I’ve been waiting on this mail day for a solid year so it’s a pretty big one. When I first heard about Cuyler Smith’s Trading Card Series 1 in 2016, I was too late for the party and almost all of the cards were sold out. All of the specific cards I wanted were sold out. The prize of the 1st series to me was the “George Costanza – Assistant to The Traveling Secretary” card with the 1987 Topps design. I know Mr. Wright, I’ve seen that design enough too but for this particular card, no border would have done it better justice. But alas, it was sold out so I’m banished to EBay to get that one if I ever want it and it’s not for sale often and it’s never cheap, as evidenced by the last sale in February 8 at $219.95. Three have sold in 2017 with the lowest being $185. That’s my luck!You see, to understand the whole picture, I need to give you a little bit of information on the cards themselves. Cuyler Smith is an artist from California by way of Texas. I’ve never met him or spoken to him outside of passing comments on Twitter so my bio on him is based on what I’ve read. After moving to California, Smith obtained a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) in animation and MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in illustration. And his work shows it. His interest in film and animation took him to Cali and now his fine art degrees are paying homage to film and animation. The Trading Card Series’ are all about athletes from film and Tv. The checklist includes such big names as Daniel Larusso, Crash Davis, Bobby Boucher, Kenny Powers, Al Bundy and Ty Webb. And those names don’t even begin to scratch the surface. Rocky, Teen Wolf, Mighty Ducks, Caddyshack, Varsity Blues and Friday Night Lights are all covered too.So Smith presented Series 1 in early 2016 and it was largely sold out in the first month or so. The pieces are all standard trading card size and are also signed and numbered by the artist. I don’t know the exact print run on Series 1 but all of the cards I got today are numbered out of 90 except for one that is numbered out of 45. So yeah, absolute short prints here. Series 2 was just released in February and I pounced on the single I wanted and then splurged for a pack. The singles are around $15 and the pack of 5 is $85 and includes either an “Air Bud” numbered to 45 (only available in packs) or an Artist Proof from a Sold Out Previous Edition. They are available at www.nineteeneightyeight.com and www.cuylersmith.com and by all accounts appear to be headed for sold out again so I’m glad I jumped when I did. Does the $219 Costanza make a little more sense now?Now, on to my mailday. Don’t judge the condition by the photo as this particular card holder was taped by itself to cardboard for shipping and that is what you are seeing. The cards were in mint condition and shipped very meticulously. The single that I had to have as a 40 year old who sat in front of the Tv a ton from 10-15, was AC Slater from Saved By The Bell. Don’t pretend for one second that you didn’t want to emulate at least one of the characters from Saved By The Bell growing up. Maybe it was Screech, doesn’t matter. This show is an iconic 90’s masterpiece and AC Slater was Sports on that show. Football, Basketball and Wrestling, it didn’t matter. AC was all world. So I had to get that one out of the way even though I was buying a pack. If I scored one in the pack too, just call it Christmas in March!After marveling over the Slater for a moment, I turned my attention to the pack of 5 cards. The pack itself is also signed which is 1) a very nice touch but 2) screams “DON’T BREAK THIS SEAL!” But I didn’t sit on my hands for the last 2 weeks to only look at an unopened pack. After all, there was the slimmest of chances that a Costanza Artist Proof was lurking in that pack. I know, I probably have a better chance of pulling the Babe Ruth card from those retail repacks at Wal Mart. But hey, isn’t that what ripping packs is all about?So Card 1 was the limited edition Air Bud card. It is numbered 43/45. As mentioned above, nothing I received is numbered higher than 90. As you can tell from the photo of the card, it lists the name, team name and number, which in this case is K9. The back of each card includes a quote from the subject, “Woof” for Buddy, and a little peek at highlights and background. The back of the cards have an older Topps set feel to them and it’s really a nice card stock. The cards are also very well centered, unlike my photos.Card 2 was Fulton Reed, the massive defenseman from The Mighty Ducks films. The card is numbered 90/90 and speaks of his time on Team USA as a member of The Bash Brothers with Dean Portman. It also includes the Hendrix logo and his position on the front, staying true to sport card design. If you’ve ever read my piece on The Video Superstore, you’ll know that this film was right in my wheelhouse, along with others that are covered in the set. Nostalgia from all angles!Card 3 was Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield) from “Back to School” and is also numbered 90/90. This was another classic from the video store days. This film was later in Dangerfield’s career but he still had the pizazz to woo the Hidden Valley Ranch spokeswoman from back in the day, Sally Kellerman. He was also the master of “The Triple Lundy” and has one of the better card quotes, “With the shape I’m in, you could donate my body to science fiction.” The card includes a diving logo on the front and a background of the high dives from GLU.Card 4 is a classic! Hamilton “Ham” Porter from the Sandlot, numbered 89/90. Of course you see the photo but was there any question what his quote would be? It’s what he is famous for and I have owned shirts over the years that shout it! “You’re killing me Smalls!” His character made the film for me back in the day and I couldn’t have been happier with my Sandlot pull! It even had the year in the top left corner, “1962.”Even though I love the Ham card, I saved the best for last. Card #5 is none other than Rocky Balboa himself! A beautiful card with a blue border and red, white and blue stripes, which every knows was Balboa’s signature colors when he defended his dear friend Apollo Creed’s (and the mighty USofA’s) honor in his bout with Ivan Drago, who is also included in the set by the way. I now have a Trading Card that features Rocky Balboa, who was also Rambo, Cobra and Lincoln Hawk! This one was numbered 90/90 and the quote is a great one; “Going in one more round when you don’t think you can – that’s what makes all the difference in your life.”
This card pack has made a big difference in my life as a collector and I could not be happier with the card selection, design, packaging and most importantly, the artwork in this set. This has been an amazing “non-traditional” trading card few weeks for me. First, I got my first set of “Welcome to The Show.” If you haven’t made that purchase yet, I don’t know what you’re waiting for. I’ve already ordered my second set. Then I finally added some Cuyler Smith Trading Cards to my collection. I’m about to get my second pack of that as well! Unfortunately, time may be out on some of these cards but go look for yourself on the links I’ve provided above. He’s also on twitter under the handle @cuylersmith. His twitter feed will lead you to the link to purchase these amazing cards. If you’re intrigued like I was last year, don’t make the mistake I made and wait too long to get on the site. These will go fast! Score is obvious in this one!
Dub Score – 5