If GPK in 2022 was known for set delays and giant print runs, 2023 quite possibly will be known for getting back to normalcy. After years of set delays, Topps returned to more of a normal schedule by the end of 2023. Collectors finally got the long delayed GPK Vacation set in early 2023, saw Chrome 6 in the middle of the year, and ended with InterGoolatic in the fall. Additionally, the giant unrealistic print runs from 2022 returned to a more realistic number in 2023. In the online realm, there were once again a number of 6 week sets, as well as the usual releases celebrating different events. Online sales remained strong through the year, but started to slow as the year ended. With lower print runs and lower online sales, GPK’s popularity may be softening in the new year.
GPK merchandise begin to see a transition. Products long in the pipeline and delayed from Covid were finally released. However, Fanatics begin to limit new licensed products as the company transitioned from old Topps management to Fanatics. Collectors still got a number of different products from GetAGrip, multiple comic releases from Dynamite, and a number of individual products from longtime licensees Abrams, Insight Editions, GPKNation, Super Impulse, and License 2 Play. One new comer, Flix Candy, debuted with a popular candy item.
2023 was another strong year with multiple retail, online, and merchandise releases. It’s time to take a look back at what stood out in 2023. The following is the 7th annual 2023 GPKNews.com Best of GPK Awards. Winners have been selected by the editor of GPKNews.com in eight categories. Additionally, a Reader’s Choice winner was also named in each category. Readers of GPKNews were able to vote in a poll on GPKNews’ Facebook page in mid-December. On some awards there is agreement, while others vary in opinion. Let the debate begin! It’s time to celebrate the best in GPKs for 2023!
And the winners are…
2023 GPK Retail Set of the Year
Winner: 2023S2 InterGoolatic Mayhem
Reader’s Choice: 2023 InterGoolatic Mayhem
Due to the late 2022 release of Chrome 5, collectors had 4 retail sets to vote on in this category for the first time. It didn’t matter, in the biggest squash of the Reader’s Choice awards, 2023S2 InterGoolatic Mayhem was the easy winner. We agree as the set is the 2023 Retail Set of the Year winner. Feedback from collectors on the set’s release was nearly unanimously positive. Collectors enjoyed the sci-fi theme, gags, and artwork in the set. Additionally, the quality control for Topps on the set, while not perfect, was a marked improvement over previous releases. This all added up to easily the set of the year. Honorable mention: 2023S1 Vacation, 2023 Chrome 6, 2022 Chrome 5.
2023 Online GPK Set of the Year
Winner: GPK x View Askew
Reader’s Choice: 2023 Oh the Horror-ible Expansion Set (1-6)
Topps decided to run back many of the online releases in 2023. There was another Ermsy Entertainment Blend, another MLB x GPK set by Alex Pardee, more six week expansion sets, and the usual Valentine’s, Krashers, and award winner sets. There was one new theme this year, and it’s this year’s 2023 Online GPK Set of the Year. The GPK x View Askew set was sold simultaneously at SDCC and on Topps.com. The cards celebrated the films of director Kevin Smith. The set saw some positive publicity for the GPK brand. Both GPK collectors and Kevin Smith fans chased parallels of the key cards in the set throughout the year. In the Reader’s Choice voting, collectors chose this year’s Oh the Horror-ible set just barely over the View Askew set. Surprisingly, Sapphire dropped in popularity for the first time, finishing third in voting. Honorable mention: 2023 Oh the Horror-ible Expansion (1-6), Sapphire 3, Valentine’s Day is Cancelled, and GPK x MLB 2.
Who doesn’t like free cards? Well, no one! This year’s 2023 International Trading Card Day GPK set is this year’s winner for Non-Traditional Set. For the second year in a row, collectors around the country burned gallons of gas as they drove from store to store to claim their free GPK pack. A wide selection of base cards and auto inserts had collectors trading and selling for weeks to complete their sets. Honorable mention: 2023 NYCC Set, Fanatics Executive Set.
2023 Topps GPK Licensee of the Year
Winner: GetAGrip Skateboards
Reader’s Choice: GetAGrip Skateboards
The company that somehow got original GPK artist John Pound to sign cards, is easily this year’s GPK Licensee of the Year. GetAGrip shocked the collecting world by releasing two blind bag skateboard releases this year that were highlighted by autographs from John Pound. Pound had refused for years to be involved with anything GPK. That wasn’t all GetAGrip did this year. The company also released a wooden toy product, Deadwoodz, and some high end GPK themed neon lights. No company released a wider variety of GPK merchandise this year. Honorable mention: Dynamite Entertainment, GPK Nation, Super Impulse, and Flix Candy.
2023 Rookie Sketch Artist of the Year
Winner: Marion Carole Miller
Reader’s Choice: Marion Carole Miller
2023 was a banner year for new GPK sketch artists. A record 19 artists made their GPK debut this year. They ranged from first time sketch artists to veterans of other Topps sets. The result was a number of excellent sketch cards in the final set of the year, InterGoolatic Mayhem. This was such a hard category to choose a winner in, there could have easily been any of 10 different winners. However, despite all the online promotion, reader’s agreed with GPKNews that Marion Carole Miller is the GPK Rookie Sketch Artist of the Year. The artist brought his unique style to both returns and pack inserted sketches that has already found a large fan base. Collectors will hope to chase his sketches for years to come. Honorable mention: Eddie Rhodes, Eric Lassen, Steve Martin, Fox Layng, and Julia McKenzie.
2023 Sketch Artist of the Year
Winner: Chris Meeks
Reader’s Choice: Bekki Sharp
We have three-peat! This year’s GPK Sketch Artist of the Year is once again Chris Meeks. Chris Meeks has set himself apart from his peers when it comes to GPK sketch cards. His GPK returns routinely fetch the highest figures in the secondary market. He continues to contribute to all GPK sets, with his pack inserted cards also being high quality. There are a lot of great GPK sketch artists, but right now Meeks stands out. The Reader’s Choice award once again saw heavy promotion by multiple artists. This year Bekki Sharp came out on top after a close vote. Honorable mention: Bekki Sharp, David Acevedo, Eric Medina, Mike Stephens, and Gavin Williams.
2023 GPK Artist of the Year
Winner: David Gross
Reader’s Choice: David Gross
It’s now four years in a row, as David Gross is the GPKNews Artist of the Year. Gross also won the Reader’s vote in a landslide once again. All the artists do a fantastic job on the artwork for the sets throughout the year. However, it’s the gag writing that puts Gross’ cards a cut above. From the obvious to the small details, he makes sure the gags are just as important as the art. Another banner year for new GPK artwork! Honorable mention: Joe Simko, Brent Engstrom, and Rory McQueen.
2023 GPK Card of the Year
Winner: Marty Mayhem (Trashy TV Philly Promo 1a Artist/Concept David Gross)
Reader’s Choice: Ghost Buster (InterGoolatic 74a Artist/Concept Brent Engstrom)
In the Reader’s Choice voting it was neck and neck between the Marty Mayhem and Ghost Buster for Card of the Year. Ghost Buster was the most popular card from the most popular set of the year. So why then was Marry Mayhem chosen as the Card of the Year? This card helped to advance that ever so rare Disney GPK card. There haven’t yet been any main stream Disney or Star Wars cards, but with the help of Adam F Goldberg, the card was able to be approved and used as a promo card at the Philly Non-Sport card show. The card expertly depicts Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem in GPK form. A popular card that helps to make inroads to Disney properties makes it the Card of the Year. Honorable mention: Ghost Buster, Spacin Jason, Night Mary, Silent Bobby, AI Adam, and Sleepy Faye.