The Panini America Quality Control Gallery: 2011-12 Prime Hockey (In Progress)

Hockey collectors, rejoice. The day you’ve been waiting for has arrived. At this very moment, Panini America NHL Brand Manager Chris Barr is at the company’s printing facility not-so-patiently waiting to scrutinize the first 2011-12 Prime Hockey QC boxes straight off the production line.

Luckily for all of us, he found something to occupy him while he waits: Several glorious specimens from the spectacular Prime Ties insert. Words alone can’t do these gems justice, so we figured we’d let the following preview images do the talking for us.

Simply, these are some of the coolest hockey cards I’ve ever seen. Here’s betting you’ll agree. Obviously, these ties to die for won’t fit in a Prime box; but they are ready to go and will be issued via redemption cards as soon as they’re entered into the Panini America redemption system.

Enjoy this splendid first look and stay tuned to The Knight’s Lance throughout the day as we chronicle the in-progress QC process for 2011-12 Prime Hockey.

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Luck of the Draw: A $1,500 Panini America Sketch Card & Four Other Crazy Sales

Anyone who watched Indianapolis Colts rookie Andrew Luck play during his decorated college career at Stanford can attest to the undeniable artistry he brings to the quarterback position. The accuracy. The precision. The ability to deliver one masterpiece after another.

All of that was on display once again last week during Luck’s first promising preseason performance. But if you really want to see a true artist at work, check out what Luck can do with a few Sharpies in his hand.

Last Sunday, just hours after Luck went 10-of-16 passing for 188 yards and two touchdowns during a 38-3 victory over St. Louis in his NFL debut, one of Luck’s original Panini America Sketch Cards from the 2012 NFLPA Rookie Premiere sold on eBay for the staggering sum of $1,500.

This particular Luck masterpiece — fittingly an accurate and overwhelmingly impressive rendition of Lucas Oil Stadium — created quite a buzz when it was unveiled earlier this month at the 33rd National Sports Collectors Convention. It probably didn’t hurt his handiwork that Luck earned a degree in architecture design from Stanford.

But that insane four-figure closing price is but one example of the crazy money being spent on Luck’s best Panini America trading cards these days. Earlier this month, a 2012 Elite Football Passing the Torch card autographed by both Luck and Peyton Manning sold for $830.99. His 2012 Elite Football Hard Hats Autograph changed hands for $548.08; his 2012 Elite Football Turn of the Century Autograph card bearing the sequential number 12/99 — his jersey number — sold for $450; and one of his Prestigious Picks signed prime-piece jersey cards from 2012 Prestige Football sold for $425.

Collectively, those staggering sales represent a sure sign that collectors are anticipating a banner season from the 2012 NFL Draft Class and, in this case, Luck has everything to do with it.

Take a look.

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Panini America Andrew Luck Sketch back
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The Panini America Quality Control Gallery: 2012 Rookies & Stars Football (77 Images)

After spending most of the morning scrutinizing the contents of the 2012 Rookies & Stars Football Quality Control cases, here’s how I can best sum up the venerable product that has been rejuvenated by new twists, throwback nuances and nods to past parallels: It feels like a refreshingly different Rookies & Stars experience.

And that’s a good thing for a product that turns 15 years old this season.

Panini America’s fourth product of the 2012 NFL collecting season will be live in hobby shops everywhere next week, but thanks to NFL Brand Manager Aik Tongtharadol, we get an exhaustive first glimpse at the product today.

From the 1998-era True Blue parallels to Longevity parallels that are broken down by card stock (sequential #’s 1-49 are on Double Rainbow, sequential #’s 50-249 are on Metallized) to the still-fascinating Slideshow insert, there seems to be a little something for everyone in 2012 Rookies & Stars Football — and quite a lot for rookie collectors, including a bold new RC design.

Take a look for yourself in the following gallery — and be sure to share your thoughts when you’re done.

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Gallery: Pre-Packout Process Continues for Panini America’s 2011-12 Prime Hockey

You can trace the considerable buzz that reverberated throughout the hockey collecting universe last week (and reverberates still today) directly back to The Knight’s Lance. Indeed, our gallery documenting the pre-packout process for Panini America’s upcoming 2011-12 Prime Hockey was nothing short of an appetite-whetting, hit-generating sensation.

The good news? We have more sneak peeks to show you today. Panini America NHL Brand Manager Chris Barr was nice enough to share the following images from his weekend spent putting the finishing touches on the pre-packout process, including the first look at Prime’s unique Seams Incredible insert and additional glimpses at the compelling Prime Colors insert.

Up next? Prime gets ready for prime time with the actual packout process that begins later this week. Expect tons more images in the coming days. But for now, simply enjoy these . . .

Iginla

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Panini America Drool Gallery: The Splendid First Look at 2011-12 Dominion Hockey

The furious late-summer days around Panini America HQ are earmarked by many things. Our new-season NFL products already are hitting mid-season stride. Our next season of NBA products will tip off next week with the release of 2012-13 NBA Hoops Basketball. Our MLBPA roster is cranking with the launch of 2012 Triple Play Baseball and the upcoming launch of 2012 Cooperstown Baseball.

As for our NHL activity, August around these parts means one thing and one thing only: Pure, unadulterated high-end hockey. Indeed, Panini America will close the 2011-12 season with a bang over the next few months as the upcoming 2011-12 Prime Hockey will set the stage for the super-premium powder keg better known as 2011-12 Dominion Hockey.

We previewed many of the sweet scenes from Prime’s pre-packout process earlier this week. Today, we bring you an early look at some simply gorgeous Dominion autographs that have been returned so far. With my trust iPhone camera in one hand and a drool-dabbing wipe in the other, I spent most of my morning back in the massive memorabilia and autograph vault poring over eight monster boxes full of possibilities.

Stickside Signatures. Tape to Tape autographs. Rookie Cards. RC parallels. One-of-one NHL Shield patches. Flat-out sick swatches. Stanley Cup Champions. They’re all about six seconds away in the following gallery.

Enjoy, and stay tuned to The Knight’s Lance for additional updates and sneak peeks.

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Must-See Gallery: Panini America Initiates Pre-Packout for 2011-12 Prime Hockey

I returned to the office this morning following a whirlwind five days at the 2012 National Sports Collectors Convention to an email inbox overflowing with an array of stunning images from the upcoming 2011-12 Prime Hockey release.

Turns out Karvin Cheung, Panini America’s Director of Product Development for the NBA and NHL, is spending time at the printing facility today scrutinizing some of the product’s myriad mystifying memorabilia inserts in advance of next week’s packout. Thankfully, Cheung’s been kind enough to keep us updated all morning long via email.

Just so you’re seeing what he’s seeing, here’s a gallery of the previews he’s provided thus far today. As Cheung continues to send images, we’ll update this gallery as the day progresses. Until then, enjoy.

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Sports Cards News: Titanic Trading Cards, 2012 Topps Triple Threads Baseball, 2012 Topps Heritage Baseball

Titanic Trading Cards More Plentiful Than the Ship’s Lifeboats Over the years, there has been no shortage of Titanic trading cards. Our comprehensive guide breaks down the various Titanic trading card sets that have been released, as well as some notable singles in other sets.

2012 Topps Triple Threads Baseball 2012 Topps Triple Threads Baseball sees the return of high-end multi-swatch memorabilia cards, autographs, rookies and more. Get set info, checklists, reviews, buying guide and more.

Upper Deck Announces Case Breaker Plans for Toronto Expo In addition to the Priority Signings wrapper redemption program at the spring Toronto Expo, Upper Deck will also feature a case breaker program that will qualify for instant prizes.

2012 Topps Heritage Baseball Box Break Recap And Review Set builders rejoice, 2012 Topps Heritage Baseball is here. This year’s release is based on the cards of 1963 Topps Baseball. With some new parallels to chase and different configurations of relics to pull, there is a lot to collect here. …

Preview: The Platinum League Trading Cards Series I I’m all about interesting and new concepts. New ideas can really change the way products are created. That is why I’ve taken on previewing a product away from the norm of sports trading cards and will be writing about this product. The Platinum L…

NCAA’s new outlook may add to Jim Tressel’s punishment

Jim Tressel might have walked into the NCAA’s cross hairs at an inopportune time, when college athletics is roiling over a succession of high-profile infractions cases and the new NCAA president is striking a get-tough tone.

“There’s no question that the light is much brighter,” former NCAA infractions committee chairman Tom Yeager says as Ohio State and the NCAA work through a case involving the illicit sale of memorabilia by Buckeyes football players and a decision by Tressel, their coach, to keep his knowledge of the violations from school and NCAA officials.

The NCAA detailed its charges in an eight-page notice released by the school Monday. It raised questions about Tressel’s “honesty and integrity.” Ohio State, which faces institutional sanctions related to the use of players rendered technically ineligible by the violations, has until July 5 to respond. The NCAA has tentatively set a hearing for mid-August.

It’s starting to look real bad for Tressel. The NCAA has now basically accused Tressel of lying to them. It will be interesting to see if the mounting pressure against Tressel and Ohio State will cause him to lose his job before the August hearing.

Read more at USA Today