Football And Fortnite: Retail Blood Pressure Therapy

So there was this political conversation going on at work that I couldn’t help but overhear. I generally don’t get into politics at work (or here, for that matter), but the conversation was along the lines of “WE are unfailingly right about everything and THEY are unquestionably wrong about everything”. I consider myself to be somewhere in between “us” and “them”, but I’ve known the main person in the conversation for years and he would probably categorize anybody who’s not fully “us” as being “them”.  I don’t like to be painted with that broad of a brush… I don’t like ANY groups of people to be painted with that broad of a brush.

Anyway, I could feel my blood pressure going up, but it was fortunately close enough to lunchtime that I was able to flee the discussion and my office.  I went to a big box retailer hoping to find some Heritage High Numbers, but I was out of luck. Since I was looking for a significant distraction, I decided to treat the card aisle as a buffet and sampled a pack each of several sets which were new to me.

First I grabbed a pack of 2019 Donruss Football.  i’d expected the design to be basically the same as 2019 Donruss Baseball, only Football is fully licensed and can go wild with things like team colors and logos.  Oooooooh.

2019 Donruss Football, as is often the case, does look better than 2019 Donruss Baseball. FWIW, the name and position are in silver foil.

I’ve noticed on football cards from the past few years that the players tend to get lost in the crowd background.  I wonder if there’s some differing techniques that the photographer and/or Panini are using (or are not using) that makes the difference, or if crowds just dress more colorfully than they used to.

I also pulled a card of Joe Willie Namath.  As they say in the land of my upbringing, that and $2.75 will getcha on the subway.

Nothing much else to say about Donruss Football, so I’ll move on to the second pack, 2019 Score Football.  The Panini-era Score football cards that I’ve seen have been largely-forgettable 21st century designs, which is why I was surprised that these cards were a 30th anniversary homage to 1989 Score Football.

Like with Donruss “Retro”, these cards are more homage than an attempt to duplicate the originals.  For starters, the originals had a colored border which matched the box at the bottom of the card… Well, here, check out my 1989 Score Flutie:

1989 Score is not a great design to start with, so I’m not going to fault Panini for making changes.  It falls into the category of “It’s fine” and we all move on.

Because it’s slightly more interesting than your typical Panini card back, here’s the 2019 Score back:

These are closer to the originals than the front, with the main difference being that the originals featured a *different* photo on the back… but for $1.99 a pack I guess I won’t kick about that.

The rookies in Score are more along the lines of what I’d expect from 21st Century Score… and there’s no mention of which NFL team owns the rights to said rookies.

Trayveon Williams is with the Cincinnati Bengals, in case you were wondering. I understand that this is probably done so they can get the cards to market sooner, but it’s a pain for team collectors who can’t easily tell which rookie is *their* rookie.

Wrapping up the Score pack with the one keeper for this Steelers fan:

An “All-Hands Team” insert of Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva… The card is shiny and not bad looking, but to me “All-Hands” conjures up images of… um… something else.

I also dropped another $0.99 on a pack of Panini Football stickers.  Nothing much to say about the stickers, the stickers are stickers.

…But there was a surprise: along with all of the stickers, there was a card!

It’s on thin cardstock and just your run of the mill throwaway Panini design, but it just caught me off guard because I’d never seen anything other than stickers in a Panini sticker pack.

I should mention that the card is standard-sized, and the stickers are your typical sticker size.

One more impulse buy was involved, and despite it being something I would normally have zero interest in, it ended up being my favorite (relatively speaking) pack of the bunch.

I’m talking about a pack of Panini Fortnite Series 1 cards. Full disclosure: I’m not a gamer and have not so much as seen Fortnite being played.  Some of the preview images I’d seen spoke to me on some level, so I figured I’d spring for a pack. It’s not that different than my buying NBA Hoops cards at the dollar store; I have about as much interest in basketball as I do in video games (not much), I’m just curious about them as cards.

Even though the characters mean nothing to me, I have to say I kinda like these cards…  Well, some of the cards.  I can do without the cards that – I imagine – show gameplay “action”.

Here’s a more interesting card, front and back:

I dunno, there’s something appealing about these cards. Colorful, simple, appealing.. Although I’ll admit that I don’t know how much of the colorful, simple, appealing design is Panini and how much of that is Fortnite.

…and look at the size of that card number! No squinting at these babies!

Here’s another one I kinda liked.

The highlight – kind of – of the pack was this foil parallel of… a lamp.

The back of the card lists it under the category of “Harvesting Tool”, so it clearly has some significance within the game… but this card amuses the heck out of me because a shiny parallel of a floor lamp is something which just out-Ginters Ginter. Take that, Egg!

So, to wrap up all of this… I don’t see myself buying a second pack of any of these, but if I ran across a dime box which had Fortnite cards, I’d poke through them to see what they had.

Does anybody else have any experience with these cards?  I’m curious to hear your take!

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The Ministry Of Silly Numbering

As I’d mentioned in my prior post about the 1995 Cornerstone Communications Inc. Monty Python’s Flying Circus card set, there are several instances of card numbering that will give some people fits (and likely intentionally so).

For starters, there is NO card #6 (as is made clear on card #7)

Which is a reference to the “Bruces” sketch:

There are also two cards numbered 43.  The checklist shows card #27 as being “sketch: lumberjack”, and there is a card that fits that description…

…but it’s got #43 on the back, not #27.  There’s another card (which I didn’t scan, nor did I scan the backs of either or the checklists… bloody amateur, right?) that is also #43.  One must be careful when collecting this set from scratch.

Finally, there’s the matter of card #5… or perhaps one would say card fives…  or cards five?

Anyway, there are three different cards which each have this front:

but each has a different back.

The three different cards with the same front echoes the “How to recognize different types of trees from quite a long way away” sketch, part of which is here.

As for the backs, I’ll go through them in an order of my chosing; one card is definitely the third, but the other two could be first or second, it really doesn’t matter.

One back for card #5:

Conrad Poohs and his Dancing Teeth is the first one I’ll mention.

This really doesn’t work as a card unless you already know Conrad Poohs… and at any rate that “you have to know the source material” concept is true of most of this set.

For those who aren’t familiar and are reading this anyway (and God bless you for that), here’s a version of that Terry Gilliam animation;  this clip has a German voiceover because this particular clip is from one of two episodes Python did for German Television…

Another back for card #5:
This back is part of a “link” between sketches:

Here’s the text (corrected for accuracy) should you be reading this on a  phone or other small screen:

“Well, I object to all this sex on the television…  I mean, I keep falling off!”

This joke was Britain’s entry for this year’s Rubber Mac of Zurich award.

It lost.

This joke worked a lot better (relatively speaking) back at the time, as television sets were usually housed in large wooden cabinets and were essentially pieces of furniture.

Interestingly enough, the card *actually* says “I object to all this sex on television” instead of the correct “on the television”… this pretty much ruins the joke, but I don’t know how funny you’d think it was if you only knew it from the card, anyway.  It’s also interesting that the original concluded with “It came last”, while the card says “It lost”.

Oh, and as long as I’m being overly analytical, I’ll just mention that a “mac” – short for mackintosh – is a raincoat.  Some well-known songs which use the word mac in this sense:
“And the banker never wears a mac in the pouring rain – very strange” – Penny Lane, The Beatles

“The man in the mac said you’ve gotta go back, you know they didn’t even give us a chance” – The Ballad Of John And Yoko, The Beatles

“Saw Johnny Scarecrow make his rounds in his jet-black mac, which he won’t give back… stole it from a snowman” – Mother Goose, Jethro Tull

Well, that’s enough of that.  On to…

The most decidedly final back for card #5:

As is often the case on Python when things get silly, Graham Chapman’s Colonel will come out to set things right.

I couldn’t find a suitable video clip of this, but I’ve transcribed for your ease of reading:

Right. Now, nobody likes a good laugh more than I do… except perhaps my wife… and some of her friends… Oh, yes, and Captain Johnson.  Come to think of it, most people like a good laugh more than I do, but that’s beside the point. If there is one more card number 5, I shall come down on this set like a ton of bricks!  Carry on.


That covers the numbering quirks of this set in overly-much depth. It’s funny in retrospect; leaving out numbers and duplicating numbers was intentional anarchy at the time, but since this set came out we’ve had card numbers left out because Topps “retired” #7 within a few sets as a “tribute” (feh!) to Mickey Mantle… and are duplicated numbers really all that different than the short-printed variations we’re all chasing?

As is all too often the case, what was satirical in the past becomes ordinary life in the present.

And with that I’ll end this particular chapter of my 1995 CCI Monty Python’s Flying Circus overview… but I do have more thoughts on card numbering which I’ll address in a future post (hopefully the next post if I can get it finished).

NNNNNOBODY EXPECTS MONTY PYTHON TRADING CARDS!

It was in the 1970’s that I, an impressionable middle school student, was first exposed to Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Before that, my only real exposure to British humor was the Beatles movie “Help!” (which was, and remains, a favorite of mine). Right from the start, I was completely taken in by Monty Python’s subversive and utterly silly humor, even though I couldn’t always understand the accents, references and Britishisms.

I’ve known a lot of Monty Python fans over the years, and I have, of course, known a lot of card collectors, but even when those two groups cross over I’ve found that there aren’t many people who realize that there were Monty Python cards in the 1990’s.

Back in 1994, when Monty Python’s Flying Circus was celebrating their 25th anniversary – the show first aired on the BBC in 1969 – a company called Cornerstone Communications, Inc. planned on putting out a series of sets of Monty Python’s Flying Circus trading cards.  The initial series was devoted to the TV series and referred to as either “Act I” or “Series 1”, which implies that they had at least hoped for a second series.  There were also promo cards for sets devoted to “Monty Python And The Holy Grail” and “Monty Python’s Life Of Brian”.  There was a Grail set a year or two later – I wrote about some of the cards here – but there wasn’t, as far as I know, a Life Of Brian set.

ANYWAY…

MPFC Series 1 was planned for a 1994 release – there were promo cards which touted November, 1994 as a release date – but the set did not come out until 1995.

Here’s a promotional image I found out on the webs:

There’s a 82-card base set (numbered to #81) plus some insert sets. The numbering of the base set is intentionally (and possibly unintentionally) off in a few spots – card #27 is misnumbered as #43 (so there’s no #27 and two of #43), there are three different #5’s (same front, three different backs), and there’s no card #6, which is made clear on the back of card #7.

In other words, the set was designed to drive even mildly compulsive collectors up the wall.

What follows is a very broad overview of the set;  I’m currently planning to do some follow-up posts on the inserts and some of the quirks of the set, so unless this post is greeted with crickets, then you’ll be seeing more about this set.

Material for the set came from promotional photos, screen captures from the video, and also from the two books Python put out in the early 1970’s.

Some of the cards don’t need a lot of explanation if you’re a Python fan; indeed, this set pretty much assumes that you will know what’s on each card, because there’s very little exposition involved.


Some of the cards come with script excerpts on the back (I know this probably isn’t easy to read on a phone or tablet):

There are cards devoted to particular characters…

…And cards devoted to recurring jokes, such as the “It’s” guy.

There are some notable sketches and characters missing from these, but I am going to assume that they held some back for a potential second series. I personally would’ve loved to have had a series of “Election Night Special” cards featuring the candidates from the Silly Party, Sensible Party and even the Very Silly Party. Who wouldn’t love a card of Tarquin Fin Tin Lin Bin Wim Bim Lim Bim Bus Stop F’tang F’tang Ole Biscuitbarrell?

As for the inserts, regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the “Dead Parrot” card from the foil insert set.

There are Biography inserts which feature each of the 6 cast members plus Carol Cleveland who became something of an Honorary Python (or perhaps “the 7th Python”) after her many appearances on the show and in the movies.

On top of the Foil and Biography inserts, there are also “Trivia” inserts (with text on the back which isn’t always “trivia” in the true sense), “Scratch And Listen” inserts which would provide a phone number under a scratch-off area, and the aptly-named “Official Monty Python’s Flying Circus Be-a-World-Famous-Animator-in-the-Privacy-of-Your-Own-Home Kit” insert.

And so, to wrap up…

I feel like I should make it clear that this isn’t the greatest bit of Python merchandise around, there are more than a couple of cards which don’t work.  The Argument Clinic sketch, for example, doesn’t make for great cardboard…

(Oh, yes it does.  Oh, no it doesn’t.  It does!  It doesn’t!  Does! Doesn’t!  Oh, look, this isn’t an argument!)

And an entire subset is given to what I think is easily the worst episode of Python, the first episode of Season 4, “The Golden Age Of Ballooning”.

But the people at CCI did do a nice job of ending the set with a series of card backs devoted to The Spanish Inquisition.  Now everybody join with Carol Cleveland in saying…


Oh!  I wasn’t expecting the Spanish Inquisition!

THE END

Yet Even More 1961 Topps Sports Cars

As I’ve mentioned a number of times here, I went to a regional card show in April. There was one dealer who specialized in vintage non-sport, but also had a lot of reasonably priced vintage baseball. As I was winding down on my baseball purchases, I was idly gazing down at the tables with the non-sports when a voice in my head said “Yo, dummy! 1961 Topps Sports Cars!”.

For those of you who haven’t seen my prior posts on these, you can see them here.  For those of you who don’t care to go through the prior posts, my history with this set goes like this:  I bought my first one on COMC in late 2014 as an impulse buy, but once I got it shipped to me and saw how nice it looked, I wanted more… and then more, and before long I decided to go after the 66-card set.  It’s not a particularly rare or expensive set and I don’t know of any shortprints, but it’s also a set that not a lot of dealers carry.

 

Maxwell Smart drove a red Sunbeam during the earlier seasons of Get Smart, but his was a Sunbeam Tiger (and a later model), rather than the Alphine shown here. From what I’ve read, Alpines and Tigers look similar but the Tiger had a larger engine.

The card says the car is based on a Hillman Husky station wagon.

 

 

 

Bocar had a fiberglass body and a Corvette engine.  (I apologize for the tilted scan)

 

The back of the Karmann Ghia card says it has a whopping 36 horsepower! Wooooooo!

The Karmann Ghia also allowed me to complete my first page!

With this batch of cards I’ve made it to two-thirds of the set – 44 out of 66 cards.  I’m enjoying the casual pursuit of this set, but I may have to get a little bit more aggressive so that it doesn’t take me another 2-3 years to finish it.

Catching Up On Hot Stove Customs (And Thoughts On The Marlins New Unforms)

Over the past few weeks, the majority of the custom cards I’ve posted here have been my tributes to the 1964 Topps “Giants” set.  There are more of those coming, but I wanted to take some time and share some of the other offseason custom projects I’ve been working on.

I’ve been using a variety of oddball designs in the offseason ever since 2012/13 when this guy had just been hired to manage the Red Sox…

I used these customs to highlight new managers, player movement and other offseason developments.

Back in 2014 I started to play around with faux “3-D” customs

…and yes, the 3-D customs will be back, once some of the bigger names start moving around.

As an attempted side project which never took off as much as I’d intended, in 2015 I started creating custom non-sports cards, the TSR “Fauxback” set.

I really like this design, I wish I’d done more with it at the time…

…but anyway…

A few weeks ago I introduced the first of my TSR Hot Stove customs, based on (but not completely faithful to) the 1962 Post set.  Here’s are two more examples, one featuring new Angels manager Brad Ausmus…

…and the other featuring new Rangers manager Chris Woodward:

As 1962 Post collectors can tell, I’ve gone rogue with the colors used and made them more team-based.  I’ve also ditched the stats and will replace them with other things.

This past week I unveiled my new TSR Fauxback design to highlight new Twins manager Rocco Baldelli (The Twins tweeted out a bigger photo of Rocco than the other managers got, so I figured “why waste it?”)

This design is meant to evoke the non-sport Topps sets of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, complete with the card number on the front (in the upper right corner) and in what I thought was a fun development for my custom cards, puzzles on the back!  YAAAAY!

I shared these images on Twitter earlier this week, and the response was “crickets”.

…BUT I REMAIN UNDAUNTED!!!

I also think that the design might appeal to people more if they see a bunch at the same time, so all y’all can get an idea of what I’m doing here.

And so…

The Miami Marlins unveiled their new uniforms yesterday, I thought the Fauxback design, combined with images published by the Marlins, would work well for expanding on the few thoughts I’d tweeted.

Starting pitcher Trevor Richards highlights the home jersey’s “Miami” script…

My initial reaction to these uniforms was that it was a lateral move from the one’s they’d had since 2012, more of an “Under New Management” sign than any huge improvement.

(here’s the puzzle back for card #6…)

…funny how the full-bleed nature of the backs make them look bigger than the front…

But now that I’ve had some time to digest them, I’m liking them more.  I still think they need a little *something* – maybe a “Miami Blue” bill on that black cap, or a non-black number on the front – but it’s not at all bad.  There’s way too much black, blue and red in Major League baseball, but at least it’s a different blue.

(Puzzle back for card #4…)

My main problem with the black alternate is that there’s way too much black.  As Nigel Tufnel said in This Is Spinal Tap, “How much more black could this be?  And the answer is ‘None… None more black’.”

When I was looking at Marlins unis reactions yesterday on my phone, i noticed that on a small screen the black jersey showed up as illegible, just a few colored marks on a black shirt.  It looks nice enough up close, but it’s going to be difficult to read the numbers from the stands.  If I were made commissioner (of any sport, I may add), one of my first moves would be to require that jersey numbers be completely legible from the upper decks.  Function over form, people…

(Puzzle back for card #5…)

I wanted to share one last custom, because this Fauxback set is intended to be an all-purpose set.  Ever since I heard about the retirement of Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who performed as Big Bird and Oscar The Grouch, I’ve wanted to make some sort of custom to commemorate this… so this seemed as good an opportunity to make one

(Puzzle back for card #3…)

By this point I think that many of you have figured out who’s on the puzzle backs.  The first person to name the celebrity in the comments will win… a big ol’ thumbs up from me, and the admiration of your peers.  Sorry, I’m not a “prize” kind of guy.

BTW, when I’ve shared all (or at least most of) the puzzle backs, I’ll also share the full puzzle.  I’m not quite there yet.

Five Minute Post About Five Cent Cards

Writing a post in five minutes is the latest thing with all the cool kids, so I’m going to sprint through some cards I got from a nickel box at the last show I went to.

OK, here we go…

“Combo” Heritage card of David Wright and Ryan Howard.  Something about this makes me think that maybe, just maybe, they weren’t posing at the same time.

I have to admit, I’m relieved that Topps did not repeat this “MLB Wacky Packages” experiment.  The whole concept suffers when the packages are not real and the jokes are not wacky.

This is the flip side of the sticker above… Would I need to collect the entire puzzle to get a Mets team set?  Technically, yes.  In reality… No freakin’ way.

Danica McKellar!!!!!  Winnie Cooper!!!!!  Yay!!!!!

A 3-D card for a nickel?  Hell yeah.  I miss these being in Opening Day, but I guess the expense was too much for a low-end product.

Speaking of Opening Day, TC Bear wants YOU!  Please don’t ask what TC Bear wants you for… (And forgive the poor scanning that chopped off the corners).

Last year’s Stadium Club MLS.  I bought a bunch of packs of these just because, and I still don’t know what I’m doing with them.  I haven’t seen any this year… which is just as well.  BTW, I don’t know who Clint Irwin is (besides the obvious stuff listed on the card).

Rushing through this post reminds me of Steve Martin’s routine about Vegas acts (And side note about Johnny Carson’s jacket: O! M! G!!!!)