Saturday, August 25, 2012

There's Only One First Time -- Onyx Platinum Prospects

The box of cards arrives. It's larger than I thought it would be considering it contains only 6 packs. Wrapped in cellophane and looking smart with images of the product inside, and the new eye-catching logos Onyx unveiled earlier in the year, the time has finally come to rip into the companies first-ever trading card product.

And there is only ONE first time.

Think about it for a minute. Have you ever opened a companies first-ever product? Most of us are too young to have ripped into the first Play Ball, Goudey or Bowman products, Topps too for that matter. Even saying you opened Fleer or Donruss baseball in 1981 is pushing it, because both companies had many non-baseball releases as much as 25 or 30 years prior. Upper Deck, Inkworks, In the Game Inc, Cryptozoic, etc. are all more current opportunities for collectors to have experienced this rare treat. Upper Deck is usually the one that most people will claim as collectors clamored for their 1989 debut.

So it is a rare treat indeed to watch a company grow and craft a product that turned heads the second they showed off the images. We received a sneak peek of the cards at the 2012 Industry Summit and thought they looked amazing. Metallic ink signatures on black cards always have a soft spot with me and these were no exception.

I couldn't wait to dip into this box, and I wanted it to be special, so I opened it on twitter and did a pack-by-pack replay of the experience.

Interestingly Onyx was following the action and noticed that the box was heavy on Yankees prospect Gary Sanchez and Pirates sensation Jameson Taillon. It was not the best collated box to be honest. I scored 3 autos of Sanchez and a game-used card too. I also found 2 memorabilia cards of Taillon, an autographed memorabilia card and a gold autographed Taillon.

I'd say they were correct. It was horribly collated. But I got multiple autos of the hottest prospect in the product so can I really complain?

It's the first time, so I need to go a little easy, but that doesn't mean I won't point out some thing I believe Onyx can improve upon. Clearly the collation issue should be addressed, but there were some small quality control issues I noticed too. For instance check out these two base cards:

Can you spot the difference? It's not glaring but it is there. Josh Bell's card uses sentence text with capital letters at the beginning only, while Cabrera's is in ALL CAPS. Cabrera's is the exception, the base cards have regular sentence case. Small error, but it should have been caught before printing by the Onyx QC team.

The second flaw, and I think it's a pretty big one, is that while the game-used pieces have authentication info on the back of the cards, and the autographed cards do as well, the autographed memorabilia cards only authenticate the gear, not the graph. That's gotta change in the future. To me it looks like anyone could get one of these signed and pass it off as authentic from a pack.

While the collation was poor, the product has several strong points, especially at $70-$79. All autographs are on-card, the only redemption cards you'll find here are for full pieces of memorabilia that simply wouldn't fit into the box! 

Ok, so you know there were multiple autos of Sanchez and Taillon, what else was in the box?

13 of the 50 card set for 26%. Each base card is #'d to 500 and with parallels, there are only 800 cards of each player made. There were 3 base set duplicates and 2 Silver Series parallels #'d to 100.

As far as inserts go, here's the breakdown:

Platinum Prospect Game-Used Memorabilia Cards (Machine Numbered)
#PPGU04 - Jose Campos #'d to 100
#PPGU06 - Kaleb Cowart #'d to 150
#PPGU18 - Gary Sanchez #'d to 500
#PPGU20 - Jameson Taillon #'d to 500
#PPGU20 - Jameson Taillon #'d to 500

Platinum Prospects Authentic Autographs (Hand Numbered)
#PPA2 - Eric Arce #'d to 145
#PPA14 - Gary Sanchez #'d to 150
#PPA14 - Gary Sanchez #'d to 150
#PPA29 - Shelby Miller #'d to 120

Platinum Prospects Game-Used Memorabilia Autograph (Machine Numbered)
#PPGU20 - Jameson Taillon #'d to 500

2 Executive Etchings (Hand Numbered)
 #EE3 - Jameson Taillon #'d to 25
#EE4 - Gary Sanchez #'d to 100

To close, I'd like to say bravo to the Onyx team. We knew you could do it and do it well. Great first effort. It took guts to use metallic (known for smudging) ink autos and take that care to put them in your products, especially the first one and force the hands of manufacturers to follow your lead. They know collectors love them and they haven't been done often if at all by some manufacturers. Also including the redemption cards for full pieces of memorabilia is something that should be done by all. It's the next logical step and provides something more tangible than the norm, which is where the hobby is evolving towards whether certain people want to admit it or not.

I can't wait to see more!

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