Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Product Review: 2009 Donruss Classics Football

Today is a big day, believe it or not, as we finally have a set today that pictures the rookies in their NFL uniforms. Classics has received a lot of coverage here because of that fact, and Donini knows that they are under the microscope now that things have changed for the company. Although the set has some bright spots, it seems like things may not have been as thought out as they should have been. I will say that this is the best offering so far from Donini this year, but considering that their previous releases have been loose poops, its not saying much.


First, I want to preface this by saying that I have always been a big fan of classics. I still think the base RC of Adrian Peterson from 2007 is one of the best non-auto Peterson cards there is. 2008's base design wasn’t bad either, as the cards had the look I was hoping for. 2009, well, that’s a completely different story. Unlike the previous two releases, Donini decided that this year's product would not feature a nicely designed base set, but instead would use boring square borders and the back of a 1940's wicker chair as the background for the pictures. After seeing the result of this, you have to say that it just doesn’t work for this type of design. The problem is that the square border adds nothing to the character of the card, and the background does not do it any favors either. Instead you have players who look like they are cardboard cutouts photographed against the chair and then put on the cards. On top of all of this, it clashes completely with some of the uniforms, which takes all the fun out of it. At least when they left the field in there, you knew what to expect.

Secondly, Donini has improved the design of some of the subsets, but they are still employing the fucking awful three step parallel process for them. Step 1 - numbered base card, Step 2 - memorabilia card, Step 3 - Auto or auto/jers card. This time it seems to work on SOME of the subsets, but you can still see the places where things will fit, leading to the thoughts of why the parallels exist in the first place. Regardless, the Sunday Stars look good with the swatch finally having a good home, the Saturday Stars look a little worse but still good, and the School Colors havent changed one bit from last year. On the other side of things, the Monday night heroes have MAJOR floating swatch issues and the Classic singles look oddly weighted. Other than that, its standard fare for Donini.

Lastly, the Cuts have problems, lots of problems. To begin with, there is no picture of the subjects on the cards to make them look presentable. They are just a border on a cut, and that doesn’t work at all for me. Secondly, there is no name on the front of the card either, which means it could be fucking impossible to determine who you pulled if you arent familiar with a lot of signatures. This is completely amateur, as there is no reason to leave out a picture, let alone a name, especially when a good portion of the people who pull these cards will be casual collectors. Bad form.

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Autograph Cards

Man, these autograph cards are a train wreck for some parts of this product. I don’t think there is any other way to describe the ideas behind some of the cards.

The most important cards of the set are the Auto RCs, and because of the swap meet rug background, its beyond tough to see some of the stickers. That is just poor planning, nothing else. If you know that you are going to put black writing on a card, you have to plan around a light background to create that pop we all love in a dark sig. This has none of that. Plus, when some of the rookies are signing early stickers with college numbers, all while the company KNOWS they will be used throughout the year, you can expect the complaints that will come. As Jake said on Twitter, don’t sign the numbers and you don’t have a problem.

Moving on to the biggest fail in this product, the School Colors autos, and you can see the extent of how poorly these cards were planned. Its like Donini thought that by putting out on card autos, they could blind us enough to look the other direction in design and pen choice. Companies avoid using paint pens on cards because they can stick to the back of other cards during pack outs, they can chip as time goes on, and because they look gross. If I were waiting outside of the OTAs to get an auto in person, I might use a paint pen out of necessity. For card companies, use need to use a fucking sharpie/staedtler like normal people. However, if you MUST use silver, fine point pens are available instead of the thick pointed paint ones used on these cards. See UD Black Baseball 2007 for examples.

The one bright point of this set is the Sunday and Saturday Stars jersey auto cards, which look very cool. It’s the only redeeming point for this offering at all in terms of autos. The cards look well thought out, well put together, and professional. The problem is that they are two subsets, and numbered to 25 a piece. Kind of a drop in the bucket. I would give the autos two Gellmans if these were a focus, but they arent. The rest of this has way too many problems.

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Relic Cards

As said before, the relic subsets in this product are very much improved over Prestige and Prestige Chrome. Donini is heading in the right direction on some of these cards, as the cards look like they may have taken into account the fact that swatches and stickers will need to be incorporated into the design. The Sunday Stars and Staturday Stars look great in this respect, but others do not follow the same suit. The Classic singles look oddly unbalanced, and should have just had two swatches per player, and the Monday Night Heroes subset was definitely backwardly designed old school junk from the Donini floating swatch factory.

When you move up into the patches and the duals, things continue to go well, but there are still many problems that Donini needs to address before I can count them among the saved.

Heading in the right direction is good.

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Value To The Collector

This set always holds water because it’s the first for pro jerseys. However, there are no rookie relics from the premiere, and there is a staleness that is creeping in on classics. I think the overall price will drop per normal as the year goes on, but these cards wont drop the way prestige and prestige chrome will. You may have already noticed how little value the previous sets held compared to last year, and its only going to get worse.

Although I wouldn’t suggest buying boxes of this product with reckless abandon, I would suggest checking out some of the good looking singles that will be out there.

I will mention this, I am not the only one who is touting the poor quality and creativity of Donini products, and price has started to show some of that apathy. Cards that would have gone for 100 bucks last year are going for $50-$60 this year, which is too much of a drop to attribute completely to the recession.

Basically, I would be very careful before blowing your load this early.

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Overall Impressions

Although Donini is heading in the right direction, improving from total fucking shit to acceptable is starting to seem like an inconceivable jump. With as bad as the first two products were, compared to classics, I am getting overwhelmed with how much needs to be improved. There are so many things present in this set that no professional would ever do in their right mind, and that scares me for the future of this crap. Plus, when you start to see them influence their man-crushes at Beckett to the point where they are singing the praises to the mountaintops, you can tell they just arent trying anymore. Instead of designing products that should be sung from the highest peaks, they use underhanded marketing tactics to force people to avoid looking at the obvious.

Average Rating =

2009 Product Leaderboard (SO FAR)

1(t). UD Heroes Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). UD Draft Edition (3/5 GELLMANS)
3(t). Donruss Classics (2/5 GELLMANS)
3(t). Donruss Elite (2/5 GELLMANS)
3(t). Playoff Prestige (2/5 GELLMANS)
3(t). Bowman Draft Picks (2/5 GELLMANS)

1 comment:

  1. I'm starting to get the itch to bust some '09 football but's just one crappy product after another. I haven't seen anything worth spending any money on yet. I hope something decent comes out soon.