More Customs

More Customs

This wasn’t actually the post I planned on making today. I had a great time with Sam at the card show in Houston this past weekend and had planned on post some of the cards I picked up. They’re scanned, but they’ll take a while to crop and whatnot. Instead, I’ve got something else up my sleeve. I realized I had been showing off random custom cards on Twitter more than I had here, which was a huge oversight on my part. I had made web sized previews of everything, but had never posted them. So… you ready for this? Nearly every custom card I’ve made since LAST APRIL. There’s even a couple previews of works-in-progress that I haven’t gotten around to finishing. Let me know what you think, and which ones are your favorites.

2017 Heritage Re-work

Let’s start off easy. This one is a rework of 2017 Topps Heritage. There’s nothing really wrong with the 1968 design layout wise, but there were two things that bothered me about both ’68 and it’s Heritage re-hashing. The colors of the circles, and the background texture. It never made any sense to me why the circle colors had nothing to do with the team colors. If I remember correctly, the Red Sox in that set were on bright pink/magenta. The other problem the circles always seem to have were off-centered printing. The text almost never landed in the middle of the circle. Lastly, the “burlap” pattern might have been fine in 1968, but it’s ugly as heck today. So, while I kept the basic idea, I fixed the colors to correct team colors, centered the text, and replaced the background with a retro art deco pattern rather than the texture.

Also, I followed in Topp’s footsteps. There’s regular and “short printed” photo variations, and a SSP variation I made just for Sam.

Topps Finest-ish

Next up, Finest. Sort of. I wanted something to try out some reflective material I had found. Finest, having been originally known for it’s refractors, is now all about the crazy variations and patterns. I tried out a couple different combinations (digitally) as well as actually printed on various materials. Had fun with this one.

1980 Topps Basketball

I don’t collect basketball cards, but I am aware of several iconic ones. The most iconic card, to me, is probably this one. A 1980 Topps basketball card with Larry Bird, Dr. J and Magic (technically it’s an RC for both Bird and Magic). The font is funky, a throw back to the 70’s, the colors make no sense, and the weirdest part is that it’s perforated, so you could pull it apart into 3 mini cards. That’s just crazy. I like crazy, so I turned it into a baseball card instead. Team appropriate colors, a rookie card, and then a couple takes on “league leaders”. Also did a “dirty” version, in case it’s been sitting in a shoebox in the basement all this time.

Immaculate

One of the things I try to do a lot is to recreate stuff that’s out of my price range. I’d never open a box of Immaculate, or National Treasures, or 5-Star. I just don’t have that kind of money. So, I try to make some instead. This is a take on Panini Immaculate. I ended up actually printing these and replacing the colored bands with foil. I was pretty happy with the results.

Impeccable

This is pretty much the same idea as Immaculate, only with a different product. These were inspired by Panini Impeccable, which I think is a football and racing product. I thought it could use a baseball version, and I just love playing around with ink/splatter brushes.

Rookie of the Year

These were a take on Panini Contenders Football, and an insert set within it. I believe it was something along the lines of “Ticket to the Show” or “Draft Ticket”, emphasizing up and coming rookies. Baseball isn’t quite so immediate with their draft results, having players go through the minors, but I liked the idea of the ticket stubs anyway. So, “Rookie of the Year: Contenders” was what I came up with. Someone kinda ran away with that award, but let’s pretend there were other candidates. Truly, I should have made a couple more after the playoffs were over, but this was back in July/August.

Street Cred

This one just came out of boredom one day. I had gone down to see an Astros game mid-June and there’s a whole area next to Minute Maid park with some above average graffiti. I thought it might be cool to see some actual baseball graffiti, and here we go.

Renaissance

Was trying a different painting action and this just kind of happened during the playoffs. I was pretty down at that point with the hurricane and everything, and was just messing around in Photoshop to blow off some creative steam. Might go back and rework these later, not 100% happy with the results, but it’s a good start to something.

Gypsy Queens

My love of all things Gypsy Queen is well documented. It should be no surprise to anyone that I made some customs. I’m still forever in love with the original, and the 2011 original remakes. The arch, the old-timey yellow. One of my favorite sets of all time.

1956

I love the idea of vintage cards, but it’s just not my jam. I can appreciate the designs, and the history, just not the price tag and that constant and endless search for cards in better condition. That said, I wanted to take on the classic 1956 design. I liked the double photos/paintings of players and the bright colors. These were just kind of an experiment, but turned out pretty neat in the end. Finding the right photos was really a struggle on these. Decided to use team appropriate colors as well.

Stadium Stats

The inspiration for these came directly from Minute Maid park and their graphics department. The scoreboard in center field features graphics very similar to this for each player as they come up to bat. I thought it might make a neat looking card and made some tweaks. The stadiums in the background for example, and obviously a simplified stat line.

Box Loaders / Cabinet Cards

So, here’s a weird one. When Allen & Ginter came out last year I really liked the look of the purple/retro box loaders they came with. Trouble was, the photos they used were studio shots of the players superimposed into vintage studio scenes. I had neither of those to work with, so they kind of mutated into something else. Added a pattern background, awkward name plates, etc. Then did a 180 and decided to make them more painterly. Kind of a weird, retro mashup. They look ok, especially the Bregman, the yellow really pops, but I’d probably redo them if given the chance.

Then and Now

I did a take on Heritage’s “Then and Now” in my first custom post last year with Ted and Mookie, but I went really retro with it. These were inspired by 2011-13 Heritage, which I thought did a better job than 2015-17 with that particular insert set. Just an FYI, the fonts are accurate to the originals in these (and most of the others as well). If anyone wants to know what a specific font was, just let me know.

Black Gold

These are the most recent customs I did. I did these back in January when the blogosphere was going bonkers over the 90’s originals. I started off with a fairly accurate recreation, then spun it into it’s own updated version. I couldn’t match the “Topps BlackGold” repeating endlessly in the background of the originals, but let’s just assume I didn’t feel like writing “Topps” over and over again into a pattern. The updated version are more “gold as in texture” (tops and bottoms) but keeps the “halo” around the player and team-less name plate as a tie-backs to the original.

Rated Rookies

Around the time Donruss came out last year, I was having a real hard time finding some. I really liked the retro look and I think Panini did everything right with 2017 Donruss, especially the Rated Rookies. I love them. These aren’t really different from the real ones, with a few minor tweaks here and there. This was just a strait up “re-creation” card. I did add some gradients to the background stripes, but that was just for the heck of it. This was another card I wanted to make to test out printing materials. These look awesome in real life on superrefractor material.

One-offs

Some times I was just trying out an idea. Some times maybe I just wanted to do one card instead of a bunch. Here’s a couple random cards that didn’t really go with a group. There’s a “1914” inspired Devers where I was experimenting with the layout and fonts. There’s a 2012 Elite style Diamond Kings (before DK was a brand again), there’s a take on 2017 Ginter that I wasn’t really crazy about (not the custom, Ginter in general) and a Topps Star Wars Autos inspired “Galaxy” card.

Works in Progress

Lastly, some stuff I’ve been working on that I never got around to finishing. There’s two “modern” cards, sort of a take on “Tek meets Finest”. There’s also a “Fire” inspired, super abstract with retro flare sort of thing with Correa (mostly because the orange and blue really pops). Lastly, I probably don’t need to even say the name, but I’m working on my take on the infamous Perez-Steele cards.

So, there we have it. Phew, that was a ton of stuff. Sorry for the insanely long post. I hope you guys like these, I certainly enjoyed making them. Thanks to the folks on twitter for providing input on some of these, it’s always appreciated.

Thanks for reading!

A Little Bit Jealous

A Little Bit Jealous

I have to admit, there are times when I’m a little bit jealous of other collectors. I’m not talking about people finding monster hits or 1/1’s, I think we’re all a little jealous of that. I mean that sometimes I’m envious of collectors with, by comparison, seemingly easier collecting paths. In perspective, I’m sure it’s just as hard to find cards for “your guys” as it is mine. I’m just saying that buying a Benintendi auto, or trying to collect a rainbow of parallels, for me, is considerably harder than let’s say a collection of a random reliever for the Marlins. I guess that’s a good problem to have. As a Red Sox collector I have it, you Yankees collectors have it, you Mike Trout collectors, you other big name rookies/all-stars collectors have it too. Those big names and big market teams command big dollars. So, when someone shows off a collection of super-stars autos I’m jealous that they had the money to spend on that. When someone shows off a collection of relatively unknown players, I’m just a little jealous of smaller market teams and their collectors for that reason too. I love being a Red Sox collector, but sometimes I wish I could pay Padres prices. You know what I mean?

In a nutshell, that’s why I don’t chase big name stuff. I would LOVE to have a Mookie Betts rainbow of autographs. Heck, I’d love to have ONE Mookie Betts autograph. It’s completely dumb luck that I have a Benintendi auto, I wouldn’t have been able to buy it normally. That’s why I have a Brock Holt collection. That’s why I have a Steve Wright collection. The reason is two-fold. First because I like them as players, and second because their cards are cheap. Win-win in my book.

So, to all you guys who are dropping big bucks on Mike Trout superfractors, you keep doing that, and I’ll keep living vicariously through your random posts and pictures. In the meantime (and don’t get me wrong, I still love these, a lot), I’ll be putting together bargain rainbows like this…

 

Ironically, I still need to pick up the base auto, but there are hundreds on eBay for $0.99, so I’m not worried about that. It’s just a matter of time before a /5 Red version appears in the wild. Other than that and the 1/1, I’m nearly done.

For those who are curious, these are the Blue Refractor #/150, Green Refractor #/99, Gold Refractor #/50, Blue Wave Refractor #/25, Red Wave Refractor #/25, and Orange Refractor #/25. The Red/Blue Waves were the hardest to find. I think I spent $5 on the Blue, and $10-ish on the Red. Surprisingly, the Orange was like $1.99. Go figure. I had started this prior to the hurricane, with only the Green being a recent addition.

Thanks for reading!

 

You Choose

You Choose

I’m on “creative” empty these days. The change in calendar year hasn’t really done anything (not that it would) to fix that. I’m more worried about, literally, everything else in life before I’m concerned with making a baseball card. That said, I’ve always considered it necessary and therapeutic to do something creative at least once a month.

That’s where you guys come in. I’ve got a couple ideas, but nothing concrete, so here’s a little poll. Help me decide what to make next. Please. 🙂

A) Black Gold
I’ve been seeing this around the blogosphere for a couple days. Not sure why, but I had a couple ideas on how to make an interesting version of the 90’s classic.

B) Court Kings / Ascension style “Painting” card
Always liked that sort of thing in general, and Panini’s basketball products are really neat (despite me not being a basketball fan in general)

C) Nobility Soccer (but Baseball obviously)
Minimalist soccer product that would be neat as a baseball product (IMHO)

D) Olympics cards
With the Winter Games right around the corner, I was thinking of “fixing” the new Olympic card design again

E) Art Deco / Gypsy Queen mashup
Another try with one of my favorite styles, maybe actually getting it right this time

F) 2018 Topps Flagship
Dissect (tutorial?) the design and try to recreate

G) Something ridiculously shiny for no reason
Pure foil, just for giggles. 90’s Pacific?

So, what sounds good? Help me choose!

2000th Post

2000th Post

That’s an insane number, especially for someone who blogs fairly sporadically and without consistency. It’s funny, I was staring at this blank post editor for a couple days now, not knowing what on earth to write about. There were so many negative topics: birthdays (I don’t like mine), not being in the house for Christmas, this time of year in general and stressful holidays, money, taxes, net neutrality. I could go on, but I won’t. I don’t want to talk about those things. I don’t want to be sad, or depressed, or angry, or whatever the heck this is.

I choose Joy.

I have so much to be thankful for. My wonderful wife and child, the support of our friends and family, an awesome church, a place to stay, a good job. I’m also thankful for this. This little white box I’m typing words into. Sometimes it’s the little things we take for granted. The opportunity and privilege I’ve had to have an open forum to speak my mind for years now is not something that should be taken lightly. Even if no one reads them, these 2000 posts are something cathartic for me personally. I may not post every day. I may not post every week, but when I do it’s at least something I feel like I needed to say.

Sure, some of those things might just be stupid pictures of baseball cards. That happens. Not because baseball cards are important, but because they were important to me at the time I wrote about them. It’s that sense of accomplishment, about collecting, that’s part of me. So, it’s not posts about cards, they are posts about me. That’s what we’re all doing. We’re not writing about things. We’re writing about things in our lives. Things we find interesting. It’s a little slice of our personalities.

So, if it’s a post about me, there’s only one thing I want to talk about.

I just want to say thank you.

Thank you to every person who read a blog post these past few years. Thank you to every person who listens to me ramble in real life. Thank you to our friends who love us and support us. Thank you to my father-in-law, who’s home we’ve taken over these past couple months. Thank you to my company for the time off and the gift-cards to help out. Thank you to my co-workers for being supportive. Thank you even to the government agencies who are trying to help. Thank you to two random guys from Dallas and their awesome fishing boat for coming to get us. Thank you to the local police department and fire department for setting up shelters and driving dump trucks through high water. Thank you to my friends in Dallas, who brow beat me until I accepted their charity, lol. Thank you to everyone who worked on our house, who did demo, ripped out sheet rock and pulled up carpet. Thank you for making us meals. Thank you for every message, email and card you all sent. Thank you to anyone who’s ever sent me a baseball card. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for everything.

Thank YOU for reading.

 

Resistance

Resistance

I’m trying very hard to resist the urge to go to Target at the moment. Why? Because I have a weakness for shiny cards that I absolutely don’t need. So far I’m winning, but it’s been a struggle this morning. Anyone mind if I vent a little this morning? Cool.

At the top of my rationale for not going to Target is the fact that they won’t have anything I want in the first place. I have three Targets within driving distance, 2 “super” Targets and one smaller original Target. None of them get any of the retail exclusives allegedly available these days. The only retail exclusive I’ve seen in the past THREE YEARS was Bowman Platinum at ONE of my 5 Walmarts within reasonable distance. So, there’s not really any point in going, which of course leads me to believe that “retail exclusive” cards are a giant joke in the first place. What’s the point? Honestly, the card industry is so completely backwards it’s almost, several times, lead me to throwing up my hands and just giving up.

What’s the point in collecting anything that’s impossible to collect? There are no stores I could go to that carry these products, 99.9% of my entire collection has been purchased online on the secondary market. People collect lots of stuff, in a wide variety of categories. People collect watches, and there are watch stores in every mall. People collect action figures and/or vinyl toys, and there are dozens of places to buy them (Hot Topic, Box Lunch, Barnes and Noble, Target/Walmart, etc). People collect books, music, video games, movies, dishes, gadgets, sunglasses, shoes, debt, you name it, it’s collectable. All those things have stores where you could find something you’re looking for. Even the broader category of “sports memorabilia” has stores. I went to the largest mall in Houston over the weekend: The Galleria. It has a hockey rink, 4 floors of shops, a hotel and a dozen restaurants. It has TWO sports memorabilia stores. TWO. You know what both of those stores don’t sell? Cards. I can buy a $2000 Tom Brady signed helmet, but I can’t buy a $2 pack of cards.

So, I ask you, what the hell is the problem with the card industry? It has multiple companies in it, who produce all different kinds of products. You’d figure someone, at some point, would have said “you know, we should probably put cards where people can buy them!”. Gas stations and convenience stores, book stores, sporting goods stores, big box stores, anywhere and everywhere a kid (or a kid at heart) could possibly be enticed into buying a $2 pack of cards. Sure, you don’t want a hobby box of National Treasures at a gas station, I get that, but 2/3rds of both Panini’s and Topp’s product lines would do fine in multiple retail locations.

It’s almost as if they don’t want people to collect stuff. It’s like a club that’s so exclusive you can’t find it, and that’s ok because they don’t want you there anyway.

Just look at the “print on demand” bullshit. They don’t want you buying a pack at a store. They don’t even want you buying a box. They want you buying your cards, from them, for $10 a piece, and that’s just insane.

The entire point of collecting something REPRESENTING something else, is that you like that “other” thing and want to capture a little piece of it. In this case it’s baseball. I love baseball. I live and breath baseball. It’s in my blood. I played, my brother played (and was going to get drafted), my father played, I coached, he coached, we were all involved. It’s enjoying baseball itself that lead me to cards. They were a physical representation of the players I enjoyed watching, and one that I could “keep” long after the season was over. I have never heard anyone say “Man, I love baseball cards, but I just can’t stand watching them play, I hate the game itself”.

Baseball cards are not a commodity, like stock, that you can short, or capitalize, or monetize. They’re not fine silver or gold. They don’t stand separately in value outside of the player and moment represented on the card. Otherwise, a lowly bench player would be worth the same as a superstar. Let’s all face it, a piece of literal cardboard is not and will never be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Fake rarity is also an abomination, and is their solution to their dying industry. 1/1, 1/5, 10/10, gold bordered, red bordered, strange foil patterns and colors do not change the value of cardboard. Red cardboard is the same as white cardboard. Foil stamping does not inherently make something valuable. When you print 10,000 cards, and color one red, you haven’t created something ultra rare. You’ve created 10,001 cards. It’s people who put the value on something. People who decide what something is worth. Wouldn’t you want to put those things into peoples hands? Wouldn’t you want to increase the number of people who think your products are neat, and that they might have value? Why would you then destroy your distribution channels and limit your options?

The only logical answer is that they’re scared. They nearly lost everything by “going big” and pushing cards on the general public. The junk wax era nearly ruined them and they’re scared of a repeat. So, instead of making their products better, and controlling production, and choosing sensible distribution, they’ve decided to change the narrative instead.

If we say something is “rare” then it is, right? If we create a fake supply problem, people will think “hard to find” must be valuable as well. There’s nothing wrong with their printing presses. There’s nothing wrong with their distribution model. This is what they want! Instead of finding new customers, they’re whipping the customers they have left into frenzies. They don’t look down on the secondary market because the secondary market LITERALLY drives the primary market forward. They’ve created a system where the initial market is so bad, it creates demand on the backend.

Imagine if any other product did that. Ice cream for example. If Ben & Jerry’s just up and decided that their ice cream was going to be sold exclusively in Vermont, and no where else, it would create an entire B&J black market. People in Vermont would be buying dry-ice, styrofoam shipping boxes and mailing that stuff everywhere for crazy prices. Real B&J fans would pay anything for some of the good stuff. The rest of us? We’d just pick whatever was in the freezer case at the grocery store and move on with our lives. That would put Ben and Jerry’s out of business, while making the secondary market temporarily rich.

Baseball cards went all high-end / specialty shop / online retailer, and the general public has turned away as a result. They’ve decided to live in their niche rather than break out of it.

Just yesterday I had a good friend tell me that his boys have been super excited about baseball after the World Series. I asked the boys if they wanted any cards and they kind of looked at me funny. Why? Why would they? They can’t afford to buy more. Their dad isn’t going to “hunt” for them in stores, and the retail options they have are disappointing to say the least. When your Target only has two boxes of NASCAR cards on the shelf, next to an ENTIRE WALL of pokemon junk, you’re not going to go out of your way and find baseball cards and start a new hobby you can’t possibly sustain. Right? If I gave those boys cards, where would they get more?

What if baseball cards were back at the checkout in grocery stores? What if they were in convenience stores? Maybe people would buy them, maybe they wouldn’t, but there’s no way to know unless something changes. It doesn’t even have to be all the products. Why not just flagship Topps, or Donruss for Panini? If there were packs of Flagship next to the gum at the checkout line, I would buy a pack each and every time I went to the store for something. I would. I also know that it’s a gateway product. Maybe I buy a pack here and there and all of a sudden I’m interested in buying more for “my team”, or maybe I want to buy the set now. Maybe I see what other products are out there. Maybe I become a collector. Maybe THEN I end up online, or in a specialty store.

It just seems like an industry that’s in desperate need of fresh blood should be doing everything it can to get at least a gateway product in front of new customers. Otherwise they’ll be stuck with a bunch of old grumpy dude trading slabbed and graded Aaron Judge cards online until the industry finally dies.