Sunday, December 21, 2008

The problem with sketch cards (Part 2)

This is spin-off of my earlier post from October 5th.

So what's in a name?

In the case of Topps' Indiana Jones Masterpieces, not a lot. The draw, no pun intended, is the tiring inclusion of sketch cards. But what more did we expect? People would feel cheated without them. And I know George Lucas and his crew probably aren't letting props or costumes loose for cards.

There are some great sketch cards, but it would be no fun to show those off, now would it? Instead, I wanted to get four or five bad sketches and show them off. All images courtesy of eBay, and unfortunately it only took me a few minutes to locate them.

1) Indiana Jones silhouette - basically just a blob of ink. I'm assuming it is supposed to be Indy himself, but based on the sizable "lump" on the back it could be Joseph Merrick wearing a Castro Hat, with a hint of Abraham Lincoln's chin thrown in.


2) Sankara Stone from Temple of Doom - I think. It could be the top of a beetle from Raiders for all I know. The point is, it's an oval with three amorphous shapes. No shading, nothing. Really a poor excuse for Masterpieces.


3) I call this one "Test Tube With Squiggles". I think it's from Temple of Doom as well. It's pretty lousy. At least it has some color. Maybe sellers will get a premium for this one.


4) The Grail - this one isn't good enough to be the cup of a carpenter, much less THE carpenter (or even someone from The Carpenters). It has a nice symmetry to it, but c'mon, a Masterpiece? Far from it. No shading, nothing. I realize it's just a cup, but even a cup wants to be something more than this.


5) I was on the fence about this one. It has a certain style to it that looks intentionally sloppy, and I'm all for that. It has a sort of kinetic motion that reminds me of Pigpen's "filth cloud" on Charlie Brown. However, the German pugilist in the sketch has no legs, and his right arm looks like something from a video game that would shoot poison darts or something. An "A" for effort, a "D" for execution.



It is worth noting that Topps did try something a little different by including press plates in Masterpieces. Some collectors like them, but coming from a hockey background where there was a huge glut of them, I see plates as little more than a novelty. Some sellers have crazy BINs, so needless to say, those plates aren't moving right now.

Topps also had fold out "panoramic" sketch cards as well. When I get a chance I'll see how long it takes to find four of five questionable sketches of those, too. I got quite disgusted by the above, so I haven't been looking for Indy sketches much these days.

Also, I will admit that the base set for Masterpieces is quite beautiful. But should that really be a bragging point? Shouldn't base sets be nice anyway? I'll just wait and pick up a base set for $2 pretty soon and leave it at that.