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FIFA WORLD CLASS 2024 (Panini)

EDICOLA NEWS: THE REVIEWS nr. 352

album: World Class 2024 (Panini)

stickers: 384 (1-384)
starter pack: album + 4 packets 4,95€
box: 36 packets (5 stickers per packet) 1,00€ each
blister: 5 packets 4,90€

Inside the upcoming Easter egg, we found a nice gift. When Panini remembers that it is Panini, products that are truly above average often arrive on newsstands. Perhaps a smart choice but certainly effective. Having lost the UEFA rights (after the Champions League also the European Championships since last year), the Modena company enters the sticker market with a straight leg.

It does so with a well thought-out product, not an abstract album on the best teams in Europe, taking advantage of the rights it holds, but a different solution. Just as we lost the Champions League, we saw the birth of the best international football album, Fifa365 (even if it has become less attractive over the years), so it does the same with the national teams. Competition is lifeblood, Panini has a staff of graphic designers and minds who know how to do their job, just, as in this case, give it a certain push and say “Can’t we make the official album of the competition? We make a different one, not a copy, putting in the best of football.”

Clearly this is a lame argument for those who, of us many, collect all the European albums, therefore, inevitably, they will make the official one, despite seeing the many defects already shown on social media. Also because this is a Fifa album, it is not UEFA, there are no past or future national European champions, there are world champions, all of them.

Speaking of lame albums, this one is not. All the national teams involved have the official uniform: Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, England, Italy, Spain, Uruguay. A sublime pleasure for the eyes but also an indication to UEFA (or FIFA in the future) that an agreement must be found to protect fans and collectors, to always have the official uniforms, regardless of who holds the rights. Ours is probably a romantic and vintage vision, but we won’t stay silent.

One would like to say that if Panini is able to make a quality album, why not always do it, even with World Cup albums, for example, which are often not very intriguing? Meanwhile, we also like tradition, secondly we have 8 teams here, in 2026 at the World Cup we will have 48! It is impossible to do otherwise, indeed, it could happen that the number of footballers per nation will be limited compared to now or perhaps the “minor” teams will return to having double stickers like the albums until the 1990s.

The release of the album is not even a coincidence, it is 50 years since the first FIFA World Cup, Munchen ’74. In fact, the Rimet Cup was definitively assigned to Brazil in 1970. Of course it is an excuse, the first pages rightly tell of all the editions of the World Cup, starting from the first in Uruguay in 1930. A choice that we like is the presence, even if only in photographs, of the other finalist teams, equally unforgettable squads over the years, just think of Puskas’s Hungary in 1954 and the Netherlands by Crujiff from 1974,

Thanks to the rights of Panini, the eight shields of the national champions are all together passionately, a beautiful page to see completed, in the face of those who prefer not to attach the stickers, but it is not the only one. The album is a logical path based on the number of World Cups won, so it starts with Brazil and ends with Spain.

The collection is a mix between the Fifa365 setting and our Footballers, with 4 pages for each nation. In the first two the more or less current formation of the team; looking at our home country, Italy seems more truthful to us than the one presented in the Topps Match Attax cards, clearly also net of the unpredictable injuries, as recently happened to Domenico Berardi. Here there is space for the classic bust stickers, in a larger format than Qatar 2022 (obviously, the album is also larger) and clearly superior in terms of graphics. The detail of the flag waving from behind the players is beautiful, minimal details, an effective black background, perhaps simple but you guessed it.

The last two pages of the teams are more varied, reminiscent of Calciatori. The most significant players are shown again in action, with even special, double stickers, which wink at card lovers, given the somewhat sui generis characterizations… like rock n roll or other terms that we of the old guard leave a little perplexed. We like the lower part of the page with the “teardrop” stickers with the possible starting line-up, a graphic solution already seen with Euro2016 for example, but this format is much more effective and above all integrates with the rest. However, they are all still valid solutions for making the album tempting for multiple generations and making it with an average total number of stickers, without exaggerating.

What about other nations? Panini also pays homage to the founders of FIFA in 1904, therefore the stickers of the 7 founding national teams find space in the last part of the album, choosing the team that obtained the best placing in a final phase of the World Cup: Belgium, Denmark, France, Holland, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Therefore, it is 50 years since the first edition of the FIFA World Cup but it is also 120 years since the foundation of the association. For lovers of variations, the Portuguese edition also features pages with the stickers of the Portuguese national team, numbered from P1 to P28. Of course there is also the Cristiano Ronaldo sticker, as far as it is possible to know, it’s a shame that homage was not paid to Eusebio.

Being also a celebratory album, fortunately there is no shortage of references to those who were the absolute protagonists of world football, 17 stickers of absolute legends that will make collectors of the themes happy and which is always a pleasure to attach to an album, to remember, to love, impossible get them all together and above all get them all to agree: Batistuta, Beckenbauer, Beckham, Buffon, Cafù, Cannavaro, Djorkaeff, Forlan, Iniesta, Klose, Maradona, Matthaus, Pelè, Pirlo, Ronaldo, Rooney, Xavi. Pelè and Beckenbauer aside, the choice was made to include only players from the last 30 years or so.
Among the English, for example, Beckham and Rooney don’t seem to have ever really left their mark at a World Cup, not remembering a legend like Bobby Moore and any champion of ’66 is a serious shortcoming. As well as putting three Italian champions from 2006 and none from 1982. Assuming that they only considered the players who were protagonists of the post-Rimet Cup editions, therefore from 1974. Pelè aside, but not having O’ Rey would have been truly sensational.

Last page interesting only in perspective, with the potential champions of the future and therefore the possible rookie card of the player wearing the national team shirt, assuming one does not already exist. Will the expectations be confirmed? We’ll see at the 2026 World Cup or the next one in 2030.

Well-made album, stickers above average quality from Panini itself, very light but still light years away from the Qatar 2022 disaster. Some doubts about the choice of orange as the reference color, some texts are difficult to read. In our opinion, an album to have for all collectors of World Cup albums, but it is difficult to think that it could have an annual sequel, unless the approach is changed. It makes you think that it could also be the precursor to the album on the Club World Cup, expected at the end of the season. Thinking only of Italy, with Inter and Juventus present, Panini are certainly thinking about it, in fact they have probably already decided.

If the idea was to hit the market with an album that would annihilate Topps’s album on Europeans, the results will probably prove Panini right. Apart from those who, as we have written, will collect the American house’s album for the sake of completeness. We are among them, but we are also the ones who, in the end, will do both.

(EN)

WORLD CUP QATAR 2022 (Panini)

EDICOLA NEWS: THE REVIEWS nr. 265

album: World Cup Qatar 2022 (Panini)

stickers: 670 (00, FWC 1-29, 1-20 each team)

starter pack: album + 5 packets 4,90€

priced album: 2,50€

box: 50 packets (5 stickers per packet) 1,00€ each

The most unlikely and discussed world championship in the history of football has finally arrived and with it the usual Panini album, present on newsstands for 52 years, from that distant and mythical Mexico70. Honestly, this review is not simple, the Qatar World Cup is the furthest thing from football that you can imagine, at least for the oldest of us, for many reasons, including social and ethical ones, also upsetting the times, the memories, the memories of those who, in their lives, marked the time that passed from world to world.

It is also the second consecutive album without Italy, a detail that is not such and is not a pretty sight. Clearly in our country, it was not possible to avoid taking it to newsstands (luckily, we add) but for Panini Italia it is not the flagship product, that will arrive in three months, the Calciatori, with all the anticipation and curiosity that has always distinguishes him, the subject of discussions, discontent but also emotions, year after year. It is his beauty, after all.

Returning to the Qatar2022 album we are aware and almost resigned to the current costs of stickers, between the paper problem and the increasingly expensive demands of those who own the rights, but also thinking about the more direct competition, the effort to put at least 6 stickers per packet it would have been greatly appreciated by those who, however, have supported Panini and its collections for many years.

Especially considering the quality of the sticker, in the beginning it was the sticker with the tissue behind it, now it is a tissue that acts as a sticker. Thickness to a minimum, if you open a bag even just breathing with your mouth open be careful, the stickers could fly away. On the other hand, the world card market must be considered, where Italy, unlike what many think, is not a leader. We also have Ferrari and Lamborghini factories in Italy, but we are not the main market for this, not even at a European level, and in Europe we are far behind England, Germany and perhaps others. It is an important detail and one that answers the classic question “we, who have Panini at home ..”.

The global vision of the “figurine” allows us to try to understand the choices of the Modenese multinational, things must be seen from a far broader perspective than that of the “Boot”. Basically, if the global market responds positively to the product, it is difficult to change things.

As already happened with the Anteprima album, there are some important improvements in the quality of the paper. We continue to dream of a return to matte paper, but on a product printed in millions of copies it is pure utopia. The presence of three central staples and a thicker paper make us say that the album is not a disappointment, then the hardback versions, limited, in human skin will come for those who want, even if we do not know how many of these will be available in Italy ( at the moment we do not know if there is a hard cover version of the Italian edition).

After this very long preamble, looking specifically at the graphics of Qatar2022, we notice some interesting and different aspects from the past, although, as far as we are concerned, we like the World Cup album has a classic style. Already in 2024 with the first Topps we will certainly have a different European album (even in size), at least this World Cup remains “faithful to the line“.

The increasingly massive presence of national teams can only lead to forced choices, limit the number of players per team or limit everything else, so as to avoid an album that comes close to 700 stickers, too many. What do you prefer? Difficult to answer, the memory of the albums of the past with the very rich introductory part between mascot stickers, official posters, stadiums, cities or, like now, 20 stickers per national team? Whatever the answer is, it makes someone unhappy, sure.

The introductory part then presents the stickers of logos, the world cup and the 8 protagonist stadiums, future “cathedrals in the desert” or parking lots, as has already happened for a country that thrives on football like Brazil. For us, stadiums are the heart of football, in sticker albums, at least those of international competitions, they should always be present, so great news.

Then the many pages for the 32 participating national teams start, with 20 stickers each, team, championship and 18 players. We wrote how much we like tradition in these types of albums, but we find the constant lack of the trainers’ sticker here too is truly incredible. Think of an Espana82 album with Bearzot’s sticker or that of Germania2006 with Lippi, just to think about Italy. A lack that makes itself felt and how.

The stickers are graphically different than in the past, goodbye classic frame in favor of the image of the player as if it were cut out, shaped. Around the logos of the competition and the national team and the basic statistics, such as the role on the pitch, the debut in the national team, the year of birth, etc. The club they belong to is not mentioned, on the one hand a non-fundamental fact because we are talking about national teams, on the other a curious and useful fact to sometimes discover where the players play, especially the lesser known ones.

We would therefore have added the detail of the club, reading the first comments on social networks we already know we are going against the tide, but we do not mind this graphic choice. The background has a more suitable color than the unlikely yellow or orange seen in the past. The image of the player stands out but also the statistical data around it, the logos are always a beautiful sight. Of course, the real background from the playing field remains the top, but difficult to see with national championship albums, let alone for a world championship.

On the other hand, we are sorry not to find any reference, printed on the album page, to the statistics of the national team at the previous world championships, you can see it above all in the pages of the teams that have won at least one and here there are many, indeed all of them, unfortunately only the ‘Italy.

Probably among the collectors there are those who appreciate the choice, but to us dividing the numbering of the album by team (except the beginning and end of the album) we find it almost “annoying”, a useless complication, except perhaps for those looking only the themes, so he knows that to have Argentina it is enough to find the stickers from ARG1 to ARG20. Modena likes the idea, we don’t, in this case we see no reason to have applied it (Russia is out of the World Cup when the playoffs were still in progress) but we can get over it.

The album closes with a brief history of the World Cup, edition after edition, great if it is edited by the Fifa Museum in Zurich, the detail of the object of the memorabilia under the photo of the team will perhaps be noticed by few but it is very welcome. Unless the choice was made not to transform all the national champions into stickers, only 10 out of 21 editions, less than half. The rest is printed.

A World Cup album, it could not be otherwise, must be collected regardless. We see flaws but also interesting aspects, certainly not acceptable to everyone. In our opinion, perhaps the economic effort of putting an extra card in a packet (considering the price of the packets and the box alone 50) could have been enough to make everything, even in our latitudes, more palatable.

For all collector friends of this World Cup 2022 we remember our appointments with the Figurine Day at Edicola Birra and the great events of Figurine Forever:
FIGUCON ROMA c/o Music Day, 24-25 september 2022, Roma
COMICS FAIR, 15-16 october 2022, Bologna
FIGUCON X EDITION – 15 january 2023, Bologna

(EN)