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Innovation and improvements are all around us. As much as I love the old school ways of the ’80s and ’90s, such as Video Stores, CD’s, Classic Sitcoms, and Nintendo Games, I won’t pretend that those entertainment avenues haven’t been improved upon by new technology. We are light years ahead of the 8-bit games, 23 channels of basic cable, and having to rewind tapes before we return them to the stores. But I am the kind of guy that can appreciate how far we have come while acknowledging that the way we used to do things should get a lot of credit. I guess my motto is, “appreciate the present but respect the past.”
A prime example of this is how I enjoy sports from when I was a kid. I love the nostalgia of sitting down and watching an old basketball game that features Magic vs Bird on NBA TV. I also like to sit down for a nice Championship Match that pits Sting vs Luger at Starrcade on the WWE Network. But I am quick to fast forward through the commercials and boring matches to stay on the action at all times, trying to reduce the downtime that was ever present back in the day. So the creation of the DVR that I use to record NBA TV and the advent of online streaming for wrestling matches have taken products that I didn’t really think could be improved upon, and in fact, made them better! The end result is top flight sports without the humdrum corporate sponsorship.
As a quick aside, let me take a brief moment to also pay homage to those great commercials from the ’80s and ’90s. While I don’t like them muddying up my sports or movie watching, I do have a special place in my heart for those old school advertisements. In fact, I subscribe to a channel on YouTube called 80sCommercialVault, where you can watch
Where was I? Oh yeah, back to innovations and improvements. I have mentioned several times on my blog that I used to work at the “Video Superstore” when I was a young lad. If you are under the age of 30, you will really never understand just how popular video stores were in the early ’90s. If you wanted to watch a movie, you had three choices in most instances; you could watch the movie at the theater, wait a few weeks and catch it on VHS, or wait even longer and watch it on the premium movie channels if you had them at your home. The majority of us chose the second option because the video store was less expensive than the other two options and you could watch the movie when you had the time, not when it was showing.
I never dreamed in a million years that we could improve on the movie watching experience from the good old video store days. Every town had a video store, the movies were only $2.50 for a couple of nights, and you could watch them as many times as you wanted, even rewinding the most fun moments during the actual presentation. Well, we certainly improved upon that experience with the creation of the DVD and other digital mediums that offer movies like iTunes, PlayStation Network, Streaming Apps, and Netflix. Somehow, I don’t think Red Box would have been very successful with VHS tapes. And nothing can top lying on your couch and popping a newly released movie up on your widescreen phone for an intimate viewing experience. Even though all of this is great, I still miss the Video Superstore in my heart.
Because I mentioned streaming movies on Netflix and my phone, we should also include the improvements made to the internet over the years as taking something great and making it even better. The speed at which we can access things online has become something that we take for granted in a major way. I remember having AOL on my home computer in the mid to late ’90s and only being able to access the World Wide Web if (1) nobody was using the phone and (2) my modem was working. The modem worked about 50% of the time so neither of those
Fast forward to 2018, and with the addition of WiFi, I now have internet as soon as I pull into my driveway, whether I am on a laptop or using my phone. There are no wires running to the equipment, no painful screeching of the modem connecting with the internet, and I don’t get kicked off every time my aunt calls to see what ingredients are needed for a pound cake. In fact, those ingredients can be found online now at the click of a button, which is much quicker than dialing a phone number and waiting for someone to answer. So yeah, while I thought it was unbelievable that I could chat with someone 500 miles away in my own home with the old dial-up internet, it has been improved beyond what even Marty McFly had envisioned.
Improvements don’t all have to be of the NASA Engineering variety to be appreciated either. My favorite video game of all time was Tecmo Bowl. That was until the release of Tecmo Super Bowl and the creation of season play, full rosters, and stat tracking. The gameplay wasn’t vastly different but the options given made it a Legend! My favorite food is chili, and I love making a pot of it on a cold winter evening. I have stuck by the same chili recipe for many years and have even won the occasional local contest
My point is that even though I love originals when it comes to most things, I do also appreciate the upgraded versions just as much as the next guy. I am a man of convenience but I think some of the best products and entertainment options we have today are innovations on things that were actually really great when they were first created, or also known as the less convenient options. It is perfectly ok to love the original and the improved version in some cases. Which brings us to the new football card release that I want to review today. This is a product that we have really already seen this year but it is back with a major improvement from the original release.
Panini Optic Football is a product that many collectors wait for every year with a lot of anticipation. The only other widely collected football card that may hold the same broad interest across the hobby is Panini Prizm. But in reality, Optic Football is essentially the Donruss Flagship set with the addition of a chromium finish. And we all know that most collectors love a chromium finish in today’s releases. The addition of the chrome, and colored parallels in some cases, make this a more exciting chase than most collectors find the flagship product to be. Donruss is more for set builders while Optic is for the collectors who chase the “rainbows” and parallels of the modern product.
Optic Football has a 199 card base set checklist with 100 veterans and 99 rookies, broken up into Base Rookies and Rated Rookies. I am not sure why this isn’t an even 200 card checklist humdrum but I don’t suppose it is that big of a deal. The base set (1-199) offers parallels that include; Holo, White Sparkle, Aqua (/299), Orange (/199), Blue (/149), Red (/99), Purple (/50), Black Velocity (/25), Purple Stars (/25), Gold (/10), Green (/5), and Gold Vinyl (1/1). There are additional parallels for the rookies; Bronze, Green Velocity, Pink, Red and Yellow, and Teal Velocity. Some of these parallels are exclusive to retail offerings. For more information on that, consult this Product Release Post by Ryan Cracknell.
Autographs come in a variety of possibilities. The fun chase that I will be on will be looking for the 1988 and 1998 Tribute Autographs. These are very low numbered with 5 being the highest run in the set for any particular player. There are also; Rated Rookie Autographs, Elite Series Autographs, Fans of the Game Autographs, Legends Series Autographs, Rookie Dual Autographs, Rookie Elite Series Autographs, Rookie Patch Autographs, Rookie Triple Autographs, and Base Rookie Autographs. There are also several options for memorabilia and insert cards.
Each hobby box consists of 20 packs with 4 cards per pack. There are 4 inserts, 10 parallels and 1 autograph in each box, on average. They can also be found in retail in the form of fat packs, blasters, and retail boxes. This product was released right before Christmas, on December 19, and I just picked up my first box. Let’s see what we can uncover!
This is my favorite base card in the set. I loved this version in Donruss but the Chromium finish makes it really pop. Football and snow go hand in hand for me, even though we rarely get it down south. I love snow games and I remember this one last year because I had Jacoby Brissett in fantasy that day.
Patrick Mahomes was expected to be pretty good. But nobody expected the numbers he put up this year. He is giving the Chiefs a legitimate shot at a Super Bowl. The defense will need to step up a little to complete that quest.
This is the base RC in the set. Justin Jackson had a few good weeks with Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon III out due to injury. He has some talent and may pop up on the radar from time to time over the next few years.
A guy who has been on the radar all season is Baker Mayfield. Here he is on the Rated Rookie. Donruss Optic has one of the best looking rookie cards in all of football. First, I love the blue sky background. I also love the fact that they are wearing the uniforms with their numbers on them instead of “00”.
I had to include one of my favorite Georgia Bulldogs of all time! Sony Michel has had an up and down season but has leveled off in the last several weeks as a trusted running back for the Patriots.
This is the Silver Parallel of Andrew Luck. This has a bit of a Prizm feel to it and it is not numbered but it is very easy to spot when you open the pack!
The Bronze is also a non-numbered Parallel that is found in retail products. Derrius Guice never got started this year, thanks to a knee injury in the preseason. But Adrian Peterson proved that he had a little left in the tank in his absence.
The last non-numbered parallel I have is the Pink Quenton Nelson. Nelson is one of the players responsible for the Colts finding themselves back in the playoffs after a few down seasons. He and the Colts line protected Andrew Luck very well in 2018.
The Aqua Parallels are numbered to 299. I don’t know what to point to exactly for the Cowboys turnaround this season but their defense has been lights out and the addition of Amari Cooper has taken a lot of pressure off of Zeke.
Tyreek Hill is another player bound for the playoffs. This Orange Parallel is numbered to 199.
The Panthers will not be participating in the playoffs this year, as they will join my Falcons on an early vacation. Gregg Olsen went down with yet another foot injury this year and Ian Thomas filled in admirably at times. He may have a bright future and this bright Blue Parallel is numbered to 149.
The lowest numbered parallel in the rip was this Purple Kenyan Drake, numbered to 50. I don’t know if Drake is just inconsistent or if Adam Gase didn’t know how to use him. But he would explode at times and then disappear into the background at others.
The base Donruss set included “1998 Retro” inserts and Optic does the same. I didn’t really like ’98 back when it released but I am a fan of the remake.
Elite is a longstanding insert that goes all the way back to 1991 with Donruss. These are no longer the chase that they were back in the early 90’s but they are attractive cards. Yet another Odell was pulled from this break.
This is a top 2 insert for me. I love the way these “Explosive” inserts look. The photo doesn’t quite do it justice but this is a beautiful card. The subject of the card is in some limbo with the Steelers at the moment but he is ultra talented.
Fans of the Game has become a staple in the last few years. Chloe Kim is an Olympic Snowboarder who apparently loves the game of football too!
The Legends Series is back for another season. These look much better in the Optic brand than they do in the base Donruss set.
I enjoyed the MVP insert in Donruss but Optic kicks it up several notches with this Prizm design. This is another card that looks great in person!
It is hard to beat Optic year in and year out if you are the type of collector that doesn’t chase after sets like National Treasures and the other high ends boxes. Compared to those, Optic is a relative bargain and can be found under $100 if you do some shopping. The Rated Rookie autographs have the chance to be “Iconic” in the future, especially for big-name players like Mayfield or Saquon Barkley. I like the box configuration, the checklist, the colorful parallels, and the inserts. This is a must get for me each year. What are your thoughts on Panini Optic Football?