A product that I didn’t get a chance to preview, 2012 Rookies & Stars is a product that’s been coming out for years that features just as the product states, Rookies & Stars. The product features at least 2 autographs per box with 4 hits total. It also features a rookie card per pack and a bunch of numbered inserts and some parallels. The box itself boasts “find rookie material signatures featuring autographs and oversized swatches of event worn jerseys from the 35 rookies who participated in the 2012 NFLPA rookie premiere!” At 8 cards per pack and 24 packs per box, you get a ton of cards in the box. How about we see what we found in our box?
I have a love-hate relationship with the design of this product, but ultimately, my better side won the argument on whether I liked the design or really didn’t care for it. When I opened the product, the first thing I thought of was this product reminds me of the 2011 Threads design from last year. The top of the card features a stripe of the team colors, sort of like Threads from last year which featured the team colors on the side. Every time I looked at the stripe I thought of last year’s product, which kind of bothered me a bit. But the bottom half of the card looks great with a great use of foil on the letters and a cleaner design. There are some fantastic inserts as well like the die-cut pennants, Crusade and Greatest Hits insert set. Again, inserts like Statistical Standouts looks like it came from Prestige this year or Contenders last year. This product feels like it’s elements are just taken from other products which kind of annoys me. But in all, it’s not a terrible looking product at all and I actually like most of it.
This year, I make the same point as I made last year. This product should be called Panini Rookies. Just take out the “Stars” part of it. I received my four hits with all but the one jersey card being rookie autographs. This product seems to be filled with more rookies than anything else, and I like more of a mix of rookies and veterans, especially when this product’s title also mentions stars. I was lucky enough to receive 3 autographs in my box with product guaranteeing at least two. That’s great and all, but I would think if you were to hit 3 autographs at least one would be a veteran. Here’s a recommendation for the product, if you’re lucky enough to receive a 3 autograph box, have at least one of them be a veteran. Just saying. I’m usually critical of the rookie per pack thing, but in a product that has “rookies” in it’s name, I can accept that.
The breakdown of four hits for around $100 isn’t so bad. As I stated above in the checklist area, I’d love to have the extra third autograph in the 3 auto boxes to be a veteran autograph. Rookies come and rookies go, sure one of these could be worth a lot one day, but having the majority of your hits being rookies makes you feel like you aren’t getting anything bad. Unless of course it’s a top rookie, but those are harder to come by in general. A veteran autograph would really even things out a little bit here. Most of the inserts aren’t numbered either and I think that effects value a bit as well, but it’s not something huge. There are some sweet patch autographs in this product which should add some great value for some of the upper tier rookies, but I wasn’t lucky enough to pull them. Trying to find value in sports cards is usually a gamble, so I’m sure there are much better boxes out there than this one.
Overall, it’s an average to very slightly above average product based on those factors. The design is solid, but it brings back too many memories of products from last season. Some may call that a bit lazy or uncreative, but there are inserts and elements I really do like. The checklist is generally solid as usual, but the product feels like it’s more rookie centered than a “Rookies & Stars” as the product describes itself. The value is a bit lower because of the large rookie population of cards, and although we didn’t hit a big rookie, getting 3 rookie autographs is a bit of a letdown. It would of been nice to have that bonus autograph be a veteran autograph to really showcase the “Stars” in the set. You can’t just have the only focus of the Stars in the product be in the plain jane inserts and plain jersey cards. I’d like to see more Stars content in this Rookie focused product.
And here’s what may be in the typical box…
(Not shown: Rookie Material Autographs Dwayne Allen)