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It’s a really fun time of year to be a sports card collector. The baseball season is finally underway, the NBA playoffs are heating up and the NFL Draft begins on Thursday.

There are a number of new releases that will capture the attention of collectors in the coming months, including a new timely college football release. 

2021-22 BOWMAN UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL

Topps has been absent from the football card market since losing its NFL license to Panini in 2016. The iconic brand makes its return to the gridiron just in time for the draft with this star-studded collegiate product. 

This is technically an unlicensed product and carries no logos, insignias or team names. But that doesn't stop Topps from capturing many of the biggest names in college football on their first pieces of cardboard.

Hobby boxes feature four-card packs, 24-pack boxes and 12-box cases that are expected to hit the shelves this week with a price tag right around $200 per box.

Bowman University features a 100-card base set showcasing much of the top talent in college football from this past season. Pittsburgh Quarterback Kenny Pickett, Ohio State speedster Chris Olave and many others make their cardboard debuts.

Bowman University card of Kenny Pickett.

Bowman University card of Kenny Pickett.

Also See: 2022 Bowman Baseball, Topps Heritage highlight new baseball releases 

Speaking of classic, the Bowman 1st logo is found on these future star's first cards, which is sure to be a nice addition to any collection.

There is a rather large selection of Refractor parallels from more common base Refractors found one in every six packs down to the Black Shimmer and SuperFractor 1-of-1 Refractors.

The inserts come in both paper and chrome form and include 2000 Bowman replicas paying homage to the base set produced in Tom Brady's rookie year 20-plus seasons ago. They are found one in every six packs. Golden Boy, an insert set that highlights the top QBs in the draft, are found one in every eight packs.

In the always desirable Bowman Chrome brand, collectors will find one hobby-only Bowman Invicta insert in every 12 packs and The Big Kahuna in every 288 packs. Though you might think this insert is exclusive to students at the University of Hawaii, the insert actually features players who "ooze confidence and set the pace of play every game."

Bowman University Big Kahuna card of Malik Willis.

Bowman University Big Kahuna card of Malik Willis.

All four insert sets come in a variety of base, Aqua, Lava, Orange FoilFractors and SuperFractors.

The highlight of the product are the classic 1st Bowman autographs, which have long been a go-to card of the top young prospects. There are more than 10 autographed Refractor parallels for each player's signature. Collectors will also find Prime Chrome Signatures numbered to just 50 copies and hobby-exclusive Bowman Invicta Autographs and The Big Kahuna Autographs. There are base, Orange and SuperFractor versions of each.

Bowman University Bryce Young auto card.

Bowman University Bryce Young auto card.

Many collectors will welcome Topps and Bowman back to the football card market. With the watershed NIL deal in place, it will be interesting to see what the company does in all sports moving forward.

2022 DIAMOND KINGS

Due out in mid-May, Panini Diamond Kings will continue to offer a uniquely artistic take on all of the biggest ballers in baseball.

Boxes consist of eight cards per pack, 12 packs per box and 24-box cases. DK should yield one autograph and one relic per box.

Also See: New Braves NFT collection commemorates 2021 World Series 

The base set features a staggering 10 parallels, many having to do with the color and texture of the border of the base cards.

As far as inserts, you can find Elegance, which pays homage to those who play the game with a certain level of flair and finesse. 

Diamond Kings card of Shohei Ohtani.

Diamond Kings card of Shohei Ohtani.

Maestros features current and retired players who were a master of their craft, including the likes of San Diego Padres megastar Fernando Tatis Jr.

Diamond Kings card of Fernando Tatis Jr.

Diamond Kings card of Fernando Tatis Jr.

The Art of Hitting insert set features current and past players who have mastered the art of putting bat to ball, including Padres Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, among others.

Diamond Kings card of Tony Gwynn.

Diamond Kings card of Tony Gwynn.

Aside from the more common inserts there are a number of short prints, including Aurora, Blank Slate and Le Cinque Piu Belle, which makes its baseball Diamond Kings debut in this product.

Autographs are heavily featured and collectors will find a plethora of rookie autographs, including DK Signatures and DK Material Signatures featuring players like Tampa Bay Devil Rays young superstar Wander Franco. Collectors will be excited to get their hands on his autographs this season.

Diamond Kings card of Wander Franco.

Diamond Kings card of Wander Franco.

Signature Portraits features autographs of great players of the past and present.

Of course, you can also find many memorabilia cards in the product, including a 35-card Bat Kings set featuring wood from some of the greatest players of all time.

Always a hit with collectors, Diamond Kings has come a long way from a cool Donruss baseball insert set to one of the most iconic names in baseball cards.

2022 GYPSY QUEEN BASEBALL 

During the third week of May, fan favorite Gypsy Queen Baseball will hit shelves.

2022 Gypsy Queen looks very industrial in its appearance. Hobby boxes come in at eight cards per pack with 24 packs per box and 10 boxes per case. They offer two autographs and three GQ Chrome cards per box.

The very detailed, mechanical 300-card base set offers short prints falling one in every 24 packs.

Also See: Rare 1948 Leaf pack, 1933-34 Goudeys highlight Memory Lane auction 

Two new parallels make appearances this year, including Burnt Umber numbered to 399 and Ruby Red Foil numbered to only 10 copies. Other parallels include the always fun Missing Name Plates, Indigo, Turquoise, Blue Mauve, Black and White and Black 1/1s.

In a very cool touch, this season's Gypsy Queen offers the aforementioned Chromium versions of the base design with very limited Refractors, colored parallels and autographed versions.

Topps Gypsy Queen Gypsy Gem card of Shohei Ohtani.

Part of the fun of the Gypsy Queen brand are the variations. Keep an eye out for the Jackie Robinson Day Image variations and Hobby-only Base Image variations, each also coming with a 1-of-one Black parallel.

There is a wide selection of inserts, including the new Crystal Gazing Die-Cut that features a crystal ball looking into the future of some of the biggest young prospects in the game, found in one of 12 packs, and Gypsy Gems Minis, found one in every six packs with upgraded, enhanced foil.

Gypsy Queen card of Bo Bichette.

Gypsy Queen card of Bo Bichette.

Each hobby box boasts two autographs per box. They come in the form of Gypsy Queen Autographs, Gypsy Gems Mini Autographs and Rookie Minis autographs, with many being on-card signatures.

Topps Gypsy Queen card of Mike Trout.

Topps Gypsy Queen card of Mike Trout.

A new autographed insert this year is Astrological Chrome Autographs numbered to just 99 copies that puts the chromium technology to use on the main Gypsy Queen zodiac-styled design.

There is a wide range of autographed parallels from Indigo numbered to 150 copies, Blue numbered to 99, Black and White numbered to 50 right down to Black 1/1 versions and also SuperFractor 1/1.

The always desirable Auto Relic cards can be found through Autographed Garments, Autographed Patchbook cards and Pull-Up Sock Auto Relics. Each of these beautiful sets has a 1-of-1 Black parallel version. There is also another beautiful chase card called Autographed Lineup, which is also a 1-of-1.

Not only are the standard autograph cards gorgeous, the Auto Relic cards are some of the nicest you'll find, especially in a product with a low- to mid-level price point.

Tony Reid has written about sports collectibles for such publications as Beckett and Sports Collectors Daily. He works full-time at a sports card shop in Central Pennsylvania and collects RCs in baseball, basketball and football. You can reach him on social media at @reidrattlecage. 

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