Hobby Musings: Ripping into 2018 Panini Classics Football – The start of the NFL regular season is upon us. Besides a new season to follow, it also means a new year of trading card releases to rip. One of those is 2018 Panini Classics Football. Continuing the line that came back only a few years ago, each box contains one autograph and one memorabilia card. A moderately priced box, the checklist includes rookies, current players and retired legends. Admittedly my favorite football product that Panini does each year, I got my hands on two boxes to rip.
Originally only a guaranteed auto per box product in the product’s revival, 2017 Classics was the year Panini started guaranteeing a memorabilia card per box. This year’s memorabilia cards in my two boxes were both good news and bad news for me. Good news in that they were both Hall of Famers. Bad news in that they were both the same player in Fran Tarkenton. That being said, my initial disappointment at seeing his name on the back of the card faded once I saw the second was a two-color patch card numbered to 15. While getting the same player is disappointing, it’s definitely mitigated by the better quality of the one card. The backs of the cards notate that the relic pieces are player-worn as opposed to game-worn.
I also did pretty very well with my autographs as one box yielded Hall of Famer Paul Hornung. Numbered to 49, the autograph was on a sticker. Surprisingly, the autograph in my other box was signed on the card and featured former Redskins QB Joe Theismann. After doing a little bit of research, I deduced that this was a buyback autograph. Falling one per inner case, the buyback autographs are advertised as being hard-signed and contain a variety of NFL legends. Either way, not a bad pair of signatures to have.
Beyond the autographs and memorabilia cards, each box also delivered seven numbered parallel cards and a slew of inserts. Among the numbered cards, I pulled one numbered chrome parallel card in each box. The highlight of all the numbered cards was a Tony Gonzalez chrome card numbered to 65. Most of my parallels were numbered too highly to be of much value, but if you get lucky enough to pull a high-end player at a low-enough serial number, it can add some boom to your box. Make sure to check your card fronts and backs thoroughly. While most of the serial numbers are on the front, some of them are tucked away in the back.
One of the coolest parts about Classics is the variety of the checklist. Besides getting the current stars and rookies, you can also find cards of Hall of Famers like Roger Staubach and Earl Campbell. Even cooler though is the inclusion of legends not in the Hall of Fame like Ken Anderson or Bill Bates. While some may argue that players like these can water down a checklist, I like that Panini includes them in there. It’s a chance in a lower-cost product to give collectors cards of subjects they normally wouldn’t get. Also, if you’re an in-person autograph collector like me, it gives you newer cards to get signed. If nothing else, it’s a nice change of pace and variety that you normally don’t get in a football product.
The rookies in Classics, whether it’s the base cards or hits, are featured in their collegiate uniforms instead of pro jerseys. They’re also not as plentiful as the other base cards, so that can make finishing a set a little tricky. It also means you won’t find all the top rookies in multiple boxes as evidenced by my one Lamar Jackson card being the only first-round QB card I pulled. I did come away with a Saquon Barkley rookie in my second box though.
Boxes of 2018 Panini Classics are currently being retailed around $55-60 online before shipping. While buying any box is a risk, for everything you get in one box of Classics, it’s relatively less of a risk than many other products. Some drawbacks include having the rookies in their college uniforms as opposed to NFL jerseys. Also, if you’re searching for high-end hits, you may want to look at other products. While they are available in Classics, the odds are long. That being said, Classics is a fun break and with 14 packs per box, you won’t be done with it in only 30 seconds. Even though I have hit some dud hits in my boxes in the past, it’s a product I’ve never been disappointed with after opening. As always, best of luck to all of you with your ripping.
For more Hobby Musings from Kelsey Schroyer, follow him on Twitter @KelSchroy75.
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