Rack Pack Smack Down: Topps FB Vs Panini Prestige (2012)

Posted: August 31, 2012 by Crackin' Wax in 2012, Panini, Rack Pack Smack Down, Topps
Tags: , , , ,

First and foremost, let it be known that I DO NOT collect any sport other than baseball. Yes, I love me some Green Bay Packers–weird, I know, coming from such a huge Minnesota Twins nut–but I love baseball WAY more than I do football. Therefore I will be looking upon these rack packs as more of a, oh, I dunno… card connoisseur and less a fan of the sport represented on these cards.

With that… let’s get down to it!

While it’s been an issue for Topps to keep some retailers from releasing their product early, their 2012 edition of Football seemed to elude me like nothing else this year. In fact, it wasn’t until nearly 3 weeks after street that I finally found some–and it was only in rack pack form. Panini already had Score and Prestige football sitting on the shelves and rack hangers while Topps saturated the baseball shelves. The images I had seen online of Topps’ 2012 FB actually did a decent job of getting me excited for the product, which is quite a feat considering I don’t collect football. It had become commonplace for Topps to recycle their Baseball design for their Football set.

Panini, on the other hand, is a football product I am unfamiliar with. In fact, since getting back into card collecting, Panini is not a company whose products I had purchased before until earlier this year. Topps’ new exciting design effort coupled with the intrigue of finally checking out some more Panini (I did eventually check out some Triple Play) left me hunting down some new wax to crack.

Let’s start with the obvious. The first thing we always see. The packaging! Each rack pack was just $5 a pop. Topps stuffed their cello wrappers with 36 cards while Panini squeezed in 40. Andrew Luck is the player of choice by both companies and is seen sporting a Colts uni in both. Both Topps and Panini are proud to display the NFL and NFLPA logos on the front, just in case anyone was wondering who had which licenses. Topps promises rookie cards in each pack with the possibility of autographs and relics while Panini just wants us to keep an eye out for rookies, especially the top two of the 2012 class.

Speaking of Andrew Luck… Topps seemed on their game enough to include the Nike “swoosh” logo on Luck’s jersey whereas that little touch was an oversight by Panini.

Panini’s cards are for anyone ages 9 and up while Topps just wants to make sure no one is stealing their stuff.

Topps says you’re getting a JUMBO pack while Panini tells us theirs is a Value pack. I guess if we’re counting card-for-card, they’re not lying!

Also, Topps’ cellos are so thin, it was easy to tell whose card I’d be pulling first.

Now onto the cardboard. It’s not like anyone actually CARES about the packaging, right?

Side-by-side comparison of base card fronts

Since I first saw the designs of Topps’ FB online, I knew I just had to see them first-hand. They’ve given collectors a refreshing deviation by giving the football set its own look and feel. Still as foil-laden as ever, they’ve done a decent job of making sure that the player names are easy to read. The clever football shaped design element encapsulating team logos is a very nice touch and the white bordering is a staple in Topps’ branding. Topps makes use of plenty of action shots and seemed to pay special attention to player centering, that is to say that the featured player on each card is dead center. There are some shots of some players in which the angles leave you wondering if that particular photo selection was the only option at their disposal.

Panini’s “Prestige”, on the other hand, unfortunately comes off looking like a decent looking insert set. The banner stripe along with the white-stroked logos and other elements on the right side of the cards are well formed but would have been better suited for something other than a base set. Having the main focus of the card, the player, stuffed onto the left side of the card while the remaining graphics and text take up nearly 50% of the card does not do the set nor any of the players justice. Had this been an insert, my opinion would have been more enthusiastic.

Side-by-side comparison of base card backs

Topps continues the backs of their cards with the same design elements found on the front–a smart move, if you ask me. They also elected to supply complete career statistics and, in the cases of those who only have a few years under their belts, well-written player bios and trivia.

For Panini, the theme from the fronts were more or less carried over to the back with simple striping that takes advantage of team colors. Prestige cards only makes use of the most recent year’s stats for each player which allows for write-ups for everyone. Prestige also uses a completely desaturated black and white version of the front photo on the backs.

Topps inserts

Topps did a nice job with their inserts, in my opinion. Of course, this is coming from a baseball card collector who is used to being completely inundated with insert after insert after insert. I particularly like the look of the Prolific Playmaker cards. The only slight on that set is they look a lot like a base set design. If not for the white feathered border and the drop shadow, I’d say the Prolific set would make for a strong base design. The Tallboy minis, which I’ve taken to calling Skinny Minis, complete with raw cardboard backs, are a nice touch and fun to pull–except for the fact that it fell clean out of the pack right when I busted it open. The only insert I didn’t really care for was the Paramount Pairs. It looks more like an advertisement card than an actual collectible card.

Panini Prestige inserts

I just got the two insert cards from my 40-count pack, which is nice for those that just care about the base cards. The Connections card is a well conceived idea and put to practice quite nicely. Unfortunately, it makes for a nicer looking insert set than the base cards. The Draft Tickets card, to me, seems to be on the same level as Topps’ Paramount Pairs. Perhaps it’s all of the white space, maybe it’s the face-forward photo of the player, or maybe the concept of the card is simply lost on me. It felt out of place and sticks in my mind for all of the wrong reasons.

All in all, Topps definitely gets the edge in this impromptu battle of the rack packs. Even the usual overwhelming use of foil didn’t quite seem so overwhelming. Had the Prestige base set looked more like a base set than an insert set, I would have felt compelled to lean a bit more Panini’s way. As it stands, though, neither company has me hooked on football cards–although Topps certainly got close!

As per usual, any cards I neither need nor want will be available in the Take My Cards section of the blog. Once they have been entered there, the Cardboard Community Link-Back Program folks will get their pick first, then everyone else is welcome to raid the party.

I’d like to give a huge shout out to and and even bigger thanks to Panini for helping me put together the next BoBuBingo. Please head up to the Panini Charity Double BoBuBingo part of the blog to check it out!

  1. Jamie Baldwin says:


  2. Are these going to go under take my cards? Wish you luck:)!

  3. Toby says:

    awsome reveiw i kinda like the pretige but i have been a big panini fan with the score cards. hope i get a few steelers after everypne raids the stuff lol

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