Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Box Break: 2019 Panini Donruss (hobby)

I really wanted to get this posted about two weeks ago, but I had some stuff go down at work that sidetracked me from getting this ready. However I guess this is one of those "better late than never" kind of posts, right?

I know there are a lot of card collectors out there that do not like product that doesn't feature the team names and logos, but I find Panini's Donruss effort to be a breath a fresh air inserted into the "Toppsopoly" of baseball cards. Do I wish Panini had a full baseball license, of course I do. I long for the days when there was more than one baseball company producing cards, but since Topps' exclusive deal with MLB was once again renewed last year, I'll have to make do what what I'm given.

That said, 2019 Donruss is another step forward in the brand's resurgence from a few years back. Each year I think Panini is doing a better job and when I saw the ads solicited for 2019 I knew I wanted back in.

Each hobby boxes yields 24 packs with 8 cards per pack for a total of 192 cards. Each box also contains (on average) 3 hits - a mixture of autographs and memorabilia cards. The set is comprised of 250 cards, broken down between Diamond Kings, Rated Rookies and current/retired players and Retro 1985.Like last year, there are 50 variation cards, but they are not short printed. Most of these variations either feature a different photo or the player's nickname in place of their real name. Unlike 2018, there isn't an easy way to spot these variations so I've been using the photo guide put together by Cardboard Connection.

As with Topps using their past designs for current product, the same is true with Donruss. This year's set features their 1985 design. I think the Diamond Kings look so nice this year with the Dick Perez inspired painting of the player. The card backs however don't really offer much and looks more like an after thought than a real design.

Rated Rookies make their return and feature some promising young names in the game. I love how the old school Donruss logo re-appears for the first time on the cards too. The card backs only give you one line of stats along with a little write up of the player. Could be better, but I've also seen worse!

I like this year's base design. While I'm not a fan of the white border, I do like the rest of the design. The diagonal stripes are color coded for the team, which is a nice touch since Panini can't actually use the name of the teams. Like with Rated Rookies, the old school Donruss is used in the corner. The player's name and team abbreviation are on white strip near the bottom of the card. What I originally didn't notice was in the lower right corner of the card, the gray area contains a portion of "D" of the Donruss logo, enlarged. Also written in a smaller, lighter font is the player's position and the team name spelled out. 

There are 50 variation cards in the set, such as this one of Acuna which spells out his full name. Others contain nicknames or a different photo. These thankfully aren't short printed, but unlike last year's Donruss set where the variations were easy to spot (thanks to the card backs) these are tougher to spot if you don't know what to look for.

Card backs are similar to the Rated Rookies, just with a different color. Only one year of stats along with a blurb on the player. At least the variations contain different text from the main base card.

Panini has been using older Donruss designs since the brand was brought back to life. This year they are using the 1985 design. This is a fairly bland design in my opinion, but since it's part of the main set I'll be looking for all of them.

This year there are tons of parallels to chase, both serially numbered and non-numbered. My box yielded a few of these, but I didn't get an example of each.

150th Anniversary Glossy parallels feature a silver holo foil "150" stamp on the front along with "150th Anniversary" across the top of the card. These are serially numbered to 150. As the name states, the front are glossy while the card backs have a matte finish. All of the parallels include all the different cards, even variations which I'll display shortly.

Stat Line parallels were a staple in the series the last few years before the brand's demise. These are serially numbered to different stats for the player - either in their career or for their season. All of these cards feature a holofoil sheen to the card's front.

The three cards above are Career Stat Line. Votto is numbered to 427, his career on-base %. Mookie Betts is numbered to 500, his career slugging % (though it's listed as .518) and Justin Williams is numbered to 319, the number of RBIs he put up in the minors. 

I pulled one Season Stat line. It's numbered to 73, the number of extra base hits by Goldschmidt during the 2018 season.

Holo Back parallels are exactly what they sound like. The back of the card got the holofoil treatment. These are serially numbered to 99. The front of the card is the same as the regular card, minus the numbering. These are odd parallels in my opinion, but I guess I like them enough to have already chased down the Holo Back for young Braves' pitcher Touki Toussaint.

Independence Day parallels take the white border and replace it with blue and white stars. These are not serially numbered. As you can see with the above Ozzie Albies card, the variations are also included.

Some of the other parallels not pulled are Father's Day Ribbon (blue bordered w/ a foil ribbon, serially numbered to 49), Mother's Day Ribbon (pink bordered w/ a foil ribbon, serially numbered to 25), 42 Tribute (blue border w/ white 42s scattered across the border), Artists Proofs (serially numbered to 10), Press Proofs (serially numbered to 5) and Printing Plates (serially numbered to 1).

Action All-Stars look much better in hand than scanned. These feature a rainbow sheen with curves (half circles?) and come in 10 varieties: Diamond, Pink Firework, Rapture, Vector, Bronze (#/349), Blue (#/249), Red (#/149), Gold (#/49), Green (#/25), Black (#/1). I was happy to pull the Acuna to say the least.

Dominators is a familiar face in a flood of inserts. These cards have the same circular type rainbow sheen as Action All-Stars. They also come in 10 different varieties: Diamond, Pink Firework, Rapture, Vector, Bronze (#/349), Blue (#/249), Red (#/149), Gold (#/99), Green (#/25), Black (#/1).

Franchise Features...well features franchise players like Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies. Like the other inserts, they feature the same circular holofoil background design and come in the 10 varieties: Diamond, Pink Firework, Rapture, Vector, Bronze (#/349), Blue (#/249), Red (#/149), Gold (#/99), Green (#/25), Black (#/1).

Highlights is another familiar design, but instead of simply a subset it's now it's own insert. Features the same background design with the rainbow sheen and the same 10 levels: Diamond, Pink Firework, Rapture, Vector, Bronze (#/349), Blue (#/249), Red (#/149), Gold (#/99), Green (#/25), Black (#/1).

Other inserts not pulled from this box include American Pride (featuring Team USA players), Elite Series, Nicknames and Whammy! (featuring cartoony depictions with enlarged heads).

As previously mentioned, each hobby box yields 3 hits (on average). I say on average because my 2nd hobby box had 4 hits! Some of the hits have great designs, like the Bleachers auto set, while others just insert a plain jersey swatch into the base design.

My first hit was a Retro 1985 memorabilia (jersey) of Justin Verlander when he was still with Detroit.

Rated Prospect Materials feature a larger swatch of jersey. In this case I pulled another Detroit hurler, Franklin Perez. These cards also come in autographed versions as well.

There are several different autograph sets and I was lucky enough to pull one of the better ones, Fernando Tatis, Jr.. This card is from the Signature Series, which while not as cool as the Bleachers design, is still pretty impressive. I've yet to scratch off this card to redeem as I'm on the fence of what to do with it. Should I keep it? Should I redeem it and then trade it, or trade it straight up as it is pictured?

I've collated this box already and I'm happy to report that I got ZERO duplicates. Take that Topps!! Here is the break down of what was pulled:

Diamond Kings - 14
Rated Rookies - 11
Base - 124
Variations - 24
Parallels - 11
Inserts - 5
Hits - 3

Total - 192 cards

Overall I'm very impressed with 2019 Donruss and happy with the results of this box. I still have one more hobby box I need to collate to see how much of the set I have before I can make my want list. Because there aren't as many fans of the unlicensed baseball releases I'm hoping I can find a few traders because I really would like to complete the base set before Gypsy Queen releases. Prices of hobby boxes seem to be hovering around $70...which considering you get (at least) 3 hits and with a good checklist of players and some nice inserts/autos I find the cost to be better than flagship Topps. I picked up this box from my LCS, Grand Slam in Rock Hill, SC. I'm gonna wrap this up so I can start getting myself organized and collate that other box.


  1. Looks like Donruss is back to form this year. Plus, $70 for a box like that is a good deal. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Good stuff. I'll pick some Donruss up through out the season but the lack of license is always a bit of a letdown. Still I look forward to seeing these in hand. Great post. Thanks.

    1. At least most of the photos used are poses of the player covering up where the logo would be or their back turned to the camera. I miss the logos of course, but I love variety and wish the monopoly would go away.

  3. I'd sell the auto because I'm not much of a prospector! Still, a nice pull no matter what you end up doing with it. Thanks for showing off this year's Donruss set. I'm still trying to finish up last year's set so I'll sit this one out but I did enjoy the rundown.

    1. Yeah, I still have a few more cards to finish off the 2018 set too.

  4. Great report. Nice product.I really wish Panini would get a licence. Topps monopoly must end. Thanks.

    1. Yeah, I too wish the monopoly would have ended already...competition is good...keeps everyone on their toes!

  5. Congratulations on pulling the Tatis. Sure hope he turns out to be something special for the Padres.