Greatest Business Cards Ever?

07.31.2012

In helping to build hype for the 2012 National Sports Collectors Convention, Panini has been previewing items that will be available as part of their wrapper redemption program. Today’s sneak peek is an interesting one. Available exclusively via instant redemption cards are these “gems”:

That’s right, those are authentic Panini America emlpoyee autographed “work-worn” relic cards.

Not impressed? Well, consider these facts: 1) they are being offered as part of the wrapper redemption program exclusively at the National – they will not be inserted into packs of normal product, 2) they are free – Panini doesn’t OWE you anything for opening their product, this is just a freebie perk, so get over it, and 3) Panini itself is poking fun at the idea of having these cards produced. You can read the entire “reveal” blog post here.

At the very least, it gives collectors a chance to meet some of the top “insiders” at Panini America and serves as a conversation starter…a conversation which will no doubt lead to topics such as “What do you like about our cards?” or “How can we better serve your collecting interests?”

Most interesting, to me at least, is the video Panini posted of the making of. Obviously it focuses on these employee cards, but I assume this is pretty indicative of how all relic cards are producedand is pretty cool to watch.

Now, maybe I need to revisit my business card design…


Product Review: 2011 Topps Finest

10.19.2011

In another exercise of futility, we have a product that not only was released well over a month ago, but was even featured on this blog over a month ago. You may recall that we did a group case break of 2011 Topps Finest in early September. The results of that break can be viewed here. In order to do a product review that is comparable to most other 1&G Reviews, I opted to pull the first box from that case and treat it like its own box break for these purposes. So that’s why you won’t see every card from the case mentioned here. But now, without further unnecessary ado, here is the review:

2011 Topps Finest box
The Box – Click for Detail

Hobby boxes come with 2 mini boxes each holding 6 5-card packs for a total of 60 cards. As I mentioned, this box came from our group break case, which was purchased from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $800. That gives a $100/box ratio, which translates into a $1.67/card ratio. That once again firmly establishes Finest as a mid-shelf product, much as it has been in the past.

2011 Topps Finest Mini Box2011 Topps Finest Pack
Topps Finest must have a thing for hyped rookie QBs

The Breakdown:
Base Cards: 46 (0 duplicates)
   Rookie Cards: 15 (included in base card total above)
Refractor Parallels: 7
   Refractors: 4
   XFractors (#/399): 1
   Black Refractor (#/99): 1
   Gold Refractor (#/50): 1
Inserts
   Finest Moments: 2
   Finest Atomic Rookies: 2
Hits
   Auto Jumbo Relic (#/399): 1
   Rookie Auto Patch Gold Refractor (#/50): 1
   Finest Rookie Auto (#/10): 1

2011 Topps Finest2011 Topps Finest
Click images for full-sized scans

FIRST AND GOAL’S FOUR DOWNS:
1st Down, Design: In a word: awesome. I already professed my love for Topps Finest last year and I see no reason to change that opinion this year. It’s just a great looking set that really has that extra pizzazz. This year’s base design is very similar to last year’s, but actually improved. Normally I am all about symmetry, which was practically the definition of 2010’s Finest, but I really like the more off-balanced approach in 2011. Even the card back is similar but just seems more attractive for some reason. The team color schemes are bolder and the logo and player name plates locations seem more natural this year. Also, the type font is particularly cool. Topps effectively took a great design and tweaked it for the better in this case.

2nd Down, Inserts: In a word: undecided. And that more or less refers to its comparision to last year’s effort. The refractor technology always gets me. Those things are fantastic. I still don’t know if we need so many parallel refractors, but it’s hard to argue with great looking cards. I will say though I almost liked the refractors last year better. The Xfractors are nearly identical, but I thought the other high level parallels were more distinguished last year. I absolutely love the mosiac refractors though. I didn’t pull a base mosiac from this box (I did in others), but it is the same as the mosaic autograph I pulled. And I LOVE that there are rare chase cards that aren’t autos or relics. On that note, the rookie auto patch cards and auto/relic cards are much better than last year. I’m still not wild about the elements being bordered, but there is much more emphasis on the player photo this year, which is greatly appreciated. The Finest Moments are still a bit of a throw-away for me, but at least the concept is nice. The Atomic Rookie Refractors though are out of the park. These things look great scanned and look even better in person. I am a sucker for shiney and these cards are loaded with it. VERY attractive. And did someone say on-card autos?!? Not every autographed card is signed on-card, but the base parallels are, and that is great to see from Topps. They have definitely made long strides in that department in the past year or so across all products.

3rd Down, Collation: In a word: inflated. That’s because I feel like I beat the odds with this box. First off, in 60 cards, there were no duplicates and 15 base RCs. That’s pretty solid. I also pulled an adequate number of parallels and the stated seedings for basic inserts. But I did pull a gold refractor rookie auto patch AND a bonus mosaic rookie auto, which was signed on-card. Granted, I guess I didn’t have a parallel atomic rookie refractor or an excessive number of low-numbered refractors, but I would still say this was a very solid box and possibly exceeded the average from across the entire product run.

4th Down, Overall Value: In a word: solid. A product like Topps Finest is going to deliver. Plain and simple. The Finest brand has been around longer than some companies exist and it is a name collectors know and appreciate. I’m not necessarily saying that buying a box is a sound investment for your retirement or that you’ll instantly reap huge profits, but you’re certainly not buying copper at gold prices. The higher end inserts and certainly the 1/1s can pull huge money on the secondary market while even the base rookie cards and complete sets carry respectable market value. I’m not quite ready to say Topps Finest is the Cadillac of sports cards, but it definitely commands recognition and respect amongst collectors.

RED ZONE RESULTS: TOUCHDOWN, PAT GOOD I love this product. There should be no mistaking that by now. Does personal bias affect this product review? I don’t doubt it. But that’s why this is considered an opinion piece. An editorial, if you will. After I busted this box, and even after I busted the entire case for the group break, I was still excited to rip into every pack and was disappointed when I finally ran out of wax. I don’t get that feeling very often any more, so that should say something about the overall appeal of 2011 Topps Finest. I didn’t feel comfortable giving it a two-point conversion because it didn’t completely blow me away, but I thought the end product deserved to find paydirt with a bonus point.

NEXT UP: 2011 Tristar Obak


Group Case Break Results

09.06.2011

Unless youv’e been in a remote cave without electricity, you probably know that we’ve been barking up the group break tree again. This time it was for a case of 2011 Topps Finest football. After a mishap with pre-ordering and having to pay nearly $100 more than expected (my fault, not the vendor’s), the case arrived safe and sound on Friday.


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But it didn’t stay sealed for long…


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And just to make sure…


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Yep, there’s Cam Newton. We’ve got the right case and are good to go.

I didn’t want to take the time to scan or list every base card that was pulled. If you’re really interested in seeing some base cards, I am planning to use the first box from this case for a 1&G Product Review. There will be some base scans there. To review the base card policy for this break, the entire base stack was broken into team stacks. I then pulled off all duplicates so that no one was getting four or five copies of the same card. I then shuffled up the pile of duplicates and dispersed them evenly over all 32 team stacks so that every team lot had the same number of base cards (so teams that had 7 players in the base set got fewer “extra” cards from the duplicates stack than say a team that only had 3 players represented). All other duplicates were set aside until the end.

Next up were the “Finest Moments” insert cards. I did the same thing with the duplicates as I did with the base cards, but I believe there were only 2-3 duplicates here, so not everyone got one. Here is the scan:


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There were also 3 refractor Finest Moments cards. All of these (and all cards shown from here on) were dispersed to the proper teams:


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Next we have the base refractor cards. These aren’t the most sought after cards from the product, but they sure are sweet. There was a very large stack of basic refractor cards, so those didn’t get scanned either. There were not any duplicate refractors though, so all refractors went to the proper teams.

There were 17 X-Fractors pulled. These are numbered #/399:


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We also pulled four Black Refractors (#/99), three Gold Refractors (#/50), and two Mosiac Refractors (#/10). Interestingly enough, despite the two Mosiacs, we didn’t pull any red refractors (#/25) and we didn’t get any of the Printing Plates or Superfractors (both 1/1s). Here is the lump sum of our high refractors:


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Next up are the Finest Atomic Rookies. These fall one per mini box (16 per case). While technically not a “hit” by normal standards (there is no autograph, jersey swatch, or even a serial number), I figured these were rare enough, so even the duplicates went to the respective teams. We did manage to pull a Gold Superior (#/50) and a Mosiac Superior (#/10), so that was a nice touch.


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And now the moment everyone has been waiting for: the hits. According to the packaging, each mini box should contain a sequentially numbered autographed jumbo relic or an autographed rookie patch card. So that means we should be looking for 16 hits from this case.

First, here are six autographed jumbo relics. All of them are numbered #/589 except for the Von Miller (#/339) and the Ryan Williams (Red Refractor #/75).


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Next up are six autographed rookie patch cards. It is hard to tell from the scan and I forgot to write it down, but I believe these were also #/589. We did pull a Refractor (Marcell Dareus #/99), a Black Refractor (Andy Dalton #/75), and a Red Refractor (Colin Kaepernick #/50).


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Now, if you’re good at math, you may be saying to yourself, “Hey! That’s only 12 hits. I thought we were supposed to get 16. What the hell, man?!?” And you would be correct. And I would be correct. We were supposed to get 16 hits and I clearly only pulled 12. Well, unless you include these four redemption cards:


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Tom, the good news is that you got two Kyle Rudolph autographed rookie patch cards. The bad new is that you have to redeem both of them from Topps. Sorry about that.

So now we have 16 hits and all is settled and complete. Except, wait, what are these?


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Here are two ADDITIONAL rookie autographs! And they are autographed on-card to boot! Mr. Alex Green is a “basic” Rookie Autograph Refractor Variation card (#/150) and Mr. Jamie Harper is a Mosiac Rookie Autograph Refractor Variation card (a parallel of a parallel! #/10). So we didn’t pull the Superfractor auto of Cam Newton or Mark Ingram, but I doubt Mike or Joevison are complaining.

Once all of the inserts and hits were dispersed, I then went back through and again evened up the stacks so that everyone had an equal number of cards by spreading out the rest of the duplicate base cards. I think some of the base cards and even a few refractors from the “bank’s” teams (team slots that were not purchased and shall remain with me) got mixed in, but I’m not too worried about that. I just didn’t want someone to buy in and then walk away with three base cards of their chosen team.

On a side note, there were no multi-player cards, so there is no need to open up public polls to decide who gets what. All cards were able to go to the proper team slots and all duplicates were dispersed as evenly as possible, as promised in the group break details and as described above.

So there you have it. The group case break of 2011 Topps Finest is complete. A very special thank you to everyone who participated. Packages are already partially assembled and will hopefully go in the mail tomorrow.

These are always fun for me, although I’d like to get more participation so that I’m not keeping any of the cards. Be on the lookout for another group break in the somewhat near future (Topps Chrome, anyone?). As always, if you have any suggestions or requests, please let me know.

Thanks!


Product Review: 2011 Topps

09.06.2011

In a hobby that seems to be constantly evolving, there are some things that remain the same. People like rookie cards. There should always be stats on the back. Topps makes a flagship set every year. It’s true. Well, at least it has been since 1956. 2011 Is the 56th consecutive year that Topps has produced a flagship football set (and for a long time that was the only set available from ANYONE). What does it have in store for us? Let’s find out:

2011 Topps Jumbo box
The Box – Click for Detail

I went the Jumbo box route for this review. Jumbo boxes come with 10 50-card packs for a total of 500 cards. I got this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $87, which translates into a $0.17/card ratio. Topps’ flagship set has always been on the lower end of the spectrum but it still quite popular for its base set size and its mix of fancy inserts and, more recently, hits. Also, after 56 years, there is obviously some brand recognition in play for Topps.

2011 Topps Jumbo pack
Interesting choice in Mark Sanchez…

The Breakdown:
Base Cards: 423 (24 duplicates)
   Rookies: ? (somehow I forgot to count them separately…)
Parallels
   Gold (#/2011)): 5
   Black (#/55): 0
Inserts
   Toppstown (online codes): 10
   Super Bowl Legends: 10 (2 dupes)
   Game Day: 10
   Faces of the Franchise: 10
   1948 Bowman: 10
   Super Bowl Legends Giveaway (code cards): 10
   Super Bowl Legends Stamp (#/100): 1
Hits
   Base Card Auto: 1
   Rookie Relic Patch: 1
   Game Day Auto (Redemption): 1

2011 Topps2011 Topps
Click each image for a full-sized scan

FIRST AND GOAL’S FOUR DOWNS:
1st Down, Design: In a word: classic. Topps never seems to completely recycle designs in its base set from year to year, yet somehow every one just has that Topps “look” to it. For all of you baseball fans out there, this design should look familiar. As is often the case, Topps used the same design for its football set as it used for its baseball set of the same year. This year, there are no complaints. The design is pretty basic, but effective. The team logo is prominently placed and the name banner is team-colored, which is great. The card back is also straight outta the Topps text book with its multiple-year statistics, horizontal orientation, and even the positioning of the card number. This isn’t a set that I will sit around and “ooh” and “aah”, but it is solid for a low-end base set. With 440 cards in the set, it is obviously geared for set collectors and can stand as a sort of yearbook. This design will look great page after page in a binder, so that’s really as you can ask. And, for the record, I am not turning this into a Ravens-themed blog. I busted this box with a friend who is a huge B-More fan so I let him pick out all Ravens for the review scan.

2nd Down, Inserts: In a word: many. If there’s one thing Topps knows how to do, it’s producing a whole lot of cards. Along with the 440-card base set, there are a bunch of insert sets. The Toppstown cards are really just for fun and games online, but they actually look good as cards. I’m digging the shiny blue background, although it admittingly looks better with some team uniforms than others. The Game Day cards I suppose are common affair for a low-end insert set. Nothing flashy, but I do like that they are strongly team-oriented with colored backgrounds. The Faces of the Franchise cards toes the line of one of my least favorite subjects, multi-player cards, but does so safely. The card is strongly team branded so the theme works. The 1948 Bowman cards are a cool throwback. I love the original mini-card size and the painted look of the photos. This was actually a well done tribute card and will probably be the subject of a future “A Look Back” post. The Super Bowl legends cards are also a nice concept, although with base, rings, coins, and stamps (not to mention an entire Super Bowl-themed giveaway), it may be overdone. I have to wonder if maybe Topps shouldn’t have just put more time into the designs and had this be a seperate product. One final nice touch for the jumbo box was the rookie relics. Every Jumbo hobby box has a rookie relic PATCH, not just a plain jane swatch, which really adds value to the box as a whole.

3rd Down, Collation: In a word: misleading. When I sorted through everything and had the entire box organized, I was shocked to find out that I had only pulled 24 duplicates out of nearly 500 cards (the relic packs didn’t have as many cards). I was also pleased when I figured out I only needed 41 out of 440 base cards to complete the set. That’s not too bad, I thought. But if you crunch the numbers, you find that the duplicate rate, either compared to just base cards or to the number of cards in the entire box, is actually only marginally better than that of 2011 Panini Rookies & Stars, which is ripped apart for having too many duplicates. So either my expectations have become unreasonable or this box wasn’t as well collated as I originally thought. I think maybe I need to re-evaluate my standards.

4th Down, Overall Value: In a word: expected. With Topps’ flagship set, you know what you’re getting. You know you’re going to get a ton of well designed base cards, a random smattering of inserts, and a few “hits” to boot. The value of any particular card is probably not going to astound you, but it also shouldn’t be rock bottom. My buddy got really excited about the Super Bowl Legends giveaway and ordered two cases of jumbo boxes in addition to this lone box. I am helping him to sell off all of his unwanted cards (basically anything that’s not purple and black), and the selling prices have been pretty decent. It’s not often that you sell simple parallels for $2, relics for $10, and autos for $15, especially out of a low-end product, so I have been pretty pleased. Again, that brand recognition may be playing a factor, but it’s a good brand to take for a spin.

RED ZONE RESULTS: TOUCHDOWN, PAT GOOD It’s Topps. What more can I say? It’s a brand and a concept that’s been working for 56 years. Sure, it’s not always something special and some sexy new things have come and gone in that time, but Topps does what Topps does year in and year out. And that’s produce a solid flagship that has appeal to collectors young and old, team/player and set, and simple and fancy. It’s impossible to have a single product that has everything, but 2011 Topps sure can give you a lot of bang for your buck.

NEXT UP: 2011 Score (Honestly, I’m getting to it…)


Product Review: 2011 Topps Inception

09.02.2011

I don’t like deceiving people, so let’s get something out in the open. I haven’t purchased a box of 2011 Topps Inception. This will be the first product review I do without having purchased at least a retail box, though I usually shoot for the hobby variety. BUT this is not an unfounded review. A little while back, I tried to do a group case break of Inception. That attempt failed miserably. One person had signed up. Rather than refund his money or figure out a way to honor the “break” aspect, I decided to just buy a variety of Inception cards from his favorite team. With just $50 to spend, I came one autograph short of an entire hobby box. Not bad. So I have held and scanned all of the cards I’m reviewing. So while it’s technically not a standard product/box break review, at least it’s not based on someone else’s scans or Topps’ promotion images.

Whew. I’m glad I got that out of the way. Now, onto the review:

2011 Topps Inception box
I didn’t buy this – this is just for your reference

Hobby boxes come as a single 7-card pack. Each box promises two autographs, one memorabilia, two parallels, and two base cards. As mentioned above, I got one autograph, one memorabilia, two parallels, and two base cards for $50. Hobby boxes are currently selling for a bit over $100 for a per-card average of about $14-15. That isn’t quite super high end a la Exquisite, but is certainly not your granddad’s box of cards either.

The Breakdown:
Base Cards: 2
Parallels
   Blue (#/209): 1
   Black (#/109): 1
Hits
   Autographs (#/200): 1
   Jumbo Relics (#/75): 1

2011 Topps Inception
Click image for a full-sized scan

FIRST AND GOAL’S FOUR DOWNS:
1st Down, Design: In a word: awesome. For a long time, Upper Deck was essentially the undisputed king of high end. Topps and Donruss (now Panini) often tried and fell terribly short. I’m not a huge high-end buyer, so I can’t argue that I have the most experience or valid viewpoint, but Inception is legit. The base cards are all printed on 72-pt card stock. The card fronts have a fine matte finish that actually enhances the luxury feel of the cards while the cut-out player image is super slick and shiny. The ghostly fog background is understated and simple, which is great. There’s no need to design the crap out of these cards, and Topps nailed that. The card back is also solid. There is only one season and then a career line for statistics and no player image, but what sells it for me is the player bio. Most cards will have a trite reason why the featured player is good. Inception focuses on the player’s inception and talks about how he got his start in football. Very cool concept. The foil stamping is about the only so-so point on the base cards. It never scans well and isn’t terribly vibrant in certain lighting, but you almost need foil stamping for a card like this. Printed and colored logos/text just wouldn’t work in this case.

2nd Down, Inserts: In a word: great. The parallels seem a bit pointless in a product like this. An average base card is already worth about $5, so changing the background color and adding a serial number isn’t a big selling point. I will say the re-coloring is done well, and could really look great for certain teams. For instance, the Ray Lewis here looks awesome as a black parallel (a Baltimore team color) while the Joe Flacco just doesn’t have IT, despite being more vibrant. The autographs are fantastic. The player sheen is removed on the lower half of the card to allow a nice matte surface for the autograph, so you shouldn’t have to worry about it rubbing off or fading as fast as you would with a shiny sticker. The faded auto area also really helps the autograph “pop” from the card. I couldn’t get a silver auto with my limited budget, but the scans of those are stunning. Jersey cards seem pointless at this stage of the game, but they are done well in this product. I find it interesting that a lot of sets now have lower serial numbers on jerseys than autographs. This card is the jumbo jersey swatch variety. The smaller swatches feature a different card design, which is a nice touch. It’s evident that every card was hand designed, rather than simply adding or removing elements to make the design process easier across the board.

3rd Down, Collation: In two words: not applicable. I didn’t buy a box, so my selection was hand picked by me. So that’s perfect collation. But even the factory packed hobby boxes contain 7 cards. How in the world do you judge collation for a product with 7 cards in the box? You don’t.

4th Down, Overall Value: In a word: questionable. As I said above, I had just a $50 budget to purchase a team-based sampling of this product, and that included shipping fees from five different sellers for these six cards (I was able to double up on the two base cards). That budget was less than half of the cost of a box, yet I came up just one autograph short of an entire box’s contents. Not too shabby from a buyer’s perspective, but certainly not good from a seller’s perspective. Granted, by hand picking a “box,” I had no chance at that super rare card of a high draft pick. But I also avoided pulling a hit of an after thought veteran from a small market team. So in essence, Inception is a typical high-end product. The prospects in any box can be off the charts, but the risk in buying is almost equally high. The cards themselves are fantastic, but a sealed box may be overpriced a bit.

RED ZONE RESULTS: TOUCHDOWN, PAT NOT NECESSARY 2011 Topps Inception is a great product. There’s no getting around that in my opinion. The base cards are subtle yet carry an air of elegance and the hits are well designed and eye-catching. But unless you’re really into lotteries or busting wax for the sake of busting wax, buying boxes or cases probably isn’t the way to go. As I showed here, you have a real shot at getting a box worth of cards of your favorite team/players on the secondary market for the same or even lower price. I will say I really wish Emmitt Smith was on the checklist as I would definitely love to add cards of this calibur to my collection. But even if that were the case, I would definitely go the singles route than gamble on any sealed product.

NEXT UP: 2011 Score (No really, I will review this some day…)


Product Review: 2011 Panini Rookies & Stars

08.18.2011

Here at 1st and Goal Sportscards, I reserve the right to make any last minute changes that I feel are necessary. One such change is being exhibited here. The past two product reviews have advertised that 2011 Score would be the next product to be reviewed. I have, in fact, purchased and busted a box of 2011 Score. But due, in part, to my laziness, I have not yet completely organized and scanned the cards, so that product review is on hold. To take its place is 2011 Panini Rookies and Stars. Enjoy.

2011 Panini Rookies & Stars box
The Box – Click for Detail

Hobby boxes come with 24 8-card packs for a total of 192 cards. I got this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $82, which translates into a $0.43/card ratio. Panini Rookies & Stars is pretty solidly a mid-shelf product and this average card cost backs that up. So you know what you should get: a lot of decent base cards a small sampling of nice jersey or autograph cards. Last year, Panini failed to deliver on the promise of the once great Rookies & Stars line. Were they able to improve on their efforts? Let’s find out…

2011 Panini Rookies & Stars pack
A very teal Blaine Gabbert joins AD for the packaging

The Breakdown:
Base Cards
   Veterans: 158 (10 duplicates)
   Rookies: 24 (0 duplicates)
Parallels
   Longevity (#/249): 2
   Longevity Holofoil (#/99): 1
   Longevity Gold (#/49): 1
Inserts
   Rookie Revolution: 1
   Rookie Revolution Gold (#/500): 1
   Studio Rookies: 1
   Studio Rookies Gold (#/500): 1
Hits
   SP Rookies Signatures (#/299): 1
   Rookie Autographs (#/300): 1
   Statistical Standout Jersey (#/299): 1
   Dress for Success Jersey (#/50): 1

2011 Panini Rookies & Stars2011 Panini Rookies & Stars
Click each image for a full-sized scan

FIRST AND GOAL’S FOUR DOWNS:
1st Down, Design: In a word: improved. In two words: VASTLY improved. Last year’s design was terrible. Panini had once again churned out an ultra-neutral and paint splattered set that was forgettable. This year, they redesigned almost the entire product and produced a set that has a certain simple elegance we don’t often see in the hobby anymore. The background of the player photo isn’t completely cut out but isn’t distracting. The surrounding design elements are subtle and have a minimalist quality to them. The card fronts still aren’t overly team oriented, but the quiet look makes the team logo “pop” much more than last’s year busy design. It’s not quite a perfect comparision, but this set really reminds me of older SP Authentic sets. And that’s a good thing. The card back is fairly standard Panini fare, but is also much better than last year. It’s just an overall much cleaner and more attractive product. One interesting note was the rookie card photographs. There was a fairly even distribution between three concepts: 1) ultra close-up to avoid showing college logos, 2) combine/training photos, 3) “look at my new jersey!” poses. I realize the lockout meant no NFL training camps prior to this product’s release, so I guess Panini did the best they could. I would have liked to see more Draft or Rookie Premiere shots though. Oh, and good call [sic] with including Terrell Pryor. Though maybe that’s just my Penn State bias shining through…

2nd Down, Inserts: In a word: tired. Panini products really show cohesion in this department because every line of inserts feels the same. I’ll never understand having multiple parallels of inserts. Never. And can we ever have jersey or autograph cards that are specifically designed to be auto/jersey cards and basic inserts that are designed to be basic inserts? I hate when the auto sticker or jersey window are either hanging out in no man’s land or blatantly missing. I do like that Panini stuck with the Studio Rookies concept. They are pretty cool. I didn’t think to scan the back of one, but I really like that has a different photo, and the back of the player at that. Nice idea. I’m still not sure how to feel about the big name rookies only having a short print manu-patch auto for a base card, but the cards themselves are nice.

3rd Down, Collation: In a word: conflicting. This has more to do with the comparision to last year. Last year I pulled 186 base cards with 27 duplicates. Abysmal. This year I pulled 182 base cards with 10 duplicates. Much better, but still pretty bad. As I said last year, I don’t know why half of the base set has to be short printed. The product is ROOKIES and STARS, not STARS & A FEW ROOKIES, which is what you actually pull. You want to short print the big names to drive market value. Fine. I won’t agree with it, but it’s not the worst marketing tool. But why are all rookies short printed? Give me fewer veterans and more base rookies and I’ll be happier.

4th Down, Overall Value: In a word: decent. I definitely could have done worse with my hit pulls, but I also could have done much worse. I do feel like I got a Patriots hot box, though. I opened this box with a buddy who is a huge Ravens fan, so he was definitely disappointed with that fact. The base cards may not have huge value from a resale standpoint. However, from a purely collecting view, they are fantastic because they are well designed and overall attractive. If you’re sorting through a stack of sleeved cards in your player collection or paging through a binder of your team collection, these cards are going to stand out for good reasons. And really, let’s keep in mind that this is a HOBBY. You may not make a fiscal gain buying a box of 2011 Panini Rookies & Stars, but your enjoyment and pleasure with your beloved hobby should profit.

RED ZONE RESULTS: FIELD GOAL This product doesn’t quite have what it takes to find paydirt, but I really think it was the collation issues on third down that was the shortfall. I cannot say enough how pleasantly surprised I was with the base cards. The inserts could still use some work, but are by no means the worst I have seen. With a bit of a tweak to the veteran to rookie base card ratio, this could be a very solid product. So we’ll say 2011 Panini Rookies & Stars only managed a field goal, but did so in a very tight defensive battle where every point counts. It certainly doesn’t guarantee a victory, but could still be the difference maker at the end of the game.

NEXT UP: 2011 Score (if I feel like it…)


Product Review: 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter

08.12.2011

Wait a minute. Something doesn’t look right. Isn’t Allen & Ginter a baseball set? Aren’t I reading a football card blog? Did banks get tired of buying each other and opt to start buying and merging sports card blogs? I’m confused.

The answer to those burning questions would be: Yes. Yes. Not yet. So to clarify, I will remind you all that I already posted a disclaimer about this one. I got caught up in the moment and bought a box of baseball cards. I wasn’t able to enter Gint-a-Cuffs III, so I figured I might as well do a box break review. This is that review.

2011 Topps Allen and Ginter box
The Box – Click for Detail

Hobby boxes come with 24 8-card packs for a total of 192 cards. I got this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $82, which translates into a reasonable $0.43/card ratio. Allen & Ginter is a rare breed. It appeals to set collectors with its large base set, short prints, and variants, but it also appeals to hit collectors (though certainly not as much as a super high end set) with its red ink autos and DNA relics. So $0.43 is just about right: low enough for set collectors to buy in bulk but not so low that it thwarts all mojo collectors.

2011 Topps Allen & Ginter pack
If you get around Blogland, you’ve seen this olde tyme guy a lot by now…

The Breakdown:
Base Cards
   Total: 127 (3 duplicates)
   Rookie Cards: 13
   Short Prints: 12
Minis
   Base Minis: 6
   A&G Ad Back: 6
   Black Border Parallels: 3
   Portraits of Penultimacy: 2
   World’s Most Mysterious Figures: 1
   Animals in Peril: 2
   Step Right Up: 2
   Uninvited Guests: 2
Inserts
   Hometown Heroes: 18
   Floating Fortresses: 3
   Baseball Highlight Sketches: 4
   Minds That Made the Future: 3
   The Ascent of Man: 4
   Base Code Card Parallels: 3
   N43 Box Loader: 1
Hits
   A&G Captured Mini Relics: 3

2011 Topps Allen & Ginter2011 Topps Allen & Ginter
2011 Topps Allen & Ginter
Click each image for a full-sized scan

FIRST AND GOAL’S FOUR DOWNS:
1st Down, Design: I love it. Other folks have mentioned they don’t particularly care for the A&G design this year and that it’s slowly been going downhill over the past few years. This is my first real look at A&G, so I guess I haven’t been jaded by even better sets, because I really like this design. The painted feel of the photos is great and the overall design is very clean. I also really like the logo placement and what Topps did for the non-MLB base cards. I do admit the player name placement could be better. The last names just sorta hang out there. One thing I’m not a fan of is the horizontal cards. They just seem awkward and don’t fit the feel of the set as well, especially the ones that have an action shot. The card backs are interesting. Maybe A&G has always done this, but I was amused by the lack of any graphics and having all statistics in word form.

2nd Down, Inserts: Where to start? I guess the minis. These are cool, espcially since they have the old cigarette feel to them, especially once you add the Ad Backs. The various inserts were all very interesting subjects, I’m just still not sure how I feel about non-sports cards in my sports card box. One thing I need help from an avid A&G fan is about the mini vs standard sized inserts. Other than base cards, all of my minis were from different sets than my standard sized inserts. Is that common? Do they separate inserts so that this group is only available as minis and that group is only available in standard sized? I also really like the A&G relics. I find it really cool that the actual relic swatch is embedded on a mini card which is then encased inside a standard sized card. Cool stuff. I’m also digging the plaid Upton relic. For more information on that, go read Night Owl’s post. Overall, these are pretty cool inserts. Even if I do have my doubts about sponges being a part of the “ascent of man”. It probably doesn’t help that I believe in intelligent Creation…

3rd Down, Collation: Solid. Out of 127 base cards, a mere 3 were duplicates. I tend to hate duplicates, but that really isn’t a bad ratio at all. And one of those was from my favorite team (Pedro Alvarez), so I really can’t complain (although I’d rather have a duplicate of Neil Walker or Andrew McCutchen). I feel like I got all of the short prints, minis, relics, and various other inserts I was supposed to get, so that is another plus. Really, this was one of the best collated boxes I’ve seen in a long time. Hopefully this box is indicative of the entire product run.

4th Down, Overall Value: Well, it certainly helps that this is one of the most popular products of the year across any sport. As I said, there are a lot of pieces to lure in a lot of different types of collectors. You’re getting a very nicely designed product with some rather nice “chase” cards for a decent enough price. One factor that probably goes unnoticed in these product reviews more than it should is the fun factor. This product was just fun to open. I never knew if the next card was going to be a base card of Chase Utley, a mini parallel of Wee Man, or a very colorful card of a fish. Not every card appealed to my tastes in collecting (where are the Emmitt Smith A&G minis?!?), but each one has a cool factor. Considering this is a HOBBY (which a lot of people seem to forget on a daily basis), what more could you ask?

RED ZONE RESULTS: TOUCHDOWN, PAT GOOD As I mentioned above, maybe it’s just because I haven’t had prior experience with the Allen & Ginter line, but I loved this product. There were very few items that made me question the folks behind the scenes and it was just a blast to open. I got thrashed for saying the Big Time inserts in 2011 SAGE were nice because they were colorful and reminded me of my childhood for some reason, but I’m going to play a similar card here. Even if these cards were worthless (and I’m not sure how many people are storming eBay looking for cards of old wooden ships), this product would still have a fair amount of value in every pack. It’s well designed. It’s spontaneous. It’s fun. It deserves the TD and PAT.

NEXT UP: 2011 Score