Preview: 2011 Topps Chrome Football

2011 Topps Chrome football looks to be the best Topps Chrome product to come out in years in any sport. With newly minted inserts, solid on-card rookie autographs, and sleek design, this Topps Chrome should set the mark for future Topps products in the future. There will be some sticker autograph in this product though, but I’m sure it is impossible to get everyone on card.

As collectors, we love hard-signed content and Topps has been doing their best to get as much on-card goodness as they can and they have been doing a great job listening to the collectors. On-card Cam Newton, AJ Green, Mark Ingram…the list for the season goes on and Topps has it all in that regard. Then add in all of Topps’ famous refractors and it’s a rookie autograph party. Included this year is a new red and crystal atomic refractor for these autograph. Nothing brings nostalgia like an atomic refractor in your pack of cards.

But where Topps Chrome really shines this year is their insert sets. I admit, I love inserts. Nothing breaks up the monotony of pulling base after base then solid insert cards. Personally, I wish I could have one every pack. This year Topps breaks up that monotony in a number of ways. The best part is that there is an autographed version to every insert subset. A limited edition Bowman Chrome will be inserted along with a Rookie Recognition set. But my favorite is the different die-cut inserts you can pull. Superlative Rookies and Finest Freshman are both very nice looking cards and die-cut into nice shapes. Maybe I’m a little old-school with my inserts, but there is nothing wrong with that.

The only problem I see with this product is that I don’t see any information on veteran autographs. I know Topps Chrome is known for their rookie autographs and it’s a great rookie product but I like pulling veterans too. It would add a little bit of value to a very hit or miss product. You either hit a top rookie or you don’t. That’s really what it comes down to in the end. I’d just like to see a little more autographed content.

More information to come soon on release and price, but for now we’ll assume it’s around the same price and time as last year.

For now I leave you with some die-cut goodness.

Preview: 2011 Panini Elite Football

The NFL may not be able to get a product on the field yet this year, but Panini isn’t having any problems with their next release of NFL licensed football cards.

2011 Panini Elite football is set for release later this month with all the rookies and stars you need this season. Well so does Panini Rookies & Stars, but we haven’t gotten there yet. June 22, 2011 is the day to mark down for when you can find this product online.

5 cards per pack and 20 packs per box. 4 autographed or memorabilia cards per box with at least 1 being an autograph. I’ve noticed when Panini says this you can usually find 2 autographs, but they are being cautious. This seems to be the year of the insert for Panini, which I love by the way, so there will be a ton of inserts to get your hands on. Included is at least 4 rookies in your box too from some of the best rookies of this year’s draft class and they are all numbered to 999.

Now I love a lot of the designs of the cards in this set such as the Throwback Threads booklet, Down and Distance, and other inserts, but the rookies seem a little weird to me. They are designed horizontally. They use a big and wide photograph of the player in the center with “Rookie” down the side and kind of a plain background. You can see all 36 rookie cards from Panini Elite here. I don’t know, maybe it’s just the fact they are horizontal throws me off. Maybe they look better in person, sometimes scans don’t do cards justice.

That’s about the only thing amongst the whole product that I find odd. Otherwise check out these beauties as I mentioned above, Down and Distance and the Throwback Threads booklet cards:

I love both of those cards. The field design in the Down and Distance subset with the team logo in the field looks great and it’s just very pleasing to the eye. A cool idea would be to have the jersey piece cut out in the shape of a football on the field. Just a random idea that just came to my head as I was typing this.

Also looking good in this set is the Throwback Threads booklet. I love the throwback design where the jersey sits. These are probably my two favorite cards of the set.

I know people love rookies but the inserts in this set appear to be where it’s at. With great design and some great names in these subsets, their value should be great for the 2011 football season.

Find 2011 Panini Elite football on June 22, 2011 for around $90-$100 a box.

Preview: 2010-11 Panini Luxury Suite Hockey

2010-11 Panini Luxury Suite hockey is one of last hockey products I have yet to preview that is set to come out this season. But rest assured, your preview is here hockey fans!

Your next mid-high end product from Panini is Luxury Suite and boy does it look luxurious from the what I can see. Each box will deliver 8 autographs or memorabilia cards. That’s right 8! At least two of them will be autographs, but I’m sure it’s safe to assume that you will find more. This product will be loaded with the hits you want.

There will be 4 packs in a box. Each pack will contain 2 autographs or memorabilia cards. But that’s not all. Every pack will also contain a rookie card. This product will contain a ton of rookies. 125 different rookie cards have made it into Luxury Suite making it one of the biggest crops of rookie cards. All rookies will be numbered to 899 copies so make sure you grab who you want for your collection. 50 of the rookies will contain an autograph or memorabilia on them. Some of these players are the highly collectible Taylor Hall, Jeff Skinner, and Tyler Seguin.

Did I mention yet some of the cool memorabilia cards you can pull from this set? Every base card has a memorabilia insert associated with it. You can pull game used swatches of jerseys, patches, and sticks. Sticks have been under used for the most part when it comes to the hobby and Panini is right there by including game used sticks in their memorabilia pieces. The possibilities of hits in this product are definitely up there with higher end products, but for about half the price. Plus the base parallels numbered to 10 and 1 make it a chase for your favorite players more rare cards.

Now a lot of people have been criticizing the designs by Panini on some of their products. However, those critics will be speechless for some of the designs in this product. In my opinion, this is probably one of those most visually appealing designs that Panini has put together across all their products. Luxury Suite looks great. Nice big patch windows, looks to be on card autographs, and fluid designs featuring the player first and foremost. I would put the designs along the lines of SP Authentic of old with Panini’s own twist to it. It’s definitely a good thing. The rookie patch/autographs look amazing and I really enjoy most of the designs. Good work design team.

The end of June will bring you the most luxurious set to come to Panini hockey for a little under $200. I can’t wait to see some of the cards to come out of this product.

Want more? Check out the Panini Peek: 2010-11 Luxury Suite hockey

And as is mandatory in my hockey previews, ladies and gentlemen, Taylor Hall.

Preview: 2011 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Football

2011 Upper Deck Sweet Spot football is back with all your favorite players in their college glory.

This year, every pack you open will feature an autograph! With 4 packs per box and 8 cards per pack, you are guaranteed 4 autographs from the hottest rookies of the year to some of the great veterans and retired players of the game.

Back again is the on-helmet autographs embedded into the cards. Though I’m not a huge fan of players signing manufactured materials, I think Upper Deck does it right when it comes to that regard if it HAS to be done. The signings on “By the Letter” patches or on other fabrics just look messy and incoherent. Athlete autographs are already messy and incoherent, like my doctor. At least on a hard and smooth surface these autographs come out nicely. There will be two of these on-helmet autographs in every box with several different helmet variations. Also back again is Sweet Beginnings autographed cards and it looks like they are including Ultimate Collection Rookie Signatures in this product as well combining one of their old products with Sweet Spot.

New this year are two different autographed parallels to change things up a little bit. It appears as if Upper Deck has signed on with Todd McShay and Chris Mortensen of ESPN to feature their likeness on a new subset of Scouting Report inserts. These cards feature a picture of the analyst along with some of the players they have reviewed on their scouting reports. Some of these inserts will have an autographed parallel. While I’m not a huge fan of Mortensen or McShay staring at me from the card, I applaud UD for trying something a little different. I wonder what kind of information will be on the back of the card?

There is also the new Sweet Spot Rivalry booklet featuring two on-helmet autographs in booklet form. From the sound of the set and what I can see, it looks like these will feature some of the biggest rivalries in college football with autographs from each side in the booklet. I hope to see a “Civil War” booklet featuring an Oregon and Oregon State autographed helmet on each side. How could you possibly leave out one of the longest rivalries in all of college football?

In all, at a $100 price point for 4 autographs, it appears to be right around where it should be as far as price goes. I know collectors would rather have an NFL licensed product, however, these cards do look sharp and the autographs are just the same as any other product. Upper Deck is the only NCAA license in town, so for those who love college football and the pros, this should be a fun product to open when it comes out at the end of June. Roll Tide.

Note: Okay, I’m not an Alabama fan but I thank the Bama fans who were chanting “Roll Ducks” during the National Championship game. At least you stand by your team and don’t cheer for the whole conference.

Preview: 2011-12 Upper Deck Artifacts Hockey

Upper Deck Artifacts hockey is the first hockey product of the new season. Featuring all your stars of the previous seasons and some of your newest rookies, Artifacts is what hockey collectors get excited for, it means hockey season is right around the corner.

This year’s rookie that everyone will want to get their hands on is Cody Hodgson of the Vancouver Canucks. Upper Deck has that covered in 2011-12 Artifacts. A box of Artifacts this time around will contain at least 3 multi-swatch memorabilia cards. At least one of them will be a dual/triple player card. One of the new memorabilia cards in Artifacts this year is a fight strap card containing the fight strap of a player’s jersey. Also, finally, making it into products more often is pieces of a game used stick. It seems that stick cards have only been reserved for the higher end of all brands but it’s nice to see them a little more often. Returning is the great patches from last year, so don’t forget about those.

The box will also contain 2 rookie cards and 1 rookie redemption. Yes, you hear the word redemption and you think of terrible things. But with the NHL rules on rookie cards, they must step foot on the ice, it gives the company a chance to get more rookies out with their initial product. Again, it might take awhile, but the rookies will be made and they will show up in your mailbox.

Finally, as far as hits go, there will be one autographed card inserted in a box. This year though, they have added some autographed memorabilia hits to the foray so it adds a little bit of value to the possible hits.

The base set will be 100 cards and you will find one base parallel numbered to 100 per box. There will also be two Legends or Stars insert sets included as well.

At 4 cards per pack and 10 packs per box it will take a few boxes to complete a set.

I have to say that the design hasn’t changed much from the past couple of years so if you’re looking for something different then it’s not going to come. The Auto-facts design for autographed cards look a little sharper this year, so I’m impressed with that. But one thing I would like to see is to incorporate some of the designs from UD Ice into this product. A lot of their Artifacts designs have some sort of wintery feel to them and I think the acetate designs from Ice would make a great insert or memorabilia set inside Artifacts. Just an idea.

This product is set to release in September and although I don’t have a price for it, I can expect it to be about the same price as last year, around $80 to $90.