Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Adding to My A&BCs - Vintage gets Better But Harder to Find

The debut of modern bubble gum cards featuring soccer (football) began with the 1958-59 A&BC Football Stars of England. As explained elsewhere in this blog, A&BC Gum Ltd. was later purchased by Topps. The card designs are often familiar between the Topps sets especially the various sports issues.

The premier set of 92 cards were issued in 2 series of 46 players each. The second series being uch rarer and seemingly difficult to find. Some are found without the Planet Ltd. advert on top (with dotted line).

I was able to obtain 4 excellent to mint cards for my personal set. It included card # 1 Eddie Baily (below).

 England international and later beloved National Team Manager - Bobby Robson.

The cards with yellow backgrounds are very appealing to me. This is Arsenal's Derek Tapscott (below).  The background colors are dark blue, light blue, green and yellow. They follow a pattern with the card numbering. For example the first 5 cards have blue backgrounds. The next four have green backdrops.  

The forth card is one of the up and coming stars of Tottenham Hotspur's Double-winning side - Terry Medwin.

Although these are less favored to me compared to the subsequent year,  the 1959-60 A&BC set, these 1958-59 portrait style and background colors on these are memorable. Much like the 1952 Topps baseball cards, this is a debut set and will stand as a mark for modern soccer card collections.
The challenge, albeit a small set, will be to complete all 92 cards and even harder to find them in pristine condition. I feel fortunate to have added these four to my collection thus far.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Upper Deck - Epic Fail - World of Sports

Trial and success ... trial and error. So goes the ebb and flow of modern trading cards. However, even a fighter knows when their beaten - they throw in the towel. Upper Deck is staggering long the ropes on wobbly feet and ready for the canvass.

The uninspired product from 2010 - World of Sports - that combined college athletes (who are suposed to be amateurs) with a mix of oddities like lacrosse and lesser know activities with MLS soccer players. The design, if it can be viewed as such, lacks total imagination. The photography, amatuerish at best ...
leaves a lot to be desired by collectors. However, the biggest fiasco is the continued sham of marketing non-existant David Beckham autograph cards. This was an issue as far back as Beck's first appearence with Upper Deck when he refused to part take in the signatures on the MLS products.
Yet, here it is (above), the "fanthom" Beckham autograph card. The sticker autograph is a left over from previous MLS sets - the actual signature is that of Luciano Emilio (below) from 2007.
Even the chase cards are a poor selection of design and photos. Kasey Keller (below)  looks to be saying "oh, no ! Its the Upper Deck photographers".
All in all, Upper Deck's MLS products have been sub-quality and hardly changed in a decade of licensed production. An Upper Deck spokesperson has already confirmed that once again the Women's Professional Soccer will be part of the set for 2011.
While I have great admiration for the talent and efforts for the ladies' game (like Marta - below), I feel sorry for the purist who have to wade through these to find their favorite MLS players.
Can you imagine sifting through your pack of NBA cards and only finding WNBA cards as you search for your LeBron or Kobe ?  How about sorting your most wanted baseball stars but forced to discover lady softball players among the packs ?

I would much rather have a sub set of US players who star overseas - like Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard and Maurice Edu. (this can be done with portrait shots or national team shirts to get around the licensing issue.)

With time ticking down on Upper Deck's MLS license, it may be an opening for Panini (or even a non-licensed company like In-The-Game) to swoop in and deliver a mouth watering soccer set. I know I'll be sending in my suggestions. I would love to hear from you fans ....