Presidential Superfractors

Presidential Superfractors

Custom Cards – Personal Projects – Commissioned Work

Presidential Superfractors

I made beautiful customs for SuperBreak’s Pieces of the Past!

Matt “Doc” Perry

July 28th, 2020

So, to really tell this correctly, we need to back in time a bit…

Back before the Coronavirus was really a problem. Back to January 2020. I had received an email through the contact form (yes, those things actually work, and actually send mail, and I actually read it!) from Adam at SuperBreak. For those that don’t know, Adam and Scott run SuperBreak Sports. They make absolutely top shelf repack boxes and breaks. Mike Trout rookie along side a Micheal Jordon autograph and a Tom Brady patch card. Those sorts of boxes. After I watched a few box breaks on YouTube I was pretty convinced they were putting together some really nice stuff for collectors. They had contacted me about working on a card set for them. They had seem my posts about my custom cards, the superfractors in particular.

In addition to sports boxes, they also have a couple lines of historical relic/autograph based cards called “The Bar” and “Pieces of the Past”. It was the Pieces of the Past that they though some 1/1 Superfractors would be a really interesting addition to. I decided to jump on the opportunity to work with actual card industry people, and take my customs from “fun little personal projects” to actual “real” cards, in the sense that they’d some day be pulled from boxes and packs, and appreciated by other collectors.

The idea was to make a full 45 Presidents card set, each a 1/1, using the metallic superfractor material.

I started by working on designs. I actually had a pretty good idea of what I wanted design wise right off the bat. I wanted something clean and simple that really showed off the metallic material. After a couple rounds of mockups I had settled on an early 20th century sort of look to keep it “historical”. Kind of an inverted Gypsy Queen sort of thing with a badge signifying the number of the presidents and the date they were inaugurated.

From there I knew, from making my previous refractors, that I needed to work out the printing (backwards on transparency) and to get the airbrushing just right. I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to refine the process as well. I wanted to make sure, not just for myself anymore but now for fellow collectors, that the cards I was making were the best quality and used as much archival material as possible. I went on a search for acid-free card stocks, the highest end transparency sheets, and archival fixatives and sprays.

One of the most important things about these was going to be consistency. If I was making a 45 card set, I didn’t want 44 different ways they were being made, or sprayed, or glued, etc.

So, using materials I still had around, I started on some tests. Some went well.

Others not so much.

Here’s a good picture where you can tell the difference between an early test, and the final product. In this one, I used cheap transparencies and ink, and didn’t spray with the fixative before airbrushing. You can see the “print lines” and ink drop pattern (look around Georges chin). These are almost invisible in the final products (end of this post).

I also needed a serious upgrade in tools. Goodbye cheapo Harbor Freight airbrush, hello professional Iwata.

Early tests also showed me that I had two choices when airbrushing if I wanted to avoid overspray on cards other than the one I was working on. I either had to cut up the sheets one at a time, or cover up the additional 5 (out of 6) somehow. I decided to invest in a small light table, so I could cover up the cards safely, but still see what I was working on. It ended up being a game changer in terms of airbrush quality and control.

After I was confident in the methods, it was time to start cranking out some cards. First, I needed to actual design them, and source images. Fun fact, the official portraits of the president are public domain since technically they were paid for with public tax dollars. The people own them, and can use them. So, I went strait to the Library of Congresses digital archives and grabbed the highest res images that were available.

After that it was printing time! Sadly, I also had issues with the printer towards the end, it barely made it through the process and I ended up recently getting a new one (more on that later). I had to switch from 6 cards per sheet, to 4 cards per sheet. That meant I had less margin of error and needed additional transparencies. I’m glad I changed that in the end, as it seemed to be right amount of “backup prints” due to margins of error. For every 1 perfect card, it might have taken me 2 airbrush attempts to get it just right, and 1 left over in case of cutting/trimming mistakes (which certainly did happen).

As I mentioned before, I also wanted to spray everything I was making with archival fixative. At one point my garage art-studio looked like a laundromat. The spray was used for two reasons. Primarily it was used to “fix” the notoriously fragile inkjet ink to the material, while providing anti-aging and anti-yellowing UV resistance. It was also necessary to create a smoother, non-porous surface for the airbrush paint to stick to. Here’s a good example of what happens when you don’t spray it.

The bottom portrait on this sheet was sprayed, the top was not.

This material is designed to “soak” up ink, and if it’s not “closed” by a spray, it’ll soak up the paint as well, and eventually crack. So, there ya go, pro-tip if anyone is ever crazy enough to try this at home (besides me).

It was about this point when I remembered, “Oh yeah, real cards have backs…”. You see, when I make custom cards, part of it being “art” and not an actual production card mean I typically leave the back blank. Literally just blank card stock that I usually sign, or put a sticker on saying it’s a custom art piece, etc. This created another problem. How was I going to put “1 of 1” on these?

 

The answer, it turned out, would involve scanning, and hot foil pressing. My vinyl cutter, which up to this point hadn’t been involved with the process, was called into action due to it’s PixScan mat and technology. After printing the card backs, I was able to get accurate registration by scanning the mat and using the alignment dots to line up my hot foil press. Yes, I now own a hot foil press. Don’t judge, lol.

It took several tries, but eventually I got it down and it started making some really sweet foil transfers. Nice and clean “1 of 1” in legit gold foil. My only regret is not figuring out how to put it on the front. Unfortunately hot metal and thin plastic don’t really work well. Many a card was lost in early testing. Oh well, on the back works well, and is considerably safer.

After that, it was assembly time! Layers and layers of stuff, sandwiched together and pressed, followed by the most nerve-wracking trimming I’ve ever done. I’ve trimmed thousands of photos in my lifetime, most for really important things like clients and wedding albums. This was a whole other level.

The guys at SuperBreak were generous enough to supply me with a large cutter that made the cutting go much faster. Actually, they furnished me with a large portion of the supplies in general. They were awesome to work with! Whatever I needed to make the best cards was what they wanted to send me. That kind of support, from an artistic perspective, is very hard to find, and incredibly appreciated.

In the end, I think I was able to make some really nice cards. I watched as Go GTS Live pulled one on a live stream and thought it was really cool. I’m so happy other collectors like them and appreciate them.

I had waited to post this until I knew the product had been released, I didn’t want to spoil the surprise, and then Covid happened and everyone’s schedules went all crazy and honestly the time has just gotten away from me. These cards are out there in the wild now, and are available in Super Breaks’ Pieces of the Past boxes if you’re lucky enough to pull one. I don’t know what the pack odds are, but I can only imagine they’re hard to pull. I think you can buy boxes on Blowout Cards or GTS.

That’s about it. All I can say is that it was a pleasure working with Adam and Scott, so much so that we have several more projects in the works, most of which I can’t talk about because they’re seriously next level awesome and I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Let’s just say that we’ve got some stuff planned involving some HUGE names. No spoilers 😉

Here are a few more photos of the finished cards.

Sad to see them go

Sad to see them go

Personal, Baseball

Sad to see them go

Goodbye, and Good Luck!

Matt “Doc” Perry

March 3rd, 2020

I don’t even know where to start…

I know I’m late to the party, but I can’t really get past the results of this baseball offseason. Mookie Betts, David Price and Brock Holt are all gone.

It’s true I was never a huge fan of Price, I said that many times in numerous posts, but he did eat innings and as a 3rd or 4th starter he wasn’t half bad. I took more umbrage with his opinions off the field, especially his spat with Dennis Eckersly over being called out on his mediocre performance one night. He’s a tip Dave: When a Hall of Fame pitcher says you were a little off, take him at his word. He’s not trying to be mean. You were a little off.

I also won’t be sad to see his albatross of a contract (or at least half of it) go either. That was the budget room the Sox needs to be able to sign Mookie Betts to a…. wait…. shit.

Mookie is gone. Gone in the sense that he’s not coming back to Boston accept on a visiting teams plane. There are very few generational talents like that, and while I understand the reasons the ownership group used to explain their actions, the don’t feel right. It doesn’t pass the gut check, and I think that’s what most Red Sox fans are struggling with. It just feels wrong to do that to a player that could have easily been one of our greats if he stayed and continued his production.

This is the saddest thing I’ve seen in a long time

A lot of people can’t get past the “Sox are rich, open the checkbook” point of view, which is funny, because that’s exactly how we get contracts like David Price, Pablo Sandoval and Carl Crawford. I understand that sports is a business, and a very lucrative one at that, but large contracts change off seasons like this one. Knowing you have X amount tied up in a player and you can’t go get pieces you need can be aggravating to a front office (I’m assuming). Shorter team friendly contracts make life easier. Again, doesn’t “feel right”, but business rarely does.

“Just go over the tax!” say some others. It’s not like they haven’t in the past. The difference is that it compounds and continues to climb. At one point being over the tax threshold costs an additional 50% tax on the additional payroll (per 2012 CBA). So, you can have a payroll of $250 million, but you’re paying +50% on 42 million of that. So, 42 becomes 84 million, and now your combined payroll is north of 300 million… when it’s supposed to be 208.

The Red Sox went over in 2004, 2007, 2010-11, and 2015-16, and paid just $25.1 million in combined penalties because they kept resetting it every couple years. The Yankees, by comparison, went over, consecutively, 2003-2017 and paid $319.6 million in taxes. The Yankees are the richest team in baseball, and even they could barely afford that, and needed to get back under 2 years ago.

So, there are legitimate tax reasons, but that still feels like an excuse. Why trade Mookie just for a tax break?

They didn’t. They traded him because they knew he wasn’t coming back. We don’t know what went on in meetings or in talks with agents, but he’s said from the very beginning he’s getting to free agency and getting a payday. As he should. I’m not trying to begrudge the man, his talent is generational, he deserves everything he’s going to get. He’ll be the highest paid player next year, I’m sure of it. I think at some point the Red Sox realized that those sorts of numbers we the end goal for him and they had to make a choice. The couldn’t keep him this year, AND pay that next year. They had to move payroll if they’d have any shot at him returning.

I just don’t feel like he will. I think the way it went down, the back and forth, the low-balling extension talks, I think this will play out just like Jon Lester. He’ll play for the Dodgers in 2020, and then hit free agency and get a massive payday from some team like the Braves or the Twins or the Angels who have cap space to spare ($32m, $53m and $20m respectively) Can you imagine the Angels with Trout and Betts? That’s nightmare fuel.

So, I don’t even think it was that much of a choice in the end. Something, at some point, gave them the impression he didn’t want to come back. Like when the check engine light comes on in the car, but it seems to be running ok, and you don’t want to take it in because you just know it’ll be some big problem you don’t want to deal with right now. Well, the light was on, the car was running fine, but something was going to be expensive down the road. So they traded it in before it got bad. They cut their losses and tried to get something out of it.

They got Alex Verdugo and two prospects, which might not look like a ton, but considering the Dodgers are eating enough of Price’s contract, and they get to restock the farm a little, it isn’t half bad. They’re having issues at second, which Downs might be ready to take over in a couple years, and a catching prospect with power is like a unicorn these days. Verdugo, provided his back doesn’t shatter, can at least hold a spot in the outfield. So, it’s the lemonade from lemons.

I don’t like it, you don’t like it, no one likes it, but when life gives you lemons you either make lemonade, or you burn the house down with the lemons. Not really a whole lot of options in between.

Now, as for Brock Holt, I’m fully engaging homer-mode and going to say that this simply doesn’t make any sense. It’s not like he was asking for a ton of money. He signed a one year deal with the Brewers. According to Holt he waited and waited on the Sox to call, but they just never did. That’s probably the saddest thing out of all of this. They never even talked to the guy. Instead they signed Martin Perez and Jose Peraza.

Peraza is the closest to Holt in terms of production and fielding positions, but ostensibly the same stats wise. So, if Holt contained all the intangibles, and the numbers were similar, why the motivation to get slightly younger in the utility roll? We just don’t know. Peraza is slightly younger and slightly cheaper. That’s about it. They’re saving maybe 1-2 million, and losing a club house guy and several years of experience. I just don’t get it. After moving Price and Betts, they still have cap space to spare. You can’t tell me they couldn’t find $4m and just sign him to a 1 or 2 year deal? That’s a price you pay after trading your superstar, if for no other reason than some clubhouse stability in the aftermath.

It’s just weak. It’s more disappointing than Betts in many ways.

With Betts you know you’re buying (or selling) a Ferrari. You know it’s going to be expensive, but you also know you’re going to get ridiculous horse power. With Holt, he’s the perfect commuter card (and that’s not an insult). It’s a safe bet. He’s reliable. He’s “cost effective”. Why trade in a car you’ve had and liked for a lease on a very similar car? Now you’ve got another car payment and no upgrade, and the seats smell different.

I don’t know. I’m more or less disenchanted with the entire thing. I can see the direction the front office is headed, and it’s a lot more “Athletics and Rays” and a lot less “Dodgers and Yankees”. Who knows, maybe it’ll work out. Maybe we’ll pick up some random pieces and the prospects will pan out and we’ll get back to the playoffs in a couple years. I’m hoping for a “scrappy” team some time in 2022.

That’s also something the younger fan base doesn’t understand. Everyone cries and complains. “How could they do this, we’re doomed” or “It’ll be another curse!” Please. This isn’t a Red Sox problem, every team does this. This isn’t a “21st century problem” either. I saw them do this to Boggs, to Mo Vaugh, to Nomar, to Clemons, to Lester, and a whole host of other players that they’ve already forgotten.

It’ll be ok. This year there will be baseball played. That in itself is enough. If you’re only rooting for a team when the times are good, what sort of fan are you?

There will be baseball, and that is enough.

Go Sox.

2020

2020

Personal

Wait… is it 2020 already?

Where the heck did the time go?

Matt “Doc” Perry

Jan 28th, 2020

Honestly, I’m not even sure where the fall went. I guess I was a little burnt out on posting the High Heat set and after I finished I just said “I’m going to take a break for the holidays”. So I did.

Felt good.

Blogging isn’t essential to the pursuit of happiness, and there is a laundry list of more important things.

I hope everyone had a good Christmas season. Mine was hectic but enjoyable. Had (still having) car trouble, so I’m on the lookout for a new ride. Work has been crazy, I’ve been filling in for someone who’s out recovering from cancer.

I’ve also been using my spare time on some really awesome side-projects. I’ve made a couple websites, done some logos and business cards, and I’m currently working on something that really has me excited.

It’s a new card related project that I’ve agreed to not talk about until it launches. It’s AWESOME. You guys are going to love it. Sorry for that vague teaser. It’ll be worth it though.

I’ll tell you all about it in a month or two.

Anyway, just wanted to say that I was alive, I’m working on some cool stuff, and that I’ll check back in once it all wraps up.

Later!

2019 High Heat – NL West

2019 High Heat – NL West

Customs | Cards | Baseball

2019 High Heat

National League West

Matt “Doc” Perry, Texas

September 20th, 2019

We’re almost done! This is it. The final division of my first card set. It’s been fun, it really has. I used these cards much in the same way the I used Fantasy Baseball: to spark interest in teams and players I might have otherwise ignored. I had fun designing these, finding the photos, picking out just the right colors and so on. I hope you’ve noticed that I tried to make each teams card a little different while keeping the visual appeal. For example, just here in the West, the Diamondback have teal position letters, a nod to their color teal being part of some of their alternate jerseys (officials colors here). Same thing with the Dodgers player names, and the Giants team name bar. I made small changes to things like that to keep them unique between teams with similar color palettes (Orioles vs Giants for example).

In terms of the actual baseball teams, I think it’s been locked up since what, June? The Dodgers are 20+ games in front. It’s not even close. Ladies and Gentlemen, unless LA gets hit by a meteor, the Dodgers are probably going to the World Series again. Maybe this time they can win…. #burn.

I kid. Let’s check out the last of 2019 High Heat with a look at the National League West.

Dodgers

Twenty games in front is a lot. Are there even 20 games left? The Dodgers could literally take a two week vacation and come back and still be in first in the division. What’s worse (for everyone else in the NL) is that the deep blue sea of talent doesn’t really show any signs of letting up. Forget Oakland in the Moneyball era and the sabermetrics epiphany, people need to be taking a page out of the Dodgers play book on how to stock a farm system. This years offering to the rookie phenom record books, Alex Verdugo, is another in long line of player LA can call on to mash at any given second. Comparatively “old man” Cody Bellinger is “only” most likely the NL MVP.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Please don’t step on snek. Or so the internet memes would tell us. Even in second place, the DBacks are sadly 20 games back. Arizona seems to have a good core, and even with Christian Walker stepping up and having a big year they just couldn’t get out of the way of the big blue juggernaut.

San Francisco Giants

I was rooting for the Giants a few years ago during their up-and-down playoff runs. They had a fun pitching core and some great young players to watch. These days they seem to be mid-rebuild and were struggling to be a .500 team this year. Sitting at 72-78 (.480) they almost made it. They do have a prospect with a familiar name however, who mercifully was traded by the Orioles so now I can root for him without pause. Mike Yastrzemski couid be worth keeping an eye on.

San Diego Padres

Now we come to the Padres, the recruitment wing of the MLB. The Padres have been so famously bad this past decade that they’ve managed to have dozens and dozens of first round picks. They get solid young talent, train them, then trade them for… more prospects? Honestly I’m not even sure what’s going on out there. They could have had 3 “Astros style” rebuilds at this point and be dominating the West. Instead they’re just farming talent for the rest of the league.

Also, two things of note. First: I hate Manny Machado. Second: I couldn’t think of another non-Machado player worthy of a card, so I didn’t. Instead I added a second rookie card.

Colorado Rockies

I can’t think of the Rockies without thinking of some sort of Robert Redford, lumberjack, fur trapping utopia. Then I remember that they also play baseball there. Then I remember that they apparently don’t play baseball well there. 66-85 and in last place in the West. I don’t keep up the the team so I honestly couldn’t say if they’re rebuilding or just had a bad year, but they do have Charlie Blackmon, who, if nothing else, is literally the poster person for “Rocky Mountain Living”. Go beard!

And that brings this whole thing to a close! I’m actually pretty happy with these as a whole. I did all 30 teams, 3 cards per team with an additional 10 rookies to make an even 100 card set.

All credit to the awesome photographers who got these shots. They were snagged from Google without actual permission, so that’s why I’ll never be able to sell these. I wouldn’t dream of stepping on someone else’s copyright, especially not a photographers. If you’re a photographer who’s photo I used, please know that these were just for fun and not profit.

I hope everyone enjoyed them. I know I enjoyed making them. I’ve got plans for a more retro set next, but I’ll probably take a little break and return to normal posting before I start on them.

If anyone has any questions about the designs or fonts or anything like that, just let me know. I always like talking design and custom cards.

Thanks for reading!

2019 High Heat – NL Central

2019 High Heat – NL Central

Customs | Cards | Baseball

2019 High Heat

National League Central

Matt “Doc” Perry, Texas

September 16th, 2019

The National League’s Central Division might just be, for me at least, the most interesting of them all. I’m as AL-sided as could be, I just can’t see the interest in watching pitcher bat, but this Central division is actually pretty fun to watch. With three teams all within two games of each other heading into the final stretch, you couldn’t ask for a better end to the regular season. All the teams have at least a couple interesting players and if it weren’t for the Dodgers, well, existing, I’d have put money on the NL champs coming from the Central this year.

So… let’s do this thing. Here’s the cards for the National League Central.

St. Louis Cardinals

Red birds are up first since (as of this post) they’re currently in first. They’ve only got a two game lead in the division so next week, technically, they could be in third if they hit a cold streak. I can’t say I’d actively root for the Cardinals, not that they ever did anything to the Red Sox except give us a fairly interesting World Series win, but I’m channeling a little Astros’ favoritism today and they always beat up on the Astros in their more recent down years before joining the AL. So, yeah, not really in the top half of my list of teams to cheer for. A couple interesting players though, and Goldschmidt always seemed like a nice person, so, yeah.

Chicago Cubs

Is it wrong to call the Cubs the “Red Sox of the NL”? The Dodgers are clearly the Yankees, just in terms of TV money and influence, but the Cubs were, until recently, the perennial underdogs without a big WS win. They’re only two back of the Cardinals but are looking to make a late run. Even though I think he’s been on the Cubs for longer than he was with Boston at this point, I still can’t help but root for Jon “I can’t throw to 1st base” Lester. It might have been a bit of a homer pick, but he’s my third card for the Cubs set.

Milwaukee Brewers

Here’s where it gets interesting. The Brewers are 3 back of the Cardinals and just 1 back of the Cubs, and Chicago and St. Louis have TWO series against each other to finish the season out while the Brewers get to beat up on the Reds, Pirates and Rockies. If they can sweep those, and the Cardinals and Cubs trade wins, it could get really close, really quick and all come down to the last week of the season.

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds, 13.5 back of the pack and the Pirates (18.5 GB) get to play potential spoiler this year to the Brewers. The Reds have enough games left in their division to really hurt the Brewers if they can pull off some wins. The Reds also have my favorite National League player, Joey Votto. I just always felt he was a continuously under-rated player and often over looked. 6-time All Star, NL MVP, Gold Glove, and everyone seems to forget he’s even still playing. On top of that, the Reds also have Eugenio Suarez, who just hits bombs all day.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Lastly, the Pirates who, on paper, are actually better than their record would suggest. They do have a serious pitching problem, as do most teams in the MLB. If you don’t have an effective rotation, its just really impossible to put wins together against offenses that are hitting more and more home runs. I don’t really believe that the baseballs have anything to do with it, but there’s seemingly less guys who have 3+ pitches and can keep hitters guessing. If all you have is a mid-90’s fastball and a change-up/sinker, you’re going to get hammered these days. My one regret in these cards was not including Bryan Reynolds who’s been quietly putting together a great rookie season for the Pirates.

And that’s the NL Central. Stay tuned for later this week when we finish this whole thing off with the NL West!

Thanks for reading!