The first real football product of the season has been released and made its way to the masses. No disrespect to the unlicensed companies or Topps’ release of Bowman Signatures, but this is the first product where everyone is featured in their NFL jerseys, including the rookies.
Prestige has a brand new look after sharp criticisms from last year, along with a brand new style, and some great new photography. From the previews, it looked like Panini has taken a huge step forward with this product, and you will see just how much of a step forward it has taken in the review. So let’s see what we got and how it fares.
I may have given this only four stars, but it’s a high four stars. First, it’s a huge improvement over last year’s product and is more of something you would want to expect product after product from Panini. It’s not phenomenal by any means, but it’s a great start to the season and the new direction Panini is going with their designs. I especially love the Stars of the NFL insert set as well as the memorabilia versions. It’s a very clean and slick looking card that could be made for a foundation for any set out there and look good. But it doesn’t come without the drawbacks. The rookie inserts like the Passports and Draft Tickets are kind of redundant styles and are getting kind of…well for lack of better words, annoying. I love the idea and have always been fond of it, but too much of a good thing is bad. In addition, I’m not a huge fan of the Rookie Premiere photography and how it’s utilized. The bare stands in the background detract from the photo used and it either needs to be filled in digitally, cropped out, or filled with real people. Oh, did I forget to mention the Tim Tebow set in Prestige is gorgeous?
Besides retired players, this product has everyone you could want in the NFL. Retired players generally aren’t in early season products as they should revolve mostly rookies and current players. Panini does just that with all the great rookies and veteran talent in this product. As most collectors know, Prestige is mostly about the rookies and getting their first autographs and cards out there on the market. With on-card autographs from some of the top rookies and other great rookie autographs, it’s a great start to the season to get those in your collection before they explode. We were also able to pull a couple of veteran memorabilia cards as well with a triple game used card and a single color patch card of great players in the league. While we didn’t pull any veteran autographs, you can still find them in the product, although they are more rare than finding rookies.
At a little less than $100 a box, it’s not a terrible value for the product, although with the larger amount of rookie autographs, I would kind of price it a little lower to be better value in terms of price per box. However, the inside of the product isn’t terrible either. With a rookie class that is as hyped up as this class is, you’re going to find some good value, especially if you pull one of the top picks. We were lucky enough to pull a Trent Richardson autograph numbered to 299 in our box, which would give you a good chunk of your money back in just that one card. The patch card was a nice touch in this product and Jamaal Charles is a stud despite his injury last season, so that was a nice surprise as well. Finally, with this year’s Rookie Premiere having all skill positions invited, it provides the opportunity for any of these rookie autographs to explode at any moment with a big game or even a big season. And the base rookie parallels don’t hurt either.
Overall, this is a huge step forward for Panini in their opening product of the season. It really sets the table for the rest of the season and I hope the successful changes in this product permeates through the rest of the products for the season. The design changes are a huge plus for collectors out there, and despite it only being visual, it definitely increases value a bit. The checklist is great for the first product of year featuring top rookies and veteran talent, even short printed cards featuring players in their new uniforms. Finally, the value is a little above average with the great looking rookie class and the autographs obtained, but it’s nothing spectacular with the price tag at $100 for a box of cards. Who knows though, you might get “lucky” with Mr. Luck or RG3, the big sellers of the product.
Now check out the rest of the haul.