In the past few years baseball card designers have reached back in to the vaults and brought old-school back. Initially these tribute and vintage designs were well received; it was a new idea using an old idea. But just like when directors remake old movies, these heritage style designs have begun to saturate the market. It is no longer exciting to see how the companies would re-imagine these old sets.
Panini has decided to jump in to mania of heritage designs and use the “Close Up” style of the Leaf Studio sets from the 1990s (Donruss bought out Leaf and made their own Studio sets in the early 2000s). The problem is that unlike the 90s Studio sets, which had flair to them, these cards are just bland and boring and the players are way too close. Those older sets included different elements with the background and colors used and the players were set back a bit and not right in your face. These cards are really horrible; the players look bad in all kinds of ways. I mean you can see the individual pores on player’s cheeks and noses, you can tell that some of these guys have acne while others appear as if they are greasy or sweating and apparently none of them know how to operate a razor. If Panini wants to build on this set in a future release I would suggest at least a touch up on the players before taking the photo or softening up the shots afterwards. I am pretty sure most collectors would be fine if they could not count the individual hairs in Felix Hernandez’s beard or the amount of gray hairs in Tim Lincecum’s glorious mane.
What bothers me is that people keep comparing this set to the 90s Studio sets, this is like saying a card from the 2012 Allen & Ginters set is exactly like a card from the original 1887 Allen & Ginters set. I do not know if I am bothered by this because I am a fan of those original Studio sets or what but this product really hits me the wrong way.
The base cards will also have a Artist Proof parallel which includes gold foiling and the "PROOF" logo in the upper corner. The autograph versions are similar to the base cards but the player's picture is down sized to allow for an autograph area to be added to the bottom. I believe that the photos used on the autograph versions are different from the player's base card. The positive here is that the autographs are on-card