After moving up to North Dakota, where hockey cards would be much more plentiful, I came to the conclusion that I would have to make a few sacrifices to my baseball pursuits for 2012, and Gypsy Queen would likely be the odd man out. Well, 2/3 of the way through this year, I broke those plans, and I must say, I'm glad I did. Not only will I be able to make my money back via Ebay, but this was just a straight up FUN product to open.
Gypsy Queen boxes come with 24 packs of 10 cards. Of those 10 cards, there are usually 8 base, 1 mini, and 1 insert/SP. Some packs have more inserts, some have more base, but that's the breakdown of the usual pack. Like last year, Gypsy Queen is an all-painted set with a mixture of present-day players and retired stars.
In addition to those 240 cards, each hobby box comes with a "box topper" of 10 mini cards, containing seven base minis, and one each from the Moonshots, Sliding Stars, and Glove Stories insert sets. My box gave me a Mike Schmidt Moonshots, a Trayvon Robinson Glove Stories, and a Jose Reyes Sliding Stars.
Like we've seen with Topps Heritage this year with the color swap variations, they decided to get a little tricky on us with some SP variations on their base cards with a simple image swap. The trouble is, there's no indicator, at least that I'm aware of, so unless you know which is the regular photo or which is the variation, there's nothing to tell you otherwise.
The three main inserts this year are Moonshots, Glove Stories, and Sliding Stars. As I'm sure anyone could guess, Moonshots celebrates the games big home run hitters, Glove Stories recognizes some amazing defensive plays, and Sliding Stars spotlights the best base stealers.
In addition to their regular mini cards, there are also some variations using different colors or a different backing. The two alternate-backing cards are Straight Cut and Gypsy Queen (a.k.a. Red Back). They are each inserted at a rate of 4 per box, and I got Tim Lincecum, Frank Robinson, Cal Ripken Jr. and Daryl Strawberry from Gypsy Queen, and Brett Myers, Chris Sale, Ryan Roberts, and Justin Morneau from Straight Cut.
Even more rare than those are the green, black and sepia-tone variations. The green varations are 1-per-box, the black variations are 2-per-box and sepia-tone is serial numbered to just 99 copies. Wjhiel my green Rickie Weeks, black Jeremy Hellickson, and black Jeff Niemann weren't too earth-shattering, I was very happy with my sepia Roberto Clemente, numbered 67/99.
Also like last year, they put paper borders around 100 of their selected base cards and numbered them /999. I opened one of them, a Cal Ripken, which is fetching some nice return-on-investment in the secondary market.
Each hobby box of Gypsy Queen promises four hits: 2 on-card autographs and 2 relics. My two relics were a Madison Bumgarner bat relic and a David Wright framed blue jersey relic. I'm not sure why Topps does both of them in this set, or even if one is more rare than the other, but either way, the WRIGHT is a NICE looking card. I also got an autograph of Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd, which made this North-Side fan very happy.
The big hit of the box, though, was a Brett Lawrie autograph. I'm not sure if Topps has their autographs on a tiered system similar to last years, but this one must be one of the rarer versions, as this cards has already been selling on Ebay for $100. SCORE!!! I always love blowing right past a card, only to go back later and find that you had a diamond in the rough on your hands. Between the Lawrie and the framed Ripken, I'll be making my money back on those two cards alone, which can be a rare thing in box busting.
If you're on the fence about Gypsy Queen, my advice would be to go ahead and dive right in. Not only is it an absolute blast to open, but last year's product went through the roof after an unexpected demand. Maybe Topps increased production this year, but the best thing with Gypsy Queen is to bust early and bust often.