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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Preview and Thoughts: 2014 Panini Golden Age

While I was in Korea, Panini and Topps released details of two upcoming sets that I'm interested in.
First up is Panini's Golden Age, back for a third year. This is Panini's answer to Allen & Ginter and Goodwin Champions, two other sets I enjoy collecting. For the hit chasers, the fairly-standard one memorabilia and one autograph per box formula is being used, plus a box topper which could be an additional memorabilia card. All images come from Panini's blog/website.
The design here is throwback, as always, and the 150-card base set features lots of non-baseball subjects. In fact, a quick scan of the preliminary checklist shows that the baseball player might be in the minority! That's fine with me. The players listed are those who rarely see cards - Eddie Gaedel, for instance. There are some usual suspects, too - Nolan Ryan and Ty Cobb are both listed. There are 10 base card variations.
Parallels include white (1:120 packs), black (#/15), and "First Fifty" (#/50). The minis are the best parallels, though, because there are seven different historical back types to chase: 
Croft's Swiss Milk Cocoa, Hindu Cigarettes (Brown and Red), Mono Cigarettes (Blue and Green), Mello-Mint Gum, and Panini logos (#/15). Like Topps did with the T205/T206 releases about a decade ago, the use of different advertising backs changes the rainbow to something with more variation to it!
As I mentioned before, each box will contain one autograph, most likely from the 50-subject Historic Signatures set. There are four Historic Cuts autographs numbered to 20 or less, plus nine Classic Buyback Autographs cards. Plenty of baseball stars and celebrities are in the set, including Tatum O'Neal back to sign more after last year's Bad News Bears set, Dick Van Dyke, Sophia Loren, Lee Majors, and Catherine Bach. The three children from the original Lost in Space TV show (Bill Mumy, Marta Kristen, and Angela Cartwright) are also in the set.
There are 40 Museum Age relics, including Fay Wray, Patsy Cline, and managers Sparky Anderson and Tommy Lasorda. The 11 box topper memorabilia cards are numbered to 50 or less each, and include George H.W. Bush, Warren Spahn, Johnny Carson, Duke Snider, Rodney Dangerfield, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Joe Frazier.
The set is rounded out by a few insert sets. Above is an image from the Fan Craze set (8 cards, 1:12 packs). Headlines is a nine-card event-topical set found 1:12 packs. Seemingly identical in idea is Newsmakers, an eight card person-based set (1:24 packs). 1913 National Game falls 1:12 packs, with a 12 card checklist, and Star Stamps rounds out the release with a 30-card, 120 subject set found 1:12 packs.

The previously mentioned box toppers come in three formats. The 5x7 toppers has 12 cards (1:40 packs), and there's a 30-card Darby Chocolate 3-card panel set (1:60 packs) as well. Found 1:24 packs is the Hobby Box Bottom Three-Card Panel; with nine cards in the set there must be three separate panels. It's interesting that they give pack odds instead of box odds here.

I really enjoy Golden Age; Panini makes a strong effort to bring new, oddball subjects to base set, and to add autographs and relics of those subjects whenever possible. I know I want a base set already, and the mini backs are very appealing. I see several cards on the autograph and relic checklists I wouldn't mind having, if prices are reasonable of course.

As for the inserts, I've been trying to build a mini-master set of 2013's cards but they're quite pricey online, which I guess is a good thing since that means they hold their value. Depending on how this year's cards look, I might try to do the same, but I really would like to decrease the number of sets I'm working on.

Now, if only Panini would do a modern version of a set like this, with active players in multiple sports and current celebrities, musicians, and actors. It doesn't need to have a throwback design, something similar to Americana but with more-popular, current subjects.

What do you think?


  1. Golden Age was the most fun I had with cards last year and I'm already loving this year's design. Thanks for the preview.

  2. I like this product. It's one of the only baseball products put out by Panini that I'd consider busting a box of.

  3. Stubby: Golden Age was the product of the year last year, in my eyes. If the inserts are as good I think it'll repeat.

    Fuji: if the price was right, I'd totally open a box of Golden Age. In Japan, that price is usually $100+. So it's not right.