Recently there was a short but interesting thread on the modern card section of the Net 54 Message Boards. One of the posters, who lives near me was bemoaning the amount of sets Topps produces and was very impressed by the 2014 Donruss set and he wondered why Panini did not have a MLB properties license.
I explained in that thread that MLB Properties (Not the Players Association) tries as often as possible to have an exclusive MLB sponsor. At this point Topps has the MLB exclusive through 2020 with Panini and Upper Deck having licenses only with the MLB Players Association. While I don't know anything about the discussions which led us to this current state, I would venture to say a couple of reasons Topps got their licenses include: they have been producing major league cards non-stop since 1951 and thus have the brand recognition, they have the best distribution into the retail outlets such as Target and Walmart and they usually figure out a way to produce consistency on a year-to-year basis.
2014 Topps Gypsy Queen is sort of a good example of that. Topps introduced the old 19th century brand back into the hobby in 2011 and it’s found a sizeable audience for its annual spring time release. It arrives just late enough to include some of the new faces that collectors are talking about.
Each 24-pack hobby box promises two relic and two on card autograph cards along with six short prints. The on card autographs are a big selling point with most collectors and that was a plus for Topps this year. The base set is 350 cards with 50 of those being short prints, which will make it a challenge for set builders.
The design doesn’t deviate a lot from past years with the old-style ornate borders surrounding the player photo with his name, team and position on the bottom. The backs have a short piece of copy. If you’re looking for a lot of stats, Gypsy Queen isn’t the brand for you.
There is an insert set using the design of the original N174 cards and the Glove Stories have been popular with collectors who like the concept. Debut All-Stars is among the new insert sets this year.
When I checked in my local card store (Triple Cards, Plano TX) he mentioned he was slightly disappointed in only selling two cases at $119.75 per box. Meanwhile leading on-line retailers are between $100-110 which is a perfectly normal variance between in-person retail and on-line pricing. Triple Cards did report one of his customers pulled the 1/1 Derek Jeter "Penny" card which features a Lincoln penny minted in the birth year of the player pictured.
How did we do from our box?
Base Cards: 184 of 300 or a bit more than 60 percent. Thus, you do need two hobby boxes to make a base set. There were no duplicates in my box.
Short Pints: Carlos Beltran, Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter, Bo Jackson, Albert Pujols, Masahiro Tanaka
Pose Variations: Babe Ruth
Minis: Jose Altuve, Michael Cuddyer, Matt Davidson, Tom Glavine, Juan Gonzalez, Goose Gossage, Zach Greinke. Chase Headley, Aaron Hill, Desmond Jennings, Derek Jeter, Nick Markakis, J.R. Murphy, Eddie Murray, Ben Revere, Anthony Rizzo, Robin Roberts, Warren Spahn, C.J. Wilson, Jordan Zimmerman
Mini Black Parallel (#d to 199): Pete Kozma, Eddie Mathews, Justin Verlander
Mini Brown Parallel (#d to 50): Adrian Gonzalez
Mini Pose Variations: (These were all in the box topper of 10 minis): Jose Bautista, Johnny Bench, Jose Fernandez, Rickey Henderson, Tim Lincecum, Joe Mauer, Matt Moore, Joey Votto, Jordan Zimmerman, Ryan Zimmerman
Dueling Aces: Yu Darvish, CC Sabathia, Max Scherzer
N174 Gypsy Queen: Miguel Cabrera (2), Bryce Harper, Yasiel Puig, Babe Ruth, Tom Seaver
Relic Card: Domonic Brown
Framed Mini-Relic: Bruce Rondon
Autographs: Johnathan Pettibone, Allen Webster
There were no major hits in our box and our autographed cards won’t create any headlines but at least we did find a pretty nice player selection on some of the inserts and have a good start on a base set if we choose (although as always, the single prints will drive you crazy). As always, the ‘value’ of the box depends on the autographs pulled and we didn’t score well there but from a collecting standpoint, there is plenty to keep you entertained. See boxes, cases, sets and singles on eBay here.