Friday, May 18, 2012

Box Review: 2002 Donruss Elite (Hobby)

The 2002 Donruss Elite set featured a 200 card base set split into three tiers.  Cards #1 - 100 were commons, #101 - 150 were refractors, and #151 - 200 were sequentially numbered rookie cards (all numbered out of 1500).

The box I opened contained 20 packs with five cards per pack.  As with many Donruss products of the time, there are plenty of inserts and hits to chase.  Some of the highlights to look for:

  • All-Star Classics (serially numbered)
  • All-Star Century Classics (numbered and die-cut)
  • Back to the Future (single and dual swatches)
  • Passing the Torch (serially numbered along with an autographed parallel)
  • Throwback Threads (single or double jersey swatches)
  • Career Bests (serially numbered)
  • Back 2 Back Jacks (single or double bat pieces)
  • Recollection Collection (buyback program featuring cards from previous Elite sets - autographed)

Donruss Elite 2002 pack wrapper

As you can see from the checklist below, the first 100 cards were mostly decent players (with a few stars thrown in like Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds).  The next 50 (short printed refractors) contained a much higher percentage of star players while the final 50 were all rookies (Kearns, Zambrano, Ishii, and Bedard stand out to me).  The refractor short print cards are seeded 1:10 packs (or 2 per box)

The regular base cards feature a nice photo on foil board along with the team name and player position along the top of the card.  Each card also features the player name in a script font along the bottom and the team logo.  For the most part, the photography is good (but not great).

The back of the base cards features full career statistics plus a second photo (different from the photo on the front of the card) and team statistics.  The one downside to the back of the card is the card number font - it's hard to read, especially when sorting a bunch of cards quickly.

As mentioned above, each box also contained 2 of the refractor short prints.

My box yielded a Dmitri Young and an Aaron Sele - arguably two of the worst players on the checklist!  I was hoping for a Barry Larkin card instead but luck wasn't with me.  As you can tell by the scan, the cards are quite bright - and although they have the exact same design as the regular base cards (besides the refractor finish of course), these cards feel high-end, the regular base cards don't.

The final 50 cards of the regular set are all rookie cards - and each is numbered out of 1500.  Once again, I managed to pull two cards (Kyle Kane and Franklyn German).

As you can see, the cards are numbered on the front which is a little different (all the other numbered cards from the box were serially numbered on the back of the card).  The rookie cards also feature the same refractor finish as cards 101 - 150.

All told, my box yielded the following:
Base cards:  87 base cards (plus 4 duplicates)
Refractor short prints (#101 - 150):  2
Rookies (serially numbered) (#151 - 200):  2

Getting 87% of the base set was nice but the four duplicates were a bit of a disappointment (for the record they were of Rivera, Palmer, Conine, and Thome).

The box also promises some insert cards (with the "hits" being the big draw).  Unfortunately, unlike some Donruss products that I've opened, this particular box was rather stingy on both inserts and hits.  There are six different insert sets listed on the checklist - and I ended up with only two different types.

I pulled two All-Star Salutes.
AS10.  Derek Jeter (#0168/2000) and AS8. Luis Gonzalez (#0034/2001)

I also pulled a pair of Back to the Future cards - one was the non-relic version:
BF-23.  Vladimir Guerrero (#0236/1000)

And the other was the relic version:
BF-10.  Paul Lo Duca (#021/100)

I can't say any of the insets really interested me much.  The Lo Duca was a complete dud in terms of being the only hit from the box (though being numbered out of 100 is a nice thing I guess).

Overall, I give the 2002 Donruss Elite box the following scores:
Set Design:  C
Collation:  B
Opening Thrill:  B-
Overall:  B-

As the ratings suggest, I wasn't enamored with this set.  Getting 88% of regular printed base set was nice - but when you only get 4 out of the next 100 short prints in a single box, putting this set together will be just about impossible.  I am sure there are some nice hits out there, but the Lo Duca was disappointing for me so that hurt my overall impression...and way too much foil board.


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