They may be owned by a European based outfit these days, but most North American collectors still have fuzzy feelings for the name Donruss. Panini isn't dumb. They're holding onto the brand that established itself in 1981 and they trot it out again for the new 2010-11 Donruss Basketball issue.
Open one pack and its obvious the design was a shout out to perhaps the company's greatest baseball card set, the 1984 Donruss issue. Exactly why Panini is using it here is a little hard to figure, other than perhaps just to cause a stir with what would otherwise have the potential to be just another mid-season card set. Even the backs are in the same color green as the set that brought us the first "scarce" product of the 1980s.
$19.99 would have bought you a full box in '84..and then some. Today, it buys a retail blaster box of 2010-11 Donruss basketball.
Just as in the company's Threads product we opened recently, there are 10 cards per pack and eight packs per box with one autograph or relic card as the designated 'hit'.
Donruss/Panini opted to include a yellowish-sepia tone to all of the base cards in this issue and it's a little jarring to be honest. We prefer that idea had been nixed somewhere along the line. The cards are borderless, unlike the '84 baseball issue (wouldn't it be cool if they re-worked the '84 baseball set without white borders some time?).
The 'swoosh' team name and block lettering for the player's name and position are just as they were in the '84 baseball set. There's a silver Donruss logo in the lower border, too, which looks a bit out of place in a 'retro' themed set.
Rated Rookies, a popular subset, returns here, and so do team cards/team checklists which is a nice touch for older collectors but otherwise, the set focuses on current concepts like die-cuts and insert sets. The die-cuts are popular with some collectors, but it's not a exactly revolutionary move. The autographed Rated Rookies that have been seeded are among the hotter cards in the hoops market.
From a retail blaster, we pulled die cuts of Sasha Vujacic, Nicolas Batum and a Rated Rookie Paul George red parallel (# to 25) as well as a Jason Kidd Magicians insert.
Our box yielded about 70 base cards and with a base set totaling around 300 cards, you can figure out that it would take a lot of boxes to build one of those puppies. That's one of the problems with current issues. The base collector almost has to go online and buy lots or find a forum and work a trade for another product if he wants to complete a set. To me, that discourages collecting in the true sense but it's something that exists with every card company, not just Panini.
2010-11 Donruss Basketball is a nice little blast from the past but that's really all that's special on the retail level. Invest a little more in a hobby box and maybe you have a better chance at an autograph or two. Those boxes are running $60-75 with three hits and 10-20 die cuts plus other inserts. If your childhood nostalgia involves trips to the card store in search of the elusive '84 Donruss Mattingly or Strawberry and you love die cuts, you might like these. If not, save your money for something else.