So, the 2021 retail product was fun to open. Panini promises either an autograph card or a relic in every blaster box, and I enjoy products like that. For people who don’t want to invest heavily into a set, it at least gives a casual collector a reason to sample it.
I bought a blaster, which contains eight packs. Each pack contains seven cards.
Typically, Panini promises at least one rookie card per pack, but I got lucky and pulled eight of them. One pack had two rookies, which was kind of nice.
The base set has 200 cards and an additional 100 rookie cards.
Of the 56 cards in the blaster, 44 were base. The design is relatively simple, with the player’s photograph a tightly cropped action shot. The card is framed with colors that borrow one of the team’s primary colors.
The design for the card backs are also vertical, with an even tighter cropped photo of the player on the left-hand side of the card for veterans and on the right-hand side for rookies.
The backs also contain 10 lines of type highlighting the player’s achievements and top moments. Vital statistics, such as height and weight, are placed above a two-line string of statistics for current players. These show 2020 stats along with career numbers. For retired players, there is one line of stats that provide career numbers.
The base set includes all the current stars, plus Hall of Famers like Brett Favre, Warren Moon, Joe Namath, Randy Moss, Jerome Bettis, Ray Lewis, John Elway, Marcus Allen, Joe Montana and Warren Sapp, to name a handful.
I pulled two Rookie Wave inserts of Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and Vikings quarterback Kellen Mond. The insert is a new addition to Playoff and has 30 cards. The cards have a nice chrome look to them; as an added bonus, the Mond card is a Prizm.
Another new insert, Thunder & Lighting, is a 20-card subset. I am thinking Panini made a spelling error and meant “Lightning,” which makes sense because the players involved are a lightning combination. Maybe Panini was going for an obscure pun, like “lighting” up the scoreboard, perhaps? If so, it fell flat. It looks too much like a typo.
There were four advertising promos in the blaster, too—a contest to enter you child to be a “Kid Reporter” for Super Bowl LVI. Since that game has been already played, well … it’s a little too late for that. But it might be fun to scratch off just to see if you had won.
The Playoff set is a nice one to start off the new year. With the draft and minicamps around the corner, this set is inexpensive to collect and does reward the collector. There are plenty of parallels that can be found in hobby boxes, but at least in the hobby box I pulled, they are pretty much nonexistent.