Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hoopography 2010 Product Year In Review

When doing a 2010 year in review of the trading card hobby, I don't think the name Stephen Strasburg can be mentioned quickly enough. The rookie phenom took the industry over this past summer. That's why I'll take all the suspense out of my pick for card of the year. It's really pretty simple. Take your pick of any of the highly sought after flamethrower's RC's. For me, the Bowman BP1 Strasburg RC is the card of the year. The Bowman Superfractor was easily the most hyped card in the hobby. I think ever blogger wrote about it and it even caught quite a bit of national media coverage. However, most collectors can't afford to spend thousands of dollars on one card. No matter how great the card or player is on it. That's why the Bowman base RC takes card of the year in the entire hobby for me. This card allowed every collector to get in on the fun and hype of Strasburg mania. Today, that card is selling for just under $10, which is further proof of the excitement the talented pitcher has and continues to create even after going under the knife for Tommy John surgery. Without question, 2010 was the year of Strasburg.

So with the Card of the Year suspense over with, it's time to get to the best of the rest. I wanted to do an entire review to include all four of the major North American sports, but I quickly realized that would have taken forever, and I don't work for a price guide or any company in the industry. So I'm sticking with my first hobby love of hoops cards. However, if a company does want my employment, i'll be happy to get paid for researching and providing my knowledgable opinion on the hobby.

I should also mention that every card image has been provided by various media releases I received via email, Facebook or company websites. That means that any product I highlight in this post that I did not get a media image for I was not able to get a corresponding image for. So hopefully you'll remember the designs of these products.

Finally, this is a 2010 product review as seen through my eyes. That means you may or may not agree with my selections, reasoning's and opinions. The cool part about this whole blog thing is that you get to voice your opinions in the comments section of the post. One of the reasons I started Hoopography was to get feed back from fellow collectors and hobby enthusiasts. So feel free to chime in with your thoughts on the 2010 product lineup and this review.

- Biggest Bang For Your Buck (Hobby Box): So we all know how it works. A product goes live for the suggested retail price and a month later it's two-thirds the price. That means patient collectors can get some pretty nice bargains. Without question, the biggest bang for collectors is Panini's Hall of Fame product. Show me another product that gives you two autographed and one memorabilia card of only Hall of Fame basketball players for $50 a box. You can't. I know these boxes started at around $85/box, but you can bust one open now for just under $50.

In addition to a nice hobby box price and HOF players, all the auto's are on-card! Finally, Panini highlighted the '92 Olympic Dream Team with base, memorabilia and auto'd cards. These Dream Team cards are easily some of the best cards of the year. With everything this product has to offer, it's a definant good bang for you buck.

Panini scored big again for budget mined collectors with it's Classics product, and for me, it earns an honorable mention in the … Bang For You Buck Category.

The two biggest draws to this product is plenty of nice looking RC's and on-card auto's. The on-card auto's included highly desirable rookies such as Blake Griffin and Tyreke Evans as well as legends like Oscar Robertson, Bob Cousy and Chris Mullin.

In addition to the auto's, jersey cards and relatively reasonable box price, the photography across the entire product is superb. With 18 packs, four auto'd or memorabilia cards and the multitude of RC's this product offers for a reasonable $60 - $85, Panini Classics is a winner.

- Best Base Card Design: So lets face it, UD's last basketball installment of their extremely successful Exquisite line could probably take just about every category up for review. Since this was going to be the last installment of Exquisite basketball, UD didn't hold back. There are even Rookie Edition auto's of legends from other sports like Tiger Woods, Mario Lemieux and John Elway. This is truly a product that will stand the test of time. It will also show up again later on in the review.

Just as the auto'd and jersey cards are exquisite, so to are the base cards. This a design that has really been around for a few years, but it still holds up and looked great in 2010. Most of the base cards feature a closeup action shot and are serial numbered to 199. It's also nice to get a base card on some pretty thick card stock. It's almost not fair to call these base cards.

Panini's Crown Royale product harkened back to the mid 90's for it's die cut crown design and for good reason. That design worked back then and still works today.

Die cuts and metal foiling/etching almost always looks good. Unfortunately, it seems like Panini doesn't share those same sentiments, but the design team at Panini thought out of the box for Crown Royale. I also like the patterned backgrounds on these cards. Very cool. There's nothing else like it out there today and certainly deserves a mention for best base card design.

- Auto'd Sub/Insert Set of the Year: So what collector doesn't like auto'd cards? It's an opportunity to get as close to our favorite athletes as most of us ever will get. These cards are also driving the hobby today. That means it's important for companies to produce some really great auto'd cards and aside form some pretty awful sticker auto'd cards, companies really came through.

In the interest of saving some time for both me and you the reader, I think these cards can really speak for themselves. Here are some of the best auto'd sets from 2010:

             Panini HOF Dream Team Auto's                Panini Crown Royale Majestic Signatures              Panini Prestige Old School Auto's
            UD Exquisite Rookie Autographs               Panini National Treasures Rookie Auto's       Panini National Treasures Notable Nicknames

- Biggest Disappointment: Upper Deck had some very good products like the above mentioned Exquisite, but it also had its share of flops like Greats of the Game. This was a good idea, but poor execution, between the black and white background on many of the cards and sticker auto's, this product just didn't get collectors excited. The card design just seemed too flat. If UD plans on releasing this line in 2011 it needs a total redesign and new approach.

Panini put some pretty solid products out last year, but National Treasure was supposed to be the cream of the crop. Although there are some A+ cards such as the Rookie auto's and Notable Nicknames, National Treasure was a bit disappointing (especially when factoring in the $400 price tag). The main problems were sticker auto's and a lack luster base card design. I certainly can't say that NT was a bad product or even average. Actually, it's a very nice looking product with some value and superb RC's. However, at $400 a box I'm looking for an A+, not a B. Panini's Absolute Memorabilia also deserves a loud shout out in this category.

- Most Fun To Bust Open: I had the pleasure of busting open a number of boxes and packs this year at several different price points. I was able to pull a Timeless Treasures LeBron James Prime 3 colored Patch card that was numbered to only 25. I also pulled a few auto's and jersey cards out of Panini Court Kings, but my favorite product to open was a tie between Panini Threads and Panini Prestige. For a relatively decent price, I was able to open a number of packs for both products. I pulled a jersey card or two, but the different amount of parallels and inserts are what made these two products fun to open. They certainly didn't product and future house down payment type cards, but were enjoyable.

- Product of the Year: Is there really any question to what the product of the year in the basketball trading card industry was? It's Upper Deck's Exquisite basketball collection. Sure, I can't afford to buy a box of the stuff, but that doesn't mean it isn't the best. The base cards look great. The base RC's are highly sought after and you can get a beautiful Jordan or LeBron auto that is sure to be the gem in most collectors' collections. UD sure went out with a bang on it's last officially licenced NBA product.

- Card of the Year: The Card of the Year category is like the the Academy Award for best actor category. I saved the best for last. Unfortunately, I couldn't decide on just one. Could you?
                               UD Exquisite Tiger Woods/LeBron James 2/4 Exclusive                      UD Exquisite Blake Griffin Rookie Base Card

        Panini National Treasures Blake Griffin Rookie Auto                                                  Panini Court Kings Le Cinque Piu Belle Auto

So that's the Hoopography 2010 Product Year in Review. It was a pretty good year across the hobby. Panini had a good showing during their inaugural year with an NBA licence and hopefully will improve upon that start in 2011. Between the good, the bad and the ugly, what do you think of 2010?


  1. Great picks. It's hard to argue with any of those. I love the Griffin Panini National Treasure.

  2. National Treasures was a turd with the sticker autos. But I like your other picks. Man, you must've had some time on your hands today. That was a serious post, my friend.

  3. @G_Moses, That's why NT went in the most disappointed category.

    I wanted to do a 2010 review, so I just pumped it out. Plus, I had all the images in a folder on my computer from all the media releases I received throughout the year. I knew I was saving those images for a reason.

    Happy New Year G!!!