Saturday, November 15, 2014

Player Collection Mini-Beasts

Here are the have lists for all my player collections.  This is mostly for my own reference; but if you have any cards not listed here, let me know!

UPDATED 11/15/2014

Vida Blue:

1970 Topps #21 Rookie Stars (w/ Gene Tenance)
1972 Topps #169
1972 Topps #96 A.L. Strikeout Leaders (w/ Lolitch, Coleman)
1972 Topps O-Pee-Chee #430 In Action
1973 Topps #430
1975 Topps #510 Mini(iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!)
1979 Topps #110 N.L. All-Star
1980 Topps #30
1981 Fleer #432
1982 Topps Traded #8T
1983 Fleer #643 Super Star Special
1986 Topps #770
1986 Topps #770 Tiffany
1987 Donruss #362
1987 Topps #260
1987 Topps #260 Tiffany
1989 Pacific Baseball Legends #198
1990 Pacific Baseball Legends #8
2000 Fleer Greats of the Game #97
2002 Topps Archives Reserve #57 (1971 Reprint)
2004 Fleer Greats #23
2005 Topps Pristine The Legendary Years #1
2007 Topps Archives Reserve #57 RC Reprint Refractor
2012 Panini Golden Age #98
2013 Topps Allen & Ginter #146
2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Sliding Stars Joe Morgan #SS-JM (cameo)
2013 Topps Gypsy Queen #157
2013 Topps Museum Collection Certified Auto #AA-VB #/399

Jay Buhner:

1987 ProCards #38
1988 Donruss #545
1988 Donruss The Rookies #11
1989 Fleer #542
1989 Topps #223
1989 Topps Glossy Rookies #5
1990 Donruss #448
1990 Donruss #448 Speckle Border Variant
1990 Fleer #508
1990 Leaf #114
1990 Topps #554
1990 Upper Deck #534
1991 Donruss #509
1991 Donruss #509 Border Variant
1991 Donruss Grand Slammers #6
1991 Fleer #446
1991 Topps #154
1991 Upper Deck #128
1992 Donruss #61
1992 Fleer #275
1992 Leaf #128
1992 Pinnacle #305 Shades
1992 Score #202
1992 Stadium Club #213
1992 Studio #231
1992 Topps #327
1992 Ultra #121
1992 Upper Deck #441
1993 Pinnacle Home Run Club #36
1993 Ultra #267
1994 Pacific #564
1994 Upper Deck #61
1995 Bazooka #15
1995 Collector's Choice #290
1995 Collector's Choice SE #124
1995 Collector's Choice SE #124 Silver Signature
1995 Donruss #471
1995 Fleer #263
1995 Pinnacle #234
1995 Stadium Club #73
1995 Topps #25
1995 Topps Embossed #65
1996 Collector's Choice #730
1996 Collector's Choice You Crash the Game #CG25 6/20-23
1996 Collector's Choice You Crash the Game #CG25 7/25-28
1996 Finest #237/S32 Sterling
1996 Fleer #231
1996 Leaf #113
1996 Metal Universe #104
1996 Pinnacle #224
1996 SP #173
1996 Sportflix #91
1996 Topps #270
1996 Topps Profiles #AL-11
1996 Upper Deck Power Driven #PD3
1996 Upper Deck V.J. Lovero Showcase #VJ11
1997 Bowman #255
1997 Collector's Choice Big Shots #17
1997 E-X2000 #39
1997 Fleer #202
1997 Leaf #102
1997 Pinnacle #195 Clout
1997 Pinnacle Inside #39
1997 Pinnacle Zenith #38
1997 SPx #SPX44
1997 Stadium Club #19
1997 Upper Deck #177
1997 Upper Deck Long Distance Connection #LD7
1997 Upper Deck Predictor #P25 (scratched)
1998 Finest #180
1998 Fleer Sports Illustrated Covers #6
1998 Topps Stars #74 Silver #/4399
1999 Topps #376
1999 UD Choice #144
2002 Upper Deck #133

Will Clark: IN PROGRESS

1986 Donruss The Rookies #32 (autographed)
1986 Topps Traded #24T (autographed)
1991 Score Dream Team #886 (autographed)
1992 Dairy Queen Team USA #2 (autographed)
1993 Triple Play Nicknames #4 (autographed)
1995 SP #200 (autographed)
2002 Topps Archives Reserve 1989 Reprint Refractor #24 (autographed)
2005 Topps Pristine #102 The College Years #/1999 (autographed)
2010 Panini Century Collection Game-Used Jersey Relic #19 #/100 (autographed)
2013 Leaf Certified USA Baseball Die-Cut #8 #/699 (autographed)

Bryan Clutterbuck:

1982 Fritsch Cards #20 (Midwest League - Beloit Brewers)
1985 Cramer Sports Promotions #222 (Pacific Coast League - Vancouver Canadians)
1987 Donruss #397
1987 Fleer #342
1987 Fleer #342 Autographed
1987 ProCards #234
1987 Topps #562
1987 Topps Tiffany #562
1989 Topps Traded #21T
1989 Topps Traded Tiffany #21T
1990 Topps #264
1990 Topps O-Pee-Chee #264
1990 Topps Tiffany #264
1990 Upper Deck #239
1994 Miller Genuine Draft Milwaukee Brewers 25 Year Commemorative Card Series

Larry Doby:

1957 Topps #85
1982 Cracker Jack #1
1982 TCMA Baseball's Greatest Sluggers Green Border
1990 Swell Baseball Greats #24
1991 Topps Archives The Ultimate 1953 Set #333
1992 Action Packed #27
1993 Ted Williams #134 Barrier Breakers
1994 Upper Deck MLB 125th Anniversary #47
1997 Pinnacle Denny's #1
1997 Ultra All-Star Game
2001 Topps Chrome #TC20 Barrier Breakers (w/ Jackie Robinson)
2001 Topps Archives Reprint #5 (1952 Reprint)
2002 Fleer Box Score #282 #/2950
2002 Topps Archives Reserve #21 (1952 Reprint)
2003 Flair Greats #33
2004 SP Legendary Cuts #70
2012 Topps Tribute #56
2012 Topps Tribute #56 Sepia #/299
2012 Topps Tribute #56 Blue #/199
2012 Topps Tribute #56 Green #/75
2012 Topps Tribute #56 Black #/60
2013 Topps Gypsy Queen #81 White Frame
2013 Topps Gypsy Queen #81 Mini
2013 Topps Gypsy Queen #81 Mini Black #/199
2014 Topps Archives #122
2014 Topps Gypsy Queen #199

Chuck Finley: IN PROGRESS

2002 Upper Deck 40-Man Looming Large Jersey Relic #L-CF #/250

Marquis Grissom:

1988 ProCards #1910
1989 Baseball America Top AA Prospects #AA-14
1990 MVP Big League Rookies
1990 Bowman #115
1990 Donruss #36 Rated Rookie
1990 Donruss Best of the NL #128
1990 Donruss The Rookies #45
1990 Fleer #347
1990 Leaf #107
1990 Score #591
1990 Score Rising Stars #99
1990 Score Young Superstar #6
1990 Sportflics #134
1990 Topps #714
1990 Topps Traded #48
1990 Upper Deck #9 Star Rookie
1990 Upper Deck #702 Rookie Threats (w/ Delino DeShields & Larry Walker)
1991 Bowman #435
1991 Classic #T38
1991 Donruss #307
1991 Fleer #234
1991 Leaf #22
1991 Score #234
1991 Score Rising Stars #38
1991 Stadium Club #8
1991 Studio #198
1991 Topps #283
1991 Topps Rookies #10
1991 Toys R Us Collector's Edition #9
1991 Ultra #204
1991 Upper Deck #477
1991 Bowman #14
1992 Denny's Grand Slam #1
1992 Donruss #137
1992 Fleer #482
1992 Leaf #273
1992 O-Pee-Chee Premier #176
1992 Pinnacle #129
1992 Pinnacle Team 2000 #11
1992 Score #66
1992 Stadium Club #120
1992 Studio #55
1992 Topps #647
1992 Topps Kids #8
1992 Ultra #518
1992 Upper Deck #455
1992 Upper Deck #455 Gold Hologram
1992 Upper Deck #719 Best Baserunner
1992 Upper Deck #719 Best Baserunner Gold Hologram
1993 Donruss #300
1993 Finest #40
1993 Flair #83
1993 Fleer #706 League Leaders
1993 Leaf #129
1993 Pinnacle #346
1993 Pinnacle Team 2001 #17
1993 Select #99
1993 SP #12
1993 Stadium Club #529
1993 Stadium Club #598 Member's Choice
1993 Topps #15
1993 Toys R Us Young Stars #30
1993 Triple Play #159
1993 Upper Deck #356
1993 Upper Deck #481 Team Stars (w/ D. DeShields, D. Martinez, L. Walker)
1993 Upper Deck Fun Pack #95
1993 U.S. Playing Card Company Ace of Hearts
1994 Church's Hometown Stars #24
1994 Collector's Choice #465
1994 Collector's Choice #465 Silver Signature
1994 Donruss #37
1994 Fleer Team Leaders #22
1994 Leaf #174
1994 Score #352
1994 Topps #590
1994 Topps #590 Gold
1994 Triple Play #95
1994 Ultra #228
1994 Ultra Award Winners #16
1994 Upper Deck #390
1994 Upper Deck #39 Fantasy Team
1995 Collector's Choice Trade Card #TC3
1995 Collector's Choice SE #98
1995 Collector's Choice SE #98 Silver Signature
1995 Emotion #101
1995 Finest #237
1995 Leaf #335
1995 Leaf Great Gloves #7
1995 Pinnacle #34
1995 Pinnacle UC3 #49
1995 Score #246
1995 SP #29
1995 SP Championship Series #22
1995 Stadium Club Super Skills #12
1995 Topps #297
1995 Topps #315
1995 Topps League Leaders #LL43
1995 Ultra #403
1995 Ultra Award Winner #16
1995 Upper Deck #81
1995 Upper Deck #81 Electric Diamond
1995 Upper Deck #290
1995 Upper Deck #290 Electric Diamond
1996 Circa #100
1996 Collector's Choice #41
1996 Donruss #19
1996 Fleer #292 Tiffany
1996 Fleer #5 (???)
1996 Metal Universe #128
1996 Pinnacle #96
1996 Pinnacle Christie Brinkley Collection #8
1996 Select #113
1996 Studio #20
1996 Topps #297
1996 Ultra #155
1996 Upper Deck #8
1997 Circa #146
1997 Collector's Choice #31
1997 Donruss #64
1997 Fleer #256
1997 Metal Universe #29
1997 Pinnacle #8
1997 Score #246
1997 SP #57
1997 Topps #184
1997 Topps Gallery
1997 Upper Deck #11
1998 Fleer Vintage '63 #101
1998 Score #188
1998 Ultra #345
1998 Upper Deck Retro Time Capsule #TC43
1999 Fleer Tradition #97
1999 Pacific Prism #80 Pink #/320
1999 Stadium Club #110
1999 Upper Deck #128
1999 Upper Deck Black Diamond #46
1999 Upper Deck MVP #112
2000 Pacific Prism #79 Pink #/99
2000 Topps #246
2000 Ultra #136
2000 Upper Deck #416
2000 Upper Deck MVP #35
2000 Victory #65
2000 Victory #69 Stat Leaders (w/ Jeromy Burnitz)
2001 Fleer Futures #139
2001 Topps #38
2002 Topps #526
2002 Topps Chrome #208 Gold Refractor
2003 Topps 205 #281
2002 Upper Deck #337
2003 Topps Heritage #153
2003 Upper Deck #446
2004 Donruss #367
2004 Fleer Inscribed #62
2004 Fleer Platinum #150
2004 Fleer Skybox Limited Edition #55 Die-Cut
2004 Fleer Sweet Sigs #6
2004 Fleer Tradition #50
2004 Playoff Prestige #170
2004 Topps #601
2004 Topps Heritage #247
2004 Topps Total #281 #SFG3
2004 Upper Deck #440
2004 Upper Deck Vintage #13
2005 Fleer #91
2005 Topps #470
2005 Topps Total #383 #SFG16
2005 Ultra #129
2005 Upper Deck #400
2005 Zenith #109 Artist's Proof #/50

Ron Kittle:

1983 Fleer #241
1984 Topps #480
1984 Topps #480 Tiffany
1984 Topps O-Pee-Chee #373
1984 Topps Milton Bradley Championship Baseball
1984 Topps Milton Bradley Championship Baseball (autographed)
1985 Donruss #180
1985 Fleer #518
1985 Fleer Limited Edition #16
1985 Topps #105
1985 Topps #105 Tiffany
1985 Topps O-Pee-Chee #105
1986 Donruss #526
1986 Donruss Leaf #257
1986 Fleer #210
1986 Fleer Mini #45
1986 Fleer Super Star Sticker #68
1986 O-Pee-Chee Tattoo Sheet #6 (w/ Pete Rose)
1986 Sportflics #86
1986 Topps #574
1986 Topps #574 Tiffany
1986 Topps O-Pee-Chee #288
1987 Donruss #351
1987 Fleer #103
1987 Topps #584
1987 Topps #584 Tiffany
1988 Donruss #422
1988 Fleer #213
1988 Score #449
1988 Topps #259
1988 Topps Traded #58T
1989 APBA Baseball Game Card #J-3
1989 Bowman #69
1989 Bowman #69 Tiffany
1989 Donruss #428
1989 Donruss Traded #T51
1989 Fleer Update #U-20
1989 Score #96
1989 Topps #771
1989 Topps #771 Tiffany
1989 Topps Traded #62T
1989 Topps Traded Tiffany #62T
1989 Upper Deck #228
1989 Upper Deck #711
1990 Donruss #148
1990 Donruss #148 Speckle Border Variant
1990 Fleer #538
1990 Panini Stickers #51
1990 Score #529
1990 Topps #574
1990 Topps #574 Tiffany
1990 Topps Mini Super Star Jay Howell #32 (sticker back w/ Lenny Dykstra)
1990 Upper Deck #790
1991 Donruss #613
1991 Donruss #613 Striped Border Variant
1991 Fleer #480
1991 Topps #324
1991 Topps #324 Tiffany
1991 Topps Desert Shield #324
2004 Topps Certified Autograph Issue #CA-RKI
2009 Obak Autograph #A43 #/25
2012 Leaf Memories Buyback #405 Gold #/5
2012 Leaf Memories Buyback #405 Silver #/20
2013 Leaf Memories Buyback Autograph #405 #/42
Mini Stickers (w/ Eric King)

Javier (Javy) Lopez:

1992 Bowman #452
1992 Classic Best #117
1993 SP #281 Premier Prospects
1993 Topps #811
1993 Topps Stadium Club Teams #27 (autographed w/ COA)
1994 Pinnacle #239
1994 Studio Heritage Collection
1994 Upper Deck #255
1995 Bazooka #123
1995 Collector's Choice #160
1995 Emotion #105
1995 Flair #104
1995 Pacific #10
1995 Pinnacle Zenith #44
1995 Topps #567
1995 Ultra #350
1996 Metal Universe #133
1996 Collector's Choice #46
1996 Pinnacle #326
1996 Stadium Club #103
1996 Topps #367
1996 Upper Deck #6
1997 Circa #266
1997 Collector's Choice #33
1997 Collector's Choice #222 Post-Season Celebration
1997 Leaf #93
1997 Pinnacle Zenith #27
1997 Score #105
1997 Topps Gallery #100
1997 Upper Deck #301
1998 Leaf #57
1998 Stadium Club #67
1998 Pacific Aurora Pennant Fever #22
1998 Pacific Paramount #132
1999 Pacific Revolution #14
1999 Topps #72
1999 Topps Gallery #33
2001 MLB Showdown #41
2001 Stadium Club #45
2002 Stadium Club #37
2002 Ultra #181
2003 Upper Deck #387
2004 Fleer Platinum #144
2004 Fleer Sweet Sigs #37
2004 Topps Traded Chrome #T20
2004 Upper Deck #146
2005 Donruss Diamond Kings #29
2006 Flair Showcase #72
2006 Topps #213
2006 Ultra #107 Gold Medallion

Rusty Staub:

1964 Topps #109
1967 Topps #73
1968 Topps #300
1968 Topps Game #28
1969 Globe Imports Mini Playing Card King of Hearts
1969 Topps #230
1969 Topps Deckled Edge #22
1970 Topps Booklets #18
1971 Topps #560
1974 Topps #475 World Series HIghlights
1976 Topps Canadian #120
1976 Topps Traded #120T
1977 Topps #420 All-Star
1979 Topps #440
1979 Topps O-Pee-Chee #440
1981 Topps #80
1981 Topps Coca-Cola #7
1982 Fleer #536
1983 Fleer #555
1983 Topps #51 Super Veteran
1983 Topps O-Pee-Chee #1
1983 Topps O-Pee-Chee #51 Super Veteran
1984 Topps #430
1984 Topps #430 Tiffany
1984 Topps #704 NL Active Career RBI Leaders (w/ Tony Perez & Al Oliver)
1984 Topps #702 NL Active Career Hit Leaders (w/ Tony Perez & Pete Rose)
1985 Topps #190
1986 Mother's Cookies #6
1990 Pacific Baseball Legends #52
1994 Ted Williams Collection #52
2012 Panini Golden Age #90
2012 Panini Golden Age Museum Age Bat Relic #11
2012 Panini Leaf Limited Greats Autograph #30 #/300

Dan Wilson:

1991 Score #681 1st Round Draft Pick
1991 Topps #767 #1 Draft Pick
1991 Upper Deck Final Edition #6F Minor League Diamond Skills
1992 Donruss #399 Rated Rookie
1992 Triple Play #241
1993 O-Pee-Chee Premier #35
1993 Topps #813 Coming Attraction
1993 Stadium Club #662
1993 Ultra #337 Rookie
1993 Upper Deck #6 Star Rookie
1994 Upper Deck #240
1995 Leaf #228
1995 Pinnacle #407
1995 Stadium Club #152
1995 Topps #263
1995 Topps Cyberstats #143
1995 Upper Deck #240
1996 Collector's Choice #319
1996 Fleer #245
1996 Pacific #405
1996 Pinnacle #332
1997 Collector's Choice #228
1997 Leaf #46
1997 Upper Deck #503
1998 Score #2
1998 Topps # 38
1998 Topps Chrome #38
1999 Pacific Aurora #181
1999 Stadium Club #295
1999 Upper Deck #208
2002 Topps #112
2004 Upper Deck #71
2005 Fleer #74

Friday, November 14, 2014

Design Timeline: Topps Gallery

This post is part of an ongoing feature The Great Griffey Base Card Project.

Gallery is a Topps brand that’s easy for me to get excited about. High-end, quality-crafted cards all thick, glossy, and textured whose design is artistically-inclined and aesthetically beautiful every single year? Yeah, I want that.

The brand uses the tagline “The Art of Collecting,” and the art is there in spades. From photography to paintings in varying style, Gallery delivered attractive, adult-oriented cards with an authentic artistic bent not seen in any other timeline of this scale. Sure, the inserts and subsets were both excellent throughout the brand’s run, but when you can get excited about the base cards you know you have something special.

Here is every Topps Gallery base design from the brand’s 9-year run in order. Have I mentioned that they’re all Griffeys?

1996:


One of the best designs in the timeline is this first one. The partial frame decked out in gold filigree, the stately gold nameplate, the tasteful logo built specifically to be corner-mounted, the simulated canvas texture in the background – this thing is a knockout. We also get a nice candid portrait of the Kid leaning against a thing. Whatever that thing is, I bet it’s classy.

1997:


The direction changed a little in ’97. They ramped up the “frame” which is now massive, embossed, and wrapped around the whole card. The cards are thicker and glossier than last year, and they changed up the nameplate so it looks like one you might see adorning an art exhibit. It’s obvious what they were going for here – the whole framed-museum-art theme comes up a lot in this timeline - but it could have been done more gracefully than this.

I have a practical issue with this Griffey as well: why on Earth did they put the card numeration on the nameplate? Is that not an obvious place for the player position? This element gives weight to the larger set, but it’s also a huge pain and I hate it. Oh, and of all the different frame designs that appear in this base set, Griffey got the ugliest one.

All that said, I still like this set as a whole, but a few tweaks would have made it a showstopper.

Fun fact: the back blurb is titled “Frame This.” Get it? Because there’s frames?

1998:


The simulated frame here is beautiful, but the spotty background is bizarre. I’m not sure what the desired effect is, but if it was to make the photo look like a painting it makes no sense not to apply it to the player in the foreground. I would also have flip-flopped the player name and the “Exhibitions” title because common sense. The subject of the painting would be on the frame, right? Again, I do like the set but a few tweaks would have put it over the top.

1999:


Yes. This here is what Gallery should be. “Hey, look how awesome this photograph is, you guys. Let’s frame it in a way that would be appropriate for a baseball card.” BAM.

The nameplate is classy and beautiful, the logo looks amazing in the corner, and the split fade keeps the framing interesting while not detracting from the elegant simplicity of the card. You really nailed this one, Topps. Seriously – well done.

There is some excellent photography in this set, too, and Griffey got one of the absolute best photos of all. If ’94 Upper Deck is his Superman card, this is his Neo card. Shoot, I’m close to pulling the trigger on building this whole set.

Fun Fact: the new emphasis on photography here is echoed by the title of the back blurb: “Snapshots.”

2000:


This card’s got a lot of balls (rimshot). Actually, this card is just as classy and awesome design-wise as the ’99 set. We get another excellent nameplate up top, and the textured canvas border with the team-colored corner accents make for another solid layout. Plus Junior’s card got a fun candid shot of him goofing around in his new Red uni. Gotta love it.

2001:


This is where Gallery really started to hit its artistic stride. Every remaining set features paintings in lieu of photographs. The paintings in some of the coming sets seem digitally-simulated, but this one is definitely the real deal. Highlights here include the unfinished paint-deckled border around the image and an excellent gold-foil nameplate. This image of the Kid in his trademark backwards cap rounds out yet another amazing Topps Gallery Griffey card.

2002:


Junior rounds third cool as a cucumber in this painting, most likely a depiction of a homerun trot. The detail in the pin striping and glare off the helmet are great touches to what is obviously another honest-to-goodness original work of art. They really expounded on the unfinished painted border, which I like, but there’s an awful lot of negative space in and around the nameplate which features a rarely-seen-on-cardboard “handwritten” style font. A beautiful set to be sure, but I can’t help feeling this one seems a little unfinished.

2003:


Believe it or not this image is taken from an original painting done in that new-fangled “hyper-realism” style. I can’t imagine Topps commissioning 150+ hyper-realistic paintings for a set of baseball cards, but apparently they did, and the result is gorgeous and dynamic. The light and shade explode off of the image of Junior at the plate, and against that black background this is the best the Gallery logo ever looked on a Griffey card.

I’ve been known to take issue with cards that have two nameplates, but these are different enough that I’m giving them a pass. The simple foil letters at the top are strictly for reference compared with the wildly-stylized lettering along the left edge. The straight, parallel borders along the top and bottom mixed with the full-bleed left border and unfinished right one make it appear as though the artist was trying to capture Junior in paint as he ran right off the side of the card. The whole layout seems in motion. This one is definitely a favorite.

There is no 2004 set, and I wasn’t able to find a reason for its absence. I have to wonder if there was a deal struck with an artist that fell through in the final stages. Lucky for us there would be one more set of Topps Gallery:

2005:


This one is true impressionist art - that means “messy” to the rest of us.  I'm a big fan of the full-bleed layout with the shaded, off-center border to accommodate the side-mounted vertical nameplate.  A simple design that lends focus to the painting.  This was an excellent end to one of the best Topps timelines.

And that's it for Gallery - it just disappeared.  I'd love a glimpse into the inner-workings of how Topps chooses which sets make it to the market, and why this one got the ol' heave-ho when it's so damn pretty.  Oh well.

_______________________________________________________________


The possibilities seem endless for a set like this. The idea of what constitutes art is so open to interpretation, and I am amazed Topps hasn’t brought this set back from the dead. Street art, collage, digital rendering and CAD – why hasn’t there been a Topps Gallery set every year? Gallery seems like a no-brainer.  No worries about a bunch of autos and relics - just baddass cards.

I called the return of Stadium Club when I did that timeline.  Let’s go for two. Come on, Topps! How 'bout some 2015 Gallery?  A check for the idea might also be nice.

Here's every design from the Topps Gallery timeline:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Baseball Cards and Also Some Naked Girls!!!1!

Now that I have your attention, if I owe you cards or have offered to send you anything via the blogs or e-mail and haven't produced, please let me know.  I've been cleaning out my old e-mails and finding SO MANY trades I've done with you guys, and I don't always remember sending something in return.  There are some thank-you e-mails for packages I don't remember sending which lead me to believe I probably keep up with things better than I thought.  This post is just in case a trade got lost in the mix.

A Junkie always pays his debts.

Now, for those of you just in this post for the title:



See?  Everybody's happy.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Box of 1992 Studio. Oh, and a Samurai Sword.


This sophomoric effort from the Studio team is arguably their best. Lessons were learned and improvements made after the hokey-but-amazing 1991 release.  Let’s be honest - it could be argued by some not quite as enamored with that inaugural design as I am that it was maybe a little “dry,” even by early-90’s standards. The good news is that all the characteristics that changed for the 1992 design were very much for the better.

The obvious changes this year are the border and the backdrop. The strange mauve-ish hue that defined the ’91 set was replaced by a dark gold that wouldn't conflict with any team colors, a fact that would have been more relevant had they kept the logos in the design. Still, it does look better.

The backdrop was also changed from generic photography studio drop cloth to black-and-white action shots shown in a grainy filter. I’m certain these backgrounds would have looked better sans-filter, but they also would have taken attention away from the portraits in the foreground which, after all, are the intended focus of the set.

The original set was released under the Donruss banner, but as indicated on the '92 box and pack wrappers, Studio was now touted as a Leaf product. This was the same year Donruss was actively trying to boost the perceived quality of their flagship set. It seems the marketeers were trying to lend Studio a certain level of sophistication that the Leaf brand already had and Donruss decidedly didn't (especially after that 1990 set – yeesh).

A few other tweaks include full-color portraits, the color Studio logo (remember how big teal was in the early 90’s?), and the classy Times New Roman font and italics in the nameplate lettering. It’s a very grown-up set. I even flipped through these cards with my pinky up.

Now, let’s look at 27 guys who put the “stud” in Studio (did I really just type that?):


Does Cal Ripken even know how to take a bad picture? Somebody send me a Cal card with a bad picture. Seriously – I want to hold it in my hands; otherwise it didn’t happen.

Speaking of Cal:


A welcome addition to Studio this year was the Heritage insert which features notable players in throwback uniforms. The box gave five of these (two Strawberries), including the Ripken which is arguably the best of them all. One of my favorite inserts of the 90’s.


Luckily a lot of my PC's played in '92, and three Griffeys came out of the box which far outpaced the single Griffey I got from the '91 box a few months back.  Fantastic.


Studio brought back using the checklists to honor non-active players.  Last year it was coaches, but this year we got Hall of Famers. Great shots, though Billy looks like he's hitting on me.


This title card was inserted into packs for '92 while in '91 it was only available with preview cards from factory sets of '91 Donruss. All things being equal I'd rather have an extra player card, but at least it's one less card I have to chase.

Okay, now that the business is done, we can get down to the pleasure – the real fun of early-90’s Studio cards: those zany, awkward, spooky, nerdy, towel-rocking, perfectly-coiffed, not-so-perfectly coiffed, bespectacled, frightening, sword-wielding, eye-killing, face-melting portraits!


One of my favorite cards in the set, period.  Mitch rocks the headband the same way every other white guy rocks the headband - poorly.  The mushroom of hair on top makes his head resemble a cupcake or a way-too-full plate of manure.  Leave the headbands to Ralph Macchio, Mitch.


I love Mike LaValliere almost as much as I love pictures of Mike LaValliere.  I would love to have been a fly on the wall at the strip club after a road win with that guy.  You just know he raged like a juggernaut.

Jose's bicep is fun, but this card would have been a lot more fun had he not been smiling a la Ricky Bottalico's infamous "check out my huge guns" Collector's Choice card.  At least Jose is cool about it.

I threw Finley's card in here to show that he can, indeed, look human,  He won scariest card in my post about the '91 set, but here he just looks like a regular dude.  Skinny, but regular, and definitely not a zombie.


Neither of these is a studio shot.  I assuming Deion couldn't make it to the shoot that day because he was playing another sport professionally.  And Clemens was probably somewhere lying under oath. 


A pair of photography errors which are rare for Studio.  Lee Smith is cropped way too high and Ron Gant is horribly-lit.  I'm thinking there's a good explanation for both of these.  Maybe Gant had a  pimple, and Smith wore a Topps shirt.


I included this card here because of that goofy pose, but upon closer inspection the joke becomes clear.  Possibly my favorite Rex Hudler card ever.


So the purpose of that shirt on Plantier is that you don't see it under the uniform, right?  It's kind of a function-over-fashion thing?  He looks like a '60's scifi future guy. And I can just imagine Royce Clayton on the phone with the Studio people asking, "Hey, cool if I wear my Jam top?"  It's the only instance of airbrushed Beefy-T I've found in Studio so far.


You've got to hand it to Sabo - he's really sticking with those rec specs.  From Dick Perez paintings to these Studio portraits, he doesn't take them off.  You've got to respect it.

Dibble on the other hand is Dibbling all over the damn place.  Frickin' Dibble, man.

Okay, time to hand out some awards.

Best Hair:


Helmets, flat-tops, and Mickey Morandini sporting the messy look years before its time.

This was a tough call. What am I talking about? No it wasn’t - Reardon takes it by a mile. Hirsute and Prell-commercial-clean, Jeff’s entire head exudes unquestionable manliness and an almost indescribable masculine beauty. Behold him, standing like a majestic wild mare, silent and strong, gleaming with the sweat of an afternoon meadow frolic. It is said not even light can escape the grasp of his man-follicles.

Scariest Card: 


This card straight scared the bejeezus out of me. I was flipping through the stack, haphazardly checking out each portrait when those eyes caught me like a flaming hawk in the night. After a quick change into clean underwear, I set this card aside with averted gaze and moved on, a humbler man. Thank you, Pete, for teaching me what it is to fear.

Best Card:


This beautifully-framed shot of Jose in his Pirates cap and team jacket is warm and inviting. His expression is friendly and shows character. It says, “Hey, I’m just a regular guy. Let’s go grab a beer sometime.” Oh, and let’s not forget the GIANT SWORD THAT CAN BARELY EVEN FIT ON THE CARD BECAUSE IT’S SO LONG AND GIANT AND WTF IS IT EVEN DOING HERE WHY WHY WHY????!!!!!1!!??1

When I came across this beauty while breaking packs I honestly laughed out loud. Jose with that sword is just the silliest damn thing – I couldn’t even type that just now without laughing. Think about it: “Jose Lind with that huge-ass sword.” Ridiculous.

Sorry to go off like that. Plenty of great cards in this set, but nothing touches Mr. Lind and his katana. There – I laughed again.

Here’s the Griffey:

1992 Studio #232

I think someone told Griffey he looked a little severe on his ’91 card, so they lightened things up with a fun bubblegum shot. Silly as this card is at first glance, it’s among my favorite Griffey cards of 1992 which is saying something.

And something tells me he's gotten to meet Danny Glover by now.

1992 Studio is unfortunately a one-Griffey set. I say unfortunately because the lone insert, Heritage, does not have a Griffey in it. I would love to have seen Junior in a Pilots or old-school M’s trident uni, but I suppose such designs weren't vintage enough at the time.

There is also a set of 22 preview cards the combined value of which is twenty times the value of a completed base set. These were issued directly to card shops and are pretty hard to come by. Also there is no Griffey in the Preview set, so nuts to them.

The box produced the vast majority of the set, somewhere around 80%.  I will have a want list up on my set building needs page soon enough.  The good news is there's a lot of great trade bait for you guys.  Look out for that in the coming weeks.

I would like to reiterate here that I miss Studio and want it to come back not just in name but in theme. There are a lot of us who collected in the 80’s and 90’s that stopped when we discovered girls and alcohol and had to go to school and get a job and such. We are the ones currently rediscovering the hobby, and many of us have no idea who some of those guys out on the field these days even are. A Studio set is just what we need to reacquaint ourselves with the game as it relates to the hobby.

One last thing: I am on the fence about starting the ’93 set. It’s not that I don’t like it – I love it – but it can’t match the kitschy magic of those first two sets.

Also, '93 Studio doesn't have enough swords. SWORDS. He brought his sword, folks. I still can’t believe it…

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Royals

This is one of the funniest damn things I've ever seen.  Geaux Royals.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Got Zippy Zapped (and I Liked it)

I got a mysterious package in the mail from someone with very tiny handwriting in their return address. I proceeded to experience a Tyler Durden moment as I opened the package and inside was a halved bubble mailer with Mariners logos drawn in my own hand. I had drawn on this package. What kind of sorcery was this!?!

The fear gave way to relief and excitement as I pulled out the flat item within and found a pack wrapper around a stack of cards with a note that read “You’ve been Zippy Zapped.” I’ve read about these ZZ surprise mailings on the blogsphere, and now there was one for yours truly.


I was also super excited to get that wrapper open because I know (as do many of you other bloggers) that Zippy Zappy has Sega Card-Gen. I’ve never even see one of these exotic beauties in person let alone owned one, but now…


YES! It’s probably for the best that I was home alone at this point because I would not want my wife to see me lose my shit over a little cardboard picture of a dude, and that’s precisely what happened. I’ve scoured the Interwebs looking for this card but could never find one.

Card-Gen are special. It is said they cannot be bought – only given.


These were also in the pack, protecting the lovely Card-Gen specimen from the potential bends and bruises of the U.S. Postal Service. That’s Dan Wilson on a late-model Stadium Club design, two great tastes that taste great together.


A million thanks, Mr. Z, for your generosity. This is what the blogsphere is all about, and it keeps getting proven over and over again. I’m inspired to get off my ass and mail out a bunch of trade packages (the fodder is piling up).

By the way, Zippy Zappy runs Cervin' Up Cards - add it to your blogroll!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Design Timeline: O-Pee-Chee

This post is part of an ongoing feature The Great Griffey Base Card Project.

O-Pee-Chee is a candy and gum company that started making collector cards back in the 1930’s then baseball cards in 1965 through a deal with Topps. At first their cards were indistinguishable from the Topps versions in every way apart from one small aspect: “Printed in USA” was replaced by “Printed in Canada” on the back next to T.C.G. That’s it. Everything else was identical.

This changed over time; and while the cards remained more or less the same, logos were added as well as a little French in lieu of English for the Quebecois. Tres exotique, non? This made for more cards to chase which was a big deal in a time when there was only Topps and maybe a few branded oddballs. Even when Donruss and Fleer came along in 1981, there was still very little for card-crazy completionists to go after. O-Pee-Chee provided collectors with a whole base set of new trophies. Sadly, as with numerous other baseball card brands, it didn’t last.

Some quick trivia before we begin: According to Wikipedia, “O-Pee-Chee” is an aboriginal word meaning “the robin.” It was also the name of the summer cottage of one of the company’s founders. I’ve been wondering what the deal was with that name for 20 years. Boom: knowledge is power.

Here is every Griffey-wielding O-Pee-Chee base card design in order:

1990:

1990 O-Pee-Chee #336

As you can see there is no difference here compared with the regular Topps base card. Same bright colors, same wacky Buttafuoco-pants border – it’s identical. The card is printed on lighter card stock the way Traded and Tiffany cards were (but not quite as white), so the back is lighter here than the regular. That makes them easy to spot in a stack.

I’ve already done the Timeline for the Topps designs OPC uses through 1992, so I won’t go into the designs too much until the 1993 set - just the differences.

1991:

1991 O-Pee-Chee #790

Again, no difference between O-Pee-Chee and Topps on the front and a lighter brown card stock evident on the back. They even kept the massive but totally sweet 40th Anniversary Topps logo. There are more versions of this ’91 card than any other design on this timeline. Apart from the regular base card, there’s the OPC, Tiffany, Desert Shield, Micro, Cracker Jack, and uncut Cracker Jack versions. I’m probably forgetting some, too.

1992:

1992 O-Pee-Chee #50

For the first time since the 80’s we have an honest-to-goodness OPC logo in the place of the Topps logo here. That little detail made these a heck of a lot easier to spot. Apart from that, no differences here. Even the card stock is identical (finally).

I really hope you enjoyed the first half of the timeline, guys. After all, the real gems of OPC in my opinion have always been their slightly funky versions of the same Topps cards we’d seen a million times before but with a wild new name/logo and strange French verbiage. They’re fun, right?

Great. Well, say goodbye to that. Their contract with Topps came to an end and was not renewed for 1993. This means the remaining sets are all original designs, and without the Topps clout behind them they sorta skirt the line between bonafide base card and overproduced oddball.

1993:

1993 O-Pee-Chee #91

Here is O-Pee-Chee’s first original flagship design in 28 years. I don’t remember opening packs of this or seeing it around card shops or anything. I only dealt with this set when I started amassing Griffeys. I genuinely thought it was an oddball at first. So many 90’s oddballs have that washed out look you know?

Anyway, the bold team name up top doesn’t really match the understated nameplate. The best part of this design to me is the O-Pee-Chee logo in the little team-colored diamond. Overall, none of the elements here complement each other very well, and they’re all imprisoned together by that oppressive white border. I like weird stuff, guys, but I cannot get behind this one.

1994:

1994 O-Pee-Chee #22

The last independently-O-Pee-Chee flagship design, this one is actually not too bad. All the design elements have chemistry here unlike those of the previous year. No more full border, nice use of team-color and superimposition of the photography, and there’s even French on the back and front. It feels like a real set. The modernized logo I could live without, but overall this is not too shabby.

O-Pee-Chee ceased baseball card production after ’94 due to the MLB strike, and after being bounced around between card and candy companies for a while, the brand finally ended up belonging to Upper Deck. During this baseball card blackout of theirs they were prolific in the Hockey card market (which they still are) under their new owners. Only one more O-Pee-Chee baseball base set would be produced...15 years later:

2009:

2009 O-Pee-Chee #425

This is Upper Deck’s version of the classic brand, and as a whole the set is pretty solid. Upper Deck missed a fun opportunity to sneak a little French on the card back as a gesture to OPC's history, but this is probably for the best as I doubt many people would have gotten the joke. The photography is really good and the cards are colorful and attractive. They even went with the original logo over the one from ’94. Check out the little baseball position indicator – so throwback.

And that’s pretty much where it ends on the baseball front. The brand poked its head out a few other times with a trio of allegedly-higher-end “Premier” sets and a 1969 reprint insert from 2008 Upper Deck, but apart from those they were barely around at all after ’92. It just kind of went away. I assume somebody in Quebec was pissed.

______________________________________________________________

There are not many mourners for this set save for the few old school guys endeared to the brand by having a few extra cards to chase in the days before inserts and parallels. The independently-O-Pee-Chee designs seem all but forgotten.

The brand remains under the ownership of Upper Deck, meaning our odds of seeing new baseball cards from this set are zilch to nada, for now, anyway. There was never much substance to the cards to begin with, so any rehashing of O-Pee-Chee would be gimmicky and totally unnecessary. I don’t feel like we’re missing much.

Wait, wait – I just made up an O-Pee-Chee joke.  Ready?

What has four corners and “pee” in the middle?
.
.
.
.
…wait for it…
.
.
.
.
A square toilet.

Sorry.  Once more, here is every Griffey O-Pee-Chee base card in order: