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2012 Topps Gypsy Queen and My Lack of Self Control

Smoltz_mediumThe collecting year, much like the regular season of the game itself, is a grind. We’ve already seen Series 1. Heritage followed soon after. This year’s sticker set is out. With Tribute and Museum Collection, Topps has even released two high end products already. The season has barely started and the most recent Topps product hit the shelves this past Wednesday. That product, Gypsy Queen, was last year’s big hit. Gypsy Queen easily surpassed Heritage and Allen & Ginter as the top retro product on the market. (In retrospect, it should have replaced Allen & Ginter on the schedule, but that’s nit picking coming from someone who is trying to complete both sets.)

As I said, the collecting year is a grind. There’s always another product on the way. Unless you are blessed with unlimited resources, you have to be rather choosy when deciding which products to buy. When Gypsy Queen came out last year, my resources were very limited. Basically, I had decided that I would invest in either Gypsy Queen or Allen & Ginter. Honestly, the early previews of Gypsy Queen didn’t impress me. Sure, the Allen & Ginter design was a little stale, but I’d been building Allen & Ginter sets since the first release so that’s the path I chose. By the time I picked up a few packs of Gypsy Queen and decided that it was a terrific product that I wanted to build, its popularity had skyrocketed and I couldn’t find it on store shelves anywhere. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake this year.

Of course, I’m also down on buying new wax, especially when a new box is over a hundred dollars. What’s a collector to do? Well, a change made to this year’s product by Topps has made the decision for me. If I get it, I want to collect the entire set, and that means that I have to track down any short prints. Last year, cards numbered 301 - 350 were short printed and were inserted at a rate of one in four packs. This year, there are no cards numbered 301 - 350. There are still 50 short printed cards in this year’s set, but I find it easier to ignore them. Topps has decided to create photo variation cards of regular cards in the set rather than just short print 50 otherwise regular cards. (You can see an example of the regular Freddie Freeman card and the variation card after the fold.) When a card is checklisted, I feel like it’s a part of the set and needs to be purchased. In this case, I can ignore the variations and complete the set.

Sparh-blue_mediumSo, I went ahead and ordered a hobby box off of eBay and stopped in a local Target to buy up all of the rack packs they had available. (When it comes to new wax, I lack self control. I’m certain that I’ve mentioned this before.) My first pack hooked me on the set. One of the pluses of most of Topps non-Heritage retro products is the inclusion of mini cards. For many, these cards are an obsession. I like them because they are fun, they give me additional Braves cards to collect, and they make great trade bait. Each pack of Gypsy Queen includes a single mini card. In my first pack, I pulled a black parallel mini of John Smoltz. In my second pack I pulled a regular John Smoltz mini. My third pack offered up the base Chipper Jones card. Yeah, that was a fun run. (I even pulled an autograph from a retail pack. Sure, it was just a Drew Stubbs, but I almost never pull an autograph from retail wax. Heck, I might get five whole dollars on eBay for it!)

Yes, the collecting year may be a grind, but once a product catches my fancy, I feel like a new collector all over again. My hobby box should arrive sometime this week and I’ll open it with glee next weekend. I’ll spend an hour or two sorting out the cards, posting my want list and my trade bait online, and putting what I have of the set into card sheets in a binder. Chances are, I’ll do it with a Braves game playing on the television set. Life and work aren’t always perfect, but for a few hours next weekend, none of life’s problems will matter. (It’s nice to be in an optimistic frame of mind with the hobby.)

And then, next month, Topps will release Archives. And then, in June, they will release Series 2. And then, in July, Allen & Ginter will hit the shelves. And then, in August, Finest and Chrome are out. The grind goes on.


For the Braves collector, 2012 Gypsy Queen is a mixed bag. Last year, the Braves were well represented in both the base set and the insert sets. The 2011 set also featured a chance to pull Hank Aaron, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman autographs. In 2012, the Braves are again well represented in the base set. 11 current players, 2 Hall of Fame members and 1 future Hall of Famer are included. (Strangely, Hank Aaron didn’t make the cut for the base set this year.) Additionally, Topps must have signed an agreement with John Smoltz as he is again featured throughout a 2012 set. Not only is he in the base set, he is in the mini set and has a beautiful on card autograph. The Braves are also well represented throughout the autograph and relic subsets. The triple autograph card featuring Chipper Jones, Evan Longoria and Ryan Zimmerman in particular looks like an amazing pull. That card will almost certainly be a rare pull.

In the insert sets though, the Braves are barely represented at all. Brandon Beachy, Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman are in the Future Sets insert set. Any Braves in the Hallmark Heroes subset? Nope. In the Moonshots subset? No. Maybe there’s a Brave in Glove Stories? No. Surely Michael Bourn would be included in the Sliding Stars insert set? No. Additionally, only Freddie Freeman has been included in the 50 photo variation subset cards.

If you are a Braves mini collector, you are in luck. Each of the 14 Braves featured in the base set are included in the mini set, and they are also available in a number of parallel editions. There are also 50 short printed mini photo variations and they differ from the variations featured in the base set. There are six Braves with mini photo variations. There are also 50 mini variations numbered 301 - 350 and these include three Braves. A mini chaser could spend the rest of the year tracking Braves minis down on eBay.


Since I’m collecting the set, I guess it’s obvious that I give Gypsy Queen a thumbs up. There are annoyances with the set, such as the super short printed Yu Darvish card . This is nothing more than a gimmick to drive up the prices of hobby boxes on the secondary market. That might be good for your local card shop, but it just puts me off. I find it absurd that there isn’t a readily available card of one of the hottest names in the game this year. Still, the cards are beautiful and the set itself is fun.

Will you be collecting Gypsy Queen?

2012 Topps Gypsy Queen Atlanta Braves Checklist

Thanks to Sports Card Radio for the checklist information.

Base Set (includes the following parallels: Blue Paper Frame, Black Paper Frame, Gold Paper Frame, Printing Plates, Mini, Gypsy Queen Back Mini, Straight Cut Back Mini, Black Mini, Green Mini, Sepia Tone Mini, Mini Printing Plates)

  • 20 - Chipper Jones
  • 42 - Tommy Hanson
  • 84 - Freddie Freeman
  • 91 - Tim Hudson
  • 98 - Jason Heyward
  • 136 - Martin Prado
  • 152 - Dan Uggla
  • 156 - Michael Bourn
  • 164 - Brian McCann
  • 187 - Brandon Beachy
  • 228 - Eddie Mathews
  • 261 - John Smoltz
  • 265 - Warren Spahn
  • 272 - Craig Kimbrel

Photo Variations

  • 84 - Freddie Freeman

Mini Photo Variations

  • 42 - Tommy Hanson
  • 84 - Freddie Freeman
  • 98 - Jason Heyward
  • 152 - Dan Uggla
  • 187 - Brandon Beachy
  • 272 - Craig Kimbrel

Mini Parallels

  • 317 - Tim Hudson
  • 323 - Michael Bourn
  • 345 - John Smoltz

Future Stars

  • FS-BB - Beandon Beachy
  • FS-CK - Craig Kimbrel
  • FS-FF - Freddie Freeman


  • GQR-BM - Brian McCann
  • GQR-EMA - Eddie Mathews
  • GQR-JHE - Jason Heyward
  • GQR-TH - Tim Hudson
  • GQR-THA - Tommy Hanson

Mini Relics

  • GQMR-BM - Brian McCann
  • GQMR-JHE - Jason Heyward
  • GQMR-TH - Tim Hudson
  • GQMR-THA - Tommy Hanson

1887 Penny Parallel

  • IHP-CJ - Chipper Jones
  • IHP-EMA - Eddie Mathews
  • IHP-JS - John Smoltz
  • IHP-WS - Warren Spahn

Original Art Patch

  • OAP-CJ - Chipper Jones
  • OAP-DU - Dan Uggla
  • OAP-JSZ - John Smoltz
  • OAP-WS - Warren Spahn


  • GQA-DU - Dan Uggla
  • GQA-HA - Hank Aaron
  • GQA-JS - John Smoltz
  • GQA-RD - Randall Delgado

Autograph Relics

  • GQAR-DU - Dan Uggla
  • GQAR-TH - Tommy Hanson

Triple Autograph Relics

  • GTAR-JLZ - Chipper Jones / Evan Longoria / Ryan Zimmerman

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