Thursday, March 22, 2012

Box Review: 2003 Donruss Studio (Hobby)

The 2003 Donruss Studio set contains 200 base cards (190 single player cards plus 10 dual player cards).  In addition, there is a serially numbered parallel set and there are a variety of insert sets including:

50 Big League Challenge cards
50 Enshrinement cards
40 Leather & Lumber cards
35 Spirit of the Game cards
50 Studio Stars
25 Masterstrokes
100 Players Collection

Many of the above sets come with relic versions as well (I've scanned a pack wrapper so you can see all the details).

The base set features players sorted by team, first American League teams (in alphabetical order) and then National League teams.  The multi-player cards are the final ten cards in the set.

As you can see, each team has a decent sized representation - something that is appreciated by me (a fan of a small team - the Reds)!

In the box that I opened, I received 105 of the 200 base cards.  Each player is shown in front of an image of their home team's stadium.  The only downside to the design is that every player for a specific team has the exact same background.  The base cards are slightly thicker than your average set (and certainly "feel" much nicer than a typical Topps flagship card for instance).
Probably my favorite (non-Red) baseball card in the box.

I also found 5 Studio Stars cards (which are seeded 1:5 packs) - meaning I beat the odds slightly there.

The Studio Stars cards are printed on clear acetate and have a credit card-like appearance to them.  The five players that were in the box were true stars:  Albert Pujols, Shawn Green, Craig Biggio, Torii Hunter, and Pedro Martinez.

Other than the Studio Stars cards, all of the other insert cards were serially numbered (to varying values).

The box produced three different Spirit of the Game inserts:  Hideo Nomo, Adam Dunn, and Derek Jeter.

Each of the Spirit of the Game cards is numbered out of 1250 on the back of the card.

 The Masterstrokes set featured cards numbered out of 1000 - and my box featured two of those (Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez).

Of all the inserts, the Masterstrokes are the only set that I can decide whether I love or loathe the design.

The remaining 5 non-hit inserts were all numbered out of values less than 1,000.  Maintaining the order of presumed rarity, I ended up with two Enshrinement cards (each numbered out of 750).

The Enshrinement cards celebrate Hall of Fame players (in my case, Gaylord Perry and Catfish Hunter).  These were the only two cards featuring retired players in the box.

The box also contained a single Big League Challenge card (numbered out of 400) - mine being of Magglio Ordonez.

Although the print run was small, I still found this to be the least desirable of all the inserts in the box.  I don't like the fact that the team name doesn't appear anywhere and I don't recall the Big League Challenge competition at all (which makes me think that it wasn't necessary to have baseball cards celebrating it).

There was one Studio Proofs base set parallel in the box (numbered out of 100).  Other than gold foil (and Studio Proof logo) on the front of the card, the Hank Blalock isn't any different than a regular base card (which all feature silver foil).

Even so, it's kind of exciting to pull a card numbered out of a 100 in a box.  However, that wasn't the lowest numbered insert!  I also pulled an Alex Rodriguez Big League Challenge Proof.

The difference between the A-Rod and the Magglio featured above?  Yep, you guessed it - gold foiling (no Proof logo on this card).

According to the pack wrapper, inserts are supposed to fall 1:2 packs.  If you count the inserts above, you'll see my box ended up with 15 different inserts.  Making the total even better, the stated pack odds also count "hits" as inserts - so when you take into account the THREE hits in the box, you find 18 total inserts (out of 20 packs).  That's almost 1 per pack - and most of those are serially numbered.  Good stuff by Donruss!

Speaking of the hits, here are the three from the box.  First, a Big League Challenge relic of Lance Berkman.

The Berkman card was not serially numbered - however the back of the pack wrapper seems to suggest that the Big League Challenge relics were serially numbered.  I have no idea if this is an error card or an error on the wrapper though.

The second hit was a Player Collection relic of Manny Ramirez (#ed out of 300).
I like the design of the Manny relic more than the Berkman - but I think Jersey cards are more interesting than bat cards.  Either way, any Manny relic numbered out of 300 can't be all bad!

The final hit in the box was a dual relic of Pat Burrell.

This happened to be only the second or third dual relic that I've pulled from a pack of cards, so even though I'm not a fan of Burrell, I was excited by the card!  Even better, the Burrell is numbered 36/50!

Overall, I give the 2003 Donruss Studio the following rating:
Set Design:  B+
Collation:  A 
Opening Thrill:  A
Overall:  A-

All things taken into account, this was a great box of cards!  I dinged the set design score a bit because of the repetition of background (varied stadium shots would have been much cooler).  There were no duplicates of any type, so no problems there.  Finally, for a product without autographs, opening each pack was still a lot of fun!  You never knew what you might find, and with 18 inserts out of 20 packs, the vast majority of the packs had something other than just base cards.  However, even the base cards are nice - much nicer than a lot of sets!


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