Upper Deck Returning to Baseball

There was some big news at the Industry Summit. Panini announced an exclusive autograph deal with Stephen Strasberg. Topps is changing the way they work with customer service and distributors. And Upper Deck will be returning with a MLBPA license for 2013.

Upper Deck no longer had a MLB license soon after the 2009 season before Topps became the sole heir of MLB trading cards. But with Panini returning to baseball recently with a MLBPA license, Upper Deck has now also acquired that license and will be producing baseball cards once again, back to the foundation of their company.

Upper Deck regaining a license to produce baseball cards is a big deal. While Topps is continuing their exclusive license until 2020, Panini has slowly been making a name for themselves despite not having the ability to use logos. Another competitor in that MLBPA licensed genre is good for the industry. In fact, it will probably help improve those types of products until the MLB finally decides it can’t live with an exclusive license. Upper Deck has always been an innovator and with that new challenge of the MLBPA license, they will do what they do best, innovate. How many ways can a piece of cardboard be created without logos? What else can be done? Panini has done some great things with changes in photography and cropping, but with fresh minds working on it, can we see great things from this realm?

I think Upper Deck may be just what unlicensed sports cards needs to push the envelope even farther.

Review: 2011 Panini Donruss Elite Extra Edition Baseball

Elite Extra Edition baseball has been coming out for a number of years from both Donruss and Panini. It is a product loaded with enough potential talent to make even the smallest prospector take notice. With a ton of a first round autographs and some great looking hard signed cards, baseball card collectors don’t seem to care if they don’t use the logos. The prospects are hot and collectors want them.

Here’s what we pulled:

Design:

Well I have to stay consistent. This is the same base design as it was in 2011 Elite Football so I must be true to my word. The base design is okay. At least they didn’t go horizontal on us like they did in the football release and for that, I thank you. The lettering is nice, but the background is just kinda bland and shiny. Some sort of design in the shiny area would be nice. Even if it’s just shapes. But besides that, as always, I love the design of Panini’s inserts. The Yearbook and Elite Series cards look fantastic. While the Building Blocks reminds me of 2005 Donruss designs, it’s just average. I also thank you for not making a big white box for the autographs and fading the images.

Checklist:

The checklist is fantastic for a prospecting product. The inclusion of 25 MLB players is a nice touch and let’s you see some of the game’s top players mixed with some top prospects. Speaking of top prospects, almost the entire 2011 first round is in this product with autographs. Those players are some of the most sought after prospect autographs so it’s good to see Panini grabbing all those players for this product. Nicely done.

Value:

While to me $100 for this product might feel a little high, you can’t complain with the content. 6 autographs in a box and a few paralleled inserts that add a decent amount of value as well, especially when you’re lucky like me and pull a first rounder on a popular team numbered to just 10. One thing I didn’t really like was the doubles of the MLB talent, so maybe they should play with the checklist a little bit next time and include more MLB talent of less packs per box. I don’t like getting doubles, but it happens.

Overall:

Overall, this is a solid product put together by Panini for their first venture with a MLBPA license. While the base design leaves a little bit to be desired, the inserts look fantastic and I don’t mind the Status or Aspirations die-cuts as much the second time around with this design. The checklist is full of first rounders and heavy favorite prospects as you will see more of in a moment. The sheer number of autographs in a box is great along with the parallels that usually add some pretty good value if you get the right players. Definitely a solid pick up for prospectors out there.

And just for you prospectors out there, I have put together a little cheat sheet on the prospect autographs I pulled, courtesy of Top Prospect Alert.

Check out some prospect ratings on 4 of the player autographs I pulled from this box break.

Want your chance at an autograph from this review? Tell me what you think about this product and if you’re feeling like you got a good idea of prospects, tell me who you are most excited about. I will hold the drawing on Saturday.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxefGifqMpA]

Panini Inks MLBPA Deal For Trading Cards

Wow! This came out of left field.

Panini America, the world’s largest producer of trading cards, has agreed to terms with the MLBPA to start producing baseball trading cards. This makes Panini the only trading card manufacturer with licenses in all four of the main sports in the United States.

The first product set to release is 2011 Donruss Elite Extra Edition which will release in December which will be followed by 2011 Contenders baseball. This product will include new Panini autograph signer Josh Hamilton will who be signing for Panini as well as featuring him on product packaging.

Honestly, this comes at a great time and I am absolutely pumped. Competition really drives the market here in America and finally having a licensed company compete with Topps is something great for the hobby. (I’d be saying the same thing if someone else got an NBA license too!) I like what Panini brings to the table and this should make Topps step up their game a little bit.

Welcome back Donruss. We missed you.