Topps was the first to bring their on-demand card printing service to the market and seems to currently be leading the other two companies. Not counting Topps Crossover and TPT the Topps Now cards are available for 24-hours and are $10 with free shipping and are available in a number of sports; baseball, UFC, WWE and soccer plus the Preacher show.
I personally like Topps process, once the cards 24-hour period is up Topps updates the checklist so you know how many cards were printed for that specific card. As for the card, they have a nice design and are your standard 20-pt thickness with a glossy coating. Even though they are roughly the same thickness of the other on-demand printing sets they do seem a bit more solid.
Topps Now cards are readily available on the secondary market with prices ranging greatly based on the player/event and final print numbers. You can also find numerous sellers pre-selling cards for $3-4 less than what Topps is asking. I have bought one or two Topps Now cards from Topps but most have been on the secondary market and only once have I paid more than the $10 original price (#67 Chris Iannetta).
Panini Instant came around shortly afterwards and now they also have Panini Eternal, a higher end version of on-demand printing. Panini does offer a slightly different process, the cards are still only available for a 24-hour period but there also parallels available with the base cards also beginning at $10 but the parallels (#/50, #/25, #/10, #/5 and #1/1) range up to $150 they also use free shipping.
Because of Panini’s multiple licenses they offer more sports with NFL, NBA, USA Basketball, NASCAR, and various soccer sets. What I do not like about Panini Instant is that a running checklist is not available once that sport is no longer available. So like Copa America can no longer be pulled up, though you can find the checklist on Cardboard Connection. Additionally, the print runs are not available on Panini’s site.
Panini Instant does not seem as popular as Topps with some print runs as low as 35 and this is odd considering they hold the only licenses for NFL, NBA and certain soccer leagues. The Panini Instant NFL cards do seem to be doing a bit better than the other products. The cards themselves are standard 20-pt cards with a nice and simple design and glossy coating. I do like that each card has the print totals on the back of the card so they will say “1 of 76” or whatever the final print run was for that card.
The secondary market for Panini Instant cards is definitely different than Topps Now cards, there does not seem to be as many pre-sells and many of the cards that do sell are below the original $10 price point.
The final on-demanding is Leaf Live, which is different than the other two companies. Leaf is using their eBay store to sell their cards, they are available for one week and they sell them at $5 with free shipping as well as lots of 10 and 25 for the same card. The cards are also intermixed, out of the six cards that have been released there have been one memorial card, one baseball card, three football and the Presidential Debate.
So far the five cards that have been sold out they range from #/151 up to #/250, so they seem like they are selling more than Panini Instant cards but it needs to be taken in to account that the cards are available for one week compared to 24 hours for Topps and Panini. As for secondary market there doesn’t seem to be a lot of sales yet but Leaf only started selling their Leaf Live cards since August 30th.
The cards are the standard thickness but unlike the other two companies the Leaf Live cards do not have a glossy coating but they feel very similar to Panini’s cards.
I do have cards from all three companies, which I have used for this post, so I am not limiting myself to just one or the other but I prefer Topps Now over Panini Instant and Leaf Live. Leaf’s cards are limited to athletes they have agreements with and events so I do not see myself buying too many Leaf cards but now that the NFL season I am hoping to see Seahawks on the Panini checklist.