What I will say is that I grew up in the Junk Wax Era, where we had a million and a half brands of cards being pumped out each year, not to mention oddballs with our cereal, batteries, underwear and whatever other random retail product you can think of. In short, I'm quite used to variety and that is the one thing that I miss most about today's collecting landscape.
That said, there are so many creative people on the internet who must feel the same way, seeing as there are countless would-be card designers putting out their own work to fill in the gaps. We have artificially-aged, vintage-like artifacts from Ars Longa, expertly crafted card artwork from Gypsy Oak, smartphone applications like Rookies to generate cards out of spot-on templates, impressive blogger customs from aspiring designers such as Gavin from Baseball Card Breakdown, and my latest discovery:
I picked this Addison Russell card for a buck shipped off of Ebay, courtesy of One Star Chewing Gum Company. The card features a perfectly-framed image of Addison Russell rounding first base after his incredible grand slam against the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLCS. Look at the jubilation in the dugout behind Addy - you can feel the buzz just holding this card!
Speaking of holding it, the stock is a little thin, similar to that of Topps Archives. That said, Topps has a massively larger budget than that of One Star - so, what's their excuse?
The design features wood grain borders, in the spirit of 1987 & '62 Topps, and a sketched inset of a fielder at the featured player's position, reminiscent of 1973 Topps. Personally, I could have done without the latter, as it intrudes a little bit on the image; but, it's hardly a fatal flaw. Meanwhile, my favorite design element on this card might be the baseball bat which forms the right side of the "picture frame."
The back gives a detailed account of the scene depicted on the front; that said, it unfortunately does not notate what series the scene depicted took place in (NLCS). Rather, we're left with a nebulous "game 5."
At any rate, that's just a nitpick. The text is big, bold and easy to read; plus, the layout is simple, sleek and thus does not generate the migraines that sometimes come from attempting to read the backs of major card manufacturers. Also, you might notice that gold foil stamp that commemorates the fact that this Addy Russell is a one of one. So, that's pretty cool!
Anyway, you might be wondering to yourself at this point, what the heck is One Star Chewing Gum Company?
Well, it appears as though there is actually no chewing gum involved at all.
One Star Chewing Gum Company is the moniker chosen by avid Twitter user and custom card creator Matty Yerkes to market his baseball creations under. Yerkes has been at this since 2013, creating his own yearly base set and some other creative offshoots along the way, sold through Ebay auctions. For more information on Yerkes' venture, mosey on over to OneStarGum.com and browse around his designs - there's a lot of pretty stuff, i.e. his custom refractors. Give Matty a follow on Twitter too (@myerkez) - he often runs giveaways for his work as well.
RT win this awesome 1/1 original one star art card from @myerkez if @KrisBryant_23 doubles or better #WorldSeries #TsbCubs pic.twitter.com/iv7LVuVT8N— Top Shelf Breaks (@TopShelfBreaks) November 3, 2016
You might notice that the above tweet was originally sent out by Top Shelf Breaks, a case/box breaking service with which Yerkes must do a good amount of work with. I mention this because, as it turns out, the Addison Russell card which kicks off this post was not the first One Star to enter into my collection:
I found this promotional collaboration in a random dime box at my local card show. I didn't really know what it was at the time, but an oddball of the infallible Kris Bryant for ten cents? I'll take that deal every time.
This beauty was printed on sturdier card stock, much closer to your traditional thickness, and is numbered to 500. I'm assuming it was given away to pimp the Top Shelf name at the National Sports Collectors Convention when it was held in Chicago last year, a location to which the convention will return next year... hmmm....
All in all, these One Star Chewing Gum Company cards represent some quality work and another impressive pillar of the online card-creating community. Keep up the good work Mr. Yerkes! Topps might have a monopoly, but I think it's quite apparent that there are plenty of aspiring designers who could give them a run for their money.
At any rate, these Addison and Kris creations will make for welcome and unique additions to my Cubs collection, breaking up the monotony of Topps cards. As the old adage goes, variety is the spice of life.
Ars Longa, Gypsy Oak, One Star Chewing Gum... there are some creative geniuses in our midst!