2015 TSR: Sorta Like Topps Bunt, But Without The In-App Purchases

As a responsible baseball card blogger, I felt that I should stay current on trends and check out Topps Bunt. So, I downloaded the app, redeemed some coins, opened some virtual packs…

…and I have to say, I don’t get it.

In a way, I’m a little surprised that I don’t get it. Although I’m not one of these people who’ve spent hundreds of dollars on “The Simpsons Tapped Out”, I have gotten sucked into this type of reward-leading-to-addiction type of situation before. …And let’s be honest, blogging is very much that type of situation… We post repeatedly, pushing the bar in hope that the little nuggets (in the form of comments or likes) fall into our cage.

But Topps Bunt? I get the coins, I buy and open the pack, I look at the cards, I mentally shrug, close the app and go back to getting slaughtered in “Words With Friends”.

And now that I’ve gone down that road, that doesn’t end up being as good of an endorsement for my customs as I would like. “Please, dear friends, never mind their boring virtual cards, come and stare at MY virtual cards!”

Oh, well. I don’t have time or inclination to rewrite the intro now. Let’s open our pack!
2015 TSR Series 1 Wrapper
(FYI, the wrapper’s the same as last time, and will remain the same until Series Two comes out in May)

Joe Kelly did a fine job of shutting down the Yankees this past weekend, and one of the primary rules of any custom set I do is “You make the Yankees look bad, you get a custom”. This is not quite up there with no-hitting the Yankees or leaking compromising pictures of Hal Steinbrenner, but it’ll do for now.
2015 TSR #20 - Joe Kelly
As a visually-challenged individual and long-time glasses-wearer, I felt that I had to make sure that I featured an image of Joe Kelly that clearly shows his bespectacledness.

And before we move on, Joe Kelly is the third Joe Kelly to play in the majors, but the first since 1928.

For those of you who missed it, Bartolo Colon recently got his first RBI since 2005.2015 TSR #18 - Bartolo Colon
If you’ve ever seen him swing a bat, you’d know why it’s been 10 years… But we love him anyway.

The Braves got off to a surprisingly hot start, and the defense of Andrelton Simmons is a significant part of that start.
2015 TSR #19 - Andrelton Simmons
FYI, that’s Michael Cuddyer making a cameo appearance on the card.

Since I started following baseball in the mid-1970’s, this uniform is what I tend to think of as one of the most appealing Indians uniforms (Please note that “most appealing” is not the same thing as “best”).
2015 TSR #21 - Trevor Bauer
Last week against the Astros, Trevor Bauer pitched 6 no-hit innings and got 11 K’s. The downside of it is that he also gave up 5 walks in those six innings.

Custom Nerd Corner!
…Which is a corner for custom nerds, not a nerd corner that is custom… but anyway, I figure that since there does seem to be the interest in this kind of thing, I’d share some of the “behind the scenes” details on how I make my customs… as I think of them, anyway. I’m a little fried right now, so I’m going to stick with some basic stuff for now.

The way I got the drop-shadow effect on the team names was to take the text, convert it from vector to raster, do a drop shadow in white (5 pt. in this case) and then do another drop shadow in the second color.

I look at the above customs and wonder if I should’ve used a very dark blue for “Red Sox” rather than the dark grey, and perhaps a lighter pink with the Indians (to give a greater contrast with the orange)… Who knows, maybe the colors will inexplicably change when Series Two rolls around.

Looking For Feedback On Prototypes For My “Hot Stove” Set

Topps released a preview of their 2015 set the other day, and yesterday Jim over at The Phillies Room released a preview of his 2015 Chachi set, so I thought I might get in on the action as well.

For those of you who have not followed this blog through prior offseasons, I’ve been doing a custom set I call “TSR Hot Stove”.  The general idea is to show guys “photoshopped” into new uniforms and the like, while giving me the opportunity to flex some creative muscles and play with my Paint Shop Pro software.

If you’re curious about the prior sets, go up to the top, click on the “Galleries Of Custom Cards” tab, and scroll down to see the 2013/14 set (which was based on 1959 Bazooka) and scroll down even further to see the 2012/13 set (which was based on 1960-1962 Bazooka).

I like the idea of using a vintage “oddball” set for the design, but I don’t really care as much for the other vintage Bazooka designs.  As a result, I’d been toying with using the design from 1974 Kellogg’s for my 2014/15 Hot Stove set.

1974 Kelloggs Felix Millan

The one thing I wasn’t thrilled about was the lack of team identification, and also the fact that it shows only the player’s last name (something I’ve never cared for).

To see what I might be able to do with this, I first made a Bartolo Colon prototype without changing things a whole lot… sort of a “proof of concept”  Here’s what I got.
2014 Hot Stove Prototype 1
The only thing I changed from the original design was altering the text at top to read “2-D SUPER STARS”, just to acknowledge the fact that I’m not quite good enough at this to completely simulate the lenticular “3-D” effect.

I was pretty happy with that custom, so I went back later and decided to expand the box the name goes in, and add in the first name in a smaller font, kind of like Topps did in their 1974 set.

Just for fun and to give myself and all of you an idea of what this might look like “in production”, I went and looked at a list of prospective free agents, picked one of the bigger names and made a not-unreasonable guess as to where he’d end up.

Here’s the second prototype:
2014 Hot Stove Prototype 2

To fit the full name in, I made the box slightly taller, but I doubt that one could even tell without measuring.

So… what do you think?  Are you OK with the liberties I’ve taken, or do you prefer that I stay faithful to the original?  I’ll be honest, I’m still going back and forth on that.

But what’s more important right now is “Would you want to see more of these from November through February?”  I hope so, because as of right now I don’t have a “Plan B”.