I went to my LCS to pick up a box, but unfortunately, the only one he ordered was the one that was opened up for individual pack sales. Since he knew I was looking for the box, he informed me that although four of the 24 packs had been opened, none of the two guaranteed autos were pulled, so even though it was an incomplete box, both hits were still there. So, I decided to purchase the remaining 24 to give myself a look at what a near-box would look like and hopefully would add some cool cards to my collection in the process.
The first 150 cards contain both currents and retired players, and cards 151-200 are set aside for the rookies, so you get a good balance of all three categories. Me being a Chicago Cubs collector, I was able to add the pictured Starlin Castro, Ryne Sandberg, and Kyuji Fujikawa, as well as Jeff Samardzija, Anthony Rizzo, and rookie cards of Chris Rusin and Jaye Chapman.
As far as parallels go, you are guaranteed three Museum Collection Cards and two Artist Proof parallels. I one of each must have been pulled from the four opened packs, because I pulled two and one, respectively. My Museum Collection cards were J.D. Martinez and Paul Konerko, and my Artist Proof was Adrian Gonzalez.
Awaiting the Call is an insert set dedicated to players who are waiting on their "call" from the Baseball Hall of Fame. I think most of the four players I pulled will be waiting for quite a while, but there are also cards of guys like Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas who might not have as long of a wait. These are inserted four per box, and I got that, plus a die-cut parallel of Edgar Martinez, which oddly enough, was inserted in the pack right next to the regular version of Martinez.
Clear Vision is, in my opinion, the coolest looking insert in this year's Pinnacle offering. The card's surface is done in a shiny, rainbow-y foil, and the colored word in the middle is done on an acetate inset. The different words indicate rarity, as hitters go from common to rare Single, Double, Triple, Home Run, and Cycle, and pitchers have Win, Complete Game, Shut Out, No Hitter, and Perfect Game. The cards are non serial numbered, except for Cycle and Perfect Game, which are 1-of-1s. These cards fall at a rate of four-per-box, so I was very happy to pull all four.
Pinnacle of Success cards are three per box and contain mostly a clear surface, with the insert's logo and the player's photo taking up the only print on the surface. The two I pulled were Derek Jeter and Ryan Braun,
Looking Back is one of the more boring inserts of this product. It's a small five-card set the looks back at a player's accomplishments before they made it to the Majors. This Chase Utley card talks a little bit about his career at Long Beach Polytechnic High School in Southern California.
The Naturals is an insert set using the same type of foiling seen on their Museum Collection parallels and Aces inserts. It's a foiling that used to be known as "Dufex," put Panini made a few tweaks to it and renamed it "Nufex." Either way, they don't scan in too great on my computer. The Troy Tulowitzki I pulled is still a great looking card, even if the scan doesn't do it justice.
The problem with all of the Nufex and acetate that is used on so many of the other inserts, is that the inserts that don't have the same bells and whistles just look boring. Like the Looking Back cards, Position Powers falls under that same trap. They aren't bad looking cards by themselves, but compared to what else is out there, they are a bit of a let-down if this is the insert you pull from your pack.
Also utilizing the difficult-to-scan Nufex is Slugfest, which is inserted at a rate of two per box. My two were Robinson Cano and Adam LaRoche, and these will be some of the more sought-after inserts, as they look cool, and feature baseball's best power hitters. I wonder if chicks still dig the long ball.
Another really cool insert is Swing for the Fences, which like Slugfest, focuses on baseball's power hitters. The difference here, is that these are printed on an acetate surface. Also, just like the Slugfest cards, scans really don't do these cards justice, as the white background of the scanner lid completely washes out the white wood-grain printing done outside of the player's image on the card surface. Mine were of former Cub Aramis Ramirez and future Hall-of-Famer Ken Griffey Jr.
Team 2020 is an insert that focuses on Baseball's future stars. These fall at a rate of three per box, and I pulled Yoenis Cespedes, Jarrod Parker, and Bryce Harper. I think the reason why they put these "boring" inserts in, was that it allowed them to parallel them as Museum Collection or Artist proof, which is fine, but it doesn't help if you aren't lucky enough to pull one of those parallels.
Making its return to baseball sets is the once legendary Team Pinnacle set. These cards used to be some of the rarest, most sought-after on the market, but now they are just another insert. They are much more easy to find and don't carry quite the same weight that they used to. The one I pulled had Stephen Strasburg on the front with the Nufex foiling, and Greg Maddux (as a Brave) on the back with no foiling.
Lastly, the hits. Pinnacle kept it simple, foregoing any jersey cards or bat relics, and just staying with the autographs. Two are guaranteed per box, and I pulled Omar Infante of the Detroit Tigers and Rob Brantly of the Miami Marlins. They're both ok players, but I must say, in a world full of scribbles and horrible autos, how cool is that Infante signature!
Pinnacle is a decent product, but not one that's good for an investment. There isn't a whole lot of return on most of these cards, but if you aren't going to try and flip the contents of the box and just want a fun break, with loads of cool and unique inserts, then this may be the product for you. Of course, you will have to overlook the lack of team logos and names due to licensing restrictions, but at the right price, this can be a very enjoyable product.