I will say that I am not a fan of doing a retro set rehash just because there are no other ideas in the pipeline. When it comes to just taking an old and/or iconic design and updating it each year, Topps has made a living off of it worse than any other company. Its like they don’t want to take the time to design some new hotness, instead choosing to pull from their extensive catalouge for a set design. Although retro set ELEMENTS are cool, just throwing a whole set out there with very little update to the original set bugs me.
Recently, Panini released the previews for their Rated Rookie box set, due out later this year. For once, Panini actually did something right, choosing a throwback/retro THEME, rather than just updating the 1987 Donruss design with Tim Tebow or something. I like how they are taking the collector favorite rated rookie concept, full game photos, all while using the old Donruss logos, and putting it out as a set. Its something that DLP has never been able to accomplish before, regardless of past worthless releases like the Playoff NFL Playoffs set. This set uses a retro tinted design that reminds us of the roots of the Donruss brand, but doesn’t use it as a crutch like many retro Topps sets do. This set will feature autographed base parallels, something that looks to be a nice add to the set, and should satisfy many of the auto chasers who would normally pass on this product.
When you think about what this set brings to the table, its too bad that it cant take the place of a horrorfest like Prestige has become. Donruss, now Panini, has always ignored their brand’s identity in football, mainly using confusing naming schemes to avoid just putting out a base set, and I think its something that needs to be considered. Rather than making people spend 90 bucks on a shitty box of horribly designed Prestige cards, why not just put out a 40 dollar box of base Donruss Football that features a lot of the Rated Rookies style cards. That’s what I don’t get. Get some jumbo boxes into the mix and find an on card element to include that could compete with Topps and the Rookie Premiere autographs. It’s a simple formula that collectors have already embraced, and if they can highlight the roots of Donruss, I think a lot of people would buy in.
Right now, the Score brand has this spot on Panini’s calendar, and the set needs to be axed, regardless of how much value a 20 dollar box can bring. Even back when I was collecting baseball as a kid, I avoided the Score cards because they were so terrible. I loved to buy Upper Deck packs on allowence day, and I bought Donruss packs when I didn’t have the money. Score was junk. So, why does Panini bank on a crap design and crap set when they have something like a base Donruss set in their armory? If anything, this Rated Rookie box set shows exactly what they are holding back.