Product Review: 2011 Score

10.17.2011

Well, after much anticipation (or, perhaps, just a whole lot of delay and skipping around), we’re finally going to review 2011 Score. If procrastination was an art form, I’d be the next Picasso. Or at least Monet. Perhaps Howson? Anyway, here it is. Enjoy:

2011 Score box
The Box – Click for Detail

Hobby boxes come with a whopping 36 7-card packs for a total of 252 cards. I got this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $26, which translates into a $0.10/card ratio. Score has consistently been the bargain bar setter in Football for many years, and 2011 is no exception. Keep that in mind when setting your expectations for the product.

2011 Score pack
Americana much?

The Breakdown:
Base Cards: 174 (0 duplicates)
   Rookies: 36
Parallels
   Glossy: 36
   Gold Zone: 4
   Scorecard: 3
   Red Zone: 1
   End Zone: 1
Inserts
   Hot Rookies: 8
   Millennium Men: 5
   Complete Players: 6
   In the Zone: 8
Hits
   Signatures (base parallel): 1

2011 Score2011 Score
Click each image for a full-sized scan

FIRST AND GOAL’S FOUR DOWNS:
1st Down, Design: In a word: improved. Last year, I gave 2010 Score a fairly positive review, but I did note that the “kindergarten art table design elements” weren’t really doing it for me for the second year in a row. This year, Panini remade Score. The result reminds me of early 90s sets like Pro Set. It’s a very clean and simple design and I really like the use of team colors and those almost old school helmet images. The card backs are also really colorful and fun and tie in nicely to the design of the card front and I do like the little extra treatment the photo got (rather than simply copying and pasting from the front image). Overall it’s a great design for a low end set. There is one issue though. While white card borders are nothing new or even anything I typically complain about, the solid white border at the top of each base card seems a bit overkill. This area is effectively used for the parallel card notations (we’ll get to those), but is just far too wide on the base card. I noticed it with the very first pack and it stuck out like a sore thumb straight through Pack 36. It’s really a shame because it does take away from an otherwise solid card design.

2nd Down, Inserts: In a word: Overkill. The parallels are what really hurts this area. There are just far too many. In a product like Score, collectors aren’t going bonkers trying to collect all of the various parallels like they might with Topps Chrome or Finest. Parallels can be fun, and this is supposed to be a fun product, so keep 1, dump the rest. Especially the Glossy cards, which are barely distinguishable from the base cards. The other inserts aren’t all that bad. They might be a bit busy, but again, this is geared for the kiddies. And while I would normally be happy to pull a rookie autograph, I question if there should be any in this product. Score is low end. It has a big base set. Why does it need “hits”? These aren’t exactly highly prized autographed cards, so I’d rather Panini just not have any hits and reduce the price of the box even further. But that’s my opinion.

3rd Down, Collation: In a word: outstanding. In 252 cards I pulled exactly zero duplicates. There are much higher end products that have well less than half of the cards per box that can’t boast a zero duplicate rate. That is a huge kudo for Score. You may not like the Jake Long base card you pulled, but at least you only pulled one.

4th Down, Overall Value: In a word: expected. I feel like I could just copy and paste my analysis from last year. Score is Score. You know exactly what you’re getting. You’re simply not getting a lot of raw value, but you also didn’t pay much. This is a great entry-level product and something that you could give to friends and family under 12. If you manage to turn just one of them into a lifelong collector or get to spend a few quiet moments sorting through cards with the TV off, 2011 Score just may be the most valuable product available.

RED ZONE RESULTS: FIELD GOAL 2011 Score isn’t a great product, but it’s also not terrible. There is definitely a lot of potential in those packs. Not necessarily monetary potential, but certainly priceless potential. I wouldn’t think twice about giving a stack of these cards to my son if he were a bit older (it’s hard to appreciate football cards when you’re three weeks old). They can teach colors, shapes, numbers, and organizational skills. They also don’t require batteries. In an age when everything makes noise or pleads for attention, a box of 2011 Score might be the best understated gift you could give a child this holiday season. I think that’s worth at least three points…

NEXT UP: 2011 Panini Threads

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Product Review: 2010 Score

07.15.2010

One of the longest tenured brands in football, Score is back once again for the 2010 season. Despite several ownership changes (Pinnacle Brands, Score, Donruss/Playoff, Panini), one aspect of Score’s offerings has remained constant: it’s cheap. If there is any one set that will help get kids interested in collecting cards again, it’s got to be Score on the football front. I know when I was a kid I wanted quantity for my dollar and quantity is what you get with Score.

2010 Score box
The Box – Click for Detail

Hobby boxes come with 36 7-card packs for a total of 252 cards. I purchased this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $27 (I once again added some supplies to get free shipping), which translates into a $0.11/card ratio, and that’s rounding up. Like I said above, this is the ultimate cheapo set. It’s also a set collectors set with a 400-card base set and no guaranteed hits driving the prices up. There are certainly no secrets with this product, as has been the case for 20+ years.

2010 Score pack
1 RC and 1 Glossy Parallel in each of these

The Breakdown:
Base Cards
   Veterans (#1-300): 152 (50.7% with 0 duplicates)
   Rookies (#301-400): 36 (36.0% with 0 duplicates)
   Overall: 188 (47.0%)
Parallels
   Glossy: 36
   Scorecard (#/499): 2 base
   Gold Zone (#/299): 2 base, 1 NFL Players
   Signatures: 1
Inserts
   Hot Rookies: 7
   Franchise: 5
   All-Pro: 6
   NFL Players: 4

2010 Score2010 Score
Click images for full-sized scans

NOTE: Please keep in mind throughout this review that this is a very low-end set and I am going to review it as such. If you only collect super high end products, you’re never going to buy this product anyway, so don’t piss and moan if you think my opinions listed hereafter are soft or too forgiving. Get over it. You’ll sleep much better tonight if you do.

FIRST AND GOAL’S FOUR DOWNS:
1st Down, Design: Honestly, it’s not terrible. To start, I like that Panini went with the team color scheme for the card fronts. I’m not necessarily a fan of the kindergarten art table design elements, with the paint splatters, water drops, and random burlap shreds, but it actually sorta works. Panini is staying true to the feel of Score through the years as this has always been a mediocre product with slightly behind the times designs. There is a certain charm in that. I like that the card back ties to the card front very strongly and although I’d prefer to see a headshot, I can pass on it if the only option was a further cropped copy of the front image. The only thing that really makes me cock my head in confusion is why the player position is so much larger than the player name. With some of the color schemes (like the Posluszny above), it sticks out even more. I realize some players have really long names and there is a desire to have all of the cards be uniform, but this probably could have been done a little better. One thing I really like is that now that mini camps are underway, there are very few rookies who are not in their new pro uniforms, which beats out earlier products that had airbrushed college unis and combine jerseys. Overall, for a super low-end set, it works. Kids might even like it. If you are an OCD adult who cannot stand clutter, looking at a binder full of this set might be overwhelming though. My biggest gripe? It looks almost idenitcal to last year’s set, including the inserts.

2nd Down, Inserts: To start, I will offer my quick insight into the various parallel sets included with Score: drop them. There are 6 parallel sets (Glossy, Scorecard, Gold Zone, Red Zone, End Zone, and Artist’s Proof) and none of them are worthwhile. The Glossy set is hardly distinguishable from the base set and the others simply have a stamp in the upper left corner of the card front and a serial number stamp on the back. What’s the point, really? Score has had the Scorecard parallel for years, so I get the desire to keep that one. But seriously, lose the rest next year, Panini. The insert sets overall weren’t bad. The Franchise and All-Pro sets feel very similar, although it’s kinda cool seeing a mini set with almost all Pro Bowl jerseys. The Red Hot Rookies set doesn’t do anything for me. Just give me another base RC instead. Some people may hate the NFL Players inserts because they are a little tacky, but I actually like them. It really reminds me of something Collector’s Choice would have made in the late 90s, and I know for a fact I would have loved these cards when I was first collecting as a wee lad. I really like that inserts do not weight the box down and although most people will only buy products with guaranteed hits, I enjoy that there were only a few autograph inserts to avoid pushing the price up. Cheap and simple. There’s a theme here if you haven’t noticed.

3rd Down, Collation: This was very good. Out of 252 cards, I did not pull a single duplicate, which is great. The collation of individual packs was very predictable: 4 base cards, 1 insert (or 5th base card), 1 base RC, 1 glossy parallel. It was in that exact order every time. Although I guess that just goes to show there was a method to ensuring the 1 RC and 1 Glossy parallel per pack promise. And actually, I appreciated that because like I said above, the Glossy parallels were VERY difficult to distinguish from the base cards. Once I had my entire stack, I went through and removed every seventh card to pull out the glossies. But really, for the quantity of cards included, this was very good collation.

4th Down, Overall Value: The old adage that “you get what you pay for” is definitely true in the case of 2010 Score. These cards, including the highly touted rookies, just aren’t going to pull a lot of interest on the secondary market. It is the nature of the beast. But on the flip side, you also aren’t paying very much with a $0.11 per card average. If you are a set collector, you could probably complete the 400-card set with just 3 hobby boxes and still pay less than you would for one box of most other products. If you are on a really tight budget or have some kids in your family, this is a great entry-level product to pick up. Hell, you could even kick it old school and put some of these in the spokes of your bike and not feel like you just wasted $50. So in summary, if you look at a raw dollar value, this is one of the worst products of the year; however, if you look at a value to price ratio, it is right up there with any other product on the calendar.

RED ZONE RESULTS: Four consecutive rushing plays netting 6 yards, resulting in a TURNOVER ON DOWNS 2010 Score decided to play it very conservative this year. The design was nearly identical to last year, the price point is very low, and the inserts and parallels were very predictable. Much like a smash mouth run-first football team, this product is probably more suitable for the 70s. But with conservative offenses usually comes stingy defenses (I love Big Ten football), so turning the ball over so deep in the opponent’s territory sets up a very good safety situation. In a colossial conservative battle, those two points could be huge (I was at the 2004 Penn State/Iowa game in which Penn State lost 6-4…2 field goals for Iowa, 2 safties for Penn State…and Penn State had a third safety called back on a phantom “forward progress” ruling).

NEXT UP (tentatively): 2010 Panini Classics


Putting Out an APB

04.26.2010

All units please respond…

While looking over my Emmitt Smith collection recently, I was reminded of my mini Topps Collection, which consists of the Topps base card from each of the 15 years of Emmitt’s Hall of Fame career. I previously posted an article about that mini collection here. As I was writing that post, I realized I could also obtain a similar “Score Collection”, though for one reason or another I never set it as a goal.

After several large acquisitions from Catch22, I wondered if I had obtained the complete Score Collection without realizing it. I searched through the records and found that I am still missing two years, 1997 and 2004. I was just about to find these online and buy them when I thought better of it. I never like spending money on shipping, ESPECIALLY if the shipping charges exceed the cardboard purchased and ESPECIALLY if that cardboard is two base cards from a low-end company. I thought to myself, “You know Self, I bet there is a blogger or two that has those cards just sitting around and would be willing to trade for them. You should issue an All-Points Bulletin to see if you can track them down!” So now here I am, pleading with you, the great and wonderful blogosphere, to check your stacks and boxes and binders of unwanted football cards. If you see either of these two “gems”:

1997 Score2004 Score
1997 Score #4 and 2004 Score #1

I would be happy to take them off your hands. Just let me know what you collect and I will do my best to ensure you will be handsomly compensated for your efforts.

And also, let me know if you have any unwanted base Topps cards of Pittsburgh Pirates players laying around. The Buccos page above has been updated after a nice package from Night Owl (future official thank you post coming soon). I would be happy to take anything not marked “OWN” on that list as well.

…Over and out. 🙂


Laziness Hits a New Low

08.07.2009

In the past several months around the sports card blogosphere, a lot of a time has been spent writing and reading about the companies’ lackluster design attempts and the recycling of those poor design styles. This topic has recently been touched on a lot with the announcement that Upper Deck has now lost its NBA and MLB licenses in just a few months span. I often hear people complain that year after year, certain product lines continually reuse the same awful card designs, despite critical reviews and slumping sales.

I try not to get too worked up about brands being similar two or more years in a row. After all, this has been happening for a long time. In the 1960s and 70s, card companies often reused photographs from one year to the next, let alone had similar card designs. I do, however, have an issue with several products in the same year that look almost identical, and I’m not talking about Upper Deck’s flagship being the same for each major sport in a given year. This year, in the span of just over a month, Panini will release four separate football products. Not only do 2009 Score and 2009 (Leaf) Rookies & Stars have spin off products that are essentially glorified parallel sets (Score Inscriptions and Rookies & Stars Longevity, respectively), they also look like rip-offs of each other. Take the images below for an exhibit. The top row features scans of 2009 Score inserts while the bottom row shows 2009 Rookies & Stars inserts:


 

Each tiny thumbnail leads to a larger image

Notice any similarities? Let’s see…photo cut-out of player on very loud background…check. Random “paint splashes” and other crazy shapes…check. Needless diagonal lines poorly incorporated into the design…check. Mostly white background with either odd pastel or maybe team colors on aforementioned splashes and shapes…check. Some cards incorporating a design that only shows a cut-out of the player from the waist up…check. Text moving in multiple directions on the same card…check. Set logo appearing in an area of the card where it could easily be swaped out for the logo of another set produced by the same company…check.

To me, what we have here is just poor decision making. When I first saw images from 2009 Score, I admit I liked it. There is a huge movement towards guaranteed “hits” and high-end products while kids and budget collectors (especially in today’s economy) are left with very few collecting options. 2009 Score had a low-end feel to it, and a price point to match. Cool. Then 2009 Leaf Rookies and Stars came out and I noticed a troubling thing. They are essentially the exact same product. The only difference? Leaf Rookies and Stars promises a bunch more hits and each box will yield you less than half as many cards as a box of Score, but will cost you more than twice as much. So really, Panini has acquired two fairly old name brands that were very different, completely destroyed both of them, and then passed them off as Crap and Crap Deluxe, because R&S is really just Score with more inserts and hits. I can understand going through a dry spell. I’m sure we’ve all experienced writer’s block or creative constipation. But it appears as though Panini has one guy in charge of creating designs for all non-Donruss brands and he was only able to come up with one concept…so he just made some subtle differences and passed it off as two separate product lines. Poor form, Panini. Poor form.

Remember when Score and Leaf Rookies & Stars were two separate entities and appealed to different markets while looking completely different…because they really were two separate products? I do:

2001 Score2001 Leaf Rookies & Stars
Click each image to view a full sized and original scan


Live Today: 2009 Score

07.15.2009

Despite being bought out several times, Score is back for its 20th anniversary in football cards, with its latest edition coming from Panini America, a.k.a. Donruss. This classic set is available in boxes of 36 packs of 7 cards each. The 400-card base set consists of 300 stars and rising performers and 100 rookies.

As is the case with all Donini products, you can expect a bunch of inserts and a whole host of parallels. 2009 Score inserts include Hot Rookies (30), The Franchise (20), Future Franchise (20), Young Stars (20), and 1989 Rookie Reprints (10). The base set and each insert set (except the 1989 Rookie Reprints) has at least 6 parallels, which include Glossy, Scorecard (# to 499), Gold Zone (# to 299), Red Zone (# to 100), Artist’s Proof (# to 32), and End Zone (# to 6). The base set and 1989 Rookie Reprint insert set also have an Inscriptions parallel featuring autographs (# to 20 or less for the Reprint inserts).



Each tiny thumbnail leads to a larger image

Quick note: Each thumbnail leads to a very large image, except for the base card of Ben Roethlisberger. I couldn’t find a higher resolution image for the base card. Sorry for the inconvenience and possible eye strain.

Per box breakdown: 36 packs, 7 cards (252 total) including: 36 rookies (1 per pack), 36 glossy parallels (1 per pack), 1 Scorecard parallel, 1 Gold Zone parallel, 6 Hot Rookies inserts, 3 The Franchise inserts, 3 Future Franchise inserts, 3 Young Stars inserts, 1 1989 Rookie Reprint insert, and 6 other random inserts/parallels.

From the images I have seen, Score seems to be delivering on its budget reputation. The cards are ridiculously cheap (a box of 252 cards will only set you back around $20-$30), but the design shows it. There is certainly no pizazz when it comes to the base set or even inserts (glossy cards are a parallel), so you definitely get what you pay for. For me, I think the base card’s border is a tad over done and there is way too much going on in the background of the other inserts, leaving them with a rather tacky appearance. The one idea I love is the 1989 Rookie Reprints. Donini pays tribute to Score’s early days when they ruled the rookie world in football cards, without feeling the need to create an entire retro set a la Topps and Upper Deck. A set of 10 rookies is a little too small in my opinion, but doing the entire 100-card rookie subset in this design could have been overkill as well. So I guess I’ll take what I can get. Too bad I’m not stoked about any of this year’s top rookies (I still claim Derrick Williams and Deon Butler are severely underrated).

What is your first take? Do you love the chance to build a set or collect cards of your favorite team/player(s) without breaking the bank, or is this low-budget release not worth the cardboard it’s printed on?


It Wasn’t All Good

06.30.2009

If you have been reading my blog since its inception about a month ago, you may think that I am in love with football cards that are now a decade old. This certainly is true, to an extent. I think that cards from the mid-to-late 90s were some of the best cards I have ever seen. I have been known to enjoy a new product from time to time (2007 Topps Co-Signers, 2008 Upper Deck, etc.), but generally I do admit that I am a bigger fan of older wax.

That being said, I will also be the first to admit that not every set from my favorite era was gold. Take the card below for example. While the design is not horrible (I rather like the football border on the left side and the player’s name is much easier to read in person than in this scan), the photography leaves a lot to be desired. I usually do not like when two big time athletes are on the same card without it being a team card or other multi-player specific card. Here, instead of showing Emmitt blasting through the defensive line or dashing into the end zone, we see him embracing teammate Troy Aikman. Yes, this is most likely a celebration after Emmitt did score a touchdown, but should we really praise the photographer for being late and not capturing the actual moment? Even with all of this, the main photo is not my issue with this card. What I would like to know is what in the world is up with the profile picture?!? Here is a man who played most of his career in Texas and often showcased a prime time smile (though not as glorious as Neon Deion Sanders’), and they picked this shot? Was this his one trip to Green Bay and the photographer took a quick break from admiring Brett Favre’s aura? I mean, you can’t even see most of his face, and he’s not wearing a helmet!


Click image for full sized scan

Is this the worst card ever produced? Certainly not. We have seen far worse cards in just the last year or releases. Could it be improved? Absolutely. If you combine this card’s relatively simple and crisp design with some modern Upper Deck photography, you could have an amazing base card. Am I still in love with older cards, despite some of their shortcomings? Always.

Am I done complaining? For now…