First Look: 2010 Donruss Elite

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I have never been a fan of early release products mainly because of the lack of the rookies in their nfl uniforms, an overabundance of bad designs, and tons sticker autos. This set is usually one of the first off the presses, and last year was nothing short of a complete crapfest that broke all of my rules. The cards looked horrible with the electrical storm background, the swatches were grossly out of place, and the whole thing was parallel after parallel.

This year’s set preliminarily looks a lot better because of a more simplistic design with less confusing lines and better layout. The subsets look a better as well due to less swatch placement issues and better looking cards – so far. The problem is that we are STILL going to get those stupid ass signed manupatch things, the set will be 100% foilboard, and im sure these will ALL be stickers. Typical Panini stuff. I really wish the companies would wait until after the premiere to do their second sets after the normal draft set, but it looks like Panini and UD will both continue the pre-premiere onslaught.
Regardless of how much better this looks than last year’s abomination, there is nothing new about Elite. The Torch autos will still be the chase, all the subsets are the same, and there probably wont be any cards worth paying 100 bucks a box for. At least they are offering one good auto per case, but from what I remember, the cases are expensive and have large configurations.
Prestige Chrome Elite is stale beyond believe thanks to years of producing EXACTLY the same crap year after year. At least Bowman Chrome, a set functioning on a similar concept, looks good each year, adds a few things here and there, and maintains a low price point under 60 bucks. Elite does none of those things. Thats why I love the Chromes and stay far away from this.

National Treasures 1/1s Popping Up All Over The Place on Ebay

There are a bunch of cool looking 1/1s that are popping up on eBay, though some of them are not living up to the standards set by 2007 and 2008′s. We know that the Robiskie 1/1 Logo Patch auto has been pulled on blowout, and now the Josh Freeman is up on eBay. In addition, there is also another Robiskie that is out of the colossal patch set with no auto, as well as a Moreno Tag Patch Logo 1-of-1, meaning there is many more logos in this product than there should be for the rookies. Funny enough, over a quarter of the “colossal” set has swatches that are smaller than the normal ones for the rest of the set.

In addition to the rookie logos being what they are, there are a few subsets that are well below the extremely low standards set by the 2009 set. Below, a 2008 Kevin Curtis 1/1 Logo patch is next to a Barry Sanders tag patch from 2009. They are both 1/1s from the same parallel of the base set, but one OBVIOUSLY looks a lot better. Ill give you a hint, its not the Sanders.
In the same vein of the jumbled messes that were the immortal patch autos out of 2009 Leaf Certified, these new 1/1s look like the 101 Freeway in LA during rush hour – busy as fucking hell. Rather than building on the simplistic awesomeness of the 2007 and 2008 1/1s, they have made the cards into a shitty version of Leaf Certified. Thank you Panini.

2009 National Treasures Is Live, Threads-y

Its Tuesday, and that means that 2009 National Treasures is hitting eBay. I have voiced my disapproval of the direction that this set has taken, and it is becoming that much more apparent now that more cards are hitting eBay. This product used to be about great looking cards with an old fashioned focus, all of which has changed to an overpriced version of Donruss Threads and Rookies and Stars.

Back in 2006, NT was DLP’s answer to Exquisite Collection’s massive success, but now it is put out only to continue the tradition of super high end. In my opinion, with the way that Upper Deck runs Exquisite (all on card, lots of autos, continuity of the main parts of the set, etc) National Treasures has actually become more of a competitor with SPA in terms of value. Collectors expect new ridiculous things out of Exquisite, they just expect National Treasures to be there every year. Oddly enough, National Treasures’ biggest problem is that it has yet to employ the practices it needs to on the high end autograph front. This is pretty much the main factor behind its lack of competition, with design now added into it. With UD featuring as many on card sets as it does, NT hassnt been able to live up to the hype. In a 2006 world where everything was stickers, it was different, but now, UD has set the bar too high for them to reach in that respect. Hell, UD even managed to get on card stuff into the lower end of things with Philadelphia and UD Draft, and that is in boxes that don’t include 400 dollar price tags.

The way that DLP always competed for business with its high end was in the design it used for the product. It hearkened back to the mahogany and painted feel of an antique item, focusing more on the history of the game than the rookies. Rookies were a part of it, but the focus was on the “treasures” of football. In 2007, things started to move away from that, while still keeping the soul of the 2006 product. In 2008, the design was still very good looking, and featured a lot of tributes to the original set. In 2009, all is out the window, and it looks more like an overpriced versions of the lower end sets that DLP puts out every year – minus the foil board.

Don’t get me wrong, the Rookie Auto Patch cards don’t look bad outside of the bubbled on card sigs, but the rest of the set might as well have been National Gridiron Gear or National Rookies and Stars. Instead of focusing on the parts that made the previous sets great, they focused on the rookies and cheap ways to say that NT features on card sigs, when really 90% of it is stickers in a 400 dollar product.

They may think that they can blind us with jumbo logo patches of the 2009 rookies, but even the JCs are not fooled by cards that normally made them salivate in previous years. This years National Treasures is a horrible attempt at an overhaul, and you can bet that things will need fixing if Panini expects to stay in the deep end of the super high end pool.



Giridiron Gear Is Live, Ugly

Back in 2006, I discovered Gridiron Gear as a cool set with cards that featured rookie patches and autos for a great price. The design was very cool, everything fit well, and I was more than excited to see that Laurence Maroney and a few of the other targets I had were being featured on some of the coolest cards around.
When 2007 Gridiron Gear was released, there were a ton of people who were touting it as one of the best looking products of the year. I was one of those people. The cards looked great, the subsets were fresh, and the Gridiron Gems looked top of the line. A Simple, white background, as well as nice placement of the swatches, all combined to make a great looking card. It was a build on the 2006 set that I was collecting, but looked even better with the clear sticker.
Then 2008 rolled around, and the design trends that are running rampant through Panini’s product lines today, started to show up and become the rule instead of the exception. Busy backgrounds, oddly placed swatches that broke the border of the card, and a complete disregard for the elements that made 2007 great. I didnt even buy a single pack out of protest.
Now we are getting 2009 Gridiron Gear, and again, the set is going in the wrong direction. Floating swatches are back, though this time they are shaped weirdly and dont really fit. The background is still busy, and looks like a giant pac-man eating the windows. The player is again covered up by the relics, and nothing really looks right. When you look back at how cool 2006 and 2007 was, this is an abomination.
Really, this is only one part of the set, but the other parts are just rehashes. Plastic helmets are back, player timelines are back, and Gridiron Gear continues its slide. The set is filled with ugly cards, and I am disappointed that once again, I am prevented from collecting one of my favorite sets because the cards were Panini-nized.
Oh, and I almost forgot – MORE FUCKING REDEMPTIONS FOR STICKER AUTOS OF PLAYERS AT THE ROOKIE PREMIERE!