As a hockey card producer they continue to release very unique and fresh products. They have made improvements from their first year back into the hockey card world and in their second year they released some inspired products. From their low-end sets like Score, Pinnacle and Donruss to their high-end products such as Luxury Suite and Dominion they have set the bar high for their competitors to reach.
A few weeks back I commented on Panini's blog and long story short Tracy Hackler from Panini sent me a couple of boxes to review on my blog. A quick trip to FedEx after coming back from vacation and viola!
Here are the two boxes he sent me sitting on my lap in the car. On the left is the box I'll be reviewing today and on the right is Rookie Anthology which I'll be reviewing in the following days to come.
Like I said, we will start with 2011-12 Panini Titanium. This set pays homage to the Titanium set that was produced in the early 2000's. The box is a nice start being not just you're regular cube or rectangle box. As the box says: 5 packs, 4 cards a pack. That equals 5 GU or AUTO cards, I'm excited!
The real first impressions though come from the actual breaks because of course you won't always pull the drool worthy cards. I had probably read/watched about a dozen of these breaks online and had really only seen a couple "WOW" boxes. So from the perspective of a student with a tight hockey card budget, you could imagine the scepticism. But after busting this box, my appetite has been wetted for more!
Let's start the review!
The base cards go well with the Titanium theme. The back is a rustic metal type colour and imprinted in the top right hand corner of every card is the teams logo (nice touch). The Titanium logo is on the top left and is not over powering nor ugly, instead it fits its spot nicely and adds a sharp feel to the card. As all hockey cards should be, the players name is the biggest and most prominent writing on the card. It sits at the bottom of the card and underneath lies the team name. The bottom is basic and sharp. The best part about the design is how the player really pops off of the card. The blue, green and white of my Canucks are vibrant and bold.
Above is the back of the newly traded Rick Nash "Titanium" hockey card. The back of the card is filled 2/3 with the same design as the front. The top third features a different photo then the front (which is always appreciated), as well as the team logo on the right and the card number on the left. A nice touch about the card number is how it fits in a black filled "Titanium" logo. Therefore, the continuity of the product is not lacking.
The bottom two thirds are again similar to the front, players name is bold with position and full team name underneath. All the basics and more are listed underneath in a black bar: height, weight, shooting preference and birthdate. The paragraphs are all well thought out as well as informative. Finally the product finishes up with the most recent stats from the 10-11 season.
BASE DESIGN RATING: 9/10
I put this card in the "hit" the category but really it is a parallel. Panini loves their parallels. This product isn't like many other of Panini's products that seem to sometimes be buried with parallels. Instead, there are only 2 (Spectrum Ruby /99 and Spectrum Gold /10). Above is obviously the "Spectrum Ruby" version numbered to /99 copies. The only difference from the regular base cards is the red scratchy colour in the background.
Next is the only straight out AUTO I pulled from the box. I'm not familiar with Dwight King and his AUTO could use some work but I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the design of this card. The laser lights and the really cool young background is right up my alley. This was a 10/10 design for me. But there is a concern I have...
Titanium is a rustic, metallic type designed product in my mind. So even though the design of these AUTO's are sweet, they just don't fit in the product for me. This would make sense for me in a product like Certified but unfortunately not here. Great idea, but I'd like to see this in a fresher and more modern product.
These two "Game-Worn Gear" cards come in tied because they are from the exact same GU set but player wise Kopitar is a better pull than Shelley in my mind. These are very "Titanium-esque" cards. Black, metal ribbing background and the swatch is shaped as the top of the diamond in the Titanium logo. The down-side about pulling these particular two "Game-Worn Gear" cards are they are both white swatches. But, I know Panini has included many coloured swatches as well.
Overall the back and the front of these cards are well designed and would look really nice all together as a set.
Now onto a particularly great hit I pulled. For your viewing pleasure:
Now that is simply an awesome hockey card! Four coloured swatches of hockey jersey from four great players from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Like I said I like the variety of coloured swatches the gold, black and even a light blue thrown in there are all a nice touch.
The design is really unique and nice, the players are broken up into the four corners of the card like a square but the swatches are flipped like a diamond. Small design points like this make a big difference. This variation of the "Four Star" GU set is numbered to just /75 copies!
The back is simple and is appropriately done. The four players are each well represented as well as the more prominent focus of the card (the team logo).
But this is not my favourite card of the break nor is it the lowest number nor does it include the best coloured swatches.
Take a look!
NICE! Only the second patch card in my personal collection (a Dan Cloutier patch card which I have yet to post up was the first). This card is the "Prime" version of the "Rookie Reserve" GU/AUTO set. And prime it is indeed. Panini has really made a bang in the quality of patches they include in their products. That red and yellow patch on the right is popping right out of the card (something I've always wanted to say) and together the two patches have 4 breaks and 3 separate colours.
I haven't even started talking about the player yet. Erik Gudbranson is a big defenceman that was selected third overall in the 2010 NHL Entry draft. He played 72 games in 2011-12 season for Florida only producing 8 points (2 goals), not much by anyones standards. I really hope he can get into a bigger market where he can thrive and not be stuck down south in Florida.
"HITS" DESIGN RATING: 9/10
These cards I pulled aren't the only cool cards in the entire product. There are some other great ideas for sets included such as "Draft Day Autographs", "Home Sweater Autographs" and "Marks of Honour".
SET IDEAS: 8/10
These boxes are going for around 100 bones and you'll end up with 20 pieces of cardboard. The card designs are strong and there are some great looking AUTO's and patch cards out there to be pulled. But unfortunately, not everyone gets as strong as a box as this so some may have buyers remorse. Personally, I would recommend this product to others that have change to spare but not to those that have a tight wallet. To me Panini has other products around this price range (such as Rookie Anthology which is my next break) that have more consistently good pulls then Titanium.
BANG FOR BUCK: 7/10
OVERALL RATING: 33/40
My box break was great considering everything I pulled in the amount of packs. I really like this product and for certain collectors this type of product will be right up some peoples alley.
Thanks again Tracy and Panini America! The break was fun and the kindness was top class!
GO NUCKS GO!