Base Card Design -
Here comes Donruss Hockey! Panini has brought back the Donruss brand this year with a retro feel to it. The old Donruss logo is pretty bad a$$. But unlike Score, I didn't collect any Donruss when they were around last so it's not a product that is nostalgic or familiar to me - at least in a hockey sense, I did collect Donruss baseball cards in the 80's though.
The base cards are on thin/glossy card stock. The predominant color scheme is white with team colors featured in lines traveling down the card. I like the white color scheme. I think it goes very well with hockey and ice. It gives the set a very bright feel to it. These cards are practically glowing after opening the box of Black Diamond last week.
In terms of design, the Donruss base card looks a little cluttered to me. It makes me think of many 90's card releases where there were lots of graphics all over the cards. To me this design has that kind of feel to it. There are lines on the card, but they do not come off as very clean or straight. The lines come down at angles and have different thicknesses and seem to meander through the card.
I think having some sort of foil or texture would really help this card more. The Donruss set can be compared with Upper Deck Series One. They are both in the same price range and are in fact very similar products. The UD1 set's base design has nice touches of foil on the base cards. The foil adds texture and layering to the card whereas the Donruss cards are just flat looking. Nothing on the card jumps out or pops out. So for me, the base design just doesn't do it for me.
Also to compare Donruss to UD1 again, the photos featured in UD1 are much larger. Upper Deck put the name of the hockey player featured in foil directly on the picture. In Donruss, the white name plate takes up a big chunk of real estate at the bottom of the card making the picture seem much smaller.
In terms of rookie cards, Donruss has brought back their old Rated Rookie subset cards. Rated Rookies used to look exactly like regular cards except for the words 'Rated Rookie' in big graphics on the card (well, at least in 80's baseball cards). In this set, the rookie cards have a different design, but they definitely have the same feel and theme as the regular base card set. I feel the same about these cards as I do about the standard base. They're just 'eh'.
Man, I wish Donruss would come back with some really awesome designs. Some of the old baseball cards really stood out among the pack. Examples are 1986 Donruss Baseball and 1987 Donruss Baseball - check those out if you don't know what I'm talking about. Those designers came up with a really outstanding border for the Donruss cards that are memorable. You knew exactly what year Donruss card you had by just looking at the card's border. These cards, I feel, don't stand out and will not stand the test of time. I think if Panini wants to make Donruss come back strong, they should really take a look at how Donruss started in baseball and take their cues from those base set designs.
Base Design Score:
There are A TON of inserts to be found in Donruss. In terms of value for the box, this is where the goods are. Donruss features a myriad of different and unique inserts that make the box worth getting.
Donruss features: Base Set Proof Cards (#'d to 100), Base Card Die-Cuts, Ultimate Draft Cards, Les Gardiens, Ice Kings, Tough Times, Elite, Line of the Times, Fans of the Game, Boys of Winter, and a game-used/autographed versions of many of the inserts.
Buying a box of Donruss is fun because you really don't know what you'll get when you open the 24 packs up. In my box, I got 2 memorabilia cards from the Boys of Winter set, a couple Fans of the Game, a couple Tough Times, one Les Gardiens, one proof, and an Ice Kings card.
The themes that Donruss uses for their inserts are pretty well thought out. I feel they all make sense and feature unique players. The Les Gardiens set is especially cool looking to me. It features goalies on a see-through acetate card. The word "Les Gardiens" is in the language of where the featured goalie is from. Sweet! Ice King cards also feature a nice matte textured feel to the card. I think the idea here was to make the card feel like an art piece. Both of these techniques have been done before with other companies and in past sets, but it's still cool and makes for a nice change of pace and feel.
The rest of the insert cards that I got have the same feel and thickness as the regular base cards. Different design, but no extra foil or anything help to make these cards feel different. Put them in a stack of base cards and they are the same. This sort of reminds me of the Score insert cards.
As I said earlier, most of the inserts have some sort of jersey/patch/auto variation. If it does, the card will feature a circle cut piece of game-used memorabilia or an autograph. While it's nice to get these cards, I still wish Panini would do a better job of integrating their jersey pieces and autos onto the card. The jerseys pieces are just 'there' - and have barely any sort of design integration. They may add value to the card, but don't add much in terms of visual appeal. Most autographs come on sticker, and a lot of the stickers are just pasted right onto the front of the card. Panini should take some tips from Topps and Upper Deck. Even though they use stickers, they do it in a way that integrates it with the rest of the design.
So with the inserts, I give huge props to Panini for making such varied types of interesting inserts, but they can still take it up to the next level in terms of how they execute their jersey and autographs. All in all though, finding all these different inserts is very fun and rewarding.
Overall Rating -
Donruss makes an 'ok' return to the hobby. It is definitely a fun break at a great price point with unique and interesting inserts - but I think it won't stand the test of time because of it's forgettable design.
Though the cost to buy Donruss is pretty much that of Upper Deck Series 1, I can't see the rookie cards matching the value of the Young Guns in UD1. So for Donruss, the values lie mostly in what cool inserts you can fish out of the boxes. And yes, there are some good ones!
I'd purchase a box or two to try my luck and have some fun, but that'd be the end of it.
(not an average)
(not an average)
Want to see me open up a box? Check out this video below!