With the Hobby version of this year’s Gypsy Queen due tomorrow (3rd April), almost a week after the Retail boxes hit the US, I just wanted to take a few moments to share some observations on this years release!
- Hobby vs Retail – This years GQ Retail release seems to be stacked with a lot more added ‘extras’ to make it really stand up alongside the Hobby release. Usually I’d expect to see a Retail-only parallel set and maybe an insert set, but on an initial glance at the checklist it looks as if, along with a white-bordered paper parallel and a set of autographed mini cards, there are a great number of what would normally be Hobby-exclusive ‘hits’, such as Bat Knobs, that can also be found at the Retail level!
- Old School Ballplayers – One of the things that impressed me about last years GQ was the increased presence of older players. Sure, the usual suspects were all there such as Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax and Stan ‘The Man’, but there were a few other names that don’t often find their way onto modern Baseball cards, like Ralph Kiner, Eddie Matthews and Larry Doby. This year’s release continues the trend with the likes of Harmon Killebrew, Early Wynn, Hoyt Wilhelm, Jim Bunning, Bobby Doerr – the list goes on!! I appreciate it when Topps acknowledges some of these ‘lesser known’ players and it’s a nice nod to the history of the game. Even Cards HOF’er Bruce Sutter gets a look-in! Yeah!!! In his Cubs uniform!! Booooo!!!!!
- Inserts, Inserts, Inserts – Topps has crammed this year’s release with some great insert sets. We have the likes of newbie ‘Glove Stories’ and ‘Collision at the Plate’ sitting alongside the returning ‘Sliding Stars’. However the final two insert sets that are the ones that I really like – the pitcher-only ‘No Hitter’ and the awesome ‘Dealing Aces’, the latter being designed around the look of a playing card!! How cool is that??
I wasn’t too impressed when I saw the initial images of 2013 GQ a few months ago. I thought the base card design wasn’t as nice as the previous two releases but I have to admit that it’s starting to grow on me!
However, one of the main issues I have so far is there’s nothing that we haven’t really seen before. Nothing to make us sit bag and go WOW!! Bat Knobs, Dual/Triple Autos, Minis, Mini Relics, SP, SP Variations!! All of these seem to be ‘de rigueur’ for Topps products these days!
I can’t argue with the content, but I wish GQ was aimed more at the low to mid-end market, maybe bridging the gap between the main Topps set and Allen & Ginter’s. As it stands it seems to be moving more in the direction of the mid-high end range and there’s an argument to be made as to whether we really need any more of those in our collecting lives?
Another point to raise, which doesn’t affect us bods in the UK, Europe or the rest of the world, is Topps’ release schedule with respect to Retail before Hobby. I’ve heard rumblings of disquiet on Twitter (and other related forums) for some time regarding this policy and the disadvantage that it forces on Hobby retailers over the bigger stores such as Target and Wal-Mart! If the Retail product becomes more readily available before the Hobby boxes hit the streets then the Hobby stockists and case-breakers are potentially playing catch-up, trying to lure in collectors/customers who have already started to buy at the Retail level.
This clearly isn’t a good release practise and is possibly something Topps needs to look into before it has a longer term impact on Hobby retailers!
That said, I am looking at the possibility of picking some of this year’s GQ up at some point further down the line. Retail boxes are a much cheaper alternative to get shipped into the UK, and with the increase in the numbers of bigger ‘hits’ in this year’s Retail products, going down this route does seem more appealing! The odds are still ridiculously high, but there’s also the chance of getting hold of some of those lovely-looking, white-bordered parallel cards which really draws me to Retail this time around!
I’ve also just purchased a couple of slots in a 3-Box Hobby Break through Kidder Cards! More details on this to follow!!