Sunday, March 27, 2022

This Set of Custom Cards Will Show You Just How Much the 1970s Rocked

Remember that David Lee Roth look-alike custom card I did a couple of months ago? The one based on the 1974-75 Topps basketball card featuring Pete Maravich?
Well, recently I took some time to look through the original 1974-75 set a little more closely, and found some really great-looking team leader cards. Here are a couple of examples.

The colors, the team logos, the '70s haircuts and mustaches. It wasn't long before all of those things caused inspiration to hit. The gears in my mind started churning: 
There are four players on these team leader cards. 
There are four members of Van Halen. 
See where I'm going here?
All four band members, captured in all their glory. And Van Halen formed around 1973, so it works out perfectly.
As for design elements, I replaced "Team leaders" with "Team members", and then changed each leader's category (scoring, free throws, rebounds, assists) to each band member's instrument (vocals, guitar, drums, bass). The bright yellow panel that features the basketball team logo on the original card provides a perfect analog for the band logo, don't you think?

And I didn't stop there. I enjoyed the design so much that it made me want to create a card back. The first thing I had to do was look at one of the originals:

It took me a little while to figure out how to adjust the stats for a rock band, but here's what I came up with:

Instead of the individual player stats that appear on the backs of the original cards, I went with some stats about the band: Album certifications, hit singles, some general info, and even a music quiz related to the band. 

And this card came out so well that inspiration hit again. I started thinking about other 4-man rock bands of the era, and came up with quite a list of powerhouse groups: Led Zeppelin, KISS, The Ramones, The Who, Black Sabbath, and more.
And then I thought, Hey, let's make this a set of cards.
And then I thought, Hey, all these bands are either from the US or the UK.
And then I thought, Hey, let's try to come up with an equal number from each nation.
So I did some more thinking. Here's what I came up with.
US 4-man rock bands: The Doors, KISS, The Ramones, Van Halen
UK 4-man rock bands: Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Who

So there I had it. An 8-card set featuring some of the best hard rockin' quartets of all time, let alone the 1970s. And I got right to work.

Want a sneak-preview of the finished products? 
Okay, here we go.

I went with a separate color combination for the UK bands to provide some variety, and also to distinguish them from the US bands. And I'm not sure you can get much more '70s than that green and orange combo.
But why only a sneak-peek? Why not show all eight card fronts and backs here?

Well, a little later this year I'm going to run a special series here on the blog that puts more of a spotlight on these cards and these bands. The series will run for a few consecutive Sundays, and I've been having fun creating the content. Not going to reveal any other details for now. Stay tuned.
What are your initial thoughts about the set? 

Favorite band of the bunch?
Feel like putting a 45 on the record player and blasting some rock music out of your quadraphonic sound system?
Share in the comment section, and thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Board Advertisements on Cards, Episode 2: Volkswagen

Way back in 1978, the NHL allowed teams to start selling advertising space along the boards of their rinks. By the time I was a hockey card–collecting kid in the late 1980s, the trend had caught on. From snack foods to car manufacturers to banks to fast food restaurants, board advertisements really ran the gamut—and they still do.

This series will explore some of the advertisements that also managed to make their way onto hockey cards.
1991-92 Pro Set #183, Jaromir Jagr

Here's Jaromir Jagr on his 1991-92 Pro Set hockey card. On the boards behind him is an advertisement that features a very well-known logo, clear as day.
Whether it makes you think of a van from the '70s, a Beetle from the '80s, a sporty GTI from the '90s, or anything else, there's no mistaking that the advertisement on this hockey card is for Volkswagen.
But look at the text to the left of the logo. It doesn't read "Volkswagen". It's another German word that was featured in a popular VW ad campaign of the era:
Okay, it's not an actual word, but a combination of two German words (fahren, "to drive," and Vergnügen, "enjoyment").
And if you were around in the '90s, you might very well remember the campaign. I feel like those Fahrvergnügen TV commercials and magazine ads and t-shirts and bumperstickers were everywhere for a while—even on the boards at an NHL arena!

Here's an example of a magazine ad with some nice graphics.

And here's an even niftier TV commercial.

The ads were so prevalent (maybe even pervasive) for a while there that I wonder if they hurt sales instead of helped. But mostly I remember Fahrvergnugen as a catchy thing, in a good way.

How about you? Anyone remember the Fahrvergnugen ad campaign? Share in the comment section, and thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Man v. Custom Card

Time for another custom look-alike card.
First, here's the original.

1973 Topps #312, Lyle Alzado

It's a young Lyle Alzado, looking big and bulky and not too happy that his picture is being taken.
As for the look-alike, in this case he might be a bit more obscure than most of the other look-alikes I've covered so far, such as George Clooney or Clint Eastwood. So along with the hints below, I will also remind you to consider the title of this blog post. 
Here are the hints.

Alzado took down quarterbacks on the gridiron, whereas this look-alike took down copious amounts of food in restaurants and other eateries.
Just as fans could watch Alzado's accomplishments on TV as he traveled around to different football stadiums, you could also follow this look-alike's food exploits on TV, as he was a host of a popular show on the Travel Channel.
Both men intimidated their opponents with trash talk: Alzado to the defensive linemen opposite the line of scrimmage, and the look-alike to the food he was about to battle.
And the look-alike is... 


...Adam Richman from Man v. Food!
There wasn't too much to change on this card, design wise. I just swapped out the player position of defensive end for "Man", and changed the team name from Broncos to "Gastros". (Short for Gastronomes.)
If you haven't seen Man v. Food, I recommend you give Mr. Richman a try. On top of attempting to defeat an outrageous food challenge at the end of each episode, the guy is pretty funny. He's also quite knowledgeable about the food and restaurant business.

Interestingly, there are a couple of other things that tie Alzado and Richman together. 
First, Alzado was a TV guy as well. He appeared in numerous shows and films, including a sitcom called Learning the Ropes, where he played a schoolteacher who tried to keep his moonlighting career as a professional wrestler a secret from his kids. 
Second, both Alzado and Richman were born in Brooklyn, NY. What are the odds?
And there's definitely a resemblance between the two, don't you think? The only major things that separate them are the hairstyle and the facial expression. I tried hard to find a picture of Adam Richman scowling, but it seems like the guy is always smiling!

A little more on Man v. Food: It ran on the Travel Channel from 2008 through 2012. Various online sources will tell you that
Richman went 37-22 in the food challenges he took on. That's about a 60% win percentage. Not bad, even excellent when you consider the variety and absurdity of the challenges. (There was the 12-egg omelette with chili, hash browns, and biscuits. And how about a 4-pound burrito with a side of macaroni and cheese and a bowl of banana pudding?)

As for Lyle Alzado? The guy was a beast in his prime. He was a two-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro, and a Super Bowl champ in 1983. 
In 196 career games, he compiled 112.5 sacks, forced 24 fumbles, and totaled about 1,000 tackles. 
Many say he played over the edge, and wasn't quite in control. Case in point? He once participated in a charity boxing match against Muhammad Ali. At times during the match he actually motioned for Ali to hit him—and then stood there with his arms down and took the punch! 
Needless to say, Alzado seemed to have an unquenchable desire to prove that no one was going to take him down or stop him from getting to a quarterback.

The 1973 Topps football set contained a card for each playoff game from the prior year, complete with stats from the game on the back.

Because Richman's challenges could be considered "playoff" games, I thought I'd whip up another custom card. 

I just changed the heading from "NFC" to "MVF" (man versus food), and changed the team names and score.
In this particular challenge, held at the Quaker Steak and Lube, Richman had to eat six "atomic" wings. (Each wing is hotter than 40 jalapenos—he had to sign a waiver form holding the restaurant harmless for any injuries sustained during the ingestion of the food.) 
And as you can see from the card, Richman defeated the wings. For the victory, he earned a bumper sticker and had his name added to the wall of fame at the restaurant.

So here's to a couple of terrors on the field of battle. And to another couple of custom cards finished.

Any fans of Man v. Food out there? Favorite episode? Share in the comment section, and thanks for reading, as always.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

From the Favorites Box: Bob Nystrom, 1985-86 Topps #11

A series where I post some thoughts about favorite cards. Previous cards in the series are available here.
I grew up in the mid-1980s as a baseball-loving kid. When I wasn't in school or doing homework, you could often find me on a ball field. If not that, I'd be sorting baseball cards, or watching a game on TV, or studying how to improve my skills. (Anyone remember The Baseball Bunch videos?)
However, in the very late 1980s I met a new friend at school. He was the youngest of many siblings, and all his brothers played ice hockey and roller hockey. Whenever I went over his house we'd end up playing Blades of Steel on the NES in his basement, surrounded by bags of hockey equipment and sticks lined up against the wood-paneled walls. Gradually, he and his brothers introduced me to the sport.
Although I still loved baseball, I was also soaking up all the hockey knowledge I could. Fast-forward just a few months, and I'd convinced my mom that I liked the sport enough to want to play with it my new friend and some other neighborhood kids. Eventually I had a pair of rollerblades on my feet and a hockey stick in my hands, and I was out in the street or at the local park, skating around. 
Add another year or so of effort and desire on my part, and my dad had seen enough to fit me with all the necessary ice hockey gear. Soon after that I was attending a summer instructional camp at a nearby rink to prepare me for league play.
And since this rink was on Long Island, the organizers of the camp would occasionally invite a current or former New York Islander to attend a session or two, and give some specialized instruction and advice.

One of those players was this guy:
Bob Nystrom played his entire 14-year career with the Islanders, was heart and soul of the team throughout their dynasty years, and scored one of the most memorable goals in team history. Case in point? His nickname was "Mr. Islander".
Here's that memorable goal:
Although I was much too young to remember that goal (or any of the dynasty years), having grown up on Long Island I sure heard about them. After all, the early 1990s were just a few years removed from those great teams and from Nystrom's retirement. So when Mr. Islander came to the camp that summer, it was a big treat.

And as you can see on the card above, he always stuck around after camp ended for the day to sign autographs and talk to parents. I'm happy to still have the card after all these years.
For all the memories of those early hockey-playing days that this card conjures up, plus a pretty sharp-looking autograph, 1985-86 Topps #11 has a spot in my box of favorite cards.