Twenty years ago at this time, with work stoppages plaguing both baseball and hockey and Michael Jordan spending some brief time in retirement, the most activity in the hobby was centered around football. With a good young crop of young players and collector interest moving in that direction, the card companies were also looking to expand their football lines. One of the survivors of the early 1990’s was Playoff which had launched just a couple of years earlier and were known in the hobby for creating the thickest and most durable cards in the market. One of the products they created is still being made today. Panini inherited several brands from Donruss and the latest version arrived in stores with the recent release of 2014 Panini Absolute Football.
It’s the 20th anniversary of the original launch and the format for Absolute is different, packing more hits but at a higher price point. The design is also a bit more upscale.
This year’s product comes in a ten card pack/box and two autographs, three memorabilia cards, one Hogg Heaven insert; a Quad or Rookie Quad card, one parallel and one base card. With one base card per box, you need a lot of boxes to finish a base set. Frankly if base cards were not held in such low esteem today, I’d say one of the better long-term plays is to buy those cheaper base cards in some of the products where they are really difficult to find and then hold on to sell them a year or two later when the supply has totally dried up.
With the upgraded look, the promised autographs and some low serial number hits, one might think Absolute would have been more successful but the reality is that it has joined the parade of current products selling below cost. My local card store (Triple Cards in Plano TX) said he had not sold any Absolute and on eBay, hobby box prices have dipped to a point where some have sold for under $100 per box.
Here’s what we pulled in one box provided by Panini:
Base Card: Cordarrelle Petterson
Hogg Heaven: Michael Crabtree
Hogg Heaven Hogg Wild (#d to 10): Larry Fitzgerald
Jersey Ball (#d to 149): Dri Archer
Tools of the Trade Anniversary Parallel (Jersey Card, (#d to 20): Deion Sanders
Tools of the Trade Complete Rookies Spectrum Silver (#d to 15): Ka’Deem Carey
Panini Rewards Points Card: 150
Not an overwhelming haul at the current price level and just one live autograph was a bit disappointing, which seems to be the general feeling on Absolute this year. Overall, I like the design. Some of the colors really pop. At this price level, however, sticker autographs are hard to deal with. We did land two present or future Hall of Famers with serial numbering of 20 or fewer and in all, four of our hits were numbered to under 100.
2014 Panini Absolute is a hit-based product and from a re-sale standpoint, we did not receive our money’s worth from this box. I will say the hit cost is not really much beyond similar products, however. We’re not sure if boxes will drop any further, but it’s worth keeping an eye on or at least checking eBay to see what’s coming out of them as with future success by this year’s rookie crop, prices could rebound at some point.