The Beckett Blog

NFL Players Get Creative on Topps Five Star Sketch Cards by tolentinotown
January 13, 2011, 11:48 am
Filed under: Beckett Media, NFL, Topps | Tags: , , , , , , ,

By Andrew Tolentino | Assistant Editor

Topps announced today that collectors will be able to see the creative sides of pro football players in the upcoming Five Star product.

Lending their artistic talent (sometimes better referred to as “effort”) on player sketch cards, athletes like Tony Romo (whose effort is pictured above), LaDainian Tomlinson and Tim Tebow add a unique allure to the high-end line. Hand drawn by NFL standouts, each one of one illustration is signed on the back by the respective footbartist.

This makes for an interesting means of getting more than just autographs from Romo, Tomlinson, Tebow, Reggie Wayne, Vincent Jackson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Roddy White, Matthew Stafford, C.J. Spiller, Matt Ryan, Mike Williams, Aaron Hernandez and more.

Set to release in late February, Topps Five Star Football is loaded with high-end hits, some of which might even end up at The Met.

You won’t find this one in packs of 2010 Topps Update by Chris Olds

By Chris Olds | Editor

Every week, there are boxes addressed to me here at Beckett Media and sealed inside are all kinds of treasures — sealed boxes from Panini America and Topps that include our Box Busters boxes and an occasional prize or two for the collectors out there.

And even though ripping open those boxes often feels like Christmas Day (or something), they’re all items I never get to keep.

But as I checked my email today — after a couple less-frazzled days off — I found a message asking for my address so I can have a mailday of my own.

It was from Nathan Sprenkle, one of the artists who took blank You Sketch It! cards from 2010 Topps Series 2 and created what are now rare You Sketched It! insert cards in 2010 Topps Update.

Here’s what he wrote:

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Card gallery: 2010 Topps Update You Sketched It! cards by Chris Olds
November 16, 2010, 1:44 pm
Filed under: Card gallery, MLB, Topps | Tags: , , , , ,

By Chris Olds | Editor

You might not have noticed them buried deep in the sea of odds on wrappers of 2010 Topps Update baseball cards, but the set includes the first collector-created Sketch Cards ever released into a pack.

A limited number of those blank sketch cards found in packs of 2010 Topps Series 2 have been returned with added ink, pencil or other media and are framed as 1/1s and found in packs. (We’ll not bother telling you the odds in Update. It’s a bit depressing.)

Topps recently teased a few of the cards that are found in Update packs.

See a gallery of the images after the jump.

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Details are Sketchy for 2010 Topps Football . . . But You Could Win by Tracy Hackler

Equip an NFL superstar rookie with nothing more than a pen, a 2 1/2-by-by-3 1/2-inch blank cardboard canvas and his own imagination and the results can be amazing, amusing and absolutely revealing.

Indeed, just when you think you’ve seen it all in the envelope-pushing arena of sports trading cards, Topps brings its brilliantly simple, genuinely refreshing athletes-as-Sketch-Card-artists concept to 2010 Topps Football following a successful debut in 2009 Topps WWE earlier this year.

At last month’s NFL Players Rookie Premiere, Topps officials asked each of the 35 players in attendance to draw, doodle or jot down whatever they wanted (provided it was in good taste) on an authentic Topps sketch card; 26 of the players ended up taking Topps up on its unique request. As a result, the pad-clad Picassos hand-crafted some of the most memorable Sketch Cards to date.

(Actually, 27 players obliged but one artist’s proof was not necessarily appropriate for packout.)

“They liked the idea and some of them really got into it,” says Clay Luraschi, Topps’ Director of Product Development. “There were no parameters.  We let them draw whatever they wanted.”

That included, among other things, a version of Master Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, some entertaining self portraits, some captivating play calls and some simple scribbles that ended up being dead giveaways.

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Topps’ “You Sketch It” cards bring interactivity to a new level by Chris Olds

Collectors often clamor for more interaction with trading card companies — feeling the need to tell them their demands while also telling them what they don’t like, telling them what they do like and more.

Sometimes, for varying ego-related reasons, individuals insist they should appear on a card inside a Topps wrapper, too.

Now, they can … sort of.

Found in packs of the upcoming 2010 Topps Series 2 baseball cards will be Topps “You Sketch It” cards that have blank fronts that can be drawn upon and sent back to Topps for the chance to possibly win a prize (according to sales materials) and potentially have their sketch cards inserted into future Topps products for collectors to discover.

Talk about interactive and potentially influential for a product. A crowd-sourced baseball card set? If they’re good, it could be interesting. Who wouldn’t want to find their card in a pack?

Here’s what the back of the card says:

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***NOW CLOSED*** FREE STUFF FRIDAY (4-23) Contest No. 5 — A BGS 9 2010 Breygent Cartoon Sketch Philly Non-Sport Show Betty Boop promo card (courtesy of Breygent; only available at next week’s show) by Chris Olds

We’re back with another Free Stuff Friday our weekly ritual where we try and get some cool stuff into the hands of our readers just for answering some simple card-related trivia.

How can you win? Follow the directions below and answer the questions below in a comment right here …  it’s that simple.

Tips: Don’t try stuffing the comments box — we’ll check IP addresses — and make sure to include your name and email address so you can be contacted if you win. (Also note that you will see your comment on your screen after posting but that does not indicate its order of posting as it has not yet been approved. WordPress’ time-stamping of comments once all are approved will determine the winner.)

Get the question(s) after the jump …

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Preview Gallery: Topps Star Wars Galaxy Series 5 Sketch Cards by Chris Olds

Topps released on Thursday a sneak peek at some of the Sketch Cards that will be found in its forthcoming Star Wars Galaxy trading card set, the latest in a long line of sets focused on the sci-fi franchise.

The Sketch Cards will be found one per hobby box and there are more than 100 artists whose work can be found inside the packs of the art-based brand when it arrives later this month. (See a bit more here.)

Among the artists whose work is seen here are Gabe Farber, Russ Walks, Katie Cook-Wilcox, Tim Proctor, Mark McHaley, Nina Edlund, Nolan Woodard and Joe Corroney.

See more of the cards after the jump.

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Topps’ Star Wars Galaxy 5 changes shape of sketch cards by Chris Olds

Topps‘ latest in its long line of rather forceful Star Wars sets arrives in February adding a new twist on the Sketch Card market.

Some of the Sketch Cards are die-cut.

Star Wars Galaxy 5 will include Sketch Cards shaped like Darth Maul and like Emperial soldiers (right) as well as Manga-style sketches. In all, more than 100 artists will contribute to the Sketch Card lineup in the product that revolves around an artistic look at the sci-fi franchise.

The base set (sample card above) will consist of 120 cards — past notable artwork as well as newly commissioned pieces — and there will be foil cards found in four versions: silver, bronze, gold and 1/1 prismatic styles.

See more cards — and get a closer look at some sketches — after the jump.

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Topps’ upcoming National Chicle set isn’t just about the players… it’s also about the artists by Chris Olds


The forthcoming Topps National Chicle football card set is a nod to one of football’s most famed sets from the 1930s but it’s also one that has a modern-day nod as well.

Of the last few years, artists have had a growing influence on trading cards — from non-sports sets comprised solely of comic book art to Sketch Cards that have appeared in countless non-sports sets as well as more and more sports sets.

It’s a trend that seems to be growing in acceptance even though it’s really been there since the early days of Topps and the even earlier days of trading cards. It’s a trend that seems to indicate that collectors realize that it’s not all about a photograph and some certain design formula.

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Baseball artist Monty Sheldon to commemorate 90th anniversary of Black Sox with eight sketch cards by Chris Olds

An example of Monty Sheldon's sketch cards -- a past Sheldon’s Sketch Card Champions card of "Shoeless" Joe Jackson.

Noted baseball artist Monty Sheldon is commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Black Sox scandal with a series of eight hand-drawn and intricately detailed pencil sketch cards that he will complete, unveil and sell on the anniversary of each game from the 1919 World Series.

His “Eight Men Out” concept is an interesting piece of self-promotion — he already sells his Sheldon’s Sketch Card Champions cards, which are part of a larger set weekly on eBay (user rube77) — but this project will acknowledge the history of the game and, with the auctions’ subjects and timing, also perhaps bring some attention to one of baseball’s more interesting stories.

But it’s also a project that ties into his creative past.

“When I first started painting on baseballs back in 1998, I knew the following year would be the 80th anniversary of the Black Sox scandal, and I finished painting a baseball of each player to correspond with each game’s date,” Sheldon said on Friday afternoon. “Back then, that group of baseballs proved to be quite popular when I would display them at the card shows.

“Now, it is 10 years later, and I wanted to add something special to my sketch card set, so the 90th anniversary set made perfect sense.”

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At the National: Video Palooza by Tracy Hackler


Beckett Media editors are hard at work capturing the sights, sounds and scenes of the 30th National Sports Collectors Convention on video. Just so you don’t miss any of the excitement, we’ve provided all the footage here:

Collector Cashes in on Error

Dave and Adam’s Lands Hobby Rarity

Walking the Show Floor

What’s It Like to Own a Michael Jordan Rookie Jersey?

Now That Is Celtic Pride

He Really Wants MMA Star Rich Franklin’s Autograph

Q&A with Sketch Card Artist Brian Kong

On the Floor and More

He’s a True Heisman Collector

Showcasing Press Pass’ Latest Products

What’s New with Upper Deck

Q&A with “The Professor”

Talking Basketball Cards with NBA Rookie Tyler Hansbrough

UFC’s Rich Franklin Talk’s Memorabilia & More

Now That’s Some Pricey Wax

Tyler Hansbrough Reads Beckett, Too

A New Take on Baseball Storage

BECKETT AT THE NATIONAL: Q&A with sketch card artist Brian Kong by Tracy Hackler

Sketch card artist Brian Kong, whose work is featured in this year’s Allen & Ginter baseball set, talked about his experiences with Beckett Media’s Tracy Hackler. Check it out…

First look: Brian Kong’s 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter cards by Chris Olds


Noted Sketch Card artist Brian Kong will have a 25-card insert set featuring his artwork in the 2009 Allen & Ginter baseball set from Topps.

Kong will have 25 cards in the product, which is in its fourth year and arrives on July 1. The 2006 and 2007 sets included artwork cards from Dick Perez.

You’ll be able to see a gallery of many more of Kong’s cards in the August issue of Beckett Sports Card Monthly.

For more on Kong’s work, visit

Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at

Artist Brian Kong partners with Beckett at The National by Chris Olds


Noted Sketch Card artist Brian Kong will be on hand at this year’s National Sports Collectors Convention in late July in Cleveland to showcase his work and offer a special bonus for collectors who decide to submit cards to Beckett Grading Services.

Collectors will have the chance to meet Kong and purchase or commission work as part of Beckett Media’s booth, but the first 50 collectors who place a $250 order with BGS will receive a Kong Sketch Card slabbed by BGS with a NSCC Beckett Exclusive label. (There is a limit of one sketch per person.)

If you’re not aware of Kong’s work, you will be. His work will be featured in this year’s Allen & Ginter baseball set from Topps.

See more of Kong’s work at and look for more on The National from Beckett in the coming days.

Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at

Solving a sketch card mystery … by Chris Olds
May 27, 2009, 2:15 pm
Filed under: MLB, Topps | Tags: , , , , ,


One of my favorite additions to the baseball card world this past year is the Sketch Card, which after years of appearing in non-sports packs, finally made its way into baseball cards beginning with Topps sets late last year.

But there is a drawback to those one-of-a-kind miniature pieces of artwork that picture baseball players and not iconic figures such as Darth Vader or Superman.

It’s the baseball sketch card whodunnit — though in this case we know who did it (an artist named Graham) — it’s a whoisit.

Yours truly trekked across Dallas on a late lunch hour Tuesday afternoon to pick up a certified mailing from Topps — a redemption card for a sketch from 2009 Series 1 baseball had finally arrived.

When I ripped open the envelope, the first thing I looked for was the artist’s name — then I struggled to determine who the player is.

I have a couple of leading candidates, but without a team logo or a name I’m not sure. And I’d rather not influence your ideas — so, who do you think it is? Leave a comment below.

Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at

Preview Gallery: Paul Lempa’s 2009 Topps Series 2 Sketch Cards by Chris Olds


The second series of 2009 Topps baseball cards are less than a week away from their official release date and we’ve got a sneak peek at 10 of the Sketch Cards that will be found in packs.

New Jersey-based artist Paul Lempa, who we profiled in Beckett Baseball issue No. 42 in April, has graciously shared all of his miniature painting cards that are just 2.5 by 3.5 inches in size.

(We hate calling these miniature masterpieces sketches as they are intricately detailed paintings the size of baseball cards that literally take hours to produce. Scans of these cards really don’t do them justice, either, as the texture and subtle shades of color in nearly every region of Lempa‘s cards are fascinating.)

And you’ll note we said all of his cards as each artist for Series 2 has reportedly only produced 10 Sketch Cards apiece for the product — expect an official announcement from Topps on that before the product’s release on Wednesday — meaning they just might be some of the best Sketch Cards ever seen.

See them all after the jump.

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Box Busters: 2009 Topps baseball cards by Chris Olds


Do you want to see what comes out of a pair of freshly produced boxes of 2009 Topps baseball cards?

Click on the logo above or click here for the latest episode of Box Busters.

Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at