Do Topps Gypsy Queen and Allen & Ginter Mini Relics Reveal Too Much?
Topps Allen & Ginter and Gypsy Queen have become very popular among baseball card collectors. Both sets offer something different from the norm. While Allen & Ginter has become a hobby staple with its diverse checklists, Gypsy Queen is returning for its sophomore appearance. 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen quickly captured the hearts and dollars of many collectors. The set's limited production and high demand caused the prices rise quickly. However, whether Gypsy Queen becomes the perennial favorite like Allen & Ginter is not the concern here. Instead, there is an issue that afflicts both products that must be attended to - mini relic cards.
Like most sets in the hobby, both brands use relic cards as key selling points. It's an obvious trend in the hobby that relic cards are fading in popularity. Whether it is a jersey, bat, or stadium seat, hobbyists can simply look at the prices in the secondary market to find proof. It is not that both sets include relics that raises a red flag. Almost every set on the market still relies on them to a certain extent. It's how they're presented in Gypsy Queen and Allen & Ginter that bothers me.
Both sets embed the jersey and bat pieces within framed mini cards. In principle, the mini relic is not a flawed concept. But the way they're made, these cards reveal a little too much to collectors. While most collectors realize that they are simply small square pieces of what used to be a larger game-used artifact, these mini cards display too much of the manufacturing process. This takes away from some of the design aspects of the cards.
Collectors can easily see the square-cut game-used piece through the mini-relic cards. Jerseys can show frayed edges. Bat pieces look more like slivers. The combination of small size and full view takes away from the mystique created by the relic concept as well as the unique artistic design collectors seem to love about Allen & Ginter and Gypsy Queen. Although other sets may use small swatches also, their embedded nature can help disguise this.
Another, somewhat less distracting, concern with the manufacturing of mini-relics are the window frames Topps places around the cards. This is presumably for protection. Some collectors have been known to take the mini cards out of the windows because of the they don't like the design.
This is not to suggest that Topps should stop including mini relics or autographs in these sets. However, the process in which they are made and displayed is something that should be considered. The question is, after six years of Allen & Ginter and, now, two years of Gypsy Queen, will Topps make the changes necessary to improve both products? Do other collectors want to see these mini relics improve?