Review: 2011 Donruss Elite Football

2011 Donruss Elite football produced by Panini is back this season with all the die-cuts, autographs, and memorabilia you have come to expect from the brand since it was created. Also returning is the foil board design that has made this product stand out from the beginning as well. This product will bring you all the rookies from the recent draft as well as the veterans that you have always love and delivers in that department. It definitely has it’s positives and negatives, but with the right adjustments next year I believe that this product will be capable of returning to it’s former glory.

2011 Donruss Elite football comes with 5 card per pack and 20 packs per hobby box. On average you will find four hits in your box. There are autographs, game used jerseys, and patches available including Panini’s new booklet cards. At a little less than $100, this is now about average for this type of product. Let’s see what we got.

Base:

Inserts:

Rookies:

Game Used/Autos:

Design:

First we are going to talk about the design and I have a few things to say about that. First, I understand the lack of images because of the lockout. I will not take points off for that, it’s not your fault. Also, Elite has always been a foil board brand so I won’t take points off for that. I’ll start with the rookies. The horizontal rookies just don’t look right. Why the change from a vertical layout I don’t understand. And putting the serial numbering on top of the words on the left? There is so much other room on the card not used you could of put those anywhere else. It’s terrible to try and read. Finally, the huge white box where the autograph stickers go on the rookie could of been made smaller. I know that’s where the die-cut goes but the sticker won’t be on the die-cut anyway as there is plenty of room. Speaking of the die-cuts, a little boring there, but it does allow less of a possibility for damage to be honest so I don’t mind it that much. The inserts are awesome and I actually like the NFL Shield and helmet rookies. The base is boring to me, which means the rookies are also boring to me on the whole. I think those should start again from scratch, but I enjoyed everything else.

Checklist:

If there is one problem I have with the checklist is the 100 rookies. 100 rookies means 100 rookies autographs. With them numbered to 899 you are going to have a ton of rookie autographs. I understand they are cheap, but how many people really collect offensive and defensive lineman? Personally, I would cut those autographs in half and use the left over money for some extra veteran autographs. The veteran autographs you do have though are solid. There is a solid group of veteran autographs you have the possibility of pulling and the Throwback Threads with NFL legends is a great subset as well as Passing the Torch and Down and Distance. Great insert subsets which include autographs and game used pieces. I’m all for cutting down those rookies though.

Value:

The number of rookies used and I think just the looks of the rookies alone cut down on value. To the vast majority of collectors, not many want offensive and defensive lineman autographs. They just don’t hold value and aren’t worth the price of the box. I do know that some do, so I think cutting down on these would be a great start. As I said above, use the money towards more veteran autographs. I can’t say anything about photography because of the lockout so I won’t. I’m just really hoping for this lockout to end so I can see players in their actual jerseys on cards this season, otherwise it might be kind of grim which does weigh on value just a little bit on the secondary market. Out of my 4 hits, I hit 3 rookies. Two stickers autographs and an event worn jersey. We all hate sticker autographs and event worn jerseys are just that, event worn. I know the use of the event worn jersey is important for rookies, but when I have 2 sticker autographs to go along with it, it hurts a little bit. This product needs a little more of a veteran presence in the common box break.

Overall:

Overall, 2011 Donruss Elite is a decent product. It’s definitely good for the period of time it is to get ready for the season but after that there are much better products coming out by all the companies making NFL trading cards. The design needs some work and I would actually either completely re-tool the set from scratch or create something new that Panini can say is originally theirs. The number of rookies and rookie autographs is too large and can use some work on filtering out who and how many players sign. It can allow for some more freedom on the veteran side which I feel this product lacks a little bit.

I’d like to thank Panini for providing this box for me to review. Please visit their various links I have posted around the blog. I don’t get anything for you clicking on them, but they have a GREAT blog and lots of information about their products on their website. I highly recommend it.

And, as always, here I am opening the box so you can see everything pulled as I pull them along with some random commentary and information how to win some of the cards!

And again, for those who don’t want to see my ugly mug for 10 minutes, post your comments about this year’s Donruss Elite in the comments for your chance to win. I’m giving every review I have a contest one week to post.

Hobby vs. Retail Packs and Boxes

So you’re new to collecting and are ready to start buying some product directly from the stores. Wonderful, welcome to the hobby. But before you go, do you understand the difference between hobby and retail packs or boxes? Sports Card Blog is here to help you.

Manufacturers bring out to separate types of boxes to broaden the spectrum of who and where they sell their products. Retail products are often sold at places like Wal-Mart, Target, Fred Meyer, or Winners (for you Canadians out there). These products usually cost less then hobby products and are good for collecting if you are on a low budget or you want to collect a brand’s set. Hobby products are almost exclusively sold at hobby shops and can get quite expensive depending on what you are buying. Yes, you will receive pretty much the same cards from both retail or hobby. The difference is the odds.

Hobby product odds are usually significantly better to pull something of value in your packs or box. Just take a look at the back of a pack of cards from a hobby box and then from a retail box and you can see the differences in what the odds are to pull something nice. On rare occasions, the odds are exactly the same. In this case, you may find the product cheaper at retail stores, so go for it! But the vast majority of the time, your odds are much better in hobby boxes to get a game used or autographed card as well as those harder to get inserts or rookies. However, one of the newer trends by the companies is to insert special “retail only” inserts to get you to buy retail boxes, so there are benefits to buying retail if you are looking for more then just set building or you are on a lower budget.

But Sports Card Blog, what should I buy?

Buy retail if:

  • You plan on just building base sets
  • Have a lower budget to spend on cards
  • Low priced gifts to fellow collectors
  • Better for little kids who are new to collecting
  • Want to open packs just for fun
  • You don’t have a hobby shop around and are too impatient to wait for online hobby shops to send to you (me!)

Buy hobby if:

  • You want to get better, more valuable hits more often
  • Have a higher budget to spend on cards
  • Want to build a full set (including autographs, game used, and inserts)
  • Want more variety. There are a ton more sets available as hobby only

I hope this helps any new collectors who come across this blog and want to know what is best for them.

Whether it be retail or hobby, may the mojo be with you.