My First Pack Of Allen & Ginter In Something Like 10 Years

I got my first 2016 Allen & Ginter card in a PWE from CommishBob (of The Five Tool Collector), and I was startled by the fact that I really liked it.
2016 Topps Allen & Ginter Gary Carter
…And yet I wasn’t entirely sure exactly why I liked it, especially given that I normally don’t get excited about Allen & Ginter, or “Faux-bacco” sets in general.  My tastes in many things…. Baseball, music, cars… runs post-WWII and forward.

Intrigued as I was by this A&G card, the next time I was in Target I decided to try an entire pack… and right now, I’m going to sort of “live blog” my way through the pack.

First card… Luke Maile rookie card. He was a September callup in 2015, and has been with the Rays since July this year.  I don’t get the impression that he’s a tremendous prospect, but it’s a rookie card, so one has to work those into products, doesn’t one?

2016-topps-allen-and-ginter-luke-maile
It’s not a bad card, but not as nice as the Carter.

Matt Harvey… At least that makes the pack worthwhile for this Mets fan, but this is about as unflattering picture of Harvey as I’ve seen.
2016-topps-allen-and-ginter-matt-harvey
At this point, I’m starting to wonder if Carter is the outlier in this A&G dataset.

LeMahieu… This is more like it.
2016-topps-allen-and-ginter-dj-lemahieu
I think one of the things I like about this years design is the multiple layers of faux watercolor background. That, and the fact that the player’s image takes up a good chunk of cardboard real estate.  Those early A&G cards had too much empty space.  That might’ve been more “authentic”, but I found it uninteresting.

A Numbers Game insert… I really like the concept; this card is just OK.
2016-topps-allen-and-ginter-numbers-game-posey
For some reason, when they listed players who wore #28, they left out John Milner and Steve Pearce. Hmmph!

Mini Mendoza!
2016-topps-allen-and-ginter-jessica-mendoza-mini
…Not to be confused with Minnie Mendoza, a Cuban infielder who played 16 games for the Twins in 1970.

Last card… Dexter Fowler
2016-topps-allen-and-ginter-dexter-fowler
OK, pretty good cards, I feel like I got my money’s worth.

But the question on everyone’s lips:  “Would Joe buy another pack?”

As I alluded to before, I’m generally not a tobacco/faux-bacco card guy… And when it comes to the quirky features, A&G is more miss than hit.  That’s why I gently parodied the set a couple of years ago with customs like this one (ostensibly from the “American Traffic Signs” subset):
2013 Gintfunkel Stop Sign
…And honestly, my reaction to pulling one of this year’s U.S. Mayors inserts wouldn’t be a whole lot different than pulling an American traffic sign.

Even though 2016 possibly ranks as the BEST!  A&G!  BASE!  SET!  EVER! (in my book, anyway), I still view this as a set solely for my team and player collections. I can see myself eagerly raiding a dime box for these, but I don’t see myself buying another pack.

One last thing… for (at least) the 9th time this year:  It’s better than flagship Topps!

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Mocking Allen & Ginter…

Two years ago I created a custom set I called Simon And Gintfunkel, and it was intended as a way of poking fun at Allen & Ginter, Gypsy Queen, Goodwin Champions and all of the other tobacco throwback sets being cranked out.
2013 Gintfunkel Gene Rayburn
I had fun with it; hopefully I wasn’t the only one.

Last year I made a brief run with another S&G design, but to be honest, the joke had already run its course. I liked the design I’d created (which was cribbed from U.S. currency)…
2014 Simon & Gintfunkel Kaka
…but as a parody it kind of flailed around a bit, crawled into the corner and died.

(Side note:  Kaká is now plying his trade with the new Orlando City team in MLS.   “Kaká”…  Hee hee heeeeeeeeeeee).

A few months ago I made a half-hearted attempt at designing a third S&G set, and that attempt ended with me asking myself why I was even bothering.

After some navel gazing and toenail contemplation, I realized that I enjoy having a custom design for non-baseball purposes. It’s useful for illustrating points and highlighting people, places and things which didn’t really fit into a custom baseball card design.

I also gave myself a little kick in the butt when I filled out the questionnaire for Nachos Grande’s “Better Know A Blogger” series, and answered the question about sparking Topps’ creativity with the following:

I would take the people who’ve done such a nice job of creating original A&G designs and assign them to create a new set which has a “Vintage Topps” feel to it – and yet is not based on a vintage set nor just a lazy ripoff of existing vintage card designs.

I know something like this is not happening anytime soon, and I pondered taking matters into my own hands.

One night I was suddenly possessed by the custom card muse, I sketched ideas out on paper, which lead to more ideas and…

Long story short…

Today I am introducing the 2015 TSR Fauxback set:
2015 TSR Fauxback Lauren Cohan

And the main reason I’m giving this design a formal “release party” rather than just slipping it into a post is because I’ve gotta ask…

Does this design look familiar to you?

Here, take a look at another one….
2015 TSR Fauxback - Al Tuna
I’ll be honest, the ideas for this came together pretty quickly – almost too quickly – which made me wonder if I was subconsciously plagiarizing the design from somewhere else. Does anybody have any input on it?

And I sincerely hope that I didn’t inadvertently lift this design from somewhere, because I’ve got another card like it in tomorrow’s post…

For the record, the term “Fauxback” usually applies to throwback uniforms which don’t “throw back” to anything real… Like the “1979 Tampa Bay Rays” uniforms.
1979 Joe Maddon
I was brainstorming names for the set, thought of “Fauxback” and decided it was a perfectly apropos description of what I have in mind.

In case you’re wondering about the subjects of these Fauxback card…

Lauren Cohan is an actress I have a mini-crush on. She’s best known as “Maggie” on The Walking Dead, and I’m not going to be too happy if and when her number comes up on the show. Lauren grew up in New Jersey until she was 14, which is when her family moved to London… which leaves her with an accent that’s interesting listen to when she’s talking in her normal voice.

Al Tuna is one of the mascots for the AA team in – of course – Altoona, PA.  I’ve never seen the Altoona Curve play at home, but I love the idea that they have a fish mascot named Al Tuna.

Rage Against The (Coke) Machine

Have you seen these Coca-Cola Freestyle machines?  Those high-tech wonders of the 21st Century, those fantastic, futuristic, touch-screen-equipped soda dispensers which allow you to select any of 100+ flavors?

2013 Gintfunkel Coke Freestyle

I cannot stand the monkey-fightin’ things.

Sure, they’re great if you like to shake things up, add a little lime flavoring to your Coke Zero, but more often than not, I just want a Coke.  Plain, simple Coke.  The stuff that’s been around for over 125 years.

For those of us who just want a Coke, the Freestyle machine is Satan’s Drink Dispenser.

At a conventional soda dispenser you walk up, shove your cup under the Coke dispenser and when your cup is full, you’re done.  If it’s overly fizzy you wait a few seconds for the fizz to die down, and shove your cup under the Coke dispenser again.

While you’re doing this, someone else who wants Sprite can shove their cup under the Sprite dispenser, and you can have several people get their drinks in a matter of seconds.

The Freestyle machine?  You set your cup down in the machine, touch the screen to activate it, touch the screen to select the Coke products, touch the screen to select Coca-Cola, and then press the dispensing button.  If your soda is overly fizzy – which is usually the case – you wait for the fizz to die down, but by then the screen has timed-out so you have to touch the screen to activate it, touch the screen to select the Coke products, touch the screen to select Coca-Cola…

Annoying as it is to use, it’s even more annoying to wait while someone else goes through all of those steps… And it quickly turns to “infuriating” when one is stuck behind doting parents trying to talk their small child through the myriad of choices.

Hunter, what kind of drink do you want?  Do you want a Coke?

Do you want a Cherry Coke?

Do you want a Lime Coke?

Do you want an Orange Coke?

The machine dispenses one and only one drink at a time, so there’s no option other than to stand there and wait for Hunter to decide what he wants to drink.

Am I alone in this, or is there anyone else who rolls their eyes and curses the Coca-Cola Company for gracing us with this technological marvel designed  to perform the extremely complex task of filling my cup with Coke?

…Or, if you, you know, like the Freestyle machines, that’s cool too…


Sorry about the rant,  I’ll be back on-topic tomorrow.

Maybe Her Test Kitchen Is Bigger On The Inside Than It Is On The Outside

People think of Betty Crocker as a fictional character that represents a brand of cake mixes and the like, a bit of commercial branding which gets updated every so often.

You may think that, but you’d be wrong.

The truth is that she’s real and she’s a Time Lord.  Yep, two hearts, TARDIS, the whole nine yards.  Over the years, cooking tragedies and industrial espionage have triggered regenerations, and that’s why the portrait of Betty has changed.

I won the complete Betty Crocker subset from 2013 Simon & Gintfunkel in an auction on a Hungarian website… here are a couple of those cards.

This is the Betty Crocker I was familiar with growing up;  she was around from 1972 to 1980.

2013 Gintfunkel Betty Crocker 5

Betty #7 was in place from 1986 to 1996… one of the longer stretches between regenerations.

2013 Gintfunkel Betty Crocker 7

Betty’s last known regeneration was in 1996, but her image has pretty much disappeared from the commercial landscape over years since then.  Maybe the last regeneration went badly…?

Simon And Gintfunkel Cards Show Up In The Most Unexpected Places…

My wife and I had pizza for dinner the other night, and while I was tearing up the pizza box to put in the garbage, this Simon & Gintfunkel parallel fell out of the lid.

2013 Gintfunkel Billy Shears

What the heck is a 1-of-1 S&G insert doing inside a pizza box?

According to the checklist I downloaded from the S&G website, this is from “Subset Number Nine… Number Nine… Number Nine…” It seems to have something to do with the “Paul Is Dead” hoax of the late 1960’s, and probably has clues or a code hidden on it, but I wasn’t much in the mood to figure it out.

The garbage bag was filled up by the pizza box, so I had to take it to the trash can out back. The weather’s been rainy and cool lately and – damn! – I’d left my jacket in the car. There was an old hoodie in the hall closet, one I hadn’t worn in months. I felt something in the pocket, and said “Cool, found money!”

…But it wasn’t money, it was another S&G card.

2013 Gintfunkel American Cockroach

A card from the “North American Vermin” subset. How the hell did they get that card in my closet?

Mrs. S asked me what I was getting worked up about, but as I was walking over to show her, I dropped the cards on the floor. When I went to pick them up, I saw this taped to the bottom of the kitchen table:

2013 Gintfunkel Erica Hill

The entire “Weekend Network TV Host” subset was on my wantlist, so this is a cool get, but still…

I don’t know if you’ve had anything like this happen, but they’re starting to freak me out with this stuff. I mean, how can the possibly get this cards in places where there’s no way they’d have —

Wait a second.

Don’t move…

…What’s this behind your ear?

2013 Gintfunkel Ryan Stiles

Whoa.

No A&G? That’s Fine, I Got Some Simon & Gintfunkel Instead

So the other day I figured it was July and time for Allen & Ginter… I’d obviously missed the news that it won’t be released until August this year.  But while I was poking around in the local “Dolla! Holla!” store, I found some packs of 2013 Simon & Gintfunkel.  I’d never heard of it, but the packs were cheap so I figured I’d give it a try.

The cards aren’t bad, and there are a lot of subsets… For instance, I got this card from the “American Traffic Signs” subset.
2013 Gintfunkel Stop Sign

Here’s one from the “Stars Of Basic Cable” subset…  Moon Bloodgood was a Laker Girl and has also been in several movies, but she’s here because of her role as Anne Glass in TNT’s “Falling Skies”.
2013 Gintfunkel Moon Bloodgood

One subset I’m really excited about is called “Game Show Hall Of Fame”.
“…And here’s the host of Match Game ’76, GENE RAYBURN!!!!!”
2013 Gintfunkel Gene Rayburn

The only  insert I got was this mini.
2013 Gintfunkel Mini Cooper

Funny thing is that I didn’t get any baseball players.  Huh.  Maybe next pack.