Funny how “reality” can change from one point in time to another.
We see evidence of it everywhere, from the promise of a newly elected politician to his public outing as a less than honorable person, to the greatly hyped movie or TV show that tanks, to the unheralded 48th round draft pick that ends up making the All-Star team. Initial perception does not always equate with the eventual reality.
And we may see that with a basketball card product that hit the shelves this week. 2013/14 Panini Spectra Basketball released on July 16, and the early returns act as if this set may be a lot more in demand than many people thought.
When Panini first announced that the Spectra brand was coming to basketball cards after it’s NFL debut, it was met with somewhat of a stifled moan. Indeed, a glance through some of the larger forums online reveal a consensus (among those that posted) that another set of this type was unnecessary, and the sample cards teased were uninspiring. Here are a couple of quotes that were posted which seemed to sum up what most were writing:
“It wasn't a hit in football. They aren't sought after cards. And then they go and make it a one pack box. Maybe that would fly next year but not with this junky rookie class. Just bring on National Treasures and Immaculate and go on to next year already.”
“Panini really has trouble with understanding the concept of rarity, and that rarity=value.”
But, as we mentioned above, time can often alter a perception of reality, and when the cards released this week the reaction was considerably more favorable than what those quotes would have offered. Several box and case breaks were released via the usual channels, and some of the hits found were causing empty slots in the breaks to fill up.
Some of this may be attributed to the perception of a better value than expected. Spectra was pre-sold to dealers with the configuration of 5 boxes per case, 1 pack per box, and 8 cards per pack. However, on the day before the official release, Panini announced via their website and blog “Although each box of 2013-14 Spectra Basketball promises to include eight cards, it actually delivers 12, including five autograph memorabilia cards and two memorabilia cards.”
That 50% increase in the number of cards per box, especially if a collector first saw it in a break or upon opening a box without knowing of the increase in advance, would certainly create a good buzz. And the increase did not come via the inclusion of cards more boring than the hits, but rather still involved many cards with the Optichrome technology Panini uses. The bonus helps soften the punchy $275-290 per box price point.
Danny Mayfield, owner of DKSportsbreaks.com, was discussing the product with another dealer. His immediate take on Spectra was built on this upgrade. He said, "They made a lot of people happy when the product actually came out as a twelve card two pack box. This brought the hits up to 8 total."
Additionally, the increase included one more autograph and memorabilia card over what was originally promised in the pre-sale materials. The original promise mentioned four Autographed Memorabilia cards and one Memorabilia card.
The variety of those hits is interesting in this product. Panini’s pre-release materials and the box-breaks that have taken place reveal several types of hits for collectors to chase:
- Rookie Jersey Autos: the NBA's young stars paired with a sizable swatch
- All-Star Jersey Autos: featuring only NBA All-Stars
- Spectacular Swatch Signatures: stars including Kyrie Irving and others
- Rookie Jumbo Jersey: super-sized swatch with some prime versions numbered to 10 and 1
- Jumbo Prime Materials: numbered to 10 or less
Another help in improving the excitement around the Spectra offering has been the actual cards being pulled from the packs. Several low-numbered cards with intricate patch pieces have garnered great comments on the break pages, and a quick glance at eBay’s completed listings revealed some cards selling for three figures in the first 24 hours of release.
Sadly, the product is plagued with the reality of redemptions. That is not a reality that is prone to be altered by perception. It just exists. But in a product that includes multiple hits, parallel and variation cards that include Blue #’d/65, Red Die-Cut Variations #’d/25, Gold #’d/10, and Black #’d/ 1/1, the occasional redemption is unlikely to hurt the reputation. Indeed, now that the cards have been released, 2013/14 Panini Spectra Basketball seems to be forging a reputation based on reality and not just perception. Time will tell, as it always does.
You can see the hottest (most watched) 2013-14 Panini Spectra cards at auction via the live list below.