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 Contenders Football

2011 Contenders football is out and it is once again one of the top products for NFL rookie autographs to buy for that season. With at least 4 autographs per hobby box, Panini packs in the rookie autographs in such a way that promotes value season after season. Even this season, there are the regular SPs as well as the variants with the hard signed, on card autographs. These hard signed variants (another link to more variants) are slightly edited in such a way where it is like a little game, trying to figure out if yours is the one with something edited off the original photo. Just more to chase after for you rookie collectors.

Besides the autographs, you still have a decent sized base set and some nice inserts to go after including the paralleled tickets and several rookie inserts. With the ticket design still in full effect, you get a recognized brand once again this year. Check out the bottom of the review for our gallery of hits and make sure you let us know what you think of this product by Panini.

Design:

The design isn’t one of the best of recent years, but it’s definitely not one of the worst. A positive that I take out of the design is the fact that the dreaded “white autograph box of death” is better built into the card so it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. I also really like the way the on-card autographs stand out above the stickers, so we definitely need to work on getting more players on-card in this product. But I’m not a huge fan of the layout in general and how the team colors dominate the card as they do. I would like to see more of an accent of those colors with a better design in place. Not terrible, but definitely not the best in recent memory.

Checklist:

I understand the aim of this product and what it’s supposed to be. This product is meant to be a prospecting product of sorts in football. It’s also all about the rookie autographs. So with the veteran base set, the legends in the inserts, and the rookie autographs and in inserts, it does what it’s supposed to do. I like the rookie choices as you have all your top rookies available. I would, however, like to see maybe one veteran autograph per box. That’s just me. I think it may reach more collectors like that, but this is a product based off of the rookie autographs. I just like variety in my boxes.

Value:

I actually find this to be one of Panini’s more higher value per box products. It’s easy to add value by adding in some great rookie autographs like Panini has done. But it’s harder to have a product succeed at making what seems like could be worthless rookie autographs valuable. With the way Panini short prints certain rookie autographs, it makes them more valuable because people need them to complete sets or just want that player. It drives the secondary market even more because people know that this product contains some of the more valuable rookie autographs of the year, and it’s more obtainable to the masses. Prices may drop on the product in a month or so, but it’s a worthy break if you want to spend the cash.

Overall:

Overall, this could of been one of the football products of the year if I liked the design more. Design is always pretty subjective, so you may like it just because it looks better to you. That shouldn’t stop you from buying this product. The checklist is full of great rookies that hold some great value. Speaking of value, there are no game used memorabilia pieces in this product, which to me, is great. All autographs in this product, and that makes it one of the best of the year and why everyone looks forward to it. Improve the design, and it’s back to being a winner once again. I’d love to see a patch autograph per box added as well, but that’s just a dream.

Thank you Panini for providing this box to review. I will be adding a couple autographs towards the Blogoversary party coming up all April long, so stay tuned for that. Until then, check out the gallery below.

Not shown: Kyle Rudolph Autograph Redemption

2011 Allen & Ginter Code – Cracked

The 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter code has been cracked.

And here’s how.

Once I saw how much work had to go into cracking the code this year, I knew I wouldn’t be trying. Just not enough time in the day for me to make a good attempt at it so I decided to sit it out, even if it meant giving up my dream of having my own trading card in a product.

But that’s okay. These guys did a lot of work and finally cracked the code after months of code breaking. Kudos to these guys and kudos to Topps for putting out a code that took months to figure out instead of just days.

Topps Five-Star Football Out and Looks Good

Why can’t Topps do a high-end baseball product like they can with football?

2011 Topps Five-Star is out and is what everyone had expected when previewing the product. Tons of on-card autographs, nice patches, and even redemptions for full autographed jerseys and helmets.

Five-Star was a welcome surprise last year and the product continues to be a great product again this year. It is once again, definitely a contender for football product of the year. The addition of those aforementioned full autographed jerseys and helmets really pushes it over the edge. I’ve been wanting a product to do this for years, and the fact that it has finally come true is exciting. Who wouldn’t want to pull one of those cards?

The only real complaint I’m hearing from collectors is the single, plain, jersey cards that you can find in any other product. That is a very legitimate complaint and is something that Topps should figure out how to avoid next year.

Now we have to wait and see the final product of 2011 Panini National Treasures football and 2011 Upper Deck Exquisite football products to see how they compare to a great Topps product this year.

What do you think of what you’ve seen from this product so far?

Preview: 2011 Panini Limited Baseball

Sitting on my desk in my man-cave is a box. This box is black, empty, and features Hall of Famer Willie Mays on it. If you guessed that the box was an old box of 2005 Leaf Limited baseball, you have guessed correctly. The last Limited product from the former Donruss trading card company, since acquired by Panini. But not anymore. This post the other day from Panini shows the revival of a once great product.

So now, let’s get to the good stuff. Each box of 2011 Panini Limited baseball will contain 3 autographs or memorabilia cards, guaranteeing at least 2 autographs per box. These autographs will be a cross spectrum from top prospects, current MLB stars like Josh Hamilton, Dustin Pedroia, and Matt Kemp, and baseball legends like Ken Griffey Jr., Cal Ripken Jr., and Don Mattingly.

You may also find cut autographs, numbered to 5 or less, of former baseball players, other sports players, and even entertainment and politics. A definite crowd pleaser here would be a cut autograph from George Steinbrenner, former New York Yankees owner.

Another cool subset is Rawlings Gold Glove Signatures, which will feature chunks of real 14k gold and autographs from former Gold Glove winners. Maybe you’ll find some real silver in the Silver Sluggers Signatures subset? Or maybe you’ll find some game used material cards from players like “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Lou Gehrig, or Ty Cobb. Speaking of game used cards, when’s the last time you’ve seen pieces of game used helmets embedded into baseball cards or buttons? 2011 Panini Limited baseball will bring it all back.

Coming this April, 2011 Panini Limited baseball will be back in it’s full glory and I will be happy to have it back.