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2002 Donruss Studio Baseball Review

Well, July has arrived so what better way to start the month than with a box of 2002 Studio! In 2002, Donruss put a patriotic twist on its Studio line with Old Glory in the background of every base card/parallel, a revamped Spirit of the Game insert set, and actual game-worn flag patches used in the wake of 9/11. Let’s bust this!

Box Details: 18 packs per box, 5 cards per pack, $35
From: Baseball Card Exchange

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Base set: The base set is comprised of 200 short set cards, followed by 50 serially numbered rookies. Each card features a background with an American flag backdrop and some small city skyline photos placed on some film strip. In this box, I pulled 77 of the 200 short set cards (38.5%) without duplicates.

Rookies (/1500): Cards number 201-250 consist solely of rookie cards, all of which are numbered to 1500. There is no difference in appearance between these and the regular base cards with the exception of the word “Rookie” in the bottom right corner of the card. There were two rookies in my box: Kyle Kane (0773/1500) and Jason Lane (0011/1500). It should be noted that this set was extended by 25 cards in Donruss’ special The Rookies product. These 25 cards (cards 251-275) were also “rookies” numbered to 1500 and featured Mark Teixeira, Freddy Sanchez, and Chone Figgins among others.

Studio Proofs (/100): Studio Proofs is the name of the lone parallel found in this product. Mirroring the entire set, these cards feature a small holographic logo stamped on the front of each card and serial numbering out of 100 on the back. I pulled a card of Nick Neugebauer (086/100), who made only 14 Major League starts in his career, all for the Brewers.

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Studio Stars (50 cards, 1:5 packs): Everyone remembers the 1995 Studio set, right? You know, the cards that looked like credit cards? Well, they returned in insert form in 2002 and were available in three separate variations. The most common variation was seeded 1 in every 5 packs. As was the case in 1995, a Gold parallel also existed and was serially numbered to 250. The third parallel was brand new for ’02, a Platinum parallel numbered to just 50. This box yielded regular inserts of Frank Thomas, Tony Gwynn (who seems to follow me everywhere), and Carlos Delgado. I was also lucky enough to pull a Platinum card of Randy Johnson (41/50).

Spirit of the Game (50 cards, 1:9 packs): Spirit of the Game is a patriotic-themed 50-card insert set which depicts players holding their caps over their hearts (scroll down for scan). This set has multiple game-used variations:

Hats Off – Nearly half of the set is covered in this partial parallel which features game-worn hat swatches from players such as Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman, Craig Biggio, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Beltran, and Andruw Jones. Each card is limited to 100 copies with the exception of Kazuhisa Ishii, whose card is limited to 50.

MLB Logo Variation – 17 cards have MLB Logo swatches embedded in them, each card a 1 of 1.

Flag Patch Variation – Only six cards featured an actual flag patch from a jersey worn by the player post-9/11. I witnessed a local shop owner pulling the Kerry Wood card back in ’02. If I remember correctly, these were jumbo cards randomly inserted as a box (maybe case?) topper. Seeing how there are only six cards out there, finding a scan of one of these is virtually impossible.

I did not pull any game-used cards in this box but I did pull inserts of Mark Prior and Carlos Lee.

Diamond Collection (25 cards, 1:17 packs): Diamond Collection inserts are found at a rate of one per box and feature an old-time black and white background. My pull was Pedro Martinez. All but one of the cards in this set is accompanied by an Artist’s Proof game-used parallel. Each of those features a swatch of game-used jersey or base and has a print run of 150 or 200 respectively. In true Artifacts/Piece of History fashion, the regular inserts have a team logo where the swatch would be.

Masterstrokes (25 cards, 1:17 packs): The second one per box insert is a Studio classic, Masterstrokes. These are painted inserts that look like they belong in the Topps Gallery line except they’re a little nicer in my opinion. My pull was of Lance Berkman. These inserts also have the Artist’s Proof game-used parallel, most of which feature a combination of a bat and jersey swatch numbered to 200. The cards of Ichiro, Albert Pujols, and Derek Jeter feature base and ball swatches and are limited to just 100.

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Studio Classic (25 cards, /1000): Reminiscent of the inaugural 1991 Studio set, the red-bordered Studio Classic cards are some of my favorite inserts of all time. Check out that Lou Gehrig (0691/1000). I dare any baseball fan to tell me that doesn’t kick ass. Anyway, this set is filled with Hall of Famers and also has its share of parallels and autographs. There is a First Ballot parallel which has a print run based on the last two numbers of the player’s HOF induction year. For example, a Gehrig would be numbered to just 39. Autographs make up a partial parallel to this set as well. However, none have a print run higher than 20 and they’re all silver sticker autographs like the next card I’ll talk about.

Private Signings (varied numbering): Like I mentioned in my last post, over 200 players have autographs in this set with no print runs topping 250. With all the huge names in the set, I pulled Victor Martinez (168/250). I was happy with the pull, especially when considering how much filler is in this set (seriously, check eBay for these).

Final Thoughts/Grades:

Collation: A+
I got exactly 90 cards in this box without a single dupe. Perfect!

Condition: A-
The cards came out of this box very clean (especially for having black at the bottom of each card), greatly surprised to see so few dinged corners, etc.

Pulls: A
I was very satisfied with the pulls in this box. According to the wrapper, inserts are found in every third pack on average. This box obviously contained a lot more. A low-numbered Randy Johnson and an autograph of a player who is still an active star brought the grade up a bit.

Value: B
There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of sites holding boxes of 2002 Studio and the few that do carry them are asking $60 and up, which is a bit steep considering that there are only 90 cards in a box. The fact that there are only 18 packs in a box and only 5 cards per pack is probably the worst part of this product. The content inside was great, it’s the box configuration that needed work. Still, 2002 Studio, with its patriotic theme, added a nice twist to a product that generally was the same every year.

Final Grade: A

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1996 Studio Baseball Review

studio96In its heyday, Donruss Studio was known for an all portrait-style base set and some incredible inserts (Heritage and Masterstrokes being some of my all-time favorites). Each studio set had its own unique design and background. Some background examples included a city skyline, the player’s locker, an actual studio backdrop, and Old Glory itself. Oh yeah, there was also this ridiculous idea. I recently broke a box of the 1996 edition of Studio. The background for this set? Extreme close-ups of the players! This box contained 24 packs of 7 cards each. I paid $24 for this box. According to the wrapper, inserts are found 1 in every 9 packs. Here’s the good stuff…

Base cards: There are 150 cards in this set including a couple checklists. I completed the base set with 14 duplicates left over. Doesn’t the Big Unit look weird without a scowl on his face?

Bronze Press Proofs (2,000 made): There are 3 parallels which mirror the entire set: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. The print runs for these are 2000, 100, and 500 respectively. It sounds odd that the Silvers would be rarer than the Golds, doesn’t it? The Silver Proofs were a retail exclusive. I didn’t find any Gold Proofs in this box but there were 2 Bronzes: Jeffrey Hammonds and Latroy Hawkins. :yawn:

Stained Glass Stars (1:24 packs): The Stained Glass Stars inserts fall at a rate of 1 per box. This was a very creative 12-card “see through” insert by Donruss/Leaf which depicted the player in front of a stained glass window with his team’s name on it. I pulled a Hideo Nomo. Leave it to Topps to take this idea and expand on it with the Gallery of Heroes insert the following year. Yeah, that’s Gallery of Heroes, not “Beam Team” like in the brand new “Stadium Club” joke of a product.

Hit Parade (5,000 made): Hit Parade is another example of 1990’s creativity. Limited to 5,000 (and falling roughly in every other box), this 10-card set has the design of a vinyl record coming out of its sleeve. Very cool! I pulled an Albert Belle. The back of the card shows his stats from 1995 and features an in-depth analysis of his .317 batting average that year. This card lets me know his specific average when facing a lefty, facing a righty, at home, on the road, during a day game, during a night game, when swinging at the first pitch, when facing a two-strike count, with runners in scoring position, and after successfully clobbering Fernando Vina.

What WASN’T Pulled: Like I mentioned earlier, I did not receive a Gold Proof card. I also did not receive a Masterstrokes card (link in opening paragraph). Masterstrokes is an 8-card set printed on canvas. They are limited to 5000 copies. Beautiful stuff.

Final Thoughts: I love this set. This box just reminded me of how awesome Studio was at one time. I finished the base set and got some sharp, unique inserts. I probably won’t be busting any more ’96 Studio, but I’d sure love to get my hands on some boxes from other years!

As always, thanks for reading and good luck with your own breaks!
-John