Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Product Review: 2009 Donruss Threads Football

Usually, each year, when Threads hits stores, you can set your watch for the start of the real football products to start. Usually as well, Threads is one of those products that tends to hold more value as the year drags on. This year, things may be different, unfortunately for the fans of this product.


There has been one constant all year for Panini products, and thats the over use of the line tool in photoshop. Every product seems to be swimming with cards with angular designs, most of which look busy and hard to follow. Threads takes this to a whole new level. The base cards have been chronicled here as some of the worst I have seen all year. In addition to being a fathead style player photo (player looking like a fathead stuck on the background) instead of a game shot, the lines look like they are attacking the player like a game of invaders. When you see some of the MANY parallels for each card, some on mirrorboard, it gets worse. For every one of those parallels that doesnt have a swatch or an auto, the card also looks incredibly top heavy, as the Panini design team still hasnt found a way to make every parallel of a card look like it can stand alone.

As for the Rookie Collection cards, they stayed again with the horizontal design, which I like, but the design just doesnt cut it. Its almost like they turned the opaque-o-meter down to about 60%, stacked about 5 levels on top of each other, and added a player picture into the middle of all of it. Then they took a weird looking helmet off pic and made it look sketched on. Add in that the Threads logo cuts straight across most of the player pics at the waist, and I cant say its something that looks even remotely good. Its a hodge podge of craziness, and Im very diappointed.

The Letters this year look pretty much the same as last year, which is fine, as they are always the focus of the set. The problem is that they tapered the border back a little, which has shrunk the player pic even more than it was last year, so that detracts from the overall presentation. However, the Letters arent all that bad. It sucks that they cant be built ahead of time with the team colors, but this is fine. Nothing great.

A star of the set, as always is the Gridiron Kings cards which are great this year. The painted style, along with a design that is simple and not overstated, makes these cards a must get for the product. I have always loved these cards, and this year looks like another home run for these. Too bad this type of design couldnt have been more of a focus.

The rest of the subsets in Threads are pretty typical, weird looking swatch placement on cards with even weirder design elements. I really think that Panini could solve a lot of their problems if every card didnt have to have ten parallels. They are really the only company that still employs this way of doing things, and it detracts from every element of the set. The cards just reek of lazy attempts at filling the product, and I wish they would just do it the right way instead of the ways that people hate.


Autograph Cards

The autograph cards in Threads scream Panini from the mountaintops. There arent any that dont have non-autoed parallels, and most of the time the labels dont look like they fit into the designs. I would rather see them take an approach similar to National Treasures and save the autographs for the good subsets.

One of the major problems I have with Autos in most of the Panini products is that more than half of the autograph cards are going to be non-premiere scrubs that stand for your box hit. That means you can pull a free agent auto in your box, and get nothing else more times than not. I watched a full case break today, and more than every other box was a crap scrub rookie auto for the whole thing. That is awful.

The Gridiron Kings auto parallels are amazing, unlike most of the regular autos, as they are not mirror boarded. Sometimes they also have a cool frame around them, which makes the cards stand out even more. Its a great save for a non-letter box, which makes me angry that more of the set could not be great like these.

As for the Letters, they are what everyone wants, and this year will be no different. I did see some college numbers on these AGAIN, which made me cringe a few times with Harvin and Beanie Wells not adapting their sigs at the premiere. Also, I saw a college uni Harvin with a pro number sticker, and a pro uni Harvin with a college number uni. Who at QC let that slide?


Relic Cards

What can I say that hasnt already been said about Panini and their awful relic cards. Im not sure why no one has decided that maybe its time to change the way these cards are designed. This time, they have used weirdly cut windows to try to distract us from the fact that most of the cards dont look right. Its like "Ooh! My jersey card looks like it has a little jersey looking thing it! I shall call it Mini Jers!" Seriously, we are not that stupid.

Again, the only good looking relic cards are the Gridiron Kings dual swatch cards which look very well done. Still, the rest of the subsets look ridiculous and out of place in the general design of things.


Value To The Collector

I would definitely support buying some singles off eBay, but stay far away from the boxes. The odds are that you are going to waste close to 100 bucks on a box with three crap jerseys and a scrub auto. Then you will see that most of the cards look like crap and you will wonder what you just spent your money on.

If you were lucky enough to pull an auto parallel of the Gridiron Kings, Rookie Collection, or a Letter, you can pretty much feel good that the value probably wont drop much as the year continues. Mainly, you have to hit one of those cards to even think about justifying your purchase, but overall the product is just an all around disappointment. Its not Rookies and Stars bad, but its not on the level it was last year, and definitely not on the level of a product that costs as much as this one does.


Overall Impressions

Basically, these cards could have been put into any other Panini set this year and no one would know the difference. I really have no idea why anyone continues to have faith in this take over, as last year things were 10 million times better than this year's lazy attempt to redesign each set. The solution is pretty simple, ditch the crazy grafitti and the weird lines, and stick to using simple designs with fluid transition between the parts of each subset. Until then, my ratings will continue to be the way they are.

Average Rating:

2009 Product Leaderboard (SO FAR)

1(t). UD Philadelphia Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). Topps Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). UD Icons (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). UD Heroes (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). UD Draft Edition (3/5 GELLMANS)
6(t). Donruss Threads (2/5 GELLMANS)
6(t). Donruss Classics (2/5 GELLMANS)
6(t). Donruss Elite (2/5 GELLMANS)
6(t). Playoff Prestige (2/5 GELLMANS)
6(t). Bowman Draft Picks (2/5 GELLMANS)
11. Score Inscriptions (1/5 GELLMANS)
12. Leaf Rookies and Stars (0/5 GELLMANS - NR)


  1. Cue Ryan's automated response in 5 .. 4 .. 3

  2. What a surprise given that this wasn't a UD product.

    Keep slurping UD, Adam. You have lost ALL of what little credibility you ever have.

    Look up "conflict of interest", kid.

  3. Its wonderful that I am no longer allowed to hate a non-UD product. I think I laid out perfectly good OPINIONS on why I disliked this set.

  4. I think Gellman might be a little harsh on the Donruss products but they haven't done much to improve on the years before. Elite? Nice cards but simply the same design and no effort to improve. Classics - yeah I really like this product but no improvement on the years before.

    Upper Desk - their just better and if you want to see a company moving forward then we are about 20 days away from a the SPX release. The images up on UD now already has me buying 2 cases. These cards are unique and will hold value for years. If you're a collector who wants to see your value for cards you have to search for the product that is unique.

    Good example - Fleer - even though the production was through the roof in the 80's is Fleer who still has some value as their cards have some personality.

    ..and let me also say they better no f#$k up Nat/Tres as that is my favorite card on the market.

  5. I'm with you Adam...this is just another ass ugly set of cards. There hasn't been a single release in 2009 yet that I feel like spending my money on...maybe Philadelphia, but only for the minis.

  6. The minis and the mini autos made the philadelphia set for me. Plus, I love the full game shots on the cards. This just seems like same ole same ole, even worse than before.

  7. It's actually gotten to the point where I think you're doing these rankings to keep readers coming back. I wouldn't spite you if that was the case, but at this point it's getting pretty ridiculous.

    The donruss products deserve a 2 or 3, that's not my problem. That's a completely fair ranking. They do compare favourably to the Upper Deck products though.

    Are you even opening these products? Are you looking at the product checklists? Are you looking at the pack insertion rates?

    If someone started buying stuff based on your reviews, they'd end up with 20 Career Best Autos, a bunch of Philadelphia autographs of defensive players and veteran offensive linemen and of course, and a handful of unautographed letterman that are the cheapest made letterman in the history of cards.

    At this point, you're not even reviewing products. You're reviewing the best singles to buy on eBay, and you're dead on in that respect. Well, at least until you get to icons.

  8. Every wednesday, a group of my friends and I get together and bust cases of the new stuff. I get hands on looks at the cards that way.

  9. Kris, most of reviewing is about the best cards to buy on ebay when you think about it. I try to focus more on the designs of the cards, and the value of what comes out of the product. I have hated the designs of EVERY SINGLE panini set this year, while topps and UD have run laps around them. I think Chrome has potential to be one of the best sets of the year, next week, so I will let you know.

    I tried to find a different way to review the products this year, and its VERY tough to do it sometimes. Do you have suggestions on how to make it better?

  10. See, I fundamentally disagree with you on the eBay thing. The majority of the cards you're going to buy on eBay are case hits or cards that you probably wont pull.

    Does Philadelphia have better case hits than Classics? Most people would say yes. But if you're buying under 3 boxes, your reviews fall apart.

    I've been disappointed, like downright pissed off, with 1 box of Panini this year maybe two. With Upper Deck, I've been straight up pissed off with about 50% of the boxes.

    One product has a basement of 0, but a ceiling of 10. The other product has a basement of 2 and a ceiling of 8. The only problem is that there's only a 5-10% chance that the box you open will be the ceiling, while there's a 50 percent chance you'll open up the basement.