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Black Box Confidential: The Hand-Picked Gems Headed to the 2011 Industry Summit

March 10, 2011

Panini America’s vaunted Black Box. It began back in 2002 as a way to provide added value to attendees of the industry’s annual Hawaii Trade Conference. Before long, it became — and remains — one of the event’s biggest attractions.

Simply mention the term “Black Box” to veteran collectors and you’re likely to get a raised eyebrow and a knowing nod, telling reactions inspired by the inherent buzz and implied collectible value housed within each one.

I say all of that to say this: I’ve had a front-row seat this week as my marketing comrade, Scott Prusha, has diligently prepped this year’s Black Boxes for the 2011 Industry Summit, slated for March 20-23 in Las Vegas.

To be sure, the laborious, hand-picked process of assembling these Black Box beauties is a massive undertaking. The payoff, of course, is that it produces some of the most gorgeous must-have cards in the hobby every year. For an exclusive  sneak peek of this year’s collection-making cornerstones, check out the gallery below. 

The cards used to create the Black Box hits are what we call “libraries,” a limited number of overrun cards from our roster of products printed specifically for inclusion in Black Boxes and for other hobby promotions. After Prusha puts the finishing touches on the hand-crafted checklist (that process alone took no less than six solid hours on Monday), the cards are hand-collated and turned over to production.

Each Black Box this year will include one slabbed memorabilia or autographed card numbered to only one. Some boxes will include an additional 1/1 surprise. Stay tuned to The Knight’s Lance in the coming days for complete 2011 Black Box checklist.    

Production will bring the project home by applying autographs to some cards, sequential numbering all of them, embossing the fronts with a special “Black Box” logo, boxing the cards and shrink-wrapping them. That process will be completed early next week.

After that, all that remains is another show-stealing performance at the Orleans Casino in Las Vegas.

36 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2011 10:00 am

    Actually, the black boxes were started in 2002. We used cards from 2001 Donruss Signature Series for the content. Each box would had a few base set cards serial numbered to 15 and one autograph card. It was always fun putting those lists together.

  2. March 10, 2011 10:20 am

    Nice. can’t wait to get mine.

  3. Derrick permalink
    March 10, 2011 11:05 am

    Can you purchase a black box?

    • March 10, 2011 11:09 am

      We don’t sell them but you can often find them — mostly their contenst, but rarely unopened — for sale online.

  4. Brad B permalink
    March 10, 2011 12:37 pm

    *cough*.. make an extra one…*cough*… Do a contest…*cough*…Best prize ever

  5. Robert - cardsnwine permalink
    March 10, 2011 12:55 pm

    I want to go to the Summit! Just to get one 🙂

  6. hampcards permalink
    March 10, 2011 1:11 pm

    Can I have Gellman’s box?

  7. Kevin permalink
    March 10, 2011 1:13 pm

    That Joe Namath old school patch is amazing.

  8. March 10, 2011 1:23 pm

    *cough*.. send that brady to my doorstep…*cough*

    if I saw that on ebay my “faaaake” alarm bell would sound.

  9. WhenIsaySEA! permalink
    March 10, 2011 1:32 pm

    How can I get to this summit? Do I need climbing gear? Those are some pretty sweet cards… and I think you mentioned something about attaching autographs? Must be a heck of a climb to get to the summit where you get a slabbed 1/1 and possibly even another sick 1/1 for the fun of it, just for showing up.. Definitely looks like the creme’ de la creme’ of recent releases. …Hey Tracy, in case I can’t make it all the way there, can you forward my box to my house? 😛

    • Scott W. Prusha permalink*
      March 11, 2011 12:17 am

      That’s right, except for the jumbo swatches that cannot take an auto, almost all of them will be auto’d!

  10. hampcards permalink
    March 10, 2011 1:44 pm

    Hey, Tracy, if you guys need photographer for the convention hit me up my father-in-law is a pro in Vegas, I’ll get you a good rate.

  11. Kheva Edwards permalink
    March 10, 2011 3:22 pm

    A contest for a Black Box would be amazing. I can’t make it to Vegas so a contest would be my only hope! Thanks for all you do Tracy. I look forward to my mailday from you as well! 🙂

    • Scott W. Prusha permalink*
      March 11, 2011 12:18 am

      Tracy, let’s do it! How about we give away a couple!

  12. mike permalink
    March 11, 2011 12:09 am

    I’ll be there, was wondering about how much baseball makes up the total checklist.

    • Scott W. Prusha permalink*
      March 18, 2011 9:37 pm

      You will find out tomorrow!

  13. March 11, 2011 9:39 am

    I cant wait to get mine, havent decided what to do with it though

  14. Mont Toronto permalink
    March 11, 2011 1:08 pm

    Contest! Contest! Contest! That Steve Young triple patch is gorgeous! Huzzah for BYU Alums!

  15. March 11, 2011 5:49 pm

    I’ll be at the Summit. Save me the best one.

  16. March 11, 2011 8:23 pm

    Wow, looks like some great patches in there. Just the name, Black Box, sounds cool. As a marathon runner, i think that the Black Box would be some pretty good motivation as the carrot and stick while running from Buffalo, NY to Vegas. Cool Stuff!!!

    • March 11, 2011 10:38 pm

      Come on down, man.

      • March 13, 2011 7:31 am

        HAHAHA, I’d love too, but it might take a day or two to run there from Buffalo. I don’t think that would work out all that well with my job. Cool stuff though.

    • Scott W. Prusha permalink*
      March 18, 2011 9:38 pm

      Good stuff, kinda like Forest Gump…”I was running…”

  17. March 15, 2011 12:11 pm

    Thank you guys for supporting hobby shops and other attendees by offering these. My customers love to see what I come back with each time and the hits from these boxes are always the highlight.

    • Scott W. Prusha permalink*
      March 18, 2011 9:39 pm

      Thank you for doing what you do…we hope that everyone likes what we did this year.

  18. March 21, 2011 5:31 am

    It is things like this why collectors love Panini. While most of us will never get one, let alone see one, of these black boxes it shows that you guys care about the collectors. I think it would be so cool just to be part of even putting these sets together, there are some awsome patches and autos. I love the legends included too, especially the Jim Thorpe relic.


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