I have been debating this in my head for quite some time since I heard the decision yesterday. I will be honest, I am sure it had everything to do with the amount of money the NHLPA would get in the end. However I feel strongly that it is a major loss for the NHL collecting community.
I will keep it short.
As a note, I like both companies. Never had an issue with them specifically but some of the points will outline my opinion on the effects of a monopoly on the collecting card industry.
Monopolies are never a good thing. Without true competition, pricing could increase across all products with fewer box break hits available for the consumer. The customer has only one choice, either collect or not to collect if they don’t agree with the pricing.
Panini had made great strides by not allowing wholesalers to hold back product and jack up the prices. In fact Panini prevented one wholesaler from selling their products period. The names escape me, but you all can Google that information. Upper deck has no such clause with any wholesaler. That will drive the price up again. Another loss for the customer.
Upper Deck does make quite a few stellar products, don’t get me wrong but if I were to compare product to product, I preferred Panini products.
At the Sports Card Expo, Upper Deck throttles the line ups making people wait for up to 3 hours to get a single redemption. The Panini booth was always available and redemptions were aplenty. Now with Panini gone, I will not wait 2 + hours in the redemption line up. One less manufacturer will be there, which doesn’t offer much incentive for customers to come to the show. That is a big loss of a customer base too. Dealers will feel this.
Redemptions expired? No problem, Panini redemptions never expired. Upper Deck expires their redemptions. Something I am not too happy about.
Customer service. I have to tip my cap to Panini in this case. I have not been very successful with Upper Deck redemptions. With a monopoly, there is not incentive to please the customer.
Card innovation? Upper Deck had some but I would tip my cap to Panini in this regard. Panini Prime, with super large patches was easily one of my favorite products of the year and easily my favorite product of the last 10 years.
All in all, I will miss Panini. I never liked monopolies but I do understand the end game is about dollars. I think the NHLPA missed the boat on this one but it doesn’t really matter does it? At least it doesn’t appear it matters to me as a collector. It is definitely something to chew on. Does this mean I won’t rip Upper Deck Products? No, it doesn’t mean that at all. Upper Deck Team Canada was a fun rip and I will continue to rip it. Over the past few years I chose to rip Panini products more often than Upper Deck products. I liked the parallels, the billions of inserts, I like it all. I am sad to see them go and I hope they are back soon, but for now… Let’s see if we see a return of a 2005 Donruss loaded products run!!