If you were born in the mid-1990s or after, you aren’t going to understand where I am coming from when I broach this topic. There aren’t many people under the age of 30 that have ever experienced life without the world at their fingertips. Believe me when I tell you that there was a time, not too long ago, when life was limited to what was right there in front of you. Some of these examples might blow your mind if you aren’t a 70’s or 80’s kid, but they are all true! Before you get too ramped up about this piece though, realize that much of this is tongue-in-cheek.
When I was a kid, if you didn’t want to watch what was on the TV in front of you, you didn’t watch TV. We had about 13 channels, and 3 of them were news or public access. Not only that but if you wanted to change the channel, you had to get up and walk all the way over to the TV to change it. Our parents were the only ones in the house that had “remote controls” if you catch my drift. There was no DVR, no streaming services, and no YouTube. For some people, DVD’s are now considered obsolete, but we hadn’t ever heard of those either. We didn’t have full seasons available to us, so if we wanted to catch up on what we missed from a previous episode, we had to pick up the phone and call a friend or find an old copy of the TV Guide.
If you didn’t want what your parents put on your supper plate, you didn’t eat. There were no “Uber Eats” or delivery services available then. There was no “call ahead” or online ordering, so convenience was never a factor. In fact, after about 6 pm in my small town, you were pretty much limited to what was in the pantry, so you made do with that. I remember eating a can of frozen biscuits with Kraft cheese thrown on them in the last couple of minutes of baking because that’s what we had on hand. We hadn’t even heard of “Lunchables,” so we had to balance our own meal with what was laying around the house on a summer afternoon.
This next one was huge for me, but if you didn’t like the song that was on, you had to wait until it was over to hear another one. If you’ve ever wondered why mix-tapes were so popular, they were the only way we could enjoy only the songs we wanted to hear, and with no commercials. We didn’t have XM, Pandora, Spotify, or iTunes back in the day. You had AM/FM and cassettes; at least until 1991 when CD’s became affordable. Did you know that a CD player would cost you $1,000 or more in the ’80s? So unless you had the cassette, you were at the mercy of the local DJ and his list of favorite songs. If you really want a history lesson on when music became widely available to the masses, google “Napster” and thank me in the comments.
When you get ready to go shopping today, you likely have some strip malls nearby. But if you don’t, you certainly have apps for Amazon, eBay, Target, Kohl’s, and countless other retailers. In many cases, you can have things shipped to you the very next business day. When we wanted to shop, we had Wal-Mart and Rite Aid Drug Store. If we wanted something that they didn’t carry, it was a day trip. Even then, there were no guarantees that we were going to find what we were looking for. I can’t describe to you the feeling of driving somewhere to get something you’ve really been looking forward to, only to find out they are out of stock or weren’t carrying said item. In this case, said item was an Optimus Prime toy figure. I eventually got it, but it wasn’t at the click of a button.
There are choices and multiple variations of just about everything today, and that includes sports cards. When I was a kid, if you were a Topps guy, you got one set for 365 days to collect. The same went for Donruss and Fleer. For almost all of the 1980s, there were three basic sets you collect from year to year. Those days are in the past, right along with the 8-track, Dunk-a-roos, and Beta Max tapes. If you are a Topps guy now, you have your choice of Flagship, Inception, Heritage, Allen & Ginter, Tier One, Museum, Chrome, Hi-Tek, Pro Debut, Stadium Club, Finest, Tribute, and more! I don’t know if this is because we are never satisfied, don’t have very long attention spans, or the hobby has just morphed into a tremendously specialized arena where collectors have to have every type of card imaginable.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not 100% saying this is a bad thing. I just think it can get a little cumbersome at times when you try to keep up with most of the releases throughout the year. Panini does the same thing with Football. The options that are presented every week are sometimes mind-blowing. Some of the products are very similar in design, but many of them have their distinct style, and those have developed their own unique following from year to year. They make certain products that cater to the old school collectors, bring in the prospectors, satisfy the big spenders, and keep the kids involved with smaller price tags.
When it comes to design changes, your favorite product might change from year to year. There are some products that I love no matter what design comes with it while there are others that I may collect only because of the design. I was not a big fan of Gypsy Queen in years past, but it has been modified over time, and now I really look forward to that release. For several years, I didn’t find enough difference between the Gypsy Queen and Allen & Ginter releases to really move me. Of course, you can find the former President’s Hair and Shark Teeth in Allen & Ginter, but the designs were eerily similar for many years. When Gypsy began setting itself apart from Allen & Ginter, I found myself being pulled in.
The significant change over the last couple of years has been the addition of small splashes of color. You may have read about the first year of that change HERE on my blog with the 2017 release. That carried over to my 2018 review HERE and made the product desirable for me yet again. So I looked forward to 2019’s Gypsy Queen release with great anticipation because I wasn’t overly excited about the 1970 Heritage release this year. When it comes to baseball, I am pretty much into Heritage, Gypsy, and Archives when it comes to set building. I pick up other releases along the way, but I really look forward to these on an annual basis.
2019 Gypsy Queen is a 300 card base set with an additional 20 cards that are short print veterans. The total set size is 320 so not too big to try to build over a few boxes. Each box holds 24 packs with 8 cards per pack. You should also find 2 on-card autographs per box, which is another positive about the annual GQ release. The short print veterans are found in 1:24 packs on average, so 1 per box. The Fortune Teller Mini’s and Tarot of the Diamond cards return in 2019 as well.
A new addition for 2019 GQ is the 3 card pack that replaces last year’s “Glassworks” Box Topper. The 3 card pack features Chrome cards, which has never before been available with the GQ release. The Chrome cards have a 100 player checklist and features refractors; Indigo (/150), Gold (/50), Red (/5), and Supers (/1). There are also 15 autographed cards that can be found in those box topper packs, and all numbered to 25.
As is the going standard today, there are also parallels and variations to chase in the set. The Jackie Robinson Day variations feature a player wearing the #42 Tribute jersey and are found 1:141 hobby packs, on average and there are 28 cards in the checklist. There are also Players Weekend Variations with 20 cards in the checklist, and these are found in 1:139 hobby packs, on average. Finally, there are 4th of July Variations with 15 cards in the checklist, found in a very lofty 1:1,125 hobby packs.
For the base cards, there are multiple parallels to chase as well. As always, go check out Ryan Cracknell’s post on Beckett to learn all about the release and what to look for when ripping packs. That post can be found HERE. Let’s get into the box break and see what we can find!
Here is a good look at the front and back of 2019 Gypsy Queen. The color pops more than Allen & Ginter and older style Gypsy Queen Cards. The backs are not stat driven but do contain some interesting information about the player.
I’ll run through some of my favorites from the box. This was a very nice image of Nicholas Castellanos. It has a little Stadium Club feel but with a more classic flavor.
Though the Phillies are a natural enemy of the Atlanta Braves, I really love the look of this Maikel Franco. This really gives you a look at the vibrant colors in the set.
I have always been a sucker for the old school Pirates uniforms. This card reminds me of some of my favorite Tony Pena cards from the ’80s.
Baseball fans either love Manny Machado or hate him. But I think most card collectors will agree that this is a sharp looking card.
While this particular card isn’t a breathtaking angle or anything, Ohtani cards still carry a lot of mystique when pulled.
Juan Soto is a player that many collectors will be after this year. He has some cards from 2018, but I think this will be the first year that he is in all of the products that will release.
Justin Turner is one of those “Fan Favorites” that we will likely pull autographs from in Archives 20 years from now. He’s a popular guy, and this is a great photo!
My favorite card from the set so far is a Brave, but it’s not the player you would immediately guess. This Johan Camargo is a BEAUTIFUL card! I almost put this in a one-touch just because of the photo!
I pulled another Bravo with the “Missing Nameplate.” This Dansby Swanson is missing the name at the bottom of the card under the “GQ” logo. These are found 1:21 Hobby Packs on average.
Another parallel is this “GQ Logo Swap.” If you look at where the “GQ” is typically, it has been replaced by the Gypsy Queen herself. These are found 1:29 Hobby Packs on average.
The final parallel I pulled from the box was this Elvis Andrus “Bazooka Back.” These are a little rarer as they are only found 1:57 Hobby Packs on average.
Here are a couple of the “Fortune Teller” inserts. These are closer to tobacco size cards from the early days of collecting. They are nice looking, but I can’t ever figure out the best way to store these.
These are the “Tarot of the Diamond” inserts. These are the baseball version of Tarot Cards and are cool looking but only for this particular set. I can’t see these fitting in anywhere else, but they work here.
I pulled one Veteran Short Print, which is fairly standard for a box as these are found 1:24 Hobby Packs on average. This is a really sharp card and makes me believe that I’ll be chasing the other 19 from the SP portion of the checklist.
Though I did not pull this from the box I ripped for this post, I did have a couple Retail Green cards from a hanger pack I bought. This was in a 3-card pack in that hanger.
Here is an Indigo parallel, which are found 1:23 Hobby Packs on average.
The best non-auto I pulled in the box was this Castellanos Players Weekend/GQ Logo Swap. Players Weekend variations are found 1:139 Hobby Packs on average, which is the equivalent of 1 in almost 6 boxes. But even better, the GQ Logo Swaps are found in 1:346 Hobby Packs on average, which is the equivalent of 1 in every 14 boxes!
Chrome is Always Cool
As stated above, there is a 3 card pack containing Chrome Cards as the box topper this year. This is one example of the chrome. These are nice cards, but they have a cardboard back, which is just a tad odd for me. There are two camps on this new card; (1) Give me all the chrome you can make and (2) Save chrome for the chromium products and keep them out of these sets. I’m a little closer to 2, but I’m not totally against them.
I didn’t pull an auto in my Chrome pack, but I did snag this Indigo parallel numbered to 150.
Last but not least, we get to the two on-card autographs. Gypsy Queen is known for having very nice autograph cards. The first was this Carson Kelly, now a catcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is hitting .308 as of this post, while replacing the injured Alex Avila.
The other autograph in the box was that of longtime Pittsburgh Pirates prospect, Austin Meadows. Meadows is from Georgia and played for Grayson High School in Atlanta. He was later the 9th overall pick in the 2013 draft, passing on the opportunity to play for the Clemson Tigers. He was ranked the #2 prospect in the Pirates organization when he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. He opened the 2019 Season as the starting RF for the Rays.
“5 Out of 5”
Overall, I give 2019 Gypsy Queen a “5 out of 5” on the Dub-O-Meter. The cards look great this year, and several of the photos are just brilliant. The on card autos will once again be very sought after. The inserts are limited but they look good, and the variations are more fun than the usual “missing hat” or something like that. The chrome remains a questionable addition to me. They look good, but I don’t know how much I’ll be after them this year. I’ll certainly rip more of this and try to put the set together, likely buying most of the SP’s. What do you think of 2019 Gypsy Queen?