Sunday, January 28, 2018

Celebrity First Pitchers

I've done a number of celebrity first pitch cards in the 1986 Topps inspired template and have a number of them pending autographs through the mail.

These are a little bit different from a lot of cards I do.  For one, they're not year specific.  And two, they're the actual celebrity and not a character from a tv show or movie.

I'll be updating this post as return signed successes come in.

UPDATE: 01/28/18

UPDATE: 9/26/17

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Kiss My Balls!

Unless this is your first time on this blog you the reader have come to know that I may have a thing for ‘80s nostalgia, yes? Since the invent of this thing we’ve come to know as the Internet I, as often as the opportunity presents itself, immerse myself in all things ‘80s that the Web has to show me. Now I’m not claiming to be an ‘80s historian but I know a thing or two. With that being said, how the hell am I just finding out that Jean-Claude Van freaking Damme was the original "Predator"!? Before being replaced because "The Muscles From Brussels" wouldn’t acquiesce to producer Joel Silver’s insistence that the hunter from an alien planet was not a kickboxer!? Why isn’t that as common of knowledge as Arnie not being able to properly pronounce "chopper"? Shouldn’t you go to say to a buddy “you know in Predator…” before being abruptly stopped with “yeah, Jean-Claude Van Damme was original "Predator", who doesn’t know that?” Well, I’ll tell you who didn’t - ME!

Here’s an absolutely epic recollection from Predator’s visual effects supervisor Joel Hynek of how JCVD was fired: 

“I was in Joel Silver's trailer, and he had called for Jean-Claude to come see him. And he comes in the trailer and Joel starts saying, 'You gotta stop kickboxing!' --- because [Jean-Claude] wanted to kickbox --- and he was telling him, 'Look, the Predator is not a kickboxer.' And Van Damme was like (Van Damme voice), 'I must do that; that's how I see the Predator.' And Joel said, 'Well, you're fired. Get out of here.' And Van Damme says, "Kiss my balls!" and walks out, and that was the end of that.”

Ho-ly hell, that is the greatest thing ever. “Kiss my balls”!? Bold move for a young unknown in Hollywood looking to become a star, eh? I’ve read reports where Van Damme was basically trying to position the “Predator” to have a mixed martial arts showdown with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Dutch” character. He envisioned this alien hunter character karate kicking his prey! This is just me freestyling a bit, but I have to imagine if they would have let the kicks slide it would have opened door to the “Predator” doing Jean-Claude’s signature nuts-to-the-ground splits. That would have been both ridiculous and awesome.

I’ve also read other things that say that even beyond Van Damme trying to turn the “Predator” into a Ninja Turtle the powers that be just weren’t happy with him as the alien, and neither was he. Jean-Claude hated the “Predator” suit and he let that be known. The suit itself was redesigned for the more imposing 7’3” Kevin Peter Hall who ended up in the role after Van Damme. As you can see from the card the original suit had more of a praying mantis looking head. By the way, the suit is red so they can do the CG camouflage stuff with it in post production in case you were wondering.
He looks fucking miserable

I think we can all agree that looking back everything turned out just fine for all parties involved. Even me, because I got to add Van Damme’s “Predator” to my Predator set.

I was actually done with this set when I found out about this little piece of Earth shattering lore, but I gladly went back and fashioned a late addition. This Predator mini-set, done in a 1987 Topps football inspired design, started with three cards “Blain”, “Mac” and “Predator” knowing that there was a good chance that I’d be able to get autographs through the mail from Jesse Ventura, Bill Duke, and Peter Cullen (uncredited "Predator" voice) respectively which can all be seen here in all their autographed glory. As the story has gone in my recent posts I’ve been adding additional cards to single cards I’ve already created to make what I’m calling “mini-sets” which brings us to this 10 card mini-set. One thing that I’d note with this mini-set is that I added a few humorous touches to some of the cards to have fun with them and round the edges a bit on an otherwise serious kick-ass action movie. If you’d like your own set (not a balls pun, I promise) you can pick them up in the PCb card shop.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Here's the second mini-set I'm posting as an ode to 1988, my favorite year in the '80s.  The first was Beetlejuice, and now here's Bloodsport re-imagined as a vintage inspired trading card set. Happy 3-0, Bloodsport!

A couple weeks ago I had this as a four card mini-set that was inspired by the 1988 Topps baseball set. There was "Frank Dux", "Chong Li", "Ray Jackson" and "Janice Kent". I was ready to drop that grouping in the PCb card shop and then it happened... I decided to go and rewatch Bloodsport. I had not seen this movie in a few years and forgot just how much I marked out for it. In watching the movie and thinking about the 1988 Topps set I quickly realized I was not going to be satisfied with just a four card representation for such an epic and card-worthy movie.
1988 Topps baseball

The first step was to jump the ol' Google machine and start collecting images. I was able to find almost everyone I needed with the exception of maybe "Inspector Chen" and "Ricardo Morra". Notwithstanding those two this is my largest mini-set to date with a 19 20 card checklist.

This first card made for this set was JCVD as "Fank Dux", and that was quite awhile back. I made this one because you'll occasionally see collectors have through-the-mail successes from Jean-Claude. As it turns out I was one of the lucky ones and got my original "Frank Dux" card signed. When adding onto the set I found a different image that I wanted to use for the "Dux" card so that one actually changed. The others remained the same with the exception of of making the Bloodsport title a brighter red to show up against the dark background that a lot of the images had. You'll see I used the Topps All-Star Rookie trophy on this card to represent "Dux's" 1988 Kumite title. I know I've mentioned it before, but when I was a kid I really thought that little trophy made the card it was on 100x cooler.

I really liked Jean-Claude when he burst onto the action scene in the late '80s. I look at him as a hybrid '80s action hero. He's got the foreign mystique of Arnold, the lean build of Sly, and the martial arts credibility of Chuck Norris.
I really loved the look of the subsets in the 1988 Topps and wanted to incorporate them into my set while also having them make sense to a certain extent instead of just randomly adding an image to the template, so a decent amount of thought went into each.

I definitely wanted to have a card for the "Ok, USA" guy who has grown imto an internet legend over the years due to (I presume) his soulful exuberance for America? Originally I was going to use the Team USA cards as an inspiration for his card. I also really wanted a card inspired by the All-Star subset. I couldn't decide who to give the all-star nod to so instead I combined the two ideas for the "Ok, USA Guy's" card. I had to change the all-star card's diamond design to a rectangle to fit the image of "Ok, USA Guy".

In the movie "Frank Dux" breaks the Kumite world record for quickest victory when he dispatched the all bark, no bite "Sadiq Hossein" in mere seconds. So naturally this was perfect for the "Record Breakers" subset. Frank Dux is a real guy and Bloodsport is mostly (maybe loosely) based on a true story and as legend has it Frank broke the record for fastest Kumite victory in 1975.

I think I remember liking the "Team Leaders" subset as a kid. Each team had a "Team Leaders" card, usually picturing two top stars. Looking at them now, from a design standpoint they're kind of, eh, lazy? But, they do have a certain charm and also a great way to make one card of "Helmer and Rawlins" -- the two Army CID officers sent to Hong Kong to stop "Frank Dux" from competing in the Kumite. It was a two-for-one special.

"Frank Dux" has that flashback that gives his origin story telling how he came to study ninjutsu under "Senzo Tanaka" which gave the perfect opportunity to make a "Turn Back The Clock" card. The scene itself is a bit unsettling with its dubbed over and slightly sexualized dialog, but none-the-less I like the card. The Kumite that the movie is supposed to be based on was in 1975 but different things in the movie definitely give the impression that it's taking place in the late '80s even if I didn't catch any mentions of specific years. Since there wasn't that specific year mention I chose a 1983 Topps baseball inspired design for the throwback card. If you estimate "Frank Dux" to be in his early 20's that year can make sense. Since young "Frank" was wearing a San Francisco Giants baseball hat I used their team colors from the 1983 set for the Turn Back card. Plus, I just really like the '83s.

To not be too serious some of the Kumite competitors like "Pumola", "Suan Paredes" and "Sen Ling" are featured in the thralls of defeat on their respective cards. 

Fun Facts:
... the actor that played "Suan Paredes", Michel Qissi, played Van Damme's protagonist "Tong Po" in 1989's Kickboxer. ... that big bastard, "Chong Li", was actually in his early 40's while filming Bloodsport. He, Bolo Yeung, was also opposite Chuck Norris in 1971's Enter The Dragon 

Sunday, January 21, 2018


I just wanted to take a second out to show off this Cheech Marin autograph I'm totally stoked about receiving in the mail. Very cool that his PR person took the time out to write the little note that's also pictured.

Now I have both Cheech and Chong signed from my Up In Smoke mini-set while Tom Skerritt, Stacy Keach and Luoisa Moritz are pending.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Death Race 2000

I ended up doing these Death Race 2000 cards as a happy little accident as Bob Ross would say. I made a "Scorpio" card from the movie Dirty Harry wanting to try to get a through-the-mail autograph from Andrew Robinson. For some reason I was under the impression that Dirty Harry was released in 1975 and I didn’t realize this error (actually 1971) until the card was already complete.  Now I had a 1975 Topps baseball inspired theme made but nothing to use with it. So, I researched movies that were released that year with an emphasis on characters played by anyone who signs through the mail. One of the first movies that came up was Death Race 2000 which had my main man Martin Kove in the cast. Pretty serendipitous in my book.

1975 Topps baseball
Back in the early 2000’s I was a subscriber to Maxim magazine (also Stuff and FHM for good measure). I loved those magazines. Every month all the coolest guy content in small little quick bites. Maxim in the bathroom was like a smartphone before taking your smartphone in the bathroom with you was a thing. In Maxim’s February 2000 issue they had a list compiled of what they considered to be the 50 best B movies of all-time. At the time that list was like a treasure map to me. I’m a B movie kind of guy and I wanted to seek out and view all of them… which I’m still working on.

Listed at #1 was Death Race 2000 which I had not seen it up until that point. I had to see it, or really any movie that would top such a list. So, I sought out a copy. I wasn’t having any luck finding it. I contacted a local Media Play to see if they were carrying it, they were not but said they could order the DVD for me. Sold! It was one of the very first DVDs I purchased after getting a DVD player in 2000. Poison Ivy - A New Seduction was another one of the early DVDs I bought. I only mention that because it came in at #4 on Maxim’s list.

I watched it and really got a kick out of this movie. If you’ve never seen the Death Race 2000 it’s about a government sponsored auto race from one side of the continent to the other all while racking up points by running over people along the way. People are worth varying point values where the more docile you are the more points you’re worth and it’s considered somewhat an honor to be "scored" by one of the drivers that are all over-the-top caricatures.  It’s a bleak futuristic setting following the “World Crash of ‘79”  where the United States is reorganized under a new dictatorial style government, a government that puts on this race every year to pacify the citizens apparent blood lust. There’s a rebel group that realizes running over people for sport is pretty fucked up and so they set out to sabotage the race with an ultimate goal of overthrowing the government. If, like me, you had to read Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery in school then think that story line with 1980’s WWF type gimmicks driving cartoonish themed muscle cars and then you get Death Race 2000.

You take that plot and mix it with characters that are, like I mentioned, completely over-the-top and you can totally see why Maxim would give it the B movie pole position.

David Carradine is the leather gimp coiffed lead character “Frankenstein” who is somewhat a dark anti-hero type with a zealot like following earned by his race/kill prowess.  He’s dubbed “Frankenstein” because he’s basically a patchwork of a person due to infamous Death Race crashes in which he always seems to lose an appendage that’s later reattached. Each driver has an  a navigator riding with them. I made the driver/navigator cards the same color to signify a team even though some of the original 1975 Topps color combos seemed to be random. It also gives the cards a fun and colorful look when they’re together; it kind of reminds me of an Uno deck. "Frankenstein’s" navigator, “Annie Smith” is a surreptitious plant of the resistance that’s trying to overthrow the government. She’s actually the granddaughter of Thomasina Paine, the leader of said resistance. "Annie" is played by Simone Girffeth and good God is she beautiful, distractingly so. I found it difficult at times to follow the movie and not just pause it to look at her. As a bonus to anyone with the gift of sight she’s in her statuesque birthday suit in a few scenes because, well, the ‘70s. As a side bar I recognized Simone from her guest role on my favorite episode entitled Links of my all-time favorite T.V. show The White Shadow and she was every bit as jaw dropping five years later as the coach’s love interest for that episode. Drooling over Simone is not to sell the other female leads in this movie short, they’re all knockouts.

Then there’s a pre-Rocky Sylvester Stallone as a “Machine Gun Joe Viterbo” whose shtick is a prohibition era styled gangster with a short fuse and inferiority complex on account of him being the greatest living racer … not named “Frankenstein”. I took movie over my buddy’s first apartment and we watched it with the aid of a few cold beers, which just makes it all the more enjoyable by the way. Both he and I were rolling every time "Machine Gun Joe" would go ape shit after being slighted by  “Frankenstien’s” fanfare. "Joe" starts the movie by going ballistic with his Tommy Gun into the crowd gathered to watch the start of the race because “Frankenstein’s” large following that was booing him. He even scores his own mechanics after overhearing them talk shit.

Let’s not forget Martin Kove who was the first card in the set knowing I could count on him for an autograph. Kove’s gimmick is a Greek gladiator type character by the name “Nero The Hero”. You also have a cowgirl driver in “Calamity Jane” and a Neo-Nazi in “Matilda The Hun”. Both “Matilda” and her navigator, “Herman The German”, had swastikas on their race helmets which I chose to crop of by getting in tighter on their faces. It was more acceptable back then as satirical trait for a German character but just hasn’t aged well. The movie itself though has age well in my opinion. What I mean by that is that when it came out it got a bad rap for the violence and gore it portrayed. You have to remember it predated the slasher films of the late ‘70s and on through the ‘80s. Viewed today the low budget gore comes off as campy and actually has more of a comedic value when compared to the more sophisticated makeup that would come just a few years later.

As far as the autographs go I have Martin Kove’s card signed. I’ve got cards pending from Mary Woronov (“Calamity Jane”), Louisa Moritz (“Myra”) and Simone Griffeth (“Annie Smith”). It’d be awesome to add any of those.

If you'd like to pick up this set I've added it to the PCb card shop.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

It's Showtime!

Who doesn’t love Beetlejuice?  I love Beetlejuice. My mom loved Beetlejuice. My kids love Beetlejuice.  Everyone should love Beetlejuice.  He’s the ghost with the most! Shame on anyone who doesn’t watch it at least once a year around Halloween time.

It’s kind of hard to believe this movie didn’t already have a licensed trading card set. Well, there was one for the cartoon series, just nothing for the movie.

This mini-set is the first of at least three 1988 Topps baseball inspired designs I’ll be releasing in celebration of some really cool movies that were released that year and thus are turning thirty in 2018. For me, 1988 was probably my most seminal year of the decade. I just remember really developing a passion for a few things that would turn into lifelong loves for me. For one, baseball / trading cards. I’ve mentioned in past posts that the 1987 Topps baseball cards were the first sports wax packs I ever opened, but my collecting hit a fever pitch the next year. Topps, Donruss, Score, Fleer … it didn’t matter. I was hooked. At the same time I fell in love with basketball and the Detroit (Bad Boy) Pistons. They were one heart breaking blown call from beating the Lakers in the 6th game of the 1988 NBA Finals. Then there was the music, TV, video games and movies. Any of which takes me back in time 30 years when everything instantly felt like the greatest ever, and much of it has remained that way for me to this day.

I can remember badly wanting to see Beetlejuice at the movies.  We went but it wasn’t showing or something. We ended up seeing Johnny Be Good. That wasn’t meant as a punchline, but it kind of feels like one after typing it out.

This, like a lot of cards I was making at first, started off as a one-off. The Jeffrey Jones “Charles Deetz” card, knowing I had a good shot at having it signed through the mail. I knew how I wanted the card to look and executed my exact vision. The template is the ‘88 Topps, but it is an unmistakably Burton-esque inspired trading card. There was no experimenting with different colors schemes. The colors you see were my only choice for both the title and name sash. The alternating black and white horizontal striped background is to me the designs greatest asset as it is a recognizable optic throughout the movie and later in the cartoon series and toy line.

Now that I’ve decided to expand some of my singles into mini-sets to give a new energy to my little hobby I get to plug in lead characters to the templates. I may never get to have my “Betelguese” card signed by all-time favorite actor, but you can’t very well have a Beetlejuice set without Michael Keaton, can you? I think my favorite card in the set is the “Miss Argentina” card. She was a memorable as a small part character, plus the colors of her makeup and wig really pop.

I’ve added a title card to this and a few of my other sets as a way to pay homage to some of the classic illustrated movie posters of the past. I think it makes for a nice addition.

I’ve added this set to the store. There’s even a mystery bonus card thrown in... “C’mon, you gotta work with me here, I’m just tryin’ to cut a deal, what’a ya want me to do!?”               

Friday, January 12, 2018

Whoooaaa Bundy

Married… With Children ran from 1987 through 1997, which meant for 11 years of my life my Sunday nights were spent with the Bundys. I grew up in the Midwest which also the region of the country MWC was set in. Aside for the actors being great in their roles and good writing, I would attribute the show’s successful run to its relatability. It seemed like every other family sitcom before Married had parents that got along and were in a rewarding professional vocation. I can’t speak for the whole Midwest, but my family was way closer to the Bundys than it was the Huxtables.
This is a card that I’d thought of before but I’d not seen to many through the mail autograph successes in recent years for Ed O’Neill outside of preprint stuff. That changed when a friend I’ve met through doing my cards told me he may be able to get me an Ed O’Neill autograph in the near future if the right stars align.  That was enough for me.

I watched some old clips of Married… With Children to try and nail down a year for my Al Bundy Polk High card, which in itself was worth the work that went into making the card. Al mentions in one episode that he “made all-city back in ‘66” which I later confirmed was the year that Al scored FOUR TOUCHDOWNS in the Chicago City Championship game. So, now I had a year to work with.

1966 Topps football
There’s not a wealth of images available of Al in his Polk High uni.  This one I think works because it’s not the best quality screen grab which is okay seeing as this is supposed to be from 1966.  He’s got a helmet on which I think helps him pass from his younger self and not the woman’s shoe salesman that life has chewed up and spit out.

The 1966 Topps football (and hockey) had an old-timey wood console TV design. The challenge with that was matching the wood’s finish. I found that to be just as hard as trying to match wood furniture. Mine is not an exact match, but that’s not to say I’m not dissatisfied with the finished product. I’d like it to be as close as possible and I tried a number of things stopping just short of throwing my laptop.  Again though, I think I did Al “Touchdown” Bundy justice.

Get a copy of this card here. Or, I will trade straight up for this month’s Biguns magazine or episodes of Psycho Dad dubbed onto VHS.  Let me know.

Fun fact... Ed O’Neill was a defensive lineman during in college at Youngstown State, and the Steelers signed him as an undrafted rookie free agent in 1969, but he was later waived during training camp.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


In addition to being The Showstopper, Mr. Wrestlemania, a sexy boy and not your boy toy, Michael Shawn Hickenbottom was quite an accomplished high school football player.

Long before delivering Sweet Chin Music to Marty Jannetty through The Barbershop's window Shawn -preferring his middle name over his first- was the youngest of four kids born into a military family. After moving around a bit  Shawn’s family settled in San Antonio, TX where he attended Randolph High School located on the Randolph Air Force Base. Shawn excelled on the gridiron as an outside linebacker playing on both sides of the ball and was even made a team captain.

I ran across the a picture of Shawn in his high school football equipment and knew it would make for a great football card.  I read somewhere that HBK broke into wrestling in 1986 at the age of 20 so I figured that probably meant he graduated high school two years prior in 1984, so I used a 1984 Topps football inspired design.

Since the Randolph High Ro-Hawks (a compound of the words rocket and hawk) colors are silver and blue I used a the Detroit Lions color scheme from the 1984 set.  I was also fortunate enough to find a Ro-Hawks logo to complete this card.

Get a copy of this card here.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Up In Smoke

Here's another movie that is in my top five and that I've seen more times than I can count. Up In Smoke is, to me, just a brilliant comedy.  The story is okay, but it's the characters that make this movie classic.  Cheech and Chong themselves are gold, but then you have actors like Tom Skerritt (Strawberry), Stacey Keech (Sgt. Stedenko), and Christopher Joy (Curtis) who all totally own the scenes they're in. Just writing this makes me want to watch this movie.
I think the Curtis character needed his own spin-off movie

For this mini-set I chose a 1977 Topps Star Wars inspired design.  Up In Smoke was released in 1978.  I diverted from what I always aim to do with my cards which is match the year to the card design.  The reason I chose to do this with these cards are for one the design is so iconic and synonymous with the '70s, and I wanted the green border for reasons that I hope are obvious. I found a Star Wars-esque font for the movie title which really was a fun touch for these cards.

I started with just the Chong card that I made a while back. This is when my primary focus was making cards that I had a good chance at getting an autograph on and Tommy Chong is a good TTM signer, as well as having one of coolest signatures ever incorporating a joint into his John Hancock.
Keach was the perfect square foil for this film and Louisa Moritz was a total fox.

Now that I've been having fun expanding my single one-off cards into mini sets I've added 5 more cards to Chong's. The biggest problem I've been having with making these"mini-sets" is actually keeping them mini. Some times I'm thankful when I'm limited by the number of images out there because for a movie that I love as much as Up In Smoke it could have easily turned into full blown set that takes you from start to end instead of highlighting a few of the characters.  I would love to add a couple more cards to this set if I could find the right images.  Scenes like the Ajax girl, the battle of the bands and so on.  We'll see if any ever pop up.

This card here is one of my absolute favorites of my signed custom card collection.  I'd go so far as to call it a "prized possession".  I got two signed and gave one to a good friend of mine. He loves Up In Smoke every bit as much as I and is somewhat of a savant when it comes to quoting exact lines with all the proper voice inflections. 

Get your own set here.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Heaven Can Wait

On one of my many thrifting trips in search of dead media I came across the movie Heaven Can Wait.  I didn't own it nor had I ever seen it so I plunked down the .25 (probably) and became the proud owner of this VHS tape.

1978 Topps football
It took me awhile to get around to watching it.  I, like most VHS collectors I would assume, have hundreds of movies I've yet to watch.  It makes sense since they were the form of movie media for a couple of decades and can now can be picked up for as little as .10 if you catch a sale.  They can pile up fast ... in my basement.

The main character Joe Pendleton -played by Warren Beatty- is a backup quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams.  Sometimes I search for ideas for custom cards, and sometimes they come looking for me. As for the movie, it was a good story I would recommend checking it out.

Heaven Can Wait was released in 1978.  Luckily I had a 1978 Topps football inspired template ready to go thank to the Ron Simmons card I had already made. It was just a matter of finding a picture and matching the Rams colors and voilà.

Pick up a copy of this card here.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Major Bren Derlin

Well, happy 2018 to ya!

Here is a card I made as a supplement to the 1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back set seeing as there wasn't a card featuring John Ratzenberger as Major Bren Derlin.  Had Topps known what kind of success Mr. Ratzenberger would come to enjoy as the qoutable postal carrier Cliff Clavin on Cheers or all of his involvement with Disney's Pixar movies, I'm postive they would have worked on a card for the Rebel Alliance office even despite his brief screen time.

I was understandably pumped to see this card comeback with a clean signature.