January sports card releases mark the beginning of the NFL playoffs. Still, thanks to delays derailing Panini’s release calendar, we’ll just be seeing the first of the significant opti-chrome football products debut now.
NBA fans can also get excited about the release of cards with players wearing their NBA uniform. Both Hoops and Donruss are slated for release in January.
We looked through the pending releases and hand-picked several particularly worth considering. That said, note that these release dates are tentative. And with the current supply chain woes plaguing the country, there’s a good chance the manufacturers move dates around.
NBA Hoops will be the first NBA-jersey release. That alone builds a lot of hype for this product. However, if you’re buying to flip, be cautious: the bottom falls out of Hoops fast. It’s the lowest-end of any NBA basketball release, so the rise of more products lowers the appeal – and price – of hoops. Boxes contain 24 packs of 8 cards, each with one autograph, and you can preorder them for $265.
Mosaic is a welcomed addition to the Opti-Chrome, although the $750 price tag might turn away some potential buyers (with good reason). Each box contains 2 Autographs, 5 Silver Parallels, 15 Mosaic Parallels, and 20 Inserts. Exclusive to Hobby Boxes find Autographs Mosaic and Rookie Autographs Mosaic. There will still be a blaster version, but it sounds like a lot of the excitement will be occurring in hobby boxes.
Flawless is one of the most revered – and expensive – brands in all collecting. While the baseball boxes are unlicensed, they’ll cost you $2,250/box nonetheless. Each box contains 10 cards, with 7 autographs, 2 memorabilia, and 1 gem card, keeping it true to flawless form. Some of the cards can have massive potential with legendary players, and the on-card autos with prime patches can still demand a pretty penny even though they’re not licensed. Still, with a price tag over $2,000, you need to proceed with caution on these boxes. It’s a significant roll of the dice.
Immaculate is another high-end, roll the dice brand. The boxes cost $2,000 each and only include 6 cards total. The product is known for a lovely mix of on-card autos and on-card patch autos and oversized memorabilia cards like Team Logos, Brand Logos, Laundry Tags, NFL Shields, and more. If you pull one of those for a top rookie, you’ll more than make up the cost of the box.
Donruss 2021-22 basketball is similar to Hoopsa bet. However, it is better in almost every way. These boxes hold the Iconic Rated Rookie Cards, and you get a lot of them in every box. Odds are, you’ll probably pull at least one paper rookie of whoever you’re chasing. That’s because these boxes have 10 packs of 30 cards each. In addition, the boxes have 1 autograph and 1 memorabilia card, each with 60 inserts/parallels, and some of Donruss’s striking parallels can sell for a considerable amount if they’re low-numbered enough. These boxes are listed for $550 right now.
According to Panini, “Printed using stunning opti-chrome technology, Phoenix is one of the most colorful and sought-after brands of the year!” This statement is half-true. Phoenix is undeniably colorful, but it’s a release that has never seemed to rise from the ashes among collectors. It’s a mid-tier type of product, with some big pulls tucked alongside forgettable cards. Each box includes 2 autographs, 1 memorabilia, 2 silvers, 9 numbered parallels, and 12 rookies. You can pick one up for $500.
While the name might be a bit on-the-nose, Rookies and Stars has been delivering pretty cool cards for a long time. This product has the colorful Crusade insert, one of the best-looking inserts every year, and each box has 2 autographs, 2 memorabilia, 5 numbered parallels, 12 rookies, and 6 opti-chrome inserts. So for $325 you can pick up one of these boxes and try to pull your favorite rookies.
Donruss Elite is another long-running brand that has dipped in and out of basketball appearances (I think of it more as a football brand). It came back last year and returns in 2021/22. The name might suggest it’s an improved version of Donruss. However, I believe it’s a messier variation with less direction. The rookies are nowhere near as Iconic as the “Rated Rookie” set from Donruss Basketball, and the cards won’t age as well, either. But, thankfully, the box is priced accordingly. You can pick up a hobby box for $375 and expect to find 2 autographs, 8 inserts, 8 parallels, and 2 base rookies.
Finally, it’s time for Prizm. Many collectors will trade their firstborn for some. Therefore, you can reasonably expect to see tents pitched in the Walmart or Target card aisle as collectors await shelf-stockers. Campfire stories and s’mores aren’t out of the question, either. But there’s a reason: Prizm delivers one of the most big-money potential lineups of cards on that market with a rainbow of colorful prizms and rookie autographs that can turn into big money if you get lucky. Between new prizms and the return of the Color Blast, there will be several five-figure cards coming out of a product like this. Unfortunately, this product is releasing so late in the season that the excitement has died on some of the picks (would you really be excited about pulling a nice Zach Wilson?), but there’s still a lot of potential packed into Prizm.
I usually roll my eyes at the Draft Picks cards for two reasons: 1) they water down the value of rookies, and 2) they’re so overproduced that they have no staying power. But if you want to buy a box of draft picks, this is the product to consider. Unfortunately, because of delays, the Panini Collegiate Draft Picks Prizm cards will be released after some of the NBA-jersey uniform products. Therefore, I can’t imagine too many collectors preferring a Prizm rookie of Cunningham in his Oklahoma State jersey over a Pistons one.
Current Panini releases’ out-of-sync nature comes to the fore this month. The NFL season is ending, yet we are getting the first pro-uniform football releases. Basketball season is in full swing, and we are still getting products with the previous rookie class. However, the timing may provide an opportunity. As the late release date dampens the excitement around some products, they may sell for lower prices than usual.