Base Card Design -
Slick. Modern. Rainbow. These are just three adjectives that come to mind when looking at the Elite Series base cards. When foil board cards are not done well, or if they're of lower quality, they don't look good. They look cheap and hazy, or unclear. Not that they're terrible, but I'm thinking of the OPC rainbow foil cards. They're ok... but they're nothing special. These Elite Series base... they're special. I'm not sure what has come over Panini in recent months, but they have used the whole white/elegant design scheme to its full potential. The Elite Series base cards are done exceptionally well. Unlike Topps Chrome or Finest cards, these foil cards aren't rigid or bowed. They simply lie down, shimmer at you, and look really, really good. Oh, and each feature serial numbering to only 275. High-end? Yup. High end.
And the back of the base card is gorgeous too. But in a different way. As modern and sleek as the front is, the back brings it back down to earth. 'Down to earth'. Yes, that's the phrase I'd use to describe the back. The backs have a large, full-color photograph with abbreviated stats and a short write-up. Sure, there could have been total career stats, but then the photograph probably would have been minimized. The Elite Series backs are about having a great design with everything it needs and nothing else. This looks good.
The standard rookie cards in Elite Series share the exact same design as the regular base save for a rookie card logo in the top left corner of the card. They are also numbered slightly differently. Rather than to 275, the rookies are numbered to 249.
Base Card Design Score:
There is a huge variety of inserts and hits to be found in Elite Series Basketball. But when it comes down to it, each box will contain just four autographs and a special 'glass' card. Each box of Elite also gives collectors another Kobe pack to open, just as in all the other 12/13 Panini basketball products.
The one insert that I was able to pull from my box was this Electrifying card of Rajon Rondo. I can see what Panini was going for with this card, but they couldn't quite pull it off. There should be a lightning bolt streaking across the background of the card, but the foiling of the card makes the lightning too difficult to see in person. The card ends up being a bit plain and lackluster. This insert is on the same card stock as the base card... and while I loved the base cards, the Electrifying inserts just don't excite me. I prefer the base cards to these! Electrifying insert cards are serial numbered to 125. I didn't pull any, but Rookie Elite Series (/99), Class Masters (/99), Turn of the Century (/99), and Court Vision (49) non-auto-memorabilia-glass can also be found in this product.
Court Kings is an insert set that brings back a Panini product from a few years back. That product featured artistic renderings of the players on a matte-style card stock. And the same goes for these. Doing a canvas/matte cards is nothing new, but they are always fun to see in products. The art cards lend a bit of rustic classiness. They do feel a bit out of place in the Elite uber-modern set, but the cards cannot be faulted as they are done very well. The Udonis Haslem I pulled featured an on-card autograph, which is always a plus. Most Court Kings cards are numbered to 249, but there are some that feature lower print-runs.
All three of my other autographs were in the form of Rookie Inscriptions acetate cards. Panini has really pushed their acetate products in recent years. It's definitely not a bad thing as the cards do look very nice. I just wish that I had gotten more of a variety in terms of my box. On the plus side, these card are very modern as most acetate cards are. They also have on-acetate autographs. It's good to know that they player actually held the card and put his name to it.
The last card in the pack is specially sealed in plastic. It's the glass card. Glass cards are very good looking cards that features a three-dimensional look. The majority of the images on the card are printed onto the bottom (deep part) of the card. Atop that is a full-color action image. If this were the 90's era, collectors would have gone absolutely bonkers for them. I'm sure they would be worth a pretty penny. In this day and age, the cards still look good, but because they don't have an autograph or memorabilia associated with it, I feel the coolness of these are lost on many collectors today. Panini specially seals these cards - which to me means they think they are extra special - I hope collectors treat them well and enjoy them for what they are.
There are many more inserts and hits available to be found in boxes of Elite Series Basketball. They range from extremely short printed Status autographs to dual sided Passing the Torch autographs. I wish my box had some more variety than three Rookie Inscriptions, but that's just how it goes sometimes!
Overall Rating -
Elite Series Basketball is a gorgeous set of cards. It comes elegantly packaged and comes ready to give collectors a high-end experience. Is the beauty worth the high price tag? I'd have to say, at least with my box, not really. At nearly $200, I got three so-so to not very good rookie acetate cards and a Udonis Haslem Court Kings card. These four cards would net less the $50 in re-sale. My next best card would have probably been the Garnett Glass, and that certainly doesn't hold much in terms of value.
Of course, purchasing any card product is a big risk with a low chance of getting your money's worth... but if this is any indication of how boxes are... purchasing this is a tough proposition.
I can definitely recommend Elite Series for those with the cash who enjoy really great looking cards. For everyone else, you're going to have to make that tough call. If it were me, I'd definitely give a box another try, but I'd know the risk in terms of value. At such a price range, it's a bit tough to make give this one a purchase flippantly.
Check out my box of 12/13 Elite Series Basketball: