Review: 2011-12 Panini Gold Standard Basketball

Last year’s 2010-11 Gold Standard set a mark for future products and the success of the product brought it back for a second season. The price point stays the same at about $200 a box and there are a few tweaks to a very good product last season that collectors will notice. With more of a game used element with the autographs, less inserts, more base, and the same number of hits, the basics are generally the same with this product. Want to see what’s in your typical box break? Well here we go…

Design:

The design of this product is about as clean of a design as you can get with the foilboard. I really enjoyed the design as there wasn’t too much going on in the background. The base cards look great, and my favorite design has to be the Signs of Gold autographs. It’s almost the perfect design for the autograph placement and picture. The one thing I didn’t like which I will complain about for just about every product is the sideways autographs. This product features some of them and I just need everything to be uniform design-wise. I think if they put the Career Points over on the right instead of the autograph like the game used cut outs, it would have been much better. Otherwise, I really enjoy most every design that I pulled. Good work on changing it just enough to keep the collector interested this year.

Checklist:

I don’t think the checklist is as good as last year’s product. The one improvement I see is the cutting down of the inserts and including more base cards. That makes set collecting possible and really improves the feel of the break. But I think it has just enough of the legends and current stars to keep it interesting. With a few different retired stars and a few different current players in the product it changes things up, but there are more players out there who would make a better appearance in this product to improve the checklist which would also improve the…

Value:

Value wise, it’s a little tough this year. Last year’s checklist was a little bit better and the additions to this year’s product weren’t quite as good. For instance, we pulled Earl Monroe. Once a great player, not many autographs, sells alright. The rookie autograph redemptions, good work getting those out, but waiting until October for the draft is too long. Finally, Kevin Martin as an autograph hit in a $200 product isn’t good. Include the fact you’ll get two plain game used jersey cards in the $200 product and you’re hurting. This is a product that screams one patch per box as your game used hit. Make that Dirk a patch and have a cut out “5 piece” game used card, and it’s a bit easier. It definitely has room for improvement in this department next year, but it’s just more of the little things. I’ve been tired of plain game used jerseys in expensive products for awhile without patches, and I’m going to continue that until I see results in products.

Overall:

Overall, this is an average to below average break for the product. The design is well done this year and is very clean and really focuses on what you need to focus on located on the card. I could do without the vertical autographs though. The checklist needs a little work but I do like the cutting out of the numerous plain old inserts from last year and think that makes for a better opening experience as well as collecting the base cards. The value needs a little work and I really want to see a patch included in every box instead of two game used pieces. 1 game used jersey, 1 game used patch. That’s all I ask for in a $200 product when it comes to memorabilia. That’s not a stretch offer.

As always, a big thank you goes out to the folks at Panini America for providing this box for review. You can find them online at their official site, blog, Twitter, and Facebook to connect with them.

Preview: 2011-12 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Hockey

With a release date pushed back to August 7, 2012, Ultimate Collection is the calm before the storm that is Upper Deck The Cup hockey. Ultimate Collection is one of those single pack products that features a couple of game used and autographed cards, usually one of the favorite products by Upper Deck fans everywhere.

Every four pack/box of this product features one autographed card, one game used memorabilia card, one rookie, and one base card. Every card in your box will be numbered to less that 399. That’s really the basics of the breakdown of a box, but your rookies may also come autographed or as a patch autograph.

With Ultimate Signatures returning and the addition of 1997 Legends Signatures cards, the autograph lineup looks to be pretty decent. Despite the weaker rookie class, your darlings in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Gabriel Landeskog will be the hot pulls in this product for rookies. But you can’t count out the legends and popular veterans this product is sure to have included as well.

You will also find your regular old memorabilia cards as well, which begs you to maybe think, are they even worthy of being in a product that costs about $100? A hit or miss autograph and a plain game used card will be in most boxes, and that is kind of hard to swallow. You can get a general idea based off last year’s review of this product.

So not only is August 7, 2012, my wedding day, it’s also the release of a very popular product.

Preview: 2011-12 Upper Deck SP Authentic Hockey

One of the favorites among hockey collectors is set to release tomorrow in 2011-12 Upper Deck SP Authentic hockey. Featuring some of the games best retired, veteran, and rookies in the league, SP Authentic always has quite the following amongst collectors. With an autograph heavy lineup for hits and the ever popular rookie patch autographs, it returns for hopefully another successful season.

While it is releasing late, Upper Deck has done their best to get the most content that it can in the product to make sure there are as little redemptions as possible. Speaking of hits, there should be about 3 autographs in your box. You will have a mix of Future Watch autographs, Sign of the Times, and Chirography autographed cards. Of course, the hottest are the rookie autos of players like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Gabriel Landeskog.

Each box will contain 24 packs per box with 5 cards per pack. Some of the cool additions this year include Signature Stoppers featuring some of the best goalies in autographed form and Rookie Extended Series which showcases more of the first year players.

Other than that, it’s really your typical SP Authentic product from the past with this being the 15th installment of this product.

Hockey fans, make sure you hit the hobby stores on July 11, 2012, for your shot at this product. It looks like it has risen in price a bit around $110, but I’m sure that won’t matter to many hockey collectors.

Review: 2011-12 Panini Rookie Anthology Hockey

Happy Canada Day to all of my Canadian readers out there. And when you think of Canada there is only one thing that comes to mind…Santa! No, no, I mean hockey. The greatest thing Canada has given to the world of sport is our review for the day. 2011-12 Panini Rookie Anthology hockey is kind of a mish-mash product that features designs from several products as well as it’s own design. The reasoning is that there were several cards from other products that either weren’t returned in time for pack out or maybe the rookies didn’t get any ice time with the big club until after pack out. This allows Panini the opportunity to use some of the favorite designs for collectors and have them feature some of their favorite players and rookies. Sound good? It is. Let’s see the review.

Design:

Favorite designs of the year? Check. Great designs from the past? Double check. Great new design for the base cards? Triple check. Seriously, while this is a mish-mash of products thrown into this one product, they definitely picked some of the best designs of the year. Crown Royale, Luxury Suite, Pinnacle, and the new Rookie Anthology design..how can this be not good? We all know the other designs so I’ll get into the Rookie Anthology design. A crisp and clean design, it features a white background with the player really popping off the card. Add in some foil highlights and a slightly thicker card stock and this has the look and feel of a premium product. At first glance and feel I felt like I was opening Ultimate Collection by their competitor, but then saw the beauty of these cards. It was really a fantastic job by the design team on this product.

Checklist:

The checklist is a lot of rookies that made their debut later in the season at the most, with a few of the top rookies sprinkled in with some veterans. This checklist is based off of the rookie class, so it’s not going to be terribly good. But you can’t fault Panini for that too much. They could of loaded it up with more RNH, Landeskog, etc., but they chose to highlight more of the newer rookies. The addition of some veteran hits helped ease the pain a bit, but it seems to be lacking some rookie talent. Again, more of an issue with the actual talent instead of the checklist. It’s been that way all season.

Value:

The value is there, but the checklist isn’t making this a huge must get product. The addition of veteran hits and the box topper really helped this product a bit. I think someone on the team saw something lacking and wanted to amp it up a bit, and that idea really helped.  Having 5 hits in a $100 product is pretty decent as well compared to the usual 3-4 hits in most products at that price point. The memorabilia/autos are very nice and helps add in some value as well, but the plain game used jerseys are kind of dull. I really liked the stick additions once again the Luxury Suite design.  It’s a crazy product with some crazy results, but there are some big hits to be had as well.

Overall:

Overall, rounding up, it’s a very good product in a line of recent solid products from the company. The designs are fantastic and are really what make this product very good from the get go. The idea behind the product to get those newer rookies out there and some of the cards that weren’t returned in time for pack out was a great idea to reduce the load on redemptions as well as create something new for the collectors. This mish-mash style worked well in basketball with the shortened season and I think Panini proved it can work well in other sports as well. While the checklist isn’t the great, they’ve upped the hits to kind of make up for it in terms of value and that always helps in a $100 product. With a few veteran cards scattered amongst the set, Rookie Anthology is a great idea and addition from Panini.

Thanks again to the people at Panini for providing this box for review. You can find them online on their official site, blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

And here’s the haul…

Preview: 2011-12 Panini Dominion Hockey

I stated the other night on Twitter that I would double up the posts for today because of my lack of posting yesterday, so here it is. We are going to feature our preview for one of the top products in the hockey realm, 2011-12 Panini Dominion hockey.

At $400 a box, it’s high end for a reason. With only 8 cards, you want to get what you pay for and Panini has done everything in their power to upgrade the rookie superstar to sophomore sensation with some of the additions and tweaks to the product.

First, returning are some of the fan favorites from last year. Tape to Tape will return, as well as Engravatures and Strapping Lads. These were some of the favorite pulls collectors could pull and made for some great cards.

Also returning but also with a nice upgrade include Peerless Patches which will continue to showcase some of the best patches in the hobby, but also now will include an autograph version. Rookie patch autographs of course will return, however you will now find one per box like Panini’s competition, and there will be less parallels included in the product which will increase value and the variety of cards.

There is still a ton more to be looked at with this product, and I’m sure Panini will also throw in a few surprises for collectors as well. So get ready and get set for an improved product that could really bring their competition to the limit.

You can check out more information on the Panini blog and get ready for the release of this product sometime near the end of August most likely.