Wednesday, May 16, 2012

2011-2012 Panini Contenders Review

Panini steps up their game with their just released Contenders hockey card set. Various tweaks and changes from last year have really improved the product. It's great to see Panini making strides to shake up their hockey card lines for the better. Let's see what a typical box brings us!


Base Card Design -
Contenders this year goes with an almost full bleed photography look rather than the ticket aesthetic of old. The cards are very bright and vibrant - perfect for a sport played on shimmering ice. The bottom border of the card has a subtle marbled ice background along with the main information box. All these aspects play well together to create a successful base card. The information box is actually one of the nicest aspects of the base card. It has the perfect amount of foiling to separate and highlight key pieces of information. One inclusion that usually isn't included is the conference (west or east) that the player contends in. It's a nice touch for a product that focuses on the playoffs as a theme. These base cards show me that Panini wants to up their level of quality in terms of design, and I hope their future products continue this trend.


The back of the base card doesn't excite me as much as the front does. It's much more muted. As you can see all the parts of the back are separated into a box layout. The design is functional, but bland. The backs contain the standard paragraph of information as well as up to 3 years of statistics.


Cup Contenders is a numbered subset of the main base set. Much of the card is similar to the standard base card except for the fact that these cards have a ghosted out white background rather than the full color photography and a large Cup Contenders logo atop the card. These cards add a little value to the product, but I don't see the need for them. It simply doubles up many of the players in the main set. These cards remind me of the Essentials cards within Upper Deck's SP Authentic line. They shouldn't be too hard to find for specific player collectors as they are all numbered to 999.


The Calder Contenders cards are the rookie cards found in the Contenders set. There are both autographed and non-autographed versions of the rookies. The lesser named rookies don't have the autograph treatment and are numbered to 999 whereas the bigger name auto'd rookies are numbered to 800. The number 800 is an odd choice as not many cards carry that serial numbering. My theory is that it makes the cards more rare than their SP Authentic counterparts (which are numbered to 999). Will collectors see that there are almost 200 less autographed rookie cards per player and cause the Calder Contenders to have a higher value? Time will tell... it should be something interesting to see. Speaking of numbering, this is something totally new for this line of cards. In the past it has been standard for Contenders to not number their cards and have collectors guess as to which ones were short printed. I for one like this change... a lot! And notice the serial numbering is on the front now... another great move! Lovin' it! Thanks Panini, these two improvements make a definite positive difference.

Base Card Design Score:
9/10

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
The main draw of Contenders have always been the hard signed rookie ticket auto cards. This year it's the same, but with a few more interesting gems to find. Panini has introduced some new inserts for collectors to clamor over with this release.


The NHL Ink cards are nice looking standard autograph cards that can be found in Contenders. The large white background and silver foil along with classy font make this card very appealing. Add to that plenty of room for a blue ink autograph and you have a real winner here! Though these cards are unnumbered, they should make for a very attractive set for collectors to complete. My guess is that some of the NHL Ink cards will be short printed and harder to find, which could make completing the set a challenge.


The Calder Contenders insert shown above is a beautiful addition to the Contenders line. These cards are stunning to see. Each card is very thick (like it could hold a patch piece), and is limited to 100. The foil on the card has a rainbow shimmer to it that really elevates the look of these cards. Though they are amazing looking cards, they may be prone to chipping and damage. The all black background will show any imperfections on the face or edges. The Cup Contenders have a similar look to these cards but feature non-rookie NHL stars. Chris, the owner of D&P Sports Cards was lucky enough to pull a John Tavares silver ink autograph and patch. The card is a real beauty. Check it out in my video break of Contenders at the end of this review. It is a GREAT looking card.


Foil parallels cards are another inclusion in this year's Contenders set. This year Panini has really put aside a heavy handed foil approach to the cards, but these foil parallels sort of bring that back. The card looks nice and is serial numbered to 100. I'm glad Panini did not overuse foil in their hockey products, having a foil parallel card such as the one above works well when there aren't too many of them.

Collectors will find many more inserts in their boxes of Contenders. One that I will mention but have not seen in person are the booklet cards. Some booklet cards feature up to six autographs on them. They are sticker autographs, but are amazing pulls regardless that they are not hard signed. I definitely wouldn't complain if I were lucky enough to pull one.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:
9.5/10

Overall Rating -
This year's Contenders blew me away. I honestly was not planning on liking the product much after what was released in 10/11. Last year, Contenders had the rookie ticket autos, thin foil board inserts, a few inserts with acetate and leather feel, no serial numbering, and a chance at an impossibly hard to find golden ticket card. It was a nice product, but not one that I was really interested in purchasing multiples of.

11/12 Contenders is a completely different animal.

This year the cards have been re-vamped to look classy. Both base cards and inserts have been vastly improved in the way of their design. Serial numbering has been introduced as well as game-used patch cards. And of course there is the possibility of multi-autograph booklet cards. Wow! This is the way to innovate and improve upon a product.

Kudos to Panini for doing such an awesome job. Boxes run slightly over $100. There are 18 packs per box with an average of 3 hits. I have no problem with highly recommending this product to any hockey collector. This year's Contenders oozes quality... go and get some!

Overall Rating:
9.5/10
(not an average)

Here's my break of 11/12 Contenders and a tour of D&P Sports Cards!

65 comments:

  1. by far my fav set of the year, this and certified! i love how clean everything looks on it!(you touched on the no borders, brighter colours, less foil) is panini sending you a box (like the elite) ? i actually cant wait till you hunt down the sharks starting line-up booklet!

    YT - canucks112785

    ReplyDelete
  2. Contenders... Wow does that ever look fantastic. I have nothing to chase, but I'd be all for getting a box of this. And collecting the base set would be easy, but definitely a keeper.
    I know Panini changed their hockey brand manager, and it looks like they made one heck of a great choice!

    TF3W // klowd1661

    ReplyDelete
  3. If you added a value category on your reviews this would probably get, what, a 2?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, I think Contenders this year has very good value overall. After watching breaks and seeing various things you can get I think Contenders is a good value compared with products of similar standing. Of course, 95% of the time you will not get your money back... but that is just what any other product is like.

      Delete
  4. I like Contenders. It's on-card auto's (for the most part) and the cards look good for the most part.

    - ethannyk

    ReplyDelete
  5. i like contenders you get some nice autos and most are rookies so its a very nice product

    ReplyDelete
  6. i liked contenders, but didnt love it like i did with SPX or Artifacts, it was better than elite, but i dont think it was outstanding. they did a nice job doing booklets and that, but they should have more memorbelia cards and better base in my opinion.

    youtube: brendar7

    ReplyDelete
  7. crazymonkeydude10 above sorry

    ReplyDelete
  8. right up there with the other top products in terms of the look of the cards and the value per box isn't bad either. i think the base set looks even better then last year and the patch autos look really nice but it's hard to keep those black borders in great shape. i think panini really did a nice job on this and elite. i'll be picking up a box for sure. overall i'd give the product a 9.5
    kaplan397 on youtube

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love Contenders. I was after the base set last year of Contenders because I thought it was nice but this year's base design is just as good. I love their on card autos as well as added patch cards. I wish they kept it as 24 packs. They had more hits last year which was a bit better, but the hits are better this year. I think there's a lot of correlation in this product. Buying boxes/cases, are not that great since I've seen many people get lots of doubles and even triples. -BrassardFan

    ReplyDelete
  10. Love contenders this year. It's hit or miss but the cards that can be pulled including booklets are Sick. Favorite product so far.
    -Puckfan87

    ReplyDelete
  11. i really like the look of the base cards, especially the bottom
    xMooner

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love how you can get patch auto cards in this product,bookets, and i love the base design this year. I also like how they stilled included the ticket desig on the base cards. Thanks again for the contest, love your vids and keep up the GREAT work!

    ★★★★★(5 stars out of 5)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the comment above is from
      youtube-cn2117HabsFan

      haha sorry about that I forgot to my youtube name

      Delete
  13. This stuff is amazing. Love the on card autos and I feel people aren't feeling the love. Not every product is going to be perfect. This is going to be one of Panini's best in the long run. Only thing I didn't like was the checklist of the "NHL Ink" subset. No disrespect to Glencross or anything but what is he doing with memorabilia or autos?

    YT-warriorsmi

    ReplyDelete
  14. awsome product looks awsome very nice base design cant wait to geta box and awsome job on the nuge so mad but amazing card also pm about the aaron ploushag

    TheHabs121 you tube

    ReplyDelete
  15. This year I really like the design of the calder contenders auto/patch cards. They are very well designed.

    MrMat18033

    ReplyDelete
  16. Very nice looking prudoct. It is alot better than last year products. Great job on the product. Thanks again luke for the contest. I have I filling I'm going to win this. haha
    Phaneufcollector3

    ReplyDelete
  17. contenders........ contenders is a awesome product. you can pull many sweet autos out of this. with all the great rookie this yar like henriq,lansigog an hopkins u can really get some mic cards from them.write now im liking the desighn of last years cards a bit better but i might change my mind

    base-8
    autos-9
    rookies8.5
    inserts-9
    cup cntenders(thick card)-9.5
    overall-8.5

    THANKS FOR ANOTHER CONTEST! NICE REVIEW:)
    ITS SJOVECHKINFAN

    ReplyDelete
  18. its a very good product this year very nice design and unique, i will probably buy some of this product becuase its very unique and very nice

    Youtube- MattsSportsCards

    ReplyDelete
  19. Contenders looks like a great product this year, I love the look of the calder contenders with the silver autos. I love how all of the rookie autos are on card. Great product and I would recommend buying a box or two.

    Youtube-GBforce12

    ReplyDelete
  20. I think that contenders really stepped their game up from last year. It looks really solid this year and I would recommend getting a box or two.
    - danboyle13

    ReplyDelete
  21. Awesome job!!!! YouTube name is Joffrey LupulFan

    ReplyDelete
  22. calder contenders... omg i love that design! probably no chris kreider but if theres a carl hagelin ill be sure to look for that! I'm interested to see any other insert card lists. on card autos are also a major plus to this set! well done review and the listing /10 seems veryyyy accurate to me!

    rangerscards89

    ReplyDelete
  23. I love the product!
    I think the cards look very very nice and i love all the on card autos!

    87leafsfan

    ReplyDelete
  24. I really liked Contenders last year and this year is no different. Really nice clean design and on card autos are always a plus. Great review!

    -jpbboyle

    ReplyDelete
  25. i love this product ... the base are very sleek i aree with your review as always
    --reistv11

    ReplyDelete
  26. I like this set becose the base cards are nice designed and the on card autos are very nice. Youtube name is 64AllSports

    ReplyDelete
  27. I like the look of the base cards. Very clean design. auto patches are also nice. I dont really get why the calder contenders are so thick. But overall a nice product.
    -SharksFan1997

    ReplyDelete
  28. Looks great! Going to have to pick this up for sure soon! The base cards look great and I have to love that they are hard signed autographed cards instead of the sticker auto's in a lot of the other sets.
    LegendOfCapone

    ReplyDelete
  29. im in thanks for everything.




    -----eoj18

    ReplyDelete
  30. I really like last contenders and this year is the same. The clean design really appeals to me and love the idea that autos are your hits rather than jerseys. You got very luck with your pulls so I guess they do have high value cards for a cheaper set.
    Thanks Luke.
    CanesOnTheBrains

    ReplyDelete
  31. I gotta say I like Contenders look this year....but the coalition is horrible just like last year as they have to fix their coalition on their products. I do love those Black cards with the Silver autos as those are pretty sweet looking. Hopefully I can get a couple of those at least. The set looks nice I would say as the inserts are too. We'll see if I can pick some of this stuff up

    SlyStealth

    ReplyDelete
  32. i love contenders . base looks awsome so do the inserts . nice nudge luke . i like the idea of guys in staches for the cup contenders .

    youtube name - adam lee

    ReplyDelete
  33. Contenders this year has improved from last year, especially because of the black patch cards, which looks really nice with that pretty clean design.

    I love the base cards, and their clean design. They reminds me a bit of UD S1/S2 with the nice, clear photographs.

    If I should find one minus in this product is it the weak names in the "NHL Ink"-checklist. To pull guys like Teemu Hartikainen (no bad feelings to him) is a bit disappointment. I think the rookies should be only on the autographed Calder Contenders-cards, and maybe also on the NHL Ink duals, triples etc. But on the NHL Ink cards it would be better with a bit mor etablished players. Of course they can't have only the big names there, but NOT the "worse" rookies.

    Over all the product looks really nice, maybe the best release so far this season!

    YouTube: Majlfp

    ReplyDelete
  34. First of all, Contenders shouldn't even be called Contenders. It literally has nothing to do with last year's product. They should call it SP Authentic Squared. The NHL ink is like Sign of the times, the cup contenders are like sp essentials. the rookie autos are like the rookie autos, the /100 auto patches are like the /100 auto patches.

    aronowm2 on youtube

    ReplyDelete
  35. This product is very nice this year!! I really enjoyed last years too though. The cards look awesome and hopefully I can get my hands on a box!!The patch autos are amazing looking!!! - SJSharkzz3

    ReplyDelete
  36. Looks like a very nice product! I especially love the design of the patch autograph cards /100! Also it looks to me like every box has at least 1 very nice hit.
    -C2netsniper

    ReplyDelete
  37. I like this product but i waited for lot of more non numbered hits like in one pack of two. This far i love elegant desing and best set this year

    YT :TuukkaRaskPC

    ReplyDelete
  38. Awesome set but i waited more non numbered hits and i hoped cup contenders would be /399
    Elegant desing 8/10
    Yt TuukkaRaskPC

    ReplyDelete
  39. This Product was amazing but not enough numbered cards, sorry I forgot to add this

    YOutube Name EOJ18

    ReplyDelete
  40. Right of the bat i can tell that condenders is a good product. I really love the design on these cards.
    Youtube username: Mpb7771

    ReplyDelete
  41. I REALLY like contenders this year because the cases are filled with hits. Wouold really love to get a case of this! I also really like the booklet autos and there are one per case...]

    Thanks for the review!!
    Youtube:TheCardman29

    ReplyDelete
  42. The cards are nice i really enjoy opening packs because of the great on card autos/patches but i really think they did wrong adding players that i think shouldn't be in the product (Glencross ,etc etc ) But this year and last year u always make ur money back every box i really enjoy them - LeafFanDom12

    ReplyDelete
  43. I really enjoy the design of the cards and I love how the on-card autos look!

    YT - OnlyTheMagnificent

    ReplyDelete
  44. woo- these cards would "contend" for some of the nicest in my collection! Great Review

    YT: Skroeker24

    ReplyDelete
  45. I always liked auto's and panini contenders is always very nice. All the hits and inserts are very cool and I love the product. Also, the cards design is pretty cool, I like it. That's why I think it's a great product and that panini should not change it.

    lfcmontreal

    ReplyDelete
  46. nice review i purchased a box i didnt really like playoff contenders youtube name spartoin117

    ReplyDelete
  47. by far my fav set of the year, this and certified! i love how clean everything looks on it!(you touched on the no borders, brighter colours, less foil) is panini sending you a box (like the elite) ? i actually cant wait till you hunt down the sharks starting line-up booklet. I always liked auto's and panini contenders is always very nice. All the hits and inserts are very cool and I love the product. Also, the cards design is pretty cool, I like it. That's why I think it's a great product and that panini should not change it. Contenders this year has improved from last year, especially because of the black patch cards, which looks really nice with that pretty clean design.

    I love the base cards, and their clean design. They reminds me a bit of UD S1/S2 with the nice, clear photographs.

    If I should find one minus in this product is it the weak names in the "NHL Ink"-checklist. To pull guys like Teemu Hartikainen (no bad feelings to him) is a bit disappointment. I think the rookies should be only on the autographed Calder Contenders-cards, and maybe also on the NHL Ink duals, triples etc. But on the NHL Ink cards it would be better with a bit mor etablished players. Of course they can't have only the big names there, but NOT the "worse" rookies.

    Over all the product looks really nice, maybe the best release so far this season.

    contenders........ contenders is a awesome product. you can pull many sweet autos out of this. with all the great rookie this yar like henriq,lansigog an hopkins u can really get some mic cards from them.write now im liking the desighn of last years cards a bit better but i might change my mind

    base-9.5
    autos-10
    rookies-10
    inserts-10.5
    cup cntenders(thick card)-11.5
    overall-10.5

    Mrhockeyfan365

    ReplyDelete
  48. In my opinion, I think Contenders is one of the best products this year. I like how they made multiple changes that were very positive to the product. They added serial numbering unlike last year's cards which makes it more fun for collectors to complete the set. I kind of miss the rookie ticket autos, but not anymore after seeing the NHL Ink and Calder Contenders autos. Contenders seems to be better than SP Authentic (though it has not been released yet so I can't compare). I definitely want to break this product at a card show since it's sold out at my local card store. I rate this product 9/10!
    -IginlasFan12

    ReplyDelete
  49. Contenders this year is actually way better than last years. Last year I hated the product and with this years contenders I dont hate it as much. The odds of getting something good in contenders this year is pretty good and for the price of the box I think it is a really good product to buy. Me personally I am not a huge fan of contenders, but you do get on card autos so that is the bright side :)

    -MrSport4life

    ReplyDelete
  50. Contenders hockey is awesome this year and is one of the products I have never opened before but look very good. The ticket design is always a hit in my opinion and so are the autos ;). I like every single card including the calder contenders cards with the black blackround. I've seen many of the auto patches and they all look very GOOD.

    Overall, it is a product to always look forward to!!!!

    youtube username: teeheekid1

    ReplyDelete
  51. I love how they added the patches very awesome product overall!!! Jonathantoewsfan19

    ReplyDelete
  52. Patches are sick and I love the base card design. The booklets are cool but unless you get a really good player you would be lucky to get your money back for the box but overall I really nice product. keep up the great work blacksheep love your vids.

    youtube name: cn2117HabsFan

    ReplyDelete
  53. Contenders looks awesome this year. Phaneufcollector3

    ReplyDelete
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