Preview: 2011-12 Panini Certified Hockey

I was just waking up when I got an email from my subscription to the Panini America blog. The newest post from Panini was something that I did not expect to see one bit, it’s time to get ready for some 2011-12 Panini Certified hockey with previews and images already coming out. Is it hockey season already? It seems like yesterday the Boston Bruins took down the Vancouver Canucks for the Stanley Cup title. The 2010-11 Panini hockey season hasn’t ended yet with 2010-11 Panini Dominion now set to release September 14, 2011, thanks to the NHLPA forcing the release to be later.

Now I enjoyed last year’s product. I didn’t have an official review because I opened the product about 1-2 months before I started this blog and didn’t write a review about it anywhere since I opened up in the middle of Canada while supporting my favorite sports card shop up in Edmonton. Actually, I was even shorted a hit and I still enjoyed the break. For the record, Panini did a great job replacing my missing hit.

This year’s product is an improvement off an already solid product last year. Returning are some of the great hits from last season like the Fabric of the Game inserts, more rookies, new inserts to the product, and the always popular Freshmen Signatures with new die-cut designs similar to 2010-11 Totally Certified basketball.

One very cool addition this year is the Soft Hands insert which feature pieces of game worn gloves from the players. Having played a little hockey myself, I really hope those gloves are washed a little bit. There is not a more disgusting smell then hockey gloves. But hey, some may like these possibly scented pieces of memorabilia.

(SCB Note: Per Clint at Panini, the game used glove set has been canned because of what appears to be acquisition problems. They will be using stick cards as replacements.)

You can find this product hitting shelves in November 2011 with probably a similar price range as last year.

You need to check out this Panini Peek of 2011 Certified hockey for more information and pictures!

Want to see some recent autographed arrivals?

How about some finished product from the QC department?

Guest Blog Post: The National Sports Card Convention Experience

I had mentioned recently that I found a great resource on the ground at the 2011 National Sports Collectors Convention to describe the event and the experience. RJ Reyes was kind enough to write this guest post about his experiences at the 2011 National Sports Collectors Convention. Enjoy.

I overhear my friends telling me that this is simply a larger version of the local card shows that happen at the shopping mall once a month. It’s funny to hear people think that it’s a  giant flea market. It may look like it, but the “flea market” part is indeed just a small part of the whole experience.

It starts Wednesday, “Sneak Peak”, early in the afternoon for the VIP and Super VIP ticket holders to pick up their various items. The buzz is electric and as the day goes on, more and more people crowd the waiting area. Here one can hear all types of sports news, controversy, and various opinions of who will win this year. Usually, the prominent colors seen are of the local favorites. (Cubs, Blackhawks, White Sox, and Bulls) If one looks hard enough, all teams from all leagues will have their backers clad in retro or modern jerseys.

As the convention continues and opens, people of all types, ages, shapes, and creeds pour into the convention hall,  which looks like an endless array of sporting history. In the first few aisles, one might see vintage base collectors rummaging through vendor’s wares hoping to find that one card that would finish up that old 1960 set. Watching them, is a sport itself; their fingers quickly looking through 1000 card boxes. When finding that one card, their eyes light up, like a young child finding their favorite toy.

Another common sight is that of a young collector, staring at the cards they might have only heard about. Many times, I would hear, “Daddy look Mickey Mantle!” Just the sight of the card was exciting to them. That excitement to me, defines what collecting is about. Wide eyes, a huge smile, and a respect for the sport that is unrivaled.

Autographs and meeting the athletes is certainly one of the most awesome aspects of the convention. Superstars of yesteryear and rookies of today are all here. Meeting a hero, shaking their hand, or getting a picture with them puts a smile on people’s faces regardless of cost.

The auction sites are some of the most interesting parts. How often do you see a jersey of Lou Gehrig’s Japan Tour on display? Old gloves, pictures, balls, and anything are here. One may not be able to afford them, but to enjoy the history the article represents is amazing.

Experiences of the collectors, young and old, are swapped, and you can hear the older fans talk with just as much excitement as the seven year old about their first baseball game. Just walking around and absorbing the wealth of information is definitely awesome.

I have refrained from talking about the redemptions and the pack breaks, because more importantly than those activities, is the chance to talk to the company representatives and make your opinion known. All companies have a booth or a table or something. Most companies will take the time to answer questions about their product or products. For example, Tracy Hacklet from Panini spent the better part of an hour talking to me about the products, and what we thought were good and bad about them. Whether or not they take any of my suggestions, remains to be seen, but it was nice to think that my thoughts matter. (Thank you to Tracy!)

All in all, there is so much to do and see at the National. So much to absorb, so many different people, experiences, cards, memorabilia and so much love for everything sport, that one can’t help not being a small part of sports history just attending the convention. It is an event that any sports historian or sports fan should definitely attend.

You can find RJ Reyes on Twitter @thecardcouplene. He is a big fan of all Philadelphia sports teams and loves collecting hockey cards so make sure you check him out.

Preview: 2011 Press Pass FanFare Racing

Now as you can see, I don’t do a lot of racing cards. But when Press Pass comes out with a new product or a completely redesigned product, you have to take notice. 2011 Press Pass FanFare Racing is just one of those products that collectors should be interested in.

This is Press Pass’s newest hit per pack product, bringing your  closer to your favorite drivers than ever before. Even if your favorite driver has never been featured before on a racing product, Press Pass is bringing you a ton of new drivers to get your hands on including Justin Allgaier, Ricky Carmichael, and Trevor Bayne. Or how about your favorite owners? Joe Gibbs, Richard Childress, and Jack Roush also have autographs in this set.

Press Pass also will continue with some very nice memorabilia swatches with everyone from Danica Patrick, Tony Stewart, and Jeff Gordon.

This product is sure to be a hit amongst all types of racing collectors when it hits shelves on August 24, 2011, for $20 a pack or $120 a box.

Preview: 2011 Panini Threads Football

With Panini tearing up the 2011 National in Chicago right now, it’s only deserved that I feature an up and coming Panini product. The NFL lockout is over which means it’s time to get to the gridiron and Panini Threads is ready to come back again for another year of NFL action.

Basing it’s product off past years, you will be able to find the always popular rookie letterman manufactured patch autographs amongst other main stays in the product. Now everyone knows by now how much I don’t like manufactured patches, but this is one of the few exceptions. I like the manufactured letter patches as it gives you a nice autograph and a little mini set to collect from your favorite player. I know it’s manufactured, but I like the way they are done.

But away from that, let’s look at the rest of the product. With 24 packs per box and 8 cards per pack you are in for quite a few cards with this product. Each box will yield 4 autographs or memorabilia cards with at least one of them being an autograph. It feels like this year when Panini says this, every other box has about 2 autographs and they seem to make sure there are 2 autographs in a box if one of them is a redemption which is nice. As far as autographs you can pull the aforementioned letterman autographs, rookie signature combos which go from duals to quad autographs, Gridiron Kings signature materials, and Franchise Fabrics signature materials. None of these are serial numbered extremely high so it’s always a nice addition to value.

You will also find 1 rookie per pack as has been a common theme with Panini this season. While I’m not a fan of making rookies so easily accessible, it is nice for the player collectors out there. You will also find 4 parallels, 2 Star Factor inserts, 2 Gridiron King inserts, and 1 each of Generations, Heritage Collection, Triple Threat, 2010 All-Rookie Team, and an addition insert.

Catch Panini Threads at your local shop on August 24, 2011 for probably the same price as last year as I can’t find a price yet.

Make sure to check out the official Panini Peek of 2011 Panini Threads football on their official blog.

Who wants to see the first boxes opened by Panini?

Review: 2011 Panini Rookies & Stars Football

2011 Panini Rookies & Stars may not be at the top of your list of products to break for this NFL season, but it appears to be better than you may think. It returns this year with 4 autographs or memorabilia cards per box with at least one of them being an autograph. You can find patches, jumbo jerseys, prime jerseys, just about anything in a box of this product. It features a 100 card base set with 50 base rookies which are only inserted 1 per pack.

The inserts are plentiful too with a homage to Donruss Studio with Studio Rookies, Longevity, and Freshmen Orientation amongst other insert sets. With a bunch of parallels and so low numbered cards, it’s definitely worth the time to check out this review and decide what you think about the product.

Base:

Inserts:

Memorabilia/Autographs:

Design:

The base design on this product is better than many other Panini designs. It features an action shot of the players on the front with a little bit of the background faded into a solid white background. This is a very clean base design with clean lettering along the sides. I believe this clean base design is great and should be in more products. The inserts look great too. Freshmen Orientation is great with the memorabilia embedded and Longevity looks much better in person then on scans that I’ve seen. Impressive. Now I do not like manufactured patch autographs with the autograph on the cloth…I would much rather have a sticker or on-card autograph as it’s cleaner looking. Also, the way some inserts look when they don’t have memorabilia embedded look really weird, like the one I have pictured. It’s just a weird shape with a symbol inside? That just looks lazy.

Checklist:

The checklist features 100 veteran base cards and 50 rookie base cards. You can pull rookies and stars hence the title of the product. But I find there are more rookies than stars when it comes to memorabilia and autographs. With the abundance of rookies, it may seem like it cheapens the product a bit as it’s harder to pull veterans of the game. Other than that, you can find all the top rookies of the game from the draft for this season so there is no complaints there. The base set and rookie set is reasonable as you just about get a full set in a box. So the checklist of players is pretty solid overall. I think it could use a few more stars.

Value:

Overall, the value appears to be there. It looks to be a mostly rookie driven product, as I don’t see much in the way of stars as far as the real value, game used and autographs, goes. But a good job is done with the rookies here as there are plenty of autographs and memorabilia cards to go around and you may get to pull a nice veteran as well. The patches are nice, there are nice jumbo swatches, and autographs from all the rookies you could want. The only problem I have is the lack of veterans but also a bit of a collation issue. There are 100 cards in a the base veteran set, I’m missing two from completing it and I have like 8 dupes. Just throw in the extra 2 next time, seriously, that’s a bit tacky. Other than that, this is a decent mid-range product.

Overall:

Overall, as I said above this is a very solid mid-range product. The base design is nice but there are still a couple of issues with insert designs and I still don’t like manufactured patch autographs with the way they are done now. The checklist is full of rookies but I feel like it could use more stars in the product to fill the stars void. The value is there, but mentioned with the above issues it could be a little bit better and get 5 stars across many of the areas. But overall, it’s definitely worth looking into as your next box of cards.

I’d like to thank Panini America once again for providing this box for me to review. Check out their new Facebook page here.

The contest for the manufactured patch autograph, my base doubles, and some inserts/rookies will be to tell me what you think of this product and tell me your honest opinion on manufactured patch autographs that Panini makes. I will pick a winner from a randomizer. One per person please!