Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Ugly: Panini Beware

It's been a while since my last post in this series, but it's almost done. I'm not sure it has much interest anyway, but I'm going to finish it up, for better or for worse.

I want Panini to succeed. I realize that so far this year, there are just over 30 baseball releases, most by Topps, with a handful by ITG, Leaf, TriStar, and Upper Deck. If Panini eventually acquires an MLBP license, that number can jump to 45 or 50. But I believe competition in the card market can be good. Topps seems to be falling into a little bit of a lull, and most releases have one of two feels ("vintage" or "high end").

But Panini must be mindful of the consumers and other manufacturers in the baseball card market. Collectors are throwing heaps of praise to Leaf with their choices in manufacturing (reducing cases and upping hits without changing price), set design (Crusade), and providing images of the high-end cards (Ichiro patch autographs are all cataloged and scanned). While I enjoy most of Topps' releases, I voice my thoughts in hopes that they somehow are heard and considered, and I know others do the same. Panini has provided some great insight into the company with their blog, but there are complaints that, if carried over to baseball, will seriously hurt their chances of getting a full license to use MLB logos.

The biggest issue I hear about deals with redemptions. I'm not sure if many of the issues have been corrected, but the mere inclusion of redemption cards can hurt a product. The complaints about Panini are not that redemptions are inserted, but that cards are often replaced for various reasons. If I pull a redemption card for a Nolan Ryan autograph, I expect a Nolan Ryan autograph. Many collectors buy redemption cards online because they want the player promised on the card, and not being able to follow through on that guarantee is a big negative. You know this already, but hopefully Panini has got the picture.

I've also read about issues with autographs and patches being wrong - upside down, crooked, etc. I know Topps has similar problems, but when sticker autographs are already ugly, a crooked, incorrect, or upside down signature is horrible.

The other just-plain-ugly part of Panini is the design of many of the cards.

To the left is 2005 Donruss Champions, and it gets my vote as the absolute worst design ever used on a base card. When the card designers make the relics and autographs the focus of the layout, the card set fails to get my interest.

On the other hand, when the autograph or relic just blends into the design, the card can be quite attractive:
I believe that's an on-card autograph, which is even better, but the design is solid, and while there is space at the bottom of the card, it's not a large space that's obviously left for an autograph. (I would enlarge the photo a bit to go behind the text just a little and stretch closer to the bottom of the card, but if there is a baseball set similar to this set, I'll collect it.)

Panini's Return to Baseball:
  1. Panini Swings the Bat
  2. Coolness on Cardboard
  3. The Good
  4. The Bad
  5. The Ugly
  6. My Own Set

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