Worst of the Worst 2004-2009 #2 – 2008 Topps Lettermen Football

Over the last five years, there have been quite a few products that havent lived up to billing. Whether its shorted hits, bad design, or lack of content in a box, there were more than I can count. Here is my countdown of the worst of the worst, and I will go into a little of what makes them so bad. Of course, for some, the shittiness extends beyond mere words, but ill at least try to capture it with each post.

The number two worst of the worst, 2008 Topps Lettermen, was so bad that it actually crossed the barrier between sports blogs. Blogs that usually commented only on Baseball or other sports picked this up because no one could fathom why Topps would ever put out a product like it. Back when this came out last year, letter hype was at an all time high, with many products trying to capitalize on the signed manufactured letters and how popular they had become. First being released in Basketball, Topps took letters to a whole new crappy extreme by creating a product that was exclusively focused on signed letters. The price was astronomical, the cards were horrible looking, and the concept reeked of Topps rushing to capitalize on a fleeting fad.

Then they decided to bring it to football, and I am still shocked to this day what ended up happening. Unlike Basketball’s autographs signed directly on the letters, Football incorporated the worst looking cop out of autograph technology in the history of this hobby: sticker autos on manufactured letters. Let me repeat that so you don’t have blood shoot out of your eyeballs. STICKER AUTOS ON MANUFACTURED LETTERS. This means that instead of doing letters in a way that at least made this product stomachable for many collectors, they decided it wasn’t worth their time to even get the prime focus taken care of correctly. This horrible idea took cards that already looked like boring and unimaginative shit and made them 1000 times worse.

Oh, but wait, it gets better. They also created manufactured number patches and manufactured logo patches where the sticker wasn’t even put on the card in a normal place. Instead of going across the manupatch like the stupid letters, they were put off to the side and affixed vertically. The results were visual abortions. I have to say though, my favorite part of this whole thing was when they took all the different craptastic designs and X-fractored them to create hundreds of needless parallels. As if having stickers on your letters werent bad enough, now you had more parallels than Triple Threads, all numbered for each individual letter. Fucking gross.

Lastly, as with all Topps high end products, the price was just as much of a drawback as the product design itself. This pile of two week old camel shit cost about as much per box as a Matt Ryan SP Authentic Rookie Patch Auto. Yes, instead of buying one of the best cards of the year, you can have a 200 dollar box of turds. I have never said this in my life, but I would actually support you buying a box of Triple Threads over this. I cant tell you how much I laugh at the people who bought cases of Lettermen and thought they were getting “OMG SIKX MOJOZ!!!”

When it comes down to it, I just cant imagine who decided this was a good idea. Im guessing it was the same people who created Triple Threads, Sterling, and all of the rest of the products that triggered the golden rule of Topps. Now that Topps football is gone, we can all rest easy, but I have a feeling that Baseball is going to feel the brunt of this blow. My condolences to those fans.

Product Review: 2009 Donini Playoff Prestige Football

Here it is, your first product review of 2009, but I will warn you it wont be as eventful as you are probably hoping. Basically, the sets that are going to grace this page for the next two months are just going to be fillers in the calendar until the premiere cards are released in july with Classics. At least you can be rest assured that I am not going to hold back just because these sets swim in the shallow end of the pool.

Starting this year, I am going to be doing the reviews differently. Last year I reviewed things in Good, Bad, and Ugly, but I feel it didn’t do a lot of the reviews justice in the format I had created. This year, ill address four important parts of each set, design/creativity, autos, relics, and finally value to the collectors. It will be a five point rating scale of one Gellman to five Gellmans.

= Don’t even think of wasting money on this
= A poor attempt, but it could have been worse
= Meh. Average.
= Exceeds Expectations
= The Best of the Best.

Hopefully with this, I will be able to set your expectations for any particular set, and still have room for the rants that make these reviews so cathartic for me. With that, here is the first review of 2009, Donini Playoff Prestige.


The normal cards in this set don’t look THAT bad for this early in the season. The white background on the base cards looks like it does this set a lot of favors. However, that is really the only plus in design this set has. Pretty much all of the other subsets look like they had some trouble being created as you can tell that Donini cant get past designing their cards backwards. Donini designs cards with the auto jersey subset as the main design, other companies seem like they do it differently. What I mean is this, instead of starting with a base card, adding a relic window and then adding a place for the auto sticker, Donini starts with the Auto Jersey card and subtracts without repositioning. This leads to floating jersey windows and off balanced base cards. Please, go look through your donruss cards, the only difference between your auto jerseys and your jerseys are the presence of a sticker. There is nothing else different on those cards. I guarantee it. Really, it makes me angry because you will always pay for 4 jerseys a box, but really they are just an afterthought.

A redeeming part of this set is the auto RC base cards, which look pretty good. I always love when companies use autos as base parallels, and in the early releases, this is a major staple of each set. However, with the other subsets being pretty awful, its tough to justify an entire product based on the base cards and the one auto set.

Rating =

Autograph Cards

As I said above, you buy Prestige because it’s the first. Its become so expensive though, I may have to sway you away from buying it because you DO NOT get what you pay for. The RC base autos in this are quite good as I have mentioned, but the other autos leave a lot to be desired, especially the signature manupatch cards. I don’t understand why these are making a comback, but alas here they are. I think that because all the subsets are obviously designed backwards, your auto cards, other than the base parallel sigs, will look very goofy. Prestigious Picks takes that to a whole new level. If you are lucky enough to pull the auto jersey parallel of those subsets, they look fine, but they are also quite rare (numbered to 10 or 5). Basically the autos here fall below my expectations, mainly because they havent fixed the design abortions from last year.

However, they have included base auto parallels of the vets too, which save them from a total waste in this department.

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Relic Cards

The relics in this set are either going to
be college jerseys or vet jerseys, and they will not look pretty when you pull them unless you get very lucky. Based on this, you are going to get windows for the relics that are more than halfway up the card, or over so far to the side that it interferes with the general design of the subset. This set would be so much better if they did it more like UD draft with a focus on the autos (5 per box!) instead of throwing in more jersey cards that wont get you 5 bucks on eBay. If you are lucky enough to pull a patch, which is VERY rare, they will be 2 color at best, as I don’t see Donini using their ‘A’ material this early.

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Value To The Collector

This set never holds its value because its purpose is to be the first on the market. You will pay 80-100 dollars for the top autos now, but half that as the year moves on. Even if you are a college collector, you should wait for Elite as it is a much better product that holds value more. Add in the fact that you could be paying up to 100 dollars for a box, and you are going to shoot yourself in the face when you get 2 dollars of a return on your cards. Without a doubt, you need to wait to buy some of the better stuff, and luckily its only a few months.

Rating =

Overall Impressions

That’s about it for prestige, but the flow has started so start beating your wallet into shape if you can. UD draft is coming on the 26th and Bowman DP is coming around that time as well. Its exciting to have cards coming again, but hopefully we see better stuff with improvements over the last year. This product did not deliver on that one bit.

Average of the Above =