Thursday, March 30, 2017

Looking at Alternatives to Topps: 2017 Donruss

While the release of Topps Series 1 is an exciting time because it means the start of baseball card season, I was not excited about the design of this year's Topps.  There are some inconsistent design elements and the colored backs come off too strong.  After I bought a couple packs that I promptly traded away, I decided I would pass on opening any more flagship this year.  I'll buy a factory set at the end of the year to satisfy my need to collect the full set.

When I saw a preview of 2017 Donruss, I knew this would be a good alternative for me this year. The design is very similar to last years Donruss football, a design I regarded highly.  If there is any main competitor to flagship Topps, Donruss would have to be it.  

Retail boxes have started to pop up so I bought a blaster to see if this will satisfy my desire for a good base set. Only seven packs with eight cards per pack, which is about half of what would be in a Topps blaster box. Although there is one guaranteed autograph or memorabilia card so that is a step above Topps' guaranteed manufactured relics.  

Pack #1

I wish the base design had full colored borders like the football but I still like the overall design. The gray backs look fine to me as not everything needs a blast of color.  

If there is one downside to this set it's that a lot of the photos feature similar poses.  Perhaps Panini does this because it is easier to Photoshop out the logos.  From what I have seen of this year's Topps flagship, their photo choices have some variation.  

With the stark white borders and similar photos, I'm going to dispense with showing off the rest of the base cards I opened.   

Name variation

This is a name plate variation so it's worth showing off.  I had to look up the story behind the nickname "Hakuna Machado" and it's actually rather clever.  It's based off the Lion King and the Orioles even made a song featuring his nickname.  I encourage you to watch it only because it's this kind of thing that reminds me how fun baseball is off the field.  

1983 Throwback design

These cards are a throwback to the 1983 Donruss design.  I have no nostalgia for 1983 Donruss (I wasn't even born yet) so these cards don't sway me one way or another.  The design is faithful to the old 1983 design.  These inserts came two to a pack for each pack so I'm not going to bother showing them all off.  You've seen them once and you've seen them enough.

Pack #2

70 - Anthony Rizzo
84 - Francisco Lindor
127 - Starlin Castro
174 - Wilson Ramos
179 - Duke Snider

I like that Panini will included retired players in their base sets.

1983 Throwback - Paul Goldschmidt & Mookie Betts

I lied above.  Here's two more of the 1983 retros.  I scanned these two before I decided to stop scanning them all.  Now you won't see any more of these cards.

The Rated Rookie subset, which is a standard Donruss inclusion.

Pack #3

54 - Mark Trumbo
96 - Michael Fulmer
112 - Adrian Gonzalez
186 - Pete Rose
195 - Carlos Gonzalez

1983 Throwbacks - Corey Kluber & Albert Pujols

This is from The Rookies insert.  I miss the days when the Astros were bottom feeders in the AL West.  Give the Mariners their chance to win the West!

Pack #4

85 - Jose Ramirez
100 - Evan Gattis
142 - Johnny Cueto
162 - Elvis Andrus
167 - Aaron Sanchez

1983 Throwbacks - Pedro Martinez & Evan Longoria

SN# 29/210

This is a Season Stat Line parallel from the 1983 throwbacks.  All of the serial numbers from this insert are from the stat represented.  In this case, Robin Yount had 210 hits in 1982, so the card is numbered out of 210. Clever

Pack #5

46 - Paul Goldschmidt
55 - Chris Davis
88 - Tyler Naquin
151 - Randal Grichuk
159 - Cole Hammels

1983 Throwbacks - Robinson Cano & Brian Dozier

Another Donruss staple, the Diamond Kings subset.

Pack #6

73 - Jon Lester
116 - Giancarlo Stanton
130 - Marcus Semien
165 - Josh Donaldson
169 - Troy Tulowitzki

1983 Throwbacks - Ozzie Smith & Josh Donaldson

SN# 871/999

Since Panini has the license to USA Baseball, it only makes sense that they would include players from the national team.  Hiura is a junior at UC Irvine and is projected as a high first round draft pick. I couldn't find any up to date stats on his current season but at the end of February he was hitting .444/.515/1.074 with five doubles and 15 RBIs in seven games.

I don't track college baseball prospects but I think I'll keep my eye on him now that I have his card.  

Pack #7

71 - Ben Zobrist
113 - Christian Yelich
128 - Masahiro Tanaka
170 - Jose Bautista
191 - Wade Boggs

1983 Throwback - Joe Morgan & Brooks Robinson

Last but not least, the guaranteed hit of the box.  I was certain I would pull a relic as the guaranteed hits are typically not the autographs.  This is a nice piece of purple jersey, a sight for sore eyes blinded by white jersey relics.  I don't think I have any Rockies relics, either.

Looking at the back, Panini says this is "player-used" material, which is code for "the player wore it for 10 seconds at Panini's request then took the jersey off."  Oh well, I guess game-used was too much to ask.  I still like the card.

A solid effort from Panini and this year's base design is an improvement over last year.  I love the USA Baseball insert and the Season Stat Line parallel.  I don't expect this to be a set I chase this year but I'll likely pick up another box.  There were no duplicates in this box, which is always a plus.


  1. Overall looks like a good box to break. The design reminds me of 1990 donruss, but is done much better.

    1. Definitely inspired by, if not copied, from 1990 Donruss with an update.

  2. I'm not in love with the design to be honest. I think the 83 design as the base would look better to be honest. I was only 1 when those came out so I never collected them, but I like how they turned out. I don't think I will buy a box of this unless I get a real itch because they do look better than Topps, but 56 cards isn't a lot and scrubbing the logos off doesn't make me happy.

    Nice review though, it touched all the bases and I was curious how they looked and how they packaged them (having no doubles is great).

    1. Yeah the 56 cards feels pretty small for the price. I probably wouldn't buy another blaster box unless they are on discount.