I’ve never been a huge fan of unlicensed cards, with one exception: Panini’s annual Donruss release. A low-end product loaded with parallels and inserts, the retro flair also harkens back to the days of my youth when I collected Donruss cards, which were licensed at the time.
Just like in my youth, every team gets a player in the Diamond Kings subset. Following those 30 cards on the checklist are 50 Rated Rookies. The back portion of the checklist has 1988 Retro cards, designed to look like a set I once owned 4 copies of. The base cards, which comprise the majority of the set, have a neat design that’s evocative of the 80s and 90s Donruss cards of yesteryear, but is still a unique pattern that hasn’t been used before.
All of the cards — 280 in total — have a ton of parallels available. Across hobby and blaster box formats, each card has a total of 20 parallels. I pulled a red parallel of the Lance Lynn 1988 Retro card, numbered to 2022 copies. There are also 20 base variations available, which use a player’s nickname in place of their actual name. I got a Stan Musial “Stan the Man” card in my blaster box, along with an Alex Verdugo “Dugie” card. These variations also have parallel versions, though I didn’t get any in my box.
Blaster boxes come with 6 packs of 15 cards each, for a total of 90 cards. Each pack contains 1 Rapture parallel, a shiny silver finish with a wave pattern. Each pack also contains 2 Holo Purple parallels, meaning there are a minimum of 18 parallel cards in each blaster box. Both of these parallels can only be found in blaster boxes.
Even though I didn’t get any autographs or relics, and the photos of all the players have the logos airbrushed out, it’s hard to argue with 90 cards, 20% of which are parallels, for just $25. It’s a value that’s difficult to beat in today’s card market. For a trip down memory lane, funky designs, and a box full of players both past and present, check out 2022 Donruss.