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Collect call: Rookie Anthology Hockey

Posted Jul 3, 2012 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Jul 3, 2012 at 09:08 PM

There is something to be said for simplicity in card design. Certainly, a collector does not want something stark and sterile looking, but subtlety along the fringes can enhance the main focus of the card.

That’s what I like about Panini America’s Rookie Anthology hockey set. The base set contains large, action shots of players, and the design does not beat you over the head with foil and other whistles and bells. For example, the gold foil used on the front of the base set cards are restricted to small areas, like the team logo, the name of the set, and the small strip at the bottom that has the player’s name, number and position.

Plus, the photography is particularly sharp, which is nice.

A hobby box of 2011-12 Rookie Anthology contains 10 packs, with five cards in each pack. In addition, there is a box topper pack to go along with the autograph and relic cards. Five big hits, and the set runs in the $100 range. It could be a good bargain, depending on what sizzle cards you pull.

The hobby box I sampled yielded 43 of the 100 base cards. In addition, there were rookie updates from other sets Panini already has released: one from Panini Contenders, one from Crown Royale, and four from Pinnacle. Other collectors may pull updates from Limited or Certified.

Here’s where it gets exciting. The first signature in the hobby box was a Private Signings card autograph in bold blue ink by Boston Bruins right winger Shawn Thornton — signed on the card. Thornton includes his uniform number in the autograph. There is gold foil along the bottom of the card and a quarter of the way up the card. Even this is tasteful; it looks like a relic with a gilded edge.

The second auto was a combo with two uniform swatches. The card is called Rookie Treasures, and it featured Montreal Canadiens defenseman Raphael Diaz. The downside is that it’s a sticker autograph, but the bright red swatches above it draw your attention away from the signature and to that part of the card. Diaz also includes his number in his signature. It’s a very bright, red card.

The third card I found was a Rookie Rivalry, double swatch card of Vancouver’s Cory Hodgson and Chicago’s Brandon Saad.

Draft Year Combos reviews selections from previous years. The card I pulled featured 2001 draftees Jason Pominville (Sabres) and Jason Spezza (Senators) and had four small pieces of game-used uniform pieces.

The final big card was the box topper itself. Enclosed in its own package was a Luxury Suite card of Flyers captain Chris Pronger. The relic includes a white uniform swatch and a black piece of a helmet. Definitely a keeper.

This is definitely an interesting, attractive set. The base cards are well-designed and not overbearing, and the hot cards definitely give this set some value.

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