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Box Break: 2011-12 Panini Rookie Anthology

July 22, 2012

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Yesterday I made my first trip out to my “local” card shop for what I had expected was going to be a trade day and group box break session.

Unfortunately the number of people in attendance and looking to trade was almost non-existent and anyone who was there for the box breaks appeared to have signed up in advance, so I busied myself by looking through singles boxes to try to track down some of the cards I need for the various base sets I am working on.

I had some decent success with that, finding 39 cards for those projects, along with 32 new cards to add to my 2006-2010 Toronto Blue Jays project.

When I went to the cash register to get a price on what I’d found I decided to take a look at the boxes the store had available.  I’ve hardly opened anything new over the past couple of hockey seasons and the itch to crack a new product has been getting stronger and stronger as of late. 

After discussing a few of the products with the store owner I caved in and decided to buy something.  And for the first time in a very long time I went with a product that would usually be a long way outside my comfort zone: 2011-12 Panini Rookie Anthology.

This purchase wouldn’t have received even the smallest bit of consideration without the flipping success I had following the Spring Expo and its positive impact on my Investment Project.  But since I am way ahead of where I expected to be with that, I decided to bite the bullet and try to have a little fun with a new release. 

Products like Rookie Anthology are the definition of a crap shoot.  In order to make your money back you almost certainly have to hit the jackpot on at least one pull, sometimes two.

While that didn’t happen in this case, I found the product to be pretty impressive as a whole and definitely had a good time opening the packs to discover what awaited me inside.

Here’s the more detailed review for your reading and viewing enjoyment:


Ratings & Assessments

Base Set – 4 out of 5

The design of the base set is right up my alley, which shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’ve read some of my previous box break reviews.  I am generally a fan of sets in which the player who is intended to be the focus of the card stands out from his surroundings to be exactly that.

Rookie Anthology places great looking colour images of the player on a muted greyscale background, something that really allows the player to pop off the card.

The lower half of the card includes a touch of team colour with a jersey-material type of pattern included in the space, which is nicely added to with the piping running up the side in one of the team’s secondary colours.  

The placement of the Rookie Anthology and team logos in gold foil at the top is also done well, as is the banner across the bottom of the card with the player’s number, name, and position each being clearly identified.  Most importantly, none of these design elements interfere with/take anything away from the player photo.

My only complaint is that the back is a bit boring as it doesn’t include another photo of the player, but that’s better than what Panini usually does when they use the exact same image on the front and back of the card.  The placement of the card number in the middle of the card is also a bit of a nuisance when it comes time to put the cards in order.

Interestingly, in each of the packs that contained the hits from this box I received 5 base set cards instead of the four that I should have, netting me 44 of the 100 cards in total.

Not a huge deal, but if I decide to pursue the entire base set at least I’m four cards closer than I should be at this juncture.

Autographs – 3 out of 5

I pulled two cards that included autographs: a Limited Phenoms /299 of Peter Holland and a Rookie Treasures /499 of Joe Vitale.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the “manu-patch” Phenoms cards that I have seen online due to massive amounts of white space the cards tend to include, often at the expense of including a more useful photo of the player being featured on the card.  That is exactly the case with the card I pulled.

The cards definitely look pretty cool, especially with the autograph being directly on the fabric that the Ducks logo has been stitched in to, but the massive blank spot under the logo and Holland’s near-invisibility on this card far outweigh that positive aspect of the design. 

Not sure why Panini doesn’t have the players just sign directly below the logo to leave a smaller window to cut out for the patch and a larger space for a photo.

As for the Rookie Treasures card, I agree with The Hockey Couple’s review; these are simply great looking cards!  Also agree with their review that they could have been even better if the cards were hard-signed as opposed to having sticker included.

Unfortunately for me, Joe Vitale isn’t anything close to a big name prospect for the Pens and his signature is just awful, with a scrawl of what I can only assume are his initials to go along with his #46 jersey number.  Even still, I love the look of this set.

Inserts/Parallels – N/A

There are no traditional inserts available in this product.

Memorabilia – 3 out of 5

I pulled five memorabilia cards in total from my box, which includes the Holland and Vitale cards, the latter of which remains the best looking of the bunch by far for me.

Two of my hits were Rookie Rivalry cards, the first featuring Greg Nemisz and Mika Zibanejad, the second showcasing Simon Despres and Zac Rinaldo. 

The jersey swatches are a decent size and the fact that only one of the four is white is also a plus, but getting two cards from the same set is a bit of a letdown given the number of other sets I could have pulled cards from. 

I’m also having a difficult time figuring out how Panini figures there’s a rivalry connection between Nemisz and Zibanejad.  The fact that they both play for Canadian teams hardly constitutes a rivalry when the teams are in different conferences and rarely play one another and the info on the back of the card does little to support the rivalry notion.

The Joseph came from the bonus pack that comes on the top of the box.  I really like the jersey and stick combo, especially with the stick piece being solid wood.  It would have been nice if the jersey swatch had have been blue to help it stand out from the card a little better, and the design of the card itself leaves a bit to be desired from my point of view. 

While I do like cards that allow the player being featured to pop off the card, doing so on a blank white background and leaving such a huge amount of whitespace visible isn’t doing it for me in this case.  A change in the placement of the player’s name would have been helpful in allowing the picture to be a little larger as well.

Even still, living in the Toronto market makes this a card that I should be able to move in exchange for something I want or need pretty easily.

Rookie Cards – 2.5 out of 5

As the product’s name suggests, rookies rule the day in this release.  In addition to the memorabilia/auto rookies of Holland and Vitale I got six other rookies in my box.

I love the design of the Panini Contenders card and the Pinnacle rookies (clearly the most common of the bunch) look much better in hand than they do in these scans.  The Crown Royale card is a bit too busy for me though, just too much going on in such a small space.

Unfortunately the player selection turned out to be exactly what you run the risk of with this type of product; it was not at all impressive.  The Nyquist is easily the highlight of the group since I’m a Red Wings fan, but aside from that there’s not much to get excited about here.

Quality Control – 5 out of 5

Absolutely nothing wrong in my box.  I got all of the hits I was expecting, there was no duplication of cards at all, and none of the cards were miscut or damaged.

Overall Box Value – 3.5 out of 5

A big name or rarer pull for one of my hits certainly would have made this a much better box, but on the whole I am still pretty impressed by what Rookie Anthology brings to the table.

This is definitely a product that comes with some inherent risks (as the rookies and hits I got clearly indicate) but when the cards look as good as these do and you end up with five hits then there is definitely less room for complaints.

I know not everyone will agree with that assessment, but the way I see it, as long as I’m happy with what I got then that’s good enough for me, and all things considered I’m happy with what Rookie Anthology provides.

If you are interested in buying or trading for anything you see above just post a comment, email me at, or connect on Twitter and/or Facebook.

Until Sunday, all the best in your collecting pursuits!


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