1. Card Design:
2019’s design offers a slight upgrade over its 2018 counterpart. 2018 offered an almost mist-like highlight towards the base of the image(s). 2019’s version offers the player in the middle of two edge pieces that appear as if the image is being torn from the middle of the background. The border reflects the main color of the player’s respective team, offering a really nice comparative contrast if you were to place multiple player’s, from different teams, in binder page. The cards have an embossed feel to them, which sets them apart from other, more traditional designs. 2019 is a definitive upgrade from 2018, but even a drastic improvement still would leave a lot to be desired.
2. Checklist Review:
Outside of your typical base/image variation CL (100 base, 50 SP), it’s your run-of-the-mill Panini release. It has far too many relic sets to collect, sticker autos and contrived sub sets. I am sure most fans of Panini will find a few things to enjoy throughout. You can find autos on a t205 style which offers a nice throwback for pre-war fans and collectors. A retro 1983 auto/relic designs helps boost the overall look of the CL, but its nothing we haven’t seen before. And, what if, you’re not a fan of 1983 Donruss?! The 1919 Diamond Kings insert set elevates this release as well, featuring 15 subjects, including Babe Ruth (as a Red Sox), Ty Cobb and Eddie Cicotte (of the infamous 1919 Chicago White Sox).The “Downtown” (SSP) insert set, is a great one for kids, featuring 10 subjects and offering today’s stars with a cartoon background, relevant to the respective city in which they play.
About the Cards co-host, Stephen Loeffler will tell you that this is one of the best sets of the year! However, looking at this release objectively, it’s definitely a hit-laden product, as most Panini products are. The base set can be fun to collect, with 30 pre-war players on the CL, with a slew of retired players from the 1940s-2000s also included. Pack odds suggest you’ll get 96 cards per box, so you’d need (at least) two boxes to come close to a complete set. With MSRP around $65 a box, chasing this base set and inserts shouldn’t break the bank. Once, again it’s a middle-of-the-road set, so this category’s score reflects that accordingly.
4. Favorite Parallel/Insert Set:
I’ve covered, what should be, some of the more desirable insert sets. If you love to collect parallels, then the Framed ones are a must have! It’s hard to appreciate them in pictures, but should you buy them, you will be pleasantly satisfied with how nice they look and feel. The Framed parallels can be found in Blue, Plum (personal favorite), Red and Black (1/1s). Without many to chase, if you have a favorite player, or team, I’d highly recommend you grab a few to see what you think! (The Blue and Plum should be affordable for every budget, when considering the purchase of one induvial card)
No matter how awesome a product’s release is, Panini always loses one full score grade due to sticker autos. Another half point due to the lack of licensing. At least in my opinion. As I mentioned above, there are a few auto sets in Diamond Kings that elevate the chase factor. The relics are mostly raised off of the base of the card, giving them a shadowbox look and feel. Most of these autos and relics will have limited resale value, so collect them only if they are from your favorite player/team.
Having grown up in the junk wax era, some of my favorite individual cards happen to be Donruss Diamond Kings, which were featured at the beginning of each set throughout the 80s, highlighting one star from each team. First released in 2015 as a stand-alone product, the most obvious issue facing Diamond Kings is the direct overlap with Donruss and Optic (a Chrome version of Donruss, yet to be released in 2019, as of this writing). I have never understood why Donruss and Optic weren’t combined into one release. Diamond Kings should also be included, as the best part of one large combination of all three products. Until then, I believe all three products fall flat by comparison. Diamond Kings is an okay product. It’s just not necessary on the merits of a stand-alone release.
Overall Score 2.8/5.0