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Collect call: 2012-13 Panini Absolute basketball

Posted Jan 2, 2013 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Mar 27, 2013 at 10:13 PM

After nearly a two-year absence, Absolute Basketball is back. Panini America marks the product’s return with a hobby box that promises at least three autographs and a memorabilia card.

Absolute is packaged in four mini-boxes, with five cards in each pack.

The hobby box I sampled did not have a memorabilia card. However, that omission was balanced by four autograph cards, instead of three. Granted, one is a redemption card, but to me it’s a fair trade.

As in all of Panini’s basketball products this season, there is a five-card pack of the Kobe Anthology, which celebrates the career of Lakers star (and Panini main spokesman) Kobe Bryant.

The base set contains 247 cards — 100 veterans, 100 signed rookies, and 47 retired players. There are Spectrum gold, platinum and black parallel cards for the veterans and retired players, all numbered to 25 or less. The rookie cards originally were touted to be on-card signatures, but the one I pulled of Magic guard E’Twaun Moore was signed on a sticker.

The Moore card is made of slightly thicker stock than the base cards, and he is shown in a Celtics uniform, where he played before he was traded to Orlando last July 20. The card is numbered to 299.

Design for the base set is very foil-oriented, with a cutout action shot of the player dropped against a soft-focus background featuring a crowd shot. I really enjoy the horizontal layout, it looks sharp. Team colors are introduced into the card, with some cards showing a slight tint of shiny red or gold.

On to the other autographs. The redemption card pulled from the hobby box I sampled is an O.J. Mayo Hoopla autograph card.

There is a second Hoopla autograph card, this one showing Mavericks center Chris Kaman. It’s a sticker autograph, and the signature is placed along the left-hand side of the card. To see it straight on, you have to turn the card sideways. That seems a bit odd to me, but given the design of the card, perhaps it works better that way. The card is numbered to 49.

The final autograph card is on even thicker card stock. It’s a Marks of Fame card featuring the signature of Sidney Moncrief. The autograph is on a sticker, but it is bold and stylish — even if somewhat hard to decipher.

The one retired player card in the hobby box was of former Golden State star Nate Thurmond. The photo of Thurmond is stark black and white, which is very effective. The card is numbered to 499, and while the surface of the card front is shiny, it has more of a polished look than the base cards.

The set’s overall look is pleasant, and even though I don’t particularly love shiny cards, these are not too bad. You can read the player’s name at the bottom of the card without squinting (not always the case in some sets). The autograph cards are nice, too.

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