Preview: 2011-12 Panini Contenders Hockey

Coming in for it’s sophomore season on the ice, Contenders hockey has returned and will be released early next week on March 28, 2012 (May now be April, 25, 2012, after some research). After a decent freshmen product, Panini has tweaked a few things this time around for collectors and has some great additions planned for collectors who choose to buy the product this year.

Besides your rookie autographs that Contenders is famous for, also seeded into the product this year are booklet cards and autographed patch cards from some of the top players in the game. The best part? Every card will be hard signed except for the booklet cards.

Every box will contain either 3 or 4 autographs, with at least one Calder Contenders autographed rookie card. You may also find the booklet cards with up to 6 autographs inside the booklet, Calder Contenders autographed patches which look phenomenal in all black and signed in silver pen, and some great NHL Ink autographs of very collectible players.

The content added to this product looks like it could be a great addition and when this product comes out, I can see collectors loving the additions. I’ve always wanted to see an autographed patch element to Contenders and that makes this product that much more valuable.

I just hope there isn’t terrible collation issues like there was last year. And at $108 it’s at a lower price than last year, we are happy to see more content.

For more information, check out this post on the Panini blog.

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.


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.


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.


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, 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.


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.


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.


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, 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

Epic Cards: 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Rookie Auto

This card is currently on eBay right before the big game on Sunday.

We may see brand new heights for the price of this card if Tom Brady and the Patriots win another Super Bowl. If not, expect a new price hike for Eli Manning rookie autographs.

Though many hate Tom Brady, this is the holy grail of cards of current NFL players. The card is beautiful too. On card autograph, great placement of the card information on the right, action photo of in game action with a plain color hue over the background that really makes Tom Brady stand out.

Who would of thought Tom Brady would be as good as he is and this card would become one of the priciest modern day football cards?

Review: 2010-11 Panini Contenders Hockey

2010-11 Panini Contenders, after delay, is finally here.

2010-11 Panini Contenders hockey marks the first time that Contenders has ventured over into the hockey area. Overall, I would call it a success. With every rookie autograph signed on-card, this is going to be Panini’s best product for rookie autographs for years to come.

Panini Contenders comes with 4 autographs in a hobby box, at least 3 of them are those hard signed rookie autographs. There is no game used relics in this product as it is strictly an autograph only product, which I enjoy. Game used relics have become too common in this hobby. A lot of people like to see some, especially patches, but I don’t think this product would be any better with game used relics. It’s great the way it is.


Some of the cool inserts:



The base design of this set is fabulous. As I stated in my review video, I love the ticket design on base cards. It’s nothing revolutionary by no means and has been used by several companies for years. But it looks clean and it works. Another great aspect is the room for on card autographs. On card autographs are the way to go with the rookie autographs and I would like to have seen the whole set as on card autographs but this is a step in the right direction. I’m not a huge fan of the foilboard insert sets (except the base parallel) but the cards look solid and would look okay with sticker autographs. I want to say I love the acetate Behind the Glass insert set and the Leather Larceny set is something new as well. Both insert sets are great. If I could recommend something else, I would make the frame on the Winter Classic insert set smaller to really show the great photography those cards bring to the table. Overall, it deserves a high grade.


I think the checklist is solid. A large amount of rookies are found in this product as well as the 100 card base set featuring the stars of all your favorite teams. I like a smaller base set as it makes completing a set a little easier for those who may only be able to afford one box of a product. I only missed 2 cards to complete the 100 card base set in my box, which is a good sign. I did have 5 dupes, but that is understandable with a smaller set. I didn’t have any collation issues that other have been reporting so I can’t hold that against them in my review of this one box. I think the Legendary Ticket set may be a little too big since you only get about 1 of those a box. I like inserts and this set is loaded with them. You have your hard hitters in Behind the Glass, your stars with the Award Contenders, and more rookies with your Rookie Contenders. Plus, who doesn’t want a little goalie set to support the men who have pucks shot at them? Overall, there is something for everybody.


The value of this box is obviously hit or miss. But I’ve seen a lot more misses then hits. You get four autographs a box which is nice. I would put this product on par with what Upper Deck brings with SP Authentic. However, this box is $30-$40 more then that product. I think this product is over priced for what it is. If they throw in an extra autograph of one of the insert sets I would think the price was about right, but with a product containing at least 3 rookies, sometimes 4, I think the value should be a little bit lower as you may not hit an established player. I understand that some of these rookie tickets will be short printed as well, but not knowing that when the product is released doesn’t help the value. I also believe that all inserts should be serial numbered, but they will still probably fall into the same range as price is concerned on the secondary market. Drop the price down a bit, put it on par with SP Authentic, and the value will be perfect for this product.


Finally a product that is on par with SP Authentic. You may not be able to pull any autographed patches in this product, but the autographs are a plenty and the insert sets are definitely better then SP Authentic. The design is solid, although has been used for a long time. It works though, which is a positive. The checklist is chock full of stars, rookies, and retired players so I think just about everyone will be happy with the possibilities they could pull. I love the 14 karat gold card promotion, although I didn’t get one this time around. There are only 20 but they are definitely great chase cards. This is a great start for Panini using the Contenders brand. I really hope they decide to keep this in their product run for the next season as it was a lot of fun to break, just lower the price a tad or add another autograph.

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