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The 2018 Donruss Baseball set brings back several familiar themes, but it also brings a few new twists. The 270 card set represents a 75 card expansion over the 195 card 2017 version, however this year the retro 1984 cards are included as part of the base set instead of being a stand alone insert set. I like this move as it makes the base set a slightly harder build.
In addition, it seems the Rated Rookies and Diamond Kings are no longer short printed. In my one hobby box I pulled 16 Rated Rookies and at least that many Diamond Kings. There are 30 DKs and 20 Rated Rookies this year with all the names you would normally expect. The standard base design starts with card #51 and continues on through card #200. Here's a shot showing the design of these two subsets as well as the base cards.
Card #201 begins a run of multi-player cards featuring both retired superstars as well as current players. They remind me a lot of the multiplayer cards you'd find in early 80's Fleer! Finally, the 50 card 1984 retro subset completes the release and is my favorite part of this whole set. The cards and photos look fantastic and in my opinion are the best version of these Donruss Retro sets we've seen over the last few seasons.
Variations and serial numbered parallels are an additional twist that provide more opportunities for collectors to chase their favorite players. There are about 60 different photo and name variates that can be found, however they are not overly difficult to obtain. in my one hobby box, I received about 50 of these variations, that's a little over 2 per pack! In my opinion, the distribution might be a little over done, but I do think the variety adds something extra that makes it a worthwhile chase.
I wanted to point out there is a trick that can help identify if you have a variation on your hands. Base cards have a white baseball with black strings in the upper left corner. That baseball is black with white strings in the variations. However, in the 1984 subset, this is reversed, and the white baseball represents the variation card. I have included an example photo to help clear things up.
There are several insert sets, and most of them are serial numbered. It appears the ones that aren't, such as the popular Whammy cards, are limited to around one per case. This raises interesting questions for what comprises a "master set" for the Donruss product. Typically with Topps releases, master sets include all base and inserts, however with Donruss it appears base and all variations will comprise the 2018 Donruss "master set".
Finally, there are a variety of different hits that can be found! A typical hobby box yields three hits, however I saw multiple boxes being opened at my local LCS, The Collectible Corner, which had 4! My box only had three, with a Alex Verdugo Auto, a 1984 Retro Andrew Benintendi Jersey, and a Kyle Waldrop jersey rounding things out. Panini was able to secure Shohei Ontani autographs before he signed his exclusive deal with Topps, and Panini was quick to advertise his auto's being in this product, but unfortunately I didn't get one of those!
The first 2018 Panini baseball release brings a lot of fun. I'd love it at the typical price, but at inflated 2018 Ohtani hype prices, it makes it tough to open in quantity. I'm pleased with what i got out of my one box, and will be scouring the net and my LCS for more!
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