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.

Review: 2011-12 Panini Elite Hockey

Elite has been brought to the hockey side which means some pretty cool things for the hockey collectors. Featuring a ton of foil board, it’s a product which has transformed alot over several years but has always kept some of greatness from the original Elite series back in the day.

Now in hockey, it features some goodies of old as well as some really cool additions, which I was able to pull so I’ll get to talk about it more in the review! It’s great when things add up like that. So thanks to Panini for providing this box for review and we will get down to it with the first year of Panini Elite hockey.

Design:

I love how the design is just like some old school Elite. It’s very boxy with the frames around the foil board, which isn’t seen that much anymore. However, the design in itself is basic to the point where it just looks clean and clear. No extra frills in the base design or even the inserts. It’s quietly very nice for what it is. The Aspirations die-cuts are always nice, however I wonder why they aren’t numbered like in every other Elite product? But what shines is the Prime Numbers insert. You have 3 different die-cut cards which you can put together to form one long card with a game used piece, autograph, and autographed patch. They are beautiful and a fun thing for a collectors to try and put together.

Checklist:

The checklist is phenomenal for this product. Packed with today’s stars, recent superstars, and some future stars as well, this product has something for just about everyone other than the vintage hockey collector. Although I find there is a large number of rookies in this product, they still have all the top names with the great rookies being mostly SP’d, which isn’t bad as that helps their value, but it also makes finding them a little harder and most will be stuck with no name rookies. But other than that, there are some great names in the inserts and “hit” cards, so I think this is a job well done.

Value:

Now this part is difficult. $120, in my opinion, is a bit much for this product. However, it does have some great autograph names involved so that may be a reason why it’s priced a little higher as well as on-card autographs (more for shipping to players.) I was close to a 3 1/2 on this one but I went with the 4 stars because the checklist is so good. Another issue I have though, is that the Aspirations die-cuts weren’t numbered like they are in almost every other version of Elite. I think that may bring down the value a bit as well as we don’t really know the print run on the regular Aspirations. Value is always the toughest part to judge in a product and I think Panini’s prices in general start off a little high, but the market will dictate the price soon enough. I think this would be better around $90-$100.

Overall:

Overall, Panini did a pretty swell job their first time through with the Elite brand in hockey. The design is nothing exciting, however, it is very good for what it is. I love the die-cuts and LOVE the Prime Numbers insert set as well so those were definitely good ideas. I thought the checklist was better than usual as well with some more recent superstars in autograph and jersey form as well as their own little insert sets. Finally, the price on the product I find to be a bit high, but that’s nothing new coming from me and looking at Panini products. I’d like to see a breakdown of what costs what in this product to find a way to bring the price down to where I thought it would be more reasonable. But that’s just me. But still, good job to Panini on this one.

Thanks again to Panini for providing this box for review. You can find them all over the internet by viewing their official site, blog, Twitter, Facebook, and they probably have a ton of other stuff too.

Not pictured: Rookie Autograph Variations of Erik Gudbranson Redemption

Preview: 2011-12 Panini Rookie Anthology Hockey

You remember all those rookies that you wished you pulled from Panini products earlier this season? How about those players that skated late and didn’t get a chance to get into some of Panini’s most valuable products for rookie autographs?

Well Panini has an answer to all those questions with the new 2011-12 Panini Rookie Anthology hockey.

The rookies who were pulled from products because of redemptions and players who skated later in the season are finally available in all of your favorite Panini designs. Rookie Silhouette? Check. Limited Phenoms? Check. Other designs you may not have seen this year? Check.

Each box will contain 10 packs with 5 cards per pack. Each box will deliver one Rookie Treasures dual memorabilia autographed rookie card, one additional autograph and two memorabilia cards. On a 12 box case basis you will find 1 Luxury Suite autograph patch, 2-3 Limited Phenoms rookie autographs, and either a Rookie Silhouette auto jersey, patch autograph, or a Rookie Treasures patch autograph.

If you’re a rookie collector, this is the perfect product to feed those needs.

Need to feed the need from more pictures? Check out the official Panini blog.

Personally, I think it’s a great idea to get players who skated late into products as well as using a later product as a hold out in case you have too many redemptions for a product. This is a nice creative way to releases those cards to the public while keeping them collectible instead of just adding more redemptions that collectors hate or waiting to create those new rookies next year.

The price and release date is currently to be announced, but we’ll have that information when it’s made available.

Preview: 2011-12 Panini Prime Hockey

The buzz has already begun for this product just hours after the initial information was released to the public on the official Panini blog.

The newest addition to the hockey family looks like it may stay around for awhile if the product is as good as it looks. 2011-12 Panini Prime hockey looks like Panini Limited and the older Topps Unique had a child and this popped out.

Some spectacular pieces of memorabilia are in store for this product’s debut and when I say spectacular, it’s things that you haven’t ever seen before. How about probably the hottest new game used insert set in any product called “Prime Ties” featuring the laces on the front of the sweater?

Only one word describes that, unbelievable. It’s just a shame they had to cut off the NHL logo shield a little bit to make this spectacular looking card.

Okay, stop the drooling. Odds are tough on these but there are a ton of other hits in this product. The “Collision Course” insert looks to be Panini’s response to the ever popular Upper Deck “Shadowbox” cards which adds great value as non-game used or autographed inserts. But also like some Upper Deck products, Panini is now incorporating player nameplates into the mix, but taking it a step farther. These nameplates will be actually locker room used nameplates and autographed by the player from the All-Star game. No scrubs there! If you were thinking of nameplates as in letter patches from the jersey, this product has that covered for you too.

At one pack with 5 cards per pack you will receive one rookie auto quad card numbered to 199 or less, one multi-memorabilia card, one autograph, and one additional autograph or memorabilia card. Like I said, Panini Limited meets Topps Unique.

Nothing excites me more than a brand new product that looks great like this does. While I don’t have release date information yet or a price, you should definitely watch out for this product when it releases.

Preview: 2011-12 Upper Deck SP Game Used Hockey (SPGU)

Releasing tomorrow is one of Upper Deck’s flagship memorabilia based products that has been coming out for several years now. 2011-12 Upper Deck SP Game Used hockey will return featuring a ton of game used and autograph cards from your favorite NHL rookies and stars in the league.

SPGU features everything from your plain jersey card to stick cards, patch cards, autographs, and even goalie pads this year. Every pack will contain a memorabilia or autographed card in this box so the excitement is there with every pack you open.

And at 6 packs per box, you are getting a ton of what you collectors look for when opening products like this…the hits! So you’ll get 6 hits per box along with 2-3 rookies.

Some of the new additions this year include manufactured patch autographs of letters and numbers, a subset of autographs of 500 goal scorers, Trophy Marks manufactured patch autographs, Rookie Faceoff patches from All-Star Weekend, and Supreme Pads featuring ginormous pieces of leg pads from some of the games greatest goaltenders.

The new additions are great, but this product seems to have an issue with unnumbered plain jersey cards, so I’m hoping with these additions there are less of those plain jersey cards this year which ends up in the dollar bins. So I hope Upper Deck added some value in this direction.

We’ll see it all when this product releases tomorrow, April 12, 2012. Each box should run around $180.

I also have the checklist for 2011-12 Upper Deck SP Gamed Used hockey for your disposal as well.