Monday, May 13, 2013

Finally ! TOPPS Returns to American Soccer

Not since 1979 has the Topps Chewing Gum Company made soccer product for the American market. Even then, it was just team logos from the old North American soccer League (NASL).
As I have been one of the strongest critiques of Upper Deck and their MLS soccer issues, I am glad to see someone else have a stab at it. (That will teach UD to ignore my ideas) - Bye-bye.
The samples released for the base set are not a huge leap from Upper Deck's hum-drum (see boring) random action photos. But I'll give them some leeway for taking on the task.
Yes, Topps will employ all the gimmicks it uses with its baseball products - base cards, jerseys, autographs, numbered and throwbackcards. However, it is a step in the right direction for the long standing collectors. Nostalgia was a large missing element in UD issues.
So it was with joy that I saw throwback styles of past Topps soccer cards. These limited inserts that worked so well with their hockey sets - are the design from the 1978 English Soccer set.

Classic 1978 Topps England card 
2013 Topps throwback MLS card
Topps has already surpassed UD in recognizing club rivalry as a mainstay to the sport. And no derby is as heated as the Northwest battle between Portland and Seattle.

A rather timid scene in the Battle of Cascadia
The jersey cards will be making their dreaded return. No matter how you design them, someone has to make a more interesting artifact to put into these cards. How about the goal nets or corner flags from the MLS Cup Final ? How about player shoes or goal keeper gloves ?
Another swatch of ... cheap cloth
To me, the cards which some Americans call minis, are actually the original size - cigarette cards - that began well over 100 years ago. So the subset of these cards will be on my collecting list.

There is a nice bunch of rookie cards in this years set. At least Topps is paying attention to young talent besides just draft picks.
I have a few more ideas that Topps can use to make their sets stand out. I will be exhibiting them with some custom samples.
Stay tuned ! 

Sunday, May 5, 2013


There are still some things in America that are advertised as FREE - and are actually FREE. No bait, no switch, no catch. FREE.
FREE Comic Book Day (FCBD) is just that. Go to any participating comic book shop on the first Saturday in May, and pick up a brand smackin' new comic book. If you have not read one in years, try it. totally, cool.
The smell of freshly printed, color covered, super studded choices are great. The idea behind this promotion was to get people back into the comic shops. These days, with Internet, mega-cons and mail order comics, the loss of the local store is like an endangered species.

I went to such a shop, about 20 minutes down the coast line in a sleepy beach town. They had two tables of titles to choose from. While many shops have put a limit on how many free comic you can take (usually 5), it sometimes becomes hard to just pick a few.

I selected some of my favorite titles - a Special Superman issue, Star Wars (of course) and Batman (of course).

I am usually attracted to the cover on these, so my picks are influenced by the art work. There were lots of goofy cartoon, from Ren & Stimpy to anime and several unknown titles.
Free Comic Book Day offers the opportunity to sample new comics and catch up on old ones.
There have been some exclusives made for the event - notably, a boxed HERO CLIX mini figure. This year it was an IRON MAN 3 issue.
While in past years these were given away free, some stores have chosen to use these FREE giveaways as incentives to solicit their store. This local shop was asking patrons to buy $10 worth of merchandise to get the Iron Man figure.
While, I was disappointed, I totally understand. Its about survival for these comic shops which are losing out to Wal-Mart and large book sellers.
One of the most anticipated exclusives of the day was The WALKING DEAD comic book. I got one. Mission accomplished.

I've noticed that some of the past FCBD issues are now listed in the comic price guide. Most are listed at $2 to $3 each (about the current day cover price of a comic), however, some of the rarer titles have made it to the $30 summit ! One example is Scott Pilgrim from a few year back. It was made into a movie and poof - its gold for free.
I am looking forward to reading these comics, and looking through the art work.