The Beckett Blog

Rippin’ Retail: Panini Longevity Rookies & Stars vs. three Basketball Blasters by Chris Olds

By Chris Olds | Editor | Commentary

Collectors often bemoan he differences between hobby and retail boxes, opting for the superior hobby version over the taste-test of a retail blaster or other type of offering.

In some cases, though, that logic just might be unfounded — good cards certainly can be found in retail, but if they’re not there the prices might be better depending on how in-demand boxes might be.

It really just depends on what you’re buying. However, not all retail boxes are made alike, either.

I recently ripped some retail Panini America basketball boxes and was kind of surprised by what I found. Frankly, the cheapest of all retail versions — the Blaster box — seemed to compete well with its bigger-time counterpart, the Longevity version of 2010-11 Rookies & Stars. The $50 Longevity box was a dud, while three Blasters (two Rookies & Stars boxes and one Threads box) seemed more interesting for approximately the same price at $60.

How is that? It surprised me. At first glance, the retail-focused Longevity found only in Target stores seems like a good alternative to the typical Blaster boxes. After all, it looks more like a hobby box so it should feel more like a hobby box, right? It’s packing three autograph or memorabilia cards per 10-pack box and is otherwise an abbreviated offering of the standard Rookies & Stars set but printed on foilboard. (In the case of this design, I actually don’t mind the foilboard — a rare instance.)

After ripping into the packs and then examining the autograph checklist, it’s clear that it’s not that alternative.
The product includes an abbreviated autograph checklist — one that pretty much shows why the results found here were a reality.  The lone autograph was a redemption card of a rookie who is no longer in the NBA — or even the Developmental League — Magnum Rolle, a 6-11 center from LSU who was drafted by the Indiana Pacers.

Oddly, there are 799 copies of this card to be found in boxes of Longevity, while most of the name rookies or veterans you know in the set are limited to 99 or fewer copies with many of those being 49 or fewer. An Amar’e Stoudemire autograph is limited to just 15 copies, while guys like Jason Kidd or Emeka Okafor are limited to 25. That means there are roughly eight times as many autographs of Rolle than there are of some of those other “easier” guys — not a pretty picture when you think about your chances of finding a decent-name player.

The two memorabilia cards were relatively dull as well — a Freshman Orientation Lance Stephenson (at least there were two swatches of different colors) and a Marcus Camby.

For the two Rookies & Stars Blasters — boxes that assure just one autograph or memorabilia card per box — I found a dual Studio Rookies memorabilia card and a prime swatch card. Immediate upgrades over the Longevity. Luck? Perhaps. Or maybe it’s just reflective of there being more options in that product. The Studio Rookies card featured the Pistons’ Greg Monroe and the Clippers’ Al-Faroqu Aminu (limited to 399 copies) — two first-round picks. The standard rookies in the Longevity box weren’t even first-rounders. The second box included a Larry Sanders three-color swatch from one of his Milwaukee Bucks jerseys (limited to 49 copies).

Most Panini retail boxes this year are delivering 10 cards per pack and eight packs per box, so there’s immediately a whole lot more going on in one blaster vs. the Longevity. Meanwhile, there are a few inserts and a numbered parallel card typically found in each Blaster, too, so three blasters will put collectors way ahead quantity-wise — whether they have any luck or not.

Rounding out the Blaster boxes was Threads with a J.J. Redick jersey card — white with a gray pinstripe. Not anything amazing, but probably a more interesting card than either memorabilia card from the Longevity box.

What’s the lesson here? As the old saying remains, buy what you like — but don’t be afraid to examine products and their lineups carefully before you open them to make sure that they’re going to deliver the right kind of bang for your bucks. Retail is an option — but even there there are variables to examine.

For some of you, Longevity might work out over Blasters. For me, that certainly wasn’t the case.

2010-11 Rookies & Stars Longevity
Packs per box: 10
Cards per pack: 5
Cards per box: 52
Base set completion: 46 of 100 (46 percent)
Duplicates: 0

Short-prints: 10
Legend (5) — Willis Reed, Rod Hundley, Jerry Lucas, Nate McMillan, John Havlicek
Rookie (5) — Sherron Collins, Armon Johnson, Terrico White, Derrick Caracter, Darington Hobson

Parallels: 3
Ruby (3) — Brandon Jennings, Chris Kaman, Ben Uzoh (#’d to 299)

Memorabilia: 2
Freshman Orientation (1) — Lance Stephenson (#’d to 299)
Dress for Success (1) — Marcus Camby (#’d to 299)

Autographs: 1
Longevity Signatures (1) — Magnum Rolle EXCH (#’d to 799)

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

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