Monday, November 12, 2012

2012-2013 Panini Certified Review

For the past two years Panini has given hockey collectors a strong product in Certified... and the question is if they have done it again with this third go around. This year Certified comes at collectors with a fresh base design and some new playoff themed cards to go along with their already established inserts. Let's see how it holds up as I break into a sealed hobby box!

Base Card Design -
This year's Certified base cards have received a complete overhaul in terms of their design. The entire card is still on foil board as in years past, but the shine is much more apparent with these as the background of the card is an almost totally silver look. I liked the look Certified had sported these last two years, but I am a big fan of the new design. It's fresh and different and easy on the eyes. A good word to describe the base is 'elegant'. From the shiny silver to the scripted team name, these cards show a lot of class. Gone are the more rigid geometric lines and blocks. This year the graphical designs on the card blend in more - it's a subtle and sophisticated approach that shows restraint and a delicate touch. I've got to give it to Panini this year for taking a bold step in changing a design that worked and making different... and more importantly... making it better. That's not easy to do.

The backs of the cards are very clean, and that's been the case with Certified all along. I do like, however, the inclusion of the player image in the background. That's a new element that I didn't expect to see incorporated into Certified... ever! It looks great though. The entire backside is clean and neat. Nicely done.

The Freshman Signature rookie cards make their return into the main set of cards. As much as I liked the standard base design, these cards left me wanting more. In terms of design, the card looks good for the most part. My only problem with the card is the huge white rectangular space they left for the sticker autograph. It's a bit glaring and sticks out like a sore thumb. And in my case here with Duck's rookie Matt Clark, his autograph has a bit more to be desired. Not only is his autograph not pretty, it got cut off at the top too. On a more positive note, the card is serial numbered. It seems as if Panini has heard the collective outcry of collectors wanting more of their cards numbered. Thank you Panini!

Rookie jersey autograph cards also have come back to Certified this year. Collectors will immediately recognize them as the design is a tweaked version of what they did last year. The most obvious design call-out is the 'rookie' die cut with the jersey piece within. It's certainly a nice looking card. I don't have any complaints about the design here... but I do have a concern about the player quality. Unfortunately, with the NHL's labor problems this year, the only rookies featured in the set are hold-overs from last year. This leaves out the biggest new names that collectors are most looking forward to. I'll be interested to see if any of the players in this group have any desirability in the hobby.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Each box of Certified comes with an average of four hits. My particular box had 2 autographed cards and 2 memorabilia cards. Also found in boxes are inserts and parallel cards. I was able to pull a variety of different card types in my box of Certified.

One of the most prevalent inserts in 12/13 Certified are the Path to the Cup cards. The Path to the Cup cards come in many forms and in a variety of rarities. These cards chronicle the path to the 2012 Stanley Cup, and will generally feature 2 players from opposing teams that faced each other during the playoffs. It's a neat idea that is definitely relevant to the game - it's great that these cards highlight significant moments during an important time in the hockey season.

A couple things about these cards confuse me a bit though. Panini seems to have gone to great lengths in making Certified the shiny foil card brand. And, well, these cards are not shiny or foil at all. They are on standard plain glossy card stock. It's not that they are ugly cards... they just seem very different than everything else in Certified. The other thing that has me perplexed is the jersey swatch size on the memorabilia imbedded cards. It's kind of neat to have the Stanley Cup die cut shape... but the pieces just seem a bit small. The trend card companies seem to be going on is making plain jersey cards more significant by having larger swatches. I would have liked a larger piece of both players' jerseys on these cards. But that's just a minor complaint. The Path to the Cup cards is a great way to pair up players who would usually not be put together on the same card.

The Mirror Red and Mirror Blue parallels are back along with other, more rare, color varieties as well. I have to say that the making the entire background the color of the variation is stunning looking. These cards really can be set apart from their standard base counterparts. Each of these parallel cards are individually serial numbered. Some cards will feature memorabilia and autographs. These are the cards that make player collecting a huge challenge. Go ahead and try to find all the variations of the player you are trying to collect, you'll be surprised at the daunting task ahead of you!

Besides the Mirror cards, another familiar face is back... the Fabric of the Game! Like the base cards, these cards have received a full foil make-over. The cards are recognizable and continue on a great tradition in Certified. Similarly to the Mirror cards, there are many different variations to collect. The most basic type of these cards is the plain jersey card like the Mikael Backlund card shown above. More rare types will have team names spelled out, patch pieces, or autographs. It's really fun seeing all the different types of Fabric of the Game cards that are available to find.

There are many more types of insert cards available to find in boxes of Certified. There are plain inserts like the Masked Marvel card above as well as creative inserts that feature a pull-out card within a card. Though there are so many things to find in Certified, it does seem like pulling anything that could be considered 'great' is few and far between. And though I think the hits in Certified this year are nice, I find myself wanting more from them in terms of both design and value.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Like I said in the beginning of the review, Certified has been one of Panini's most solid and reliable brands. This year's Certified is still a good product, but I have to say it is not as strong as it was the past two years. While I do think the overal card design has shown improvements (AMAZING base cards), other factors have detracted from Certified's appeal.

One factor that is not Panini's fault whatsoever is the NHL lockout. That has hurt the rookie cards within the product in a big way. Without the exciting young stars, it's hard to have the desire to break box after box. So in that case collectors have to look to the established stars within the product. And this is where it gets a bit tough. It seems to me that it is a difficult task to pull the big name guys. With a huge amount of players in the Fabric of the Game, Mirror Parallels, and Path to the Cup, getting a superstar player is rather difficult. And even when a superstar is pulled, a jersey card of that player probably won't be the most satisfying experience. I've seen cases of Certified busted already, and unfortunately I haven't seen a ton of value.

I would say if you enjoy the look of these cards, break, break, and break the product. For collectors looking for good value in a box, I'd perhaps try my luck with one or two... but not much more. And I probably wouldn't recommend a case unless getting multiples of cases. And even then... I wouldn't be sure. But, like I said, if you're going for looks, there is plenty of that here to enjoy.

Overall Rating:

Check out my break of 12/13 Certified here:


  1. I really like certified this year. The hot box design that they have on those are really cool! Also, some of my favourites have hits in this product. For example Jaden schwartz. I love him. What a pull.

    1. hey luke what another nice box i am hopeing to pick up some packs of it i have noticed that there is not as many spacers


  2. I think Certified this year looks really good, I really like the goalie pulls they are very unique,the base cards look very clean and simple. I


  3. I always thought about purchasing a single pack of certified but don't want to run into a base pack, thank you for making me more aware


  4. Not enough good stuff!!!!!


  5. Terrible stuff deserves 0


  6. I think certified has a little too much foil on it. I must say I like the dual sticks but what are the odds of hitting that. I feel like the chances of getting something good is hard. The rookie auto jersey's are nice though. Overall, not too impressed.
    Thanks for the contest
    Youtube- NothinButHockeyCards

  7. Nice break that box was not worth the money though


  8. Looks decent this year but they overdid the base and "underdid" the inserts. They can't have half the cards looking good and the others not. Great review.

    YouTube: Penguins6668

  9. I really like certified this year ! good review , nice Jaden schwartz pull !

    youtube username : davidcrockweLL123 made L's capital just to make sure they didnt look like 1's

  10. Youtube name- cn2117HabsFan

    I always loved certified and the base are sweet looking. Although I've seen numerous box and case breaks of this stuff and see not a lot of value. The die cut jersey cards are numbered way higher than last years and I've only seen one patch pulled out of this stuff. On the upside the goalie pulls are Sick and the jersey variation are even Sicker. Overall not the best certified but I still like it . Thanks for the contest Luke!

  11. Not a great box, however, great review as always and thanks for the contest!


  12. certainly certified is excellent this year.Youtube username is erik karlsson

  13. certifed is epic this year and with your review it is even more epic. youtube username steven stamkos

  14. certified is pretty nice this year. Although I believe last years was an all around better product.

    youtube username: everythinghockey93

  15. very foily this year

  16. I love the look of Certified this year, great designs on the inserts and love the shimmer on every card! The only thing that disappointed me was the rookie jersey autos have pretty much the exact same design. With those cards being pretty much the main chaser, I would of liked panini to get a bit more creative.


  17. I love the hits that you get out of this year's Certified!

    1. Sorry... I forgot my Youtube Username!


  18. Personally I do not like the foil look. I feel as if they added to much and it makes the cards to flashy. The hits seem pretty good and you did get very lucky with your pull.
    Thanks Luke.

  19. Not a big fan of this years product like last years much better.
    Youtube Username - MrHokceynut77

  20. I do think the base cards were a big step up from last year. Also I think it would be cool to build a set of the "path to the cup" inserts in a way reliving the great moments from last year's great playoffs.

    Youtube name: arrivingfern57

  21. Not a huge fan of the design this year outside of the base cards. That nuge looks really nice. I really agree with you on the ugly big white rectangle, I definitely prefer the clear stickers. Overall not a terrible product, like the foil it was weird that one of the inserts didnt have the foil but oh well, its an effort to be different. Nice Schwartz and great review as usual.

    Username Dan Ezard

  22. Certified tried. Their base is beautiful, but their rookie auto's aren't on card when last year they were. I agree with another commenter their rookie jersey auto's look too much like the same as last years. I also dislike the puny swatch on the stanley cup cards. My box had 3 different base duplicates, sloppy by Panini. It's a decent product for the price, but too hard to get a good hit.

    Thanks as always for the contest,
    youtube: ryannturnaa

  23. great review as always. I love the base this year then last years and I think the path to the cup is cool because if you get cards deeper in the playoff like la vs new jersey the numbering gets lower.

    youtube username- multihabsfan31

  24. The base design is awesome, as you said! I liked it last year too, but this is probably even better! The mirror-parallels are also very nice looking, and when it is (like with the Markov-card) a background colour that matches the team colour it's even better!!

    The lockout is of course something that make this season's releases a bit weaker, and I think UD and Panini could have done it better. I'm not that excited by getting rookies that maybe never will play in the NHL again. Either they could have reduced the amount of rookies in this product and replaced them with etablated NHL-player, or they could also have reduced the price. I don't think any of the NHL-products this season will have the same value as last year!

    Youtube: Majlfp

  25. I was very excited for this product this year, unfortunately watching some videos of breaks I haven't loved the look of the stuff I am seeing come out of it. The base cards look very nice as well as the mirror red cards but overall I don't think I will be buying a box this year.

    Youtube: SuckYourHeadphones

  26. I always love the certified. This year is no exception! love the variation on the hits. Great review - fair & balanced.
    YT - Skroeker24

  27. This year it is pretty good looking and I liked it a lot.I think they did a great job with the foil!


    Thanks for the Contest!

  28. Great looking cards this year. A little too "foily" for my liking but still a great product. Awesome review!

    YT: blackhawks61895

  29. Great hits in this year love this stuff!

  30. I like the fact that most of the inserts are numbered now, but i really miss the 10-11 certified hot box base cards numbered /999. That gave the cards at least a little bit of value. Also, I just don't think this year's set is as crisp as year's past...maybe it's just on camera, but i can hardly tell the difference between all the colors and the FOTG are just so darn muddled looking.

  31. Like last years 11-12 certified better-YouTube: Graboguru

  32. i actually prefer this years certified to last years. theyve cleaned it up big time! but.. the downside.. that it looks super foily.. not too big into that!

    YT - cancuks112785

  33. Certified looks awesome this year base looks awesome as well as the ruby red! Mpb7771

  34. The single cards for certified look great but I would not like to buy a box I don't think it is worth the value


  35. I love the look of the ruby card I am going to buy a box of this if not singles

  36. nice product alot of white thow. Maybe will buy some packs.


  37. Honestly I think the base cards look too flashy in general. The Goalie Pulls are pretty interesting too.

    Youtube: LIGHTman7x

  38. I quite like this product. The mirror red cards look really nice and I like the rookie jersey/auto cards too. It is interesting that they dont include foil on the Path to the Cup Cards though. Great review Luke!
    Youtube: reimer134

  39. I really like certified. I think they were very lazy with the base but the hit are nice and its nice having numbered inserts.I think artifacts is better but this is still a very solid product. I do think this is a little pricy but pretty cool set 7/10

    Youtube: Capitals103

  40. i liked last years product more but still pretty good!

    youtube: brandynzawadiuk

  41. Great review! I really like certified this year because it is really shiny and stands out really well. Also, I really like the Path to the cup cards because I like how they are not foily or shining and just a plain looking card which stands out among the rest of the cards!

    youtube: bluejaysfan65

  42. wow Certified last i wasnt a big fan this year i really like it and i like the foil on the FOTG and i cant wait to get some!


  43. I think this year's Certified has improved from last year's. I love the foil on the cards, and as always I love the base design! The Masked Marvels have always been my favourite insert. I think the mirror parallels look amazing this year as well with its colourful background. It's disappointing that there's a lockout, otherwise I think this product could have gotten more sales. The rookies aren't strong enough this year, but I guess it's more for me if people aren't buying much, it's easier to collect my Baertschis lol. Thanks for the contest, Luke!


  44. panini has once again tricked the consumer by releasing the same looking certified that we seen last year. all they seemed to do was slightly change a few subset design and add a new low end insert. panini needs a game changer to compete with ud and this definitely isnt that changer