2014 Gypsy Queen is Live With First Cards of Top RCs

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Gypsy Queen. Even though the set is mostly focused on cards that I don’t usually collect, they have always been some of the best looking of the stable of retro sets. With GQ slated to hit shelves today, I am already liking a lot of the cards that have started to show up from early box breakers.

Here are some of the hits posted already:

2014 Topps Gypsy Queen Mike Trout Mini Auto

2014 Topps Gypsy Queen Masahiro Tanaka Variation Action Shot

2014 Topps Gypsy Queen Adam Jones Green Auto /10

2014 Topps Gypsy Queen David Wright Jersey Auto

2014 Topps Gypsy Queen Jose Canseco Black Variation Auto

Gypsy Queen is also the first opportunity for collectors to get their hands on a card of Masahiro Tanaka in uniform, which has already brought a lot of people to open the packs that wouldn’t normally open them. Although the autographs of the new Yankee pitcher may not be making it into packs anytime soon, there are quite a few people who will be chasing the rare base cards.

Aside from Tanaka, another top rookie this year will also be making his debut in the set. White Sox Cuban phenom Jose Abreu has a base card, and is likely to have other content as the set gets opened. He is already slated to have an autograph in Bowman, but these look pretty damn cool.

My biggest complaint is that the autograph checklist continues to be relatively weak, as it usually is for a set that is focused more on the base set than the hit portions of the box. Being someone that has always gravitated towards the content outside of the normal base cards, this is a problem, and usually prevents me from breaking down and opening a box or two.

On the other hand, when you do end up pulling something crazy nice, it is about as nice as it gets. The cards have a retro feel to them that I have always loved, and though the majority of the content in the product hasn’t changed all that much, its something we can appreciate for the design. The inserts and other mini cards are fun and a blast to collect for the set collectors, and its no secret that the variations are a draw as well.

After seeing cards like the “Around the Horn” booklet autos, its clear that Topps is looking to build some new elements to the product that haven’t been done before. Although the autographs are stickers, it’s a cool concept to have an oversized card come out of a folded booklet. You cant deny they are thinking outside the box.

Gypsy Queen may end up being among the forgotten at year’s end, but its one of those under the radar products that is a fun rip. I would check out some of the singles even if you aren’t a big collector of sets of this sort.

Big Cards in 2013 National Treasures Hit the Block

I am a big fan of National Treasures this year, and I am very excited to be able to pick up some of the nicer singles that are now starting to hit. As I was discussing with a friend today, there is one big issue with all the high end products this year. Its close to impossible to come out ahead even if you pull a nice card. Without a top rookie class, high end doesnt work well in the NFL.

The top rookie card in the product just hit ebay, and as you can see, the seller is trying to list like its 2012:

2013 National Treasures Eddie Lacy Auto NFL Logo 1/1

That being said, its hard to justify buying a 450 dollar box of cards when you cant even come out ahead when you pull the best of the best. With Five Star coming out in a couple of weeks, it makes me legitimately worried how few people will buy knowing that fact.

Look at these big hits and the BIN prices. They will take less, which only makes the sting worse. You can get the best players in the NFL on card for less than the price of a box. Why waste your time ripping through cases?

2013 National Treasures John Elway Colossal Auto Relic On Card

2013 National Treasures Jerry Rice Auto Relic On Card

2013 National Treasures Brett Favre Auto Jumbo Patch 1/1

2013 National Treasures Richard Sherman Auto 2/10

Here is the wild card. With group breakers continuing to open NT and the like, the singles buyers like myself may catch a break. Collectors can still buy in for a whole case and not get their ass handed to them, and that is a huge plus to this format. Get nothing? Only out 60 bucks instead of 1500. That’s a bargain.

Look, there are still people that love the thrill of opening product. I sure do. That will always be a draw. But this is the place to start gambling if you arent someone that has the money to spare.

2014 MLB Opening Week Stories Keeping it Interesting

Even though I am not a huge baseball fan, the first part of the season is always a fun time for me. Football season is over and the draft is still a month away, which means that I have a lot of interest in a sport that I normally dont. It sure helps that there are some interesting story lines playing out.

Mike Trout Off to Torrid Start

If more players modeled themselves after Trout’s game, there would be a ton of superstars in the making. To have his game plus his ridiculous talent, and you have a winning combo that I will tune in to watch. Trout has been lighting it up for the last week, proving that he came into this season looking to be back in the running for the MVP. He is the top thing in the hobby right now, across most of the four major sports, and his cards are only getting hotter.

2011 Topps FInest Mike Trout Auto Refractor On Card

2013 Gypsy Queen Mike Trout Auto On Card

2013 Five Star Mike Trout Gold Ink On Card Auto

Derek Jeter’s Farewell Tour Underway

I hate the Yankees so much, and I love when they play horribly. However, I do respect the fact that Jeter has been the face of the team for so long. All that being said, I doubt he would have the fanfare if he played in Milwaukee his whole career, but maybe that’s the allure of the whole thing. He played the whole time under the brightest of lights and really never gave an inch. His cards have been up since the announcement of his retirement after the season, and I am curious to see what happens if he actually plays well.

2008 Ultimate Collection Derek Jeter Auto Dual Relic

2005 Reflections Derek Jeter / Cal Ripken Jr Dual Patch Auto

Puig Benched

Lack of maturity will scare collectors away, as it will speak to long term success in the game. Puig has had his share of off the field minor issues, and its starting to be a question of when the first major thing will occur. After being benched for late arrival to the stadium, there are questions surrounding his professionalism. He recently held a team meeting to ask how he could be a better teammate, which screams desperation, but his talent is nothing to balk at. Its clear his cards wont ever be worthless as long as he plays, but some of the corners of his values are getting dinged a bit.

2013 Topps Chrome Yasiel Puig Silver Signings Auto /25

2013 Inception Yasiel Puig Auto On Card

Is Pujols Done?

It hasnt been a great start in Anaheim for Albert Pujols. After multiple MVP seasons in St Louis and a monster contract, he has yet to return to form. With major drops in all the main categories, its time to ask the question of whether or not he has become just another player. He is only a few HR shy of 500, which will make some news as it happens, but lots of disappointment surrounds this former hobby superstar.

2001 SPX Albert Pujols Auto RC – I remember how much these used to go for.

2007 Ultimate Collection Albert Pujols Auto Relic

Thanks to these stories, im interested in the season so far. Maybe this will be the year that I can hold out for the whole season. You never know!

Opening Week Blitz: Jose Abreu Off to Blazing Start

With Opening Week trucking along, there has been a lot of unexpected hot starts that have made some news. One hotter start that isn’t as unexpected is that of Jose Abreu, the most recent player to come over from Latin America and tear it up. Although no one really expects the White Sox to be all that good this year, there are HIGH expectations for his prospects in the league.

Check out his prices:

2013 Leaf Trinity Jose Abreu Auto Inscription /30

2013 Leaf Memories Jose Abreu Auto – On Card

2013 Panini Elite Extra Edition Jose Abreu Die Cut Status Auto /50

2013 Panini Prizm Jose Abreu Refractor Auto

Many collectors are not waiting to get in on the action with Abreu either, as the torrid start of Yasiel Puig in 2013 is still fresh in everyone’s mind. Abreu is a similarly coveted signing, as Puig was as well, and his first few games are living up to the hype. He is batting a cool .455 with 5 RBI in 3 games, including quite the game changing three run triple against my Twins.

Although I am not someone that really buys into much of the hype, I know I am in the minority. Collectors usually function on previous precedent, of which Abreu will no doubt benefit from. People don’t want to be on the outside looking in when they could have bought in cheap, and that drive speculation through the roof.

Think about it.

You could have bought a Mike Trout Bowman Chrome auto for 25 bucks back before the boom. At a 9.5, good luck getting those these days at even close to a reasonable price. Other rookies and young players have had similar situations, and that will forever ensure that players like Puig, Abreu and others will sell so far above the best players in the league. That’s what prospecting is all about, even though this really isn’t a good example of the true practice.

Most prospectors will buy rookies in huge bulk, reserving their buys for the lower tier guys rather than the high visibility players like this. Then, when they flame on or flame out, they either pump or dump. Trout was likely a player like that for many prospectors out there, but we have come to understand he is a generational talent that rarely comes around.

Now, we all know that Abreu’s first licensed autograph will be released in 2014 Bowman, which hits stores shortly. Its going to be crazy to see where his prices start to materialize, as this hot start should shoot them into the stratosphere. All that being said, I would be VERY careful dropping the cash unless you are a huge fan. Unless he blows up in a way like we saw with Puig, the prices will likely come down to a reasonable range.

2013 Fleer Retro Football is LIVE!

We are now in year two of the Fleer Retro phenomenon in football, and its interesting to see what Upper Deck chooses each time they release this product. It has gone from sport to sport after its original release in basketball, and collectors are in love with the nostalgic aspect of the product each time it is released.

Here are some of the cards up so far:

2013 Fleer Retro Andrew Luck Blue Precious Metal Gems /50

2013 Fleer Retro John Elway Blue Precious Metal Gems /50

2013 Fleer Retro Eddie Lacy Ultra Auto

2013 Fleer Retro Barry Sanders Die Cut Under Pressure Insert

2013 Fleer Retro Montee Ball Red Precious Metal Gems /100

Here is my thing. I am an autograph collector, and I am a bit perturbed by the fact that there is only a few on card autographs in this product. Upper Deck has the ULTIMATE pass to really get going on this product VERY early in the season, and that gives them no excuses to not get the cards signed immediately. I do realize that this product’s focus is the retro inserts, but that doesn’t make stickers right. If you have a college based product, for which you can easily build in May after the draft, it gives very little slack in not getting all the cards hard signed.

The ones that are hard signed range from blah to awesome, especially the greats of the game autos that I have always loved. I am thankful that these cards are in the set, as the results are pretty impressive. Others are very much like 2012, including the 1960 cards which I don’t find all that interesting.

I was also disappointed this year to see that the Precious Metal Gems look exactly the same as before for the rookies, where in the other sports, they have changed year to year. Although the other veteran PMG inserts have changed, I sense there was a fear of losing more value in an already value-less class by changing the favorite design. Let me reiterate – I HATE THIS DESIGN. I HATE 1990s FOIL LADEN INSERTS. They are both gaudy and busy, and I see no appeal to continue collecting them. I get why they are popular (collectors are obsessed with shiny things), but I hate them.

That being said, I absolutely love the addition of the rookie sensations and 1991 Ultra cards. Those sets were the best of the best when I was a kid, and I think they are done very well. The problem is that this is a high end set that would DESTROY the market in the pre-season, and yet here we are in April and it is being released. This is not a product for April. When NT is struggling to keep up with the market, and Upper Deck has the gall to try a product like this, we have problems.

Im guessing Exquisite will still be out in May or June, months too late to be as effective as it could be in February. We are moving on now to 2014, and I am concerned for Five Star, let alone a product filled with sticker autos, college jerseys, and nostalgic inserts. Too little too late. If the class was stronger, sure, take a bit more time, but a HUUUUUUGE opportunity was missed by pushing it to a late year product.