Once again, Panini returns with their flagship baseball offering. While Topps has an exclusive deal with major league baseball, Donruss can still offer baseball cards licensed by the players association, even if none of the cards are able to feature team logos or names. It can be striking at times, as you notice jerseys and hats are altered to not show team related icons, but you get used to it.
The general format of this set will feel familiar. There are 260 base cards, 2 SPs, and 2 additional Rated Rookies at the end, to bring the set to 264 cards. There are also a lot of base card variations, with pictures, nicknames, and more. You also see long time insert sets like the Elite Series and Dominators. Most of these also come in a large variety of parallels, including base parallels featuring emojis. As in recent years, this release also pays tribute to an old Donruss release from the 80s. This time, it’s 1986.
A box contains 24 packs of 8 cards. It advertises 3 autographs or memorabilia cards per box on average. This box contained:
I’m not sure there is another release that receives the same type of attention as Donruss. It’s not always positive, mostly due to the licensing with Major League Baseball. Topps has recently extended their exclusive license agreement which allows them to be the only baseball card company licensed by Major League Baseball. This limits what other companies are able to do.
Donruss still puts out a few baseball releases featuring current and former players, but due to this license, are unable to show team names or logos. That’s a shame because it really limits the appeal for some collectors. A lot of people are missing out on what has become a fun release every year. The base design is one of my favorites in recent years, and the tributes to 1985 Donruss really stand out.
Panini Donruss fills an interesting role in the hobby. Topps has an exclusive contract with Major League Baseball to produce fully licensed trading cards, but that hasn’t stopped Panini from putting out a quality alternative. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground as people either really like it or really hate it. I definitely fall in to the like it category.
It’s always nice to see an alternative to the monopoly on baseball cards from Topps. For the last few years, Panini has been releasing an alternative set, even if it is not MLB licensed. They’ve done a good job of downplaying the fact that team names can not be used.
The set features 195 cards, including 30 SP Diamond Kings and 15 SP Rated Rookies, along with a slew of parallels, and inserts with parallels. The set contains mainly current stars along side older former players. A few favorite insert sets return again this year, with The Elite Series, Dominators, The Rookies, The Prospects, and many more. We also see a retor variation set, paying tribute to players on the 1983 Donruss design.
The box gives you pretty good value, with low count parallels, while advertising three autograph or memorabilia cards per box on average. This box even came in slightly above average.
It took a couple of years, but it seems the yearly Donruss release is becoming a low key fan favorite. It offers a nice and fun alternative to the Topps baseball monopoly. It would be impossible to dethrone Topps, at least while there is no mlb license, but it still offers a lot of affordable features. I know some people are completely turned off by the idea of no team names and logos, but there is really so much more than that.
Once again, Donruss offers a mix of current players along side recent stars from the 80s and 90s. They also take advantage of the lack of MLB license. What other set do you see featuring Pete Rose? You can even find special San Diego Chicken memorabilia cards!