Friday, April 20, 2018

2018 brewersNOW is LIVE and In-Hand!

It’s been a heck of a thing to see my fun little idea (or call to revolution, if you took my hyperbole to heart) about creating a custom living set for this year’s Milwaukee Brewers inspire fellow collectors to try the same with their favorite teams. Nick Vossbrink did a very nice SABR blog piece on the idea, which included some of my mock-ups, as well as of those of Battlin’ Bucs, who is doing a set of front-only Pirates UD Documentary-style cards in a beeyootiful 1960 style, and Nick’s own set of 1993-inspired GiantsNOW cards.

Lacking the design skills of … well, anything beyond MS Paint, my idea was to use the Rookie App to build my cards in one of their pre-made templates. I had a lot of fun just playing around in the app, but I was a little worried about the end product. First off, I wasn’t sure if they’d let me do it, what with copyright stuff and all. Second, I wasn’t sure how these cards would look as a finished product, especially in terms of photo quality. The first of these concerns was eliminated earlier this week, when I got a notice that my order had printed and would soon ship. Whew. Good thing I went ahead and secured permissions to use all of those photos, eh? Yeah…

The second issue was solved today, when I got my first pack of 2018 brewersNOW (a title that just kind of happened… not sure how I feel about it) in the afternoon mail.

The cards come in a faux-wax back, which is a nice touch. And when I finally tore this sucker open, I was very happy with what I found.

The photo quality was excellent, as good as I could have hoped for. I might need some help from Nick on the terminology here (maybe I’ll send him one to examine), but they look a lot like junk product from the 80s or early 90s, with the images that certain kind of grainy. Personally, I think they look fantastic. I was worried about pixelization, but there was none of that to be found.

The colors are bright and sharp on this Pat Murphy card, one of my favorites from this first bunch.

And how about this oddity... a "pinch hitter" card. Ji-Man had one PA before being send down this year. So I went with his primary position thus far. 

Here is as nice a close-up as my phone camera would allow. You can see that the stripes in the design have a bit of back-drop to them… not a design element I would have used, but overall, I really dig how these look.

In the true spirit of 1980s Topps, I even ended up with a mis-matched color scheme, with blue and orange repping the blue-n-gold Brewers. I know I’ve complained about this in the past, but I think it works here. Yellow was not even an option on this particular design, and I think it would have come out too light anyway.

The cards have a unique “feel” to them. Not like anything from the 80s that I can recall. The fronts are matte, but still pretty slick. The nearest product I can think of is 1994 O Pee Chee, but even that isn’t really correct.

The design templates have some limitations. Here, I had to go horizontal on the photo to make it fit. I don’t hate this, but I’ll probably try to avoid as I build the set.

And yeah, we’ve got some errors. Here, you can see that I used the tag “2018 Highlight” on the first two cards of the highlight series and “2018 Season Highlight” on the rest. This works OK, considering the first two are Spring Training cards and the rest are regular season. So I can live with that. But shame on me for dropping the T on that card on the top.

Speaking of which…

Who wore it better? I got the first (and probably only) Topps Now card I’ll get this year earlier in the week.

Personally, I think my copy is better, even with the typo.

I decided on making the players and the highlights two different sets. I was having fits trying to figure out the numbering for these, so breaking them into series was the easiest solution. For the Highlight backsides, I went with this 87-inspired look. I have room for about 74 words of text, a quick linescore and a big-ass brand name.

About that type… it’s tiny. Yeah, I’m not crazy about that.

The backs of the player cards are much easier to read. I added a uni number space to the heading and a vital info line just below. These offer room for about 50 words of copy and a single-sentence “fun fact.”

Overall, I’m thrilled with how these turned out. I’m working on the next “series” right now, with about 12 cards designed. I’m eager to get some more of these but, at around $16 per 20 card series, I am aware that this endeavor could get pretty pricey pretty quick. But screw it. If the Brewers keep making highlights, it’ll be worth it.


  1. They came out great! You know, for Brewers cards.

    If I could get somebody to print out my cards in this quality, I'd dive right in. The printing process is the worst part.


  2. Very cool! I love the photo you chose for that Chase Anderson card (hopefully it's not a photo-variation SSSSSSSSSP!).