Base Card Design -
There are many things that come to mind when I think of Certified, but one of the most prominent aspects of Certified that comes mind is the usage of foil. Certified cards are known for being all-foil. And this year is no different. The base cards come on a very thin, primarily silver card stock. The entire card, besides the player image, is awash with the silver foil color. Though I like the actual design elements on the card, the silver is a bit much, and takes over the entire front a bit too assertively. So while the individual elements on the base cards are nice, together it doesn't add up so well. I would have chosen to use a more contrasting color scheme. In terms of photo quality though, Certified hits the right marks. Each player on the base card is given a relatively large up-close photograph. I really enjoyed the how close Panini was able get you into the action with these cards.
The Certified card back is the standard Panini fare. Though I do enjoy keeping things consistent, I think these types of card backs need a bit of an overhaul. From a design aspect, the card gets the job done. There is a nice usage of team colors and all the vital information is included... but it just doesn't have any sort of 'wow' factor. Certified backs have always been like this, but I'm ok with changing the tradition up in this case.
The Immortals is a base subset serial numbered to 999. Though there isn't much of a difference between these and the standard base design save for the giant 'IMMORTALS' logo, that giant logo really makes these cards look cool. The logo is relatively large, and the word 'immortal' is the perfect choice for these legends of the NFL. I also get a kick out of how these cards look as they mix old and new. The older photographs combined with the foil makes for an interesting visual. And the all silver washed-out 'problem' I had with the standard base doesn't really apply here, as it gives the cards an older feel. Little things like this can really have dramatic effect on card perception.
Following the Immortals are the New Generation cards. As the name implies, these cards feature the newest players in the NFL, the rookies. These cards are also serial numbered to 999 and feature a rookie card logo as well as a New Generation logo at the top of the card.
To finish off the main set, Panini has included 40 Freshman Fabric Signature cards. As the name implies, these cards feature both cloth and ink. The design of this year's Freshman Fabric cards is top notch. Panini has gone with a horizontal design with the memorabilia pieces contained in mirrored 'F's'. There is a spot for the sticker autograph underneath the fabric. When I first saw these cards I had to do a double take! They were that nice! The Manti Te'o shown above is a Mirror Red parallel version numbered to just 199. Standard Freshman Fabric cards carry a numbering of either /399 or /499.
Base Card Design Score:
The box states that within the 10 hobby packs you should find four autograph or memorabilia cards with at least one being an autograph. Collectors will also find serial numbered cards and parallels in the packs that they bust. The popular Mirror Red and Blue parallels add splashes of color to the Certified break.
Speaking of the Mirror parallel cards, here's a Mirror Blue parallel of Travis Kelce numbered to just 100. These parallels are not just done with a colored foil, but Panini has given them an extra shimmer by making them reflect a rainbow of colors in the light. The effect is very nice, and gives these cards a great look. Mirror Red and Blue cards have been a long been a part of Certified, and they are the most common parallel types in this set.
In terms of memorabilia content, the Fabric of the Game cards are back once again. There was a time when the Fabric of the Game cards only featured a square of jersey. It's nice to see that Panini has given these cards a more premium treatment by setting the jersey inside a die-cut of the team name. It's a practice that Panini has employed more recently, and I'm glad for it. These ideas add a little bit of spice to an area that has gotten a bit tired. I also appreciate the fact that this Ronnie Lot card has relatively low numbering. This one's limited to just /49!
Here's an interesting jersey card of Mike Gillislee. I really like the look of this card, as all the design elements come together nicely to create a modern, slick hit. Probably my favorite part of this card, though, is the back. Most of the time these jersey cards simply have a guarantee of some sort about the material enclosed, but this card has more. The back actually features a couple of personal questions asked of Mike. One question was: Who was the biggest influence on your football career? Another asked what his favorite NFL player was growing up. Having content like this on a jersey card is a bit unheard of nowadays. It's cool to see Panini putting nice little things like this on their cards.
My most outstanding hit from this box was this New Generation Mirror Black autographed 1 of 1 Tavarres King card. Besides red and blue, there are other colors that are much more rare. Pulling a 1 of 1 card is always exciting! Emerald cards numbered to only 5 are also sweet pulls to be had out of Certified this year.
Certified has quite a bit more to expect out of boxes this year. Some of the most difficult pulls feature two of the best running backs ever - Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith. They both have a special set of cards devoted to them. Dual NFL shield cards have also been inserted into 2013 Certified. And of course, they are one of ones.
Overall Rating -
2013 Certified definitely brings it! In terms of looks, Certified is awesome. I wasn't a huge fan of the slightly silver-washed base cards, but everything else is top notch. I was especially impressed with the Freshman Fabric cards.
In terms of value, you know what to expect when you choose to buy a box of Certified. It clearly states that each box will contain four hits. It's a solid amount to find in a box under $100. And that's not even including the potential parallel cards that a box may contain.
Certified is a solid product year in and year out. It's easy to recommend Certified to any football card collector. With new hit types (including shields), everyone has the chance to hit it big with a box (or a case... for you high rollers out there)!
Check out my break of 2013 Panini Certified Football: