Friday, November 9, 2018

2018 Panini Chronicles, or The Bride of Frankenset

I was intrigued.

I don't usually go for Panini products, mostly due to the lack of logos, but also because of the lack of supreme effort. A lot of Panini's baseball products look the same, don't immediately wow the eye, and skirt along on less-than-creative concepts.

So when I heard that Panini's latest effort, 2018 Chronicles, went the frankenset route by producing several different base designs along the same set, I was...puzzled, but intrigued.

Chronicles goes the route of having a blaster full of 4 packs of 5 (and one pack of 3), for 20 bucks. 23 cards for 20 bucks. Far from the era of 39 cards for 59 cents, are we?

The ubiquitous 3-card pack, billed even on the blaster box, was for the Revolution subset, which looked cool enough from the outside.

And...yeah, these are pretty damn cool.

It's a very 2000-era Pacific sort of design, mixed with modern bordering ideologies, and it amounts to a relatively eye-pleasing design. Note that the scan doesn't do the shininess justice here- these cards are very shiny, which isn't a problem in these less-dufex-reliant days.

The actual star power here is welcome- Trout and Bryant are two ubiquitous gets, and Hoskins is a hometown favorite.

Pack 1- So let's talk about what these subsets are, and represent.

Prizm we've seen before. Many times. If I'm not mistaken, Prism had its own release this year. So Corey Seager's 2004 Finest-esque card is, while welcome commonplace.
Rafael Devers is our Rookies and Stars subset, which evokes nice 00's Donruss memories. I'll say that the initial Rookies & Stars sets were a little more photo reliant than this one, which is very design-centric, but it still works.
The Sisco is a Studio subset. I know Donruss Studio, and you are no Donruss Studio. This is more of an SP or Elite sort of design. Also, the design scans a bit more purple than the card actually is. At least it looks cool.
And Chronicles is, while commonplace, a bit odd to name the set after. It's very basic, and very white based.

 This pack also spat out a super-cool Select blue parallel, which is numbered to 299, of Dominic Smith, the Mets 1st baseman of the future (that was supposed to be of the present). Relatively nice pull.

Pack 2- The more basic options here:
I get a Shohei Ohtani card and all is it is your basic, everyday Score. Which isn't bad at all.
I like the Acuna, which is a Donruss Classics, though perhaps they took the term Classics a bit too literally. This is more of a Donruss Originals sort of design. Classics would have been more grey and simple. I still like this though.
And Bryant's, which I initially thought was either a ripoff of Flair, Fleer Showcase, or Topps Gold Label, is called Illusions. So any resemblance to a former set by another company is merely an illusion. Again, looks cool here. This set definitely doesn't shirk on design.

These two Dodgers are the bulkier subsets. Crusades, which is the right kind of inspired, hoists Alex Verdugo over what appears to be a Welsh coat of arms. Sure.
And our Select is Cody Bellinger, who shows that this one still looks pretty cool, even without the blue parallel goodness.

 Pack 3-
Devers is a Contenders Optic. I do like that they're throwing sets from other sports in here, as Chronicles does kinda work here.
Clint's is a Phoenix subset, which is inspired but kinda falls flat. Good to pull a Clint though.
And two Acunas. One is a really cool one, a pink-based one called Status, which I really like because it reminds me of an old Football set they did a few years ago.
The other is Prestige, which, while muted, has a nice little mix of photo and design, and is a little more inspired than I initially gave it credit for.

This was a nice touch, though. A color board parallel of JAKE ARRIETA, newest Phillies fireballer, numbered to 299. Nice to nab a good numbered card of a Phillie.

Pack 4-
We've seen Illusion before, but this Bader illuminates how cool of a set it is, to be honest.
And Mejia's is a Donruss base, which you can find in any dollar bin in the country.

We end, of course, on some Yankees. Because Panini knows what I like.
So, Aaron Judge is a Limited subset, which, while more of a Zenith kind of look, still looks great. Very 2000s UD, even.
Andujar's is yet another Select, which I'm fine with.
And Torres' is not only a Contenders one, but it's a red parallel, which is #'d to 199. A bonafide numbered Gleyber during his rookie year. Not too bad, Panini.

So, needless to say, this set is wild. Interesting, but wild. It's not like UD Timeline, where enough subset cards are seeded so that you know what everything looks like. This set has a wild card factor that you could pull anything at any time, which A.) makes it nearly impossible to collect, and B.) doesn't especially let any of the sets make a lasting imprint. It's the feeling of 'why get to know this set, when it might not even be in the next pack.'

I do like the set, and I think it's inspired idea by a company desperate for creativity,'s not completely there. If there were more cards per blaster, then I'd really get to know every set and feel better about it all,'s just not enough for me.

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