In an effort to build upon their baseball brand, Panini has reached a multi-year deal with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Under the terms of the agreement, Panini can use images of all inductees, Hall of Fame marks, memorabilia and images from the induction ceremonies.
The first set under the agreement is scheduled to be 2011 Playoff Prime Cuts, which is slated for a March release. In their announcement, Panini stated they would be using Hall of Fame content in six sets this year.
For collectors, this is a big deal. It gives Panini access to tons of legends, enabling them to have better lineups. Retired players are a huge draw. A large segment of the hobby is driven by the nostalgia the Hall of Fame brings. With deals now in place with the MLBPA, Cooperstown and an extensive network of minor league prospects, all that Panini is missing is an agreement with MLB.
Not only does this agreement make Panini's baseball products stronger, but it puts pressure on Topps as well. No matter where you hobby allegiances lie, competition is a good thing. It means nobody can be complacent. Instead, competition drives companies to be even better.
The opportunities this deal opens are vast. One would have to think the plaque cards are a must-have for Panini. The iconic yellow postcards featuring the plaques have long been a popular off-shoot of the hobby, particularly with autograph collectors. Perez Steele art cards would also go over very well with collectors. Perhaps this deal could also signal comprehensive looks at both the Negro Leagues and the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
Panini has similar agreements with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.