A Preview Of 2022 Panini Illusions Football And Why The Product Is Gaining Strength [Checklist Added]

January 26, 2023

Are you seeing double? Nope! It’s just Panini Illusions back for the 2022 NFL season. The popular dual-image product is one of the hobby’s football staples, and this year’s product looks promising.

Illusions hit the shelves on January 25th, 2022, and hobby boxes were pre-selling at $400. In this article, I’ll give you the rundown on some of the coolest inserts, the investment outlook, and how it compares to other winter NFL releases. 

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What to expect in the 2022 Panini Illusions Football release

Illusions enters its 5th year of production as one of Football’s most popular products. They will once again be playing into the “Illusions” theme with their base card, featuring two images: a full-body colored image on one side, with a faded close-up on the other.

The product’s biggest hit, the Trophy Collection Short Print, uses the same format but features a legend in place of the second faded image.

Typically the link between the legend and active player is both organizational and positional –  in the past we’ve seen Aaron Rodgers linked with Brett Favre, Ezekiel Elliot with Emmit Smith, and Trey Lance with Joe Montana.

This year it looks like we’ll be seeing Buffalo’s Josh Allen paired up with the legendary Jim Kelley:

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Illusions is also known for its clear acetate inserts which come out to ten per box. These are pretty cool cards and the acetate finish gives them a crystally look that stands out from the other inserts. 

The hobby box comes with 10 packs each containing 5 cards. Every pack has 2 non-base cards, which break down into 10 acetate inserts, 5 parallels, 3 memorabilia cards, and 2 autos. The Hobby Box will be an online exclusive and you can sign up for alerts directly from Panini to be notified when the product drops. 

Illusions will also be available as a retail product, with Blaster Packs (36 cards) and Fat Packs (20 cards) being sold at local card shops, Wal-Mart, Amazon, etc.

How Illusions compares to other winter NFL releases

With the playoffs around the corner and every game meaning more than ever, January is when interest in the NFL starts to peak. Panini is well aware of this, and late December-Mid February always produces a flurry of NFL card releases.

While it’s great for football fans who want options, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to discern the differences between the products and determining which product fits your needs as a collector.

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Illusions, Mosaic, and XR are 3 products that release within a month of each other, and all sell in about the same price range. Still, the 3 products are pretty uniique, and it’s important to understand the differences before deciding which one is best for you. 

Here’s a breakdown of some of the differences between these similarly priced products:

Product Avg Pre-Selling Price Dec '22Total CardsAutosInserts/ Memorobilia Cards/ ParallelsRelease Date
XR Football$2601426Jan 4th
Illusions Football$34550220Jan 26th
Mosaic Football$340150240Dec 30th

One interesting note on these three products is that they all come with 2 autos, despite ranging from 14-15 total cards. So, if you’re primarily interested in autos, Panini XR might be the right product for you, being the cheapest of the three.

Compared to Mosaic and XR, Illusions is something of an in-between product. It doesn’t have quite as many cards or inserts as Mosaic, but it doesn’t have that low card/ high hit ratio that gives XR that “elite” hobby feel.

If you want all-killer no filler then XR is the way to go.

If you’re deciding between Mosaic and Illusions, it’s going to come down to what you want out of your hits. Illusions has memorabilia cards and Mosaic doesn’t. Also, the Illusions inserts tend to be a little more valuable. That said, you get double the hits with Mosaic, turning it into a bit of quality (Illusions) vs quantity (Mosaic) game.

It’s also worth mentioning that Illusions is the only one of the 3 that uses acetate inserts, so if you’re looking for that then Illusions NFL 2022 is your pick.

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2022 Illusions Football best inserts

Panini has released a few mock-ups of inserts so far. I already covered the Trophy Collection Short Print above, so here are a few of my other favorites we’ve seen so far:

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Holoheros

Holoheros debuted last year and was immediately a favorite among Illusions collectors. This is a case-hit insert that keeps with the dual-image format and uses cutting-edge hologram technology.

Looking at the card itself it’s easy to understand why it’s so popular. This sleek, black-rimmed mock-up looks great with the gold lettering and the clear Brady action shot. Those who pulled them mentioned that the card popped even more in-person, so if you’re ripping Illusions, definitely be on the lookout for a Holoheroes. 

Shop for 2022 Illusions Football Holoheros inserts here

FunkaDelic

This is a brand-new acetate insert for 2022 and I love everything about it. 

Obviously, the psychedelic throwback cards have been majorly popular over the past few years, but this one is one of the best I’ve seen. Unlike other cards of its type, it doesn’t overdo it with crazy colors. 

Instead, it opts for a simple two-color scheme that matches the player’s team colors, and uses a really cool font that I haven’t seen before. The fact that it’s printed on acetate makes it that much better.

I probably won’t be ripping Illusions myself, but I’ll definitely be on the lookout for some Funkadelics on the resale market. 

Shop for 2022 Panini Illusions Funkadelic insert cards on eBay

Deja- Vu

While not as coveted as the Trophy Collection Short Print, Deja-Vu leans into the same concept of pairing a current pro with a legend. Often times the two players are linked by position and team, as you see in this Pickett/Bradshaw dual card.

I like that the two-player images are perfectly opposed, and take up equal space on both sides of the cards. The colorful waves in the background add some flair without distracting from the main concept of the card.

Shop 2022 Panini Illusions Deja-vu insert cards on eBay

2022 Panini Illusions Hobby Box breakdown

The 2022 Illusions Hobby Box released on January 25, 2022 and boxes are pre-selling at $400 and have stayed at similar prices since launching.

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Here’s what each hobby box will contain:

  • 10 cards per pack
  • 5 cards per box
  • 16 boxes per case

And here’s what Panini has released about the card breakdown inside:

  • 3 Autographs
  • 2 Memorabilia 
  • 5 Parallels
  • 10 Acetate or Micro-Etch Inserts

Panini Illusions Football 2022 Checklist info

As an unreleased product, we don’t know exactly what the checklist of featured players will be. That said, last year’s product should give us a decent idea of what will be included.

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Base cards and parallels

Last year’s base set included 100 players, with a mix of veterans and rookies. Colored parallels for this year’s base set will come in the following odds:

  • Trophy Collection Bronze #’d /499
  • Trophy Collection Pink #’d /399
  • Trophy Collection Yellow Diamond #’d /249
  • Trophy Collection Light Blue #’d /199
  • Trophy Collection Red #’d /175
  • Trophy Collection Blue #’d /75
  • Trophy Collection Black Ice #’d /50
  • Trophy Collection Platinum #’d /35
  • Trophy Collection Gold #’d /25
  • Trophy Collection Green #’d /10
  • Trophy Collection Purple #’d 1/1
  • Trophy Collection Signatures max #’d /99
  • Trophy Collection Signatures Red max #’d /75
  • Trophy Collection Signatures Black Ice max #’d /50
  • Trophy Collection Signatures Gold max #’d /25
  • Trophy Collection Signatures Green max #’d /10
  • Trophy Collection Signatures Purple #’d 1/1

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Investment outlook of 2022 Panini Illusions Football

How does Illusions fare as an investment? Here’s a look at how it’s performed as wax singles the past few years, as well as what we can expect with this rookie class:

2022 Panini Illusions Football Hobby Box

As we all know, wax is generally the safest bet for investors, especially in the past few years when nearly every box gained in the months and years after its release.

However, with the recent downturn in the market, slumping prices have created some worry over how safe of a bet wax really is. Still, there are some good wax investments, and I think Illusions is one of them. Take a look at how Illusions has fared over the past few years:

YearAverage Fall '22 Selling Price
2021$590
2020$860
2019$360
2018N/A
2017$860

In slow card markets, mid-tier products like Illusions are going to be the first to lose their value, especially at the rate that Panini is pumping out these types of NFL releases. So, it makes sense that people are somewhat worried about this as a long-term hold.

That said, I’m still intrigued by Illusions because of the price. While $375 is the official pre-sale price, hobby boxes on eBay are going for as low as $330. Personally, it’s hard to see the price going much lower than that.

Ultimately, however, a bet on wax is a bet on the rookie class and the card market as a whole. People who made big money on 2017 NFL cards did so because Mahomes turned out to be a star and because COVID caused a surge in the market. So, consider your beliefs on both of those factors before deciding on Illusions as a long-term wax hold or not.

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2022 Panini Illusions singles

When reviewing Panini XR, I found that the XR hits didn’t hold their value as well as big hits from some of the bigger football products in the industry, especially in the face of the market downturn.

Is the same true for Illusions? How well do the acetate inserts hold up? Well, I figured the best way to see would be to test Illusions up against the same cards. Here were the results:

CardAverage Selling Price in Aug '22Average Selling Prie in Dec '22Percent Change
Tom Brady #KC-2 Panini Illusinos (King of Cards Green)$14.20$15.005%
Tom Brady #137 Panini Mosaic (Camo Pink)$5.00$4.40-12%
Tom Brady #294 Panini Prizm (Blue Prizm)$11.20$12.4010%

As you can see, the Green King of Cards acetate insert has held up well over the course of the NFL season, despite the bad market. This was also true of a few lower-value Blue and Copper Illusions parallels that I looked at as well.

To me, this suggests that the Illusion’s name is strong, and that it should weather market fluctuations well. If you’re looking to invest in singles from a mid-tier product, Illusions is a solid choice.

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Rookies and the Kenny Pickett conundrum

A few weeks into the season 2022 was considered a down year for NFL rookies, but in recent weeks that narrative has begun to shift. Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, and Dameon Pierce have all come on strong, and look to be major contributors in the years to come.

That said, there’s one major deficiency that’s holding back the value of the class as a whole – the lack of a quarterback. QBs are always the most valuable cards, and when there’s a star (like Mahomes) it has the potential to really impact the value of a given year.

That’s why Steelers rookie QB Kenny Pickett is so important. He’s been the only rookie quarterback with any real playing time so far this year and seems to be the only one in this class who could develop into a star.

In the first half of the season, there were arguments over whether Pickett even had a future in the league. But in recent weeks the Steelers have made an unlikely surge into playoff contention with Pickett at the helm. If the Steelers sneak in on the last week of the season, look for Pickett’s value to skyrocket.

Above I said that an investment in this 2022 Illusions is a bet on the card market and this year’s rookie class, and it should be understood how much of this year’s rookie classes’ value will hinge on Pickett’s development. Sauce Gardner could be the next Deion Sanders and it won’t mean as much as Pickett turning into the Steeler’s face of the franchise.

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Bottomline on 2022 Panini Illusions Football

As Illusions heads into its 6th year of production, it’s seeming to be as strong of a product as ever. Its unique dual-image design has become a favorite among NFL collectors, and as a brand, the singles and wax have fared well despite general market downturns.

With 20 non-base cards featuring memorabilia cards, autos, and acetate inserts, this is a fun rip. The price is as low as it’s been in recent memory, making Illusions an absolute must for any NFL collector.

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Full 2022 Panini Illusions Football checklist

Check below for a fully searchable 2022 Panini Illusions Football checklist!

2022 Panini Illusions Football

wdt_ID Set Player Team Position Card number Number of cards
1 Amazing Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals QB 1
2 Amazing Tom Brady Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB 2
3 Amazing Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers QB 3
4 Amazing Kyler Murray Arizona Cardinals QB 4
5 Amazing Matthew Stafford Los Angeles Rams QB 5
6 Amazing Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB 6
7 Amazing Jonathan Taylor Indianapolis Colts RB 7
8 Amazing Christian McCaffrey Carolina Panthers RB 8
9 Amazing Austin Ekeler Los Angeles Chargers RB 9
10 Amazing Alvin Kamara New Orleans Saints RB 10
11 Amazing Cooper Kupp Los Angeles Rams WR 11
12 Amazing Justin Jefferson Minnesota Vikings WR 12
13 Amazing Davante Adams Las Vegas Raiders WR 13
14 Amazing CeeDee Lamb Dallas Cowboys WR 14
15 Amazing Tyreek Hill Miami Dolphins WR 15
16 Amazing Kenny Pickett Pittsburgh Steelers QB 16
17 Amazing Desmond Ridder Atlanta Falcons QB 17
18 Amazing Malik Willis Tennessee Titans QB 18
19 Amazing Travon Walker Jacksonville Jaguars DE 19
20 Amazing Sam Howell Washington Commanders QB 20
21 Amazing Drake London Atlanta Falcons WR 21
22 Amazing Jameson Williams Detroit Lions WR 22
23 Amazing Chris Olave New Orleans Saints WR 23
24 Amazing Jahan Dotson Washington Commanders WR 24
25 Amazing Breece Hall New York Jets RB 25
26 Amazing Black Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals QB 1 50
27 Amazing Black Tom Brady Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB 2 50
28 Amazing Black Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers QB 3 50
29 Amazing Black Kyler Murray Arizona Cardinals QB 4 50
30 Amazing Black Matthew Stafford Los Angeles Rams QB 5 50
31 Amazing Black Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB 6 50
32 Amazing Black Jonathan Taylor Indianapolis Colts RB 7 50
33 Amazing Black Christian McCaffrey Carolina Panthers RB 8 50
34 Amazing Black Austin Ekeler Los Angeles Chargers RB 9 50
35 Amazing Black Alvin Kamara New Orleans Saints RB 10 50
36 Amazing Black Cooper Kupp Los Angeles Rams WR 11 50
37 Amazing Black Justin Jefferson Minnesota Vikings WR 12 50
38 Amazing Black Davante Adams Las Vegas Raiders WR 13 50
39 Amazing Black CeeDee Lamb Dallas Cowboys WR 14 50
40 Amazing Black Tyreek Hill Miami Dolphins WR 15 50
41 Amazing Black Kenny Pickett Pittsburgh Steelers QB 16 50
42 Amazing Black Desmond Ridder Atlanta Falcons QB 17 50
43 Amazing Black Malik Willis Tennessee Titans QB 18 50
44 Amazing Black Travon Walker Jacksonville Jaguars DE 19 50
45 Amazing Black Sam Howell Washington Commanders QB 20 50
46 Amazing Black Drake London Atlanta Falcons WR 21 50
47 Amazing Black Jameson Williams Detroit Lions WR 22 50
48 Amazing Black Chris Olave New Orleans Saints WR 23 50
49 Amazing Black Jahan Dotson Washington Commanders WR 24 50
50 Amazing Black Breece Hall New York Jets RB 25 50
51 Amazing Gold Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals QB 1 25
52 Amazing Gold Tom Brady Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB 2 25
53 Amazing Gold Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers QB 3 25
54 Amazing Gold Kyler Murray Arizona Cardinals QB 4 25
55 Amazing Gold Matthew Stafford Los Angeles Rams QB 5 25
56 Amazing Gold Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB 6 25
57 Amazing Gold Jonathan Taylor Indianapolis Colts RB 7 25
58 Amazing Gold Christian McCaffrey Carolina Panthers RB 8 25
59 Amazing Gold Austin Ekeler Los Angeles Chargers RB 9 25
60 Amazing Gold Alvin Kamara New Orleans Saints RB 10 25
61 Amazing Gold Cooper Kupp Los Angeles Rams WR 11 25
62 Amazing Gold Justin Jefferson Minnesota Vikings WR 12 25
63 Amazing Gold Davante Adams Las Vegas Raiders WR 13 25
64 Amazing Gold CeeDee Lamb Dallas Cowboys WR 14 25
65 Amazing Gold Tyreek Hill Miami Dolphins WR 15 25
66 Amazing Gold Kenny Pickett Pittsburgh Steelers QB 16 25
67 Amazing Gold Desmond Ridder Atlanta Falcons QB 17 25
68 Amazing Gold Malik Willis Tennessee Titans QB 18 25
69 Amazing Gold Travon Walker Jacksonville Jaguars DE 19 25
70 Amazing Gold Sam Howell Washington Commanders QB 20 25
71 Amazing Gold Drake London Atlanta Falcons WR 21 25
72 Amazing Gold Jameson Williams Detroit Lions WR 22 25
73 Amazing Gold Chris Olave New Orleans Saints WR 23 25
74 Amazing Gold Jahan Dotson Washington Commanders WR 24 25
75 Amazing Gold Breece Hall New York Jets RB 25 25
76 Amazing Green Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals QB 1 10
77 Amazing Green Tom Brady Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB 2 10
78 Amazing Green Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers QB 3 10
79 Amazing Green Kyler Murray Arizona Cardinals QB 4 10
80 Amazing Green Matthew Stafford Los Angeles Rams QB 5 10
81 Amazing Green Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB 6 10
82 Amazing Green Jonathan Taylor Indianapolis Colts RB 7 10
83 Amazing Green Christian McCaffrey Carolina Panthers RB 8 10
84 Amazing Green Austin Ekeler Los Angeles Chargers RB 9 10
85 Amazing Green Alvin Kamara New Orleans Saints RB 10 10
86 Amazing Green Cooper Kupp Los Angeles Rams WR 11 10
87 Amazing Green Justin Jefferson Minnesota Vikings WR 12 10
88 Amazing Green Davante Adams Las Vegas Raiders WR 13 10
89 Amazing Green CeeDee Lamb Dallas Cowboys WR 14 10
90 Amazing Green Tyreek Hill Miami Dolphins WR 15 10
91 Amazing Green Kenny Pickett Pittsburgh Steelers QB 16 10
92 Amazing Green Desmond Ridder Atlanta Falcons QB 17 10
93 Amazing Green Malik Willis Tennessee Titans QB 18 10
94 Amazing Green Travon Walker Jacksonville Jaguars DE 19 10
95 Amazing Green Sam Howell Washington Commanders QB 20 10
96 Amazing Green Drake London Atlanta Falcons WR 21 10
97 Amazing Green Jameson Williams Detroit Lions WR 22 10
98 Amazing Green Chris Olave New Orleans Saints WR 23 10
99 Amazing Green Jahan Dotson Washington Commanders WR 24 10
100 Amazing Green Breece Hall New York Jets RB 25 10
Set Player Team Position Card number Number of cards