Thursday, May 31, 2018

Turbo Kid

The Turbo Kid (2015) is a movie that slipped past my radar until about a year ago. That’s not saying a whole lot as I usually shy away from new movies all together unless there’s some extenuating special interest. Turbo Kid is a little different though. The movie comes off as an ode to over-the-top ‘80s post apocalyptic/action movie trope. Think Mad Max on bicycles if you’ve never seen it.

At first when I came across the movie poster online I thought it was a kick ass ‘80s movie that I somehow didn’t know about. When I got my hands on a copy (booted onto VHS, of course) I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised. There’s BMX bikes, a weapon that is a dead ringer for the cult iconic Nintendo Power Glove, larger-than-life characters and some pretty rad campy gore. It’s the movie anyone around my age would have wanted to make when we were ten.

1984 Donruss BMX
This mini-set is inspired by the 1984 Donruss BMX card set. I didn’t have any of these cards back then. Never seen them until the Internet was a thing. I would have collected them though in lieu of having a cool bike. Growing up I never had one of the hot brand name bikes. Simply put, my parents couldn’t afford a Haro, Mongoose or Diamondback. I envied the kids who had one. I don’t know if it’s that way today, but back in the ‘80s those bikes were the equivalent of a cool car when you’re of driver’s license age. They were a status symbol. I had to settle for a Huffy. No mags, no pegs. Although I was able to sometimes fool kids telling them my bike was indeed a Haro because I took any and all badging off that would identify it otherwise.

For me this card set lent perfect to Turbo Kid. The red, white and blue round border just needed to be tweaked to the blue, red and yellow Turbo Rider color scheme that is present throughout the movie and with its promotional material. The old Donruss movie or TV show card sets were mostly captionless, which is fine. The images speak for themselves. I originally wanted this to be a 9 card mini-set to look nice in a 9-pocket card sheet but there were just too many images that I wanted as part of the set. I narrowed it to 13, but it could have easily been more.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


I saw a this image recently on Instagram and knew it would make for a cool custom trading card. I loved the weathered old playground hoop and that dope Adidas jersey.

Basically Mark Calaway, aka The Undertaker, is a freakishly athletic big man. In the mid '80s the 6'9" Mark was attending Texas Wesleyan University on a basketball scholarship. Mark started at center for the Division II TXWES Rams. From all reports Calaway wasn't just a big lane clogging clod, he had legitimate basketball skills with a noted affinity for the bank shot, ala Tim Duncan. Mark was offered a chance to play professionally in France but declined in hopes of pursing a career in professional wrestling.

For the card I went with a 1990-91 Fleer basketball inspired design from their Rookie Standout inserts set. This insert, in my opinion, was one of the very few bright spots in an otherwise forgettable card set.

Mark was well traveled in the wrestling world in the mid to late '80s but he's synonymous with his time in the WWF as The Undertaker, which he was memorably debuted as at the 1990 Survivors Series. So, the Rookie Standout insert set seemed like a perfect fit as he certainly was that.

Friday, May 18, 2018

2018 Motor City Comic Con Review

My fourth Motor City Comic Con is in the books and I came away with radical autographs of  '80s icons. This is really the genesis of how Phantom Cardboard came to be. I wanted to make cards for things I loved from my childhood that didn't exist and then the ultimate coup would be to have the cards autographed.

One of the first things I saw was a tribute to Margot Kidder who was supposed to be signing there this year but sadly passed away just five days ago. There was a bouquet of flowers and a poster board of sorts that fans were signing.

First up was Larry B. Scott as he was there well before all other signers. Of course there's Revenge of the Nerds and The Karate Kid, but I totally forgot he was in That Was Then... This Is Now and SpaceCamp, a couple other '80s movies I really like.

Earlier before going to Comic Con I posted a picture on Instagram of one of my newest cards, the Cobra Kai "Tournament Future Stars" card done in the style of the 1984 Topps baseball card set. This card came about because I wanted to add cards for Cobra Kai members Bobby, Tommy, Jimmy, and Jerry to the Dutch, Johnny and Kreese cards I already made, but I couldn't seem to find any decent quality screen captures to use. What I decided to do was create a "Future Stars" card with the images I could find. Since the images only needed to be small head shots they didn't need to be super high resolution or anything. Topps -to the best of my knowledge- didn't make Future Star cards for their 1984 set, so I had to wing a design.

I saw that Larry B. Scott had an Instagram account and had posted about being at the Motor City Comic Con today so I tagged him on my card's post which he in turn liked. I was hoping when I went to have him sign it he would recognize it from that post and he did, which was super gratifying.
For Larry I had the Cobra Kai card as well as and another card inspired by the same 1984 Topps baseball set, a Lamar Latrelle Tri-Lamb card.

Larry was super cool and interacted great with each fan. He took care to find out how I wanted my cards signed which is always appreciated. He signed the Cobra Kai card small for me knowing I hoped to add three other signatures to it in the future.

He seemed to really like my cards. The first thing he said was that he had never seen these before which was a statement I got from all the signers really. That makes me feel good that I'm contributing something unique for '80s nostalgia fans like myself. 

The second signer I visited was Donald Gibb. If I heard correctly, the two people ahead of me were greeted with a "what up dawg?" from Mr. Gibb. If that's the case, it's one of my favorite things from the day. 

For him I had cards from Revenge of the Nerds and Bloodsport done in Topps inspired card designs from the respective years of the two movies releases. Donald told me he'd seen things like fan made jerseys and helmets but never trading cards.

Here's where it gets kind of funny. Mr Gibb asked if I'd like to take a picture with him and I told him thanks but no because having my picture taken really isn't my thing. I'm one of those who rarely likes how he looks in pictures. Anyways, he replies "I don't blame ya". As I'm walking away I'm thinking to myself that he just went full Ogre on me because I'm this big nerd! I was kind of crushed and honored at the same time to have just been insulted by Ogre. But, after thinking about it I'm pretty sure he just meant he wasn't big on picture taking either.  ... I hope.

Next was another Revenge Of The Nerds Alum, Julia Montgomery. Julia was super sweet. She loved the card. She was even seemed hesitant to sign the front because she said it was "beautiful" and didn't want to write on it. She asked if she could take a picture of it but I did her one better and gave her her own copy which she really seemed to appreciate. Like last year I brought extras of all the cards I had to be signed in the event the signer showed an interest then I could give it to them as a token of appreciation. Also like last year though I didn't outright offer the card if I wasn't 100% sure they would want it in fear of the signer saying "nah". 

Last up was THE man, the one I came to see, William Zabka. This was actually my third time seeing him but I had to get his autograph again with my fanhood at an all-time high thanks to the masterful job that was done on the YouTube Cobra Kai series. 

I'm not sure what the reason was but Mr. Zabka was delayed getting there. I heard he was expected there around 1:30 but I think he arrived there closer to 3 and I was there near the front of the line that had formed to wait for him. Despite the delay he was greeted to a heroes welcome upon arriving at his booth. Like before he was great with his fans, high-fiving and proclaiming "Cobra Kai is back!". Before he got to signing he took out his phone and took a video of us the fans doing some Cobra Kai chants. Hokey, but fucking awesome.

He complimented me on my cards saying I did a nice job on them and I told him how much I enjoyed the Cobra Kai series. I wanted to chat him up more but he had a decent sized line that had quickly formed so I just thanked him, shook his hand and shuffled off with my new treasures.

There's two other cards I brought to have signed. A Willow Madmartigan card for Val Kilmer and a Michael from Lost Boys card for Jason Patric to ink. I guess I didn't bother to read that they would be there Saturday and Sunday only. Although it would be epic to get these two cards signed, I'm not planning on going back. I like going on Friday. For one it's less crowded, and two the tickets are a fraction of what they are on the weekend. Maybe another time.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

2 Legit 2 Quit

Personal note... in 5th grade me and two friends wanted to lip sync Naughty By Nature's OPP for the school talent show. We auditioned with my cassette single of the song but the powers that be didn't  approve of the lyrical content. They knew what OPP stood for where we were just dumb kids. So, we went with Hammer's 2 Legit 2 Quit. It's was a cringy as it sounds but none of us knew magic tricks so there ya go.

Did you know that MC Hammer, Oakland California’s favorite son, was a batboy for the A’s from 1973-80? An 11 year old Hammer, real name Stanley Burrell, would hustle outside the stadium and his entrepreneurial spirit caught the attention of Athletic’s owner Charlie Finley who gave him a job as a batboy with the team.  Hammer eventually worked his way up to basically being the eyes and ears for Finley while he was in Chicago running his insurance business. Hammer was eventually given the title of executive vice president as a teenager. Finley even had a hat made for him that had “VP” in place of the A’s logo.

It was as a batboy that A’s players nicknamed Burrell “Hammer” due to his resemblance to Hammerin’ Hank Aaron.

This card finally gave me a chance to use the 1974 Topps design. I’ve been wanting to add it to my custom card portfolio for quite some time but haven’t had a subject that made enough sense with it until this card. I appreciate the vintage looking rounded corners and the uncluttered straight forward design. It just looks very classic to me.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Athletes As Character Actors III

Here are two cards for the athletes-as-character-actors category, with two others posts found here and here.

I love this first one. One of my favorite things of all-times is the Bad Boys Pistons teams. I cannot express to you how big of a fan I am of that particular group. Isiah Thomas was my hero. After Isiah came Bill Laimbeer; probably the most reviled athlete outside of the Metro Detroit area. Say what you want about Bill but he was one of the most cerebral competitors of all-time. He knew how to get under the opponent’s skin to the point where their mind wasn’t on the game but focused on getting at Bill. He knew his role and played it like a song. Plus, I have to believe he was the original stretch five and a helluva rebounder for a guy who barely got off the ground when he jumped.
1991-92 Fleer basketball

I guess that’s enough of me waxing poetic about Bill Laimbeer the player, let’s get into the card and Bill the Sleestak. In 1974 Bill was 17 years old and a high school student at Palo Verde High in California when the Saturday morning kid’s show Land of the Lost came calling for vertically advantaged persons to fill their Sleestak costumes. I’m not 100% sure what a Sleestak even is but I’ll just assume they must go hard in the paint.

For the card I choose a design inspired by the 1991-92 Fleer basketball cards. These were never my favorite basketball cards. The only thing I think that they had going for them, in my opinion, is that they were better than Fleer’s horrendous 1990-91 offering. Blek. I didn’t go with a 1974 design because I wanted it to be a mash of one of Bill’s Pistons cards. I thought that this card design would work because of its tall, slender picture area fitting the picture I chose to use. I prefer this to Laimbeer’s regular card from this set. I always thought they selected the weirdest looking picture of Bill that they could find. What’s going on on it? Is he doing Shakespeare?

1982 Topps football
This one is a fun one too. For those that didn’t know, Lotney “Sloth” Fratelli was played by former NFL defensive back John Matuszak. The 6’7” near 300 lb. giant of a man was selected first overall in the 1973 NFL draft by the Houston Oilers. Matuszak could described as colorful and wild. His self destructive tendencies caused him to bounce around to a few NFL teams until finding a home signing with the Oakland Raiders in 1976. The Raiders have been known throughout the years to be somewhat of a bastion for football players with ability on the field but present a challenge off of it. Matuszak kept the volatility in check enough to help the Raiders win two Super Bowls before retiring in 1982. John Matuszak died 1989 of an accidental prescription drug overdose.

Topps did make a card set for The Goonies, but this is a little different being a mash of iconic Sloth character and the real life football wildman who played him. I chose to use the design for Matuszak’s last regular issue card, the 1982 Topps. First and foremost it had to be a Raiders card. It’s where John Matuszak found success in the pros spending seven of his ten years in the league in Oakland. The first time Chunk encounters Sloth the character can be seen wearing a Raiders t-shirt, no doubt an homage.  Second a Raider is a pirate and The Goonies is centered around the quest to find lost pirate treasure.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Labyrinth (Updated)

At the urging of my 8 year old daughter I've expanded the Labyrinth mini-set. What once was but five cards is now is now sixteen! She was right though. Too many great characters in the Goblin Kingdom to stop at five.


Lately I've been into making multi card sets.  Whether it's something new or adding another card to a set I've previously created.  At first I avoided anything where there wasn't a hope of getting an autograph, but I've found that it's fun to make cards of what are often times the main character of a movie or show.

That brings us to this five card set.  It's hard to believe that Labyrinth never had a mass produced card set.  You would think that it would be very marketable as a trading card set being that it was a Jim Henson creation with muppets and all, not to mention David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. The glass half full of there never being cards for it is that 31 years after it was released in theaters it gives me an excuse to create a few cards of one of the '80s biggest fantasy / adventure movies.

1987 Donruss
For some reason I was under the impression that Labyrinth came out in 1987.  I guess I assumed because it seemed like an '87 movie.  What I mean by that is that soooo many awesome movies came out that year. As a sidebar if you ever get a chance check out all the movies that were released in 1987 and also 1984 you'd see that those two years housed a majority of the decade's best movies.

Being that I mistakenly thought Labyrinth was released in 1987 when I hatched my idea to make cards for it I had already decided that I was going to use a 1987 Donruss baseball inspired design and how I wanted to cards to look. Then I did a quick check and discovered that I'd overshot my mark by a year.  If you follow this blog you know that I like to pair the year of the card design to the subject's release year or debut.  I was already committed to what I wanted to do when I picked the 1987 Donruss design so there wasn't any turning back once I envisioned how these cards were going to look.  I did ever so briefly contemplate other card designs from 1986 but I just felt the '87 Donruss' layout best fit my vision and would make the most sense.

In my mind I was picturing the movie's poster and drawing inspiration from that.  I've always been a big fan of movie poster art.  Posters from artists such as Drew Struzan, John Alvin, and Richard Amsel to me can be as iconic as the movies themselves.

I chose to go with a white border as opposed to the 1987 Donruss' black border to go along with the large portions of negative white space on the poster.  The gold colored borders are also meant to coincide with the poster's pallet as well as the blueish-purple colored nameplate. The color's placement locations are meant to mirror the poster's color progression.  I borrowed the labyrinth illustration from the poster to go in the place of the baseball trim that runs through the center of the card.

The baseball cards featured a team logo in the lower right corner so I completed the card with the movies font title in the form of a logo.

I've started with my five favorite characters from the movie but I'll update this post if I add other characters.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Not That Boy From Reseda

With the YouTube Red original series Cobra Kai being released today I put together these two cards. For all the the times I’ve thrown the word “favorite” around The Karate Kid is the movie that stands alone as my #1 all-time favorite movie.

I got to see the first two episodes of Cobra Kai in the theater on April 25th as a part of a special screening that was followed by the original 1984 masterpiece. That in and of itself was a treat for me having never seen it on the big screen. As for the Cobra Kai episodes... they were better than I even imagined they could be. From a production standpoint, a story standpoint and nostalgic tie-ins, the first two episodes had everything a Karate Kid fan could ask for. I’ve subscribed to YouTube Red and am counting down the moments until I can veg out to the series.

1984 Figurina
I’ve made a number of different Karate Kid themed cards. I’m always trying to think up new Karate Kid card ideas. These two are my latest offerings; Daniel and Ali soccer cards. Soccer is what first brought these two star crossed kids together so why not soccer cards?

I know nothing about soccer cards. I want to say the only soccer cards I ever owned came in a Classic blister pack that highlighted athletes from different sports that competed in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. So, I had to do some research. I wanted to keep it 1984 so I searched for different soccer cards that came out that year. The design I liked best was from the 1984 Figurina Calciatori Forza Goal Series. I liked the shape of the image box and the overall clean design. In looking at different cards from the set I noticed the the soccer ball streak matched the player’s soccer jerseys. For that reason Daniel got the grey and blue to match his gym sweats, and grey and green for the same reason for Ali. In the text above the ball where the player’s team/country was displayed I added Encino and Reseda for Ali and Daniel respectively. I used that to play on the division of class that is a central theme of the movie.