The 1990 Donruss baseball card set was unique in that it included a puzzle aspect along with the traditional baseball cards. This gimmick was an interesting new twist for the popular card manufacturer Donruss. The puzzle cards came in wax packs along with the traditional baseball cards. Each wax pack contained 5 puzzle pieces along with 5 regular baseball cards. Collectors would have to purchase multiple packs to try and complete the full puzzle. The puzzle itself was made up of 100 total puzzle pieces that when put together formed a full color baseball scene.

The concept of including puzzle pieces with the cards was a creative marketing tactic by Donruss to generate additional interest and card pack sales. Kids who collected the cards now had an extra incentive to keep opening packs in an attempt to finish the puzzle. This helped drive repack sales as collectors needed to keep buying in search of puzzle pieces they were missing. The puzzle aspect was highlighted prominently on the front of the wax packs to draw additional attention. While a bit gimmicky, the puzzle cards were still highly collectible and brought additional nostalgia and memories for many who collected them as kids.


In total there were 524 regular baseball cards in the 1990 Donruss set in addition to the 100 puzzle pieces. Some of the top rookie and star players featured included Ken Griffey Jr., Gregg Olson, Gary Sheffield, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas. The designs and photography of the cards were typical Donruss style of the late 80s/early 90s. Bright solid colors, with action shots of players on a white or colored backgrounds. Statistics and career highlights were included on the back of each card. The design was not as flashy or modern as some of the other sets that year from Score and Upper Deck but they had a classic clean look that appealed to many collectors.

The puzzle pieces themselves were square in shape and measured about 1.5 inches per side. They featured colorful partial images from the full baseball scene. No guide or numbering was included on the pieces to help with assembly. Collectors would have to study the shapes, colors and images on each piece to slowly fit them together into the complete picture. This added an extra challenge beyond just collecting the cards. Some puzzle buffs and collectors likely enjoyed the puzzle aspect more than the actual card collection. Completing the full baseball scene puzzle was a fun achievement and talking point for those who were able to do it.


The popularity of the 1990 Donruss puzzle cards led the company to also produce puzzles as part of their 1991 and 1992 baseball card sets. The puzzles in those later years featured team or player specific scenes rather than one large overall baseball scene. This made completing the puzzles easier as collectors could focus on just one team or player. The puzzle cards were a short lived gimmick that Donruss tried for a few years but they helped generate additional interest during the early 90s baseball card boom. While the puzzles themselves may not hold much long term value, they remain a fun nostalgic element for those who collected the sets as kids.

Finding a complete 100 piece 1990 Donruss baseball puzzle today would be a real challenge and highlight for any vintage card or puzzle collector. Most were never fully solved or have since been broken apart. Empty puzzle frames or loose puzzle pieces sometimes surface on auction sites. Graded gem mint puzzle pieces could sell for $10-20 each. But a complete puzzle would surely command a much higher price from the right collector. Even partial puzzles or large groupings of puzzle pieces would appeal to collectors looking to take on the challenge of solving this blast from the past.


While the 1990 Donruss puzzle cards were a somewhat forgettable gimmick by today’s standards, they still hold nostalgia value for those who collected them as kids. The concept of combining traditional cards with a puzzle was an interesting idea that helped drive additional pack sales. Although short lived, puzzles cards showed that manufacturers were willing to try new ideas and promotion beyond the standard baseball cards. Three decades later, the 1990 Donruss baseball puzzle remains a unique collectible for those who remember ripping packs and slowly piecing together the full 100 piece baseball scene.

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