2016 Panini Unparalleled Football Product Review

Panini Unparalleled Football Box Top

It’s Wednesday and the newest product from Panini has just dropped. Making its product debut Panini Unparalleled Football is a shiny, foil covered headache. Regular readers will know that I am not a fan of overly flashy products that cheapen the hobby and flood the market. To look at Unparalleled Football you’d think that someone decided to print trading cards on the side of a crushed disco ball. Additionally I had held some small hope that with a name like Unparalleled that the product would be straight forward and focused, but unfortunately it has more colours than your average kindergarten art class.

Panini Unparalleled Football – Base Set

Panini Unparalleled Football Orange BaseThe flashy gaudiness of Panini Unparalleled Football starts of with a fairly sizable base set of 200 cards. Add onto this a total of 8 parallels and you have little to no hope of collecting the master set of base, let alone the entire product. While the Purple, and Teal parallels are unnumbered and will probably be easy to find, the others may be harder. Orange is /99, Red /49, Blue /25, Green /10, Gold /5, and Black 1/1. I see no reason to have this many different versions of any set. They might be fun for kids, but serious collectors will likely find them cumbersome. The set itself is divided into 150 normal cards and 50 rookies.

Panini Unparalleled Football – Base Autographs

Panini Unparalleled Football Base Auto Aaron RodgersEvery product worth collecting needs to have a basic autograph collection, so at least Panini has gotten that right. At a 162 cards it is an extensive checklist, but it is limited. The basic “Blue” version is numbered no higher than /199 and has a Red /10 or /5 parallel. Collectors should be aware that not all 162 cards are included in the parallel version. Names that jump out at me include Joe Montana, Ben Roethlisberger, and Troy Aikman. For just being a base autograph this actually seems like a well thought out set.

In addition to the Blue and Red base autograph sets there is also a Green set that has its own separate checklist. This set has 167 cards rather than the 162 of the previous version. Additionally, all cards in this set are 1/1s, meaning that collecting the entire set is virtually impossible, unless you are willing to dedicate years and untold amounts of money and effort towards it. Eli Manning, Joe Namath, and Jerry Rice are just some of the names that make an appearance. Personally I love 1/1 sets, but dislike shiny foils and for that matter football as well, so I doubt I’ll get any, lol. Both these autograph sets are a mix of veterans and rookies.

Panini Unparalleled Football – RPS Rookie Autograph Jersey Relics

Panini Unparalleled Football RPS Rookie Jersey AutoThis 40 card set combines rookies, autos and mem, so likely it will be popular. It also cuts way back on the parallels so may actually hold its value better, despite the shininess. The standard parallels for the set are Orange /49, Brand Logo /2, and NFL Shield 1/1. There is also a Prime version available with Red /25, Blue /10, and Green /5. Prime jersey cards are usually well sought after so I don’t mind their addition. With the base version being /199 or less, we at least know that there is a limit, which makes collecting player rainbows all the more fun. Collectors can expect to chase names such as Joey Bosa, Braxton Miller, and Cardale Jones.

Panini Unparalleled Football – Relic Cards

While most collectors, myself included, love pulling autographs, card companies stay alive on the backs of relic cards. These are the cards that can be called premium hits and extend the life of a product beyond its initial release. While often disappointing (plain white swatches suck) these cards can offer a wide variety of content and players for fans to chase. If I am to applaud Panini Unparalleled Football for anything it is their ample selection of relic cards for fans to chase.

Jumbo Memorabilia Set

Large swatch mem is a popular product, if the player name is recognizable enough to back it up. While this set doesn’t boast the big time names such as Brady, Manning, or Elway, it does at least feature player actually in the league. This is a plus, as it means that a fan base exists and that there will be a demand for the cards. This is a 50 card set that, finally, lives up to the name Unparalleled. With only one version of each cards collectors can rest assured that they aren’t missing out. Hopefully this set will create some nice cards for fans to snatch up.

Jumbo Brand Logo Relics Set

If the previous set was lacking the big names, the Brand Logo Relics have them. Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, and Tony Romo all appear in this extremely limited set. Although the checklist is 79 cards long, they are all 1/1s, as are the parallel sets, which are NFL Shield set, and the Tag set. The parallel sets don’t include every player, but even with some names missing they should both be awesome card sets. While I continue to dislike the shininess of the product, I appreciate the awesomeness of this set.

RPS Rookie Dual Memorabilia Set

Panini Unparalleled Football Rookie Dual MemFans of dual player memorabilia cards will be happy to know that Panini Unparalleled Football has decided to grant their wishes. The RP Rookie Dual Memorabilia cards each feature two NFL rookies along with a swatch of relic. The basic version of the 20 card checklist is numbered /149, and offers combinations such as Carson Wentz/Jared Goff, and Devontae Brooker/Paxton Lynch. The cards also come in regular and Prime versions. Regular parallels are Orange /49, NFL Shield Tag 1/1, and NFLPA Tag 1/1. Prime Parallels are Red /25, Blue /10, and Green /5. I am happy to see the division of the parallels between the two version ,as this mean that neither is overly cluttered.

RPS Rookie Materials – Single, Dual, & Triple Mem

Panini Unparalleled Football Rookie Materials

Leonte Caroo /299

OK, so I know I said I like seeing parallels divided up between Base and Prime versions, but…this one might be a bit much. The RPS Rookie Materials set are single player card that each include 1, 2, or 3 pieces of mem, each of these also has a Prime version and there are also a Brand Logo (/2) and Triple Tag (1/1) version. With 40 cards on the checklist this will lead to a lot of mem, and will likely play a big part in Panini’s allocation of rookie cards for this product. The base set is /299, Dual /199, Dual Prime /49, Triple /25, and Triple Prime /10. This is a lot of cards for a simple rookie mem set. Names featured include Tyler Ervin, Cody Kessler, and Jared Goff.

Base Memorabilia Cards – Single, Dual, and Triple

Panini Unparalleled Football Base Mem Damarcus WareWell, we already covered single, double, and triple mem cards for the NFL rookie class, so we may as well do it for the rest of the league. Unlike the rookies these cards only come in the basic version, choosing to forego the Prime option. These, along with inserts, will likely be the bulk of the “hits” for most hobby boxes. The main set here totals 91, but not all of these are included in the dual and triple versions. The base set includes Joe Namath, Drew Brees, and Dan Marino, to name a few. These are all numbered cards, with the single mem version being /199 or less, Dual /99 or less, and the Triple being /49 or less.

Panini Unparalleled Football – Insert Sets

If there is one thing that Panini Unparalleled Football has a lot of (besides shiny parallels) it’s inserts. Now it would take far too long go through each and every one of them, as there are no less than 9 different sets of insert. Therefore, I am going to take a quick look at 2 or 3 of them, and leave the rest as a surprise for when you rip those packs!

Draft Diamonds

Panini Unparalleled Football Draft Diamonds BradyIf I were still a kid, I’d probably enjoy all the foil shininess that Panini has served up for this release, which is probably the intent. For all the money that we, as grown adults, pump into the hobby, we often forget that it is supposed to be for kids. Inserts are a great way to compromise, allowing adults to chase mem and autos, while leaving cool looking insert for their kids.
Draft Diamonds is a set that I definitely think fills the bill of kid friendly.

These shiny cards feature a solo player set against a colour background with a diamond shape and large border area. The theme is players who once drafted, turned out to be diamonds got their teams. As such names on the 25 card list include Michael Strahan, Joe Montana, and Tom Brady. A whole host of parallels will serve to keep rainbow set collectors happy, although they may need to be reminded of their kids. The Orange parallel is #/99, the Red /49, Blue /25, Green /10, Gold /5, and Black is 1/1. Enjoy these ones with your kids.

Pivotal Drive

Panini Unparalleled Football Pivotal Drive PatriotsThis insert set plays to fans of certain lines, as each features 3 teammates, assumedly good at driving to the end-zone (I don’t know, I don’t watch football). This means that trios such a Palmer, Johnson, and Fitzgerald are included of Arizona, or McFadden, Witten, and Romo for Dallas. The checklist is 40 cards long, so there should be plenty to go around (maybe even sneak yourself a double when you give ’em to your kids). 6 parallels exist for this insert with Orange being /99, Red /49, Blue /25, Green /20, Gold /10, and Black being 1/1.

World Class Records

Panini Unparalleled Football World Class Records Tom BradyThe final insert set that we will look at is the World Class Records set. These cards have a psychedelic feel to them with a circular ripple effect emanating from the middle. As a short 10 card checklist, these insert are likely to be some of the rarer ones, despite the base set not being numbered. Names to look for include Peyton Manning, Jerry Rice, and Adrian Peterson. Using the same parallel numbering as the Draft Diamonds set, these should be a fun pull and will make your kids happy.

Closing Thoughts

I think that those who have read previous posts of mine will know that I have an aversion to overly shiny cards, especially parallels. While Panini Unlimited Football is clearly a decent product, I just can’t get past the 60s hippie vibe. If I were looking for something that kids would find fun these would do, but as a serious collector I’d avoid them. Anyway, for those who do want to take a shot at the product, expect to pay about $88usd for a hobby box. For this you can expect 8 packs, with 10 cards each. Broken down it means 1 auto, 2 relics, and 7 numbered cards per box. I’d recommend sticking to breaks or buying as a single pack.

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