Review: 2012 Panini Cooperstown Baseball

Panini’s baseball products are now in full swing to round out the 2012 season of baseball cards. Without the MLB license, they are putting out bigger and better products this season, especially with the addition of the Hall of Fame license, now is a great time for Panini to show what they can do. No better example would be this product. Panini Cooperstown is a product filled with just Hall of Famers and displays at the shrine to baseball’s best. Check out what we thought of the product:

Design:

The design of this product is one that takes the history of the Hall of Fame and places it directly in front of you on the card. I called it in my review video, “a time capsule on cardboard”. That truly is what the product is, more directly what it stands for, and more importantly what I believe Panini was striving for. While you won’t see symbols of the teams, or even the team city on the front of the card (the only fault I found), it showcases the players first and foremost. The inserts are just as informative in showcasing some of the greatest items the Hall has to showcase, as well as a bit about the city of Cooperstown itself. Finally, hard-signed autographs. They are just beautifully done. Well done. One final addition, I would of liked to have seen the year they were inducted on the base cards.

Checklist:

What makes this great is that you buy the product knowing full well that every card, including autographs, feature Hall of Famers or those with displays in the Hall. In a lot of products you might end up with with less desirable cards, but there is no denying what will be in this box in terms of content. You will find everyone from Lou Gehrig to Joe Tinker, and the Doubleday ball to Walter Johnson’s glove. Everyone and everything is immortalized.

Value:

You will be able to find these boxes for about $90 over at DA Card World. I find that price to be a tad bit high for only one or two autographs per box. At two autographs it is a bit easier to take, but I also understand the money probably needed to secure Hall of Fame autographs as well as the Hall of Fame license. It’s not terrible though. With a checklist full of Hall of Fame talent, how can you really go wrong with this product? There are also 20 SPs and a number of different numbered cards as well. Definitely fair though.

Overall:

Overall, this is by far Panini’s best baseball product it has put out since acquiring the MLBPA license. The fantastic design, complete checklist, and Hall of Fame credentials makes this a real complete product. Add in hard signed autographs from Hall of Famers, and you continue to have a fantastic product from the people over at Panini. With this product now being looked back upon, you hope that this translates to other great products to come out from Panini.

Thanks again to Panini for providing this product to review. You can find them online on their official site, blog, Twitter, and Facebook pages.

To view the full checklist of the product check out Cardboard Connection.

I’m STILL having trouble with photos, but check out this video on YouTube….it’s a bit long.

Review: 2011 Panini Limited Baseball

First and foremost, this review is part of our “Good Cause Breaks” in which we are holding a group break to support charity. We would like to thank Panini America for the product to review and all of the participants for donating to be part of this group break. All of the proceeds will be donated to the National MS Society, as voted on by the participants.

2011 Panini Limited baseball has been brought back to life by the people at Panini and their shiny new MLBPA baseball license. This product was a solid product by Donruss in the early 2000s and was one of the first multi-hit, single pack products on the market at the time. 6 years later, it’s been brought back with extra hits and some new surprises for collectors.

Let’s get to the review.

Design:

The design brings back memories of the last time Donruss put this product out in 2005, especially with the Lumberjacks set. To me, that’s a great thing as Limited was one of my favorite products back then. Even if you look at the video, you’ll see one of the empty boxes from 2005. It also appears Panini is attempting to use some sort of Chrome/gloss technology on some of the cards. Those cards have an interesting look to them when turned into the light, giving the card a little bit of depth and some eye catching looks. Overall, a very good job doing what they can without the actual MLB license. That Braun autograph looks great (besides the white box thing), although the Votto insert looks like he’s in 1906 and Adam Jones looks like he’s in a white t-shirt. They could use a splash of color on their clothes.

Checklist:

I’m a little hard on the checklist because I’m going back to what Limited used to mean in baseball. Limited rarely had prospects, or even rookies for that matter, in their products. It was often full of veterans, superstars, fan favorites, and Hall of Famers. Having one of my two autographs being a prospect was a little tough to swallow as a fan of the product, especially one I had never heard of. I understand the need for content as well and the limitations of the licenses, but I just hope Panini understands baseball collectors are different than any other sport and not everyone enjoys prospects or prospecting. The current MLB talent is pretty good, and the Hall of Famers and fan favorites aren’t bad as well. Maybe I’m just picky, but I’d want less prospect content.

Value:

The $100 per box is a little bit high in my opinion, but again, that’s nothing new in my opinions of Panini products. This product would probably sit better in the $80 range, like it sits in the other sports currently. The four hits in the box of Limited is nice, however, the use of little known prospects and plain single jerseys or bats is kind of depressing. Although that is nothing new to the Limited line as well as it’s been that way even 6 years ago. But collectors and cards have changed to where these types of relics are so common now, nobody cares for them anymore unless they are extremely limited. I think Limited should be more of a platform for uncommonly used items. Bases, bat knobs, buttons, logo patches, helmets (thank you), batting gloves, pitcher’s rubber, cleats, stitches from a confirmed thrown baseball, just something different. I think it would add a little value and promote more ideas for memorabilia.

Overall:

Overall, I think I was tough and fair on my assessment of this product. I may have let my past love of the product interfere a bit, but things have changed in the sports card landscape since the last time this product was released in 2005. The design team did a good job with what they had to work with and I enjoy the semi-new technology from Panini on some of the cards. I know the lack of license for logos does a few things design wise, however, a splash of color on some of the clothes would be useful. The checklist wasn’t overly impressive, and the number of high numbered prospects kind of puts a damper on opening the product for me. There are still some great names to be had though, so don’t let that scare you away too much if you’re like me. The value is a little hard to swallow as well as I feel $100 is a little too much. It should sit a little lower and include some more “Limited” items like those I listed. It would create a more fun and unique product with items that are truly limited across the baseball card spectrum.

I’d like to thank Panini for providing this box for review. You can find them online at their official site, blog, Twitter, Facebook, and everywhere you can find a company online nowadays.

Congratulations to our group breakers.

Review: 2011 Panini Contenders Baseball

With Panini giving us a list of all the Panini Contenders SPs for their baseball product this season, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to post my review of that same product. 2011 Panini Contenders baseball is the first time Panini/Donruss has come out with a Contenders product line and it is full of what you’d expect…prospect autographs. Just like the other Contenders products, the product seems like it will be known for prospect autographs. With 6 autographs per box on average, you will hit a ton of these. So if you are into prospecting, this newest product from Panini may be the perfect product for you to rip open so you can collect those future star autographs.

But that all depends on my review, right? As I said, 6 autographs per box will come in this product along with some parallels and inserts of both major league talent and minor league prospects. There are a few MLB star autographs thrown in the product as well, so you may get lucky and pull a major league star. The bottom gallery shows what we pulled from our box…now for the review.

Design:

I actually really like the base designs in this product. The prospect cards have a wood grain border and look like baseball cards of old, with a modern twist. The Draft Tickets and the Season Tickets cards also look really good and I like the lighting effects on the cards with the baseball lights kinda showing in the back of the card. Not to mention, the parallel versions of these cards with the shiny and sparkly background look really cool and are on a thicker card stock. I’m not psyched about the inserts though as like some other products, I just don’t think the space is utilized the best. I’ve always thought this about Panini/Donruss products over the years, but for some reason it stands out a little more in this product. Overall though, solid.

Checklist:

My issue with the checklist lies with one thing, I don’t know who half these players are. I mean, I’m not a prospector. This is just not geared towards the really casual collector. The casual collector would want pretty much all major league talent. This provides some major league talent, more than say Elite Extra Edition, but I would like to see more. I know the MLBPA license is new and you want to start using it and it’s hard getting all those pictures done the first year, so you should be given a little pass. Otherwise, this product is almost just like Elite Extra Edition but with a few more MLB players. Please don’t create something like Bowman, Bowman Draft, Bowman Chrome, Bowman Sterling, Bowman Black, Bowman’s Best, Bowman’s Bowman, etc.

Value:

This product is $50 more than Elite Extra Edition and you’re getting just about the same number of autographs. The only difference between the autographs in this product is that you might hit a veteran if you’re lucky and the autograph print runs are lower. Is it worth the extra $50? Well you can compare this review to Elite Extra Edition and see for yourself. The autographs with their SPs will hold more value over time and the addition of MLB autographs is nice for those lucky to pull them. I think the value is kinda there, it just depends if you are into trying to collect prospect autographs. I think if maybe they add some lower parallels to each prospect and/or their autograph, it will add some good value. I’d even go as far as taking the suggestion of having some rookies only having a rookie and no autograph or vice versa, like Bowman Chrome used to do. I’d use that successful formula if you are looking to compete.

Overall:

Overall, this is a great first step for Panini with their first Contenders product. The design is very good, but the inserts could use a little work filling up the space, especially since we all know that the duals and inserts won’t be having game used relics in them. You can do a lot more knowing that, and I didn’t see that. The checklist could be improved to be more like the other sports versions of Contenders, however with this being the first year for their MLBPA license, I can kinda give them a pass because of the way they are choosing to do photography for their cards. If you are looking for value, it’s there if you are a prospector. Casual collectors may have trouble wanting to put down $120+ for a product with players they don’t really know. They’ll like the 6 autographs per box though, so that’s a plus.

As always, thanks to Panini for providing this box for review. I will be using some cards from this break for the Blogoversary, so check that out in April. Until then, why don’t you join this contest?

Check out the cards we pulled!

Review: 2011 Panini Donruss Elite Extra Edition Baseball

Elite Extra Edition baseball has been coming out for a number of years from both Donruss and Panini. It is a product loaded with enough potential talent to make even the smallest prospector take notice. With a ton of a first round autographs and some great looking hard signed cards, baseball card collectors don’t seem to care if they don’t use the logos. The prospects are hot and collectors want them.

Here’s what we pulled:

Design:

Well I have to stay consistent. This is the same base design as it was in 2011 Elite Football so I must be true to my word. The base design is okay. At least they didn’t go horizontal on us like they did in the football release and for that, I thank you. The lettering is nice, but the background is just kinda bland and shiny. Some sort of design in the shiny area would be nice. Even if it’s just shapes. But besides that, as always, I love the design of Panini’s inserts. The Yearbook and Elite Series cards look fantastic. While the Building Blocks reminds me of 2005 Donruss designs, it’s just average. I also thank you for not making a big white box for the autographs and fading the images.

Checklist:

The checklist is fantastic for a prospecting product. The inclusion of 25 MLB players is a nice touch and let’s you see some of the game’s top players mixed with some top prospects. Speaking of top prospects, almost the entire 2011 first round is in this product with autographs. Those players are some of the most sought after prospect autographs so it’s good to see Panini grabbing all those players for this product. Nicely done.

Value:

While to me $100 for this product might feel a little high, you can’t complain with the content. 6 autographs in a box and a few paralleled inserts that add a decent amount of value as well, especially when you’re lucky like me and pull a first rounder on a popular team numbered to just 10. One thing I didn’t really like was the doubles of the MLB talent, so maybe they should play with the checklist a little bit next time and include more MLB talent of less packs per box. I don’t like getting doubles, but it happens.

Overall:

Overall, this is a solid product put together by Panini for their first venture with a MLBPA license. While the base design leaves a little bit to be desired, the inserts look fantastic and I don’t mind the Status or Aspirations die-cuts as much the second time around with this design. The checklist is full of first rounders and heavy favorite prospects as you will see more of in a moment. The sheer number of autographs in a box is great along with the parallels that usually add some pretty good value if you get the right players. Definitely a solid pick up for prospectors out there.

And just for you prospectors out there, I have put together a little cheat sheet on the prospect autographs I pulled, courtesy of Top Prospect Alert.

Check out some prospect ratings on 4 of the player autographs I pulled from this box break.

Want your chance at an autograph from this review? Tell me what you think about this product and if you’re feeling like you got a good idea of prospects, tell me who you are most excited about. I will hold the drawing on Saturday.

Review: 2011 Topps Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Baseball

I know I haven’t reviewed many Topps products out there, but I thought I would pick up a box of Topps’ newest offering, 2011 Topps Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects baseball. Basically, this is a mix of Bowman and Bowman Chrome but with only the draft picks and prospects with either their first Bowman card or their rookie logo card. This whole RC logo thing confuses me now so I won’t get into it, but that is what is going on now. Anyway, here’s what I pulled.

Base:

Parallels:

Autograph:

Design:

This is kind of a review on all of the products combined to make this product. I actually really like the Chrome base design. It’s clean, has nice borders, nice photography, and the white box where the autograph goes matches the rest of the card and doesn’t look out of place. The rookie logo cards also look really solid, but my real issue is with the first bowman base cards. The black border on those cards just looks out of place. I would of much preferred a white border and I think it would of looked a little better. But I think overall it’s solid.

Checklist:

Checklists in a prospect set are hard to judge, especially for a non-prospector like myself. But there are a few names I recognize and I know some prospectors love a lot of the names on the checklist. I also know people who say there are some glaring omissions from this product as well. As a non-prospector, it’s hard to comment, but I’ve taken many prospectors comments for my rating.

Value:

Value is another hard one with a prospector product. With prospects, you won’t know much about how the cards turn out until a few years down the road. So you have to look more closely at the checklist and the value of what’s in there now. And with the checklist being decent, that’s a good start. However, this product is all about the rookies. With the rookies being paralleled to all infinity, it decreases a lot of the value of the product itself, unless you hit a very low numbered rookie or rookie autograph in it’s paralleled form. I just don’t think it has the value that it once had.

Overall:

Overall, the design is solid overall. Most of the cards are color coordinated and clean all around so it’s pretty visually appealing. The checklist is tough to gauge, but taking input from others, I’ve determined it’s a decent checklist, but it could use a little work with some of the glaring omissions. Maybe it’s Topps saving some value for next year’s installment? Speaking of value, it’s another tough call in a product like this. But with all the parallels, it decreases the value of the base rookie and even some of the higher parallels. Include the autographs in there too and you may only get lucky to get some real good value out of a box. But at a lower price point, a prospector may want to have some fun and see what they can pull. You’ll find all the major league talent in the world, just no major leaguers (except for those who were called up later in the season), which makes this definitely a prospecting product.

I need to do some video editing as this video is a little too long, but I had a lot of fun with some comments on the product and it will be up when I grab a chance.