Finding a deal that’s considered all-around good is almost impossible in the hobby. If you purchase an item below the standard price, you should get a box missing some big names and vice versa.
However, First Off the Line Panini boxes are the exception to this rule. It lets collectors get their hands on cards weeks before their official release. At lower prices, while getting exclusive cards and extra hit cards.
This article shall discuss everything about Panini’s 1st Off The Line boxes. We shall also discuss why and how you can get these highly coveted boxes. Let’s get started.
Panini launched its First Off The Line program in 2017. According to Mark Warsop, Panini America CEO, Panini designed the new First Off The Line program to allow collectors to get a limited quantity of select trading card products early. Warsop added that Panini hopes to “create additional excitement and anticipation among collectors.”
These new First Off The Line boxes would be available for pre-order three weeks before the release of hobby boxes. Collectors could only order boxes exclusively through Panini America online store or the Panini Direct app, which is available for Android and iOS devices.
The First Off The Line Paini program debuted with the 2016-17 Immaculate Basketball release. A limited quantity was available for the First Off The Line program. It was presold three weeks before the national release and featured an exclusive Emerald parallel limited not available in regular packs.
Panini America’s inaugural First Off The Line product was a significant success. The limited quantity of special boxes sold out in less than an hour on Panini America’s official online store.
Panini then scheduled several products to be a part of the First Off the Line program, and by the end of the year, they had successfully released eight series with the program.
After several years of selling First Off The Line boxes at the MSRP, Panini introduced the Dutch auction in 2020. The first Panini Dutch auction was the 2019-20 FOTL Prizm Premium Edition Hobby Box. The prices for boxes began at $1,000 and dropped every 2 minutes. Panini sold out all boxes before prices fell to $900. This very successful launch ensured the Dutch auction format remains until this day.
Before the official general release, Panini sells a limited number of boxes on their website. These boxes are better than regular hobby boxes as they offer exclusive parallels and are generally sold below or at the MSRP. They are called First Off The Line boxes.
The First Off The Line program boasts several selling points, which has made it a hit with collectors. Most new collectors mistake Panini First Off The Line as a standalone brand. However, it’s a product variation of select popular Panini brands. You can identify First Off The Line boxes with the “1st Off The Line” logo.
While the central selling point for Panini FOTL is undoubtedly getting your hands on the “first” sets of boxes created, other benefits exist.
There’s an undeniable level of prestige that comes with being the first to get your hands on the first boxes to be produced. This can be seen in the excitement that comes with the first uploaded box break video on YouTube.
At its inception, First Off The Line boxes were available for sale three weeks before the hobby release. While that has been cut down to just one week these days, that’s still a lot of time before the general release.
Panini’s First Off The Line offers not only early access to products but also offers exclusive cards. Typically, two to three extra hit cards, exclusive parallel, or autographs aren’t found in regular hobby boxes.
You’ll almost always pay less for a First Off The Line box than a regular box with fewer hits. Formerly, Panini sold First Off The Line boxes just below or at the MSRP – The manufacturer’s suggested retail price. This was the price distributors paid when ordering from Panini.
This was much cheaper than regular boxes’ prices when they were released. However, since 2020 Panini has used the Dutch Auction format to sell First Off The Line boxes.
Suppose you are unfamiliar with how the Panini Dutch auction work; it’s relatively easy to understand. Every item has a ceiling(the highest price) and a floor (the lowest price). The price starts at the highest price and steadily decreases until it sells out or reaches the lowest price.
Collectors can buy in at whatever price they feel best reflect the box’s fair market value. This article details how Dutch Auctions work and how you can sign up to participate in one.
It is a fact that the first copies of cards from a series to get on eBay command higher prices. Asides from the opportunity to sell your card early for more, First Off The Line offer exclusive hits that you can only find in these boxes. Let’s consider the 2019 Panini National Treasures Football. We shall look at the box break for the regular hobby box and the First Off The Line box break.
As can be seen, the FOTL box offers an additional 2 autograph cards and 3 memorabilia cards. It also comes with 1 Stars & Stripes Parallel numbered to 11. This extra value makes prices for unopened FOTL boxes consistently higher than regular hobby boxes. In the example above, regular hobby boxes sell for $2,499, while First Off The Line boxes is valued at $4,999.
Evidently, FOTL boxes are worth it; every collector should try to get one. This isn’t a scheme limited to “loyal” members like Topps Now. It is thrown open to anyone interested in participating. While this is quite difficult, as most products sell out mere minutes after the sale goes live, everyone stands the same chance of getting a box.
No, not every Panini release gets a FOTL box. When the Panini First Off The Line program was introduced in 2017, Mark Warsop said they reserved the FOTL treatment for the most popular series on Panini’s portfolio. The following series received a FOTL box in 2017, and the tradition has continued until this day.
While most series have become much more popular than in 2017 and currently deserve their FOTL boxes, not all have a FOTL box. Some famous examples are Panini Chronicles and Hoops.
First Off The Line boxes are only available through Dutch auctions. You can check out which upcoming Panini release would have a First Off The Line release by visiting the Panini online store. Once you see an upcoming auction you’re interested in, you should add it to your calendar to ensure you don’t miss it.
A Panini account is all you need to participate in a Panini Dutch auction. While most card producers have minimum requirements to qualify for certain sales, Panini levels the playing ground for everyone. Therefore, anyone interested can create an account and participate in it. The only limit placed on Panini First Off The Line Dutch auctions are limits on how many boxes an account can purchase.
Although Dutch auctions are straightforward, you need a winning strategy to succeed. Here, we discussed some of the best strategies for winning at Panini First Off The Line Dutch auctions.
Fair warning, though, the boxes available for the First Off The Line Panini program are minimal. There were just 2000 First Off The Line boxes for the 2020-21 Panini Contenders, and more than 200,000 tried to participate in the auction. Most series sell out within minutes as some collectors feel the price at the “ceiling” is the “true value” for the boxes. Most are willing to overpay for the chance of getting exclusive cards.
However, if you’re brave and lucky enough, you could get a great deal for excellent prices. An example is the 2020-21 Panini Prizm First Off The Line Dutch auction, which reached the floor price of $2000 from a ceiling of $4,500.
We can say much about the current state of First Of The Line boxes. However, the Panini FOTL program is undoubtedly outstanding for numerous reasons. Thus, everyone should be trying to get their hands on a box. Even if we overlook the exclusive parallels and extra hit cards, nothing beats the prestige of owning the first set of boxes.
We considered the current prices of all First Off The Line boxes released and compared them to their regular counterparts. Except for 1 or 2 sporadic exceptions, the value of the FOTL boxes was always more than regular boxes. While this difference was less than $100 in most, it runs up to $2,500 in most cases.
Indeed, buying FOTL boxes is no longer as cheap or as straightforward as it used to be before the introduction of Dutch auctions. However, with the right strategy, you’ll be paying much lower than the presale price for regular hobby boxes.