Saturday, October 24, 2015

2015 Panini Diamond Kings: Box Break & Review

Ah, finally, something topical being ripped on this blog.

Big of a confession. Back in the day? Loved Diamond Kings. The ones they put out in the early 2000's, before they became massively-inclusive mega-sets. Those were fun. Loved them putting only a few players per team, so I could collect all the Phillies or Yankees easily, before they made 20 per in '04.

Diamond Kings are very near and dear to my heart.

Seeing this product on Panini's call-sheet this year...I was initially surprised. Confused. It was a product that didn't need to be remade, retouched. It's bad enough that the new Donruss sets suck, but I didn't want Diamond Kings to be altered. Plus, the whole no-logos thing was putting me off.

A month or so D&A had a sale, so I nabbed a box. Let's see what I thought of it.

12 packs, 8 cards per. 2 hits per box.

Pack 1- Base cards. No logos, but very color-heavy. Two rookies per pack, and they're in a more toned down design. Plus, they're not always gonna be high-profile rookies. Hadn't heard of these guys.
Love this set because of the mix of current stars and legends. Ted Kluszewski is in this set. That doesn't happen everyday.

This is an insert that would have been a lot better had there been logos involved. This is reminiscent of an 80's DK card, with the little YadiMo in the corner. Good enough idea, just flawed.

Like original DK, Here There be Parallels. This is a blue-border parallel of Tony Gwynn.

...numbered to 99 copies. THAT is some pretty nice stuff. And it's not even one of our 2 hits.

Pack 2 starts off with two AL West standouts. Shoemaker did have a down 2015 though.

Plus, two more legends. Bobby Thomson! THAT is a pretty cool one.

The highlight, to me at least, is a base card of Masahiro 'Mr. New York' Tanaka. Love this guy's stuff.

Our rookies are both Yankees. Mitchell made his debut this year, and had an unfortunate beaning. Pirela is a utility infielder.

Our insert is a HOF Sluggers insert of Mel Ott. One of the most overlooked sluggers in MLB history.

Pack 3- Three legends, including the cover boy, a future manager, and the one they called Pee Wee.

Two current standouts. MadBum had a down year because he didn't get to pitch into the postseason. Nelson Cruz hit his usual million home runs.

A few rookies I've vaguely heard of.

We've gotten to the first hit, and....

Yeah, its the holy trinity of blah. A rookie that sort of underwhelmed, with two white swatches and a sticker auto. This is the definition of a crappy hit.

Good news is only 25 of them were made.

Pack 4- Three modern standouts. Cutch had another nice season, Mook broke big, and Chen had a solid season in Baltimore.

My sole legend here is Kirby Puckett...and i say that's a pretty nice one.

They do minis in this set, which....alright, I'll go with it. It's of Yankee legend Tommy Henrich.

Three rookies who definitely got playing time this year. Norris is sadly undergoing treatments for cancer. Folty...yeah, he didn't do too well in Atlanta. Franco got hurt around August.

Pack 5- Two huge AL hitters.

Three definite legends. Cobb's is pretty nice, too.

The JOC rookie is a pretty nice one. Tropeano isn't as big a rookie.

This Also Known As insert set is a great idea, and it gives me my second awesome Tony Gwynn card of the break. Not complaining. Gwynn is an icon.

Pack 6- Two guys whose rookies still go for a ton of money.

Again, the legends selection in DK is pretty great, ranging from someone like Tommy Henrich to someone from two decades ago like George Brett. Really is phenomenal.

Two rookies I haven't heard of.

Another really cool insert, Aficionado, starring Clayton Kershaw. Really cool stuff.

Pack 7- Two guys that didn't really play much this season.

More unusual legend choices. Especially Sam Crawford.

A pair of rookies I don't really know.

Our inserts, a DK Original of Buster Posey and a Red border of Alex Gordon, also helps to commemorate the 2014 World Series.

Pack 8 begins with the legend himself, Clayton Kershaw.

Three legends and a steroid abuser. My grandmother would love the fact that there's a Carl Furillo in this set.

Michael Taylor got some playing time this year to fill in for Jayson Werth. Liriano I'm not sure about.

Now THAT is a nice one. HOF Sluggers insert of the Hawk himself, Andre Dawson. Can't help but respect Hawk. Hell of a hitter.

Pack 9 begins with Miguel Cabrera, still one of the best players in baseball.

Not all of these guys are hall of famers, but still, WOW. Ken Boyer and Bobby Murcer in Diamond Kings? That's pretty great.

Baez FINALLY made some productive work in the postseason. Adams I'm not sure about.

And...we've reached our second hit. And it's a much better one.

...not only is it two different swatches...but it's of a player I've heard of, enjoy, and had a really nice 2015 season.

So...getting a Starling Marte hit is not that bad. It's pretty good, actually. I'm impressed.

Numbered to 99, which is not bad at all. Again, for a box that just finished giving me a Folty shit hit...this is pretty nice.

Pack 10- Four of the absolute best players at their respective positions right now.

Our mini is of Yu Darvish. Again, I don't think this set really needed minis. It's Diamond Kings. The original didn't have minis. You're just trying to turn this into A&G now, aren't you?

Jake Lamb had the best season of the three, making a case to be a mainstay in the infield in Arizona.

Pack 11- Two modern standouts.

Three guys from the early part of the 20's century. Love that Philadelphia A's Green on Simmons.

Two rookies I've not especially heard of.

An AKA insert of Johnny Bench. Again, the inserts in this set can be really cool, especially this one.

Pack 12- Four guys that are playing pretty well this year. Two of them are still entangled in the playoff race.

One lone legend card of Gary Carter, one hell of a catcher.

Two Rangers rookies.

Our last Aficionado insert is of Yu Darvish, which is still pretty awesome.

Final Thoughts: This set has some charm, with a very nice checklist, good inserts, and decent enough hits. Only problem is this set, while Diamond Kings in name, is not Diamond Kings in substance. This is a completely different product, engineered by Panini to be similar to Allen and Ginter with a touch of Finest, instead of just trying to be Diamond Kings.

There are things to like here, but they're outweighed by the flaws. I did, however, enjoy the break.

Final Grade: C+

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