I don't normally do something like this but I couldn't help it. Commence rambling...
Over on The Mojo Beard, Kevin posted about his latest donation from Panini, Plates & Patches. This is a 2010 Football release that is designed as a premium product featuring 9 card boxes that retail for around $150. After looking at the product and reading his post, I couldn't help but get that feeling I get right before my sugar drops and causes me to shake. Not because of Kevin. I enjoy his perspective on lots of things he writes about. It is just, well...I couldn't stand idly by without a rebuttal to his opinion. I began to type a comment but started to realize the comment would become longer than the actual post. So, it's migrated to it's own post here.
I'm sorry but I have to disagree with Kevin's take. I'm not impressed by the base design. They look like they were slapped together from already existing failed prototype designs and cards that came from brainstorming sessions that went horribly, horribly wrong. Ok, maybe that is too harsh but I'm tired of the lack of effort by these companies that think they can just feed collector's whatever garbage they want and we will still buy it. This is supposed to be a high end product and all they have done is copy an already recycled design. Whether it is "exactly" the same as the other sets out there or not is irrelevant. Because it is so close of a match, it has no business being a premium card release.
Just look at the backs. They are identical to 85% (this is a scientifically derived number developed by surveying all the voices in my head) of every Panini set that has been released since 2008. If that process is going to be their trademark then I think they should come out and just say so; so I will think long and hard before shelling out the dough for their boringly mundane products. They could release it on their website..."We at Panini would like to announce proudly that from now on, all our products will feature the same card back design. We realize that we could have put more effort into designing something different but why bother? Through rigorous testing and research, we've learned that most of our target customers will still act like lemmings and follow us off the cliff. We have done this so that collector's everywhere will know when they have a Panini card in their hands." See there? I did it for them.
For me though, the real reason this set fails is because it's a 9 card box for MSRP $150. That's almost $17/card. Sure they may be going in the triple digits now but do you honestly think for one second that Dominique Curry's auto or Damian Williams GU is going to hold value in that neighborhood forever? I doubt it, unless they become superstars. Give this product some time to cool off and you will see the effect on pricing. Even if you are a player collector of either of them, are you going to pay that for a GU? When you put a product out there that is priced in a range that immediately eliminates a large cross section of the collecting population, you are making a statement that it is a product not for the casual collector. In essence, the end user is going to be the high end collector or the dealer that is looking to turn a profit. Ignoring the dealer types and focusing in the high end collector, I'm sure they have no interest in autographs or jersey swatches from a practice jersey of a third string player, second tier rookie, or draft pick that was cut in training camp and now resides on the practice squad of a UFL team. Neither do the everyday collector's for that matter.
And then we have the redemption factor. These are a necessary part of the hobby. I understand that. From a logistical stand point, they make sense. But, regardless of Dexter McCluster's contributions last year and his upside, getting a mail in redemption in a high end product is just amateur hour at it's best. These should be reserved for the low end or mid range products. The premium stuff should have the premium cards. Keyword = HAVE. If a collector forks out $150 for 9 cards and then has to wait another 6-8 weeks (if they are lucky) to get one of them, they aren't going to be happy. It will be interesting to see if what the wait was for. If they come in as clean looking on-card autos, I would gladly back off this point. But if history tells us anything, they will eventually show up at collector's homes with the same old played out sticker autos that we have all come to loathe. Come on Panini, you can do better.
Now that all of that is out of the way, I'd like to end on a positive note. I actually do like the Rookie Blitz design. They are aesthetically pleasing and clean looking. The Ronnie Brown GU/Auto is ok, too. It isn't great, but it's not horrible either. It could have been much worse. I do like the Ochostinko Honor's Patch he pulled as well, I just think it could have been a little bigger, like many of the comments pointed out already. The other cards from the set that I like, which Kevin didn't pull, were the Signal Callers cards that have what else but quarterbacks. There are some images of some of the other cards over on Cardboard Connection you can check out if you feel the need.