Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Finally, a Donruss set that matters (sort of)
I've lost track of the number of times I've insulted Panini's revived version of Donruss on this blog.
Donruss has brought up the rear on my Sets of the Year countdowns for, well...as long as it's been around. If memory serves, I've never devoted an entire post to Donruss, because I've never had anywhere near enough words to fill a whole write-up about what had been a sorry excuse for a brand.
Since its rebirth a few years back, Panini's Donruss has been a) repetitive, b) unlike anything related to the original version of Donruss, and c) horrible.
But not this year.
Or at least not as much.
Based on what I'd been seeing around the blogs for the past week or so, I took the leisurely stroll down to Target and picked up a couple rack packs of 2017 Donruss, the first time I'd bought any retail of this stuff in at least a couple years.
By now, you generally know what to expect from Donruss: generally well-known players featured on generic action photos without logos.
This year is certainly no exception to that rule.
But you might notice something familiar with 2017 Donruss: it's an obvious rehashing of the original brand's 1990 design.
Thought I'm not a fan of 1990 Donruss (is anybody?), this, I think, is what Panini should do if they ever want to make this set distinct. The designs they'd been trotting out in the past didn't look like anything related to the good ol' days of Donruss...they didn't look like much of anything at all, for that matter.
Donruss had a long history, and I always thought part of the job of Panini's revival should've been to honor that past. Between the cursive player name and dotted borders, this year's Donruss does that, albeit without the distinct red borders of 1990 Donruss.
I'm not saying I love 2017 Donruss by any means -- 1990 Donruss is still yucky and the photos are still woefully uninspired. I'm not saying I'll be rushing out to the store and stocking my cart full of rack packs of the stuff. No.
All I'm saying is that Donruss, for the first time in its history, has taken a step in the right direction.
Before, you had to go to the inserts to find any kind of tribute to Original Donruss.
Last year featured an insert set that honored the ball-and-bat '82 design, so it makes sense that 2017 would include a nod to the bat-and-glove '83 template. Better yet, these come five per rack pack, so you certainly get your fill with even the smallest purchase.
Here's hoping 2018 Donruss has an '84 tribute, because that's far and away my favorite design in the long history of the brand.
I'll close things out with an insert of La Potencia whose beauty transcends all bounds, Donruss haters and fans alike.
I certainly never wanted Panini's Donruss to continue to crash and burn every year. I like that Panini revived it, because outside of Topps and Upper Deck, I'd say Donruss is the most impactful brand ever. It didn't deserve to go out the way it did. But Panini wasn't doing it any favors with the forgettable, plain designs they'd been churning out.
It took a few years, but I'm glad to be able to say that, for the first time, Panini has finally -- finally -- produced a Donruss set that matters.