Base Card Design -
The Pinnacle base cards have black as their primary color choice. And that makes perfect sense because in the earliest releases of Pinnacle in the nineties, Pinnacle had black borders. These base cards are a nice update to the original cards - they retain the feel of the old brand, but they are different and fresh. Panini has sometimes chosen to use the same exact design as the original release of a brand to draw in older collectors (which can be cool), but I applaud the effort to bring collectors something new. For the most part, Panini has done well with the design. I enjoy the large photos, large player name, darkened backgrounds, and team colored highlights. But I do have to say that the space used in the bottom right corner is a bit much. A relatively large portion of the photo is covered up, which gives me the feeling that I'm missing out on a part of the action. Perhaps that part of the card could have been done smaller or rethought.
The card backs look as thought there is a great deal of information printed on them, but actually, an entire fourth of the back is filled with the licensing information. Most of the relevant baseball stats and write-up just takes up a space in the middle portion of the card. The backs are clean and easy to read, but they do lack some substance. Only one line of career stats is given, and graphical design elements take up a lot the real estate.
The base set is filled with rookies, current stars, and retired players. Rookies have been given a special rookie card logo to distinguish them from the veterans. Many of the cards in Pinnacle will featured cards that have been digitally altered to remove team logos and branding. Panini does not hold a Major League Baseball license, so they have to find ways be creative when making their baseball card products. The Jeter at the top of the review looked pretty natural, but you can definitely tell Puig's uniform is missing some key elements to it.
Base Card Design:
Each box of Pinnacle will net you two autographs and a huge variety of insert cards. There is no game-used memorabilia content to be found in Pinnacle. Panini has really turned up the nufex and acetate machines for this release as many of the insert cards feature these two technologies.
My favorite looking insert card in Pinnacle has to the be the Clear Vision acetate and foil cards. These cards mix the two printing techniques extremely well. Not only do these cards have the acetate window, the entire rest of the card shimmers with a rainbow shine. I have to add die-cutting to the list of applications as well as the contour of the player has been cut to create the right border of the acetate window. I've always wanted companies to improve their non-hit insert cards. Panini has done a marvelous job here.
In an interesting twist to the Clear Vision cards, Panini has tiered the print-run of these cards by the feat listed in the acetate window. The more difficult the accomplishment, the rarer the card. Hitters and pitchers are differentiated into two sets. None of the print-runs have been stamped on to the cards save for the one-of-one versions. If you get a Clear Vision Perfect Game or Clear Vision Cycle, you'll see that stamping.
Pinnacle of Success cards are all acetate. These cards do not have a border, just Pinnacle colored graphics. It's a simple design that really works. The name of the insert set can be seen climbing the Pinnacle logo in the background - very playful and cleverly done. Like most acetate cards, these are all about the front. The back only contains the card number and some legal information.
Essence of the Game inserts are all acetate as well. Usually acetate cards have a very modern feel and look to them. Panini has gone a bit vintage in this set. You can see that the background is filled with stars, and the font is decidedly golden age. These are certainly a unique take on acetate cards... and it works! Panini's been practicing a lot with acetate. They are getting better and better at it.
Wahhh? More acetate? Yep! Swing For the Fences brings you even more! And after that there is the Skylines set too. If you love the plastic, you're going to really love Pinnacle, as there is a lot of it to find here.
Team Pinnacle cards have been a favorite of mine since the very beginning. Always a tough pull, these double sided cards always featured two star players. I think in all my years buying Pinnacle in the nineties, I think I only pulled one Team Pinnacle in a pack. In 2013 Pinnacle, getting a Team Pinnacle is not very difficult at all. There are about two per box. These cards have the Nufex printing technology that gives one side of the card a rich foil texture. Oh, and I'm a huge fan of the fact that you can pull guys like George Brett out of these packs. He was a big favorite of mine back in the day!
Here's another oldie but goodie insert card, an Ace! I loved these cards when they first came out of Score Select. What an awesome idea to use the ace card from a playing deck to represent the team's best pitcher. Genius! Set off with foil just made these cards even better. They weren't a huge hit in a general sense in the Score Select days, but I definitely was a fan of them. And I guess they were cool enough to bring back in 2013 Pinnacle!
Slug Fest cards are back as well. I guess Panini really reached in deep when it came to looking in the closet for card ideas! As the name suggests, the Slug Fest cards celebrate the great hitters of the game in Nuflex glory! It's another fun shout out for collectors who fondly remember chasing these cards.
Like the acetate cards, there are plenty more sets that feature Panini's Nufex technology. For a supreme challenge, you can go for the Museum Collection Nufex parallel set. I actually tried going for this base set parallel when I was younger. Hah, I didn't make it very far at all, but I loved each Museum card I had because they looked so great. Somehow I remember the originals being a little bit thicker, but it could just be some faulty memory going on. It's too bad I don't have one to compare it with readily.
The Artist Proof base parallel cards are a more difficult pull than the Museum Collection cards, but in my opinion they don't look nearly as nice. They simply feature some foil stamping that denotes it as an Artist Proof. I always thought these were Pinnacle's answer to Topps' First Day Issue cards. I guess you have to put them in as they're part of the Pinnacle tradition.
Standards insert cards that don't have Nufex or acetate are also abundantly available in Pinnacle. Here's a Team 2020 card of Jurickson Profar. The insert's name is obviously a clue to it's young player focus. These cards don't have too much going for them other than the opportunity to showcase more cards of the younger talent. Artist Proof and die-cut variations of these cards can be found as well.
Hey look it's the Crime Dog! For those of you not-in-the-know, that was Fred McGriff's nickname. He was definitely a stand-out player in the nineties. Awaiting the Call cards are all about players who are candidates to be hall of famers. Growing up in the eighties and nineties, I loved the players of that era. I do hope guys like McGriff get into the hall of fame. Though I love the players and the idea of these cards, the design has more to be desired. As they stand, the cards are very plain, with a lot of space that could be used better. Like the Team 2020 cards, there are die-cut and Artist Proof variations of these cards.
There are many more insert cards in 2013 Pinnacle, but probably my favorite looking one that didn't feature any special treatment was this Behind the Numbers card. These cards have a real splash of color. Many of the Pinnacle cards are one-note or very dark. Seeing this card come out was refreshing. You'll find about one Behind the Numbers card per box of Pinnacle.
The only hits in Pinnacle are two type of autographed cards - the regular autographs and the rookies. Both types of card come on standard card stock. I was a bit disappointed at the design of the cards. With all the amazing insert types in Pinnacle this year, I would have thought the autographs would have had more of a wow factor. As they stand, they may be the most tame cards in the entire set. Thankfully, Panini has some big names like Ken Griffey Jr. to help boost the set up a bit. He (and his super star friends) might be a pretty difficult pull though!
I felt that I was able to get a huge variety of insert cards in my box of Pinnacle, but even with what I pulled, I know there were even more things available to find. Z-Team, The Naturals, Hit Kings... these are just a few that didn't come in my box. They might be in yours!
Overall Rating -
Pinnacle is an affordable baseball offering from Panini that gives collectors like me a fun time breaking a product that is familiar and nostalgic. No, it's not the 50's or 60's nostalgic... it's the 90's! But hey, times are 'a-movin'!
I think collectors who liked Pinnacle in its heyday will like this version of it. If it were more expensive, I might recommend to stay away from it, but it's not. Pinnacle is a very affordable rip. It couldn't hurt to bust a box or two. Two boxes of Pinnacle will definitely be quite a bit less than any other higher-end baseball box. Sure, you probably won't get a top of the line hit... but you'll have a great time getting some cards that you'll enjoy.
But actually, according to a recent Panini study, some of the insert cards have actually been getting some surprising secondary selling values. If you want to read the article about that, click here.
If you know what to expect from Pinnacle, it's going to be a great time. I gotta recommend it based on it's affordable price and fun trip down memory lane. Determine if that's what you want and dive into it!
Check out my box of 2013 Panini Pinnacle Baseball: