Friday, April 16, 2021

Charles Barkley

First off, I like Charles Barkley.  He's a huge personality.  I like that he speaks his mind.  I don't always agree with his views but I appreciate that he doesn't just parrot populous sound bites.  That's so rare these days with those in the public eye fearing the loss of their entertainment industry club card.  Plus, he may be one of the few people that's worse at golf than I am.

There's this infamous image of Charles Barkley thoroughly enjoying a Domino's pizza -we know it's Domino's because of the drink cup at his side.  I wanted to make a card out of this image, but I just couldn't figure out an angle for the card.  I was hoping to think of something more than the image just plugged into a random card template because, to the best of my knowledge, there weren't any pizza themed card sets in 1984.  

Then I thought of a way to make it make sense.  I'll just conceptualize a backstory for the card!  Okay, so follow along here.  Charles played college ball at 300 lbs.  The 76ers, who had the 5th overall pick in the 1984 draft, were planning on using their pick on Barkley if, as they told him, he could trim down to 285 lbs. before the draft.  Charles was able to get down to 283 lbs. and that's when his agent, Lance Luchnick, informed him that due to the league's hard salary cap back then the Sixers only had $75,000 a year to pay Barkley.  Obviously that was news to Charles as he recalls telling his agent:

“Dude, I didn’t leave college for $75,000. We have a problem.” 

So, Charles spends the next 48 hours eating as much food as possibly could to prevent Philadelphia from drafting him.  Charles managed to balloon to 302 lbs. in just two days, but the kicker was that the 76ers drafted him anyways.  *Whaa-whaaaaa*

Here's where my card concept kicks in ... 

Domino's has seen the pictures of Charles lustfully consuming their product.  When he turns pro in '84 they approach him with an lucrative endorsement deal.  Charles, still gripping over the thought of a paltry rookie contract with the Sixers, jumps at the chance to shill corporate pepperoni and cheese.  Now with Sir. Charles as the face of  "Team Domino's" the promotional marketing gears start to turn.  First up was a special collector's card offered as a purchase premium that was wildly popular and much more profitable than actually giving money off of pizza purchases!


As it turned out Philly loosened the purse strings and ended up giving Barkley a four-year, $2 million contract one month later, including a $150,000 signing bonus (that's actually true).  Barkley now has so much bank he has no need for his pizza money and stops taking Domino's calls for restaurant grand opening ribbon cutting ceremonies, leaving the trading card promotion as the only link between Barkley and the pizza chain's partnership as Barkley's lawyers were able to get him out of his Domino's contract due to an unusual loophole on the part of Domino's legal team.  The contract was not signed within 30 minutes or less making it null and void as per company policy.

Domino's was in shambles for a couple of years following "The Barkley Debacle" (as it came to be known in corporate pizza circles) until "The Noid" was concocted in 1986 allowing the Domino's franchise owners to once again hold their heads high at family gatherings and social functions.

There.  Now the card has an interesting backstory.  

Since the picture is from 1984 I went back to the '84 Topps baseball inspired well.  I've been on a bit of a roll with this design between the André the Giant card and the Revenge of the Nerds set.  In the same spirit of the André card, instead of using a headshot in the designated inset square I went with a cheesy (pun so intended) stock pizza image.  I thought that would be humorous.  

While I made up a story for the front of this card, the info on the reverse side is all true.

Get yours HERE.

Friday, April 9, 2021

The G.O.A.T: Hammered Trinity


I was quite honestly taken by surprise at the response of the first Tom Brady card I did.  All 12 copies were gone inside of 15 minutes.  The card was a pretty topical one, unlike a lot of the cards I do.  I limited the print run to 12 copies (Brady's jersey number) because I didn't want a bunch sitting in the store long past the "Tom was so wasted at the victory parade" moment was over.  Because it was such a swift sell out I fielded a number of messages from bummed collectors who wanted one but weren't able to get in on time.  That in turn bummed me out a bit.  I didn't limit the card to 12 copies to create a manufactured scarcity, like I said, I didn't anticipate the popularity.  *insert shrugging emoji here*

It was suggested a few times that I do another print run of that Brady card.  To me, that would take away a bit of what made that card special, even if the specialness happened a bit by accident.  My solution was to create another inebriated good time Tom Brady card.  But, my challenge was it had to be good and not just completely ringing out the first card.

When I was making the first card I wanted to somehow incorporate what turned out to be the infamous Lombardi Trophy toss during the Buccaneers boat parade.  I ran into a couple issues.  The first being that there aren't any really clear pictures of the trophy toss -- or at least none that I could find. The second being that even if I could find a decent image the main pic had to be of hammered Tom (Stop!  Hammerd Tom!  ...sorry), so where would the other pic go without changing the look of the 1987 Topps football inspired design since I was completely locked in on using that?

I though about trying one of the early '90s Fleer football sets since they featured smaller pictures on the card backs but none of those sets really had a classic enough look that I was wanting.  

Since I was limited on how I could use the trophy toss image this new card was still going to have hammered Tom as the main image, and I had already found and saved that particular picture.  

Then I got to thinking how the trophy toss moment would be equally as recognizable as a silhouette.  I couldn't think of any football card sets that that would lend to, but two classic '70s Topps baseball set immediately jumped to mind, the 1973 and 1976 designs! 

The really great thing about older baseball card designs is that they're so recognizable and that makes them very versatile when having fun with custom cards.  Even from a young age I took to basketball as a favorite sport, but as far as sports card collecting went, every sport took a back seat to baseball cards.  They were always the most accessible and collected cards to the point that a lot of times the term 'baseball cards' was used generically for any type of sports cards.  In short, they're as American as apple pie... kind of like Tom Brady.

Now that I had a a couple of designs in mind, I just had to choose out of the two.  I chose 1976.  I think the reason being was it enabled me to more prominently use the Bucs old creamsicle color combo, which I mentioned in the post about the first card how much I loved.  

For the back I went with a a layout inspired by the back of the 1976 "Traded" cards.  I love the way the newspaper headline presents and I get to have a lot of fun with the little write up.  I'm a big play-on-words type of guy so that gives me a shot at dad joking.

1976 Topps

So, I'm done right?  I've made a card I'm REALLY happy with and if a few more people who didn't get the first card are able to get this one it's a win-win.  But... something was nagging at me.  For shits nd giggles I wanted to at least see how a 1973 inspired look would go over.  That was a mistake of sorts.

I made the '73 mock up and LOVED it.  I made the card back with a bit more of a regular statistical back feel and loved the card even MORE.  Now for the dilemma that wasn't really a dilemma at all, which to chose?  Well, why make two, what I thought, were equally cool cards and only chose one?  Spoiler alert (as you can tell for this post's main pic), I went forward with both.  No point in having the digital rendering of either just sitting in my "custom cards" folder if I'm commensurately proud of both.
1973 Topps

For the back of the 1973 version I got to recreate a "did you know" style cartoon, which are so fun and so nostalgic.  The cartoon is an awesome way to make sport of the trophy toss.  Then, I got to do a little of Tom's biographical stats which are a staple of base card backs.  The '73 Topps' backs featured a large baseball graphic where the cards # went, so I switched that out for the football helmet that decorated the numbering of the 1973 Topps football design and it used it for the sequential hand numbering embellishment of my card.  (Oh, and I've doubled the print run +1* of both cards from V. 1.0.)  In the statistical portion I highlighted Tom's truly unbelievable career Super Bowl history.   

So, you've got all the musing behind the Hammered G.O.A.T. trilogy.  Get part II and III HERE. SOLD OUT


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Dream Girl, Kate Upton

Continuing in the "Dream Girl" series inspired by the 1991 Score baseball Dream Team subset is the newest addition, Kate Upton.

Kate, like a number of the other Dream Girls in this series, was able to use her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue stardom to springboard herself into household name status. 

Get your HERE.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Ellis "Red" Redding

I don't feel as if I have to spend too much time in this post waxing poetic about how good of a movie The Shawshank Redemption is. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman both gave brilliant performances in a movie that was nominated for seven Academy Awards. In the time since the movie's 1994 release The Shawshank Redemption has gone on to be considered one of the greatest movies ever made.  

It's kind of a fluke how this card came to be.  In 2018 I made a few card featuring film characters that used baseball bats, but not necessarily for playing baseball (see this, this, this and this).  There was a card I wanted to make in this theme but never could find an image good enough to use for the card; that character being Morgan Freeman as the tough baseball bat wielding principal Joe Clark in 1989's Lean On Me.  I'd still like to make that card so every now and again I'll do an image search from the movie looking for something I can make into a custom baseball card.  Most recently while searching a number of different baseball related keywords brought me to screen captures of Morgan Freeman playing catch in the prison yard towards the beginning of The Shawshank Redemption where Red has his first interaction with Andy Dufresne.  I guess sometimes the custom card inspiration just finds you?  

The Shawshank Redemption starts off in 1947 and goes on to span several decades.  I started off looking at what baseball cards were out in 1947.  (For reference, Topps didn't start producing baseball cards until 1951.)   There's not much to choose from as little was produced due to wartime restrictions on ink, cardboard and many supplies needed to make gum.

There's the 1947 Exhibit set made by the Exhibit Supply Co. of Chicago.  As far as for making a custom card there's not too much to go on with the '47 Exhibits.  They're black and white photos with blank backs.  

Next I took a look the 1948 Bowman set.  This was the first year Bowman got into cards, producing sets for baseball, football and basketball.  But, like the Exhibits, they're not much to design around.  Black and white photos on 2 1/16 x 2 1/2 pieces of cardboard.

The next year Bowman started to spice things up.  The cards again 2 1/16 x 2 1/2, but this time the black and white images had the players uniforms colorized against solid color backgrounds.  The early numbered cards in the series did not feature the player's name on front until Bowman added them starting at card #109.  It should be noted that Leaf also produced a similar looking set of cards with a little more flair at the bottom with a bold black (or sometimes red) block for the player's name that are dated 1948-49.  I chose Bowman just because the name itself is a little more iconic to me personally.

I think pairing the design to this movie makes great sense as the The Shawshank Redemption is significant the motion picture industry for it's impact and the same could be said about the 1949 Bowman to the trading card world.

This card front took a little more work.  Usually it's the card's template design that takes all the work and then it's just popping in the picture.  The template for 1949 Bowman is really just a rectangle frame.  For this card front I needed to crop Red from the background, age the image and then go back and recolor it.

The back of the '49 Bowman featured biographical information at the top and and advertisement for a baseball related product on the lower half of the card. As you can see, this is where the real fun began.

The top portion is some basic information about the "Red" character's time in Shawshank up to this point in time.  The bottom sales ad portion is where I was able to work in a number of Easter eggs from the movie.

Get your copy HERE. SOLD OUT



Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Taylor Pischke

Taylor Pischke is a Canadian volleyball player who is very accomplished at the sport both indoors and on the beach.

Taylor is being featured here on a 1990 Upper Deck baseball style custom card design.  She is like other female athletes I've done a card of that, to my knowledge, did not have any cards of her out there.  

I like using the early Upper Deck inspired designs because they're pretty versatile as far as being able to have the design lend to other sports with minor changes.  They're a bit different from my other cards the same way UD set themselves apart in the sports card hobby world at the time.  They're on a bright white stock and are able to utilize higher quality photos.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Def Leppard

When I started making custom cards for my own personal amusement 6 years ago I didn't really know if it was "a thing" and if there were others like me putzing around with it as well.  Fast forward to now and there's a number of creative types I see online adding different flavors to the custom trading card stew.  

I particularly appreciate those that are making their own lane and making cards that speak to their particular interests.  One of my favorites is Joe who creates his Pop Art Sports Cards --formally Big Number 59.  I find Joe has a similar approach to me in the way that he truly cares about the details in the cards he makes.  You can tell he too has a deep appreciation for vintage card designs that is equaled by his passion for music.  We share an enthusiasm for matching a card's subject image accurately to a trading card design from the same time frame.  Where my cards are usually lined with humor, Joe takes chronicling musical acts and telling their story meticulously through cards very seriously.

My favorite part of his card is the ingenious way he transforms a card back's statistical form into a musician's record of chart performance.  I think that's an awesome touch!


Awhile back I purchased a Def Leppard VHS tape called Historia.  It basically takes you on a music video tour through the band's first 4 albums.  The tape from front to back is a banger-- head banger that is.  Whether you consider them hair metal, pop rock or anything in between, Def Leppard made some of the greatest rock music of the decade.  We've actually near worn this tape out.  Even though I love the videos it's more so my son.  He's on the spectrum and when he likes something he tends to like it in a back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back fashion.  Suffice to say he likes Def Leppard.

All those times of the tape playing either in front of me or in the background as I'm doing other stuff and he's enjoying the hell out of it got me to remembering how much I loved Def Lepp as a kid.  Def Leppard was my older cousin's favorite.  When you're a young kid that didn't have an older sibling an older cousin can be pretty God-like.  So, of course I had to love Def Leppard if the cousin that I idolized was into them!

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned in a posting in the past that 1988 was my favorite year as a kid.  I don't know why but 1988 seemed like it spanned 3 years.  Everything particular to that year seems so vivid and the best.  I don't know if it was my coming-of-age year or what.  My Pistons were GREAT and *should have* been the world champs.  My collecting of baseball cards was at it's purest point for  opening packs and wide eyedly shuffling through them in hopes of a Tiger or superstar.  And then there are a few songs that are just burnt in my memory as anthems for that year.  "Pour Some Sugar on Me" is certainly right at the top of the heap.  The video might be THE 1988 video for me.  That video (the American version) with it being comprised of concert footage, provided a visual to me of the energy of live rock 'n' roll music.

Def Leppard, all-in-all, was a band packaged with killer visuals.  Both in their music videos and album art.  They always had some of the more intriguing album cover art to me.  It invoked feelings that ranged from provocative pop-art to a digital video game like aesthetic. 


Whenever I'm indulging in nostalgia these days my mind automatically is trying to find a trading card angle.  Remembering 1988 to me is to remember Donruss' abstract baseball card border.  Today I view it as mad charming, but I'll say it probably confused my eye back then not knowing what I was supposed to be seeing.  Remembering this lead me to thinking about the Hysteria cover art.  I was always been turned on by this album's cover art.  To me it felt like there was a lot going on it that space and a lot to take in.  The sort of thing that you could just stare at and try to reconcile an interpretation for yourself.  

I got to thinking that the color pallets for both the album and the 1988 Donruss shared similarities.  I believed I could swap the pipes (or whatever they are) for Hysteria's sort of sci-fi neon light grid and not lose the spirit of the original cards, which is what I did, and I think that holds true.

After the border was done the rest of the front of the card was pretty straight forward.  Then I got to thinking about the back and how much I'd like to emulate what Joe from PASC does with his card backs.  I got to thinking why not see if I could bring him in on the project?  I had a concept in mind where, if he chose to, he could go half on the design and use them in his collection too.  My editions would have a PCb. logo on the front and his could have a PASC logo on the front and we could share the credit line on the back.  I pictured it being like a Topps/O-Pee-Cee partnership, or better yet Donruss/Leaf where these cards are concerned.  I'm happy to say Joe was down to collaborate and I think we turned out a pretty cool card set that played to both of our strengths.   

Get your 5 card set HERE.


Friday, March 19, 2021

The Eighth Wonder Of The World

Since his passing in 1993 at the age of 46, André the Giant's legend has just continued to grow.  I truly believe André to be one of the most unique humans to ever have walked the earth.  

At the end of January Gummy Arts posted a wrestling card collage to his Instagram page.  Gummy Arts does these really fun hand drawn cartoon-like custom trading cards set to vintage card designs.  Within that collage I noticed an André the Giant card done inside of a 1977 Topps baseball style design.  The catch on that cards was it had André as a member of the Giants.  I loved that concept.  I had done something really similar for my Twins card.  I messaged Gummy Arts and asked if he would mind me using that basic idea just with putting my PCb. spin on it.  Thankfully he was totally cool with it and gave his blessing.

I wanted to incorporate the iconic 1981 S.I. photo of André's catcher's mitt of a hand absolutely dwarfing a 12 oz. can of Molson Canadian onto the card somehow.  My idea was to use it as an inset picture, so that left me down to two card designs; the 1983 and 1984 Topps.  I chose 1984 just because of it being a personal favorite.  The vertical team name text and the cropped out inset picture just give it a really unique and fun vintage look.  

Get a copy HERE.

1984 Topps