The Problem With Panini

Posted: October 5, 2015 by Crackin' Wax in Panini
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Earlier today, I launched a survey polling those in our Group Breaks Mailing List asking which products they would like us to use in our charity case breaks in 2016. As I was drawing up the survey, I had a good sense of what the survey-takers would choose. So far, my intuition has proven to be correct—even down to the least popular choice.

I only like to conduct breaks using products that I know will be popular, will sell out, and will help to raise charity. That being said, I have never used any Panini products in a case break. Yes, I have busted Panini boxes in charity and private breaks in the past, but never Panini cases. So, what is the problem with Panini, anyway?

In my limited experience with Panini products held mostly to baseball, it’s clear that my personal opinion is weighted by two factors: product quality and MLB licensing—or lackthereof in both cases. Perhaps, however, my personal problem with Panini is my limited experience. One could argue that the limitations on my experience with the product have been imposed by the dominating presence of hobby giant Topps. So far in 2015, Panini has released Cooperstown, Donruss, Diamond Kings, Elite, Immaculate, Prizm, and Stars and Stripes. That represents just a mere fraction of what Topps has produced so far just this year.

Quantity isn’t everything, however. Just because Topps clogs up the release calendar doesn’t mean that some of their own releases aren’t pure bloat. Quality is, in my opinion, far more important than quantity. As stated before, however, that’s one of my issues with Panini. Donruss was a well-intentioned call-back to the 80s staple that just didn’t click, Prizm came off like a powder-coated cheap rip-off of the more well-established Topps Chrome (I kid you not, I still find that Prizm dust all over the place), Cooperstown was a good idea that somehow managed to feel awkward (to me, at least), and Triple Play was fun as a one-time pack break that did nothing to make me want to come back.

True, that’s just my personal opinion—but what about those who were polled earlier today? What do they have against Panini? In that poll I asked participants to rank in order of preference 10 different 2016 baseball products that they would like us to use in charity case breaks, then asked to do the same for 10 more 2016 baseball products, then asked for write-ins of any products that I missed. Based primarily on past trends with our breaks as well as my own personal opinion, I only included Panini Donruss in the survey. As I write this, Donruss sits dead last on the poll and only Diamond Kings and Elite have been written-in (once each). To me, that says Panini has not done enough to capture the attention of collectors in 2015.

Of course, this is a very small sample size and does not represent the collecting community as a whole, but I believe it does represent a crucial thought in the industry, which is that Panini is clearly a distant second to Topps. I want to be able to run charity case breaks with Panini products that collectors want. I want Panini to capture the attention and imagination of collectors all over the world, even without an official MLB license (although, in my opinion, having one would go a long way).

As a collector, what do you think is the problem with Panini, if any at all?

  1. Debbie says:

    A few problems:
    1. Design of the cards has been no match for Topps.
    2. Value of their cards doesn’t hold. Even autos like Trout and Bryant are considerably cheaper to obtain if a Panini card.
    3. Need more variety when it comes to retro or vintage cards in the sets.

    I agree that the licensing logo issue is a difficult thing to overcome. I just don’t think they’ve invested as much time and energy into designing baseball products as with NHL and NBA items.

  2. mttlg says:

    So many problems… Bottom line, they just don’t understand what baseball collectors want in a product. The designs are bland or unappealing, the photographs are excessively mangled, and their reliance on “player-worn” memorabilia (and their inability to properly label much of their memorabilia) is just embarrassing. They’re the house neatly painted in bright pink with lime green trim with a meticulously watered dirt patch lawn. All the pieces are there, they just don’t know what to do with them. They bring things that Topps doesn’t have and should focus on those areas instead of trying to be a second-rate Topps knockoff.

  3. kjt1027 says:

    i just don’t care for anything without logos. I do think Panini does a good job with basketball and I do buy that.

  4. rkbrasse says:

    Licensing is the key here IMHO.

    I collect hockey, football and basketball also and I like some of what Panini offers in those product lines. Less so in hockey now since they lost that license also.

  5. I find myself getting a lot more pleasure out of breaking Panini products than Topps these days. Part of that is probably just the fact that Topps products are essentially the same thing every year. Panini stuff seems to have a little bit more variety so it’s a little more exciting to break something out of the ordinary. I busted a box of Diamond Kings and Donruss this year and had a blast with both. There were lots of rarely-featured players, parallels that were more than just a different border color and the hits (while of varying desirability) were a lot more satisfying since they were more than just a base card with a signature added or some insert awkwardly designed to include a jersey swatch. I know their hands are kinda tied design-wise with the lack of an MLB license, but I feel like do a good job of at least setting themselves apart from Topps. Also, they fixed the powder issue with Prizm this year so that’s one less knock on them

  6. Stubby says:

    Panini’s best, IMHO, was Hometown Heroes. That set was one of the most fun products to come down the pike in forever. Even without logos. Yeah, Panini’s always got godawful backs, but the cards, themselves, were fun with lots of players you don’t see in those kinds of sets and a great autograph roster with great odds for pulling them. But they last did that set in 2013. Which is a bummer. I also have enjoyed Golden Age (Panini’s answer to A&G or UD’s Goodwins). Diamond Kings was nice, too, but I can’t see it holding my interest if they do it again. Same with Donruss; the first year was loads of fun, the second was superfluous. Stars & Stripes this year was cheap (i.e. affordable) with, again, good odds for pulling a “hit”. Honestly, for pure hobby fun (I don’t sell anything ever, so I could care less about secondary market value), Panini tops Topps most of the time (again, IMHO). I don’t know how many hundreds of products Topps releases, but they’re the NFL (as in “no fun league) of card manufacturers. Busting Topps products is mostly just frustrating. Heritage will always be my favorite product, bar none. But Panini, for me, does a better job at making fun products than Topps, more often than not. I just wish MLB would give them a license already. Competition is good for everybody.

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