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. 

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.

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.   


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.  

1984 Topps

Friday, March 12, 2021

Lamar Lattrell

While making the Revenge of the Nerds set I had two cards in mind for the bonus card.  I ultimately chose to go with the Lewis Star Wars card as the bonus card as I thought this Lamar Lattrell 1991 ProSet Yo! MTV Raps style card could work better as a stand alone card.

The Musical Show and Skit Competition was one of the highlights of Revenge of the Nerds.  Lamar killed it.  Now that scene has its own custom card!

"Clap your hands everybody, and everybody clap your hands..."

Friday, March 5, 2021

Incredible Hulk Football

I've mentioned in previous posts how any television show in from the '70s on through to the '90s that was worth its salt had a baseball episode -- which is great for me because those make for fun cards.  Not only did The Incredible Hulk have the prerequisite baseball episode, but there was a football episode too!  That's right, the big green guy was the original Bo Jackon.  

The football episode actually came before the baseball episode.  In a Season Two episode entitled "Killer Instinct" David 'Bunett' is working as an ankle wrapper to the fictional Los Angeles Cougars professional football team.  The episode utilizes old footage of Chicago Bears games with the "C" on the helmet doubling for Cougars.  David needs to get help for a Cougar star linebacker who seems to be suffering from CTE which manifests itself on the gridiron in the form out hyper aggression.  

Since this episode came out in 1978 I framed the card in a 1978 Topps football Highlights subset inspired design.  I thought this would be a great fit as an extraordinary event card rather than making a player card since the Hulk wasn't a member of any certain team.  I also liked that the border was green.  Definite bonus for an Incredible Hulk card.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Dream Girl Alex

I wanted to add a more modern entry to what has turned into an ongoing series of "Dream Girls" cards (inspired by the 1991 Score Dream Team subset).

The beautiful Alexandra Daddario is the newest in this card series.  While I like to keep things nostalgic around here, I see no harm in Alex joining the team.  This card also serves to help balance the set a bit between actresses and super models.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Mookie Blaylock

I think it's pretty well known fun fact amongst fans of Pearl Jam that the band briefly went by the name Mookie Blaylock after the NBA guard.  They played a 10-show tour with Alice In Chains under the name before changing it in early 1991.

There's different stories out there about how they ended up with the name Mookie Blaylock, but I'm inclined to go with the story guitarist Jeff Ament gave -that involved basketball cards- to The Missoulan in 2008: 

"When we were recording our first record, we had a per diem of about $10. So when we got lunch at the store across the street, we'd always buy a pack of basketball cards. When we turned in our tape, we didn't have a name for the band yet so we put a Mookie Blaylock card in the case. We were about to go on a tour and still didn't have a name and needed one quickly. We were told it didn't need to be the name that we were going to use forever, just something for the tour. Someone saw the Mookie Blaylock card and said, ‘How about Mookie Blaylock?' We decided to go with it and did a 10-show tour with Alice in Chains as Mookie Blaylock. Mookie was cool about it, too—he didn't sue us. I actually got to meet him later on and shoot around a little bit. We also made a Pearl Jam T-shirt with a picture of him on it. I guess we owe Mookie a lot."

I read that it was revealed on Bill Simmons' podcast that the card that was the inspiration was actually the the 1991-92 Skybox, where I chose the 1990-91 design.  The reason being is finding quality images from that period was, well, they probably didn't know that one day some guy would want to make a custom basketball card and needed quality pics to do so.  Let's just say that.  I really like the image of Vedder and Ament on this card, but it didn't work well in my opinion with the 1991-92 design, but I thought it looked stellar inside of the 1990-91 confines.  

UPDATE: I believe I've determined that the card that was the inspiration for the band originally being called Mookie Blaylock actually could not have been the 1991-92 Skybox.  On 3/10/91 the band went on Seattle's KISW and formally announced the name Pearl Jam.  The 1991-92 Skybox was not even out at that time, let alone months before when they started calling themselves Mookie Blaylock.

There's stories that Mookie Blaylock (the person) threatened to sue over the unauthorized use of his name, but I've also read that that may not be true.  What is true though is that for Mookie it's better that he be a trivia question to the history of one of the most successful rock bands ever than to have totally lost his individualism had they kept his name.  Of course we didn't know then how we'd access information and media these days wit the internet, but imagine Mookie wanting to show his kids or nieces/nephews his highlights and having to sift through all the Pearl Jam stuff.  It would totally suck.

I've read that Pearl Jam's first album being named Ten was a nod to Mookie Blaylock being that it was his jersey number.  So, I gave this card the #10 as an Easter egg to that.  In the space where the team logo is on the front of the card I created a modified version of the Super Sonics logo that was in use in 1991 with the Seattle skyline, with Pearl Jam being synonymous to Seattle's grunge rock scene that exploded onto popular culture in the early '90s.

Personal Fun Fact: Every once in awhile when I'm feeling the prod of life's existential ponderings I end up listening to Pearl Jam for three or four days in a row.  

I just want to scream HELLOOO!
My God it's been so long
Never dreamed you'd return
But now here you are and here I am.

Personal Fun Fact #2: The best dog I ever had was named Mookie.