2013-14 Panini Contenders Hockey came out last week, but I didn’t really notice until yesterday. Admittedly, I have not reviewed much Panini stuff this year. What drew me to Contenders is the fact that a $20 retail blaster box has two autographs. Sure, it only has 20 cards total, but come on — two ‘graphs for $20 isn’t bad.
So I had to give Contenders a try. Actually, I had to give it two tries, since my local Target had two blasters left, and I didn’t want to pick one and then wonder if the other blaster had the better autographs.
I will let you be the judge of which blaster had the better autographs.
Inside the cardboard box was a stack of cards wrapped in clear cellophane. The 18 base cards I got were Sam Gagner, Ben Bishop, Jordan Staal, Zach Bogosian, Teemu Selanne, Jamie Benn, Khris Letang, Tim Thomas, Roberto Luongo…
As guaranteed, the box also had two autographs. I’ve never heard of Maxime Macenauer. Apparently he was traded from the Ducks to the Jets, but never actually played for the Jets. He has a terrible signature, by the way. The guy had a whole sticker for his name, which he abbreviated to about six letters and then tried to cram on 1/3 of the space. Lame. Now, Kevin Bieksa, that’s a household name…in Vancouver. But it is an on-card autograph of a guy who’s been in the NHL for a while, so all kidding aside, this card is a winner.
The base cards in the second box of Contenders are of Brad Boyes, Martin St. Louis, Eric Staal, Daniel Sedin, Alex Pieterangelo, Nicklas Backstrom, Vincent Lecavalier, Sidney Crosby, T.J. Brodie……Max Pacoiretty, Marian Hossa, John Tavares, Henrik Zetterberg, Tuukka Rask, Ryan Miller, Ryan Callahan, Corey Perry and Mike Fisher.
The two autographs in this box were of Brian Lashoff and Michael Latta. The Latta card is his RC, while the Lashoff card is not (even though he is part of the Dual Rookie Class.) Like Macenauer, I think Lashoff was trying to squeeze his signature on as little of the sticker as possible.
Here’s one thing I don’t understand: if you spend $100 for five blaster boxes, you will get 10 autographs and 90 base cards. If you spend $100 on a hobby box, you will get four autographs and 86 base cards. So, what’s the incentive of buying a hobby box? Perhaps getting better autographs and/or insert cards.
Here’s one thing that irritates me: All three photos — two on the front and one on the back — used on each card are the exact same picture.
I don’t mind the picture being used twice on the front. But using the same shot on the back — at almost the exact same size — is boring.
Panini must really be trying to push the success of this product at the big box retailers. Getting two autographs for $20 in a current release is better than any competing product. Of course, the autographs I got leave much to be desired. But that’s part of the gamble that we, as card collectors, take.The base cards aren’t ground-breaking, either. Still, I’d rather spend $20 on a box that will get me two autographs than $20 on a box that might get me one autograph.