Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Manchester United Legend Dies

Bill Foulkes, former coach of the Chicago Sting, the Tulsa Roughnecks and the San Jose Earthquakes of the NASL, died at the age of 81 on Monday.
1959 A&BC Footballers - Bill Foulkes

As a player, Foulkes was best known for his glittering career with Matt Busby’s Manchester United, where he spent 18 years, making 688 appearances in all competitions.

Foulkes, a survivor of the horrific Munich plane crash in 1958, went on to captain United, leading the club to its first-ever European Cup success in 1968.

Manchester United’s players will wear a black armband to remember him for the club’s UEFA Champions League clash against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday.

R.I.P. Bill Foulkes.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

These Pizzas Are Despicable ...

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know my affection for food issued cards. Looking up and down the grocery store isles these days, it slim pickings.
So when one facebook page alerted me to the free cards that came with food, I jumped at the chance - especially when it turned out to be PIZZA !
One of four promo cards of the DESPICABLE ME 2 movie are available in specially marked packages of Marketside Large pizzas. I like that.

So, while watching my sports this weekend, I'll be chomping down on some pizza pies with GRU and the Minions.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I'll Raise You A Pair of Hall of Famers - McFarlane Style

One of the perks of being a special guest of a comic book convention, is that people often bring you stuff in appreciation. I've given a good amount of artwork to comic book and toy dealers. Many use it to promote their stores.
At this weekend's show, I had indicated to one dealer that I liked hockey and was looking for goalies. Well, he didn't have any goalies to give me - and not even any teams I follow.
But you can't look a gift horse in the mouth.
He had his assistant bring over two McFarlane hockey figurines. Both were Colorado Avalanche players - One current Hall of Famer and one future Hall of Famer.

While Joe Sakic became an Avs legend in Colorado winning 2 Stanley Cups. Selanne spent one, less than quality, season there before returning to the Aneheim Ducks.
Both players have scored over 600 NHL goals and played over 1000 games.
Each player has represented their respective nations, Sakic - Canada, and Selanne - Finland, at the Olympics and World Championships.
These figurines are super cool. The details from the jerseys to the hockey sticks are impressive. But I'm still looking for goalies ...

Monday, November 18, 2013

FX SHOW - Coolest Show On Earth

The 3-day Comic Book Convention known as FX or the FLORIDA XTRAVAGANZA took place this weekend in Orlando.
Although I don't attend as many shows as I used to, I went partly because I was contracted to produce the official poster. I did a limited edition, signed and numbered print of BATMAN and SNOW WHITE which I designed and pencilled.
FX Show Exclusive
Past FX Shows I got to appear with (the late) David Carradine (Kill Bill, Kung Fu), George Romero (Night of the Living Dead), and Robert Englund (Freddie Kruger).
The guests from this show that interested me were Joseph Gatt (Star Trek, Thor) and John Martino (The Godfather) among others. And then there is always the "swag" - the free stuff I get and offer to people after these shows.

From bottle openers to buttons ...
There were lots of excellent costumes, but when I am working behind my table, I cannot always get pictures. Its nice when they ask to take a picture of my work or with them.

Golden Age heroes and heroines

The Shadow

Orange Lantern Corps (Green Lantern story arc)
One of the items I enjoy getting are trading cards from the 501st Legion and other Star Wars garrisons. Here are just 4 of the 10 cards I acquired from this show.

Being that Orlando has Disney (which now owns Star Wars) and they host Star Wars weekends, there will always be solid material exclusive to our area. (if anyone want to purchase any of the exclusives from this show, shoot me an email)
That's all for today. More loot next blog.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Portraits of Sportsmen - Spot The Winner

One of the beautiful things I love about pre-war cigarette cards is the artwork that went into many of them. Celebrities and Sportmen were depicted in a majestic portraits that were recognizable to the public.
The 1935 Godfrey Phillips Sportsmen tobacco series was one of the finest examples. A few weeks ago I picked up this DIXIE DEAN  card for my PC.
There were 2 variations in this set. Regular backs with a "Spot The Winner" contest. And then there were the up-side-down version ...

The error backs are more common as the corrections were printed in fewer quantitiy.
 There are a variety of contemporary star athletes in the series. Along with the footballers are boxers, jockeys, tennis players and cricketers. Each is featured in a full color pastelbackground portrait.
Adding this Dixie Dean increased my personal collection of the great goal scorer. Amazingly, this card can still be obtained for under $10 if you can find it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

More TOPPS minis - We Used To Call Them Cigarette Cards

They call them "mini" cards today. What was once the standard size of a sport card, sold as a premium with cigarettes, are now inserts, chase cards or subsets.
The 2013 TOPPS MLS set has included a subset of 15 mini cards. I've picked up 3 of these which I have deemed the best of the lot.
LANDON DONOVAN is the USA's all-time leading goal scorer with 57. He is 2nd in appearances with 154 caps, but 1st in games started. He is also 1st in assists and total points for the US National Team. He is a slam dunk future Hall of Famer and probably the best known American soccer player.
Landon Donovan
THIERRY HENRY is a the all-time leading goal scorer for France with 51. The Red Bulls star, retired from international duty, finished with 123 caps.
Winning the MLS league title (Supporters Shield) with New York this season, he now has championships in France (Monaco), England (Arsenal), Spain (Barcelona) and the US (New York).
In addition, he is the all-time goal scorer for Arsenal (174 league goals), has won the Uefa Champions League and the FIFA World Cup. He has won the Cup in both England (FA Cup) and Spain (Copa del Rey). Already a member of the English Hall of Fame, there is little else he can achieve. If you get a chance to see this legend play, take it.

Thierry Henry
In keeping with the theme, ROBBIE KEANE is the all-time leading scorer for the Republic of Ireland with 61. He is also the most capped with 130 appearance. He is still active and will probably add to these numbers. He has scored a whopping 126 Premier League goals.
He has won the League Cup in England (Tottenham) and two MLS Cups with the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Robbie Keane
This is a very manageable subset that can be easily collected for under $50. Although there is no tobacco product connected to these, they fit in well with cigarette card collecting.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

TOPPS Goodness - The Old Is New

We all have our favorite card sets - many of them from our younger days. I collected many of the sports cards back when there was one set per year, per sport.
The first soccer cards I ever obtained were the 1978 Topps England Footballers. I found them at a flea market and spent $2 for each pack when the going rate for contemporary cards were about 30 cents. I loved the design as it mirrored the NFL football cards I had collected a season before.
So when Topps debuted their Major League Soccer card this year, I was delighted to see the classic soccer cards I remembered.
Dwayne De Rosario
I picked up a couple of these to see what they looked like up close. I got Dwayne De Rosario - Canada's all-time leading goal scorer. He is a sure Hall of Famer being only the 5th MLS player to score 100 or more league goals.

Alessandro Nesta
I also selected former AC Milan star and Italian World Cup winner, Alessandro Nesta, from Montreal. He has already announced his retirement, which may mean his only MLS cards appear in this set.

David McCreery
Back in 1978, some players were going the other way - from Europe to North America. Northern Ireland's David McCreery was playing summers for the Tulsa Roughnecks and later appeared in the 1982 World Cup. He is featured for Manchester United in the 1978 set.

Asa Hartford
Asa Hardford was a Scottish International who came to America later in his career. He won a Championship with Ft. Lauderdale.
 Like the 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee hockey cards from a few years ago, these are nice chase cards. These 2013 Topps MLS cards are a subset of only 60 cards. I think it may be worth trying to complete the set.


Monday, November 11, 2013

VETERAN'S DAY Tribute - War Casualties

To sports purist, very few things can be more detrimental than losing our favorite athlete to a casualty of war. Much like the loss of NFL player Pat Tillman, the effects of war and politics can be devastating on sports. On this Veteran's Day, we look at a particular card set that exemplifies a military influence on the game. While not all casualties result in death on the battle field, some are just reminders of political ineptness and abused power.
I recently acquired 5 cards from a very important soccer set.
The 1939 KICKER BILDERWERK card set was issued in Nationalist Socialist Germany (I.E. Nazi Germany). Prior to 1938, Germany had it own sporting teams and representative athletes. They participated as such in the 1934 FIFA World Cup and the 1936 Olympic Games, which they hosted.
However, after 1938, Germany annexed territories that they occupied through political and military force. One such area was AUSTRIA.
Matthias Kaburek
The KICKER series is a very large set that features German soccer players from the earliest international from 1901 to the issued year of 1939. It is an excellent and comprehensive collection complete with an album. For a great number of players, this set includes their only existing card.  Matthias Kaburek had already appeared 4 times for Austria, scoring 2 goals. Within a year he was playing for Germany. His only card (see above) appears in this set.

Ernst Reitermaier
This hold true for most of the players whose career took place before 1926. The album contains short biographies and of course some propaganda photos of the German Fuhrer - Adolf Hitler. Although he appears to be only in the 2nd edition printing of the album.

Ernst Sabeditsch

The other significance of this set was that Austria, which was annexed by Germany, had no known soccer card sets prior to World War II. So when they were occupied, their league and players became part of Germany's League Championship and National Team. Although both Germany and Austria played in the 1934 FIFA World Cup, they appeared as one nation in the 1938 Tournament. (Austria had qualified had they not been annexed).

Alexander Martinek
Several Austrian players appeared for the German National Team from 1939 to 1944. One such players was Alexander Martinek who kept goal for Wacker Vienna. Inducted into the German military, he was stationed in Hamburg, Germany, and subsequently was transferred to the local club Hamburg SV. He also was conscripted to play for the military club HSV Great Born.
Although he had a successful run at Hamburg SV, he was deployed to the Eastern front where casualties ran high. He lost his life in battle at age 25.

Otto Siffling

Otto Siffling was a home-bred star of the Waldholf Mannheim soccer team. He starred in the 1934 World Cup for Germany and represented the country in the 1936 Olympics. To his dismay, Germany lost to Norway in Berlin.  Adolf Hitler attended the match but left before the end. It was the last soccer game he ever watched as he already detested the sport.

However, this did not deter the Nazis from capitalising on any victory or sporting feat to further their cause. When Germany defeated Denmark by 10-0 in 1938, the hero of the game was propagandized as a superior athlete of Germany. Otto Siffling scored 5 goals and assisted on three others that day.  Hurled unwittingly into the Nazi limelight, he could never shake the uneasiness of their worship.

Siffling's form suffered and he was left off the 1938 World Cup Team. He was diagnosed with pleurisy and died the following year at age 27.  Siffling appeared in several pre-war sets, however, his last card (see above) was outfitted with the heraldry of the Nazi regime.

There is a wonderful footballing tribute to Otto Siffling here - http://otto-siffling.de/
although it is all in German, the memorabilia and photos are tremendous. If you want to dig deeper, use google translator to read the text.

To all those athletes in in a time and place where they would rather have played, but served despite the circumstance - WE SALUTE YOU this Veteran's Day.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

PANINI To Continue World Cup Tradition - Sticker and Cards

Recent press release from Panini America had announced at least 2 upcoming sets for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

2014 World Cup Stickers and Albums
The last time Panini sold the stickers and albums, it sold 1.5 billion worldwide with 12 million in North America. These will be available in April.

2014 World Cup Prizm
This will be a worldwide product. Each continent will get its own Prizm-colored borders.
Autographs in this product include Pele, Lionel Messi and David Beckham. It is due out in June.

Panini debuted a World Cup sticker card set in 1970. This past year, a complete set of the 1970 sold for over $4,000 on ebay. Panini supplimented its sticker release with standard trading cards sets beginning with the 1998 World Cup.

1970 Panini World Cup - Pele'
1998 debute of Panini World Cup cards
1998 Panini World Cup card - Klinsmann
I am looking forward to seeing what will be produced by Panini for this tournament. Hopefully, Panini America will put this on the front burner as sticker-mania comes into full swing.
As we find out which teams round out the field (after November play-off matches), it will be interesting to see what regional sets will be produced.
Stay tuned as I find out, I will present them here. I will also be looking back at some of the more memorable issues of World Cup collectables in the coming months.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sweden Goodness - The Record Holder - Sven Rydell (PSA Fails Again)

 For all the media attention, marvelous goals and exploits of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he still has come up short on the international benchmark. No, not to Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo - but to his own countryman - SVEN RYDELL.

ROSE MARIE Chocolates - Sven Rydell
Rydell's international tally of 49 goals is ahead of Ibrahimovic's current total of 46. What is fantastic about Rydell's mark is that he achieved it in only 43 matches, while Zlatan has done it in 93.
Unfortunately, neither player has appeared in a FIFA World Cup. However, Rydell did lead Sweden to 3rd place at the 1924 Olympics - before the first World Cup was ever played. 
Sven appears (above) in the rare 1930's ROSE MARIE chocolates issue. The set included Swedish personalities mostly from film and sport.

Another chocolataire, Cloetta, also issued a mixed sports stars set that included Sven Rydell.
1933 CLOETTA - Sven Rydell
Cloetta's included boxers, wrestlers and Olympians as well as soccer players.
Sadly, the card set has been mis-identified by the idiots at PSA. Once again, their refusal to listen, research or confirm exposes the arrogance of money grubbing swindlers.
A perfect example of an erroneous label on the tag of PSA's products.

PSA goof
President and CEO of PSA, Joe Orlando, sent an open letter last week begging for collectors to understand the procedure of grading at his company. He claimed that some hobbyist just "don't get it".
Sorry Joe, you just don't get it. You cannot label precious artifacts willy-nilly just because someone throws money at you.
There have been international collectors researching and compiling proven data on these soccer cards. So, we request that you either reach out and ask for help, or stay out of our hobby - once and for all.