Last year when Panini returned to the hockey card world they decided to give collectors products that felt like they did in the past. 10/11 Score had a very 90's look and feel to it. This year it seems that Panini is staying away from the retro base set feel, and giving us an attempt at a more contemporary design. The basic Score card is extremely clean and sparse. It has the most minimal pieces of information on the front - player and team with the score brand and team logo. That's it. The team's colors give the photo a nice border highlight to encase the player. I have to say that I enjoy the look of these cards. They are very bright and feature nice photos of the players. But how much do I enjoy the cards? Well, I can't say that I'm jumping out of my chair for them, but they're 'good enough'. They look nice and are pretty much what I would expect from this type of product.
The backs of the base cards give a complete career statistics of the featured player. The design of the back lends itself very well for displaying information. Impressive job Panini! If there was one thing I would add, it would be nice to have a head shot of the player. This, I believe, would really make the backs look like a full-statistical readout of the player that you might find on NHL.com or other information source. I do have to commend Panini on the write-up of the player on the backs of the cards. It's great to have a bit more than just numbers to look at. These make for a fun read and help collectors learn more about their favorite players.
The Hot Rookie cards are back again to fill out the rest of the set. These cards have been improved from last year's design. The cards do a nice job of making the rookies jump out at you. Notice how Cody Hodgson's image is in front of the Hot Rookies graphic. It's a nice job by the designers to do little things like that to make the cards better. I really enjoy how different these rookie cards are from the rest of the set. They certainly stand out, and I think collectors will enjoy collecting these cards.
Base Card Design Score:
In the 1990's, card collectors were crazy about insert cards. It was all the rage. Inserts cards are far less prevalent now than they were back then, but Score does a pretty good job of reaching the amount of inserts you can get within a product since way back in the day! The inserts you can find in 11/12 Score actually have their roots in the early 90's.
This Franchise insert card of Taylor Hall is a good example of a modernized 90's insert card. I remember trying to pull Franchise inserts in high school... they were tough pulls! These Franchise inserts actually probably match the same ratios as the ones in back then, but unfortunately, they don't have the same appeal or value they once carried. The same goes for the stunning looking black and white Score B inserts.
Another thowback insert card type is this die-cut NHL logo insert. It's hard to tell in the scan, but the top portion of this card is die-cut so that the NHL logo is pointy on top. I wasn't sure how these cards would turn out, but I think they actually look quite nice. The points on my Eric Staal card are razor sharp! This is definitely an interesting and fun card to pull out of a pack. I am sure younger collectors would especially appreciate a card like this one. Another die-cut card available out of score are the Snow Globe inserts. These cards come back this year with a slightly updated design.
And of course how can I not mention parallel cards when writing about Panini!?! There are gold cards like the one shown above, black bordered ones, as well as the one-per-pack glossy cards. I am very glad that this year the glossy cards have a special notation on the back that says it's the glossy version. As a collector, I like to put all my cards in penny sleeves... and it was very difficult to distinguish the glossies from the regular cards.
Though I didn't pull any in the box I opened, I know that Panini has done some sneaky things with Score. Last year there were French back versions that were rumored to be limited to 5 or 10 copies each. This year I think there might be thicker photo variations of cards inserted into Score. They might be as rare as the French backs. I'm not sure though. If anyone has specific information about this, please leave it in the comments below! I'd love to know all of Score's secrets!
And finally, I love that you can pull autographs from Score. There are rookie autographs as well as base card autographs. They are a difficult pull, but definitely worthy of a chase since they are a pretty rare find.
Overall Rating -
This year's Score improves upon last year's offering. I am amazed at how much value and fun Panini has packed into this product. It is a product that anyone can afford to buy, and there are amazing cards to be found within. For autograph hunters, the base cards are a superior choice to get in-person or TTM autographs. They are bright and have a great surface for autos. Collectors like me who collected in the 90's will enjoy pulling inserts and remember what it was like to chase them back then. And everyone will appreciate getting the opportunity to get a certified autograph from a pack that costs about $1. I highly recommend getting some of this product. Great start to the hockey season Panini!
(not an average)
Watch me open a box of Score!