Thursday, September 24, 2020

Reigning on the Diamond

Panini has one good baseball product, I think. I think Donruss looks atrocious year after year. Prizm may be shiny and have cool refractors, but I think it also looks ugly. Logically, the lack of a logo shouldn't make much difference. After all, you're still getting a 2x3 cardboard picture of a baseball player. But the missing logo just seems to detract so much from the card. In the past few years, though, I've found a Panini brand that I have really liked. I haven't had much chance to break a lot of Diamond Kings, but every time I do, I have a lot of fun with it.


Over the summer, I found a hobby box on eBay for a price I liked, so I picked it up. I knew full well that I would have no time to crack it open for a while, but I thought it would be fun to have something to bust open when things settled. Indeed, we were already packing for a move when I received the box, so I had to pack it away immediately without a glance. We spent a few weeks after the move living with my parents while we renovated, and most things remained in boxes in the garage after we did move in while we figured out where to put things. It was only recently that I could get to my cards. This past week, I got around to discovering the contents of this box. I don't often post box breaks in this format, but I kind of wanted to show how the entire break went, so here is a pack-by-pack look at a 2020 Diamond Kings hobby box.

Pack 1: 

The box started out fast, with 2 inserts and our first hit. Despite the auto, the highlight for me is the fact that both of my inserts in this pack are guys I collect. I have to admit, I had to look up Mauricio Dubon because I had never heard of him. It turns out he was the Giants' primary starter at CF this year, hitting .285/.342/.365. Obviously, he's not a power hitter, but an auto of a player who has established himself as a starter, at least, is better than many autos I could pull.

Pack 2:

Wow, really bad photo here; I apologize. I got another Yordan Alvarez to add to my ROY binder and the Cubs' top rookie to chase on cardboard this season, Nico Hoerner. The DK Original insert looks really nice, and as I look at the checklist, I think I pulled one of the best players that I could have in Ted Williams.

Pack 3:

The second blurry photo in a row. Again, I'm sorry. I promise that the rest of the pics will be better. Another Cubs rookie makes an appearance here, along with three chase cards. The gray-framed Mookie is my first Mookie as a Dodger. I like pulling the Wagner, and I like the theme of The 3000 set, but I'm not overly in love with the design. I do love the All-Time Diamond Kings set, though. It's reminiscent of the 1992-93 sets, which are probably my favorite Diamond Kings. I'm holding on to Dustin May as a possible Rookie of the Year candidate.

Pack 4:

This pack is rife with Hall of Famers: Thomas, Alston, and Elston (Howard). Harvey Kuenn and Ohtani are keepers for my ROY collection, and of course, I love Javy Baez. Jose Ramirez is leading the AL in WAR (and apparently, the number should be higher) and is a short print.

Pack 5:

A couple more Hall of Famers show up here, but Clemente is probably the only keeper for me. My first Gallery of Stars insert is Vlad Jr. I like the look of this set more than The 3000. Donnie Walton is my second SP of the box, but I have no idea who he is. Oh, look! He has a -0.2 WAR for the year (and maybe should be lower? I don't know.).

Pack 6: 

Another All-Time Diamond King here. This is my first look at the DK 206 inserts. I don't like them. I get they're going for a certain look here and the modern players are being portrayed in old-timey uniforms for a reason. But I can only vaguely tell that's Ken Griffey, Jr. Is that a shadow on his jaw, or did they give him a beard? It just doesn't look right to me.

Pack 7: 

Two Ken Griffey inserts in a row! The Artist's Palette insert set sure is colorful and interesting. Add in Kershaw, Ruth, and KB? Already I'm calling this pack a success. Then we can throw in Kyle Lewis, who is the odds-on favorite to win AL Rookie of the Year. This is an SP, to boot. 

Pack 8:

My second Framed Gray card is a definite keeper for me. Another DK 206 card, and this one is a little better. I'm still not a huge fan, though. At least I can see that being Mookie Betts a little better. Here's something interesting. Back in Pack 3, I pulled Framed Mookie.  I mentioned it was my first card of him as a Dodger. Notice here that he is portrayed with Boston. Same player. Same year. Same brand. Different teams. Interesting, no?

Pack 9:

Two more Cubs for me here: base Anthony Rizzo and another colorful Artist's Palette Baez. That makes two Artist's Palette cards and both are players I would have hand-picked to be in my box. Not too bad. Luis Robert, another of this year's rookie to chase, is a nice pull. Mauricio Dubon makes another appearance, in SP form.

We're heading into the last quarter of the box. The second hit of the box has yet to be seen.

Pack 10:

Whoop! And there it is. A quad relic of Tony Gwynn! I'm not one to chase relics, but I think I'm going to hold on to a card with a late legend. There's even a pinstripe. This is a great hit, in my book. I also want to take a moment to notice that this is also a Stan Musial hot pack. But I would like to point out that The 3000 appears to be essentially a parallel of the base. But Tony Gwynn hit!

Pack 11:

We follow up the hit with another good pull, a Gallery of Stars of Ronald Acuna. There's another SP here, this time of Randy Arozarena. This is another player I'm unfamiliar with, but his numbers on Baseball Reference seem like he's a good young player in the making.

Pack 12:

The last pack will wrap this box up with a bunch of Hall of Famers. Mathewson, Alexander, Suttles, Ashburn, Mantle, and Musial are all enshrined in Cooperstown. Pete Alonso is a ROY need. So even though I don't collect most of these HOFers, I can't argue with these cards. Richie Ashburn is a rarer Plum Frame parallel of the All-Time Diamond Kings insert, so that's a pretty nice pull.

Here's a quick summation:

96 Total Cards

  • 67 base cards
  • 6 SPs
  • 2 Gray Framed
  • 6 All-Time Diamond Kings
  • 1 Plum Framed All-Time Diamond Kings 
  • 3 DK 206
  • 2 Artist's Palette
  • 2 Gallery of Stars
  • 2 The 3000
  • 1 In the Zone
  • 1 Aficionado
  • 1 DK Original
  • 1 Auto
  • 1 Quad Relic

I'm not going to build this set, so I have some trade bait available. I thought many of the inserts were interesting, but the bright colored theme kind of made them all blur together to me. As a result, I think I may only chase one insert set: the more subdued, but beautiful DK Originals. I'm also considering the Aficionado set as a possible set-build. Of course, I would go for the sets that gave me the worst head start, but I like them best. I don't know that I'll chase the All-Time Diamond Kings set, but I sure do like it.

For under $70 shipped, this was certainly a great box for me. I had a lot of fun with it. I really think I hit well on the inserts, as most of the subjects of those cards are guys that will fit well in my collection. Baez, Rizzo, Griffey, Ripken, Acuna, Ohtani--I don't know that I could have chosen any better myself. Overall, a successful break for me.


  1. Sweet Gwynn relic! I agree that DK is Panini's only good product. The key is those turn of the century guys where a lack of logo isn't a big deal.

  2. Congratulations on pulling that Gwynn quad relic. If I had to buy a Panini product, it'd be DK. But the one downside is that the past few years... all of the designs seem to blend together.

  3. Fun post. Glad your relic card was of a star.

  4. I never thought I'd find a Junior that I wouldn't want, I guess I was wrong, as that 206 is absolutely hideous, so much so that it almost seems insulting!

  5. I usually love DK but haven't purchased any the last couple of years. The years are blending into each other. One of the draws for me are the old guys, esp Deadballers. Have to agree the 206 inserts are u.g.l.y. ugly. Good price for a box like this. Many great players, an auto and cool TG relic!

  6. Wow, that Griffey card is awful. The others are quite nice though.