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Beauty and the beast

I had gone out of my way to avoid Gypsy Queen this year, walking by it on numerous passes through the card aisle. I've made it well-known over the last three years that I find GQ the ugliest card product that's available today.

But last night I was grocery shopping at 2 in the morning. Yes, 2 in the morning. I'm not the Night Owl for nothing. About the only place around here where you can shop at that hour for serious groceries (i.e.: not Slim Jims and Monster Energy Drink) is Walmart. And I'm not subjecting myself to Walmart at no place no time without a trip to the card aisle.

Now if this was Target, I'd find me some of those black border Heritage blister packs or some repack goodness. But my Walmart has none of that. You either get Topps base or Opening Day, pointless nonbaseball products (really, why are they on the shelves?) or GQ.


I grabbed a rack pack of GQ  -- there were no loose packs -- for the outrageous price of 10 bucks.

To get the stuff I've said repeatedly out of the way, GQ remains fall-on-your-ass ugly. Topps adjusts the design each year, but it still insists on making it as colorless and hopeless as if I was stranded in an abandoned 10th-century-era castle, surrounded by gray storm clouds with the smell of disease in the air.

I'm sorry to those of you who like this set. I was raised in the '70s. Card sets are supposed to be filled with color. Color is fun for collectors. Drab gray and dank-cellar green are for solitary confinement prisoners.

Aside from that, I'll try to find something different to write about 2013 GQ.

Here is your average base card. I noticed something right away when I pulled the first card, which was Brian McCann.

I could barely make out the photo.

Part of this is because the design this year is so busy. The other part is the usual, grainy, unwashed look of the photos. Everything blends together. It's not as easy to tell in the scans, but it's rather obvious when the cards are in hand.

Just not enough going on in the photo color-wise to draw it out from the overbearing frame.

Players on teams with red in their uniform are the only ones that stand out. Thank goodness for bright colors.

Even the horizontal inserts, like this Sliding Stars card, feature a dominating frame that overwhelms the grainy, dim picture (again more apparent in person). But if you look close enough, you can see Topps used the wrinkle-multiplier on Jackson's uniform.

These were the "legends" cards that I pulled. I was fully prepared to launch into yet-another "repeated photos" rant, because there are a lot of them in this set. But, fortunately for you, I don't remember any of these pictures being repeated. Granted, I'm not a Cubs, Yankees or Mets fan (Gossage apparently is an SP).

The non-serial-numbered minis this year are a darker color of green than the base cards. Still too "basement-wall" flavor for my tastes, but it looks a little better here. The minis really suffer from the dirty zombie filter GQ uses with its pictures. I practically have to hold some of them up to my nose to see the player's face.

I think I lucked out and pulled a numbered blue border. It's difficult to see here (and almost as difficult to see in person), but that's Giancarlo Stanton, which will go to 30-Year-Old Cardboard.

I was on-board as a big GQ framed paper fan during the first year of GQ.

I still think the 2011s look very nice.

But since then, GQ has overdone the border motif, increased the size of the border frame, and muddied the photo even more. I don't really like the borders anymore.

Even the white frames, which I thought I would like, aren't anything to write home about. The frame takes up WAY too much territory. And the foil design is very difficult to read, despite what the scan says.

The one thing that I did like in the rack pack was the exact thing that I figured I'd like, and I was very happy to pull one.

Oh my gosh, I love these.

I don't know if I want to collect the whole thing, but you're going to have a tough time getting any that come my way out of my hands.

I mentioned this on the very first post I made on Gypsy Queen two years ago. GQ works on the same principle as Upper Deck Baseball Heroes did. Make the base set so achingly dull that when we throw in an insert with some actual -- you know -- pigment, collectors will freak.

I am freaking over the Dealing Aces cards.

However, overall, this is not a set for me, and I will not be buying any more packs. Just like last year.

I WILL say the design is not as ugly as last year, but that's as far as I'll go. It's still a gruesome beast of a set, not worth your hard-earned money. Especially the 10 bucks for 21 cards. I'm shocked it's around for a third year, but I know other collectors like it.

So that's the beast part of the title.

Where's the beauty?

Well, it's totally unrelated. But I picked up this card on Listia a couple of weeks ago:

It was free.

She is certainly a beauty.

And much more fun than a rack pack of GQ.

Once again, I ask myself why I'm walking through card aisles.


Nick said…

Like you, I've never been a big GQ supporter, and I think the 2013s are probably my least favorite of their tenure so far.

While I'll probably break down and buy a rack pack sooner or later, I won't be expecting much.
--David said…
You should have a career in 'tease-media.' Make us sit through all the junk and save the ringer for last. Well, it was worth the wait.
Mark Aubrey said…
The final card reminded me of an old Frasier episode.

Frasier: (To Martin, referring to a sweater Niles has just purchased) It is not just a sweater, it is a work of art, by Spain's fabled master weaver Diego. He uses only the soft chin hairs of Andalusian mountain goats. Our sweater man could only get one this year. Niles and I made a pact that neither of us would buy it. (To Niles) You can't even keep a simple sweater pact!
Martin: Ahh, Ronee -- now there's a gal who can keep a sweater packed!
Fuji said…
Not a big fan of this year's base... but in the past, I liked what I saw. Especially their relics and autographs.

BTW... nice Anna.
Commishbob said…
I always like a big finish. And you came through.
madding said…
I don't like Gypsy Queen at all. I ended up buying quite a few blasters from last year's set, though, because they were dirt cheap just a month or so after it was released. I knew I could get some decent trade bait from it since a lot of people (bloggers?) are fond of it.
Brian said…
Anna has a rack pack or is that a packed rack of her own.
deal said…
Agreed GQ is a big yawn for me every year. Dealing Aces in Red will look good for Phils cards - too bad none of the Phils are throwing like aces.
I think the problem with GQ is that the ornate Art-Deco-esque design of the border doesn't work with action shots because between the action and the background the pictures are too busy when paired with the border.

Original GQ was portraiture or posed "action shots" done in a studio.

Spankee said…
I cringed when I saw the foil on the white paper cards. If they had imprinted black instead of foil it would be so much better.
GCA said…
This year's design just looks contrived or finalized by an intern who doesn't know to keep proportions. I'll get my few player collection singles and be done with this year's GQ. Still finishing up loose ends on the other two.
I did Heritage instead...
dayf said…
The 2011 set, while flawed, was nice because it actually was a throwback to an original 1800's card design.

The past two years are an ungodly mess with horrible ugly borders that clash with their horrible ugly zombification filter making a horrible ugly set horrible and ugly. I fully understand that their business model is now 100% catering to the gamblers with FILTHY MOJO HITZ but for fuck's sake at least put SOME effort into the base product. You know, the stuff that most people are actually going to see.

But don't tell 'em that, otherwise they'll flip a dismissive "your feedback is appreciated" and block you from viewing their advertisements on Twitter.
Laurens said…
The backs are fugly - some kind of yellow colored stock.