Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia. He blogs for TBO.com on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.
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Collect call: 2012 Topps Gypsy Queen baseball
Posted Apr 25, 2012 by Bob D'Angelo
Updated Apr 25, 2012 at 01:02 AM
It sounds like a broken record, but I really enjoy cards that have a retro — or even ancient — feel to them. The Topps Heritage sets come to mind as far as retro goes, since I can recall many of the old designs from my early days of collecting.
Now, for ancient design, I love efforts like Topps’ Allen & Ginter and Upper Deck’s Goodwin Champions. Last year, Topps added Gypsy Queen to the mix, and it was a set that remained faithful to the original design of the 19th century card.
That made for a very stark-looking set. So for an encore, Topps did some embellishing and came up with an attractive-looking set. I am sure purists might criticize the departure from the original design, but what worked for Allen & Ginter probably would not have flown for Gypsy Queen. So, the 2012 model sports a more intricate look, particularly in the artwork of the player. These cards have shadow, detail and nuance to it, and that gives it a nice, strong character.
Now, the particulars. A hobby box of Gypsy Queen contains 24 packs, with 10 cards to a pack. Topps promises two autographs and two relics per box, and the hobby box I sampled was true to that promise.
You have to be excited when the first pack you open has these four cards in a row — Derek Jeter, Juan Marichal, Ken Griffey Jr. and a Ty Cobb variation (more on variations later). The third pack was typical as well, with Dave Winfield, Roberto Clemente, Reggie Jackson, Gary Carter and Catfish Hunter. The two active players in the pack were Phillies last year — Roy Oswalt and Jimmy Rollins.
The sizzle cards in this set are highlighted by the on-card autographs. The Miguel Cabrera signature was bold and in blue ink. The second autograph, of Atlanta’s Randall Delgado, is not quite as bold and the ink is a little spotty. But that might be a product of Delgado’s signing, and not the pen. Still, it’s on-card and that’s a plus.
The relic cards were nice, too. The first one was a Ryan Zimmerman gray game-used jersey swatch, while the second was a Nelson Cruz mini gray used game jersey swatch. The mini comes framed so it is as large as the base cards.
Now to the variations, and Topps uses the usual suspects to drive those putting together master sets crazy. The variations are different pictures on the card fronts, and some of them are tricky because they are so subtle.
For example, the Mickey Mantle (card No. 120) variation shows the Mick staring back at the pitcher, right hand on his hip, with an “I can’t believe you threw that pitch” expression on his face. Derek Jeter’s base card (No. 100) shows him leading off second base; the variation card has the Yankees’ captain swinging away.
Albert Pujols has a variation card, too. Card No. 180 shows Pujols ready to field, hands on knees. The variation card shows him about to toss the ball to first base.
There are plenty of variations. For a nice comprehensive list of the 50 regular size and mini short-print variations, go to www.SportsCardRadio.com and enjoy yourself:
http://www.sportscardradio.com/index.php/sports-card-directory/71-sports-card-glossary/1220-2012-topps-gypsy-queen-sp-photo-variationsYu Darvish, who was masterful against the Yankees on Tuesday night, is a late inclusion in the Gypsy Queen set as card No. 288 and is classified as a super short print. The actual base card at No. 288 is C.J. Wilson.
In the hobby box I sampled, I pulled both versions of the Ichiro, Tom Seaver and Clayton Kershaw cards. As mentioned earlier, I pulled a Cobb variation — but not the base card.
Gypsy Queen offers several inserts for collectors to chase. Moonshots highlights a slugger’s signature deep home run, like Mantle’s blast off the façade in right field. There were eight in the hobby box I opened. Sliding Stars features — you guessed it — baseball players sliding into various bases during key plays of games. There were eight of those inserts, too.
Glove Stories features great fielding plays, particularly great catches. Included among the four I pulled from the hobby box was a card commemorating the catch Dewayne Wise made against the Rays to preserve Mark Buehrle’s perfect game in 2009.
There was one numbered base card in the box — a blue-frame border card of Starlin Castro, numbered to 599.
The inserts will have autograph and framed 1/1 printing plate parallels.
Mini-cards — complete with variations — are included in each pack. There were minis with the same color front as the larger base cards. But here’s where it gets interesting — and mind-boggling.
When you get your minis, be sure to look at the back of the card. In addition to the “regular” cards, there are Straight Cut backs, in black ink (there were four in the box I sampled); and Gypsy Queen backs, which have a brownish hue to its ink (also four in the box I saw). And the minis, unlike the base set, have cards numbered from 1-350, rather than 300.
More mini variations included a green mini of Jesus Montero, two black minis (with white letters against a black background) of Stan Musial and Jose Tabata; and a sepia-toned mini of Lou Gehrig (with a black back), numbered to 99.
Every hobby box includes a loader pack that includes 10 mini cards. There are at least seven variations per pack — the pack, which looks more like an old-fashioned matchbox, had Mantle and Kevin Youkilis variations as its highlights. The pack also contained mini versions of the Moonshots, Glove Stories and Sliding Stars inserts. Other hobby boxes will have autographs randomly inserted.
There are also Gypsy King insert cards, which is a mythical baseball squad.
Set builders will enjoy putting the set together. The box I opened yielded 185 of the 300 base cards, and there were no doubles. The inserts are colorful and have well-researched information on the card backs. There are plenty of autographs to be found, and even some special cards with Indian Head pennies imbedded into the card. Since Indian Heads were not minted after 1909, that’s quite an interesting card to find.
It looks like a good effort for Gypsy Queen’s sophomore season.