Sunday, August 19, 2018

Perfect Strangers custom cards

When I was in third grade, my favorite tv show was Perfect Strangers. And I remember this for a fact because I had to write a little one-paragraph paper about what my favorite show was, and it turned out to be the first of a very small number of times in my academic career when a teacher pulled me aside and said 'good job' on something I wrote. I'll never forget that. Thanks, Mr. Hackett.

I don't think I had seen the show since its original late 80s/ early 90s run, but I've recently been watching through the series again on Hulu. And while it's pretty cheesy and probably not something I'd typically be into today assuming I never saw it before, the sentimental factor is off the charts for me and I've really been enjoying it. Great theme song, too.

Not long ago, I came to a (softball) baseball-themed episode ("The Unnatural", season 2, episode 3). And while it's not a classic on the level of "Homer at the Bat" or anything, it was still a very fun episode and inspired me to whip up a few custom baseball cards using images from the show's big game.

Move over, Junior! There's a new hot rookie in town.

Gotta love Balki, who (spoiler alert) came up with the big hit at the end of the episode, as documented here on a custom in the style of 1989 Upper Deck.

Third grade was also the year I first started noticing girls. My earliest kinda-sorta crush was a cute blonde classmate named Christina, if I recall correctly. And as far as celebrity crushes, I had strange new feelings for both Jennifer and Mary Anne on the show, but I think I'd have to rank Mary Anne narrowly on top. And she looks pretty adorable on this '88 Score style custom.

Me leave out Cousin Larry?! Don't be ridiculous. Had to get a shot of his great "Manager Larry" jersey on this custom in the style of the team leaders subset of 1988 Topps.

To be honest with you, I didn't bother making backs for the above two cards, and so I made them one two-sided custom (Mary Anne is on the other side of the Royals Leaders). But maybe someday I'll get around to making backs for them.

Now here's a real card..

I was happy to see Bronson Pinchot get an autograph card in the 2018 Leaf Pop Century product, and ended up winning this one recently. And if you're a regular reader of my blog, you probably know what's coming next. Yep, I couldn't just leave this boring celebrity auto alone.. I had to make a custom overlay to spice it up...

My own certified autograph Balki Bartokomous baseball card! Love it! Now we are so happy we do the Dance of Joy!

Thanks for reading, and remember to keep on standing tall on the wings of your dreams!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

sandy co-facts

While I was on vacation last weekend walking on the sandy New Hampshire shore, I was comforted by a couple facts.

Fact #1) I installed a security camera in my card room so I could keep an eye on my collection. Is this paranoid of me? Perhaps. But it's reassuring to be able to take a live look in on my babies when I'm across the country and see them safe and sound, plus be notified of any unexpected movement in the room.

Fact #2) Arriving home from a few days with a "vacation hold" on your mail means there's a good chance you've got a sweet mailday in your future. And this trip didn't let me down in that regard.

Here's the card I was most excited about. The great Sandy Koufax! And it's in perfect condition too. "Perfect" meaning it has a flaw to drastically drop the price, but barely takes away from the beauty of the card. Something like a raunchy crease across the face or some dark markings.. those could be deal-breakers for me. But a bad corner that doesn't effect the photo or any text? Hey, if the price is right, I'm totally on board for that. A recent eBay discount code and an accepted Best Offer helped bring down the price even more. Unlike my '56 Hank Aaron, no custom overlay is necessary for this paper loss. Koufax cards are no strangers to counterfeiting, so I wanted to land a graded '64 for my setbuild for peace of mind.

Very clean back, too. Koufax was coming off his monster 1963 season where he won the Cy Young, MVP, and World Series MVP.

I also paired Sandy with the 1964 Topps card of former Dodger cohort, the Duke of Flatbush...

 Looks odd to see Duke Snider as a Met, but I guess at least the uniform colors are close enough.

This is Duke's final card from his playing days. After one year back in the Big Apple, he finished up his career with a lackluster '64 season in San Francisco, but did not get a card in 1965 Topps (probably a blessing to Dodgers fans who ache at the sight of their all-time greats suited up for the rival Giants).

Cool to add these two of HOFers to my 1964 Topps setbuild. And that's a fact! :P

I'm now literally just one more card away from crossing the ⅔ complete milestone, so if you've got any '64s available and want to feel the pride of getting a fellow collector to within a third of the set left to chase, please check out my needs and get in touch about a trade. Thanks!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Another blaster of 2018 Archives (with a hit!)

After scoring a blaster of 2018 Topps Archives on its release day Wednesday, I grabbed a Target giftcard from home and went back the next day for another one. Glad I did, as the second one turned out to be better than the first.

An auto! Not exactly Ohtani, but when I saw Bill James listed on the autograph checklist, I made a mental note to track down a copy someday. So I was very happy to have pulled this one. I'm not much of a sabermetrics guy, honestly, as I can barely get my head around the OPS stat much less all the more intricate "cyber stats" or whatever you call 'em, but I can still appreciate his considerable contribution to modern baseball.

Some keepers from the '59 design base cards. Happy to see Hoyt crack the checklist.

And some more keepers. I was happy to not pull any dupes from my two blasters. If my 2 hobby boxes have good collation (not due out till next month.. ugh), I'm thinking I might try to complete the base set. But maybe not. I might decide on just going for the guys I collect plus all the Sandlot stuff.

Pulled some cool kids here. Squints is a good one to get from the Sandlot cards. Plus I was able to call dibs on the available Sandlot stuff Julie pulled (Yes!!), so I should be sitting pretty on my goal there (though it's the autograph set that'll really put a Herculean bite in my wallet, but at least there are no big names like Charlie Sheen and Kevin Costner of past Archives movie auto sets).

The Yount rookie reprint is nice. And the Yankees Future Stars is probably one of the best you can pull, with Torres and Andujar having big rookie seasons. I'm guessing these 3 inserts are 1-per-blaster, as I also pulled one of each in the earlier box I ripped.

To wrap it up... I always look forward to Archives every year. I've accepted that the current design team at Topps isn't gonna nail the classic designs perfectly. Stuff like putting the position as "Outfielder" isn't of just "Outfield" is annoying, but I can get over it. And fonts being a little off and text positioned strangely. But for the most part, they did a fine job this year. Sucks about the hobby version being delayed.. I guess maybe one or two of the Sandlot folks took too long to submit their autographed cards? (I have yet to see any Wendy autos pop up).. but that's just my guess. I probably won't buy anymore Archives this year since I've got those two pre-ordered hobby boxes coming eventually. But yeah, it's a fun product.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Real auto, Fake overlay, Real Ghostbusters

Here's an "extra credit" addition to my already-completed 2016 Cryptozoic Ghostbusters autograph set. One of the names sadly missing on the auto checklist was Frank Welker, who was the voice of both Slimer and Ray on the Real Ghostbusters cartoon.

I recently scored this certified auto from a Mars Attacks set. Welker has an incredible résumé and looking over his Wikipedia page, I'm amazed how he was a voice (or few) in basically every 80s cartoon I loved as a kid: G.I. Joe, Transformers, DuckTales, Inspector Gadget, Super Friends, and The Smurfs, to name a few. He was also Santa's Little Helper (and other animals) on the Simpsons from 1991 to 2002. His longest-running role is Fred in Scooby-Doo, which was his first acting gig way back in 1969. He's also been the voice of Garfield in some recent animated movies, which is kinda funny because Garfield's original voice was portrayed by the late Lorenzo Music who played Peter Venkman on the first couple seasons of the Real Ghostbusters.

And of course Ghostbusters is what I'm most interested in at the moment, so I whipped up a custom overlay for the Mars Attacks card. A difficulty was presented by the fact that all the Cryptozoic Ghostbusters autos are horizontal. So if I wanted to make a custom that would aesthetically fit in with those, it would take some additional design work on my part. I didn't want to just turn the real card into a "cut signature" since I'd hate to destroy the original. So I had to get a little creative...

It turned out pretty decent! Not perfect, but good enough for my collection. (I'd love to find some kind of diecutting device so I could make better window cutouts. I bet if I went to a big crafting store they could help me out with something.) But yeah, happy to now (kinda) have a certified Slimer auto! And good ol' Ray too, of course. As with all my overlays, the original card remains unaltered, just with a custom resting on top of it in the penny sleeve.

For comparison, here's the clearly INAUTHENTIC custom auto I made a few months ago, along with an actual Ray auto from the set.

Anyways, glad I could shoehorn a certified Frank Welker autograph into my Ghostbusters set, joining Lorenzo Music as someone I added thanks to a custom overlay. I hope to eventually add signatures of other Ghostbusters folks who didn't get real autos in the set. In fact, I just snagged another one on COMC as I finished typing up this post, so expect me to work some magic on that once I eventually pull the trigger on my next shipment.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A blaster of 2018 Topps Archives that just couldn't wait

I was expecting my 2 pre-ordered hobby boxes of  2018 Topps Archives to be delivered within the next few days, but then I learned that it's only the retail version that's out today. Hobby isn't out till sometime in September.. WTF? Lame.

Even though my first day back to work has kept me busy-- if you missed it, you can read about my fun little New England vacation here in a post I just published like an hour before this one-- I still found a moment to run to Target. They had a few Archives blasters, so I grabbed one. I couldn't even wait till I got home, so I ripped it at work and typed up this quick post.

Pack 1...

Off to a good start with a few guys I collect. Happy to see Satchel included in the checklist. The George Brett is a grey parallel (Topps probably calls it "silver".. eh, I shouldn't be too hard on them, as this one is more silvery that past silver parallels they've put out) and is numbered /99.. so that's a decent pull.

Pack 2:

The star of this pack is the Kershaw rookie reprint.

Pack 3:

Cepeda on the Cardinals is a nice change of pace (most of his post-career cards seem to have him in a Giants uniform). And the Canseco '77 Turn Back The Clock is kinda neat.

Pack 4:

Love the 3-player '81 rookie card.

Pack 5:

Looks like just base cards here. I should mention the card stock feels good this year; I think collectors are going to be happy with it.

Pack 6:

The '59 combo with Posey and Cutch is a nice touch. Glad they included some subsets from the sets they're paying tribute to this year.

Last pack... Pack 7:

I had been getting worried that I might get shutout on a Sandlot insert-- I assumed they were one-per blaster, but hope was fading. But thankfully in the last pack, I pulled one. Bertram Grover Weeks isn't going to be among the most sought-after of these inserts, I'm pretty sure of that, but happy to check it off regardless, as I plan to go after the full Sandlot set eventually.

The blaster also included a 2-pack of coins. I don't care much for collecting coins, honestly. I didn't open it, but I could tell by looking through the wrapper that Donaldson and Albies are inside.

Man, I rarely go to Target, but the one downtown definitely has a legit card section. I know I've got an extra gift card or two at home, so maybe I'll remember to grab one and go back for another blaster tomorrow.

From Portland to Portsmouth: My first trip out East

This past weekend I took a nice little vacation to Portsmouth, New Hampshire with my wife and her family. My wife has an aunt and cousin out there, so it was a family get-together. It was my first time ever visiting the east coast (assuming you count Florida as the south, as I've been to America's wang a few times). It was a lot of fun. This post will show off some pictures from my trip, with some wallet card photos to keep us roughly on topic.

Here's a dusk shot of the incredible house we rented. All 3 sections.. It was huge! My wife found a great Airbnb deal on it.

Here's an interior pic of the living room area.

Great little neighborhood. I think the city was technically Rye, just outside of Portsmouth.

The weather was great on Friday, our first full day in town. We took a little cruise tour in the Bay of Maine to the Isles of Shoals (a group of small islands and tidal ledges situated approximately 6 miles off the east coast of the United States, straddling the border of the states of Maine and New Hampshire). Once we arrived to our island port, we each got an ice cream cone (which we pretty much all agreed was the best we'd ever had) and played some frisbee.

I was a little hesitant to go on the cruise at first, since the last time I was on a boat I got seasick pretty bad, but this little voyage was totally fine. Smooth sailing.

Old lighthouses are always cool to see. The tour guide had plenty of reasonably interesting stories about the area.

Then later Friday evening, it was time to hit the shore. It was just a short walk down to the beach from the house.

One silly little thing that I was super excited about is I achieved my dream of having my wallet card dipped in both the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans (the westmost of which was checked off back in May). While I like the "arty" feel, this isn't a great photo, with the sun freshly tucked in for the night, but I would give 'er a re-do later in the weekend (to follow below).

Saturday, we trekked into downtown Portsmouth-- "we" being my wife and I and her brother and his wife (the "kids" of the group). We grabbed lunch at an Irish pub and I went for the authentic experience and got a Guinness. (Of course, with the time change, I was all turned around. Basically felt like having beer for breakfast. But hey, I was on vacation, so anything goes.)

The pub was in a place that used to be a bank long ago. Beautiful old building. Really cool glass window on the roof.

Happy to catch a few innings of a Red Sox game in New England, as they've always been a "second tier" favorite team of mine, I guess. (David Price struck out a season-high 10 batters as Boston beat Baltimore.) Definitely saw a ton of Sox and Patriots gear during my stay.

Then we walked around downtown and checked out some touristy shops. We preferred the shops with silly nicknacks and gags (the only thing I bought was a jaw harp), and everybody also really liked a kitchen gadget shop that had wine tasting and cheese samples. Oh, and the real star of the trip was Port City Pretzels.. man, those are some excellent snacks. Brought home a couple bags: one for us, and one to share with my co-workers.

Before heading back to home base, we grabbed a cocktail at a restaurant that used to be an old library. Another neat building. I ordered a Hot Almond Joy and it was very enjoyable on a cool, misty day.

Saturday's dinner was at a cool local place called Petey's. I think I got the potato skins and a beer. (Lots of eating and drinking, as with most vacations. Time for a diet.)

Ah, here's a clearer wallet card photo of Tony bathing in the Atlantic. Sunday afternoon we headed back to the beach. Unfortunately the weather was overcast and a little drizzly, putting the kibosh on our tentative plans to do something like kayaking or boogie boarding, but still had a nice walk down the beach.

I had ponied up for a new pair of Keen's for the trip so I'd have some good amphibious footwear. (Haven't bought shoes this expensive since I was a teenager buying new Nikes in a vain attempt to be cool.) I hope to get many years of use out of these on my occasional trips to the beach and river.

I dug this particular seagull. Reminded me of Walt "No Neck" Williams.

Then we returned to the house and had a "hootenanny" jam (I didn't take any pictures until we were wrapping up). Steph (guitar) and Ted (violin) are legit musicians who get paying gigs to perform bluegrass, so I was out of my element, and may have slightly embarrassed myself trying to keep up with them, but had a lot of fun regardless. Ted plays a mean fiddle, and he and Steph sound great singing together. They lent me an acoustic guitar and I did my best to join in. The set consisted mostly of bluegrass standards I wasn't familiar with, plus other stuff like Ringo's "Don't Pass Me By", and I dusted off a couple originals which was nice as it's been a few years since I really played music with anybody.

Then Sunday night was a birthday party/dinner for my cousin-in-law. Great food and good times. As with the other nights of the vacation, much beer and wine was consumed late into the night (well, late Eastern time, at least.) My wife and I split this Whoopie Pie porter. Good stuff. This microbrewery is called Friar's Brewhouse, so good enough excuse to take one last wallet card photo with Mr. Padre.

Squeezing in a little more baseball content, Boston's Logan International Airport has a chain of Jerry Remy's bar & grills. Remy is a former Red Sock and beloved local broadcaster. We grabbed a Sam Adams while waiting for our flight home.

A neighborhood bunny welcomed me back home Monday evening. Our dog Annie was pretty happy to be reunited with us too. Great trip all around. We took Tuesday off as a buffer day, then back to work here on Wednesday.

That's it. Thanks for reading! Back to cards next time.. a bunch of neat stuff to show off.