The retail version of Americana II is meant to appeal to set collectors. They don't have the shiny finish like the hobby release, and nor do they have the price tag. A hobby pack seems to run in the $25 range. Sure, it guarantees you a hit, but I'm pretty sure my blaster box was almost guaranteed a hit as well.
Going in I knew that there'd be a lot of has-been stars and some who never were stars in the first place. I've seen a lot of the images. Yet it's hard to truly appreciate the horrendous checklist of this set until you line up all the cards together.
With that in mind, I'm going to introduce a game element to this box break. I'm going to post a picture of each card, pack by pack. Give yourself a point if you can name the "star." At the end, post your score in the comments. Don't cheat, though. No reference materials, checking of checklists and the like allowed. I was thinking of going in and Photoshopping the names out but that'd take too much time. Maybe if the set was a little nicer the effort would be worth it.
The person with the highest score by the time I wake up on Wednesday morning wins a virtual high five. There might be a little something else, there might not be.
So the "hit" came right off the bat. No serial number like the box suggests there should be. Interesting.
At any rate, I recognize two sitcom stars and a dad from A Nightmare on Elm Street. 3 points for me.
3 points if you count me referring to one as "That guy from the ping pong movie." Two points if not.
3 points. The Proof card is one of many parallels. This one's numbered /250.
My total score: 3 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 2= 18
So I consider myself a bit of a pop culture geek and yet I couldn't identify more than half of the faces on these cards of "pop culture icons." Yikes. So either a) I need to read more Perez Hilton and The National Enquirer or b) This set isn't what it claims to be.
While I like the idea behind the Americana line as it enables cards to exist without the limits of a particular license, there's a long way to go before I could back this brand as a whole. Sure, there's some fun cards like the Diff'rent Strokes dual autograph I picked up as a single and a handful of other autographs. But there's also way too many Dancing With the Stars candidates.
Here's a couple of suggestions on how the Americana line can be made better:
1) Make it simpler.
I like that Donruss is trying to create mass appeal by offering both hobby and retail versions. Limit the differences in cards to the base cards. As it stands all inserts are different based on their foil finish. When you get all the different levels of parallels together, it's just too much. If you want to keep the parallels, that's fine. Just spread them across both versions. Make them easier to find in hobby packs if you must. But when you have a bronze hobby version numbered out of 250 and a bronze retail parallel numbered out of 250, confusion's going to set in, especially when not everybody knows there's hobby and retail versions.
2) Use more costumes, not just street clothes.
The guarantee on the back of the memorabilia card I received reads that the swatch was cut from the star's own clothing. Unless you're an icon like John Wayne, Humphrey Boggart or Marilyn Monroe, nobody's going to care. Instead, let's see some costumes. Sure, this would make the pool of potential memorabilia cards much smaller, but who really wants to pay premium pack prices for the shirt from the guy who co-starred in A Nightmare on Elm Street?
3) Get better photos.
Most of the cards appear as though they were shot at public premieres. They're far from flattering. I mean Supergirl has the half-blink happening. But look at the publicity shots, particularly of the older stars. They're quite attractive. Give us more of those. Plus, those subjects who were in Donruss Celebruty Cuts have the same photos. Let's get some variety happening.
4) More genuine stars.
If the cards are going to be ugly, it'd be nice to at least know who you're looking at. I apprecaite the angle of having guys like Gary Coleman who never were huge stars outside of a single role, but American Idol rejects from several years ago?
5) More Mr. T.
So remember to get your scores in to the comments section. There's a virtual high five in it for the winner. But don't cheat by clicking on the cards and reading the names. Go by who you recognize off your initial impression.