The 4 sets that I am using for a review are 2009 Donruss Classics, 2009 Donruss Elite, 2009 Donruss Threads and 2009 Rookie & Stars. The first thing that you will notice is that the card designs have a number of similarities between the sets, an action photo of a player, all backgrounds have been removed and clearly Panini designers love lines and patterns.
Beginning with the Classics set. The good includes nice action shots and players on their new teams (i.e.- Houshmandzadeh with the Seahawks). The bad, a background design that belongs on a doily and a card back that includes little more then 1 season of stats and a few player bio lines. The Classics release just does not seem to draw the interest that it once did. The inserts may be the biggest draw from this set, but lick & stick autographs appeal to almost nobody now. When a Jim Brown auto #/15 is selling for the same price as a Michael Crabtree auto #/250 you have to realize that there is little appeal for the autographs.
Donruss Elite is an old favorite, I don’t know if it is sentimental or what but I have always liked the Elite releases. Could be the Signature Series of the early 90s or the Throwback Threads relics, but I love the set so I had big expectations for this release. All I am going to say is “Disappointed”. For some reason lines, borders and patterns seem to be used on every release with no regard for aesthetics. The inserts are mundane and overly designed, jerseys and autographs are often inserted obscuring the player and ruining the insert completely. I really have nothing else to say about the release.
The Threads release surprised me the most. The cards themselves follow the rest of the pack; action photos surrounded by overly designed cards with lots of lines and obscured player images. Many of the inserts are similar, but the thing that left me feeling positive about the release are a couple of the inserts. My favorite being the Gridiron Kings Auto set. A simple painted design with the player in their college uniform with a sticker autograph. Besides the sticker auto, Donruss really got this one right and it made an impression on me. The relic/patch version of the Gridiron Kings should have been scraped though. You have to love any release that includes an autographed version of rookie Lettermen patches.