Even though we weren't able to see all the amazing action in person, nor stand in ridiculous line for crazy exclusive redemption sets and packs, we were able to get our hands on 5 packs of Panini's special National exclusives. How, you may ask? Well, simple.
I gave them money. They ran a special on their website offering redemption packs for your online order along with a Rated Rookie T-Shirt while supplies lasted - all for free. I went ahead and bought a box that was over-priced in terms of retail value but with the "free shirt and packs" built-in, it worked itself out.
Only 2 cards per pack. There's some autographed cards to be found, some relic cards in there (including of Panini team members - no cooler business card, although I question their collectability), and some low-print run parallels such as the cracked ice, which as I understand are not actually numbered, but have a print-run of 25 copies. Will I find any such things in my 5 packs?
#39 - Thomas Robinson - Mr. Robinson was the fifth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, a fact you wouldn't know from looking at the card. That's a little confusing and disconcerting. You have his new team on the front and back, so why not the draft status?
#3 - Adam Jones - Team Colors - The biggest problem with the Panini Packs is I can't tell what's an insert and what's not (if anything). It sure looks like an insert to me. But is the Robinson part of the main set and slightly short printed? Is this part of the main set?
#19 - Curtis Martin - Class of 2012 - If I had to guess a regular set this would belong to, my guess would be Prestige. This guy was 4th in all-time rushing, yet I have no idea who he is. Perhaps I should follow football more.
#82 - Peyton Manning - What a crazy sequence of events this whole Peyton thing was, eh? I guess the football world needed something to fill the Favre fervor fvoid in the off-season.
#11 - Steven Stamkos - I don't know much about hockey, but I do enjoy watching it on TV those rare occasions I'm able to sit still long enough. I do know he's pretty good, and 10 years younger than me. Ugh.
#21 - Andrew Luck - Yee-haw! Woopie Ding! I is a meelion-air. moneymoneymoneymoneymoneymoney. Watch him get hurt week 2.
#33 - Yoenis Cespedes - People still like this kid, right? All I ever hear about is Harper and Yu, Harper and Yu. There are some other really good rookies getting left in the media's dust. This guy possibly being one of them.
I like the effort of the set. I think it's pretty confusing and will be difficult, as these get into the wild, to know where exactly they came from. Only the Tori is stamped with the National marking, and that's because it's a low-numbered parallel. The rest don't have a consistent design which may make finding cards of your favorite players, or god forbid the entire set, quite difficult.
Despite that, it's fun to have a little piece of the national show up at my doorstep and while we hope to share a lot more of the NSCC next year, at least we got to let you live vicariously through our vicarious packs.