by Chris Harris
One of the more successful product introductions in recent years was the debut of Topps Gypsy Queen Baseball. Initially seen by many as an Allen & Ginter knock-off, Gypsy Queen surprised many in The Hobby with its clean 19th Century design and set collectability. Then again, any product that retails for $6/pack and yields five “hits” in a box is bound to be a winner. 2012 Topps Gypsy Queen Baseball will attempt to replicate the successes of the 2011 edition with a product that is, structurally at least, a carbon copy.
The 2012 edition will feature a 350-card base set with the past 50 cards short-printed and inserted into packs at a yet-to-be-determined rate. Each 10-card Hobby pack will contain a mini-sized parallel in one of six different varieties ranging from the one-per-pack “plain vanilla” mini to the serial-numbered to 99 Sepia Tone Minis. The 100-card Framed Paper standard-sized partial-parallel returns with a Blue version limited to 599 copies and a one-of-one Black. Inserts include the 10-card Glove Stories (fielders), Slide Show (base stealers) and Moonshots (all the usual power hitting suspects).
The Hobby-exclusive 10-card “Mini-Box” also returns, with one Mini-Box-exclusive card from each of the three insert sets and seven other mini cards. Unlike last year, the minis in the Mini-Box will not be true parallels, but a mini-sized variation with a different photo than that of the pack-inserted minis.
Like last year, the main draw of Gypsy Queen will be the “hits,” and for 2012 one should expect four (two autographs and two “Relics”) in a 24-pack Hobby box – one fewer than last year. (The 2011 edition was also intended to have two autographs and two “Relics” per box, but a production error led many boxes to pack out with only one autograph and three “Relics.” Topps remedied this by adding a fifth “hit” via a wrapper-redemption offer. Barring another production screw-up, this year will have only four hits per box.) All autographs are scheduled to be on-card and feature many of the big names that have signed for Topps in recent releases, including Sandy Koufax and Hank Aaron. New Topps signee Willie Mays is also on the provisional checklist. New to the “Relic” program are Indian Head Penny Relics, which will have an authentic 1887-vintage penny embedded into the card.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a Topps Baseball card set without a stupid gimmick thrown-in and 2012 Topps Gypsy Queen doesn’t disappoint. Whereas last year, Topps randomly inserted a series of “Gypsy Queens” -- 19 random females whose true identities were never disclosed – the 2012 edition brings us the “Gypsy Kings,” 12 cards of a non-existent 19th Century barnstorming club. Observant collectors will note that this is now the second time in four years Topps has made cards of a phony 1880s-era team (Team Orange in 2008 Allen & Ginter). Collectors will also be thrilled to know that the Gypsy Kings will also be available in “autographed” and “Relic” editions (and we use those terms very loosely).
2012 Topps Gypsy Queen Baseball is scheduled for release on April 18, 2012. Hobby boxes will contain 24 packs of 10 cards and a 10-card Mini-Box box topper and should retail for around $100.
Chris Harris blogs about the hobby at StaleGum.com.