As long as I’ve been collecting cards, Diamond Kings have been a part of the hobby. They started as, and continue to be, a subset within the Donruss product line. Over the years their popularity continued to hold strong, and over the last several seasons Diamond Kings has also been a stand alone product released by Panini.
The set has an artistic feel, with each card’s image displaying a painted graphic of the player. The cards themselves even have a texture to them that adds to the tactile experience, almost feeling like you are holding a small piece of canvas.
As with all Panini baseball products there are no official team names or logos, only references to the city of the player’s team. In some images you barely notice, and in others the lack of logos is very noticable.
The base set contains 150 cards of which 100 are standard issue, and 50 are short prints. There are also Black & White, Sepia, Name, and Photo variations which can be found in addition to the traditional “Framed” parallels.
This year’s insert sets include: Aurora, Gallery of Stars, Mickey Mantle Collection, Past and Present, Portraits, Royalty, The 500 Set, and the Trophy Club set. Most of those I have included photo examples of! A variety of Autographs and Relics can also be pulled in both Hobby and Retail boxes.
This year I decided to check out the Panini First Off the Line offering instead of waiting for retail or purchasing standard hobby boxes through my LCS. Over the last year or so Panini has offered some of their products directly to consumers through the First Off the Line program. They charge the suggested Retail Price with free shipping for a limited number of boxes which typically contain some kind of “FOTL” exclusive parallel or insert.
The shipping detail of my box indicated it would arrive on Tuesday, the day before the official national release. But it actually made it to the FedEx location in my town the Saturday before and we were able to pick it up directly from that location without waiting for the truck to deliver it on Monday! Having a product in hand a full 5 days before the release date is pretty awesome!
The First Off the Line exclusive was a purple foil rookie autograph, guaranteed to be numbered to 20 or less. I received an Aaron Hicks, SN 16/20. My relic hit was a Jonathan Schoop dual jersey game used card SN: 54/99. Those could have been better, but couldn’t have been worse.
There were 12 packs in the box, and each pack contained 8 cards. Other notable cards included 3 Nick Franklin Rookie cards with one being an Artists Proof parallel #/99. The Gallery of Stars inserts really remind me of the early 90’s Diamond Kings cards, and the Aurora inserts also remind me of inserts you could find in a variety of products in the late 90’s and early 2000s. A Black and White Rhys Hoskins was probably my most notable parallel card in the box.
The short prints are numbers 101-150 and I only received two of those in the entire box. Richard Urena #127, and Jose Ramirez #134. So I guess they are pretty short printed! Framed parallels are another item that many collectors seek out, and I received two non-numbered red framed cards and one maroon version of Jose Ramirez SN /49.
If you enjoy the more artistic style of cards, then Diamond Kings may be something you want to seek out. For me, I prefer the value that can be found in Topps Series 1. I probably won’t buy any more of these at full retail price, but if I could find them cheap enough I would consider additional purchases.
Read more about Panini’s first MLB product of the season here, and please take a second to share and subscribe!