Does the hobby need an HD trading card? Yes and no …


By Chris Olds | Basketball Editor | Commentary

Panini America, the lone licensee of NBA trading cards, is taking the definition of what is a trading card a new direction.

It’s one that’s crystal clear and clearly defined — well, we think — as it’s something that’s pretty well known in television circles.

It’s high definition — and it’s coming to a trading card soon.

The company unveiled Tuesday its Panini HD program, which will introduce the hobby to the first video trading cards. These will be autographed releases with footage that can be watched in embedded video screens in the card. The autograph subjects will be Panini exclusive players, so you can expect Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and John Wall to be among them.

“As you can imagine, there’s no better way of authenticating an autographed card than showing you the player signing that card, showing you the player numbering that card and that footage being featured on that specific card,” said Mark Warsop, Panini America’s CEO. “I can’t think of any way that you can authenticate a hand-signed trading card any better than that.

“These will be super high-tech cards and they will be limited in number.”

A multimedia trading card isn’t a new creation — Upper Deck briefly experimented with CD-ROM cards in the late 1990s — but these apparently promise to be more than that … at least as a higher-end item that can be found in products this year.

In fact, with the autograph inclusion on the card, the signing of each autograph item will be one of the videos that can be viewed. That’s another piece of technology that was introduced by Upper Deck in the past with use of its PenCams on Upper Deck Authenticated items. Panini promises that the cards can be loaded with a few minutes of footage — everything from interviews to potentially highlight reels. (Let’s just hope there aren’t highlight reel variations…)

What will make this product different? Likely the technology. And if it’s spectacular? It might be the next big thing. After all, who isn’t addicted to a smartphone or other digital gadget these days? Releasing the items as autographed limited-edition products likely helps keep production lower — and might pique demand — but it might also limit the mass appeal of such an item. (Or perhaps set the stage for a wider release if the technology is popular … without the risk of a high-volume flop.)

PowerDeck was an interesting concept but didn’t have long-term legs — really in some ways because of technology limitations of its time. After all, we’ve come a long way since then.

However, with technology, expectations today might be higher than ever, too.

Do you think this will work? Let us know what you think …

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.


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  1. creativemunky 22 March, 2011 at 12:18

    Totally Unnecessary!! Its gonna be like Diamond Vision, Power Deck CD-Roms. Youll see them for like a year or 2 then it will go away.
    My question is if you view that on the card itself, how does the card stay power say 10 yrs or 20 yrs down the line? You gonna have to take it apart to replace a battery? Does it charge? Batteries?
    Plus the cost vs the cost of traditional cardboard. Its gonna be another hobby FAD!

  2. Gellman 22 March, 2011 at 12:26

    Simply revolutionary. Breathtaking. Any other superlative you want to throw out there. Well done, Panini. Game, set, match.

  3. Kevin 22 March, 2011 at 13:40

    This is a great way to completely devalue all cards before them. It makes me want to sell all the cards I own.

    Of course, that is only if this silly idea is somehow successful. Packs and boxes already cost too much and I think this idea would just make them totally unaffordable, especially to the people they should most affordable to, young sports fans.

  4. jerry o 22 March, 2011 at 13:49

    I am a huge fan of Panini/Donruss for the innovation that they bring to our hobby. Knee-jerk this sounds like a cool idea, but I share Larry’s sentiment about the staying power of these cards. I was just bragging to my colleagues that I own a 60 year old card. I can’t imagine these cards holding up until 2071.

  5. Hscshooter 22 March, 2011 at 13:51

    I don’t think so. What will it cost to produce these cards, sell them to dealers at which point they will try to sell to the consumer. I can’t see anybody interested in this lame concept. The day sticker autos are gone is the day this concept will work. I don’t mind Panini being innovative but are they trying to compete with Upper Deck Evolution (even though who knows what that’s about). I buy a lot of product from Panini but won’t even touch this one.

  6. David Johnson 22 March, 2011 at 14:33

    Another potential battery related problem would be battery rot and corrosion over time. This is a very interesting concept, but I sure hope they thought about the longevity when designing the electronics portion of the cards.

  7. Shawn Skillings 22 March, 2011 at 15:50

    NO !!!! we dont need an HD trading card . just another ploy that will backfire on the consumer but line the pockets of the card companies ever fatter…. its a waste . what they need to do is just focus on quality of what they are producing now and work on getting people the proper redemptions in a timely manner that get redeemed .. that will be what makes the hobby better ..

  8. kevin 22 March, 2011 at 16:26

    it will be so easy for crooked dealers and there scales to pick all these off. then they will just sell the bad boxes to us very bad idea. i’m to the point i can only trust a few dealers now. whats to keep more of them from turning to the dark side.

  9. lou 22 March, 2011 at 18:46

    i dont like the idea to get good product we pay were already paying 5 to 50 dollars a pack ive been collecting for 40yrs the real collectors are getting priced out.the guys that are buying now are getting fat off ebay and the card companies know it i say enough is enough. who will agree

  10. Quentin Paulsen 22 March, 2011 at 19:47

    I think it’s just the evolution of the hobby. Will it completely replace the old standard cardboard cards… Probably not anytime soon. But with tech savvy youngsters getting in the hobby this is the niche that they live by. Persoanlly I’d like to experience this new presentation, sort of reminds me of Back to The Future 3 where when me and my friends watched it we all wanted hover boards to replace our skateboards!

  11. George McFly 22 March, 2011 at 20:56

    I think its a cool idea. Kind of an updated version of the Upper Deck Diamond Vision cards.

  12. tom w 22 March, 2011 at 21:21

    Another great inovation brought to you by the competition.
    Panini doesn’t need to go the upper deck way please give us cards well cut deliverd in nice boxes not crushed and redeemed them if need be quickly.
    Next virtual boxes and cards YEAH you don’t even have to hold them or put then in a sleeve or holder oh my I love it …….not!!!!!!!!!!
    Sometimes a card is just a card leave this hobby alone please
    I’d like to say it won’t be affordable and all the high rollers will throw money at it just to be the one who has it and the tried and true collectors will just open our boxes and pull our Ken griffey auto’s and bat cards Mj auto’s Tiger woods rc’s out and chant —-“those were the days my friend I thought they’d never end……..
    I few enough dollars now they will go to real cards thank you.

  13. Richard 22 March, 2011 at 23:03

    All depends on how it is implemented.
    Remember the CD/DVD cards of the relative recent past?
    And “Baseball Talk” 1988.
    And there was 1971 Mattel Instant Replay plastic records
    And the 1964 Aurora photo records.

    All were long term market failures for one reason or the other.

    Video is a new twist, as long as you can change the battery or if it is powered
    from an outside source or solar panel. I have a calculator from over 20 years
    ago with a solar cell and it works fine.

    Cost to make each card will depend on the size of the “screen”.
    Figure a base of at least $5 unless they really produce in quantity.
    For a product like exquisite, if done limited enough it would be OK.
    Or, if it was a 1/case for a mid level product.

    They did something on a magazine, ad for big bang if I remember right, and that
    got some buzz. Not sure if they are still working though.

    I’ll withhold judgment until the final product.
    In the end, content will be key.
    Do it for the right rookies and it may prosper.
    Do it only for current stars and it will be OK at first, but likely falter long term.
    I think for the right autos or perhaps showing where the piece of bat/jersey/hat
    came from might hold long term interest though.

  14. Gene 22 March, 2011 at 23:17

    You call this a baseball “card”!?!? Also, everything is just getting way too expensive for collectors to buy these days. I can’t imagine what these are going to cost. There are just fewer collectors each year because of what you have to pay, especially during the financial struggles of so many people at these times. I’m not going to even think about these things (whatever you actually want to call them). They just sound like something you would put in the electronics department of a store, not around any other sportscards or collectibles.

  15. Gene 22 March, 2011 at 23:31

    You call this a “card”?!?!? Also, everything is just getting way too expensive for collectors to buy these days. Can’t imagine what these are going to cost. There are just fewer collectors each year because of what you have to pay, especially during the financial struggles of many right now. I’m not even going to think about these things. They just sound like something you would put in the electronics department of a store, not around sportscards or other sports collectibles!

  16. Brian Hostetler 23 March, 2011 at 06:53

    I’ll pass. I’m sure this won’t replace the traditional, printed card, but this only seems to cheapens card collecting for me. I appreciate the attempt to be innovative, but I’d rather the money put into more interesting design work, photography and inks.

  17. XstreamINsanity 23 March, 2011 at 08:12

    It’s an interesting idea, I’ll definitely say that. However, I hope they don’t actually plan to make this a product, maybe a prize or very rare pull (like in the old days when an autograph was 1/288 packs or higher). I mean, it would be cool if they could compensate the weight of the boxes so dealers couldn’t tell, and it would be nice to have a card with Kobe’s top 10 highlights of the previous year on it, but not something to where we can pull 1 in every box, that’d be too much. I’m also very concerned about power, unless they work with that (whatever it’s called) pad where you set it on it to charge. I can see it now, 20 years from now, when I own my own home, someone comes to my basement and on my wall of cards (that I got idea from another member on here) is a line of Kobe HD, Durant HD, Wall HD, I’d love a Dumars HD since I’m a huge fan of his, and I can just go past, touch all of them and they all play their highlights. That’d be nice. But I won’t put too much stock into this, sounds very expensive and risky.

  18. Thomas Capps 23 March, 2011 at 08:22

    I think that it should stay the way it is…Im sure the price will be just as high as the hopes for this product……I just like to touch the fabric on a three color patch jumbo jersey….

  19. k 23 March, 2011 at 09:22

    I need to some them first but as stated I can’t imagine they will be cheap. One thing we don’t need is more high ened stuff.

  20. Garrett 11 April, 2011 at 22:16

    Really guys ??? There will be a base of people that chase these just like everything else. And they will be around for a short while just like the power-deck’s were. There will be auto,memorabillia, and all kinds of combos offered. And just like Dufex printing, Super Detailed Die-Cutting, etc,etc. They will eventually fade away. Bottom line,,, I won’t be one chasing and if I pull one it will get looked at and then sold to the highest bidder. Give me a good on-card auto of a quality athlete, personality,etc, and I will be content. Just my 2 cents all.

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