Wednesday, June 24, 2020

2020 Topps Clearly Authentic Review


Topps Clearly Authentic is an acetate based set that comes encased and sealed by Topps. The cards come in a one-card-per-pack format and will cost you between $60-70 at release. It follows products like Topps Signature Archives, but with a more modern feel. What's the best way to purchase this product? I weigh in on it in my review.

Product Thoughts
The Clearly Authentic cards have a very nice look to them as they follow the design of the flagship Topps set. This is a smart idea by Topps as it almost makes these cards a parallel to the base cards and provides a strong connection to the main brand. The on-card nature of the autographs of these cards are another great selling point. With a different photo and ink, these cards look really great and outshines the Archive Signature product that Topps has. Add in the fact that there are also colored parallels and you have a set that many collectors will enjoy ripping into.

At around $60-70, the question comes into mind if boxes are worth buying. For the vast majority of boxes, the card you pull will not be worth anywhere near the amount paid for it. I pulled the Jesus Luzardo card above. I like this card quite a bit, but I could pick it up for much cheaper as a single on the secondary market. If you're looking for the really big names, then it may be worth the gamble to pick up a few boxes and try your luck. But if you're a team collector or someone who collects a player that doesn't have staggering secondary market values, it's a much wiser decision to just purchase the single that you want. A VAST majority of the time you're better off just doing that.

Positives:
  • The card designs look excellent.
  • Many parallels to find in the product.
  • On-card autographs are great.
Negatives:
  • Hit or miss product.
  • Might as well buy the one you want as a single.
  • One-card-per-pack is not everyone's cup of tea.

Overall Rating:

8/10

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Not Buying 2020 Topps Finest


2020 Topps Finest Baseball came out yesterday along with a few other products (Panini Prizm Baseball, Topps Pro Debut, and Topps Big League), and I have decided to pass on the product. It's not that the cards or horrible, but I find Finest to be a tired product that gets forgotten about a week after it releases. At about $150 a hobby box, you get two mini boxes with each containing an autograph. Aside from the nice shiny look of the cards, I find that Finest doesn't really have an appealing place in the hobby landscape.

Topps' flagship product (Series 1 and 2) are cheap, but extremely collectible. Every baseball collector buys it and the rookie cards from these sets are some of the most well-known and desired. This set also has a ton of parallel cards to chase, and I find that collectors just can't get enough of them.

A product like Bowman is has collectors chasing after prospects and parallels. Chrome is like an upgraded version of Topps. And high-end products like Diamond Icons, Tier One, and Triple Threads have amazing memorabilia hits to find.

So where does that leave Topps Finest? I mean, it was the OG of refractor cards back when it had its inaugural set. It seems that Topps Finest started off as the very best Topps could offer, but over the years has declined and declined in the line-up. Maybe they should just rename it Topps Middle. That's what this product is... just the middle of the road and easily forgotten about after release.

What about the other products that came out recently? Well, I'll buy Panini Prizm at retail as well as Topps Big League. You can find those at the local Target and Walmart at a price that you can throw a few dollars at. Pro Debut? I think I'll pass on that too since like Topps Finest, I find it neither here nor there as a product. I'd just rather save my money and get Bowman.

What do you think? Are you a fan of Topps Finest baseball? If so, I'd love to know why as I personally feel it is outclassed and out matched by other products at other price points.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

2019-2020 Upper Deck Ice Review


Upper Deck Ice has changed forms and designs as it has gone through its history, but one thing has always remained the same: The Ice Premier rookie cards. Most of these cards don't hold much in terms of value, but if you are lucky enough to find the top tier guys numbered to 99, you'll have a card that is worth quite a bit of money. I wouldn't put Ice Premiers in the top three 'must-have' rookie cards, but it's a close fourth!

Product Thoughts
Ice has always had a great look to them. The theme of the set is perfect for hockey, and the color scheme this year is excellent. It's a simple design with the player set on a foiled blue background. The cards have a lot of pop to them and they feel premium. There is also a foil border that separates the background foil from the icy border. The main set is eye catching and would be a fun one to collect. 


Ice Premier rookie cards are again basically all acetate. They are see-through and come in a design that is in-line with those from the past. The cards are visually appealing and all come serial numbered. I was surprised to find an autographed version of Ice Premiers in my box. One thing different about these than the standard Ice Premier is the foil used for the serial number. Standard Ice Premier rookie cards have an older style font that looks a little less elegant. It's cool that Upper Deck kept it though as they are definitely a signature of the brand.


Boxes state that memorabilia cards or Exquisite cards can be found in the product. Jersey cards are nothing new in Ice and I was able to pull a Victor Olofsson Ice Premiers jersey card. It's a relatively small piece of jersey set at a unique angle. The card itself looks good enough in person, but the thicker acetate makes the card have a natural bend to it.


There are a few parallels to the base set that exchange the blue backing foil of the regular cards. The most common are the greens. Unfortunately, the green parallels have a close resemblance to the blue foil so it can be hard to tell them apart. Thankfully, the other colors have a much starker contrast to them making them easier to spot.


To up the ante in Ice, Upper Deck has placed the high-end Exquisite cards in the set. Exquisite cards a gorgeous looking and feature on-card autos. These cards are worth the price of admission. I'd buy Ice just to get my hands on some of these cards! Ice is great, but Exquisite makes it even better!

Positives:
  • Exquisite.
  • Great looking design.
  • On-card autographs.
Negatives:
  • Difficult to find top tier Ice Premier cards.
  • Green parallels look like regular base.
  • Not very many cards per box.

Overall Rating:

9.5/10

Thursday, June 11, 2020

2020 Bowman Baseball Review


Baseball cards prices and basketball prices are absolutely insane right now. Bowman landed a week or so ago and I decided not to pick up a box at the hobby store. Standard boxes were around the $300 mark and jumbo boxes were over $600. THAT IS INSANE. I had no luck finding Bowman at the retail level until just today. There were some packs left over in a partial box at my local Target. I scooped them all up so I could see the cards for myself.

Product Thoughts
White bordered cards are not a favorite of mine because usually they look cheap and tacky. This is not the case with the Bowman base cards. The white borders here give the card a clean and fresh look. The cards don't feel cheap at all. I'm actually impressed with how well these cards are in the eye appeal department. The lines are well done and the cards have a modern sensibility to them. As with all recent Bowman releases, the most popular cards to find are the 1st Bowman cards of players. These are not true rookie cards, but can hold high values if a player makes it big in the MLB. Bowman is one of those sets where you make sure to keep every card because you never know who could really break out.


The standard base cards are called 'paper' cards while there are more desirable chrome versions in each pack. The chrome cards feature Topps' signature foil technology that collectors go crazy for. You get a couple of chrome cards in each standard pack of Bowman. The cards feature the same photo as the paper version but the borders have the year and the Bowman logo in silver. It's a striking look that gives these cards extra appeal.


While the 1st Bowman cards are a nice draw, the autographs are where collectors can cash in big. As these are mostly prospect cards, many of the autographs are the first of a certain player. Many of these autographs are already worth hundreds of dollars. Prospects Jasson Dominguez and Bobby Witt Jr. are two that are on fire as of the writing of this review. Of course, these being prospects, there is a very good chance that these same cards could be worth just a few dollars in the future if they don't pan out. This is what makes prospecting so exciting though! It's knowing when to hold and when to sell.



I can't forget about the parallel cards. Many times the parallel cards can hold just as much value as the autographed cards. Low print run cards are also highly sought after. Get a good name and you'll have something quite valuable in your hands. Bowman has a variety of colored parallel variations in both the paper set and the chrome set. 


Less popular finds in Bowman are the standard insert cards. These insert cards are typically done with a foil look and have a nice design to them. Like the base cards, collectors will be able to seek out parallel variations of these. A lot of the inserts will give collectors information on the young prospects about to make a run at the big leagues.


With Bowman being so hot this year, if you see it at a retail store, don't hesitate to pick it up. The cards look nice and the potential for a good return in the future is high. As for hobby versions... I'd give it some thought before picking it up. The price at the moment for hobby versions of this product are too insane. You'd really have to hit something big to justify some of the prices hobby stores are asking for at the moment.

Positives:
  • Nice, clean design this year.
  • Lots of fun to chase prospects.
  • Affordable at the retail level if you can find it.
Negatives:
  • Prospecting can be a very risky endeavor.
  • Difficult to find in the wild.
  • Hobby prices are way too high.

Overall Rating:

9.5/10

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

2019-2020 Upper Deck SP Authentic Review


SP Authentic has long been one of the most popular and liked products for hockey collectors. It's clean design, on-card autographs, and potential for amazing hits is second to none. This year, SPA continues the tradition with a release that brings collectors exactly what they expect. It's easy to see that Upper Deck will move a lot of this product to eager collectors wanting to open up as many packs and boxes as they can.

Product Thoughts
The base design of SPA is the same mostly white aesthetic that Upper Deck has riffed on for years and years and years. The background on this year's base is a bit busier than I personally like, but it's not offensive. The design actually reminds me of SPA sets from the '00s for some reason. Everything on the face of the card is clean. Upper Deck is wise to continue this design forward - as they say: if it ain't broke... don't fix it!


The main chase for most people will be the Future Watch Autographed rookie cards. SPA's main claim to fame are these popular rookies. The Aleksi Saarela shown above isn't autographed, but the majority of them are. Each box of SPA comes with one autographed FWA. The one I received, Joel Farabee, was a redemption. FWA's are second only in desirability to rookie cards from The Cup. FWAs are favorite of many and lots of collectors go for a complete set. Attaining a complete set is extremely challenging. Since you only get one guaranteed a box, the best way to go after the cards you need would be to purchase them on the secondary market. I completed 2 SPA FWA sets this way. 


SPA has gotten a bit cluttered in recent years with insert cards. It used to be that there were SP Essentials as a subset, but now there are more parallels and cards with different designs. These cards add variety to the set, but it was nice when SPA was a dead simple product. Of course, that meant opening pack after pack of base cards... so I guess having these to mix up the look helps break the monotony of the cards.


With this release, collectors will find all sorts of interesting and different looking cards. The SpectrumFX cards are shiny and pop out of the pack. Collectors can go for bounties where they can get their hands on limited edition Upper Deck cards. I wonder how many collectors actually go for bounties as I have not seen much excitement for them. The bounties seem a bit difficult to pull of and an expensive proposition to complete.


Aside from the Future Watch Autograph, collectors will find a random assortment of other signature cards in the product. The Sign of the Times autographed cards are a staple of the set. One of the intriguing autographed sets in SPA this year are the 09/10 Throwback Future Watch cards. I started collecting again in 09/10 and have that complete Future Watch Auto set. Seeing that design brings back a lot of fond memories!


To round things off, Upper Deck has inserted updates to its flagship set within the product. Late season trades and moves as well as Young Gun rookie cards can be found here. Collectors who are lucky can even find exclusive and acetate variations of these cards. Taylor Hall doesn't look right as a Coyote btw.

Positives:
  • On-card autographs for everything.
  • The rookie cards in this set are highly sought after and hold good value.
  • Excellent design that has stood the test of time.
Negatives:
  • There seems to be less hits guaranteed by Upper Deck year after year.
  • Bounty cards take up space in this product.
  • Hitting the FWA you want is VERY difficult.

Overall Rating:

9/10

Monday, May 4, 2020

2019-2020 Upper Deck Credentials Review


New this year to the table is Upper Deck's Credentials product. Many people have drawn comparisons to Contenders by Panini... and for good reason. There are many similarities between the products in terms of how the cards are designed. Contenders is a fairly popular product still in other sports. Will the concept work for Upper Deck this year? Let's check out a sample box and see!

Product Thoughts
This set is pretty middle-of-the-road for the most part. The base cards are relatively plain with some shiny foil borders. The overall scheme of the base card doesn't stand out too much though. The white background is clean, but negates the foil effect somewhat. I'm sure parallel foil versions will have a lot more pop than the standard base. As for the look and branding, it's all pretty generic. If Credentials is going to be a long running staple of the Upper Deck line-up, it's going to have to stand out a lot more than it does. 


What does stand out in the product are the Debut Ticket Access cards. These cards have lots of foil on them along with serial numbering. These cards are head and shoulders above the look of the base. If you're lucky enough to pull an autographed one, you'll find that the signature is on card - which is a nice touch. The actual debut date of the rookie printed on the front is also a sweet little nugget of information that gives these cards a bit more cred.


As with most products, there is a heavy focus on rookie card content. The Rookie Science insert is a way to sneak in more rookie cards with a science-y twist. The back will have you back in science class learning all sorts of equations. It's a unique insert that I find to be a fun inclusion in this set. In terms of the look, it's not my favorite, but the concept is a new one for UD. If you happen to get an autographed version of this insert, it'll be a sticker auto.


I've got to give credit to Credentials for really making the set fit in with NHL games. The Rookie Science inserts take the physics of the game and put it on the card, and the Star of the Night inserts highlight the end of the game when the stars are announced. Very different aspects of a night of hockey, but both a large part of the game experience. If you happen to pull a few of these, notice that the number of stars on the card correspond to how many stars the player received on that given night!


A few unannounced inserts surprise collectors here in Credentials. These short prints have a fun look to them and celebrate some of the more fun aspects of on the ice action. The design here is good, but if the top and bottom portion had some sort of a textured feel, I think it would have been even better. Also be on the lookout for a colorful characters of the NHL surprise insert as well!


The insert card that stands out the most to me in the set are the Steel Wheel cards that are made entirely of metal. I could totally tell that this card was in the pack as the pack had absolute no bend to it. It's a nice card to have, but without numbering or an autograph, it makes me wonder how high the ceiling is for the standard version of these metallic cards.

Positives:
  • On-card rookie autos on some nice looking Debut Access cards.
  • Typically one auto per box, but I've seen boxes with two.
  • Variety of creative cards to look forward to.
Negatives:
  • Base set and branding are unremarkable.
  • Insert cards need something a bit more to them.
  • Pretty much a copy of Panini Contenders.

Overall Rating:

7/10

Thursday, April 16, 2020

2019-2020 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee Platinum Review


O-Pee-Chee Platinum is a foiled up upgrade to the standard O-Pee-Chee product. The cards are great looking with lots and lots of colorful parallels to find and collect. Each box comes with one on-card autograph that I'm sure will be highly sought after. OPC Platinum is a product that many look forward to each year, and is a fun rip for any collector!

Product Thoughts
This is pretty much Upper Deck's answer to Topps Chrome. The configuration is the same, as is the idea of adding foil to a standard base set. But you know what? If the formula ain't broke... it don't need to be fixed! I've seen many collectors rave about OPC Platinum. I enjoy the product, but for me it doesn't carry as much weight as it would if it were a product in another sport. OPC Platinum tends to be released at a moderate price point... and it pretty much stays there. Similar products in baseball and basketball end up skyrocketing as the product dries up. I don't foresee that happening with OPC Platinum. It's a very good hockey product, but it won't reach the height in terms of insane value that its contemporaries enjoy.


The actual set of OPC Platinum is much smaller than the standard OPC set. I can only imagine if Upper Deck chose to foil up the entire standard OPC set. That would be completely INSANE! Collectors will find the best players from the standard set along with a slew of Marquee Rookies. The Marquee Rookie cards follow the exact same design as the regular OPC cards. These cards aren't rare or short printed and are readily available out of packs.


The most fun aspect of OPC Platinum has got to be the parallel cards. There are so many different kinds to find in the product. Some parallels are numbered while others aren't. Rarity goes all the way to 1/1. My two favorite parallels in the set are the sunset cards (like the Phil Kessel shown above) and the matte pink cards. With the sunset parallels, the entire background is removed and replaced with a gorgeous looking sky background. They are great looking cards that rival anything made by Topps or Panini when it comes to a parallel card.


Retro base and parallel cards can also be found in OPC Platinum. I'm a sucker for retro cards getting the modern treatment, but to me this years retro cards aren't retro-y enough. They look good... but the designers at Upper Deck need to study some old cards and get the look to be older. Nothing will be the time they made all the retros like the 1979 OPC design... that was really sweet.


There aren't too many of them, but collectors will find a couple or so insert cards per hobby box of OPC Platinum. While it's nice to get a few extra star players in the set, inserts for the most part are not sought after by collectors. Maybe one day the pendulum will swing around again in inserts favor, but that's not going to happen anytime soon.


If you can't get enough rookie action, you'll also find rookie themed insert cards. Just like the other insert cards, these won't be too sought after, but for player collectors they do bring a nice little extra to the table in terms of collecting.


The biggest draw in OPC Platinum is probably the on-card autographs found in the product. You only get one per box, so they are not an easy pull if purchasing by the pack. All the best rookies are here to be found. These cards are reason enough to pull the trigger on a box!

Positives:
  • On-card rookie autographs.
  • Gorgeous looking parallel cards.
  • Moderate price point.
Negatives:
  • Not great by-the-pack.
  • Parallel cards in hockey aren't scorchers like in other sports.
  • Cards are easily scratched.

Overall Rating:

8/10

Saturday, April 11, 2020

2020 Donruss Baseball Review


I've been a fan of Donruss since the 80's. My all-time favorite Donruss set is '86 Donruss because of the Jose Canseco rookie card. It is a card that I've always wanted since I was a kid and now thankfully own it in a PSA 10! 2020 Donruss features the '86 design as part of the main set, so naturally it's already on my good side!

Product Thoughts
Though I really love the Donruss brand, I am not a fan of the standard base card. The design is neither here nor there and has not excitement to it. It's boring. If I could talk to the designers at Panini, I'd tell them to make it so that each year Donruss would have borders that really stand out - like they did in the 80's and early 90's. These are the most popular and most recognizable Donruss sets ever made. If they just came up with refreshed border looks each year, I think it'd be a huge plus.


The rookies and veteran cards come with the '86 style design. These cards aren't exactly like their true '86 counterparts, but they get the job done. The original '86 cards had a darker color of blue. This lighter shade doesn't really do the cards justice. Still, I enjoy pulling these cards out of the packs a lot as the nostalgia factor hits high for me with these.


What's Donruss without the Rated Rookies and Diamond Kings? These Donruss staples are back and look good. The Diamond Kings use a darker blue for the borders, and that in-and-of-itself makes these cards look better than the regular '86 tributes. The Diamond Kings also take their design straight out of the 80's which is a great choice by Panini. My only suggestion for the Diamond Kings would be to make them short prints. As they are, they come too often in packs which makes getting them nothing special. If they were hard to get with varying unannounced print-runs, I'd see collectors trying hard to put the set together.


Panini has put tons of variations in their previous Donruss sets. Some have been subtle changes of wording on cards while others are obvious - like changing a player's name to their nickname. This year Panini makes it clear which cards are variations by replacing the black Donruss logo in the upper left corner with a red retro logo. If you see the red logo there you'll know it's a variant. For the retro '86 cards, the variants have their numbers shaded black with a reversed back. I'm glad Panini did this so that these cards could be easily identified.


One of my favorite things about Panini is their approach to retail products. Panini goes all in! You'll find a ton of special colored foil cards when you purchase mega boxes, blasters, and hangers. Panini gives collectors a ton of choice and many variations. Putting a rainbow together would probably be very difficult, but it'd look great in the end if you're able to pull it off.


Hobby boxes of Donruss typically come with 2 hits per box, but you'll also be able to find hits at the retail level as well. Mega boxes state that collectors should find an autograph in every one, and I've pulled hits out of blasters as well. Donruss isn't the highest-end product, but I really think it's one of the most fun products to purchase from any company. I just wished it had the Major League license. That'd put Donruss really back in the game with all collectors!

Positives:
  • Great at both the retail and hobby levels.
  • Hits are readily available in all forms of the product.
  • Has a nice callback to '86 Donruss.
Negatives:
  • No MLB license.
  • Does not hold a huge amount of value.
  • Forgettable base design.

Overall Rating:

8/10

Thursday, April 9, 2020

2020 Topps Opening Day Baseball Review


I wasn't initially going to review Opening Day, but with an abundance of time on my hands due to the stay-at-home order from the corona virus outbreak, I find myself with the time to review this product. It's probably Topps' lowest-end product, but surprisingly, there are some excellent pulls to be found here. I thought it'd be one-and-done with me, but I actually have purchased a nice handful of these cards.

Product Thoughts
Topps Opening Day shares a similar design to that of the standard Topps flagship set. The difference here is the Opening Day logo at the bottom of the cards. Topps uses the same photos that were in Series One here, and you do get a little preview of photos they will use for Series Two for the players that weren't in Series One. It's a bit lazy on Topps' part. I actually think the set would be a huge upgrade if there were photos unique to Opening Day in this set - it's a bit of a missed opportunity, and it makes Opening Day seem like a product that collectors can just skip over since the base cards are pretty much available with the Topps flagship products.


Unique to Opening Day are the insert cards. The inserts feature early season events such as Opening Day. You'll find photos of Opening Day 2019 here. I'm not a fan of these cards as many of them are boring stadium shots. I do wonder, however, what Topps will do next year. I'm not even sure there will be an opening day for 2020 - which is so sad!


My personal favorite looking insert in Opening Day are the Spring Has Sprung cards. These cards feature photos from spring training. Spring training is usually such an afterthought after the season begins that there are hardly any cards that depict it. I particularly like the Roberto Clemente card shown above. It shows him at a spring training game from way back. It's not everyday that you get a glimpse of pre-season action of older players.


Opening Day is a product aimed at kids and younger collectors. Sticker cards haven't really been very popular with veteran collectors, but kids may like them to put on their stuff. You can find sticker cards in opening day of many of the game's biggest names. The stickers are very thin and you can tell that they are not of the same material the standard cards are made from.


I am a huge fan of mascots and I'm so glad they have a chance to shine a bit with the mascot cards within the set. I have found, however, that Topps' doesn't collate their cards well and you end up getting multiples of the same cards over and over again - particularly the mascot cards. If you watch my break of the mega boxes, you'll see me pull the same mascots out in multiple. 


Something that veteran collectors will enjoy out of this set are the parallel cards. Mega boxes come with a special pack of red foil parallels, and you'll find blue parallels inside the packs. These foil cards look really great and feature a stamp that says "March 26, 2020" - the opening day that didn't happen. There are other parallel cards to be found as well depending on where you buy your Opening Day cards.


Sadly, the card shown above (an advertisement for National Baseball Card Day) counts as a card in the pack. So if you're not a fan of filler, you're not going to like one of your cards being replaced with this. Hopefully you'll avoid it and find some of the better cards in Opening Day such as the relic cards (some with actual dirt from MLB ballparks) or the Luis Robert SSP rookie card. Those cards are very tough pulls, but are unique and hold some nice value to them.

Positives:
  • Very inexpensive product.
  • Potential to pull some cards with strong value such as relics or SSPs.
  • Easy to find.
Negatives:
  • Photos are repeats from the flagship Topps set.
  • Topps did not collate the cards very well.
  • Finding a hit is VERY difficult.

Overall Rating:

7.75/10

Friday, April 3, 2020

2020 Topps Inception Baseball Review


I've never really been a fan of Inception, so I really never bothered to pick any up in the past. I have found that while this is a premium product, it's not highly regarded in terms of hobby value. This year I find myself drawn to the design and picked up a box to give myself an idea of what Inception is like to open. Let's see what I got!

Product Thoughts
I've seen breaks of this year's product already and I knew that I was a fan of the design. It looks like something that Fleer would have come out with in the 90's - just done better. It has a very artsy aesthetic that I enjoy quite a bit. I don't think this design would be in everybody's taste, but I've heard a number of breakers really liking it. It's cool that Topps went out of the design comfort zone a bit here. 


Inception is full of rookie content alongside a strong veteran presence. The rookies have the designated rookie card symbol on their cards. I seem to remember Inception being a heavy rookie-based product when it initially was introduced. Bowman Inception might be the better product of the two to go prospect hunting, but you can definitely get your rookie fix here as all the big names are in the set.


The standard Inception base cards have a white background, and those are probably my favorite looking of the bunch, but the numbered parallels add a colorful flair to Inception's look. The Bregman above is numbered to just 25. It's a nice pull to get, but to be honest, I was actually gunning for a pink parallel numbered to 99. I just think the pink that they used this year really pops. I might have to find some on eBay to pick up as singles.


Inception isn't a product that is priced too highly. It is well under the hundred dollar mark and you are guaranteed an autographed hit per box. The hit I got features a nice, clean signature on the card, but it's about as basic as you can find in Inception. The patch versions have an awesome look to them with a sizable piece of patch. Though they look spectacular, I have found the prices on these patch cards to be relatively reasonable on the secondary market.

Positives:
  • Great design this year.
  • Not terribly expensive.
  • High quality cards.
Negatives:
  • Not a ton of hobby love for Inception.
  • The design may not be to everyone's taste.
  • Very hit or miss.

Overall Rating:

8/10

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

2020 Topps Gypsy Queen Baseball Review


I'm a little late to the Gypsy Queen party this year, but I am so glad I was able to find a box! Gypsy Queen is a fun product with a retro design unlike most. There are plenty of fun and collectible things to find in the product, and I'm excited to check out what a hobby box can give collectors.

Product Thoughts
I generally am a big fan of retro products, but for some reason I don't think of Gypsy Queen as your typical retro offering. The design of Gypsy Queen is in the style of tarot cards. The stock on the cards has a slick, almost matte like feel to them. These cards truly make up a unique set! Many retro sets throw in cards from pop culture or history - think Allen & Ginter. This is not the case here. Gypsy Queen is pretty much all focused on baseball. You won't be pulling cards of eggs or presidents in these packs.


Gypsy Queen is very similar to your standard baseball set with a nice mix of veterans and rookies. The final short printed portion of the main set features retired players. Those cards come about one per hobby box. You'll find additional stars in insert sets like the Cody Bellinger above. This is where the tarot card theme really comes into play. This particular insert has rounded corners as well as mystic symbols all around it. 


I've never been a fan of odd-sized cards, so I'm not a huge fan of these Fortune Teller cards. These cards are the same height as a standard card, but they are much skinnier. I've heard there were more of these smaller cards in previous products - and some collectors miss them - but not me. I just never know how to store these cards and keep them in good condition. For now, they just kind of awkwardly sit in penny sleeves. If it's particularly valuable they would go into a top loader. 


Like Topps does, there are tons and tons of parallels and variation cards in Gypsy Queen. Some short prints can be difficult to distinguish while others are easy. This black and white variation card is an obvious parallel. They are also numbered to 50 on the back. I also pulled a Ronald Acuna Jr. card in a pack in my box break that came in the pack flipped the other way. It made me curious and wonder if it was a special card. Turns out it was a short print image variation. So with this set you really have to be on the lookout for these types of cards.


Everybody likes little bonuses, and in hobby boxes of Gypsy Queen Topps is giving us a Chrome version of the set. Collectors will get a 3-card bonus pack with the Chrome cards. Topps has included parallel versions as well with a chance at pulling Superfractors numbered to just 1. I love the added value of these cards and they look good too. The Chrome treatment on Topps cards never gets old!


Autograph collectors will appreciate that each box will have two on-card autographs inside. I love the fact that these cards are auto'd on-card. There are also new mem cards that feature cut-outs of line-up cards from actual games. It's a unique concept that be really awesome to pull. Too bad they are almost impossible to get!


Positives:
  • On-card autographs.
  • Not too expensive and an excellent mid-tier product.
  • Lots of interesting types of cards in the product.
Negatives:
  • Hard to pull hits if just purchasing by the pack.
  • Some cards have odd sizes that may not please every collector.
  • It can be easy to miss some variant cards in the set.

Overall Rating:

9/10