Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011-2012 Panini Pinnacle Review

The month of December has seen no new hockey card products... until now!  Huge thanks to Panini for releasing Pinnacle just before Christmas and the new year!  I'm so glad that there is something new to bust open and collect.  Let's rip into a couple boxes of this product and see what comes out!

Base Card Design -
Pinnacle arrives with a smoothly designed, very clean base card.  Each card has a slick glossy feel on the front and a more matted type finish on the back.  The base cards are all horizontally oriented - which is actually great for showcasing the photographs of the players.  Like last year, Panini has placed some of the most unique pictures into this brand of hockey cards.  We'll talk more about that later.

 It's great to see actual action shots of the Jets!

The front side of the standard base cards all share similar elements to them.  Each base card has a team-color themed border with the player's name and position.  The Pinnacle brand logo is placed along the bottom right corner and the team logo is placed in the upper left.  Though I do feel this year's Pinnacle design is an improvement from last years, I am not thrilled with it.  As with many of Panini's products at this mid/low-end tier, the cards are very flat.  These cards need to have a bit of foil or texturing to them to liven them up.  I would have loved to see the Pinnacle logo, the team logo, or the bottom border with foil touches.  Panini has access to their foil Dufex/Nufex technology.  Adding some elements of that process to portions of the base card could have also upped the quality of the base cards.  As they are, the base cards are, like I said before, flat and a bit boring in the design department.

Unlike the bland design of the base cards, the photographs that Panini has chosen to put on the face of the base cards do stand out in a very positive way.  It was great fun to just shuffle through my stack of base cards and see the unique shots that were chosen for this set.  More than any other Panini set out there, this one is the one that you can tell a lot of time was spent in carefully selecting photos.  It definitely gives Upper Deck Series 1 a run for its money in terms of fabulous images.  Here are a few select images from Pinnacle that stood out to me.

I love this shot of Benn's concentration on the puck.

 Here's a great moment from the Winter Classic.

Stammer shows off the new NHL '12 cover with him on it.

The number one pick says hi to the number one pick.

Couture battling in front of the Colorado net.

 Good game.

Yep, this is what Sid the Kid mostly looks like this year :(

The back of the base cards feature the same photo as on the front.  Usually I am not a huge fan of using the same photo on the front and back, but here it's ok because there is a reason for it.

The back's of the cards tell the story of the photo on the front.  It describes the situation in which the photo was taken in so it makes perfect sense to have the same photo.  I am impressed with how Panini was able to include a write-up of specific moments during the NHL season and pair it with the appropriate image.  This is not done very often and I applaud Panini's efforts here.  Nice job Panini!  Clap clap!

As usual, the rookie cards get special attention within the main set of cards.  Each rookie card in Pinnacle is featured with Panini's Nufex foil technology.  Panini needed to spice up the rookie cards in this set because their initial offering last year was extremely weak.  Adding the Nufex foil to all the rookie cards does make them stand out - certainly more than just adding an ugly 'Ice Breakers' logo to the card like they did last year.  If you look closely at the rookie cards, you'll notice that they look exactly the same as the standard base card except with the word 'rookie' next to the Pinnacle logo.  There is actually no mention that these rookie cards are called Ice Breakers save for on the checklist.  I did find that a little odd.  It's not that big of deal though.  These cards look great, and you'll find 3-4 of them in each 24 pack hobby box. 

Something you will not find in each box of Pinnacle are the autographed Ice Breakers.  Rookies numbered 281-290 feature sticker autographs.  Here you'll find players like Mark Scheifele, Cody Hodgson, Gabriel Landeskog, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.  I must say that while it's great to be able to pull autographs of these hot rookies, the way these are done does not impress.  The cards have a rectangular space in the middle of the card for the sticker autograph to go.  It is certainly an awkward design.  In person these sticker autographs remind me of a band-aid that's just slapped on the front.  There must have been a better way to do this.  C'mon Panini!

Base Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Each hobby box of Panini will yield about three hits and a smattering of different insert cards.  This year Panini has improved on past insert designs and created a few new ones for collectors to chase.

One of the new insertions this year are the Canvas Creations cards.  This must be inspired a bit by last year's Chemistry on Canvas cards, but instead of featuring two players, it features a fully painted card of just one.  This card is bright and has an elegant look to it.  As you might expect, these inserts have a textured front like a matte painting would have.  Fans of these types of cards will certainly enjoy this set.

The Tough Times inserts are back this year and have a new updated look.  This year the cards feature more information on the front.  This one of Wendel Clark has all the standard team and bio statistics as well as his career penalty minutes.  The look of the card is that of an old advertisement poster you might see on the side of a building.  I think it would have been great to make these cards have that paper feel to them to make them extra unique and completely fill out the theme the designers were going for.  Like last year there are autographed versions to be found.

Fans of the Game inserts make their return as well.  I think these cards look great (not just because Alyssa Milano is on the front of one).  I really like how bright and modern the cards look.  A huge step up from what they had previously.  

The space for the autograph is well done on these inserts.  I only wish they were so on all Panini's offerings.  Now why did I get Steve's auto and not Alyssa's!?!  Can these two cards be more polar opposite?

In terms of game-used cards, Pinnacle introduces Game Night cards.  These are pretty standard jersey cards with a nice background design.  This insert set reminds me a little of the Canvas Creations set.  Both have a modern elegance to them.  Though it's just a standard jersey insert, these look classy.  I think this would be a nice and relatively easy set to complete (unless there are short prints that I'm not aware of).  These Game Night cards also may feature autographed versions.

A more generic (and larger) set are the Threads cards.  I guess you could say this is Pinnacle's version of Certified's Fabric of the Game cards.  This insert set is all about the jersey and patch pieces.  The standard jersey cards are nothing spectacular, but the patch versions can feature some pretty nice pieces and are pretty low numbered.  The Spezza shown above is serial numbered to just 25.  This would be a very challenging set to assemble.  According to the checklist there are 90 Threads insert cards.  I have a feeling that people who buy Pinnacle blasters will be pulling these pretty regularly.

There are other inserts to be found within Pinnacle boxes.  Some that have made a return from last year are Team Pinnacle, Pantheon, and Yours Truly (originally from Zenith).  Some are new like Breathroughs (shown above), Pinnacle Black, Pinnacle Captains, and Starting Six Threads featuring 6 pieces of game-used materials.  Overall there is a whole lot to find when purchasing a box of Pinnacle.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Pinnacle will be a brand that most can afford.  It is on-par with Upper Deck Series 1 in terms of pricing.  I have to say that the quality of UD1 is a bit higher than that of Pinnacle, but Pinnacle shines much more brightly in terms of the amount and types of different insert sets (with and without memorabilia) available.  I am a big fan of the photographs used in the base set and enjoyed being able to find autographed rookie cards.  What I didn't like about Pinnacle was the overall quality of card design.  It was a real roller coaster.  Some aspects of Pinnacle were extremely well done, while others weren't so much.

I think that Pinnacle is still trying to find its legs.  The 11/12 offering is an improvement over last years.  It's a fun product to open, but I would recommend only Pinnacle in smaller doses and certainly only by the hobby box.  Per pack it will be difficult to pull a good hit, and per blaster I have nightmares of getting no name Threads cards.

Pinnacle hits the market at the perfect time.  It's a nice, relatively cheap, product that can provide some thrills at a time when not a whole lot of new hockey cards are out.  Have fun cracking some boxes!

Overall Score: 
(not an average)

Check out my two boxes of 11/12 Pinnacle opened at D&P Cards in Sacramento.


  1. another epic fail by Panini... at Trade Night last night at the biggest card store in Calgary, just over 30 collectors eagerly grabbed three packs each of the new Pinnacle to play pack wars with............
    ....after the first pack we were done with it and moved on to something else. Never even got to the next two packs. No one bought any more, let alone a box.
    Over 30 rabid hockey card collectors and every one of them were not impressed to say the least.

    Easily the worst product of the year so far.

  2. I thought pinnacle was ok this year. It was much better then last year, but I still don't like the design of the jerseys. For a low end product to have rookie autos is awesome even when there stickers! And the insert cards are some of my favs so far this year, especially the tough times. My opinion 7.5/10 since the jerseys matter so much to a low end product


  3. Pinnacle this year seems just mehh. It was like that last year and it seems to be like that again. My favourite cards so far are the Stamkos and Fleury base card :) The base cards seem to have a lot of great photography just like what UD has done with Series 1. The design of the jersey cards I think we're just a bit better than last year. I think the game night jersey cards are sweet. If the set is not really big I might try and complete it for fun. Personally not a huge fan of those newfex autographs though... Just doesn't really go well with the cards that much. Overall I would rate Pinnacle a 7/10 and I may try a pack or two.


  4. i think it is ugly but some good cards i would give it a 8/10
    - phxfan19

  5. i go with retail rippers its a mix mash. i mean it pretty good getting the rook nufex but getting one vet in eaach box sucks. not only that but it comes with 3 hits and that really decreases the boxes value which is good cuz some sellers will lower the price and some will not. On the other hand love the base design (as always... im a sucker for base cards) the jerseys are eghh the patches are fantastic even if u got that verteeg 1 colr cuz the panthers r doin well, and lastly the nufex autos are spectacular at a final rating i give 11/12 pinnacle a 7.5


  6. I think its a good fun bust, with potential to get some good bang for your buck. Big improvement from last years pinnacle. If i had one complaint it would be the rookie dufex autos, the white sticker just looks horrible on the card, should have used a clear sticker in my opinon but oh well. 7.5/10 might have to pick up a box.

    youtube username- mrsp0rtsfreak

  7. Pinnacle is okey. I like it more then last year. Thanks for the contests again. My youtube username is Phaneufcollector3.

  8. Very nice design this year like better then last year, good now that they transferred all rookies to be all rink collections makes it more easier and there are no more proofs! thanks for the contest!


  9. I do like this new Pinnacle, but my only complaint is the all horizontal base cards like SPx does. I do prefer vertical cards but it isn't that big of a deal. I like the design, but then again there is no foil or anything fancy on them. The rookie cards are nice having them all rink collections. You are right about the Schiefele though, it does look odd having the sticker auto on the card like that. All in all, it seems like a good new product. I will probably bust a few packs of this after Christmas!

    Thanks for the contest!

    -Wilsonethan6 youtube

  10. This years Pinnacle is a step up from last year. I like the Threads and the amount of inserts and rookies you find in the box. I havent been able to get my hands on a box yet! But after watching many video, I think I have a good idea. Its not top of the line but they did a good job with the design. It is surely recommended. Thanks so much Blacksheep217 for the Contest! I hope you have a great Christmas!!


  11. From what I've seen, the rookie autos aren't fantastic, but some of the inserts look excellent, and the base are awesome. This is a set I'd collect just to see all of the different base cards. Series 1 may have great photos, but I'll give the +1 to Panini for this.
    I won't be buying any boxes for a while (I'm kind of broke), but I'll nab a blaster here and there, and hopefully find some singles for PCs. But this looks to be one of my favourite base sets.
    Thanks for the contest.

    TF3W // klowd1661 (YT)

  12. Nice review Luke. I'm hoping to get a few nice hits (Cody Hodgson rookie card) from the box I purchased.

    Is the Henrik Sedin Game Night card up for trade or sale?


    (YT) marcjosefgonzaga

  13. I really enjoy pinnacle this year even though I never broken any yet. I don't think i will, but I enjoy the base designs. It looks better than last years. I really like panini bringing the fans of the games back, it was in last years donruss, but i guess they are putting it in pinnacle this year. Either way it is great! Jerseys looks solid and the autographs are amazing. Overall i give it a 7.5. As always thank you for the contest luke!

    - MrSport4life

  14. This was a great review. Pinnacle this year has some positives and negatives. I really like that you can get autos and patches in a lower end product but the look of the cards are just not there yet. I also think there should be more inserts rather than base.

    - 91HockeyCards

  15. Great review Luke! I wish there wasn't as many base packs as there are, but it's not that bad. Seems like there's been a lot of nice hits here and there on the forums. The Scheifele's you pulled were pretty nice.

    Thanks for the contest Luke!


  16. It Could Have Been Alot Better They Tried To Copy Upperdeck Series One With The Canvas And The Patches Are Okay Not So Great. The Rookie Autos Look Dumb On The Card Its Like There Was No More Room On The Card.The Card Design Is Okay Not The Best I've Seen.The Rookies Are To Darked And Look Better On Camera/Sunlight.They Need To Step It Up Next Year.Its a mix match kinda thing-LeafFanXXDomXx

  17. I personaly think that panini made a big mistake with this product. its not as good as last years and last years wasnt very good eather.

    yt- Priceforthewin

  18. Pinnacle seems a bit less than the one last year. I feel that panni kinda let us down with this product. The inserts dont look very good. The rookies in my opinon look awful. The only good think to come from this years pinnacle are the merobila hits. The memrobila hits from this year are very good looking and are of mostly good players, I have yet to see a bad player pulled. Overall i dislike this product.


  19. after i looked at your breaks i felt that Pinnacle was for me a nice product.. i liked it last year as well.
    the thing i like the most is the in action basecards.
    And the favourite insert was Fans of the game, just because i like "strange" cards like that :D


  20. I love those rookies - the style is "rink collection-esque" as their throwback to the 1995 series.
    If you are looking to move the Mark Scheifele, I will certainly be interested! Please contact me.

    YT: skroeker24

  21. Another huge dissapointment in my eyes with 11/12 Pinnacle. After ordering 2 boxes, paying just abit over 75$/box. to see the 5 hits i get sell for 5-10$ on ebay. That's the way the cookie crumbles. But with this product never are you able to gain your money back. Much word about pinnacle changing it this year, and making it a much better product, but in my eyes, just another dissapointment by Panini.
    I opended it, but didnt enjoy it. i have to say. for the price range difference. they can keep the 2 jersey cards that sell for 3$ and just call it score series 2. thats what it looked like to me.
    -Caucci13 Merry christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

  22. I think this years looks alot better than last years, like the fact that all the rookies have that Nufex technology. It looks like patches arent as rare as last years because you pulled 2 in 2 boxes.
    Thanks for the review Luke!
    Merr Christmas,

  23. hockeyleafs100
    love pinicle it was 1 of my favs, but i dont like the fact that its all sideways so that sucks but pinicle its great

  24. Last year I started collecting Pinnacle and I got very lucky with my boxes. This year, the product seems a lot better. I already reserved two boxes, but I'll have to wait after Christmas to get them, the shop is closed. The rookies are a lot better than last year, but the rookie auto are still just a tape on the card, not really good. Last year, the City Lights were awful, they don't exist this year. Really good product, I want to get a 6 Threads.

  25. Pinnacle has its ups and downs, It has its nice designs, Threads, rookies, etc. But they also made mistakes with many cards, like the Rookie auto, and the Private Signings, which has been in over 3 products. I like the amount of autographs and mem. pieces, and i think at the same price point as S1, its the only edge it has on it. Pinnacle should be a little cheaper so its more attractive to collectors, Pinnacle does not have the Brand recognition that S1 has, who wouldn't want a Hopkins YG, over a Pinnacle rookie. Pinnacle has the first non-rookie cards of Tokarski!!!! :D


  26. I definitely think that pinnacle is an improvement from last years, especially the rookies. The ice breakers last year were dumb. I think that the patch cards look nice though, and 25 is a fairly low numbering for a cheapish product. - danboyle13

  27. Pinnacle this year is an okay product. Some things I like about it (photography, designs on the inserts) but then there are some things I hate about it (autographs on nufex RC's). Overall, they could of put in a little more effort but it's a fun product to break if you want to bust some packs. As I said before, the base photography is great and you can look at each card and enjoy it. Great review!

    HockeyCardFan1000 on Youtube

  28. Opened a box of pinnacle today for christmas and I found it was a very enjoyable break due to the base card photos. Last year they were nice for pinnacle but this year I think the photos they used really captured some of the best drama that goes on in the NHL and you really get a feel for the intensity they go through night in and night out. They have some cool inserts, and I think the starting 6 jersey cards are just amazing looking, really cool getting 6 jerseys on one card! I don't think many people like pinnacle that much but for me I enjoyed breaking it, especially for the price point!

    Thanks for the contest Blacksheep!


  29. I dont really like Pennical, it seems to boring and bland for me, i would rather save up for a bigger boxlike artifacts

  30. this year pinnacle has some nice stuff(primes)their very creative


  31. I really liked Panini Pinnacle last year but this was a bust is what I think! rkesler101

  32. Hey Blacksheep,

    Great review. I also bought a box of Panini Pinnacles and overall I thought this year's cards were quite nice based on the price point.

    Base Card Design:
    The design was quite interesting considering all the base cards are oriented horizontally. I liked all the photos for the base cards and it was a nice touch explaining the event that took place for each respective photo. The quality of the photos were a bit inconsistent. There were some cards that you weren't sure who the featured player was because of the angle the photo was taken.

    Rookie Card Design:
    My overall thoughts on the rookie cards were that they were too busy. I was not impressed as well with the design. It would have been nice to have something more cleaner (similar to the Upper Deck Series 1 Young Guns Rookie Cards).

    The inserts were pretty nice. Nothing too special. The Canvas Creations were pretty neat, but similar to the Upper Deck canvas cards. I got two game-used jersey swatches from my box: David Backes Game Night Card and a Sidney Crosber Threads Card. I only managed to pull out one autograph card: Private Signings of Henrik Lundqvist.

    Overall Thoughts:
    In my opinion this series of Pinnacles should be quite popular due to its price point and the possible hits you can get form each box. I still like the Upper Series I cards better based on quality and the value of possible hits (RNH Young Guns Rookie Card BV @ $125). However, the Pinnacle will be an enjoyable box to bust open for all collectors alike. I know I had a blast busting open a Sidney Crosby Threads card. I will most likely be purchasing one more box.


    Youtube UserName: marcjosefgonzaga

  33. I think this years Pinnacle this year is way awesome than last years with even better photos. The jerseys and inserts are really good lookin. The only thing I don't like in this product are the rookies. OVERALL I GIVE THIS PRODUCT 9/1O.

    youtube username: teeheekid1

  34. Thanks to all who left comments! Contest is now closed... but feel free to add more comments!

  35. Are players on their new teams shown in their new jersey's as part of the base set???