As someone who has only returned to the hobby after a three year hiatus, it has been interesting to catch-up on the views of others regarding Panini's entry into the hobby and monopoly NBA licensing.
Three years ago the views of collector's surrounding card companies was often very critical. Product saturation, poor value from box breaks, unexciting graphical designs, sticker auto's and redemptions were just some of the complaints surrounding the output from the then two official licensees Upper Deck and Topps.
Reading through various forums and blogs, matters do not seem to have improved much and Panini seem to be receiving as much criticism, if not more, from collectors as their predecessors. It is too early for me personally to see if the criticism is warranted. The shortened season and resulting reduced five product release schedule, has meant that thus far I have only witnessed the release of one low end product, Past & Present.
Whilst I found the design of some of the insert sets attractive, the retro looking base cards and plethora of sticker auto cards were never going to win me over. But then I am not really the target audience for such a product. My interest has and is always likely to be in the mid/high end releases.
The recent images posted by Panini on their blog of planned on-card auto's that will turn up in the final two releases of the 2011-12 season (Limited & Gold Standard) has though suggested to me that they are doing some things right. I fully expect to be buying some of these cards when they start to land in late June / early July.
You can seen more of the images here and here.