Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Product Review: 2009 Donruss Limited Football

For the past few years, Limited has been one of DLP's best sets. It features the best cards, with the best designs, and the Lettermen are some of the only game used signed letter cards in the biz. This year, with the Panini switch over, there was definitely going to be some major shakeups, some turned out good, while others did not.


There is a lot to talk about here, as usual, so I will start at the bottom and work my way up. First off, I hate the base cards again for this set, as they look like they are straight out of the Star Wars trilogy. Too many busy diagonals and the player right in the middle. When you factor in the (still) ugly mirror and raibow foil, it looks awful. Sadly, this also means the scrub autos look horrid, the legend autos are just as bad, and those 1/1 logo base card parallels that we love also suck. It was a poor foundation for this set, and it really put a huge downer on a good looking set from years past.

As for the focus of the set, the rookie patch autos, they are the best they have been since I have started collecting Limited. For once, a company actually uses a diecut pattern that makes perfect sense, and looks good to boot. I bought the Harvin, which brings me to the major problem with these cards. The list of players that have redemptions for one of the most important Panini sets of the year is fucking staggering. Harvin, Nicks, Maclin, so on and so on, all are redemptions. For such awesome cards, I could not believe what I was seeing.

Also, Im not sure why Panini has become so obsessed with blowing smoke up our asses with these stupid ass event used pro-bowl cards. I can tell you right now that ten out of ten times, I would much rather have game used jerseys than these pieces of shit, even the letter patches they inserted here. Plus, not many of the collectors that pull/buy these cards understand that they arent game used, and that really isnt fair to prey on the simple.

Although I think the concept itself is stale, I do like the look of the slideshow signatures this year. The card design is a little busy, but the cards look okay compared to the past. I still don’t know why they just don’t get the cards themselves signed, as the slides have a pretty limiting space once they are put into the windows. Im still waiting for the first mini screen to be put into a card, where you will actually see the player at the premiere doing their thing. That would be cool.

Rating =

Autograph Cards

There are a lot of autograph cards, and most of them look okay, despite being 100% stickers in a mid end market that has moved away from labels. I said above that I absolutely love the rookie patch autos, and I will stick by that. The design of the cards, as well as the placement of everything just worked remarkably well, especially with the word logos from all the NFL teams. There arent very many parallels of the cards either, which makes them even better.

The Cut autos went from looking cool on the sell sheets to weird in the packs, and im not sure why it changed. On the sell sheet, the cards when from having pictures on them to being pictureless in the packs. On top of that, the space, without a player picture, almost looks like a glory hole viewing the cut itself. Its really too bad that more companies are going to pictureless cuts, as UD has done the same thing almost exclusively. I believe the licensing is the problem, as you have to work with estates and stuff rather than the players.

I love the dual autographs they have in this product again, very well done. For most of the duals, they paired a rookie with the top living superstar from that team's past, thus leading to some cool combos. Sanchez/Namath, Crabtree/Rice, etc. They also did ones like Montana/Rice, Aikman/Emmitt, etc, which fills out the set really well. These are low numbered, and are some of the top pulls in the set.

The Rookie Lettermen arent that bad this year either, as the design hasn’t changed much in the last few years. They are some of the only signed rookie premiere used letters, other than NT, and they are actually a great idea. The problem is that this year, they signed with a huge, thick paint pen, so a good portion of the autos look really weird. Having a situation like this is fucking typical Panini. Great.

If you havent seen the crown royale 2008 cards, consider yourself lucky. These are some of the worst autograph cards of the year, and are obviously left-overs from last year that were inserted to claim they have an on-card element for the set. The stupid part is that they signed in dark pen on a dark card, and you can barely see the auto. The diecut design is fucking awful, and I cant believe people are thinking these cards are a good addition. So let me get this straight, you dig into the store room for a rejected on card set of the 2008 rookie class in a 2009 set? Someone tell me how that made it through QC. Panini and on card autos never mix, they are like oil and water. Holy hell.

Mainly, the only real complaint I have about the autographs in this set is that they have redemptions for rookie premiere players. I have said it before and will say it again when the same thing happens for Gridiron Gear, THIS IS FUCKING INEXCUSABLE. Planning is key, and if you cant get the captive audience at the premiere to sign all their shit instead of signing thousands of extra autographs for friends and employees of the company, you need to answer for your mistake. Bush league right there.

Rating =

Relic Cards

Where the auto cards succeeded, the relic cards failed, poor designs, horrible concepts, and floating windows. All the normal stuff. Starting with the base cards, they used a sort of "up arrow" for their jersey cards, and with a diagonally proficient design going the other way, it looks like the players are getting smashed by the closing doors. This also takes away the great logo 1/1s from last year, which looked great, as this year it’s a toothy box instead of a circle.

The pro-bowl laden jersey part of this product is completely worthless, and I hope it doesn’t sneak into NT to ruin it even more than it has for Limited and Certified. Its scary to me that people are paying hundreds for these cards thinking they are game used, when really they are from a player event during the pro-bowl weekend, where the players did the jersey on, jersey off dance like the rookie premiere.

Personally, those pro-bowl cards arent even the worst of the set, as that title belongs to the jumbo jersey cards. Each rookie and some veterans have a card where they are being attacked by a big block of jersey that looks about as out of place as you can get. They have stupid parallels where they change the floating box to a diecut jersey, but overall, these are the worst relic cards I have seen in a long time.

Rating =

Value to the Collector

Limited is the first Panini set of the year that I would support buying. The cards will hold their value, the boxes are pretty good as the price comes down, and you have a fun break if you can pull one of the cool cards from the many auto sets.

Right now, the price is already around 80 bucks, down from 100, and for two autos that isnt a bad deal when you see some of the possibilities. I still say that the plain relics should be ditched industry wide for a year or two, but those cards arent why you buy Limited.

Im also VERY glad they went back to the 1 pack box, as last year it was overkill with as many cards as there were. The one pack box should be something that more companies adopt, as football and base cards are only good in two sets, both with Chrome in the title.

Rating =

Overall Impressions

Limited is the best Panini product this year, and probably will be that way through National Treasures. They went back to what works for them, and this set shows the improvement. I still think it gets blown away by a set like SPA, where all the autos are on card, and it starts at about the same price, so that will need to be considered once the best products of the year come out.

See, Topps owns the beginning of the calendar, Panini owns the middle (poorly), and Upper Deck gets the end. Obviously, this set is the product MVP of the middle, and with on card autos, it could have been one of the best of the year maybe.

We will see how the rest of the year turns out.

Average Rating =

2009 Product Leaderboard (SO FAR)

1. Topps Chrome (4/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Donruss Limited (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Bowman Chrome (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Donruss Certified (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Upper Deck Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Philadelphia (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Topps Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Icons (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Heroes (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Draft Edition (3/5 GELLMANS)
11(t). Upper Deck SP Threads (2/5 GELLMANS)
11(t). Upper Deck SPX (2/5 GELLMANS)
11(t). Playoff Absolute Memorabilia (2/5 GELLMANS)
11(t). Bowman Sterling Football (2/5 GELLMANS)
11(t). Donruss Threads (2/5 GELLMANS)
11(t). Donruss Classics (2/5 GELLMANS)
11(t). Donruss Elite (2/5 GELLMANS)
11(t). Playoff Prestige (2/5 GELLMANS)
11(t). Bowman Draft Picks (2/5 GELLMANS)
19. Score Inscriptions (1/5 GELLMANS)
20. Leaf Rookies and Stars (0/5 GELLMANS - NR)

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