Redemption Monday

Today was a good day at the Sports Card Blog household. It was a day that I’ve been waiting for for 3 months. 3 months is the time it took to put in this redemption and get the resulting card back in hand.

I’m excited because this is a guy who doesn’t sign too often and is a Hall of Famer, he won a NBA championship, and is one of the greatest big men to ever play the game. Plus, it’s a sweet die-cut card with an on-card autograph. Oh, and it’s numbered out of just 10 copies.

2011-12 Panini Preferred Panini’s Choice Hakeem Olajuwon Autograph #/10

Bam! Now that’s a pretty card if I don’t say so myself.

Preview: 2011-12 Panini Limited Basketball

The next of the few basketball products set to be released in this shortened season by Panini is 2011-12 Panini Limited basketball. It’s also the second product to come out this year with redemptions for Panini’s 2011-12 rookie redemption program.

Just like this brand in other sports, each box/pack consists of of six cards and will deliver one memorabilia card and two autographs including a wide variety of autograph designs to keep your interests as you try and collect your favorite team or player autographs. From the Glass Cleaners to Trophy case subsets, you’ll have a ton of great autographs to collect.

And it’s not just all about the numerous designs in this product. There are also numerous signers set for this product. With names like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitski, Derrick Rose, Magic Johnson, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Larry Bird, Bill Russell, and even a few Shaq autographs. The possibilities are quite limitless. Not to mention redemptions for rookie autographs and cards from this year and next.

Back to the subsets, there are more than just Glass Cleaners and Trophy Case. Masterful Marks and Potential are both autograph subsets that feature some of the best young talent in the game of basketball today. While Decade of Dominance is a subset that features some of the best veteran talent in the game. The autograph checklist appears to have just as wide of a variety as the autograph designs.

For more information and more pictures, make sure you check out the Panini blog and their preview of this product. So get ready to break out your single Benjamin to pick this up on June 13, 2012.

 

Review: 2011-12 Panini Past & Present Basketball

If this product doesn’t bring back some nostalgia, I don’t know what will. 2011-12 Panini Past & Present basketball is one of the limited basketball releases by Panini this year because of the lockout, but it’s definitely one of the most fun and exciting products of the season. In our preview, you were about to see a ton of the great offerings from this product and the product delivered all of that which looks fantastic.

This is also the first product of the year to contain autographed redemptions for 2011-12 rookies which because of the lockout, had a hard time being produced in such a short time frame. So if you’re looking for your first rookies of the season, this product will have them for you. (With the players for the redemptions being announced in October 2012.) Full of the NBA past and present, this product looked the part to be a real winner this season. So let’s find out how it stands up. Let’s get to the review…

Design:

The design in Past & Present brings you the best of both times. The base designs are very old-school looking showing homage to the past. With a retro kind of look, these cards look great. I also enjoy the several different variations of the retro cards, which changes things up a little bit and brings a lot of variety to the base product. Then we have some of the inserts which are definitely present. The inserts are 90s like with a brand new twist. The Raining 3s and fiery insert cards are absolutely gorgeous both on camera and even better in person. The finish on the fiery cards is amazing with the reflecting surface and the Raining 3s embossed areas are very cool to the eye. Even the basketballs in Changing Times have a great feel to them. Really well done all together.

Checklist:

While the lack of rookies isn’t entirely Panini’s fault in their base form, having autographed redemptions is a nice addition to the product to get some rookies in. Also, some may argue that the autograph checklist isn’t that great with a bunch of names you may not have heard of if you are a recent fan to the game. The Elusive Ink series is a set with a checklist of names you may have a hard time finding autographs for that were popular in their time. Personally, I would prefer the bigger names to the harder to find names, but that’s probably just me. These players will have their collectors and should have some decent secondary value. But other than that, the mix of current NBA stars and past legends is fantastic with names you’ll find enshrined in the Hall of Fame and fan favorites.

Value:

$100 for 3 autographs and 1 game used card isn’t bad at all. You also get a ton of base cards and some really cool inserts which you know people are going to try and collect. It may be a tad bit pricey because of some of the hit content, however the large number of cards you get along with the inserts kinda makes up for a bit. Also, the game used swatches were pretty large as well. While I’m happy that they put in less swatches in this product, I’m also happy that the large swatches were included. The autographs I pulled would look much better on card as well, but you do what you can with autographs nowadays. The redemptions for autographed rookies are great too.

Overall:

Overall, this is a great addition to the Panini basketball family. I really think there is a lot they can do with this product in the future and should remain around for a bit. The design is a beautiful representation of the past and present of basketball cards, as well as sports cards in general. It’s a great mix that brings back nostalgia and makes you think of some of the future technology that can be used. The checklist is solid, but nothing real noteworthy. The Elusive Ink set is interesting as it has names that may not have many autographs, but it appears as though collectors aren’t buying into it too well. Which leads to the value being pretty good, but not as good as it could be. I really think a slightly upgraded autograph checklist would boost this product up to be close to perfect. But the addition (finally) of rookie autograph should make most collectors happy.

A big thanks goes out to Panini America for providing this box to review. You can find them online on their official site, blog, Twitter, Facebook, and all around.

Not shown: Redemption for 2011-12 autographed rookie #12

Review: 2011-12 Panini Contenders Hockey

Contenders is back with a bang for it’s sophomore season. The previews of the product looked like a much needed upgrade to a product that crossed similar lines as its counterpart in football. Last season, I thought this product could contend with SP Authentic as the top product for rookie autographs. Little did I know, the product would include upgrades that made it almost identical to that product in terms of content.

2011-12 Panini Contenders hockey is now set up to be a winner in the hockey card arena. While Panini continues to establish it’s name amongst hockey collectors, this product is a great example of the things they can do to compete in that marketplace. All of these good things written and you haven’t seen the review yet…right. Let’s check that out.

Design:

Panini said they were going to work on their designs and they are truly doing that. I’ll start with the negative on why I wouldn’t give this 5 stars. The white boxes for the rookie autographs are a bit out of place. It’s not as bad as other products, but it could still be a little better. And also, what happened to the ticket design? I love the ticket design…is that going to remain football only while Panini carves out the landscape? But all of that doesn’t matter when you see how clean these cards look. They’re just pretty to look at. Like that really cute girl you might see walking around. Not that really hot one you have no chance with, but the really cute one you might buy a couple drinks for at the bar. Comparing cards to girls…I should start doing that more often.

Checklist:

Contenders is known for the rookie autographs.  Obviously, there are a ton of rookie autographs in this product. So you’ll be able to find a ton of great rookie autographs from all around the league. The one issue that I’ve seen the most complaints about is the checklist for NHL Ink. There are a lot of no name type players on that checklist people are having a hard time swallowing. As for me, I like the addition of players who aren’t rookies and the veterans in the patch autograph realm which is usually reserved for rookies. At least the non-rookies you know can play in the league and probably won’t wash out. It really just depends what you collect and what you expect in a product like this.

Value:

From what I’ve seen, for $100 this is very hit or miss. Again, kind of like SP Authentic which is a natural comparison. The rookie class is kind of a weak one, so it makes it hard to want to spend this type of cash on a product that has very little to perk you up. Another reason Panini did a good job adding what it added this year. The rookie class is providing lower than usual value, so add in some great chase cards. I was lucky, however, and pulled a redemption for a card that’s worth about the same amount as the box. You may hit a really nice patch autograph, a sweet veteran autograph, or something nice and low numbered. Again, it’s just hit or miss. I have to also mention the less inserts this year, which I kind of miss as well. I miss the acetate cards and the Leather Larceny from last year. But the inserts this year kind of fall well in line with the rest of the theme, so I can’t complain too much. Plus less inserts is sometimes better.

Overall:

Overall, this is still a fantastic second year product from Panini. The design is very pleasing to the eye and very clean all around. When people say you have a clean looking card, you know you did a very good job according to their eye. The checklist has all the rookies you could want, but leaves a little bit to be desired as far as the non-rookie autographs go. Colin Greening was my non-rookie hit…not a terrible player at all but others haven’t been so fortunate. But my real value came with my redemption card. With the rookie class being weak, Panini did a solid job adding value to what seemed like something you may not get much out of. Patch autographs in the product really add to the value, but I wasn’t lucky enough to pull one of those beautiful cards. It’ll be hit or miss mostly because of the rookies this year, but that’s not Panini’s fault.

I’d like to thank Panini America for providing this box for review. You can find them on their official site, blog, Twitter, Facebook, and everywhere else online. Let them know what you think of this product.

Not shown: Redemption for NHL Ink Dual Autograph Gabriel Landeskog/Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Has Contenders Matched SP Authentic For Best Hockey Rookies?

While I am still working on my review for 2011-12 Panini Contenders hockey, one thing was made abundantly clear during the preview of this product. Panini is in it for the long haul in hockey and are doing everything they can to woo collectors.

Upper Deck’s SP Authentic brand has long been known as some of the best rookie autographs and rookie autograph patches of the season, besides their The Cup cards. Collectors have loved them and haven’t strayed from anything Panini put out last season.

Last season, Panini debuted Contenders hockey. One of my remarks about the product was that it could possibly match Upper Deck’s SP Authentic…eventually. Well collectors weren’t too keen on the product last year with some of the issues in collation and without patch autographs. But Panini listened and has totally upgraded this product. Again, my review isn’t out yet, but even from just looking at the preview you can see the changes Panini made to better compete with the opposition.

With NHL Ink being similar to Sign of the Times, Calder Contenders being similar to Future Watch, and the Calder Contenders rookie patch autographs being similar to Upper Deck’s rookie patch autographs, do we have a new fight for supremacy on our hands for hockey collectors?

Check out my review of 2011-12 Panini Contenders tomorrow to see what Panini has in store this year.