Hi, have we met? Good, then you know I hate Panini. But I do love a good deal when it comes to hockey cards. A little while ago I found a “box” of Panini Anthology cards marked down from $125 to $45 “for a limited time.” Spoiler Alert: they’re still $45 everywhere. Now, before I get to the cards, let me tell you about the “box,” yes in quotation marks. Pandora’s Box was easier to open and frankly had less regrettable contents than this “box.” Here is what I had to do to get inside:
STEP ONE. Get my knife out and cut off the shrink rap.
STEP TWO: Slice open the plastic seal at the lid of the box.
STEP THREE: Open the box.
STEP FOUR: Come the realization that the box was housing a smaller box…ALSO IN SHRINK WRAP!
STEP FIVE: Get my knife out AGAIN and slice open the second layer of shrink wrap.
STEP SIX: Open the INNER box.
STEP SEVEN: Shake the little box violently to remove the six cards housed inside that also has a block of polystyrene holding them in place with a vacuum seal!
So I’m already pissed off at these cards because of this and I haven’t even seen them yet. They must be something special and awesome for this much trouble and for a company to ask well north of a C-note in price.
God, you disappoint me so much, Panini.
I’ve never opened a pack/box of cards that unsatisfactory to me as much as this and after that much work. You know when it’s the Fourth of July — or “July 4th and oh God is America attacking??” if you’re in Canada — and you see a rocket shoot off into the night sky, zipping in a squirrelly fashion and leaving a bright trail of sparks behind it? The sparks trail off into the darkness and you’re all like, “ooooh, this is gonna be a big one!”….aaand nothing, it’s turns out to be a dud that falls back to the earth unseen and unheard from again. That’s this box of cards.
Griffin Reinhart & Bo Horvat: Sizable Signatures
Here are my two promised autographs, Bo’s being the better jersey and lower/rarer card (of 99 vs. 299). Otherwise they’re stickered autos, so the players never touched their cards, neither of the cards has a picture of the player or a logo of the team — none of the cards do. There isn’t even an NHL logo, which make these cards seem unofficial and frankly bootleggy.
Oh what’s this? In fact, on the back of each card it says in tiny print:
“Panini America, Inc. trading cards are in no way affiliated with either the National Hockey League or the National Hockey League Players’ Association, nor have these trading cards been prepared, approved, endorsed, or licensed by either the National Hockey League or the National Hockey League Players’ Association.”
Skeeeeetchy. They’re call “Sizable Signatures” but they’re no bigger than the autograph that you’d find on your average card.
The back of the cards have some written blurb about their stats, maybe some line about when they were drafted, nothing exciting.
Wait…hang on…let me check this…OH MY GOD, THIS IS RICH!
Ron Francis: Massive Materials
This is the highlight of the pack/box for me, because DUH! And yet Panini still manages to screw me on it. Ron of course, started his long Hall of Fame career in Hartford Green before he raised the cup twice in Pittsburgh Yellow. Then settled into a statesman’s roll in Carolina Red, before selflessly jumping on the grenade at the end of his career in Toronto Blue for all of 12 games. And guess what jersey they shoved into this card?
I’ll give you a clue: The Whalers didn’t have their blue uniforms until Ronnie was in Pittsburgh. Of all four teams, of all the individual uniforms his put on, which would you rather have? Which would you want the least?
In the career summery on the back, the Maple Leaf aren’t even mentioned. I’m going to make a WILD assumption and say that if there’s a Wayne Gretzky card in this series, it will have a piece of his St Louis Blues jersey on it. Lastly, Massive Materials is very misleading name for this sub-series of cards, because while there is a 1/3 more jersey exposed than the previous two cards reviewed, it doesn’t come close to…
Jonathan Drouin/Vladislav Namestnikov: Double Coverage
Well, this is a whole lotta cloth and not much else! You see the players’ names, the number (04/99) aaaand not much else beyond the fine print of, “Trust us these are legit cards and they came from player worn materials…but these cards still haven’t been approved by anyone.” Yep, they still fit all of that within the borders of this card.
Now it does say on the card “Player worn materials,” and I bring this up because the Drouin material doesn’t look like any material that a jersey was made from. It’s a very fine knit synthetic like their base shirt or their underw….excuse me, I’m going to go wash my hands.
Mark Visentin: Our Home and Native Land
Arguably the most interesting card of this pack/box, it’s a shadow box with a plastic cover hovering over the sticker signature on top of a Canadian Flag. I guess Canada approves of these cards. The back at least talks about this dude playing in the World Junior Championships, so it bears some relevance. The card looks blue, but that’s just the scanner not jiving with the metallic rainbow background.
Now on to what I’ve discovered while bitch-blogging (“Bligging?” “Blotching?”) about this: Panini advertised these as 2015-16 cards everywhere, yet on the back of every card it reads 2014-15. But there are no 2014-15 Anthology cards on record anywhere. Did they mean to release these earlier and forget, scrub the date off the boxes and ship them anyway? That is just the crust on the crap pie that this whole thing was baked in, and it stinks. It was seriously confusing to me when I was writing this because I keep going back and changing the date in the title, and frankly I’m still not sure.
Look, I’m not evening going to rate this box, because Sal probably won’t let me put 4 out of 5 flaming paper bags of dog sh*t as a score. (Editor’s Note: True, but only because I’m too lazy to make a graphic of it.) Hockey card fans, don’t buy this product. I mean, you CAN, but try and get them to for $25 and nowhere close to the laughable $125 Panini asked for.
Jim Howard is a Carolina Hurricanes fan and reformed baseball card collector who is trying to keep the hockey collection from becoming overwhelming. And while he wishes he could give Crosby the business with his mitt, he is in fact NOT the goalie for the Red Wings. ■