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.

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!

2019 High Heat – NL EAST

2019 High Heat – NL EAST

Customs | Cards | Baseball

2019 High Heat

National League East

Matt “Doc” Perry, Texas

September 9th, 2019

We’ve reached September and it’s time to wrap this set up. Can’t have teams going into the playoffs before I call this thing finished. I wish I could say we took a well deserved vacation or that relaxing and having fun just got the better of my time this summer, but honestly I’ve been extremely busy. A few client sites here, a few work projects there, and poof, summer is gone before it really even settled in.

I decided to design the entire National League side all at once but that meant finishing up templates for teams that don’t really even cross my radar. I had to search for the right color yellow for the Pirates, I had to google who exactly actually plays for the Marlins, and I had to remind myself that Jon Lester didn’t retire after leaving the Red Sox, etc. I have most of it ready to go so I figured I’d start the posting off in the same way I did the American League.

We’re starting in the East! Let’s go!

Atlanta Braves

Sitting at number one in the NL East, by a healthy 9 games, the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta has a ton of young, solid talent and they’re going to be a force in the NL East for the next couple years. Acuna, Albies and “veteran” Freddie Freeman were my early picks for their team set, and I included a Mike Soroka RC since he seems to be having a great rookie season.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals are currently 9 back of the Braves for the number 2 spot in the NL East. Juan Soto is have a ridiculous year and is definitely that star the Nats were looking for to fill the Harper void.

Philadelphia Phillies

Right in the middle of the pack we’ve got the Phillies. At the start of the season, with how they had made some major upgrades in free agency, I would have said the Phillies would be running away with the East at the moment. Instead they find themselves in 3rd, 14 games back.

New York Mets

The Mets seemed to be having some internal problems this year, and are just barely over 500, which is sad considering soon-to-be National League Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso plays for them. On the other hand, it’s allowed his insane year to stand out and above the noise in Queens.

Miami Marlins

The last time the Marlins crossed my train of thought it was “hmmm, they traded Realmuto to the Phillies”, quickly followed by “who actually plays for the Marlins at this point?”. I didn’t know. I had to go visit Baseball Reference and figure it out. At least they weren’t the first team to 100 loses, so… you know… they’ve got that going for them.

There we go, there’s the NL East.

More to come when I wrap up the National League with the Central and the West. Thanks for checking them out!

2019 High Heat – AL West

2019 High Heat – AL West

Customs | Cards | Baseball

2019 High Heat

American League West

Matt “Doc” Perry, Texas

July 24th, 2019

We finish up our march through the American League this week with the AL West. The Astros, at one point, seemed like they were 20+ games up on second place Oakland this year and I had to do a double take when I looked at the standing this afternoon and it was “only” 6.5 games. Oakland is doing fine in their own right with the ever pesky “statistical lineup” we’ve seen for a while now. The Angels have two of the most exciting players in the league but are limping into 3rd. The Rangers are just above .500 (.505 to be exact) and I don’t think they can even start to catch up with their fellow Texans. The Mariners are in full-blown “Rebuild” mode and it’s showing with their 41-63 record.

So, let’s dive in and take a look at the AL West!

Houston Astros

The Astros are red-hot… or, I suppose, Orange Hot. They look like they’re really enjoying themselves as a team this year and they’re consistently fun to watch. I’m literally watching them beat Oakland while I’m typing this (4-1 in the 6th). I don’t really feel like there’s a conflict of interest in rooting for them. September will sort it out, as it did in 2017 and 2018. They’re my #2, and I’m ok with that.

That said, I went with what I felt like were the 3 premiere players this year for the cards. I also did a card for Yordan Alvarez. I know he technically came up “too late” to have an official RC this year, but that is the MLB’s and Topps’ bullcrap rule, not mine. This is his rookie season, just try and change my mind.

Oakland Athletics

I’m going to be honest and say that with the exception of Matt Chapman, I can’t keep track of who is actually on the Athletics any more. It seems like they’re always near the top of the West, but have constant lineup turn over. They seems to be having a fine season, #2 in the West in a good spot for a Wild Card chase. I included Laureano simply because of the canon he has for an arm. I remember seeing him gun down JBJ from the outfield at the beginning of the season. That’s quite the feat.

LA Angels

No, I’m not calling them the “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim”, because that’s stupid. Pick one LA.

The Angels have the best player in baseball, and one of the most interesting “not really a rookie anymore” young players in Trout and Ohtani, but picking a 3rd was tough. Kole Calhoun has been quietly putting together a really solid season. Statistically, he’s our #3.

Texas Rangers

Here’s our second Texas team, the “essentially Dallas” Rangers. I can’t tell if they’ve given up already, or if they’re planning to shortly, but they’re hovering just above .500 with really no plans on doing anything to change that. I think they’re getting a new stadium… so… they’re playing mediocre to… ummm…. say thank you? I don’t really get it. They did give the Red Sox Mike Napoli and Mitch Moreland in the past, so I don’t really dislike them. They also have Hunter Pence, and how can you not like that crazy dude?

Seattle Mariners

Man, what can we even say about the Mariners at this point? They started the year with a completely different roster. They’ve traded or released dozens of players and with the exception of the rookie Kikuchi, I haven’t heard anything good out of the Mariners. I don’t even know if the guys I picked for cards are still on the team (I picked them two months ago) and I don’t really feel like Googling it. Sadly it’s a lost year for the Northern Boat People.

And with that, we bring the entire American League to a close. The National League is up next, but I’m behind on making some of the cards. There might be a slight break before I can put out an entire division.

If you’re interested in checking out the other Divisions, here ya go:

American League East
American League Central
American League West (this post)

2019 High Heat – AL Central

2019 High Heat – AL Central

Customs | Cards | Baseball

2019 High Heat

American League Central

Matt “Doc” Perry, Texas

July 9th, 2019

This week we’re continuing the series of posts for my 2019 card set “High Heat” with a look at the American League Central. I’ve been sitting on these for a while now as I trudge my way through a pile of work-related tasks. There just isn’t enough hours in the day for hobbies apparently. I have the American League 97% completed, and the National League about 40% sourced for player photos.

Admittedly, the AL Central is a little harder for me to pick players for. I’m simply not familiar enough with the teams to know who are real fan favorites, so I relied on current year statistics to narrow it down for each team. At the time of this writing, the Twins were in front by 5.5 games, followed by the Indians and then everyone else (by a considerable margin).

Might as well start at the top. Let’s take a look at the AL Central, starting with the Twins…

Minnesota Twins

The Twins are having an excellent year so far. Bolstered by an offense that has hit a staggering 160 home runs already this year, they look like a lock for the division unless the Indians go on a streak at some point.

Cleveland Indians

Next up, the Cleveland Indians. It looks like I was a bit prophetic with my picks as all three made it as All Star game selections. I picked the players for my lists about a month ago and it looks like Lindor and Santana show no signs of slowing down.

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox are in a tough spot. On one hand their rotation needs help and the bullpen isn’t much better. On the other hand, they’ve got a couple really bright spots in offensive positions and a rookie outfielder who’s having a great year. Third place in the division, but still under .500. Not a great place for the boys from the South Side.

Kansas City Royals

What can you say about the Royals other than: “Well, at least Merrifield is having a good year”. I remember watching the 2015 World Series and thinking “Man, these guys are young and talented and are going to be good for years”. It’s only 2019. What the heck happened?

Detroit Tigers

I have a personal friend who’s a Tigers fan. He’s looking forward to the draft picks for years to come. Let me put it another way: Last night Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit 91 homers in the Home Run Derby. As of this writing, the Tigers collectively have 77 this season. Sorry guys, this just isn’t your year.

There we go, there’s the AL Central. The AL West shouldn’t be too far behind and then we’ll be moving into the National League, where I really know next to nothing. That should be an interesting experiment.

Thanks for reading!