Panini Elite Basketball Review

24 11 2009

I would have to find a magic scanner to properly show off the shine that 2009/’10 Panini Elite Basketball gives off. The base cards as you can see, feature an old, familiar design element which you either love or hate.

Some of the highlights of the brand include hard to find die-cut parallels (pulled two), and some great inserts including ‘Clutch Performers’, which looks like something from the mid-90’s.

The legendary Elite Series inserts makes a return but unlike 1991 when a card numbered to 10,000 was unheard of, in today’s hobby scene it just doesn’t work. There are different versions but in the end it’s just not the same.

Unlike other Panini releases, the relics seem somewhat out-of-place in this brand. Instead of separate designs for relics, Panini just used them in existing cards including the great ‘Clutch Performer’ insert. As you can see from the scan, it ruined the design.

Elite Basketball is pre-selling for nearly $100 dollars. At that price, I’d have to recommend other less expensive basketball releases including their flagship. Elite has proven to be a strong performer for Donruss but the design is one of the reasons I am looking forward to Studio so much.

If you love Donruss’ futuristic designs, with four “hits” per box and lots of serial numbered cards and parallels, you will love Elite Basketball. If the price drops $10-$15 per box, it should be a must-buy for basketball collectors and “MOJO-hunters” alike.


Current price – $94 pre-sell at

Guarantees – 100 cards with four autographs or relics

Look for – Die-Cut autographs, Elite patch/autographs

The Good:

Strong design on inserts and parallels

Lots of serial numbered cards

The Bad:

Relics feel really out-of-place

Elite Series missing magic of 90’s original


Relic – Lebron James #’d to 99

Relic -Paul Pierce #’ to 299

Autograph – Jonny Flynn #’d to 499

Autograph – DaJuan Summers  #’d to 499

Final Grade: B-


Panini Resurrects Studio!

20 11 2009

As a long time collector, it’s not often I get too excited about the happenings in The Hobby. Today, I can say I am truly happy after finding out that an old school favorite is back and looks pretty damn good.

Take a look at the return of Donruss Panini Studio. It officially makes its return in late February of 2010 and has a $4 dollar per pack SRP. Furthermore, each pack contains five cards and a full box carries 24 packs.

Some notable names in the autograph checklist includes “Magic” Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Isiah Thomas, and Blake Griffin. No word yet on whether the autographs are labels or hard-signed.

Along with bringing back the Studio brand, Panini also brought back popular 90’s inserts ‘Skylines’ and ‘Master Strokes’, two insert sets I’ve written about at Wax Heaven in the past year.

Maybe the companies read the card blogs more than I thought …

2009/’10 Panini Rookies & Stars Review

19 11 2009

A few months ago, Scott Prusha, Marketing Director for Panini America discussed how he wanted to have all of Kobe Bryant’s autographs on-card rather than a sticker.

He told Beckett Media that it was important to Kobe that he get a chance to touch and feel the card he signs. While Panini has kept true with on-card Bryant autographs, I really wish they would do it for an entire basketball release sans stickers.

Rookies and Stars is an interesting product with a very unique base design that looks like something out of 1995. In case you’re wondering, that’s a good thing in my eyes. It’s always good to get something different once in a while, even if it’s a re-hash.

The memorabilia cards and autographs are very well-done and there is no issue with the labels being hard to pick up. My only issue with this product is that it lacks personality. It may be popular but I’d much rather bust a box of Panini Basketball which has many more cards and inserts.

Of course, if you’re just interesting in “hits”, this box does come through. I pulled two relics (including a dual) and two autographs. The Team Patch Signatures look very impressive, especially in person. Yes, they are manufactured but in this particular case, it works.


Current price – $77 on Dave & Adam’s Card World

Guarantees – 120 cards, with 4 autographs or relics

Look for – Blake Griffin, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul autographs

The Good:

Unique designs

Team patch signatures look great

The Bad:

More stickers …


Relic – Dirk Nowitzki

Dual relic – Tyler Hansbrough / Ty Lawson

Autograph – A.J. Price

Patch Signature – Jonny Flynn

Final Grade: B-

2009/’10 Panini Basketball Review

19 11 2009

Just when I was about to give up on Panini’s design team, a product like this is released. While it may not have all the flash of a typical Panini release (foil, etc.), it actually matches well against Upper Deck’s final basketball flagship.

I have to say, the biggest surprise from the box was the return of stickers. In case you didn’t know, Panini’s introduction to baseball in the 80’s was with sticker albums, many of which I still own.

It’s good to see a throwback to a time when collecting was done for fun and not for profit and an era when collectors didn’t send their cards away to be encapsulated and free from the human touch.

Another positive with this release is the huge line-up of inserts. There are tons of different options to choose from. My favorite is ‘The Franchise’ insert as it is clearly some of Panini’s best design work of 2009.

I believe Panini is doing well with the basketball license. While it may be a while before collectors forgive the NBA for stripping Upper Deck of the licensing rights, I believe Panini will keep going forward with their releases.

It will still come down to creating a product to cater to the Exquisite crowd but as far as low-end releases go, this one is a must-have for basketball collectors and a surprisingly fun yet cheap product to bust.


Current Price – $45 on Dave & Adam’s Card World

Guarantees – 400+ cards plus one autograph

Look for – Black Griffin autographs

The Good:

How often can you get a box with 400+ cards for under $50 dollars?

Great designs, especially on inserts like ‘The Franchise’

The Bad:

Base design a little dull


Autograph – DeJuan Blair

Final Grade: A-

Upper Deck Basketball Review

19 11 2009

Basketball is a fun sport to watch and even more fun sport to play. The problem is that there’s just not much to photograph. If you’ve ever busted an entire box of basketball cards, you’ve pretty much seen every pose there is. Oftentimes, companies fail to capture collectors’ imagination.

Thankfully, 2009-’10 Upper Deck Basketball does not disappoint. I have sampled basketball products from Topps & Panini but none come close to Upper Deck in the photography department. This release may also be the best use of the 2009 flagship design, which doesn’t hurt.

Simply put, you get a lot of bang for not much buck. While this release will never compete with U.D. giants like Exquisite, it’s a great product that delivers excellent photography, designs, and a little “Mojo” for those who live for their memorabilia cards and autographs.

Did I forget to mention Upper Deck lost its basketball license?


Current eBay price – Under $60 dollars

Guarantees – Over 300 cards and four “hits”

Look for – “hot boxes” with 16 game-used relics or autographs

The Good:

Can’t go wrong with over 300 cards for $60 dollars

The best photography in basketball releases

3D inserts are fun and cheap

Masterpieces inserts!

The Bad:

Not a damn thing


Dual relic – Carmelo Anthony, Vince Carter

Autograph – DeAndre Jordan

Autograph – Bobby Brown

Final Grade: A+

2009 Prestige Basketball Review

3 10 2009

One of my biggest fears upon hearing the news that Panini had won the NBA license was the loss of licensed cards from the “big two”. After all, Upper Deck was the king of basketball and Topps, while lacking exclusives, had Refractor technology to fall back on. Panini’s first attempt is a step in the right direction but there are still some design issues I could not gloss over.

I will start with the positive, which is the base design. If you would have shown me a Prestige card minus the logo and brand, I would have never known it came from the company formerly known as Donruss. Clearly, Panini’s design team set out to make the photography the #1 focus of the card. Furthermore, unlike 2009-’10 Topps Basketball, there are not above the rim photos in every other pack.

It’s only when you look past the base cards and on-card autographs that Prestige goes off-track. Foil makes a return in this product but unlike Playoff Absolute Memorabilia 2009, it’s not needed and takes away from the continuity of the brand. Even with the foil in place, the relics would have worked fine had there not been so many out of place design elements taking away from the photograph.

That being said, many collectors today just care about their autograph and memorabilia card so it’s not likely to matter to collectors. A strong base card design, Kobe’s first Panini autograph, and four “hits” per box on average should be more than enough to please collectors this time around. Of course, only time will tell.


Current eBay price – $79 presell on Dave & Adam’s

Guarantees – 4 game-used memorabilia or autographs on average

Look for – Kobe’s first Panini autograph

The Good:

On-card autographs a welcome change

Excellent base design with above average photography

The Bad:

Relics feature strange design with unnecessary foil


Relic – Hasheem Thabet

Auto – DeJuan Blair

Final Grade: B

What Panini Has To Offer Basketball Fans

29 09 2009

Like it or not, Panini is starting to make a name for themselves among basketball collectors. While they have refused multiple requests sent out by me to help promote their product, there is no way I could post that clever Upper Deck advertisement without showing some of Panini’s upcoming releases.

The following gallery features base cards & inserts, game-used relics, and certified autographs from 2009 Panini Threads and 2009-’10 Panini Prestige. Threads is expected to be released in mid-December, Prestige in early October. Judge for yourself by checking out all the images.

Being optimistic, I would hope that Panini America find a way to capture the hearts and money of those hardcore Upper Deck Exquisite collectors and gamblers. What we have seen so far in previews does not even come close but of course, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

As always, I hold an open invitation to Panini should they ever decide to work with the blogosphere. There are hundreds of us and more new sites opening daily. It’s in their best interest to see the light and work with all of us rather than against us and just give all their exclusives to Beckett Media.

Enjoy the gallery!