Base Card Design -
Panini has been 'on it' when it comes to foil board sports cards. There was a ton of foil used in Prizm, and now Select brings us even more. Each base card is very shiny and fully foiled. Just with a quick glance though, these Select base cards exude more class than their Prizm counterparts. Where the Prizm design is futuristic and sharp, the Select base cards are more rounded and smooth. It's neat to see how Panini is able to give off very different feels within their foiled products. The Select base cards have a frame-like quality to them as it looks as though the player is coming out of a picture frame. The Select logo centered at the bottom of the card looks great, and adds to the appeal of the card. Everything is just the right proportion. I've gotta say that these base cards are very well done.
The card back is definitely above average when it comes to Panini backs. They retain the elegance of the front by continuing the framed look. The numbering of the card is perfectly centered, and is placed where a nail would be to hang a picture up on the wall. Panini has wisely chosen to use team color themed backgrounds as a background to the statistics and player information. The entire back is glossy. This is a good effort on Panini's part!
The standard rookie cards in Select have a design that is slightly different than the standard base. You'll notice the rookie card logo in the upper right hand corner as well as the word rookie in the bottom portion of the card. The picture frame border also has some tweaks to the design. With all these different elements, you'd think the rookie cards would stand out very well from the rest of the base cards. Well... they don't. I had a hard time differentiating them from the base as I was going through the packs. Even with these differences, they just didn't strike me as that different.
The autographed version of the rookie cards do stand out though. Obviously the sticker autograph is a big part of the card, however, these cards are jersey (or even patch) thickness. These girth-y cards are huge! I was surprised to see Panini using a different thickness for the rookie cards. I can't see a great reason for it... but it does make the card more fun and unique.
Autograph and memorabilia versions of rookie cards round on the main set of cards. These remind me of Upper Deck's SPx rookie cards, but shinier. The design of these cards is pleasing to the eye, but some collectors (like me) might find the jersey pieces a little boring. Of course, nice variations of these cards with patch pieces are available for collectors to find.
Base Card Design Score:
When you buy a box of Select, you are actually getting two mini boxes. I can't see a reason for making this product two 6-box minis rather than just having 12 packs in a box... but hey... whatever floats their boat I guess! Each mini box states that there are two autographs to find in each. A couple of the autographs will be rookies, and veteran autographs should make up the rest. Select also has a number of insert cards available to find in their boxes.
The Fire on Ice insert set is probably the best looking and more intricately designed card type. There is a lot going on with these cards with all the etching in the background. The fire theme is a nice contrast to the ice. A blue version of the card is also available. Rookie versions of the Fire on Ice cards will feature the special rookie logo in the corner. I have mixed feelings about this. While I do acknowledge that the rookies are available in the set, the logo could confuse people into thinking that these were actually rookie cards of that player.
Select Future cards look great, but in a totally different way than the Fire on Ice cards. These cards trade the massive amounts of etching for smoother lines and surfaces. The graphics and logos used on these cards really bring out the 'future' aspect of the Future insert's concept.
Cornerstone insert cards celebrate franchise stars that have been with a certain team for a long time. It's a nice set to have in Select since many of the cards focus on the rookies. This set puts the sights squarely on veteran players. It's definitely a nice change of pace, and a great way for player collectors to add more cards to their collection if their guy gets chosen for the set. These cards have a burst background design that puts the focus right on the featured player. It's a superb design that makes use of the foil nicely.
Youth Explosion cards steal a bit of the Cornerstone inserts design. These cards still look great though. The Youth Explosion logo at the bottom of the card is pretty creative. It reminds me a bit of the X-Men, which we all know have a school for younger mutants. I could imagine the Youth Explosion logo to be something they would brand on the younger X-Men in training.
Select Signature cards are the standard autographed card you'll find in Select. There really isn't much to them - just a standard foil card with a sticker autograph. Like the Youth Explosion, but unlike the rookie autographs in the main set, these Select Signature cards come on standard thickness cards.
The main chase in Select will most likely be the autographed rookie cards. Collectors should be excited to find the ones with the nicest patches and premium materials. Other hits can be found as well in Select. The cards I pulled do not show all that Select has to offer.
Overall Rating -
Select is a product that is great fun to open. When you open it, you're feeling like you are getting something special. Maybe it's the fact that you have to open up two mini boxes when you buy a box, but that really does make you anticipate more as the packs finally get ripped open.
Each full box of Select will have four autographed cards. These cards may be lone autographs, or they may come with memorabilia pieces. The big draw of this product is that there are a lot of rookies to find here. With a very nice crop of first year players (and holdovers from last year), Select will be a great place to get your hands on some nice upper mid-level rookie cards.
The price of Select is a little higher than Prizm, but I have to say, Select is much more fun to open. Select has double the hits Prizm did, and actually has memorabilia to look forward to. Panini introduces Select at a great time, and I have no problems recommending this product!
Check out my box of 13/14 Select from D&P Cards in Sacramento, Ca: