Panini Impacts USA Collectibles Market Overnight !

Collectibles: Panini Impacts USA Collectibles Market Overnight !

By Ray Schulte - Schulte Sports / Schulte Auctions

Upper Deck entered the licensed sports trading card business in 1988 and quickly revolutionalized the industry, capturing the excitement and passion of collectors nationwide. All the league licensed trading card manufacturers sales soared in the late eighties and early nineties. However, we will never experience the magnitude of business the licensed trading card manufacturers, distributors and collectible retailers enjoyed during this period of time again.

During that time frame, licensed manufacturers took advantage of the overwhelming demand by overproducing card product and saturating the Collectible Hobby and mainstream marketplace. As a result, the mystique and passion started to dwindle. Attempting to maintain sales levels, the manufacturer’s added promotional premiums to their card packs that have continued right up through today’s releases. A collector might find a signed Cal Ripken Jr. commemorative card, a Roberto Clemente swatch of his original game used jersey or piece of Abraham Lincoln’s hair embedded in their cards in their pack of purchased trading cards.

The Collectible Hobby has been searching for ways to expand the collecting base and rekindle the collecting enthusiasm and passion we experienced years ago. At the end of January (2009) collectible industry news sparked renewed excitement and optimism for stimulating the trading card segment of the business. The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced they recently entered into a new exclusive, multiyear licensing agreement with the Modena, Italy based Panini Group, the world’s largest publisher of collectibles.

“Over the years, NBA trading cards have served as an important source to connect fans of all ages with our game,” said Sal LaRocca, Executive Vice president, NBA Global Merchandising Group. Moving forward with an exclusive partner with Panini’s global reach is the best way to energize the category on a worldwide basis.”

With worldwide distribution and experience in developing successful collectible products the entire collectible industry is looking forward to Panini making an impact as soon as possible in the United States.

A few weeks after the NBA named Panini as an exclusive trading card partner; The Panini Group announced that they purchased Donruss Playoff, L.P. Established in 1954, Donruss is the second oldest trading card company in the USA. The Arlington, Texas based company is a National Football League licensee currently producing NFL trading cards under their Playoff, Leaf and Score brand names.

“Both companies share similar goals with regard to the hobby. We look forward to using the resources we now have available to help us grow the trading card category and introduce cards to new collectors (especially kids), while continuing to develop the highest-quality trading cards in the industry.” said Scott Prusha, Panini America Marketing Manager.

Following the NBA announcement and the purchase of Donruss, Panini announced the formation of Panini America, Inc. The new entity will operate out of the Donruss Texas facility and will start publishing its NFL programs in May with the NBA start following in October.

It is too soon to say if the Italian based Panini Group will be successful in there efforts to penetrate the USA marketplace. However, the fifty-year old international company has strategically aligned themselves with great partners in the NBA and NFL to-date. Hopefully, the winners from this new Panini America entity will be the collectors. For more information concerning this new alliance visit www.donruss.com on-line.

Noteworthy Collectible News………..

- Donruss announced they have just released “2009 Donruss Americana” a celebrity set which includes original Movie Posters with swatches of personality-worn clothing from the film’s stars and card signings from movie and TV celebrities.

- Baltimore based Schulte Sports will be conducting a private signing with MLB’s Ironman, Cal Ripken Jr. on May 7th in Baltimore. All items must be received by May 1st. Great opportunity to get your memorabilia and/or collectibles signed or personalized by the Hall of Famer. For pricing and more information visit www.schultesports.com or e-mail info@schultesports.com.

- Upper Deck’s Huntik Trading Card Game is now available in more than 1,500 7-Eleven convenience stores in the U.S. The company believes the stores will increase awareness and sales of the game. “Huntik as a brand is already doing well worldwide, growing its fan base of the animated series,” said Erika Conway, Upper Deck’s brand
manager for Huntik. “With placement in 7-Eleven stores, we expect the popularity of the TCG will continue to go up, which means better sales for everyone offering Huntik in their store.”