard to over shadow the actual autograph. The “Rookie Orientation” on the other hand is pretty decent. I like the look of these cards and even taking away the jersey window leaves you with a pretty nice insert card. Unfortunately, we’re right back to Panini’s old ways with the “Rookie Gridiron Gems” because it is so glaringly obvious that there is an identical version of that Sam Bradford that has a sticker auto. At least they designed one really nice insert for this product.

3rd Down, Collation: When you get close to 150 cards in a box, you start toeing the line of having to worry about duplicates. Unfortunately, I did pull 5 in my box such duplicates in my box. I am certainly not a huge fan of that, but I also realize that no machine packed product can be perfect. The duplicate to base ratio was less than 5%, so while it wasn’t ideal, it certainly was not the worst I’ve seen. I did pull all of the hits I was supposed to and had a decent ratio of rookies. All in all I’d say this was a pretty solid box and was hopefully a good indication for the production run as a whole.

4th Down, Overall Value: I guess like most things, it depends for what you are looking. If you want a great looking set without tons of useless inserts at a decent price, this is a great box to bust. If you’re looking for super valuable hits that will turn a pretty penny in a classic flip, this is a pretty lousy product to pick. Fortunately, I place more emphasis on good design than straight resale value (which may not be the best business model for a poor schmuck who’s trying to start a business), so I thought this was a relatively nice set. I also did get pretty lucky with my hits in that I pulled an auto jersey of one of the league’s popular young guns and a three-piece relic of the top 2010 rookie. I sold those two cards alone for $82.50 + shipping, which very nearly covers the price of the box. Add in a Ndamukong Suh prime jersey card and a few parallels, and I definitely recouped my money on this box by selling a very small percentage of the cards. I realize that not every box has a Sam Bradford relic though, so not everyone will be so lucky. But I was, and that will inevitably add some bias to my review. I’m sorry, but I’m human.

RED ZONE RESULTS: TOUCHDOWN, FAILED TWO-POINT CONVERSION Hopefully I made it clear enough that I thought the base design of 2010 Panini Gridiron Gear was stellar. For once, Panini fit all of the pieces of the design puzzle together and presented something really worth collecting. The inserts were rather disappointing (although the resale value of my pulls helped ease the pain), but it is easy to sit here and rip a product apart nearly three months after I busted it. If I go back to when I opened all 18 packs, I remember feeling I was opening a great product. Hot chase cards can create buzz, but only a solid base card can convey an air of a superior product. This probably wasn’t the set of the year, but I would say it should be in the running. Panini may not have put the game away, but it finally found paydirt, and that is something worth noting. Congrats, Panini. You finally made me appreciate a set you produced.

NEXT UP: 2010 Topps Magic

Product Review: 2010 Panini Limited


As we slowly chug through my backlog of product reviews, we almost find ourselves in December 2010…so we’re only 2.5 months behind schedule. Well, I guess just over a month because I didn’t order these until right after Christmas. Still. I must be shooting for the least relevant product reviews award. Anyway, here’s 2010 Panini Limited, one of the very few Panini products to NOT feature Peyton Manning on the packaging.

2010 Panini Limited box
The Box – Click for Detail

Hobby boxes come with just a single 8-card pack. For all of you English Lit. majors, that’s a total of 8 cards per box. I purchased this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $78, which translates into a salty $9.75/card ratio. As you’ll see below, my box had a ninth card, but that is still a $8.67/card average. Yikes. What was I thinking? There’d better be something good in here!

2010 Panini Limited Pack
Single-pack boxes rarely leave much to the imagination

The Breakdown:
Base Cards (#/499): 5 (0 duplicates)
   Veterans: 2
   Legends: 1
   Phenoms (Rookies): 2
   Legends Jersey (#/130): 1
   Initial Steps Relic (#/80): 1
   Team Trade Marks Prime Jersey (#/50): 1
   2009 Banner Season Jersey Auto (#/15): 1

2010 Panini Limited
Click image for full-sized scan

1st Down, Design: The base cards are decent. The scans are fairly accurate in that the cards do appear pretty dark in person. But overall, it is a clean design with simple graphical elements and symmetry. There is also a tinge of team color, which is good, but there is still that glaring lack of team logos. I don’t know that I was a big fan of the cut out player image and huge “LEGENDS” lettering for the legends subset, but it’s something I can live with. The cards had an odd mix of gloss and matte feel to them, which reminded me of old Pinnacle sets from the mid 90s. The card backs are surprisingly busy for a product of this caliber. Most higher end releases have very simplistic backs with no stats. I’ll be honest in that I’m not sure which I prefer, but I will say that this fact made these cards seem less valuable to me.

2nd Down, Inserts: There is definitely a range here. The first, the Legends basic jersey card, is a waste. It’s always cool to get relics from retired players, but there is absolutely no thought or effort behind this card. Make a nice base card and then just lop out a chunk from the middle for a plain white jersey swatch. Works everytime, right? Well, no actually. In fact, it never works. So stop doing it. The Trade Marks jersey card has a nice look to it, but I’m always left wondering why a plain color swatch is “prime.” I guess it came from a stripe or inside a number or something, but without multiple colors or stitching, I have to second guess if this swatch was immediately beside another swatch that wound up in a low-end insert #/599. The Initial Steps relic on the other hand is cool. The hobby has become inundated with jersey relics in the past decade, so it’s cool to see something different. It also had a much different texture than a jersey, so that was fantastic for my inner young-child-with-ADD-that-feels-the-need-to-touch-every-relic-he-pulls-from-a-pack. Lastly we have the big hit in the box, the prime swatch autograph card of Vernon Davis. This card actually has a really nice design and even though Panini refuses to get on-card autographs, the sticker label doesn’t look terrible here. All in all, not bad cards. Especially for Panini.

3rd Down, Collation: For a box that promised 8 cards, 3 of which would be autographs or memorabilia cards, I would have to feel pretty luck that I pulled 9 cards, 4 of which were “hits.” However, I would rather have had at least two autographs. The box price tag is way too high to have a single autograph. Hell, for $15 more, I bought a box of 2010 SAGE Hit High Series and got NINE autographs. Granted, I realize that the entire feel and style of those two products are completely different, but it does put some things into perspective. Overall, 40% of my base cards were rookies and 44% of the entire box was some sort of hit. I definitely hit the stated odds, so there is really no room to argue in this department. Unless of course you hate Vernon Davis. Then the collation was terrible because 22% of my box was Vernon Davis.

4th Down, Overall Value: Not to confuse my sports, but Panini once again stood up to the plate, took a strong swing, and competely missed in the value realm. These cards are actually pretty nice. The only reason my review of them above wasn’t more gushing is because I knew this portion of the review was coming. There is just very little value in a box that demands a hefty price tag. I know we’re not talking Upper Deck Exquisite prices here, but $9.75 per card is still way to high for this quality of product. All of these cards have been listed on eBay and so far I’ve only sold the Golden Tate shoe relic. In my opinion, this was the second-coolest card in the box. My final selling price? $5. Woo. I guess if you pulled an autographed patch card of Sam Bradford you’d be singing the praise 2010 Panini Limited. I did not. Therefore, my vocal chords are resting.

RED ZONE RESULTS: MISSED FIELD GOAL, TURNOVER ON DOWNS 2010 Panini Limited tried. It really did. Most of the cards are well designed and have a nice feel to them. But on the other much larger hand, some cards still had the same old Panini swatch window problems and the value just isn’t present in a box. This is definitely a product where you’d just want to pick up some of your favorite singles off eBay and leave the lottery ticket scratching to people with money to blow. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people with tons of money to blow and I still bought a box. It’s $78 I’ll never get back, but hopefully I’m not too late to forewarn a few readers. The designs and collation kept the offense on the field, but the placekicker, Mr. Overall Value, pushed the chip-shot field wide right. WAY wide right.

NEXT UP: 2010 Topps Prime

Product Review: 2010 Panini Absolute Memorabilia


Before ramping up for another busy week in the real world, let’s take a quick look at another product review from yesteryear. Okay, this review isn’t so late that you’d expect “yesteryear” in its usual context, but this product is so 2010. Literally. The funky almost-a-trapezoid-but-technically-a-pentagonal-prism box says so…

2010 Panini Absolute Memorabilia box
The Box – Click for Detail

Hobby boxes come with 4 4-card packs for a total of 16 cards. I purchased this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $118.75, which translates into a $7.42/card ratio. That is definitely above my normal comfort zone, but a goal is a goal, right? Maybe next year I won’t tell myself to review every product on the football release calendar.

2010 Panini Absolute Memorabilia Pack
Pillow-Box packs are fun to open but hard to scan

The Breakdown:
Base Cards: 11 (0 duplicates)
   Rookie Cards: 3 (included in base card total above)
   Marks of Fame (#/50): 1
   Rookie Auto (#/99): 1
   Rookie Auto (#/25): 1
   Gridiron Force Prime Jersey (#/50): 1
   Absolute Heroes Patch (#/50): 1

2010 Panini Absolute Memorabilia2010 Panini Absolute Memorabilia
Click images for full-sized scans

1st Down, Design: On the surface, these base cards aren’t bad. They have a fairly clean design, the player photos are prominent, and the bit of team color is a nice touch. However, there are some more glaring problems with the base cards that seem to overshadow the good aspects. When rainbow foil board was first used, it was pretty sweet. It was an easy way to pick out a cool insert card. Now, it just seems trite and overused, especially for a base card. Also, will Panini ever learn to incorporate the team logo on the front of the card? Other than the occasional side-helmet shot, this could be mistaken for a non-licensed product. Lastly, I realize I don’t know the inner workings of the industry, but it wasn’t possible to get game action shots of rookies…in a product that was released in mid-October? Really? Even if those are the last cards you finalize and print, I would expect to see full uniforms for rookies at this point in the release calendar. The pre-season releases get a training camp photo excuse. Mid-October releases do not.

2nd Down, Inserts: The main point of a product like this is the hits, so let’s not even bother discussing the non-hit insert I pulled. Granted, even if that weren’t the case, I don’t know that I’d take time to discuss this Marks of Fame card anyway. Moving on. The hits were generally underwhelming in this box. For a product that is approaching high end, I’d expect to see some autographs that aren’t just mid-level rookies with sticker labels slapped on a barely altered base parallel. I like that they took the time to add a white fade zone to make the autograph more prominent, but that’s just not enough effort for a product of this caliber. The jerseys were also disappointing. I’ll never understand the use of tiny number and letter die-cut windows. It just makes the small jersey swatch seem smaller. And how am I supposed to believe this plain red swatch is from a “prime” part of the jersey? The Steve Smith patch card is decent with the giant panther logo about to snack on Smith and the nice three-color patch, but I’d rather see non-rainbow foil and a bigger swatch window. Patches are still cool to see and touch, even if they are overused at this point in the game, so let me see more on this card.

3rd Down, Collation: It’s really tough to gauge the collation when you’re getting just 16 cards in a hobby box. Granted, I didn’t pull any duplicates, so that’s good. That would have been an absolute deadly sin for a box like this. I also pulled the stated hit seeding, so that’s hard to argue. I guess my thought would be there was probably a box somewhere that had four amazing hits in it or at least two sweet hits and really good base rookies. It would have been nice to even that out with my box of rather crappy hits and barely noteworthy rookies. Then again, maybe every box delivered this (lack of) quality.

4th Down, Overall Value: This has to be the worst part about this product, or at least the box I busted. If you had given me the exact same 16 cards in a blind review and told me they all came from the same box, I probably would have thought it was a decent box/product. However, this isn’t a blind review and I am painfully aware of the price tag this box carried, even two months after its release (I purchased this box just before the new year). There is no way the base cards are worth any where near the $7.42/card average. Granted, it is typically the case that base cards don’t carry their own weight. But in most boxes, the inserts and hits make up the difference. That is not the case here where even the “best” hits will struggle to get to $7.42. Kudos Panini America. You just got another $118.75 from me that you really didn’t deserve. Then again, I suppose the sole blame rests on me for pulling the purchase trigger. To begin with. As other wise bloggers have said, if you don’t like the products, don’t buy it. Hopefully some day I will learn that lesson. On the other hand, I still firmly believe you can’t acurately judge a product from eBay listings and product sell sheets. You need to touch and see the cards personally and you need to see a box in its entirety, not just some random shots of the best cards in the set.

RED ZONE RESULTS: UNSPORTSMAN LIKE CONDUCT, KEY-PLAYER EJECTED 2010 Panini Absolute Memorabilia was an absolute disappointment. The product lacked anything that resembled quality cards and reminded me of a lower-to-mid shelf product, rather than one that might be placed on the top shelf. Rainbow foilboard doesn’t make a card more valuable. 1997 Flair had sweet base cards that felt valuable. 2010 Panini Absolute Memorabilia does not. Overall, the product may not have been terrible, but was at least way over priced. It’s as if the only good player on offense dropped a pass to the endzone, drop-kicked the opposing cornerback out of frustration, was ejected from the game, and the home team went on to be routed by Little Sisters of the Poor. Please tell me you can do better, Panini. You have 50% of the pro football card market now. I don’t want to hate your company. Really, I don’t. But sometimes you make it so difficult to lend you any respect.

NEXT UP: 2010 Panini Limited

Product Review: 2010 Panini Epix


Next up in my barrage of better-late-than-never product reviews is 2010 Panini Epix. This one is also nearly four months late, but hey, that’s better than infinite months late, right?

2010 Panini Epix box
The Box – Click for Detail

Hobby boxes come with 18 8-card packs for a total of 144 cards. I purchased this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $52, which translates into a $0.36/card ratio. That boils down to another mid-to-low shelf Panini product that was released before the midway point of the NFL season. The only question that remains to be answered is will this product be an undervalued success or an epic fail? (See what I did there?)

2010 Panini Epix Pack
I’m picking up on an “X” theme here

The Breakdown:
Base Cards: 127 (42 duplicates)
   Rookie Cards: 7 (included in base card total above)
   Silver Parallel (#/250): 2
   Gold Parallel (#/150): 2
   Platinum Parallel (#/50): 2
   Epix Moment: 2
   Epix Game: 3
   Epix Season: 2
   Ball Hawks: 3
   Highlight Zone: 2
   Rush Hour: 1
   Epix Jerseys: 2
   Rookie Autos (#/499): 1
   Cowboys Auto Letterman (#/70): 2

2010 Panini Epix2010 Panini Epix
Click images for full-sized scans

1st Down, Design: When I look at the scan of the base cards again, I feel like it would be so easy to rip this design apart. But to remain positive, and to point out something very good, I would like to start by commending Panini on their use of team colors as an integral part of of the base design. After so many ultra-neutral gray boxes and borders, it is very nice to see some colors pop from Panini packs (Ooo…alliteration…nice…). I will say however that I’m not a big fan of the execution. I struggle though, because I don’t have that standout suggestion on how to improve the design. I think I’m caught on the use of a player cut-out on top of a graphic background AND a photographic background. If it were one or the other, I think my eyes would be less confused. For instance, get rid of the tiny photo triangles or make the X design ghosted like they did on the card back. There are always issues with X designs. SPx of the late 90s was awesome, but recent renditions have suffered. Upper Deck’s 2009 X concept for baseball was the bomb to some collectors and completely bombed with others. I guess it’s all in your own unique perspective.

2nd Down, Inserts: The parallels are not bad, but they could be better. In the scan above, you really can’t distinguish them at all because the only notable difference is the foil used to stamp the Epix text logo and the serial numbering on the back. However, in person, you can see a textured, refractorized, shineyness to them that really pops. The Epix Moment/Game/Season sets are pretty nice. I like that they feel like inserts and that the design is simple, effective, and different from the base set. My problem here is the name. Can you really make the adjective plural? I’ve heard of an epic game or moment, but an epix (epics) season? I don’t think so. It’s like the time in high school when my friend tried to be cool and wrote “Steelers Sux”. Trying too hard to use an X at the end of the word is often just that: trying too hard. The other inserts were an improvement from past Panini inserts, but still show a tendancy towards loud graphics and backwards design flaws. The jersey cards were nice in that they almost had their own design, but the swatch isn’t the focus of the card and comes in an oddly shaped window for no apparent reason. The autograph rookie card was your usual Panini sticker album, but at least they used a ghosted label to help the actual autograph pop. That hasn’t always been the case for Panini. I do really like the autographed letterman cards. There’s never much room for design elements with these, but they did a respectable job. I do really like the choice in pens. The silver Sharpie makes the autograph a focus of the design and even the thickness was appropriate. Chuck Howley never could have signed with Ed Jones’ thick pen and Ed Jones’ autograph would have looked lost if he used Howley’s fine point pen. I don’t know if Panini dictates these details or if the athletes decide, but I like the result.

3rd Down, Collation: How do you spell horrid? E-P-I-X. In 144 cards, I pulled a staggering 42 duplicates. There are no ifs, ands, buts, or what-the-hells around it, that is a terrible ratio. What’s worse? I didn’t even pull the entire veteran base set! Ugh. So I can’t even put up a “complete set sans rookies” listing on eBay like I could for other products (I’ve never tried that…I wonder if it would sell?). Nope. These all go straight into the I-hope-I-can-effectively-create-and-sell-random-team-lots bin. The box’s one saving grace? I actually got an extra hit over the “guaranteed” four. I have to assume it was the second Cowboys auto Letterman I pulled. Those things are usually more of the few per case hit variety rather than a few per box hit, so I was excited about that. But really, 42 duplicates? EPIX FAIL! (I’m sorry, I had to).

4th Down, Overall Value: This is a typical low-to-mid shelf Panini product. In this particular box, I got lucky with two Cowboys autograph letterman cards. Those two alone should be enough to cover the cost of the box. However, if my box was an anomaly, as I suspect it was, the value just isn’t there. At this point in the game, no one really cares about plain swatches from veteran jerseys and who is paying top dollar for a Devin McCourty autograph? The inserts, parallels, and even base cards aren’t bad cards, but there’s just not a lot of value in them. This also is not a set that generally lends itself to set collectors, so there’s also little trade bait here, unless you pull a lot of cards of someone else’s favorite player or team. At $52 per box, it’s certainly not a large investment or a huge risk to buy a box, but if you’re strictly looking for “the flip,” you probably want to look elsewhere.

RED ZONE RESULTS: TURNOVER ON DOWNS 2010 Panini Epix wasn’t such a poor product that a Pick 6 or an unsportsman like penalty was warranted, but it certainly wasn’t good enough to find paydirt. The bright rays of light this product showed were completely overshadowed by the clouds of terrible collation. I was naturally happy to pull an extra autographed letterman card, but having nearly 1/3 of my base cards be duplicates was just too much. Don’t feel too bad, Epix. You’re a start up product playing your first season with the big boys. There’s always next year.

NEXT UP: 2010 Panini Absolute Memorabilia

Product Review: 2010 Panini Threads


I mentioned before how I’m trying to work in a review of every 2010 football release. When making my purchases, I haven’t always gone in the release order, so now I’m trying to fill in the holes. The first one in another large batch of forthcoming reviews is 2010 Panini Threads, which was released about 4 months ago. If I do this again next year, hopefully I’ll be more relevant than I’ve turned out to be this year.

2010 Panini Threads box
The Box – Click for Detail

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 $71.25, which translates into a $0.37/card ratio. That price tag would tend to put this product on lower end of the football card spectrum. Given a release date just a week or three into season, that seems just about right. Granted I ripped into this box just before the playoffs started, but who’s counting, anyway?

2010 Panini Threads Pack
Peyton sure got a lot of face time in 2010…

The Breakdown:
Base Cards: 177 (21 duplicates)
   Rookie Cards: 6 (included in base card total above)
   Silver Parallel (#/250): 2
   Gold Parallel (#/100): 1
   Platinum Parallel (#/25): 1
   Gridiron Kings: 1
   All-Rookie Team: 1
   Century Legends: 2
   Century Stars: 3
   Generations: 2
   Triple Threat: 1
   Rookie Auto (#/499): 1
   Rookie Collection Dual Jersey (#/299): 1
   Jersey Prime (#/35): 1
   Rookie Class Auto Letterman (#/360): 1

2010 Panini Threads2010 Panini Threads
Click images for full-sized scans

1st Down, Design: I can tell that I jumped back in the release calendar for this one. After several Panini products that showed promising progress in the base card design realm, I was very disappointed when I open 2010 Threads. The entire product felt like “more of the same” from Panini, including the base cards. We once again have ultra-neutral design elements, a large product logo, and no team colors/logos anywhere on the card front. The card back is all sorts of colorful, but that has also been the case for a while now. One thing I thought was interesting was that the entire base set had a horizontal orientation. That certainly isn’t something you see everyday, particularly in modern sets. What really baffles me though, is that all of the rookies are verticle? Panini has a knack for differentiating their rookies in odds ways, but this one was particularly puzzling. I must say though, Panini’s 2010 rendition of Threads was leaps and bounds above Donruss’ last take in 2009.

2nd Down, Inserts: Just like the base cards, the inserts were also generally “more of the same” outputs from the Panini card generator. We’ll start with the good. I LOVED the Gridiron Kings insert and wished I had pulled far more than one. I really like the Gridiron Kings products of the past, my favorite being 2002, and this was a very well-done effort. Like the base cards, this insert set saw a huge improvement over last year’s version from Donruss. Also good was the rookie autographed letterman card. I am caught between liking and hating manu-patch Letterman cards, but the autograph portion of this card was great. It just adds to the collectibility when you know the player handled this specific card (or at least the fake letter patch) instead of just blindly signing a sheet of 1000 labels. Unfortunately, that’s where the good ends The rest of the inserts definitely were “more of the same” with too loud design, terrible backwards design flaws, floating swatch windows, and impossible to see autograph labels. There’s a grand prize drawing for the first person who can spot the prime jersey piece on the Jay Cutler card and the autograph on the Shay Hodges card (well, not really…I’m just trying to prove a point here). Hopefully all of this is a thing of the past because Panini really did seem to be making progress in the newer products I’ve reviewed. Unfortunately, Panini also has the bad tendancy to just recycle past designs rather than reinventing poor product lines into new and great ones.

3rd Down, Collation: Let’s just say I wasn’t wowed by the collation of this box. In 192 total cards, I pulled 21 duplicates. That wasn’t a typo. I pulled twenty-one duplicates. Granted, I believe I pulled all 150 base veterans (I don’t have the stack in front of me right now to confirm my memory), but that is still terrible. Give me more rookies. Give me more parallels. Give me more inserts (as bad as they were). Give me more GRIDIRON KINGS! Give me something besides this many duplicates. And if more of something else isn’t possible, get rid of a few packs and mark the box down $5-10. I HATE duplicates.

4th Down, Overall Value: I feel like a bit of a broken record when reviewing Panini products. The value is definitely there IF you can land a sweet rookie autograph or relic card. If you tend to have my general luck (which I admit has faltered a few times this year and resulted in some decent pulls), you’re not going to see a return on your purchase. This isn’t even a set I can recommend collating for a binder because the horizontal orientation and neutral design coupled with unfathomable vertible rookies just won’t allow this set to look good in a binder. This is probably a set where you’re going after your few favorite players or team(s) and that’s about it. The box price is fairly low, especially now that it’s been out for four months, but it still just doesn’t seem to be worth the money in my humble opinion. But what’s great about this hobby? You get to form your own opinion! If you like what you see here, by all means go nuts and buy cases of it. As for me, I’ll hold out for something better.

RED ZONE RESULTS: LOST FUMBLE This product certainly wasn’t poor enough to warrant a player disqualification or a Pick-6, but there was no way it was lighting up the scoreboard either. The price tag and product description told me this was a mid-to-low end Panini release and that’s just where I’d put it: mid-to-low end Panini release. It isn’t the worst effort I’ve seen but certainly isn’t the best either. Hopefully Panini shakes off this first year of football releases (and the poor designs and direction Donruss left them), and comes out firing with fantastic products in 2011. But sadly, I just don’t see that happening.

NEXT UP: 2010 Panini Epix

Product Review: 2010 Panini Certified


Let’s keep this gravy train rolling with another product review. Today’s featured entrée: 2010 Panini Certified. These intros get harder to write all the time, especially when doing several in a row, so let’s just jump into this one…

2010 Panini Certified box
The Box – Click for Detail

Hobby boxes come with 10 5-card packs for a total of 50 cards. I purchased this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $85, which translates into a moderate $1.70/card ratio. This is branching into the territory where I start to get nervous, but not out of the question. It’s not Topps flagship and it’s not Exquisite. It’s more middle of the road than anything. Mediocre product in general? Let’s find out.

2010 Panini Certified Pack
Mr. Manning sure is getting a lot of face time this year

The Breakdown:
Base Cards: 46 (2 duplicates)
   Rookie Cards (#/999): 2 (included in base card total above)
   Gold Team (#/999): 1
   Certified Potential (#/999): 1
   Mirror Red Parallel (#/250): 1
   Fabrics of the Game (#/250): 1
   Mirror Jersey Prime (#/50): 1
   Mirror Green Autograph (#/5): 1
   Freshman Fabric Dual Relic Autograph (#/699): 1

2010 Panini Certified2010 Panini Certified
Click images for full-sized scans

1st Down, Design: I must say, Panini seems to be moving in the right direction, although their speed in getting there could be improved considerably. This is a decent design. It has enough design elements to lend itself to being a mid-shelf product but it certainly doesn’t look busy. I like that the side border-esque element still incorporates the photo’s background and I really like that the player is cropped by the bottom box, but allowed to free flow over the side borders. It adds an element of depth to the card that is nice. I do wish, however that Panini would stray from making all of their base designs so neutral with the various shades of grey boxes. I’d also like to see team logos on the card front, but I guess that is a minor point. One last suggestion would be something, anything, to vary the card back. After a while, all of Panini’s card backs start to look the same.

2nd Down, Inserts: For once, these are alright, but they could still use a fair amount of improvement. The whole backwards design thing isn’t AS painfully obvious for these inserts, but you can definitely still see it. I still don’t understand the jersey swatch window placement. The Polamalu looks a tad awkward with the obvious crotch shot and I really question the use of an all white jersey swatch on top of an all white, materialistic looking area on the Newsome card. At first, I thought I pulled a huge swatch…then realized most of that swatch was just cardboard. And once again I’m left feeling like on-card autos would have been a better option. Or at least better design work around the labels. Panini, we keep barking at you for backwards designing your cards because you plan where the jersey swatch windows and sticker labels will look good and then simply replace them with terribly desolate design elements to get to the more basic inserts. When we say we want you to do it differently, we don’t mean take the more basic card and just cut out a swatch window or slap on a sticker auto. Design each card as its own. It can’t be THAT hard.

3rd Down, Collation: I definitely was not pleased in this department, as you may be able to tell from my slightly smart ass scans above. No, the box wasn’t completely riddled with duplicates, but when I’m only getting 50 cards in an entire box, I sure as hell don’t want to see duplicates. And what is the deal with making rookie cards so scarce? I understand wanting to preserve the collectibility of them, but what’s the point when they’re so difficult to get in the first place? At the very least you could have given me two more rookie cards instead of veteran duplicates. Not cool.

4th Down, Overall Value: I struggle with this point. If I go by my box alone, the overall value, despite all of the product shortfalls, is fantastic. But that is almost entirely based on the fact that I was lucky enough to pull a Michael Vick auto #/5. There has only been one listed on eBay since the product released, and it sold for the full $400 asking price just 13 hours after being listed. Not too shabby. And yes, my copy is definitely hitting the bay as soon as I get a chance to list another batch of cards. I’m not trying to be greedy, but I’ve got to pay for these boxes somehow. If you got rid of that one card however, I would not feel nearly so optimistic about the overall value of the box. The base design is decent but not great. The inserts are tolerable but not stellar. The hits are adequate but not ground breaking. For $85 a box, I would normally expect a bit more. But then again, why would I expect more from Panini?

RED ZONE RESULTS: MISSED FIELD GOAL The product is by no means a complete throw away. It does, however, have its share of faults. The base design is decent, but it has that typical Panini-neutral flavor. The inserts have a solid theme, but still suffer from backwards design flaws. The collation was pitiful with a 4% duplicate ratio (I do however realize that this is still leaps and bounds above what some junk wax era boxes could boast). Overall, it really isn’t that bad of a product, but nearly all of my excitement was contained in 1 card, and that just not enough to cut it, or to get onto the 1&G scoreboard. I will say, as I said above, Panini products do seem to be improving, at least during this release calendar, they just aren’t improving fast enough for my liking. Hopefully by the end of the 2010 release year, or especially by 2011’s products, they will really start to click and produce some nice sets.

NEXT UP: 2010 Topps Unrivaled