Saturday Morning Cardtoons

When I was a kid, I lived for waking up on Saturday mornings and camping out in front of the TV for cartoons.  Cartoons didn’t mess around in the 80’s.  Today, they probably wouldn’t seem kid friendly and we’re sometimes even kinda violent but I loved them.  Seriously, watch an old Tom and Jerry cartoon today.  Jerry will chase after Tom with a 2 foot butcher knife while Tom tries to split Jerry in half with an ax!  All the while Spike is trying to eat Tom and protect Jerry.  Maybe you don’t have kids and aren’t experiencing today’s cartoons but trust me, the stuff we used to watch would never pass the ratings test today.  Mickey Mouse Clubhouse teaches how to count and spell while the Mickey Mouse I watched as a kid chased Pluto around and called him a stupid mutt.Looney Tunes wasn’t a whole lot better.  Remember Elmer Fudd hunting Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny?  How many times did Daffy or Bugs make the barrel of the shotgun bend around and shoot Elmer?  Would you let your kids watch cartoons with shotguns today?  I watch anything and everything on TV but I am careful about what my kids watch.  Well, except for one cartoon exception I’ll get to in a minute.  What about Wiley Coyote and Road Runner?  They tried their best to murder each other for entire episodes.  There was poisoned food, anvils and rockets all being used to end the life of the opposing cartoon character.  Many times so one could eat the other.  Let that sink in the next time you think something your kid is watching may be too violent.

Then there were actual fighting cartoons like Transformers, He-Man, Thundercats, Mask and GI Joe.  The entire cast of characters were weaponized and had special fighting skills.  Transformers was my personal favorite but He-Man was pretty big for a while too.  I remember having the Castle of Grayskull toy with He-Man, Battle Cat, Skeletor, Man at Arms and Panthor.  My favorite toy though was Man E Faces because you could rotate his head inside his helmet and he could change into a monster.  I spent many hours battling for the supremacy of Eternia.  Man, I miss He-Man!As I got older, The Simpsons were introduced and I lived on that for quite a while.  I was never as big of a Simpson’s guy as my cousin Adam but I watched it on the regular.  Adam had the Nintendo games and collector cards for Simpsons.  He could also quote all the lines from the Itchy and Scratchy Show.  We then moved to Ren and Stimpy and I can still sit down and watch an episode if I catch it on late at night.  My favorite episode was when they played the board game, “Don’t Whiz On The Electric Fence.”  As you can see, the cartoons got more R rated as I got older.The one that I still watch today, and will let my daughter watch on occasion, when I know it’s a reasonable episode, is King of the Hill.  I actually have my DVR set to record it every night and I will go on a binge from time to time and rip off 5 or 6 episodes in a sitting.  I have seen them all multiple times but they never get old.  Hank Hill is a man’s man and he lives life the right way.  I can quote most of the episodes and even try to do a “Damnit Bobby” impression from time to time.  I only imagine that Nathan Gunderson is living a life like Hank because that’s the way it is in Texas.What does this have to do with baseball cards?  Well in 1993, the two combined to produce a unique baseball card product called Cardtoons.  This was a 95 card parody set that included MLB player cartoons on the front and crazy highlights on the back.  And while they are dated ’93, they weren’t actually released until later in ’94.  I remember finding them childish when they came out because I was trying to find Tony Gwynn autographs and $100 Elite inserts.  My opinion has changed a little since then.  I now see them as pretty interesting and a humorous look back at players from the 80’s and 90’s.  They aren’t very valuable but they are pretty fun.  There’s also a pretty interesting lawsuit you can read about in which MLB sued Cardtoons because they didn’t have an MLB license.  The courts found that a parody card didn’t fall into the category of a reproduction and Cardtoons eventually won the case.The box I have for this post includes 36 packs with 8 cards per pack.  The checklist was pretty solid for early 90’s and they even had 5 insert sets.  The most sought after of the inserts were the Grand Slam Foil cards.  They were tough to pull back when I couldn’t buy a full box.  Not that I ever wanted a full box of Cardtoons back when I was 16, but the foil cards were really cool.  In fact, I like the art on the cards and I think the cards would probably be more sought after if they were inserts as opposed to parodies.  So let’s check out the box break.

Rambo Canseco
Mark McBash

Ryne Sandbox

Ozzie Myth

Tony Twynn

Reggie October

Cal Ripkenwinkle

Will Clock

Franken Thomas

Ken Spiffy Jr.

Just Air Jordan

I was able to pull something from all 5 Insert sets and they were actually more fun than I remember.  The Field of Greed 9 card insert set formed a larger photo which was a pretty bold shot at the previous work stoppages and the current state of the game with the ’94 Strike.  My favorites though are the Foil inserts.  The photos really don’t do them justice as they are very colorful and striking.

The Politics
Field Of Greed

The Replacements

Big Bang Bucks

Grand Slam Foil

And lastly….My Atlanta Braves

This set was not welcomed by the MLBPA and Cardtoons was pretty blunt about what they thought of the strike.  You have to remember that this was a very difficult time for baseball.  The fans were very upset with what was going and many of us were turning away from baseball and card collecting because of it.  The strike was a big reason for me entering my Dark Period.  It’s all water under the bridge 23 years later and the cards can be taken as just a part of the culture at that time.  I enjoyed ripping this box and was very pleased with my Foil pickups.  I put the whole set together, including the Field of Greed and Politics insert sets.  The box only cost $13 and the cards were all in good shape and held up well over time.If you’re in a silly mood and want to go back and enjoy some art cards, this is a box to try.  The names are a little bit of a reach at times but the art saves most of the corny comedy.  I am probably leaning towards a 4 on the Dub-O-Meter because it’s a cheap box, the art is good and the Foil cards are excellent.  Don’t expect a lot of “bang” outside of the Foil but the backs of the cards do have some funny tidbits.  So while it’s not the King of the Hill when it comes to sportscards, it’s definitely better than Thundarr the Barbarian.


Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

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