Sunday, July 31, 2016

Civil War News (barely)

The Topps 1962 Civil War News set was terrifically popular in the schoolyard at St. Mary's in Nutley NJ back when they were fresh out of packs. Popular with my friends and I anyway. The nuns who taught us? Not so much. In fact if you were caught with any of these at school they went into the trash in pieces, never to return to your cigar box.

Now baseball and football cards were a different story. You could get those babies back from the not-very-aptly named Sisters of Charity if you asked nicely enough. At least with most of them. Now Sister Anastasia was altogether a different breed of nun. Lose any cards to Sister Anastasia and you lost them forever and likely got a call made to your home and possibly got a yardstick welt on your upper arm.

As I've noted recently I've been on a nostalgia kick. That's different than a vintage kick I think. I've been chasing sets I owned as a kid. The '62 Mars Attacks set will have to wait since I am involved in the latest Topps incarnation of it but I had a good time chasing Batman and now I'm tracking down these amazing Civil Wars cards.

These featured some pretty graphic artwork depicting scenes of imagined Civil War mayhem and death. They made a huge impression on us sheltered parochial school dweebs in 1962. Soldiers were shown being burned, shot, drowned, blasted apart, and my personal favorite, impaled on stakes. 88 cards were  in the set including the elusive checklist. Late Edit: Jon of A Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts snatched up a checklist on COMC for $4 in credit. I'll not be that lucky.

Much of the work on this set was done by noted comic/card artist Norman Saunders. Some background on the artwork is found here. Dean's Cards site has more background and a set checklist.

I don't remember specifically if I had the whole set as a kid. I doubt I was able to keep them out of Sister Anastasia's clutches long enough to put the whole set together. And I really had no intention of collecting them all now but as I dug around eBay and COMC I found that there were plenty to be had if you were willing to either pay through the nose for choice ones or just find battered ones on the cheap. I'm going the later route.

I found a seller in Canada who had a lot of 20 something of these and I sent him an offer. He accepted and I would up paying under a buck a card. The transaction ended up taking about two weeks and 12 emails to complete outside of eBay but that's another story.

The dealer was honest in his assessment of what was included in the group. Most were decent, probably grading at 'Fair' or maybe even Good'. But some were what he termed as 'brutal'. Here is one of the 'brutal' ones:

But most were perfectly acceptable for what I want to do, fill up the ten binder pages and flip through them. This one had been wet at one point but other than being a bit 'wavy' it's fine:

Her is one of the less gruesome battle scenes:

These next couple need an upgrade:

That may be the understatement of the year.

The Wall of Corpses is one of the cards that made an impression on me as a kid.

These next two are barely even filler. And upgrades are now on the way. This one of RE Lee is trimmed,

And this one is barely even a card.

A few more of the better ones in the lot:

The backs contained 'newspaper style' write ups which I wouldn't quote if I were looking for sources for a thesis on the Civil War. Just for grins I looked at a few backs and compared them to a couple of Civil War timeline sites. On some, like the Jefferson Davis card, the dates are correct. He was named as President of the Confederacy on February 18 of 1861. Others are harder to pin down as battles took place over multiple days, etc.

This next card back 'covers' a horrific train wreck that supposedly occurred in mid-September of 1863. I can't find anything online that would indicate it ever happened but there was a wreck in northern Mississippi in February of that year that sounds similar. 40 CSA troops died in that bridge crossing derailment. Make of all this what you will.

But I'm not collecting these to learn history. I'm collecting these for the fun of it and to hold on to a small piece of my childhood.

There is one card in the set that I remember having that really made an impression on me. I don't have a copy yet because I'm trying to get a fairly nice one. It's titled Painful Death. Here it is on another website:

My memories of the set don't include many of the individual cards. But I sure do remember this one. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on one.

At the moment thanks to a COMC purchase of another 20 of these I'm at 54 of the 88 cards with about 8 of those 55 badly in need of replacements. I guess I'm about half way there.

ANOTHER EDIT: I just noticed that I cut short that last paragraph. I was intending to mention that these cards came in packs with folded replica CSA  currency. There were 17 different bills including all the variations. I plan to pick up just one as a companion piece to the cards. And while this set is commonly referred to as 'Civil War News' set the 'official name was just called them Civil War bubble gum cards.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Public Service Announcement

I know there are a whole lot of Star Wars fans in the blogging world so I figured I'd put this up just in case anyone was interested. Topps' TBT issue this week is a six card Star Wars set done in the style of their unique 1980 Basketball set.

It's available until next Thursday. Details, including the checklist, are here at the Topps site. I bought (and blogged) one of Topps' TBT sets and can tell you that the card stock used is top notch.

I'm not a SW guy (I would fail the 'Who is Lando Calrissian?' test) so I won't be picking this up but for some of you it may be right up your alley.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Old Stuff New Stuff Owl Stuff Blue Stuff

Ok, I don't even know what the hell that title means other than the fact that I got a padded envelope from Night Owl and he included some 2016 Topps Series 2 that he had posted on his blog and that I mentioned I could use for my fantasy baseball binder. No need to post things he's already posted.

So I'll show off the bulk of the rest of what arrived in that envelope. All Orioles btw....and it seems like blog care packages and COMC are the only ways I ever pick up Orioles. I damn sure never get any in packs of current issues.

Anyway the card up top is, if you don't recognize it, a 1987 Kraft Home Plate Heroes featuring the always serious Eddie Murray. As was the case with so many 80s era food issue type sets these had the MLBPA blessing but not a MLB licence so they are logo-less. Murray was one of 48 cards which came two at a time on the backs of Kraft Mac & Cheese boxes.

The Murray below is paired with Nolan Ryan on an uncut card panel. Despite the long length of both of those Hall of Famers'careers they only faced each other 18 times in regular season games. Murray hit .438 in those at bats and hit one dinger off Ryan. It was the fourth career homer by the O's slugger and it came three weeks into his long big league tenure.

Here's a look at what the box looked like. Ryan is paired with Kent Hrbek here.

I love oddball Orioles cards and I'm kind of surprised that I didn't have this one. It now resides with my other Murrays in my Orioles stars binder.

From an old school Murray to one that came out this year. It's Murray and Cal Ripken Back To Back. I'm guessing this is a base set subset card. The back alludes to them hitting that way in the Orioles order and the three times they had B2B homers.

Here is Cal in a 2007 Fleer Ultra card. There is something printed along the bottom of the silver foil but I can't read it. My one time 20/15 eyesight is nowhere close to that now.

Here a beaut..a 1961 Post Cereal Billy Klaus. I have a lot of Orioles from the Post/Jello food sets but this Klaus was new. I love that it references his off season job at a bowling alley. Times change. Hard to envision walking into your local lanes some night this winter for league night and having Manny Machado ask you for your shoe size.

Speaking of shoes. AJ10 wore some cool Junior Griffey tribute footwear this past Sunday. I think I saw that a lot of Nike guys around the bigs did as well. Here he is in a die-cut Topps Chrome. I'll try to insert it into a page without dinging it.

AJ10 again. This time it's a 2012 faux 1972 minnnniiiii! Raise your hand if you remember Jones with the Mariners. That's what I thought.

O's coming off a bad string of losses to the Rockies and Chris Davis isn't contributing much to the cause. I need to see a celebration like this very very soon.

O-Pee-Chees of Brian Roberts and Rich Hill. I think they are pretty cool. I can see this design as one that was cribbed from Joe Shlabotbik's TSR sets. Joe, that's a compliment and I hope you take it as such.

Leo Gomez. In 1991 he finished 8th in AL Rookie of the Year balloting. He hit 16 homers which was one more than Jeff Bagwell who won the NL ROY award. That never happened again.

Finishing up with two cards that just scream The Nineties!!!!!

First a 1996 Pinnacle Jimmy Hayes. Lots of embossed gold foil.

And a 1993 Leaf Harold Reynolds. Gold seal, gold name. 

And oh those busy, busy backs. Yup, the 90s. I like the view of Baltimore Harbor and the USS Constellation on the Leaf. As many times as I've been to Harborplace and walked past her I've never gone onboard for a visit. I need to fix that next trip.

Neat stuff one and all. Thanks Night Owl! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I'm Batman!

Several things have occurred recently that lit a fire under me to complete my 'Black Bat' Batman set. First of all last years initial foray into Topps Kickstarter Mars Attacks Occupation campaign got me thinking about my days as a non-sports collector. When I was a kid the Civil War News (a post on that is coming soon), Batman and Mars Attacks cards were very popular in the playground at St. Mary's School in Nutley NJ.

Then at least one regular blogger (Joe Shlabotnik) and maybe more posted a few from this set. That inspired me to finally dig through my boxes to see what I had. Turns out I had enough cards (20 or so) to make completing the set a viable option.

With some eBay pickups, a little digging at the monthly card show and finally a COMC purchase I was able to grab the last of the cards I needed to finish off this 55 card set.

Obviously I wasn't chasing graded cards. I just want cards I can put into album pages and enjoy that way, flipping thru nine at a time.

You can see images of each of the 55 cards on the set's page at Trading Card Database. They cards run thru 11 card 'subsets' tied to story-lines involving different villains. Click that Shlabotnik Report link above if you haven't already to see his detailed run thru of the Joker story-line.

This 'black bat' series was one of several that were issued around the same time as the Batman TV show became popular. This page at Old Bubblegum Cards summarizes the six sets.

Here is the back of #25. Note that it's label at the bottom as 'No. 1 of 11 Batman vs. The Catwoman cards'.

I'll finish up with one of my favorites from the set. Batman and Robin soaring thru Gotham City. Good stuff.

On a somewhat related note I went with my two grown sons last evening to a screening of the full length animated version of Batman The Killing Joke. Bat-nerds (of which there were plenty last night) and graphic comic fans will recognize that as one of the most iconic (and dark) Batman story arcs. Supposedly it was the highest grossing of Fathom's one-night theater events. So much so that it was held over for a second night in some theaters which is rarely if ever done.

I came away impressed by the animation, the 'voice acting', especially as done by Mark Hamill as the Joker, and the soundtrack. I was less enthused by the 20 minute Batgirl/Batman stuff that opened the film that apparently was written to 'flesh out' the original plot. I could have lived without the ::SPOILER ALERT::  ahem...intimate physical encounter the two super heroes have. But once the story got rolling it was entertaining. Reviews/previews have been decidedly mixed. You've been warned.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Topps TBT Faux '59 All Stars

Topps has expanded their Topps Now concept into these mini 'sets' that they release every Thursday and make available for a week. I've looked at them when the emails arrived but never had any inclination to spend the $20 asking price. Some have been very tempting but until this one came along I hadn't thought any was worth the cost, at least in terms of my collection.

This one caught my eye because of my soft spot for the '59 All Star design. The 1959 Topps is my favorite set. But even at that I decided to pass on it. I'd recently bought a few blasters and decided my hobby budget was drained.

So I put it out of my mind, at least for a few days until I found I needed a card of this guy:

Yes, I picked up the St. Louis shortstop in a trade in my fantasy league. A quick eBay check turned up what to me was a surprise...he wasn't on any mainstream card issues. He was in some ridiculously priced minor league sets and I could have bought a custom card from a vendor I know for $7.50 but I always prefer a 'real' card. But this set was still available from Topps and five of the six cards were of guys who I could put into my binder so pulling the trigger was pretty easy. 

It really IS a neat design. 

I had both Lindor and Seagar last season. Each of these cards easily boots their previous run of the mill one out of the binder.

Bogaerts is the only card I didn't have a use for.

The backs are all the same. Here is the Bogaerts back. The card stock is very thick, nothing like the shiny, thin daily Topps Now issues.

I have Thor in my alternate league. He looks like the guy in Outlander in this shot.

Back up top that Arrieta card is the only one of the five that I didn't stick in my fantasy player binder. It'll be tough to knock out his Topps Now that commemorates his no-hitter.

And just checking eBay again today it appears that Diaz has a Topps Now that was issued in the last few days. But it's a horizontal card and those almost never make the binder. When they do it's as a placeholder. Hey, everyone has their own quirks, right?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

2016 Topps Stickers

The Target I visited in Dallas last week had packs of 2016 Topps stickers on sale for 74 cents each. I figured 'Why Not? the very least I can make a blog post out of them. (Note: They also had Revolver Brewery's Blood and Honey wheat ale on sale but that's for a different kind of post.)

These things were tough to scan because of the bright white borders so I re-did them in album pages and that worked. You get eight in a pack and here is what my pack contained:

Not a bad design. Topps has certainly done worse with various products. Move the players name over to one side, his position to the other and use the space for more photo acreage and you'd have a nice full sized card design. Maybe a Bowman design. 

I'm in a second fantasy league this year. I got roped into an 18 teamer. That means talent is spread pretty extreeeemly thin. My catcher is Carlos Ruiz. I've tried every week to find someone better but it's slim pickings. Never again. To add insult to injury I've made 90+ waiver claims, by far the most in the league. None of the guys I grab are any better than the guys I dump but at least I'm trying. I'm in 10th place and last I looked 8 of the guys in front of me had made less than five moves. Most of those guys aren't even paying attention. It's very humbling.

Here's a look at the back of the sticker. These things are made to be peeled off and stuck in an album so there isn't much point in creating a fancy back for them.

Coco Crisp, whose Wikipedia page instructs us that he is "Not to be confused with Cocoa Krispies." His real name is was Covelli Loyce Crisp. Apparently he's legally changed it to 'Coco Crisp". Man, the things you learn on the 'net!

Clay Buchholz wearing a blue Red Sox jersey. They should never wear these softball tops. Never.

I had Greg Holland on my fantasy team last year, at least until he got hurt. Wade Davis took the closers role and the Royals did OK as I recall.

I saw Beltre's name on ESPN on someone's list of the 'Ten Best Third-baseman Ever'. I'm unqualified to comment on that assessment. My list consists of Brooks Robinson at #1 and every other guy who has ever played third tied for #2.

I don't know Micheal Wacka but that's a fun name. Almost as much fun as 'Coco Crisp'.

I got two team stickers, or is it four? It's really hard to see in the scan but these are two stickers on one backing paper. They can be peeled individually.

And each team sticker has it's own number.

Target had Star Wars sticker packs on sale and I bought one but I am not a Star Wars fan so I'm holding it for when I find someone who is.