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Mindless repetition

It's pretty well established that I have little use for Panini products.

I'm primarily a baseball collector, so I don't collect what seems to be Panini's better efforts in basketball and football. I've written about Panini's baseball short-comings time and again, the unappealing designs, the lack of logos, the inability to present that lack of logos in any kind of pleasing manner (cutting off the tops of heads? Come on), the poorly constructed card backs.

Panini has made exactly one set that I've liked enough to collect, 2013 Hometown Heroes. And, of course, that had to be a one-off set because why should Panini continue anything worthwhile?

There are exceptions here and there to be sure. Some of the Donruss inserts are fancy and nice. I'm coming around, a little, on its 2014 Golden Age set. And I've always tolerated Panini's Diamond Kings set because it's filled with legend players and they don't seem to be hampered by the inability to show logos like current players.

But Panini's gone goofy with Diamond Kings as well.

The set began in 2015 when Panini rebranded the 2014 Classics set as "Diamond Kings," and tried to give the cards a painted look. We're now into our sixth year of Diamond Kings with the recent arrival of the 2020 set.

The above Carl Erskine card is from the 2020 set. It looks pretty terrific for someone viewing Diamond Kings for the very first time.

But veteran collectors of the set know ...

... this image has been used a few times.

Those cards are from the 2020, 2019 and 2017 Diamond Kings sets.

It's stuff like this that makes me not want to even bother with attempting to complete the team sets from Diamond Kings. I don't care enough because why am I collecting the same damn image?

It's especially annoying because the legends are the only thing that appeals to me in this set. I've never thought the current players, and especially the rookies, look right in this set. The lack of logos stand out much more on current players.

Erskine isn't the only repeated image. Walter Alston's card in the 2020 Diamond Kings set is the same image that appeared of Alston in the 2019 set.

From earlier sets, Carl Furillo's and Jim Gilliam's images were reused.

Pee Wee Reese's image -- both of them -- has been repeated.

One of the repeated images below is actually a variation image, which seems a mean thing to do, making the variation picture a same old photo.

But there are Diamond King images of the above players that have been used just once.

That Erskine image, while not as exciting as the one used three times, was used once, in the 2018 DK set.

Furillo's 2018 DK card also is different from his repeated 2015 and 2017 cards.

Here is a list of the Dodgers legends for each year of Diamond Kings and I'll note whether the image has been repeated:


Walter Alston
Leo Durocher
Don Drysdale
Carl Furillo
Jim Gilliam
Gil Hodges
Pee Wee Reese
Duke Snider


Jake Daubert
Leo Durocher (new image)
Jim Gilliam (repeated image from 2015)
Gil Hodges (new image)
Walter O'Malley
Pee Wee Reese (new image)


Leo Durocher (new image)
Carl Erskine
Carl Furillo (repeated image from 2015)
Pee Wee Reese (repeated image from 2016)
Jackie Robinson

(The Pee Wee Reese variation photo is a repeated image from 2015)


Carl Erskine (new image)
Carl Furillo (new image)
Pee Wee Reese (repeated image from 2015)
Jackie Robinson (new image)

(The Reese and Robinson variation photos are both repeated images)


Walter Alston (new image)
Carl Erskine (repeated image from 2017)
Pee Wee Reese (repeated image from 2015)
Jackie Robinson (new image)


Walter Alston (repeated image from 2019)
Carl Erskine (repeated image from 2017)
Jackie Robinson (repeated image from 2017 variation)
Eddie Stanky

I don't have all the variation information so I'm not sure about some of those repeats.

I do appreciate the arrival of new legends, such as this year with a new Eddie Stanky card. I haven't seen a new Dodger Eddie Stanky card in three decades.

But you will notice that the number of legends, at least for the Dodgers, in Diamond Kings has steadily decreased.

This is likely because getting legends into a card product is a rather difficult production. I've noticed it with Topps as well, and Topps has many more baseball resources than Panini. But there are licenses to pay and card companies often insist on having autograph and relic tie-ins for their legends, too, so they have to track down uniform swatches from 1948 or whatever.

And then there's the matter of having the right to reproduce photos or having a photo library. Chances are Panini doesn't have much of that for baseball.

While all of those are good reasons for cutting down on the number of legends in a set like Diamond Kings, they're nothing but excuses when it comes to repeating photos. If you don't have different photos, pick someone else for your checklist.

The repetition of photos -- I've said it with Topps and it goes double for stumble-bum Panini -- at best makes you look like you don't care, and at worst makes you look inept.

My guess is that some folks at Panini do care and are not inept, but card sets like Diamond Kings have got to stop repeating images. I won't collect it. Nothing turns me off quite like seeing the exact same image in a set that I saw the PREVIOUS YEAR.

And not even a cool shot of Carl Erskine will excuse that.

(NOTE: Nachos Grande is holding a break of 2020 Diamond Kings right now. My timing is probably not great here 😉, but there are still cool cards to get so head on over there. I've already taken the Dodgers, I may not want to collect the team set, but buy it all at once? Sure!).


Bru said…
Oh man, this has been a frustration of mine for a good while. The card stock is great, these feel so good in hand, every year I look forward to snagging a box, and then: one of the same two Clemente photos, etc. A proper license for the logos would really make a lot of Panini’s cards sing, though.
Elliptical Man said…
No logos - no interest.

Dodgers had some good players though.
Fred Pike said…
stumble-bum Panini. I love it.
I want my Braves no matter what. I buy those and I grab any dime box PC guys. I didn't care for the early run of DK either (2002-2005). It put those same designs, but in frames. UGH!
Nick said…
This is the main reason I can't get into Diamond Kings. It feels like I'm collecting the same cards over and over again. Also, Panini used that same image of Stanky in last year's DK, but listed him as a Brave.
Nick Vossbrink said…
Oof. And here I was thinking that it was my inability to distinguish designs that was causing me to not know what year these are from. The photo situation is dire and does not help my confusion. A shame since the card stock is wonderful.
bryan was here said…
Panini baseball is trash.
I said what I said. They remind me too much of those '80s MSA sets that were given away at Burger King or on the back of Kraft Dinner boxes. I refuse to pay $5.99 or whatever for that nonsense. And even if they fall ass backwards into a MLB licence, I'll refuse to pay for their crap.
Stick to basketball and football, stay in your lane there.

*rant off
I don't do breaks and I'm limited to the DK's I find at shows or get in trades, so the repetition hadn't occurred to me enough to affect my enjoyment. I still have a wantlist, it will largely go unfilled because I don't try too hard.
John Bateman said…
The Pee Wee Reese image was used in SSPC Baseball Immortals HOF set (1980-1987, the first living set) and I believe TCMA 1979 stars of the 1950s. That is why it looks so familiar to me.
Fuji said…
As much as I do enjoy the artwork and the simple designs... this product has grown boring over the years and seeing those three Erskine cards with the exact same artwork didn't help. Plus, the lack of logos is another issue. However logo-less artwork isn't as bad as logo-less photography (in my humble opinion).
EP said…
Unfortunately, we're in the era of card companies with exclusive contracts. While I do wish Panini could have logos on their baseball cards, I'm just going with it for now. Where they have the contract, like in basketball, they are doing some really creative things.
GCA said…
Just picked up the Elston Howard from the 2020 DKs. It's the same image as several of his oddball cards, and was even reversed on one from Pacific.
I've often thought a great blog post would be the most repeated image (or reprinted card)- but I don't know how to research it efficiently.
Doc Samson said…
I think Panini has always religiously studied Upper Deck's infamous 2010 set that was a sea of chopped-heads, turned heads and twisted back to the camera shots. It was shame because I actually liked UD's 2010 overall design. But like Panini, the lack of logos is like a pizza with no cheese.
As with many, the lack of logos is a turn off. The lack of creativity and card image diversity is also gross. Very little interest in this brand. And Diamond Kings---then and now---are the one of the most over-rated things in this hobby.
Mike ott said…
A frustration of mine too, made worse by issuing framed parallels, artists proofs and various other nonsense, all with the same image year after year. As a player collector, I have a hard time remembering which of the myriad diamond kings cards I already own, so inevitably I end up with duplicates. I presume this is all part of Panini's devious plan.
I collect McGwire and Diamond Kings. But this kind of stuff is why I STRONGLY prefer the earlier stuff. I won't turn down the new stuff, but it really isn't the same.

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