Panini was nice enough to send me a box of 2010 Panini Absolute Memorabilia Football. Yup, the box was free but I assure you that the freeness will not affect my opinion. I'll spare everyone the Sticker auto spiel. I don't like them. I think they are lazy and can affect long term value of the card. However, without SPA and Exquisite,, stickers are the status quo.
Typical Panini cards. The positive is that the pics show more than just a cutout of the player. You can see the field and background. Contrast with 2008 SP Authentic where it is just the player and nothing else. I hate the SP Authentic base cards with a passion. These are ok but still show every corner ding due to the foil board. Personally I don't like the foil board, but with the background being visable it comes off more dufex or refractor like.
I got one insert. It is essentially a foil version of the base Panini product inserts
Pack 1 Hit: Taylor Mays Auto /199
I am ok with this auto. Mays is a second round pick and from a big name college. I would prefer to not have defensive guys in a product like this, but he is far from a no name. He has played in all 5 games with 15 tackles and a forced fumble - His autos sell for $5-$15
Pack 2: Mike Williams RPM Auto /299
4th Round Pick out of Syracuse - Good College Career
4 games- 19 catches and 238 yards with 3 TD's - That ain't bad. This is a nice card but the design is a bit stale. Not a bad pull and certainly not a scrub auto.
Pack 3: Steve Largent Tools of the Trade /35
This is my favorite card of the box. Nothing need be said about Largent.
Pack 4: Jordan Shipley 42/50
I was really excited to pull this card until I realized that the back suffered some damage. The problem is that the die cut window is too large and it causes the card to be structurally inadequate. The damage is easy to see in the video and is unacceptable in a product that has this high of a price point. Shipley is one of my future star picks from this year's class too. Oh well. I can't get the card replaced because the damaged card policy doesn't extend to promo boxes. But hear this, I did use Donruss' damaged card policy in 2008 and was very happy with the results.
Overall impressions: This is the first box of absolute that I have opened. I deem this product to be National Treasures Light. Same taste, less cost. The checklist is impressive generally but does include some of the scrubs from the premier and the rookie auto checklist can cause the Price is Right Fail Horn to go off. However, looking through the insert checklist, I wouldn't be too afraid to pay for this product.
Value: The big question is value. SRP is $40.00 a pack and thus $160.00 a box. ooooo. I'd be careful about shelling out that kind of cash. Blowouts price is $147, DA is at $144, Atlanta is at $146, Big T is at $142, Orange County is at $139. Recommending a box of this stuff is tough only because the singles can be had of your favorite player pretty inexpensively. However, I am sure you will be happier with one of these boxes than you will be with a couple of boxes of threads. Threads tends to have more worthless hits than Absolute does. Plus less base cards but the parallels you want. Additionally, there are some big hits to be had that can easily get you the price of your box back.
Some of you may be reading this and think I have gone soft because the box was free, au contraire mon ami. When you consider that there are shields in addition to auto patches of Favre, Manning and the like, this product is above an SPA. Additionally, each hit costs $35. That is the same as SPA except with SPA you know that 2 of your autos are going to be awful and worthless. I didn't get one worthless hit in this box. Consider Upper Deck Ultimate. Ultimate runs, at retail, $80-$100 a hit. 2008 ultimate is much better than 2009. For that price, every card should be an auto. To reiterate, basically you are paying $80 for an RPA in SPA that may or may not be worth $40 or less. From a value perspective, the Largent card is better than every card I have pulled from SPA from a PC perspective with the exception of the Harvin RPA I pulled for Ric in the group break last year.
Products like this tend to be better for the general collector and not for the player team collector. If you want a Manning or Favre patch, just buy one. But if you have the itch to bust some wax, Absolute is a decent choice and I would pick this product over a midrange product that is driven by hits. I'll try to bust a box of Finest and will be busting some chrome here shortly for comparison. If I had a choice between two jumbo boxes of Topps and a box of Absolute, I would choose the absolute.