Saturday, November 29, 2014

2014 Panini Classics: Hit and a Review

I was at my local card shop the other day picking up a few cards for a fellow blogger when I saw some new product sitting on the front counter.  The Tony Gwynn on wrapper is what really caught my eye and I asked the owner about the set.  He replied that Panini scored the first memorabilia of three Hall of Fame players (Roger Bresnehan, Gabby Hartnett and Bob Meuse) and they were in this product along with some of the all time greats and current prospects.  Then he paused and hooked me with the following, "Kris Bryant has an auto in there, too."  He knows my kryptonite is Cubs prospects. 

I picked out two packs and he wished me good luck.  He knows the only packs I usually buy are Opening Day because I don't have a ton of money to budget on cardboard featuring baseball players.  Yep, $4.99 a pack. And I bought two.  He must have thought I just won the lottery or something to go all crazy like that.

I actually have the other pack, unopened, staring back at me as I type this post.  I'm saving it for a day when I need a bit of a silver lining, and I'm hoping the next one packs the same kind of wallop as this one.

The checklist for Panini Classics is 200 cards strong and while the last 50 cards contain rookies, who made their debut in 2014, the first 150 cards is littered with legends and present day stars.

Concerning the design: I like the pennant on the bottom and the fact that the card has each player's number on the front of the card.  The position for each player is in a smaller script font and difficult to read.  The backs are informative, well laid out, sport each team's main uniform color, and contains stats from 2013.  I guess it's too much to ask for a set that comes out in mid November to have stats from 2014?  The position is much easier to read on the back.

What about the team name?  It can be found directly beneath the player's name on the back of the card, but it's not visible on the front of the card.  Or is it?
 Yep, it's on the front and somehow hidden amongst the pinstripes.  At first I wondered why Panini left so much blank space at the bottom of the card, but when I shifted in my seat I could see "Boston" glimmer in the overhead light.  Each camera shot I've taken of the cards is taken directly from above, so you probably won't notice the team on the front of any of the the other cards.   The rest of the card is done in traditional foil, but the team name is a bit more iridescent. Weird.

From what I've read, each 8-card pack is supposed to have two rookies.  A box contains 24 packs, which means if the collation is good, then one would crack open 48 of the 50 rookie cards in a box.

I'm not familiar Chris Taylor, a shortstop for the Mariners, but I know Odrisamer Despaigne pitched well enough down the stretch for me to stream him on one of my fantasy league teams.  Two west coast rookies.  It is, what it is.

I'd like to add that I like the sepia background behind the players and, believe it or not, I think Panini is getting better at choosing its pictures to hide the fact it doesn't have an MLB license.

Here's two of the legends I pulled:
Again, a good shot of Charlie Hustle hustle in which Panini barely had to airbrush any logos.  I like the black and white photo of Duke, even if some may think it clashes with the sepia background (myself included). 

Well, we're at five cards and this pack has been less than earth-shattering up to this point, but that's okay, because it was a Cubs HOT PACK and I've saved the best for last!  (Three out of eight cards makes it a hot pack, right?)

Hey, it's Mr. Cub!

The sepia is nice for the base cards, but what it really does is make this insert set really pop:
Just look at that sun in the corner!  Holy blinding brightness, Batman!

There are four main insert subsets, including the Stars of Summer (as seen above) as well as Legendary Lumberjacks, Home Run Heroes, and October Heroes.  I'm quite happy with my Starlin Castro, thank you very much!

The set's checklist has many other smaller inserts which are autographed and relic based and each box guarantees two autographs and two memorabilia cards.  In the middle of my pack was a thicker card:

 Numbered 15 out of 99, I pulled Classic Lineups card with three hall of famers who played for the Cubs.  Chuck Klein only spent a couple of seasons in Chicago, but hey, beggars can't be choosers!  The piece of fabric for Gabby Hartnett is pretty frickin' sweet. Supposedly, it's part of the first line of Gabby Hartnett memorabilia cards.  Nice!

How many times have you had a hot pack of your favorite team?  It's my first.
How many times have you pulled a sweet hit which actually has a place in your collection?  Also a first. 
I was so stoked after this pack!

Overall, Panini Classics is a nice product, but there is some room for improvement.  The material Panini used to print the team name on the front of the cards should have never made it past the drawing room.  I don't want to hold the card at a certain angle to see the team name, especially in a set which has prospects I'm just being introduced to.  Speaking of which, I like the idea of having legends sprinkled in with today's stars, but I'm not sure how I feel about the prospects eating up 25% of the checklist.  The  prospects aren't classics by any stretch of the imagination at this point in their careers, and five years from now we'll be lucky to have a handful of them in the All-Star game.  I like the sepia background, but I have mixed feelings about how it looks with black and white photos.  Lastly, I'd like to see the other insert sets in hand, but I really like the Stars of Summer.    

I paid a little more than I normally do for the pack, but I think I still came out on top.  There was no Kris Bryant auto in this pack, but that's okay . . . I'm pretty sure it's waiting for me in pack number two.   

Thanks for stopping by and reading!


  1. Replies
    1. He's got a base card and he's in one of the four insert sets. PLUS, there's a couple of different autos. Griffey is well represented, as he should be.

  2. that is some good pack karma! congrats!

    1. Yeah, I'm afraid I may have used up all the good karma I've been building up though! Ha!

  3. Wow, that sure was a Cubbies hot-pack. Congrats on the awesome pulls.

    Also, thanks for sharing with us the key to getting Cubs fans to do stuff against their will. Just say that they might get a Kris Bryant autograph. Emphasis on might.

  4. A Tony Gwynn wrapper? That's awesome! Pretty underwhelmed by the design, and the prospects/legends combo is a weird one to be sure. Awesome hit though, very rare to pull something like that that actually fits into your collection. And ODRISAMER DESPAIGNE! That's the first non-minor league/non World Baseball Classic card I've seen of him.

  5. Wow, great pull, Tom! It's like that pack was specifically made for you. I'll have to see if any of the local retail outlets are carrying this set.

  6. Awesome pull! I've been intrigued by this set. Need to check what Pirates are in it.

  7. That's mouthwateringly nice! Congrats.

  8. Cooperstwon set was a great thing done by Panini without logos and now this set also looks nice! Will add it on my want list for packs someday.

  9. You pulled the best part of the box! Look at the $$$ you saved! Beautiful old card!