Panini America

Not Even the Biggest Haters Can Bring this Card Down

I absolutely love the idea of buybacks. You take a usually worthless card, many times from the dreaded “junk wax” era. Have the player sign it, stamp it, and insert it into new products and suddenly you have what is perhaps the greatest card gimmick of all-time. I mean, look at the card below. It’s absolutely beautiful despite the player featured. I mean, are there any real Joe Giradi fans? The on-card autograph and low serial numbering makes this a, absolutely bad ass card.

There are many cards that have eluded me for my Jose Canseco collection. The truth of the matter is that I associate myself with being more of a card industry enthusiast than a bonafide collector. I rarely buy boxes and when I do, unless the card has immense value or it is a Jose Canseco, I tend to give it away. In my final year of the first run with Wax Heaven, I was given a complete set of 1/1 printing plates of Manny Ramirez by a card company. In return, I immediately gave them away in a contest.

So while I have the money to buy several high-end Jose Canseco cards, the truth of the matter is that I choose not to. I would much rather write about the next big card than to actually own it. That’s why after 25 years collecting one player I probably have 20 or so certified autographs out of several hundreds. The same goes with memorabilia cards. If they enter my collection, sure why not. Otherwise, I just sit back and wait until prices hit a reasonable point and with Canseco, they always do.

That’s not the case with the Donruss buybacks. These are top of the line autographs I simply have never been able to own due to insane prices Canseco collectors bring them up to. Yes, I did purchase a recent 1992 Leaf autographed buyback but when it comes to the leader of this card gimmick, Donruss/Panini simply own the market, hands down. I think people forget just how beloved non-Panini Donruss was in the 80s and 90s. In my opinion, they were way up there with Topps as the second most collected brand around.

For now, I will have to sit back and hope that Panini has more baseball products in store in 2015 besides the already announced and in production, Prism, which has Canseco in the checklist. Maybe if I’m lucky, Panini will go back to the well and re-issue another ’86 Donruss Canseco autographed buyback with a print run of 1,000 cards or something. I’m 35 years old with a daughter and a mortgage. There’s no piece of card board that will ever be worth a grand, in my opinion.

Especially not of a player whose biggest post retirement achievement is appearing on VH1’s Surreal Life.

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Donruss Baseball is Live: Now What?

As expected, 2015 Donruss Baseball hit early last night almost two full days before its March 13th release. I have been waiting for this product for as long as I have been back in the hobby and I must say I am happy with what I’m seeing. The product is full of shiny cards, nostalgia-inducing inserts, and lots and lots of airbrushing. As a die-hard Topps collector who is not a fan of the flagship or Heritage, it’s a good day for me but I appear to be alone.

Reading through social media and on popular card forums, there appears to be a huge backlash against Panini and Donruss’ return, despite the previous year’s successful debut. If anything, this year looks even stronger than 2014 and in my humble opinion, despite its setbacks (no logos), has more style than Topps’ flagship. Of course, Donruss could never compete with Chrome or Finest but flagship vs. flagship, I gotta give Donruss their due.

Aside from the no MLB logo debate which I stopped having back in 2008, another familiar criticism with Donruss is the use of sticker autographs, which can take away from the overall look of what is an overall great design. Take for example the Signature Series autograph below, which is a throwback to 1996 Leaf Signature Series and one can only imagine what could have been done by spending extra money for on-card autographs.


As for big hits, there aren’t many that have been pulled yet. There are some nice dual autographs like Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas which will likely hit $300 before all is said and done. Don’t forget the buyback autographs, which will likely be the biggest cards from 2015 Donruss. None have popped up yet but will likely make an appearance before the end of the week.

Overall, if you can get past the air brushed logos (and that’s a huge if to many), you may find a decent product out here doing its best to compete with Topps. Perhaps enough of these solid products will lead to there being two card companies with baseball licenses. There’s nothing wrong with a little competition. Now it’s time to see if Leaf Trading Cards can put out a decent baseball-only release in 2015.

Categories: Panini America | Tags: , | 1 Comment

2015 Donruss Just A Week Away!

I have been anxiously awaiting the sophomore release of Panini’s version of Donruss for a long time. I was gone when they brought back the brand in 2014 and was sadly missing when they resurrected Pinnacle and Select in 2013. Tomorrow is my birthday and I plan on buying all three of these products so that I can review and enjoy a nostalgia trip through the 90s.

Below is a card from 2015 Donruss, a subset of freakin’ Donruss Preferred. Amazing. I have always been critical of Panini America and it was because all their products were full of prospects during the time I collected. Today, they are producing a great mix of nostalgia-laden products which are absolutely grabbing my attention and imagination.

In these new times of collecting, I have finally learned to accept unlicensed baseball cards by first embracing Leaf Trading Cards and now Panini America. Unlicensed products are a necessary evil that will hopefully bring us to a day of fair and balanced competition against Topps’ long standing monopoly. Don’t get me wrong, I adore about 90% of Topps product but I also miss the days when they had a competitor breathing down their necks and pushing the New York-based company to be innovative.

A month ago I threw my support to Brian Grey and Leaf’s products but so far they have been extremely quiet this year. We have gotten two Topps releases and nothing else in baseball so I’m naturally excited to see what 2015 Donruss has to offer next week and in the future. Let’s just hope Jose Canseco can be found somewhere in this release.

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Panini America Hits A Grand Slam

I’m not a fan of unlicensed baseball cards. I’m not a fan of questionable “game-used” relic cards. I’m definately not a fan of Mark “I’m not here to talk about the past” McGwire. That being said, this card is all sorts of awesome. Simply put, there’s never been a better “Bash Brothers” baseball card. Panini America didn’t have much to work with but thanks to a great concept and execution, they put out a great dual-patch of iconic, 90’s era baseball players.

Judging by the photographs used on this card, it appears they used ’98-’99 Big Mac and ’90-’91 Canseco. Unfortunately, they weren’t playing on the same team during those years but only a huge baseball nerd would know that. As for the air brushing, it was done so well that you can still tell McGwire is wearing a Cardinals uniform.  Unfortunately, Jose’s colors don’t match. That’s my only nit-picking I can do with this great baseball card.

As for secondary market price, it sold for $162.49 on March 2nd. That’s way more than what low to mid-end autographs of these two sluggers sell for so clearly Panini America did something right with this card. Let’s hope one if not both these guys are in 2015 Donruss, which is slated, after a delay, to hit card stores next week. It’s not easy putting out unlicensed baseball cards in this time and age but Panini America is making one hell of an effort to please collectors.

The Bash Brothers of Oakland and St. Louis

Categories: eBay Treasures, Panini America | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Awful Product, Amazing Insert

There was a lot of competition among card companies in 1998. The Bowman Chrome rookie craze was just kicking into gear, so were game-used relics. Autographs, once a “once and a lifetime” pull, were on the cusp of becoming common and designers were creating some of the most amazing cards ever seen.

Donruss Preferred never quite hit its stride. They had fancy metal tins instead of boxes and had all the nice shine of a high-end product but just didn’t have the right look. Yes, there are some extremely rare cards in this product that collectors go GAGA for but as a whole the brand flopped.

That’s why I was so surprised when I ran across this card on eBay. It’s low on gimmicks except for being die-cut but looks about as classy as any card that was released in the 90s, a decade of cardboard excess when every card came dipped in sparkles just for the hell of it.

The insert line, cleverly titled ‘Title Waves’ has two meanings and uses it well. It showcases an award the player featured had won in their career and came serial numbered to the year on the card. So the Jeter below is numbered to 1,996. A copy recently sold on eBay for $10 dollars and the checklist can be found on Baseball CardPedia here. The die-cut gimmick also made the card look like waves were flowing through the side.

Insertion ratios for these beauties remain unknown nearly 20 years after its release but I highly recommend avoiding unopened tins. For one, it really was a bland product by 1998 standards, so one can imagine what it’s like in 2015. There are also just five cards per tin, making this extremely expensive for what will more than likely be five pretty dull cards just a few years removed from the “junk wax” era.

Stay tuned for more Awful Product, Amazing Insert at Wax Heaven 2.0.

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Categories: eBay Treasures, Panini America | Tags: | 1 Comment

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