As I spend my Thanksgiving Holiday at my childhood home, I can’t help but think of all the things I use to do around here as a kid. This was my home from when I was about 6 until I was 20, when I moved out on my own. I slept the night before Thanksgiving in my old bedroom under a ceiling fan that I personally installed about 25 years ago! That ceiling fan has stood the test of time; and is really the first semblance of home improvement I ever got under my belt. It’s turned out to be the best result as well, as time has gone on. I come and go at my parent’s home periodically but I rarely get to slow down and just soak up my surroundings.
Just across the room is the closet where I kept all of my sports cards as a kid. I almost expect to be able to walk over, open the door, and find a box set of 1990 Neon Topps. That was the first complete set I ever owned and it was given to me by my parents that year for Christmas. I’ve spent the last 28 years trying to build sets on my own through packs and boxes but my affinity for sets began that year, with that set, in this very room. I remember the Frank Thomas and Robin Ventura RC’s as the big cards back then. I still have those in top loaders today as they hold true sentimental value. The one card that always eluded me was the Frank Thomas “No Name” Error.
I have a lot of memories from home of sports cards but they really become more vivid during the holidays. I was fortunate enough to be a kid during the days when cards were very abundant and very cheap. That didn’t really work out from an investment standpoint; as the Gregg Jefferies Future Star turned out to be much more heavily produced than we thought when we were setting it aside for retirement. But when I was a kid, you could pop in Wal-Mart and pick up Donruss, Fleer, Topps, Score, Pro Set, Hoops, or any of the others lying around the card kiosk for about .45 cents. You could absolutely load up on cards if you could squeeze a $5 spot out of your parents. That was pretty difficult but I could always make due with $2-$3.
So while I spent most of the year picking up those “2 for $1” packs, it was Christmas time when I could really cash in on something that I wanted for my collection. There was always something too flashy and shiny to pick up on a routine trip to the store but was well within the capabilities of a man like Santa. One of the best single cards I ever got at Christmas was the 1998 Contenders Peyton Manning. It was about a $40 card then but has seen a very nice rise in popularity and value since then. There was a Herschel Walker autograph one year and a Hines Ward signed football another. And just as recent as last year, at the tender age of 41, my parents still bought me a Topps Heritage Rookie Reprint Autograph of Reggie Jackson! Christmas time has always been a tremendous time for me as a sports card collector.
I still have a big wish list for Santa this Christmas but now that I have kids, I have to put my list to the back of the stack. My Michael Jordan RC, Jackie Robinson, Joe Montana RC, and Barry Sanders Autograph will have to wait. Santa has to focus on Minion toys, trampolines, and horse accessories this year. But being back home for those couple of days rekindled the fire in me that tends to burn out during the mundane parts of the year when work, home repairs, paying bills, and just generally being an adult saps the life out of you. Sometimes you have to be reminded that life doesn’t have to always be hard. It doesn’t have to be one responsibility after another. Sometimes, you can step away from being a boring grown up and go back to what made you a fun kid. For me, that’s always been sports cards (and sometimes video games and horror movies).
As the football season is hitting the home stretch, one of the more fun sets of the year has released; 2018 Panini Prizm. Prizm is always a fun set for a few reasons:
- The cards are always shiny and attention grabbing.
- They are loaded with rookies in their NFL uniforms with their actual jersey numbers.
- Nobody does color parallels better than Prizm!
- The insert designs are never disappointing.
- Some of the autographs are killer!
- The “Stained Glass” and Camo cards are stunning!
- One of the most sought after cards in the set is an otherwise “plain” card that isn’t autographed or numbered. It’s the Silver Prizm that falls 1 per box on average.
Top Loader Box Spacer. Museum-grade archival. 11-15/16 x 4-1/8″. Fold on scores as boxes fill.
So while I love Classics, because of the potential for Buybacks and Veteran Autos; Optic, because of the design, card stock, and RC photos; and Spectra, because of the sheer beauty of the cards; Prizm brings a little bit of everything to the table and is one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year in Football.
For 2018, Prizm Hobby Boxes have 12 packs, 3 autographs and 12 Prizm parallels to unearth. The parallels are:
- Silver – Non Numbered
- Hyper – #d to 275
- Orange – #d to 249
- Light Blue – #d to 199
- Red Wave – #d to 149
- Blue Scope – #d to 99
- Green Crystals – #d to 75
- Purple Power – #d to 49
- Camo – #d to 25
- Gold – #d to 10
- Gold Vinyl – #d to 5
- Black Finite – #d to 1
Autographs also come in various Prizm Parallels and there are even Rookie Patch Autographs that are case hits. RPA’s are still a fairly new offering in Prizm.
There are a number of insert sets as well, including some familiar designs along with fresh introductions.
All told, the base set is 300 cards. Veterans are found in the checklist from Cards 1-200 and Rookies are 201-300. Hobby Boxes have 12 packs with 12 cards each and you can expect to find 3 autographs, 4 inserts and 10 Prizm Cards.
PSA Graded Card Storage Box. 3-3/4 x 12-1/2 x 5-1/2″ (inside). Holds 25 PSA Graded Card Slabs. These boxes are made from high-quality paperboard that is wrapped in white paper outside. Boxes feature an interior rail system that the slabs slip perfectly into. The system keeps slabs separated and firmly in place.
I’ve busted a few boxes over the last couple of weeks and it has truly felt like Christmas morning each time. Let’s take a look at what prizes have been unwrapped!
This JuJu Smith-Schuster is the perfect example of the base card. There are a lot of colors that pop for the Steelers team and is a great action shot.
The Vikings colors also look really good on the Prizm stock.
The card backs are typical for Panini products in today’s market. There is one line of season totals plus the career numbers. There is some reading material but no personal info for the player. I miss that info on card backs.
Unfortunately, Prizm can be damaged in several ways. That is just the nature of the Prizm technology. This particular Carlos Hyde has a print defect but they can also show dust and pick up fingerprints easily. Surface is always tough for grading with Prizm.
Baker Mayfield has had a better season than I imagined he would. He was no doubt talented in college but I was skeptical of his game translating. I suppose that is why I am not a pro scout. He has played very well and with the help of another high profile Browns RC (coming up), he has made them exciting to watch.
Saquon Barkley is making his case for Offensive Rookie of the Year with a stellar debut season. He could be putting up Todd Gurley type numbers in the next couple of years. The Giants are going to have to restock at QB but have another rookie they are trying to groom in Kyle Lauletta.
I’m not completely sold on the Color Rush Jersey concept but I do love them on football cards. If I had a say though, these would be SP’s as opposed to base cards. I think these could easily fall into the “Jersey Variation” category.
These guys are making a case for Defensive Rookie of the Year as they have both become forces in the secondary in the AFC.
If you are new to the newsletter, I am a Georgia Bulldog fan. I love pulling these guys in rips but I hated that we had to replace them in Athens. We have another couple of guys that will hopefully be gracing cardboard in the next few years in D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield. But this tandem above did it better than any in history!
Another Bulldog that is making noise in the NFL as a rookie is Roquan Smith. His success is probably the least surprising to me from the 2017 Bulldogs because he was one of the best linebackers to ever wear the Red and Black. And we have had some good ones!
One of the most inspirational stories to come along in the NFL in several years is that of Shaquem Griffin. It’s easy to make the comparison but it reminds me of when I collected Jim Abbott as a kid. He is a great player to look up to for kids looking to push themselves harder.
One of the coolest inserts in the set is APEX. This is actually the only one I’ve pulled in 3 boxes!
There are two Hall of Fame inserts. The first is the basic Hall of Fame card like the one pictured above.
The other is the Hall of Fame Tribute, again featuring Ray Lewis of the Ravens.
HYPE returns in 2018 and shows off the Prizm technology in a big way!
I’ve said it before but I am a sucker for celestial insert cards. This Illumination is no exception.
Lamar Jackson did make an Instant Impact with a small part of the playbook during the first half of the season but he has been thrust into the starting role with the injury to Joe Flacco. After going 2-0 in his first two starts, Flacco may have trouble getting the job back.
Rookie Introduction is the final insert set I pulled. I pulled both Barkley and Lamar Jackson here. I’m hanging on to all the Barkley cards I can find. He is really a special talent.
The highest numbered Prizm Parallel is actually one of my favorites. It is definitely in the Top 2. While this is labeled Hyper, I prefer to call it Tie-Dye.
Orange is numbered to 249 and is a die cut.
Light Blue is numbered to 199 and is also a die cut. Another Barkley is a welcome addition!
Red Wave is pretty busy and almost has an Orange tint to it. Patrick Mahomes II is a good pull though. The Red is numbered to 149.
Blue Scope is a cool Prizm Parallel and I specifically like the dark blue color. This Dion Lewis is an odd looking card in person though. It almost looks like a robot on the card. These are numbered to 99.
The Green Crystal (or Cracked Ice as I like to refer to it) is the other parallel that is in my Top 2. This is a beautiful card in person! These are numbered to 75.
Purple Power is the lowest numbered Prizm Parallel that I pulled that wasn’t numbered – spoiler alert. These are numbered to 49 and are very nice looking.
Here are a few of the base rookie autographs I pulled in the boxes. James Washington is on the verge of breaking out but he just hasn’t quite done it yet.
The best autograph I pulled was this Purple Power Baker Mayfield, numbered to 49. Though this isn’t the lowest numbered autograph, this is currently the hottest of the bunch! I was very pleased with this pull!
The other awesome autograph I pulled was this 1/1 Black Finite Josh Allen. This could eventually overtake the Baker Mayfield from a value standpoint but Allen has been hurt for the last several weeks. He recently came back and had a really good game against Jacksonville so maybe he is going to find himself back among the elite when it comes to 2018 card value.
I have been super pleased with my dive into 2018 Panini Prizm so far. I always enjoy the product, almost as much as Optic when it releases. There is just something about the shiny colors that still grabs your attention and makes you want to rip. The price is a little heavier than products like Unparalleled, Classics, and XR but the full box configuration is a cool set up. Maybe this is something you can ask Santa to put together for you this year if you have been good. I definitely would be happy to find a box in my stocking on Christmas morning!