Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Sorry Folks, Park's Closed!

I actually like all of the first 4 Vacation movies. My favorite of course are the first one and Christmas Vacation. The one I favor is usually the one I've seen most recently, or if it's around the holidays Christmas Vacation get the nod by default, which I previously created a mini-set for. I'm finding out I just have a card making thing for most things Chevy Chase.

Some time last month I popped in my VHS copy of 1983's National Lampoon's Vacation and was inspired to do a mini card set. This is my new largest mini-set totaling 25 cards. I keep inching closer to a regular size set although I can't see myself doing a full 88 card sets, which seemed to be the magic number for non-sport card sets back in the day.  In the 25 cards that this mini-set spans I feel it does a decent job of spanning the films key plot moments.

For this set I went with a design inspired by the 1983 Donruss Magnum P.I. set. I modified it a bit by squeezing the frame's height a bit so I could add some text below the picture. I used a font I thought had a good "Wally World" feel to it. Another touch was to make the frame a nice "metallic pea" color.

We all know and love this movie so without further fluff I give your the mini-set...

Pick up a set of your own in the PCb Card Shop.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Feed Me Under The Boards!

I started watching The Cable Guy a couple weeks ago and was reminded of the hilarious pick-up game. It's easily one of the movie's best scenes.  I've always loved this scene, especially when "Chip Douglas" references my favorite show, The White Shadow, when taunting his opponent.

For the card I chose my old trusty 1987-88 Fleer basketball inspired design. I actually did look into the various card designs from 1996, the year The Cable Guy was released. The trend in 1996 was for really high definition photography that bled to the edges of the card like a photograph and not much in the way of a border or frame. So, 1987-88 got the nod. I liked the fact that I could prominently feature "Steven's Team" on the card. That of course comes from when Jack Black's character tells  "Chip Douglas he's subbing in on his team and "Chip" rebuffs with "no way, I'm on Steven's team". And, I was sure to use the white/blue combination for "Steven's Team" matching Carrey's ultra generic basketball uniform.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Sly 1962 Style

I began seeing this picture of Sylvester Stallone a lot leading up to Super Bowl LII. Sly was like the lead cheerleader for the Philadelphia Eagles and this picture made a nice little tie-in seeing as he had played a little football at Lincoln High in northeast Philadelphia. I love Sly but I was rooting against his team because the Patriots are my team. The underdog Rocky won again.

As is always the case when I come across photos like these I wanted to make a card.  I had to do a little research to add year accuracy to my card.  What I found out was that the yearbook pictures shown in this card are from 1962, which is the only year Stallone attended Abraham Lincoln High School as a 9th grader.  Sly was a running back and also played a little defensive back. Sylvester excelled on the gridiron and also set track records, but failed every class besides drama.

1962 Topps football
Now that I had a year to go with it was time to look at what Topps was doing with their football cards that year for the template inspiration for my card. It's worth noting that this is now the oldest trading card design I've emulated. The design itself is almost as simplistic as one could hope for. I like that it used two photos; the main photo in color and a smaller vertical black and white photo. As luck would have it there are two Lincoln High Stallone photos out there, one of them being a vertical shot. Unfortunately they are both black and white. That gave me an opportunity to link up once more with my buddy Kristian from to help with the colorization since he did such a great job on the Miss Devlin card. Again Kristian came through for me! The only direction I provided him was that I found that the Lincoln High unis were black and gold much like the Steelers.

I made the info area of the card to color coordinate with the Eagles cards from that 1962 set. All-in-all I really enjoy the way this one turned out. Probably never get it signed by the man himself, but still worth my time to bring into existence.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Ahh, American Ninja. Just the name alone let’s you know you’re in for some ‘80s. There were few things quite a hot as ninjas in the 1980s and then Cannon Films went and turned it up to eleven by adding the armed forces element in a period where it was still marketable to be patriotic.

American Ninja is a treasure trove of ‘80s B-movie guilty pleasures. There’s some pretty good action sequences. When I watch it I always seem to be caught off guard when guys are killed in the movie. I guess I expect it to be like a live action G.I. Joe where the good guys just sort of run off the bad guys but no one is actually  mortally wounded. I read that Michael Dudikoff had no prior martial arts training but I think he pulled off the karate action convincingly. The late Steve James himself makes for a pretty badass number two, but they probably could have written in some more ass kicking for him to make his character a bit more memorable.

Now that the heroes are in place we need some baddies with foreign accents to stick with the genre’s trope.  Treacherous arms smuggler “Victor Ortega” and the paid services of the deadly “Black Star Ninja” will do nicely. If this was a card set back-in-the-day the “Black Star Ninja’s” card would be the one I would have been busting packs open in search of. Kind of like how “Storm Shadow” wasn’t a Joe, but he was THE coolest and most must-have figure of the G.I. Joe toy line.

Of course you also need a beautiful love interest which was played by Judie Aronson as “Patricia Hickock”, the colonel’s daughter. Besides Steve James being underutilized the only other thing I would changed about American Ninja would have been a little skin from Judie as she’s among my top ‘80s crushes. I guess I could always just watch Friday the 13th part IV. Or The Sleeping Car. Or Cool Blue.

1985 Topps Rambo: First Blood Part II
Judie’s card was the first one I made. Judie signs through the mail, so I just needed something for her to sign, which she did! Then as I’ve begun to expand my singles to mini-sets it was American Ninja’s turn after coming across the awesome picture that was used for Dudikoff’s card. American Ninja was released in 1985 so I chose the Rambo: First Blood Part II set by Topps from the same year as the inspiration. I actually think the template works perfect. I wanted to use the yellow burst like in the lower left of the Rambo cards but the orientation of the Dudikoff picture I chose just would not lend to that as it’s wider than it is tall. I made it so American Ninja “Joe Armstrong” is stealthily popping in from below to deliver a blue-eyed death blow in his full ninja garb. I think it works great and gives the card its own feel even with the red and barbwire being recycled from the Rambo card.

I’ve been making mini-sets that are as large as 15, 20, and even 25 cards lately, but this one stopped at five.  There was maybe a couple other characters that could have got a card but they just weren’t, in my opinion, interesting enough and I thought would ultimately take away from the five characters that do make up the set.

Fun Facts:
American Ninja is a full blown franchise having spawned 4 sequels … Chuck Norris declined the American Ninja lead not wanting to cover his face … Kurt McKinney of No Retreat, No Surrender fame auditioned but ultimately didn’t land the role because he looked too young … In an interview Michael Dudikoff says he contracted malaria while filming in the Philippines which is what he attributes being excessively sweaty in fight scenes to

Get your own set now in the PCb card shop.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Jon Gries

This TTM autograph success you see here is a pretty big deal to me. I may of may have not mentioned in the past that The White Shadow is absolutely my favorite television show of all-time.

I love The White Shadow for a number of reasons. For one, it mashed ahead-of-its-time subject matter with relateable humor. Secondly, my favorite sport is basketball. The cast was super talented. I actually didn't know about the show until the early 2000's when I just happened to catch it on ESPN Classic. I instantly fell in love with the show. I think I wrote about this before but there was a point in time when I was younger and my family lived in Detroit. This made me really cling to Timothy Van Patten's "Salami" character while watching seeing I was one of the only white kids in a predominately black group of friends. Basketball is what bonded us like "Salami" to his Carver teammates.

This card is signed by Mr. Jon Gries. You most likely know him as "Uncle Rico" from Napoleon Dynamite. I, like most, love that movie and the "Uncle Rico" character. But, I really geek out to Mr. Gries as "Uri Kongenski" from the "The Russians Are Coming" episode of The White Shadow. The episode is about Russian high school basketball team that was doing a goodwill tour of the United States and Los Angeles' Carver High was the their last scheduled stop. Relations with the Soviet Union was a very topical issue when this episode came out during the Cold War between the United States and Russia. Carver and the Russian squad play a spirited exhibition game following which one of the Russians, played by Chris Mulkey, attempts to defect by hiding out at one of the Carver player's home whom he had befriended during the visit. In my note requesting the autograph I asked Mr. Gries if he had any interesting memories of working on this episode. He said he didn't remember much since it was so long ago but he did say it was between he and Chris Mulkey to play the lead Russian.

Since I've been messing around with making custom trading cards I've done a couple of different White Shadow designs. This is by far and away my favorite. I wanted to do justice to a show that I feel doesn't get near the recognition it deserves in the annals of great television shows, sports themed or otherwise. Even for a relatively short run, 3 seasons, this show was outstanding and groundbreaking TV. I wanted to give the show a great card and what better way than with a 1980-81 Topps basketball inspired design made iconic by the three-paneled perforated #6 card that features Dr. J and rookies cards of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

1980-81 Topps basketball

I had the idea for The White Shadow in this design for a very long time.  But, for whatever reason, I was a bit intimidated by the design. Maybe because it's like 3 cards in one? Plus, I just wanted it to be pretty good if I was going to use it for Shadow. After getting some custom card reps under I belt I went for it. Turns out I fretted for nothing. It came together pretty smoothly. I found a groovy font that I believe is passable for the design and just took my time with the rest and I made something I'm really proud of. I even added some perforation marks, though purely aesthetic.

I want to make many more of these cards so it'll be an ongoing search for the right images.