Overall impressions -
Panini has done a very nice job with the design of Black. And it starts with the awesome packaging. The packaging of the product is top notch - whoever designs Panini's boxes should definitely get paid more. Part of the fun of opening up a high end product is handling the box it comes in. With packaging as nice as this, collectors feel that they are opening something special and of great value.
As for the actual cards, they are very nice as well. Each box of Black will contain twelve cards. Of the twelve, seven are regular base, rookie, or insert cards that do not contain an autograph or memorabilia piece. Though these cards look sweet and feature a modern, tough design... I think getting seven (essentially base) cards is a bit much. It may be nice to get more cards per box, but having this many non-hit cards actually gives collectors a feeling that the hits within aren't concentrated enough. If boxes of Black had four or five base/inserts/rookies, it would make for a more premium opening experience. That being said, the cards do still look great. My only design change would be to have the cards be completely black, including the side edges! Total bad @$$-age right there. Just my two cents!
As for the hits, my box provided me with some more great looking cards... let's talk about some of the hits now.
I have to say that design-wise, there are some real winners here. The Rookie Patch Autographs are done nicely. They are clean and refined looking cards. The Mohamed Sanu card I pulled featured a crazy looking patch piece. I took some time and checked out eBay and saw that many of these Rookie Patch Autograph cards have unique patches imbedded in them. It's awesome when pieces of patch enhance the cards so well. The gold ink autograph was also a nice touch... I do, however, wish Sanu was given a skinnier pen to use. His auto is small, and the girth of his stroke is a bit too big for my taste.
Another card with amazing patch pieces was this Flacco/Rice Materials Combos card. I was stunned at how nice the included patch pieces were. Each piece had multiple breaks and colors. I'm sure Raven's fans would love to get their hands on this one. Though the Sanu and the Flacco/Rice are great looking cards, I would say that if I were to sell both, they would not go for too much - at least no where close to what the box price was.
My other inserts were just a couple more autographs and a jersey card. The NFL features so many rookies that don't pan out that it makes it really hard to get too excited about these pulls.
All-in-all, Panini has again done a really outstanding job of making a beautiful card product. As with all super premium card releases, they are a pretty big gamble if you're looking to break even or hit the jack pot. I have to say that at $200 a box, the price is a bit too high for essentially five hits (keeping in mind that usually three of the hits would be just 'filler' type stuff). Black is a product I'd love to buy many boxes of... but the price to value ratio is just a bit too skewed for me. That being said, I know that there will be many football collectors out there who will take that gamble in search for some beautiful rookie cards of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffen III as well as some of the other stand out rookies this season.
Let me know what you thought of Panini Black or my review of it in the comments section!