Opinion: Is it game on for Panini and Topps this football season?

Greg Lansdowne is a freelance writer and communications professional, specialising in the collectables industry. An avid collector, his professional interest began when he wrote Stuck on You – The Rise and Fall of Panini Stickers in 2014.

It’s a big year that lies ahead in the world of collectable trading card and stickers – but for all the talk of a digital takeover, with esports collaborations and Cryptocards, what has the industry – and collectors – most in thrall is Panini’s upcoming accession to the English Premier League throne.

While Topps (or initially Merlin, who were bought out by the American company in 1995) has held the EPL collectables license since its inception, there is a new sheriff in town, from 2019-2020.

Panini will need no introduction to football sticker/ card collectors young and old as they dominated the UK market from the late ’70s to the early ’90s, before enjoying a revival with its World Cup and Euro output over the last decade. Finer details are still under wraps but expect to see Panini’s Adrenalyn XL Trading Cards and a revitalised sticker album to flood the market from the early months of next season.

You can also bank on Topps to come out fighting with the Match Attax brand – presently the world’s best-selling sports trading card game – enduring in the market via its very popular UEFA Champions League license. But it’s not as if it’s all about sport this year… Panini has also recently signed a deal with online video game Fortnite while LOL Surprise and Disney are among other key licenses.

Topps, on the other hand, can bring out the WWE and Star Wars big guns. But my ‘one to watch’ for this year would be Panini’s FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 collectables range (especially the sticker album).

According to NPD research, of the Top 10 licensed toys in the UK from January to June 2018, four were Panini FIFA World Cup 2018 products. There may not be as strong a heritage for collecting women’s sport stickers or trading cards, but momentum is gathering apace (the Australian company Tap ‘N’ Play launched the first large-scale Trading Card collection dedicated to women’s sport with 2018 Suncorp Super Netball) and distribution for the next Women’s World Cup album is likely to be more wide-reaching than any previous such releases.

In fact, whether you like it or not, it will be hard to avoid the Panini brand as the year 2019 goes on. As a child of the ’80s, and if you can’t tell by now, a bit of a collector, I for one, say bring it on.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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