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Amazing Airbrushing – 1991 Bowman, San Diego Padres

28 May

1991 Bowman - Robbie Beckett

1991 Bowman - Steve Martin

I know the Padres changed colours in 1991 from the old brown and orange to blue, orange and white… but was this hideous display really necessary from ’91 Bowman?  I’m not sure this is a better alternative to just using photos in the old uniforms.

This was about the very tail end of the bad airbrushing years, so I guess they needed to get it out of their system before moving on.

Amazing Airbrushing – 1981-82 Topps, Lucien DeBlois

7 Mar

1981-82 Topps - Lucien DeBlois

Well, in honour of all the rumours of the Jets returning to Winnipeg, here is a great airbrushing job of Lucien DeBlois from 1981-82 Topps.  This is one of the best hockey card sets Topps ever made… in terms of amazing airbrushing, anyway.  I’m not even going to point out any subtleties here.  This is just a spectacular hot mess from the blurry photo to the skewed logo.  These things should be in a fucking museum.

Let’s also talk about this Jets thing.  They were never very good.  It’s hard to win in the coldest place in the universe.  DeBlois did, however, in his three years with the Jets, help them to three of their best seasons ever from 1981-82 to 1983-84 – they made the playoffs every year, playing a total of 10 playoff games in three seasons!  So close!  To think what might have been…

Winnipeg, do you really want them back?

Amazing Airbrushing – More 1989-90 O-Pee-Chee

22 Nov

1989-90 O-Pee-Chee - Marc Habscheid

1989-90 O-Pee-Chee - Randy Cunneyworth

We’ve already looked at a couple of cards from this set – which is one of my all-time favourites, by the way – but you can’t talk about airbrushing without looking at these two cards.  Marc Habscheid and Rany Cunneyworth’s cards from the set are essentially everything that horrible airbrushing represents:

-A weak, blurry photo
-Butchered lines and logos
-Attempts at realism (see sticks, helmets and gloves)
-Attempts at shadowing and motion (see jerseys)

Amazing Airbrushing – 2010 Topps, Roy Halladay

30 Oct

2010 Topps - Roy Halladay

2010 Topps Opening Day - Roy Halladay

So, airbrushing has come a long way from the days of 1986 Topps.  The brutal (and I know, already well documented) part is that I can’t believe nobody at Topps thought to check to see if Halladay was going to actually wear 32 with Philadelphia.  I guess Steve Carlton had a pretty decent career, guess that’s why 32 didn’t end up being available.  I suppose his 329 career wins flew under Topps’ radar.

2010 Topps Update - Roy Halladay

At least they used a different photo for Topps Update.

Amazing Airbrushing – 1986 Topps Traded, Tom Seaver

31 Aug

1986 Topps Traded - Tom Seaver

More Topps Traded airbrushing amazingness from the 1980’s, this time featuring Tom Seaver, who pitched in a total of 16 games for Boston in 1986 before calling it a career.

It’s disappointing to see such an all-time great wearing such a horribly airbrushed Red Sox hat, or any kind of Red Sox hat, for that matter.  It’s like seeing Gretzky in a Blues jersey, Jordan playing for the Wizards, Reggie Jackson (in his prime, no less) suiting up for Baltimore, or that time Steve Carlton got his 4,000th strikeout during a six-game stint with the San Francisco Giants.  It just doesn’t seem right.  The airbrushing only makes it worse.  Thanks, Topps.

Amazing Airbrushing – 1987 Topps Traded, Terry Harper

11 Aug

1987 Topps Traded - Terry Harper

The Topps Traded sets of the 1980’s are fantastic resources for uncovering airbrushed treasures.

This particular card is amazing for the following reasons:

1. It’s from 1987 Topps.  If you’re a card collector and you don’t like 1987 Topps, there is something wrong with you.  Seek professional help.
2. What is going on with that hat?  So many issues.
3. The retouched undershirt, which they kept blue, for some reason.  Interestingly, Harper was traded from Atlanta to Detroit prior to 1987, and then to Pittsburgh during the 1987 season, so perhaps this is a double-airbrushed card.  Is there any way that maybe there exists somewhere in the Topps archives this exact card, but instead of a badly airbrushed Pirates uniform, there is a badly airbrushed Tigers uniform?  I can only dream.
4. That neckline and jersey look more like he is wearing a choir robe than a baseball jersey.
5. Seriously, that’s the photo you chose to airbrush?

1987 Topps Traded - Reggie Jackson

SIDE NOTE: How great is this 1987 Topps Traded Reggie Jackson card showing him playing for the A’s?  It’s like going back in time to Reggie’s early career with the A’s from 1967-1975, except he’s old, fat and way past his prime.  I wonder what that clubhouse was like in 1987, Reggie playing with a rookie McGwire and a second year Canseco, just a year before they started causing some serious shit in the AL West.

Amazing Airbrushing – 1981-82 Topps, Don Luce

9 Aug

Why, Topps?  Why?

1981-82 Topps - Don Luce

Reasons this is amazing:

  1. Full body airbrush job.  Intense, aggressive effort from the artists at Topps.
  2. Blue and gold gloves unaltered from his days with the Buffalo Sabres.
  3. Not even an attempt at jersey numbers on the sleeves.
  4. Two-tone blue socks – never worn by the Leafs.
  5. The logo.  Either the artist was a Leaf hater, or he let his kid do some of his work for him.


Amazing Airbrushing – An Introduction to Life Before Photoshop

5 Aug

I’ve never really been sure why they did it.  Until the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, it was pretty common practice for card manufacturers to airbrush images of players who had switched teams since their most recent photos.

Touching up cards was not restricted to one company, but Topps (and Canadian sister company O-Pee-Chee) certainly made their airbrushing the most obvious, primarily because they did a terrible job of it.

I, for one, always wondered why everyone didn’t adopt the practice of putting simple text of “Now with (new team)” or “Traded to (new team)” on the photo instead of making the card look so ridiculous by airbrushing.  There was absolutely no way that anyone would have thought the airbrushed photos were real and unedited.  Hell, put the new team’s logo on the card if you want to, but don’t make the player’s photo look like a cartoon.

However, the fact that there are so many poorly airbrushed cards out there has led me to create this new category: Amazing Airbrushing.  It is here that I will help the world chronicle the wonders that exist in the world of altered photos on sports cards.  You’re welcome.

Leading us off in the Amazing Airbrushing category: A couple of classics from one of my favourite all-time hockey sets.

1989-90 O-Pee-Chee Hockey - Chris Kotsopoulos

1989-90 O-Pee-Chee Hockey – Chris Kotsopoulos.

Background: Kotsopoulos had played the previous four seasons in the blue and white of Toronto, and actually only ended up wearing the real Red Wings uniform twice, so there is a chance that this is actually one of the best pictures of Chris in a Detroit jersey.

Why this airbrush job is amazing: 1.) The attempt at arena lights glare on the red helmet.  2.) Airbrush + Mustache = Twofer.

1989-90 O-Pee-Chee Hockey - Larry Robinson

1989-90 O-Pee-Chee Hockey – Larry Robinson

Background: Robinson, clearly a future Hall of Famer by 1989, had played his entire career in Montreal, and was moving to Los Angeles to join Wayne Gretzky for the 1989-90 season.

Why this airbrush job is amazing: 1.) Heavily overshaded white home jersey, 2.) Wavy logo, I believe in a poor attempt to make it fit in with the jersey, 3.) Another mustache – but this is a Hall of Fame mustache.  Boom.

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