Saturday, May 09, 2015

Nachos Grande Group Break: 2015 Panini Diamond Kings (Way Better than Expected)!

I have to admit up front that I wasn't sold on including the 2015 Panini Diamond Kings box in the group break.  However, the box was requested (or at least mentioned) by a couple of people...and frankly, there weren't a lot of other options out there near the price point that I needed to make the entire break work out.  Thus, I figured I'd give Panini a chance.

Well, it's a good thing we included the box.

It was a FUN rip - truly fun stuff.  I'm quick to rip on Panini (and the total lack of team logos really, really sucks no matter who you dice it).  That said, this set is pretty solid.

The base card design is quite nice - and the artistic theme works well to "smudge" out the team logos.  I would have preferred to not have the big ol' foil DK logo at the bottom of the card but otherwise I don't have many complaints about the front design.

I also like the fact that the back of the card is equally nice to look at.  The design is clean and uncluttered - yet there's still a decent amount of information disseminated to the viewer of the card.  Even better, the set is chock full of current stars, upcoming rookies, and retired players (including guys who don't get a lot of cardboard love like Joe Cronini and Herb Pennock)!

As I mentioned, the set contains a bunch of rookies (50 in total - cards #151 - #200).  Twenty of the rookies actually have a second version (short printed).

The differences aren't easy to pick out (I used this guide) but from my quick glance through our stack it looks like we landed two of the variations (Anthony Ranaudo for the Red Sox and Andy Wilkins for the White Sox).

With the base cards and variations out of the way, let's look at the parallels, inserts, and hits.  To begin, there is a 205 card partial parallel set of mini cards inserted randomly.  Our box produced two such minis:

That's a nice mini for the Dodgers (Alston) and the Padres (Gwynn).  Although the minis look nice, there isn't much of a way to actually collect the entire set given 1) how many minis are in the set and 2) how rare the minis appear to be!

Our other parallel hit was this Madison Bumgarner Silver Parallel numbered 53/99 on the back of the card.

While it's not easy to tell from the scan, the foil on the Bumgarner is of a more rainbow-shiny variety than the usual base card foil.  The card is also serially numbered in silver foil on the back of the card.

The final two parallels from the box are my favorite of the parallels - the framed red paper parallels:

Neither of the two framed cards are serially numbered but that's okay.  It's still a nice pair of cards for the Twins and Braves!

With the parallels out of the way, we can now turn our attention to the plethora of inserts in the box.

We begin with the "Also Known As" set.

We pulled a pair of these cards including a really nice Johnny Bench card for myself.  Of course, I wouldn't complain about the Nolan Ryan either!  The Also Known As set is only twenty cards in size - if Panini were mainstream enough in terms of collectors on the blog, I might be convinced to try and collect the full set.  Alas, I'll settle for the Bench card and be happy!

Our inserts seemed to come in pairs - as evidenced by the two Aficionado cards we pulled.

I hope you like the pairing of Yasiel Puig and Mike Trout for an insert set...

...that's right, we pulled the exact same two players in the DK Originals insert set as well.

Personally, I think the Aficionado set works better with the artistic theme of the entire set...but both designs are nice enough I guess.  I will say that the designs feel different from Topps' usual inserts (and I mean that as a good thing).

Unfortunately, I cannot say that I like the final insert set nearly as much - the HOF Sluggers set is just an excuse to put in a bunch of Hall of Fame hitters.

I understand the draw of putting "big names" into the set but to me this particular insert set feels 100% forced.  There's no reason for it - and it definitely doesn't go with the artistic theme of the rest of the set.

Happily, although the HOF Sluggers left a bad taste in my mouth - the hits from the box more than made up for it!

First up, a dual relic, autograph (albeit sticker auto) of Brandon Finnegan of the Royals.

That's a gorgeous looking card - and it's numbered 133/299 on the back!  It's especially nice since the two color swatches are both different colors - I think it makes the entire card look way cooler!

While the autograph was nice, I think our second hit was even BETTER.

That's right.  It's a Stephen Strasburg Studio Portraits card (Gold Version I believe).  The card is numbered 09/10 on the back - and look at the gorgeous multicolor swatch on the right side of the card.  That certainly looks like it came from the letter of Strasburg's name or else the team name on the jersey.  An awesome card - and a great way to end this box!

I have to be honest - the two remaining boxes have a pretty high bar if they are to claim the crown of "best box of the break."  We still have the 2015 Gypsy Queen and the 2015 Museum boxes to open - what other goodies await us?!


EDIT:  There was one disappointment with the Panini Diamond Kings box that I didn't catch until after I had sorted the cards by team.  The poor Tampa Bay Rays were completely shut out!  I hate to see any team get shutout in a box...especially in a group break.  Luckily for group break participants, the Rays were actually unclaimed so no real harm this time around!


Frankie.M said...

The cards look Amazing, and panini did a fantastic job making the cards look stunning! I'm a new follower, and hopefully I can get into future group breaks!

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