Flawless First Look: Panini America Sneaks a Peek at New High-End Basketball Set

In the span of three or four meaningful, myth-dispelling Tweets yesterday afternoon, Panini America sent shock waves throughout the collectibles industry that still are reverberating more than 24 hours later. Just like that, rumors buzzing all over about Panini America a) landing Damian Lillard autographs and b) releasing a mysterious high-end 2012-13 NBA-licensed product ceased being rumors and became cold, hard facts.

Lillard Flawless 5

In the span of three or four meaningful, myth-dispelling Tweets yesterday afternoon, Panini America sent shock waves throughout the collectibles industry that still are reverberating more than 24 hours later. Just like that, rumors buzzing all over about Panini America a) landing Damian Lillard autographs and b) releasing a mysterious high-end 2012-13 NBA-licensed product ceased being rumors and became cold, hard facts.

We let news of Lillard’s first NBA-licensed certified autograph trading cards — which first hit yesterday in 2012-13 Innovation Basketball and will follow in 2012-13 Intrigue, 2012-13 Immaculate and 2012-13 Flawless — carry the day yesterday. Today, we’re turning our focus to the mysterious Flawless and the fantastic first specimens from that product that have arrived back at Panini America HQ.

True story: The first on-card autographs signed for Flawless were penned by Lillard himself. Not a bad way to start building a product that will deliver seven autographs, two jumbo memorabilia cards and a diamond- or emerald-embedded card in every $1,250 pack. No card in the set will be numbered higher than 25 and there will be a maximum of 20 complete base sets available. Diamond-encrusted base cards will be numbered to 20, and will be paralleled by an emerald-embedded version numbered to five and a diamond-embedded 1/1 version. 2012-13 Flawless Basketball is slated to release in early October.

We’ll have plenty more to flaunt on Flawless in the coming weeks right here on The Knight’s Lance. But for now, enjoy this fascinating first look anchored by the first on-card-signed, NBA-licensed trading cards of Lillard, the 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year.


0 Replies to “Flawless First Look: Panini America Sneaks a Peek at New High-End Basketball Set”

  1. Lovem, Lovem, Lovem….. and may I say again Lovem. Absolutely Flawless. Can not wait to see some of these busted.
    Good job Panini and of course Tracy.

  2. Absolutely Flawless!
    National Treasures Move Over! This will be King!
    Thank you for the historic year of releases Panini!
    This will be the perfect end to a run of perfect products!
    Thanks Tracy!

  3. A design way too reminiscent of National Treasures. I kind of wish these were just added to the NT set to give it maximum value. Or have it be considered “National Treasures Series II,” like card sets used to be in the 90s.

    Now when you say that these are “diamond encrusted,” what does that really mean? I don’t see any “diamonds.” Just some nice looking foil.

    Also, it is not looking good that the first preview of “Inscriptions” features Steve Nash who didn’t include any inscription with his signature…

    1. The base cards — none are shown here because they’re in production as we speak — will include either a diamond or an emerald. We’ll have more to share on that front in the coming days.

  4. These cards are phenomenal. Unfortunately, at $1,250 a pack, my bank account isn’t able to purchase even a single pack. However, I did love that last chance at free boxes with the scavenger hunt (which of course I entered). For me, I think things like that are another great way to keep the collectors and even children involved who could never afford an opportunity to get their hands on these cards but are just as dedicated and card-loving as the rest of ’em! Also, I can’t wait to see what those 1/1 cards with the diamonds embedded in them will look like! Hopefully we can get a sneak peak! Thanks again!

  5. Treat to the eyes, torture to the soul! What a beautiful cards, wow, specially the David Robinson cards whit the Bible reference inscriptions. The sad thing is to know, i won’t be able afford this kind of cards anytime soon.

    Again, good job Panini, awesome cards!

    (You should put serial numbers to the boxes too.)

  6. Pleaseeee tell me there are Jimmy Butler Patch Autos in this one.. lol.. I was disappointed he didn’t have any in Innovation.. and man, this product would have been so much sweeter if Derrick Rose could have signed, its a great looking product, but the price point hurts

  7. Some initial thoughts of this product:

    $1,250.00/per box means this will be twice as good as NT, twice as good as immaculate and 6x better than preferred. That’s some high expectations.
    The Flawless Greats set (Isiah Thomas, Manning, Elliot) looks too familiar to last year’s NT football rookie design.
    The Horizontal Greats set could have been a nice set had it not been for the huge white signing space blocking 80% of the patch. You have the acetate technology, why not use it here?
    Horizontal Rookie Patch Auto, looks like this year’s NT one. Only difference is they sign at the top of the card.
    Inscriptions, if a player is signing an inscription or nickname set…please make sure they do so. Especiall for a crazy high end product like Flawless
    Tier 3 signers. By this I mean, limit the players that sign for a product like this. I don’t want a Shane Battier auto no matter how “high end” it looks. I know you’ll say…but some people like Shane Battier, yes you are correct, but not for $1,250 a box. If it means limiting the number of boxes produced, then do it. It would warrent the high price tag as well.

    I’m sure ya’ll got something-a-cooking to back up the price tag, this is just my tiny two-cents. FYI Lillard is a good start.

    1. Good stuff, James. Lots of Yes-Men in the game. Need to keep the mind limber. If there was one thing in the universe Panini did NOT need, it was another high-end basketball set.

    2. Nice looking cards! Are there going to be kobe anthology packs with the flawless box? Or does the kobe packs end with the next release ?

  8. not a basketball collector but i must give you guys credit where credit is due…amazing job! any chance of making a NFL set like this?

  9. com’on guys. do we remember ud back!!!!

    what was the price for a 2 card box!!!!! ud black was more expensive then exquisite and nobody cared about it because ud was able to hide the high costs with just 2 cards per box!!! that was about 1000$ for a 10 card box 5 years ago!!!

    calculate that to 10 cards per pack and add the info that you get an real emerald or diamond per box in addition to 7 au’s ( what will be 2-3 star/legends for sure ) and 2 jumbo patch cards ( what i expect to be better as we saw in the immaculate preview )

    most time ud black delivered 1 jersey card and an au per box and they still used stickers for them!

    1. Valid point, but UD also had Jordan, Lebron, Kobe, KG even Durant for a little bit along with all the Legends that you see in this preivew. I don’t think the price point is obsured, but it is a little high for a product that looks similar to something we just saw one month ago with NT. UD Black was an entirely different product from Exquisit or Ultimate. Again, just my observations.

  10. …love the cards, hate the idea.
    couldn’t you just exclude the diamond/emerald studded cards and drop the price some $300-$400?

    I mean, what are the diamond and emerald supposed to represent anyways? It’s not like any of the players owned them or anything. Come on Panini, cards and jewelry should not mix.

    Maybe i’m just salty cause i can’t afford the product, but $1250 a box is ridiculous. If I pull a Kyrie/Davis/Lillard, it’s automatically a $1500-$3000, but they are going to be like 1 per 10 cases. Dropping $1250 on a box and getting a scrub rookie won’t please the public, ’cause i’d be mad if my best card was a Tyler Zeller RC auto or Fab Melo RC auto (BTW neither will sell for over $150).

    I Just have to vent. I wait all year for a good set, and the only sets out of the 15-20 you guys have produced this year, with a good number of patches and on-card autos btw, just so happens to be the two most Overpriced sets there are in basketball. I mean COME ON PANINI, NT started at $600 a box this year, $200 more than the previous NT. IDK maybe when i’m out of college and find a job this will seem reasonable…wait $1250 for some cards? Not in a million year. Hufff….I’m just sad :[

    At least promise that all the cards will be on-card, then maybe i’ll join a group break or two

  11. It’s finally here! I remember hearing something about this earlier in the year about a really high end basketball product that’s going to blow us away! Looks like you guys have came thru with it and then some! Excited to see more images from this and those diamond and emerald cards. Can’t wait!

  12. I’m mixed on this one. Yes, it is fun to watch Chris Justice and other breakers open product like this. If you can afford then good on ya! However, I feel that the “collecting” aspect of cards is trampled by these high-end products. I would like to see some affordable product with a decent amount of hits that brings people back to collecting sets, not just looking to make the house payment with 1 big pull. 2009 Score Inscriptions was one of the best products that Panini ever made. $75/4 autos and a ton of parallels & inserts. I wish we still had products like that.

  13. Wow…$1250 a pack.. but nice looking cards. However, waaayyyy out of my price range. I like the diamond card additions. And there are some sweet mem pieces with autos above.

  14. Willing to get a box of these beauties! but will I be running the risk of pulling something like Robert Sacre, Tonic Shangalia, Orlando Johnson and etc. in the same box..? 🙁 I hope Panini was very selective with the signers for this product.

  15. Panini clearly has a niche willing to pay $1,250 per pack, and I thought Nat’l Treasures was stratospherically priced. My own perception, aside from the fact that but a slender percentage of collectors will drop the thou’ plus, is that Bill Laimbeer, Willis Reed and Dan Issel, amongst others, still won’t excite collectors. You’re putting lipstick on the proverbial pig.
    Embedding a diamond or emerald in a card strikes me as more gimmicky than anything else. in conjunction, the differences in product b/w what is being crafted for the “haves and have-nots” has never been greater. the release of these high to super high-endAs I believe someone else said, coll products is increasing in pace while there are but a couple of entry-level products.
    i will also observe that collation better be brilliant on this product or I expect you’ll hear about it lol.

    1. 03/04 Exquisite BKB and 05/06 The Cup HKY was the same goal. I remember seeing 03/04 Exquisite BKB for sale at the 2004 National for $600/pack. I said “No freaking way this is accepted by collectors.” Now, that same pack is 3K+ and Exquisite is a household name. Same thing with 1993 Finest Baseball….$5 per PACK?!? Are you nuts? Now, people scramble for it. If Panini ever gets Jordan and LeBron, watch out because 2016/17 Flawless will be a $2500+ pack.

      Just my opinion.

      1. Ryan, I understand what you’re saying about the cost ceiling for trading cards. However, I maintain that breaks that include a large contingent of Dan Issel, World B. Free, Paul Westphal, Spud & Willis Reed-type players will disappoint the collector dropping $1,300 on the product. There’s a price tipping point and collectors will balk eventually… I also think that collectors have grown weary of the double-rookie class, though this seems more old-school.

  16. Wow great cards!!! I can’t wait to see the diamond and emerald cards! Hey Tracy the next time you guys do a contest it should be a caption contest. Post a funny Panini America trading card. We comment on it and the best comment chosen by you gets the prize. Of course more than one winner is publicly accepted as well. Here’s what a caption contest should look like via Field & Stream:

    Let me know what you think-

      1. I wish the last contest was not randomize because it was a “hunt” I thought it would be a race for the hunt lol. btw thanks again Tracy!

  17. Nice looking product but the early word is $1250 a box… not gonna top NT at that price. The best looking thing you guys have right now is Immaculate, high end but affordable to a bigger market… that looks amazing but for the love of card collectors, do NOT, under any circumstances, let that Lillard logoman go live as a sticker auto!

  18. This price tag is huge, no offense but Nt looked better and had better hits from what we’ve seen already. Dame Lilard is nice, but shouldnt raise the tag that much. for 1200 bucks and box, you should get a meet and greet with a nba player. Im looking forward to Immaculate, and Im gonna make a guess here and say it out does all these latest releases. Im in on Immaculant, maybe a break or two of flawless if the checklist gets better.

  19. If the rumors are true (about this being $1,250 per box) it’s an insult to otherwise sane and rational people……Tracy – could you afford to buy a box of this…..guessing not.

  20. Hey! This product looks great and I hope to have multiple cases secured.
    My question is what type of breakdown is there per box and case and is it hand collated?

  21. Great design and patches. Have to ask, any chance panini will do game used headband, shoe, or wristbands anytime soon?

  22. No updates for over a week? Are these the best cards you can come up with for $1250/pack? I hope I did not make a mistake ordering multiple cases of this stuff………

    1. RJ, how were you able to pre-order multiple cases? I’m also interested in pre-odering but no one seems to be pre-selling them.

  23. What the hell. NT is already so high, might as well join some GB of this when it comes out.
    $2500 on a case of NT averages 5 on-card autos and this stuff seems to be all on-card.
    14 on-card autos versus 5 on-card autos this seems like a better buy right now. My opinion on this stuff is still iffy, but I haven’t broke any High end products all year.

    It’s between this or immaculate. Maybe i’ll join a GB in both.

  24. I think I will be joining the chorus on this.
    First things first, the designs of a lot of product this year seems to be stemming from the high-end releases, so Flawless, looks like NT, looks like Signatures, looks like… etc. Don’t get me wrong, it is clean and what I would expect of a high-end product/design, but wondering why there are three+ products and not just one.

    Price… whoa. This is a total group break product and I am already in on a break of this stuff. My hope is that this product pays off for the group breakers and the people buying into breaks and doesn’t leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth… even in gb world the price break down per spot is a little off putting if you go hitless.

    I am a huge Panini fan and will remain one and love that you guys give us a voice here on The Knights Lance.

    Will I buy into this product outright? I can’t…
    Will I buy into a group break? Yes, and I have already done so.

    What do I expect from a product of this nature? In the words of Mortal Kombat, “Flawless Victory!”

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