Base Card Design -
When collectors open their packs of Past and Present, they will see a distinctly retro-designed card. The cards are non-glossy and have the feel of a real cardboard card - go figure, right?!?! Rather than just dip back to the 80's though, Panini has evoked an even older era of collecting. The washed out colors and simple graphics give a 60's or 70's-type vibe. The base cards are the perfect representation of 'past' for this set. Older collectors will enjoy them because they are a shout out to a simpler time in collecting. Non-glossy cards don't slip all over the place and are great for in-person autographs. Newer or younger collectors will enjoy how different and colorful these cards are compared to many of the other sets available to them. These cards definitely stand out... in a good way, of course!
The back of the base card continues on with the 'past' theme. Again, the designers at Panini have wisely chosen colors appropriate for a retro card. It can be easy to forget how important color selection is in creating a specific feel. The vertical orientation of the card is reminiscent of how cards used to be as well. It's simple and it works. If I could make one suggestion, adding some fun cartoons or pictures on the back would have really been a slam dunk for this set. I recall that card companies back in the day had fun facts in the form of cartoons in some of their card sets. It added a whole lot of interactive fun to each card. That would be sweet as opposed to this more spartan, straight forward approach.
The base set has three main card designs. This Divac is definitely different than the Kobe above. I was trying to figure out how Panini chose to differentiate the designs and players... but I don't think there is a rhyme or reason for it. Each type of design has a good selection of past and present NBA players. The third design (not pictured) has a baby blue background with an enlarged version of the red basketball graphic seen in the upper left hand corner of the Divac card. All three designs feature the same card back with varying color schemes.
A small short-printed variation set is also available to be found within packs. This 50 card set features yet another retro-inspired design. Unlike the standard base cards, these are much harder to come by. In my box I was only able to find one - the Chris Paul shown above. Collectors wanting a master set of Past and Present will definitely have a challenging time tracking all of these down. I liked that Panini made these cards relatively difficult to obtain, but not impossible. Collectors on a budget can definitely take up the challenge of finding these 50 cards if they so desire.
Like in many products nowadays, rookies have their own special subset within the main base set of cards. These rookie cards definitely stand out within the main set as their design is radically different than all the others. These cards remind me of an old movie poster. The large 'ROOKIE' at the top is probably what makes me think that. The rookies cards in Past and Present are easy to find in packs and are not particularly short-printed. They provide easy access to the bigger named rookies since they are not serial numbered, not autographed, and not embedded with jersey pieces. Again, that's great for collectors wanting rookie cards on a budget.
Base Card Design Score:
Panini did something very surprising this year for Past and Present - they made game-used memorabilia cards available only in retail versions of the product. Jersey and patch cards are nowhere to be found in hobby packs and boxes! That is pretty stunning to me. Though I am shocked at their choice, I think it's a brilliant move by Panini. It really gives retail buyers something to chase and feel good about. Finally, an exclusive at retail worth collecting! I've seen some of the patch pieces available... they are very nice... and very limited!
Though there is no memorabilia available in Past and Present hobby boxes, Past and Present will still give collectors a chance to find autographs like the Fat Lever shown above. These Elusive autographs feature players who may not have many autographs currently available on cards. It's a great idea that allows collectors to find older players from their favorite teams that they wished had signed cards in the past. Panini had this same autographed set last year, but this year's design is a step up in my opinion. These cards are super clean and modern. I would call this and almost all the other inserts found in Past and Present the 'present' part of the set. Gone is the retro feel. These cards are all about slick modern looks, light refraction, and unique textures.
This Steve Novak on-card autographed card is another example of simple, modern design schemes. It's not as sparse looking as the Elusive autographed cards, but the background of the card, as well as the fonts used, are totally in the 'now'. I was actually very surprised to find an on-card autograph in Past and Present. You usually don't see on-card autographs on products at this price point. I have to commend Panini for giving collectors this rare treat in this product!
The Shattered insert set shows off Panini's cracked-ice technology. These shiny cards are reminiscent of prism cards introduced in the 90's, but done better. These Shattered inserts showcase the strong dunkers of the game from both the past and the present. The Drexler card seen above has bright silver reflective pieces, but other cards in the set feature black ones. Those cards don't stand out as much, but I love the subtlety they have.
In terms of texture, Past and Present has that in abundance. The Treads insert set is all about the player's shoe. Though the patterns shown are not the exact pattern underneath the shoe, it's the idea that really shines through here. Shoes are such a huge part of the NBA and basketball culture. I'm glad that there is an insert set that celebrates the shoe in this way. I'd be interested to see if they keep going with this idea in future sets. I'd love an actual shoe print on a card; that might be a natural next step with the Treads insert idea.
Headbands are another big part of the NBA game. I see more and more players sporting headbands to keep the sweat out of their eyes. The Headbands insert set is so cool! The cards show an up-close shot of the players head. The headband on the card has a felt-like material that mimics the feel of the player's headband. Here is yet another unique insert set idea from Panini. I've never seen this done and I think it's brilliant.
Continuing with the felt feel are the NBA Championship Banner cards. Not only do these cards have the feel of felt, but they are also die-cut to look like an actual banner. Talk about pulling out all the stops! Panini did a similar card to these in their Classics Hockey set. I didn't think they did a good job there. Those cards were flat and boring. The way Panini included an image of the player within the banner with the team logo and everything else on the card is simply amazing.
Lastly, Panini brought back the Raining 3's set. This set is also textured, but in a much more subtle way. Rather than have felt or a bumpy shoe pattern, these cards are glossed in different areas of the card. You can't tell by the scans of the card, but in-person, it's a pretty nice effect. More than the glossing, however, is the beauty of the Raining 3's design. It's so artistic and modern! I think these cards will be under appreciated by the general collecting public... but I wanted to get it out there that I personally think these cards are spectacular looking.
Aside from the cards shown, base card variation autographs and game-used cards are available when buying different forms of 2012/13 Past and Present Basketball. Rise N' Shine inserts featuring a very in-your-face design can also be found. Unlike the other inserts in the set, this one has a retro flair to it. The selection and variety here in Past and Present is off the charts!
Overall Rating -
For well under $100 you can find a box of the new 2012/13 Panini Past and Present Basketball. Though it may not have the moster hits that hardcore collectors look for, it does have content worth collecting. Past and Present has presented collectors with a fun and exciting basketball card break. The experience of opening Past and Present is well worth the money. I wouldn't hesitate in recommending this product to just about any collector.
Like I mentioned before, Panini has varied its distribution of hits this year for Past and Present. If you're looking for game-used pieces of jersey or patch, go for retail. If you want more autographed content, then hobby is the way to go. Either way, I think you'll have an enjoyable break.
Check out a box or two of 2012/13 Panini Past and Present for yourself! Let me know what you get in your box. I'd love to hear your opinion of it in the comments below.
See me open a box of 12/13 Past and Present below. Thanks to Panini for this review box: