I am finally getting around to opening the boxes that have been sitting on my desk for a while now and wanted to start with one of my favorites. Panini’s Contenders. I have always enjoyed the design of these cards and their quality. The simplicity and continuity of the cards each year with the ticket on the sidebar and singular player focus is something that I enjoy in a card. In general, I think Panini does a nice job on their card designs and this set is no different. Contenders is in their 20th year now, which i initially had no idea they were around this long until I remembered the flip box I still have from the first year with Barry Sanders on the inside cover…memories. They used to make the boxes much nicer back then…now it’s just a small box with lots of cards in them.
Now for the review…
Card Design 4 of 5
As i said in the intro, i really like the consistent design. Each card has the basic player information on the front with the name, team, position and player number. Contenders goes a step further with the name of the stadium and years the player has been a pro which is kind of a cool feature you either don’t find on a card or only find on the back. Panini has also managed to incorporate the teams colors in the left bar ‘tickets’. I personally like the Redskins cards, but am partial to the Burgundy and Gold on cards…I think it makes them punch really nicely. What’s up with Carolina Panthers and their 1984 Trapper Keeper font? I’m glad they finally decided to dump it and go with something more contemporary.
One design piece that i don’t think is that successful is the ‘super graphic’ last name ghosted in the background with a very subtle shadow line. My problem with this is that they already have the players full name on the card, so adding the last name again is simply redundant and unnecessary in my opinion. I would also like to have seen the team logo on the top right be a little larger and the helmet on the ticket gone…or maybe this could be where the larger logo occurs. It’s just a little redundant to these eyes.
Contenders does a nice job on their subsets and have continued with the die-cut love fest. The Rookie of the Year Contenders are quite nice and the die cut works well here as they fit nicely in my gentle, yet manly grasp. These types of die cuts don’t work well in sleeves or top loaders and always seems to lean to one side or another.
Another subset is the MVP Contenders and are really nice looking. The die-cut and supergraphic MVP font work very well, even though none of the guys i pulled had any real shot at winning the MVP, it’s still a nice subset for player collectors.
Photography 4 of 5
Panini has managed to gather full length photos of each of the player for the majority of the cards, keeping their knees, ankles and feet in tact! Football cards tend to be overcropped these days so it’s nice to see a full body shot of the player on his card. Each photo is crisp and there is no clutter with unnecessary background action…just the player for whom the card is representing. The photos on the back are a simple blow up of the one on the front of the card. Kind of wish they would use a different photo, maybe a portrait shot or something…different.
Hits 4 of 5
The box advertises 5 autos per box and that is pretty much what you get. I happened to get what i believe is an extra auto with the dreaded redemption card, an Alshon Jeffrey Rookie Ticket RPS. As i’ve stated in the past, i really hate redemption cards. I understand why they do it and that it just needs to be done sometimes…it’s just disappointing to have to wait months for your hit. Sometimes a guy just needs a hit.
The second pack I opened in this box had an awesomely shiny Redskins rookie card Autograph numbered 66/99…Kirk Cousins. I was really hoping for the other rookie Redskins QB, but this guy might end up being the guy…somewhere. I believe i have 5 Cousins autos now…and zero RG3 autos…FML! Here’s a fun fact. No matter what orientation you lay the card out, the serial number always says 66/99…fun with sixes and nines you kinky freaks!
The other autos in the box weren’t that spectacular and quite frankly i think the kids these days seriously need to work on their penmanship. They are probably signing hundreds of items, but the Chris Polk auto is just begging to be forged by a man of lesser character.
I got a kicker auto, that’s a little weird. Zeurlein had a great season, but he’s still a kicker. I’m just really i didn’t pull yet another Dontari Poe auto!
The Bucs and the Cardinals guys are not on my radar, if anyone has an idea who they are or just needs them for a PC, let me know. Otherwise they are ebay bound.
This Panini product seems to give you a good number of autos, but nothing spectacular.
All in all i am pretty happy with the box. I managed to get quite a few Redskins, no RG3, but i did pull a serial numbered Kirk Cousins auto. By the way, i used to write just like Captain Kirk when i was in the 5th grade. At least his auto is clean and legible…looking at you Chris Polk! Contenders is a box that i tend to buy each year and will continue to do so…but one a year is more than enough for me. The cards are great and you get a good amount of inserts, I just don’t know if the price justifies the cards you pull and their value.
This years subsets look great as usual. I mentioned the MVP Contenders and the Rookie of the Year Contenders, but the subset I love is the Rookie Stallion cards…the name is a little…um…weird. But the photos are great and i love the layout and use of fonts.
Not too crazy about the Legendary Champion cards, nice idea and great player selection, just don’t love the design.
Here are the Redskins from the box!
That’s it folks. I have a couple more breaks to cover and i will be caught up! Hope you enjoy the reviews.