Review Not Necessary: 2009 Leaf Rookies And Stars

I didn’t actually realize that Leaf Rookies and Stars comes out as well as UD Philadelphia, but to tell you the truth, I am glad that was the case. This is due to the fact that even though Rookies and Stars looks nothing like last year’s product, which is a feat for Panini, it could be the worst design choice of the year. In fact, im not even going to waste the hour writing the product review, only to give it less of a score than Score Inscriptions got.

R&S takes the same idea as Inscriptions of going “urban” with the design, incorporating graffiti like bordering, as well as a weird obsession with paint spills. The text and font choice is just as bad, as the way it is featured could not look more stupid. Imagine the way a neon sign looks when it is turned off, and you have the font for some of the subsets of R&S. Otherwise its just weird looking stencils.

This product is also FILLED with floating plain swatch cards with hundreds of parallels, just the way Panini loves to do it. Honestly, why are these cards even necessary? Oh, right, because they are too lazy to fill out a whole set.

Lastly, we have the worst of the worst. As if you thought the Panini style Manu-patch autos werent enough in Prestige, THEY’RE BAAAACKK! Only this time, the players are stuffed onto a smaller border and covered in a paint spill. Cmon, enough with this poop of a product.

Ill be honest, of all the products that have been released since 2007, Leaf Rookies and Stars is the one product that I have never bought a single, pack, or box of, mainly because the cards have always been so stupid looking. The main rookie part of this set has helmet off pics, so it makes it even less attractive to me, and the design has NEVER been good.

Add this set to the list of products that needs to get the axe.

First Look: 2009 Leaf Limited Football

First off, let me say how surprised I am by how good some of these cards look. Have things started to turn around for the bastard child of bad ideas and poor design? Possibly.

The best part about these cards is that they seem to be the first design update for any release that Donini has had for the entire year. They acutally look somewhat different from 2008. As for the Leaf Limited slideshow autos, the design looks pretty cool for me, the best of the previews. When it comes to all the RC Phenoms Patch Autos, the one they showed looks much better than last year, though I am VERY scared for the parallels that are not out of 5. Usually with these cards, there are a million parallels, and many of them just say “RC” in die cut windows, or have the number of the player. These particular ones will be the most short printed of the non-logos, and I cant fathom where they are going to put the patch for the normal card out of 99. The Cut autos look very good as well, but I never really saw the appeal in cuts to begin with. At least if you pull one, it wont be a crappy looking card.

The Letters are always a favorite of the fans, as they are really the only game used autographed letter cards out there. Factoring in that these will also be pro bowl ones, will make people very happy. Personally, I know they wont be the ACTUAL Pro Bowl jerseys, but rather a practice one or something similar, as the actual ones are coveted possessions of the players. Plus, im not a fan of the pro-bowl to begin with, so its not a big deal to me. Hopefully there will game used ones as well.

Lastly, there are a few AWFUL parts to this product. Of course, the main one is that the base cards look ridiculous, especially when they have a swatch involved. Although the swatch is in the right place, I cant get passed the hypnotizing design. What an awful choice for a theme for the set. Secondly, for what you get, the price point is going to be beyond stupid. They are going back to the one pack box, which I wholly support, but they are giving you 1 auto and 1 jersey for 100 fucking dollars. Sorry, but Limited is always a good affordable option for higher class cards, and they are now taking that away. Very problematic to me, as they just priced me out of a few boxes, especially with dealer markup. Then, when you add in the diluted RC premiere class from 2009, and you just priced a lot of the rest of the collectors out of this product. This will be a big problem, and I dont think Donini knows any better.

You can color me exicited for the possibility of buying some cool singles, but I will not even consider buying a box of Limited this year thanks to the configuration. Too bad really.

PLEASE Stop Using The Payton Phone Cards As The Source For Cut Autos

Im sure you have all seen some of the wonderful Walter Payton autos that have been produced over the last 10-20 years. Luckily for us, he lived up until the auto boom in the late 1990s, so he has some great auto cards for collectors. In fact, his 1997 Legends auto may be one of the greatest autograph cards ever produced for football.

Payton also signed a ton of stuff throughout his life that could be considered source material for cut auto cards. Yet, for some reason, Donini has decided that this is all irrelevant crap to them. Since 2007, Donini has produced hundreds of Payton cuts, none of which feature worthy source material. Instead they purchased close to 500 of the Payton autographed phone cards, and used those as the cuts. These phone cards are great for people that cannot afford a normal Payton auto card, but to use them for a football card is almost as ridiculous as cutting up a Topps card to use in an upper deck cut.

There are a few reasons why I am repeating this after my post regarding last year’s Classic Cuts set. First, its almost impossible to see Payton’s auto on the colorful pictures. They are old, they are fading, and the pic he signed is dark. Add in that these cards DO NOT FEATURE NAMES OR PICTURES and you have a serious design problem.

Donini, I know you guys are turning out to be barrel full of stupid idiots, but you gotta stop with the phone cards. Just because they are cheaper to make, does not mean it is worth it. We see through your veiled attempt at producing a card worthy of calling a cut, and I guarantee that this will bite you square in the nuts. Count on it, because cutting corners is never worth the time of anyone.

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.

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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)

Two Updates On Classics

First off, I cant stand that Donini decided to use college number signature stickers for a few of the players. So far, Percy Harvin (pictured below) and Chris Wells have their college number signed on those stickers, but im sure there are more players with the similar bush league treatment of their first pro uni autographs. If Crabtree can have stickers with his pro number signed, albeit poorly, there was no reason that this error couldn’t have been fixed before release. I thought the purpose of getting stickers was to avoid shit like this. Fucking losers over there in Donini QC.

Secondly, why is there no name on the front of the cut autos? Dont you think that is a vital piece of the puzzle? Seriously, you have already edited out the picture of the person who’s cut the card belongs to, but why not include a fucking name?!? Stupid motherfuckers.
I already have major problems with the fugly school colors sig cards, due to the silver paint pens, but adding this to the list is idiotic. Stupid errors that should have never been included. Yeah, no redemptions maybe, but a product full of crap like this wont fly with me.
If we get to Absolute and the same shit is happening, Im not even going to waste my time anymore. Donini has continually asserted themselves as fucking amateurs, these are great examples.