Which Panini Cards are the Best?

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I feel like I repeat something like this in every blog post, but it’s really worth saying in this one. “Best” is a relative term—just like I think my favorite team is the best, or a particular food, song, or movie, you might have different opinions. And, in the end, we can both be right.

When it comes to cards, it’s a similar thought process, but I also understand you’re probably in the market to make a purchase, and thus it’s not only which Panini cards are best for any reason, but perhaps are most valuable? Or, maybe you are truly wondering about best value of a pack? Or best looking? Not to mention this could vary across different sports!

Which Panini Cards are Best?

Best Football Card Brands to Collec...

So, all that said, here is my best shot at answering the question for you. From Prizm to Select, and many more, here are what could be considered the best Panini cards for a number of different reasons.

Best of the Best: Prizm

A favorite in the hearts and collections of many, Prizm can be thought of as the best of the Panini card brands. Thus, it’s also typically the most valuable, and yes highly-sought after.

What makes it great? Besides the fact that it has simply been crowned so by the card community, here are a few other thoughts.

One, everyone loves a shiny card. Just like Topps Chrome will outshine (pun intended) flagship in most occasions, Prizm is a favorite because of its heavier stock and shiny finish.

Second, there are a ton of variations—and not just your everyday silver and different colored prizms, but animal prints like tiger stripe and more.

Third, the design? Actually, I’m not quite sure about that, as I personally have never really loved the design, but many probably do.

Best for All-Around Fun: Donruss

OK, no matter what I put here there was bound to be some disagreement, but hear me out.

One, I wanted to pick a line that was applicable to all three major sports (football, basketball, and baseball). Which, with that said, most Panini products could check that box, but there is just something about the relationship between Donruss and baseball that transcends the others.

Secondly, fun comes in a variety of forms—some find it by spending thousands of dollars on a case or special box and seeing what big hit they’re going to walk away with, while others find fun down different avenues. Me personally? I’m a different avenue kind of guy, with fun having a much greater chance of showing up to the party if I’m not worried about making my money back in the process.

Last, on to the cards themselves, there is just a lot of entertainment for the dollar spent with Donruss. Here are some examples.

First, starting with baseball – because it’s not typically associated with Panini like basketball and football are – there is a lot to like.

Retro designs patterned after classic Donruss baseball of the 80s, of which I and many others grew up with and fond of.

2018 Panini Donruss - [Base] - Teal Border #242.1 - Retro 1984 Base - Mike Trout (Red Jersey) /199 - Courtesy of COMC.com

And while Donruss cards are now missing logos, the “Whammy” insert, MLB license or not, is the epitome of fun.

2021 Panini Donruss - Whammy #W3 - Luis Robert - Courtesy of COMC.com

Not to mention that over the last few years, general insert designs have become way, way cooler, with “Unleashed” leading the way.

2021 Panini Donruss - Unleashed - Silver #UNL9 - Mookie Betts /349 - Courtesy of COMC.com

Best for Nostalgia: Chronicles

The reason I say this about Chronicles is well, one, it’s in the name—a “chronicle” is an account of a historical event, right? So, when you open a pack, you can expect to find designs that are reminiscent of yesteryear, or perhaps not even that far into the past, but across different product lines including Select, Score, and more as is the case with Chronicles Draft.

Looking at 2021 Panini Chronicles across the different sports, here are a few examples of what I mean:

2021 Panini Chronicles Draft Picks - [Base] #53 - Score Retro - Michael Carter - Courtesy of COMC.com
2021-22 Panini Chronicles Draft Picks - [Base] #67 - Hoops Retro - Isaiah Jackson - Courtesy of COMC.com
2021 Panini Chronicles Draft Picks - [Base] - Pink #33 - Donruss Retro - Justin Fields - Courtesy of COMC.com

Best Prizm Alternative: Select

Basically for all the reasons people crown Prizm the best, you can name Select the best Prizm alternative. Simply, you have the shine on the thick card stock, the many parallels, and just an all-around similar look and feel.

Best “Just Not for Me” Mosaic

This is just personal preference, really, but I don’t see the appeal of Mosaic, which is odd, because I’m a huge fan of shiny, in your face flash, and everything that Mosaic stands for. Really, and it sounds even more weird when typing it out, I think it comes down to the fact that Mosaic card photos don’t have natural backgrounds.

That is, when you think of a sports card, you think of an athlete in their element—on the court, on the field, etc. But, Mosaic removes all of that, and just features a player on top of a design. I don’t know, not a great reason, but the best reason I can come up with for now. Check back in a month or so.

About Ryan from Ballcard Genius 183 Articles
Ryan is a lifelong member of the hobby and sports card expert. Specializing in baseball cards, and showcasing a love for flashy 90s inserts and all things A's, Ryan enjoys sharing the ins and outs of collecting, while highlighting the best cardboard options to add to your collections.