Airbrushed Goodness


PhotoShop is pretty awesome. I think we all know this. Here is just one more shining example.

Anyone who has even the slightest interest in football, or perhaps even sports in general, knows all about Peyton Manning signing with the Denver Broncos and Tim Tebow’s subsequent trade to the New York Jets. What some may not realize is how that created a potential problem for card sets. Most collectors hate the red-jersey-from-summer-mini-camp photographs on their cards. A good number dislike the player-in-his-former-jersey-but-with-new-team-card-logo-and-small-“Traded”-notation method. So what else can be done?


Topps has announced that these two high-profile quarterbacks will be shown in their new team jerseys in the company’s first 2012 football release, 2012 Bowman. There are even mock images available already:

Manning and Tebow in their new, albeit airbrushed, unis

Hopefully this example, along with a relatively normal off-season (compared to last season’s labor lock-out debacle), will lead to a much improved image bank for the upcoming football release calendar. Last year was just a bit irksome with so many draft combine and “incorrect” team logos due to everything being slammed into about two weeks before the season started.

This is a good start to 2012.


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

Topps Takes New Approach to Designs


Well, alright, it may not be a new approach to an entire design scheme, but it certainly is an interesting concept. What am I talking about? Check out this press release from Topps regarding the forthcoming 2010 Topps Five Star Football:


Topps announces it will be adding its popular player sketch-cards as additional hits to the highly-anticipated Five Star Football. Several gridiron stars have added their artistic skills including Tony Romo (image attached), Reggie Wayne, Vincent Jackson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Roddy White, Matthew Stafford, C.J. Spiller, Matt Ryan, Mike Williams, Tim Tebow, Aaron Hernandez and many more.

Each original 1 of 1 drawing features the artist/player’s signature on the card’s back.

The hobby exclusive Topps Five Star Football hits stores late February.

Tony Romo Sketch Card
Click image for larger view

I think this is actually a really cool idea. In the late 90s, jersey swatches were supposed to get you closer than ever to the players you collected. Then it turned out that jerseys were just “event worn” or “player used” and the athlete never knew where his old sweaty laundry was going. Then seeded autographs (and some were inserted in-pack well before the jersey craze) were supposed to be the next big thing. But sticker labels and mass production led collectors to want more from the card companies. On-card autographs were viewed as the next best thing because you knew that the player actually held the card and knew what he was autographing. Now, Topps is taking it to another level by having the player draw/design the entire card himself, PLUS autographing the back. Who would’ve thought that on-card autographs on the BACK of cards would be acceptable? It works here.

It will be interesting to see scans of these things when they are released. Is an art chase hit still chased if the athlete can’t draw for crap? Does a no-name bench warmer suddenly become a hot commodity because he would be better employed, though much hungrier, as a free lance illustrator? I suppose only time will tell, but it should be fun to watch.

By the way, would anyone be willing to bet that Tim Tebow’s card includes a Scripture reference?

Product Review: 2010 Topps Platinum


‘Tis the season. The holiday shopping season, that is. That means with me finally getting time to list a bunch of singles on eBay over Thanksgiving weekend, people going to eBay to find good deals and gift ideas, and other online retailers having great deals themselves, I finally have some money and means to review more products. Don’t be surprised if you see a sudden barrage of product reviews in the next week or so (at least four are in line already). The first will be 2010 Topps Platinum, which was released in mid-September. What can I say? I’m behind the times right now.

2010 Topps Platinum box
The Box – Click for Detail

Hobby boxes come with 24 5-card packs for a total of 120 cards. I purchased this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $72, which translates into exactly a $0.60/card ratio. It is almost surprising to see a borderline low-end set released after the season starts, but it certainly is not Score or Topps flagship cheap and quite honestly, carries a lower pricetag than I would expect for this type of product.

2010 Topps Platinum Pack
A nice, simple pack design – keeping it classy

The Breakdown:
Base Cards: 112 (1 duplicate)
   Rookie Cards: 44 (included in base card total above)
   Platinum Rookies Variations: 3
   Rookie Refractors (#/999): 1
   Rookie Blue Refractors (#/99): 1
   Rookie Autos (#/999): 1
   Rookie Blue Refractor Autos (#/599): 1
   Autographed Refractor Jumbo Patches (#/10): 1

2010 Topps Platinum2010 Topps Platinum
Click images for full-sized scans

1st Down, Design: This is a pretty sharp looking set that reminds me of the late 90s Playoff and Pinnacle sets. The metallic sheen of the cards is quite attractive and was not done justice by my scanner. The design elements are simple and effective and although the design is rather neutral, the player image “pops”, allowing you to quickly recognize your favorite players as you flip through a stack of these. One thing I thought was interesting was that the Rookie Cards were slightly different than the veterans. The RCs have a slightly shinier and smoother sheen and have a mildly darker grey color scheme on the back. I suppose it helps to make the RCs seem even more special, but it does look a bit off when you’re flipping thorugh a stack backwards (like when you’re sorting by card number).

2nd Down, Inserts: This was a fairly base-card focused set with emphasis on the few guaranteed hits per box. There are various refractor parallels, including the much thicker and ultra reflective Platinum Rookie Variations, which are quite nice. The Blue refractors are also quite a nice change of pace, although I suppose it lends itself better to some team uniforms than others. The autographs are decent, although it remains painfully obvious that Topps loves sticker labels. If these could be hard signed, they would be much better. The jumbo patch autograph was a nice pull, though. A quick search on eBay doesn’t reveal much since there are only 10 copies, but it looks to be worth about $100-200, which will cover the cost of the entire box by itself. That is always a plus.

3rd Down, Collation: I suppose it wasn’t terrible, given that I received a nice mix of teams and RCs and I got my guaranteed hits. However, I only got 2/3 of the base set and still pulled a duplicate. Anyone that has read 1&G Reviews in the past knows that is one of my few box break pet peeves. I know if you want perfect collation with equal value in every box and no duplicates, you would need to do a very scientific hand pack out every time. Given the timeline for releasing products and the current economy, that obviously isn’t possible. But when you give me 120 cards and 1 of them is a duplicate, it’s certainly going to affect my opinion of the product. This duplicate ratio certainly isn’t the worst however, as you’ll see in a future review (and in a free preview, Topps, you’re not off the hook).

4th Down, Overall Value: It’s hard to argue here given my quick Reggie Bush jumbo patch autograph research. Unforeseen events withheld, it looks like I should easily be able to cover the $72 pricetag with that one card alone, not to mention the other two rookie autographs and various RCs of top prospects I pulled (probably $2-3 each). However, I do realize that I was pretty lucky in pulling an autographed patch card #/10 of one of the bigger names in the hobby. Reggie Bush hasn’t nearly lived up to his college hype, but his high profile status, recent Heisman debacle, and Super Bowl victory have kept him in the news and minds of collectors. Should you pull 3 hits of unproven and relatively unknown rookies, you’re probably not going to recover your box price. If you are looking for a decent looking product to pick up some of your favorite players at a low-to-mid shelf price, however, this is a solid product to consider.

RED ZONE RESULTS: FIELD GOAL The card design is great and I felt like I was cracking open a higher end product of the late 90s, which is always nice. The inserts, though rare, were enough to keep my interest, although the sheer quantity of base cards in this type of product was a bit much. The lone duplicate was certainly an irritant, but was alleviated by my pulling a great chase hit. I can’t help but think that the Bush card has created an unwanted bias for me, but I tried to keep a level head when reviewing the entire product, which certainly had its flaws. Overall, it’s a solid product that has its fair share of upsides, but not enough to find paydirt with the game on the line. A field goal will allow the defense an opportunity to shine and get the offense back on the field, but if the opposition is too strong, I just don’t think 2010 Topps Platinum will have what it takes to sing the Victors song.

NEXT UP: 2010 Panini Crown Royale

Product Review: 2010 Topps Finest


This whole reviewing every 2010 football release is proving harder than I anticipated. Apparently I drastically over estimated my ability to instantly turn cards into cash to buy more cards and so on and so forth. This box is a good example of this concept. It was released nearly two months ago and I only recently was able to purchase it and review it. Esta es la vida. But alas, here is the official 1&G Product Review of 2010 Topps Finest

2010 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. I purchased this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $109.25, which translates into a $1.82/card ratio. That firmly establishes Finest as a mid-shelf product and consequently we should expect fewer base cards and higher-end hits, although not quite Exquisite-esque.

2010 Topps Finest Mini Box2010 Topps Finest Pack
Tim Tebow graces us yet again

The Breakdown:
Base Cards: 35 (1 duplicate)
   Rookie Cards: 10 (included in base card total above)
Refractor Parallels: 8
   Refractors: 4
   XFractors (#/399): 3
   Gold Refractor (#/50): 1
   Finest Moments: 2
   Finest Atomic Rookies: 2
   Finest Moment Auto: 1
   Rookie Auto Patch: 1
   Auto Dual Jersey: 1

2010 Topps Finest2010 Topps Finest
Click images for full-sized scans

1st Down, Design: If the NFLPA had stuck to its guns and not allowed Topps to produce football sets this year, this is exactly the type of set we would have missed. The 2010 Topps Finest design is right on the mark. It is balanced, it’s attractive, and it is simple enough to not thwart your attempts to focus on the player. I like the fact that the players are cropped by the frame on the bottom yet allowed to flow over the border on the top. It adds a nice depth to the design and gives the illusion that the players are popping of the card surface. I also love how Topps incorporated team colors into the design. The card back is also well designed and although I like seeing several stat lines, the “2009 Finest Moment” is a nice thematical inclusion. Lastly, the Chromium technology always looks great, especially when you are pulling base cards that would have been highly prized inserts not long ago. Overall, this is a great set.

2nd Down, Inserts: I’m not sure if the main focus was supposed to be the hits or the refractors, so fortunately they are both well done. The refractor technology will always please me. It takes a good looking card and makes it great. The X-Fractor cards seem a bit over the top at times, but it does not take away from that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you pull one from a pack. The gold refractor was also a nice rendition and it reminded me of the old school parallels where silver and gold were as crazy as it got. The hits are also solid in this set. Sure, a lot of the high-end cards are playing the lottery with rookies, but they are nice cards. Some people don’t like the borders, and I admit that I’m not sure why Topps insists on drawing attention to their sticker autos and glaring lack of on-card autos, but it is obvious each card is designed almost independently. The auto, the jersey auto, and the base cards all look great without leaving you wondering “what is missing in this big blank space?” or “why on earth would they cover that part with a jersey swatch window?” For the other “basic” inserts, I wasn’t wild about the Finest Moments set, but I can see the point in including it. Again, thematics. I will say however that I LOVED the Finest Atomic Rookies. The die-cut design and the overly shiney stained-glass window effect threw me right back to my earlier days of collecting and it was marvelous. I think I was actually more excited to pull these two cards than the three hits I’m supposed to care about.

3rd Down, Collation: Normally, it’s very hard for me to gauge this on a box with so few cards. I believe I mentioned in a previous post that if I don’t notice the collation, then the collation must be good. I noticed the collation with this box. It wasn’t terrible, but I did pull the exact same Colt McCoy base rookie card from two consecutive packs. No refractor parallel. No auto sticker. The exact same card. The only reason I didn’t run to my computer and shoot an email to Topps Customer Service was that it was Colt McCoy. I certainly could have done worse with a duplicate. But seriously. One duplicate in 60 cards? Not good. It also didn’t help that I pulled the limited edition autograph rookie patch card in my first pack (the only one I allowed myself to open the day the box arrived). Granted, that is more dumb luck than a collation problem, but it certainly did give me unreasonable expectations for the entire box.

4th Down, Overall Value: I admit I haven’t been following the resale value of singles on the ‘Bay, but I imagine it is pretty decent. At nearly $2 per card, you’re certainly not guaranteed to flip a profit if you’re into that sort of thing. But, if you’ve got some dime to spare and you’re just looking to add some great looking cards to your overall collection, Topps Finest is a solid way to do so. Personally, I would probably wait a bit more and hope to score a lower price or even an upcoming holiday sale if I were just adding these to my hits box, but they are great cards and you’re not paying $10+ per card like you will on some higher end sets.

RED ZONE RESULTS: FIELD GOAL Overall, this was a fun product to open. The hits are certainly better than you’d expect to find in an entry-level product and the base cards are fantastic. Add to that some very nice inserts, and you’ve got yourself a solid product. The price point is still a bit high, so given a few months on the market, I can see this being an even better buy in the future. The biggest draw back for me was the duplicate base card. It may not bother some people, and I will admit it was eased by the fact it was of a high profile rookie, but duplicates are one of my few card pet peeves. But although 2010 Topps Finest wasn’t able to punch it through the gridiron and find paydirt, it was able to get on the board with an easy chip shot from the near hash mark. It may not have been what the coach wanted, but it will give the defense a chance to prove what really wins championships.

NEXT UP: 2010 Panini Crown Royale?

Product Review: 2010 Panini Rookies & Stars


In continuing the trend of bastardizing old products into mid-shelf, re-hashed sets, Panini has released its most recent rendition of the Rookies & Stars line. In what use to be a solid set produced under the Leaf name has now become yet another vehicle for Panini to cash in on tired designs and meaningless inserts and parallels.

2010 Panini Rookies & Stars 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 $90 (Yep, free shipping and packs!), which translates into a $0.47/card ratio. At that price range, Rookies & Stars is being positioned beside Panini Prestige as a low-to-mid shelf product as the price per card isn’t as high as say Donruss Elite or Panini Classics, but it certainly isn’t as low as Score.

2010 Panini Rookies & Stars pack
Turns out I was right about Peyton’s spokesman role

The Breakdown:
Base Cards
   Veterans (#1-150): 178 (27 duplicates)
   Elements (#151-165): 2
   Rookies (#166-250): 6
   SP Rookies Signatures (#251-300): 1
   Longevity (#/249): 1
   Longevity Holofoil (#/99): 2
   Longevity Gold (#/49): 1
   Crosstraining Black (#/100): 1
   Gold Stars Gold (#/500): 1
   Studio Combo Rookies Gold (#/500): 1
   Studio Rookies Gold (#/500): 1
   Studio Rookies Materials (#/299): 1
   Studio Rookies Prime Materials (#/50): 1
   Dress for Success Jersey Signatures (#/100): 1

2010 Panini Rookies & Stars2010 Panini Rookies & Stars
Click images for full-sized scans

1st Down, Design: Does the word “lackluster” mean anything to you? I feel like I have seen this time and time again from Panini in the past year. Here we have a cutout player on top of an ultra-neutral background that consists of random shapes and lines. Sound familiar? It seems the design team at Panini came up with this template last year, thought it was brilliant, and has been on autopilot ever since. The design in and of itself actually isn’t awful in my opinion, but it has quickly become played out and does nothing for me at this point. Another odd thing is how fake a lot of the player photographs look. Panini has obviously been doing some PhotoShop filtering here. I can’t exactly describe why they look doctored, other than they seem too contrasted. Take Darren McFadden’s arms or Brett Favre’s jersey in the scan above for instance. Should I really see every vein or wrinkle that clearly? Also, there are only a handful of products out so, and I’m already noticing a lot of repeated images. Almost all of the Donovan McNabb cards are looking an awful lot alike thus far (and I know he’s not the only one). Last, by this point in the release calendar, there have not been any official NFL games yet, but training camp has given plenty of opportunity to snap shots of rookies and traded players in their new unis. None of us expect these to be great shots, but is that really the best shot of Sean Canfield they could get? Yikes.

2nd Down, Inserts: I will never understand why Panini feels the need to produce parallel after parallel of each base and insert set in all of its products. The Longevity parallel of the base cards isn’t bad, but do we need several levels? And why does every insert need multiple levels, besides just base/jersey/auto-jersey? For most of these cards, I had no clue what I had pulled until I compared the serial numbering to Panini’s sell sheet. If you are just as confused with your pulls as I was, you can see the list of every parallel set here. The inserts also tend to have the same old issue of Panini backwards designing. Producing the high end chase card and then simply deleting elements to arrive at the base insert is a poor idea. I will say, though, that I actually really like the Studio Rookie concept. The cards look clean and simple and are great, except for the backwards design problem. But overall, these are much better than the very busy designs of all of the other inserts.

3rd Down, Collation: Blech. I understand that of the 300 base cards, #151-300 are supposed to be short printed. That is still no excuse for the number of duplicates I pulled from one box. I didn’t even get all of the veterans (no #101 for me). And why on earth would you make half of your base set short printed? The whole point of this set is ROOKIES and STARS. They got the stars part right, but rookies are way under represented in the average box. And what’s up with the 15 Elements cards? It seems like a poor excuse to not include 15 additional players but still have 15 more short printed cards. I was very annoyed by the number of duplicates. Very. Give me more rookie base cards. I don’t give a damn about your short prints.

4th Down, Overall Value: I suppose it depends what you pull. Overall, these cards are probably not going to be worth your time. However, there are single cards (a.k.a. anything featuring Tim Tebow) that will demand a premium on the secondary market. If you really enjoy mid-shelf products, I would at least suggest you pick poison before buying. With all of the similar products hitting hobby shop shelves recently (and more to come in the near future), pick one or two you like and will enjoy busting rather than trying to get lucky with one or two boxes of each. This is the point in the year where I’m starting to regret this quest to open and review one box of every 2010 product.

RED ZONE RESULTS: MISSED FIELD GOAL There isn’t a lot more upon which I feel the need to expand. This product left me underwhelmed to say the least and I couldn’t help but feel like I’ve seen this same product before, even though this was my first (and last) box. It is always nice pulling jersey and autograph cards, and I’ve never pulled one of those manu-patch rookie cards before, but somehow that didn’t overcome the poor qualities of this product. I would much rather pull base rookies of top names than have a sliver of a chance to pull a grand card of a no-name rookie. Not everyone will agree with that statement, and that’s fine. To each his own. For me, this product simply wasn’t worth it and does not do well by the Rookies and Stars products of the past.

NEXT UP: 2010 Topps

Product Review: 2010 Score


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%)
   Glossy: 36
   Scorecard (#/499): 2 base
   Gold Zone (#/299): 2 base, 1 NFL Players
   Signatures: 1
   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.

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