The set is cheaper than last year’s version, ranging in price as low as $59.99 for a 24-pack retail box on one internet site (Fans Edge, which also offers free shipping). However, hobby boxes will fall in the $89 to $115 range, depending on the retailer. A hobby box also will contain 24 packs, with eight cards to a pack.
Whereas in previous years there were two autographs and two relics in each hobby box, this year’s version is limited to two on-card autos. The mini-parallels are gone, and so are the paper-framed parallels. However, Topps unveiled a new design and added an oversized chrome box-topper that is absolutely beautiful.
The base set for Gypsy Queen is 300 cards that consist of rookies and veterans. There are an additional 20 short-printed retired stars and Hall of Famers. In the hobby box I opened, I pulled 173 base cards and one short print. I had a second short print, but it was a variation — a missing nameplate card of Babe Ruth. The missing nameplate cards will fall one in every nine packs on average.
I also pulled a pair of purple parallels, numbered to 250. Collectors might find hobby-exclusive black-and-white parallels, numbered to 50 — there was one in the box I sampled — red (numbered to 10) and 1/1 black. For those buying retail, there are green parallels numbered to 99.
The capless cards are interesting, as they showcase the hairdos of players. And the one I pulled was a perfect example, with Noah Syndergaard’s flowing locks adorning card No. 198.
The design did undergo some distinct changes. In 2016, for example, the player was identified only by his last name and his first initial at the bottom of the card front; in 2017, his full name is featured on a black nameplate that is situated in the bottom right-hand corner of the card.
The card backs this year feature the player’s name in a banner at the top, with his team name above it and his position below it. While five lines of biographical type were used in the 2016 Gypsy Queen set, six are used this year. A drawback to this year’s set is the color of the font that identifies the card number. Instead of simply listing the card number at the top (like in the 2016 version), the ’17 model lists it more formally, like “No. 1 in a series of 320.”
It is displayed in all capital letters, but the burnt-orange color of the type face tends to blend into the cream-colored background of the card back. It’s difficult to read; well, at least for an old, longtime collector like me.
The box-topper is a hobby exclusive called GlassWorks. This is an oversized, 25-card set; I pulled a Clayton Kershaw card. The chrome really makes the card shimmer and shine. There are parallels in purple (numbered to 150), red (25) and black (1/1). There also are nine autograph parallels, numbered to 9.
A typical hobby box will yield seven inserts. I pulled three from the Hand Drawn Art insert, which depicts players in a more artistic format than the base cards. There are 38 of these cards.
The second insert is a cross between a mini and a regular-sized base card. Called Fortune Teller, these cards are as tall as a base card but only three-quarters as wide. The format is to make a prediction about what a player might do in 2017. For example, the card for Dansby Swanson notes that he will never play a game in Triple-A ball and will hit double figures in homers for the Braves. It will be intriguing to read the predictions again in October.
Gypsy Queen has undergone a few changes, but it has not lost its general feel. The card-front design is more ornate, which makes it more attractive.