Basketball fans were treated to another late season NBA release by Panini this last week. I say “another” with emphasis as there have been several Panini basketball sets that have come out in the last month or so.
You can almost tell the product managers at Panini have had their hands full with all these releases, as the sets lack the insert depth that many Panini sets often have. I’m not really saying this is a good thing or a bad thing, as sometimes less inserts with larger number of players in the checklist can be a simpler way to collect.
This set lacks the fluidity that a Select, Preferred or Prizm have. The namesake cards (Crusade) have a unique deign and card stock. Whereas the rest of the cards are rather plain white-out type designs anyone can make in 45 mins on their home computer.
The base set seems neglected to me in most sets, but especially 12/13 Crusade basketball. There are 100 total cards, with no parallel or variations. Seems odd to me that the cards most people end up with (commons/base) are often the cards the company spends the least amount of time trying to make them collectible. What makes the base set seem really out of place in this set are the 300 Crusade insert cards that bear the sets namesake, but also are colorful designs with several parallels. Just seems like the Crusade inserts make it look like Panini threw a 100 card base set together because they had to, and not because they expect (or want) people to collect the cards.
To me, if the Crusade set was the base set, they’d be even more collectible. The design of these cards would have made awesome base cards, but instead this is a quasi-base set at best. Not to mention, you have “rookies” like Klay Thompson that has a base card and a Crusade insert …. Basketball collectors would have went crazy for “true rookie” Crusade parallels. Not that collectors aren’t paying up for the rare Crusade parallel cards, it just would have been cooler if these were the base set an not an insert set. That all being said, the inclusion of 5 parallel levels (Red – Serial #/99, Purple – Serial #/49, Green – Serial #/25, Gold – Serial #/10, Black – Serial #1/1) makes these exciting to find when you do open packs or boxes. If this set makes it back on the roster for 13/14 let’s hope the Crusade designs and card stock is used though out the set, not just on these cards.
The insert cards in this set not named Crusade all look like they could be extensions of the base set, but they all have their own unique numbering. The Knight Court plays off the Panini’s logo that features a knight on horseback. This is one of the larger insert sete you’ll see with 50 total cards in the set.
Nobility could almost be confused as a base card, except it says Nobility on it. Which seems like a strange term to use on any set referring to any athlete, but we’ll let that slide. What we won’t let slide are how weak these cards (and the other almost identical looking inserts) are. No serial ##’s – no parallel cards to chase…just 25 cards of guys that have nobility. That’s not going to get hardcore collectors excited, let alone new ones.
Royalty is a more appropriate named set and again would be much cooler if it featured the card technology the crusade inserts do, or even if they were serial #/1000 but the world isn’t perfect I guess. Nothing special here except the hall of fame players that appear on the cards.
Like many of the sets that have come out recently from Panini, this set contains many current and NBA stars autograph, which with a double rookie class isn’t the best, but its not all bad. The first 50 players on the Majestic Autograph cards appear to be current NBA players, where the latter 50 players on the list are former NBA players. There are two levels of parallel cards in the auto set, both gold and black.
To keep things simple, there are Majestic material cards which also have prime versions as well. I actually like how these material cards look, as its not the traditional square cut out that frames the jersey and more of a rectangular design. The checklist features mostly current NBA players, but there are some retired players that make it into the set.
The final sub-set you can collect are the Quest themed cards. Again, the design on these ties into the very plain looking cards that are in this set, making them somewhat forgettable in my opinion. Much like the Majestic line, there are autograph and material Quest cards.
For the most part, this is an average release that is highlighted by the Prizm infused Crusade cars, which are colorful and unique. If only Panini had mixed some of those design elements into the other cards, this would have been a more cohesive set. The way it sits, it sure does make the Crusade inserts stand out, but you will blow by any other hit unless its a Kobe or Durant auto. This set is like 25% done, tie in some more unique element next year and it might justify the high price tag per box and certainly help build a brand of cards collectors will look forward to every season.