Monday, April 19, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 81

Cast of Characters:
Paul: age 37
Mal: my wife
Brian: a customer, friend, and artist


In the early 1990’s, many collectors began to collect what were commonly called “non-sports cards.” These were trading cards that were based on movies, television shows, music, monsters, and many more subjects that had nothing to do with sports. These kinds of cards have been produced for almost one hundred years but they were not as popular as baseball, basketball, or football cards. There were exceptions of course. The Beatles cards from 1965, The Batman cards of 1966, and the Star Wars cards from the late 1970’s all sold huge quantities.

My friend Brian and I were both collecting old toys and we attended many local toy conventions together. Brian and I had successfully worked together on our book about the merchandising of the TV show of “The Man From Uncle,” titled “The Toys From Uncle” and we thought it would be both fun and profitable to create a series of trading cards based on old toys. We figured that a set of trading cards that pictured popular toys from the 1950’s through the 1970’s would appeal to both toy collectors and card collectors.

Neither of us had a computer at the time and digital photography wasn’t available yet so this whole project had to be done “the old-fashioned way.” We picked out some interesting toys out of our own collections and began snapping pictures of each item. Brian was designated as the creative member of our team because of his artistic ability and he worked on making the set-up and backgrounds look interesting. We would take multiple photographs of each toy and then we’d send the film out to be developed. There were no “One-Hour Photo” stores in those days so we would anxiously wait for three or four days to see if the pictures were actually any good. Frequently we weren’t satisfied with the photos so we had to retake the pictures. After a few weeks of trying to get decent photographs of the toys we decided to get the help of a professional photographer. There was a photographer in my hometown of Bolton who had a great reputation as a superior professional. Brian and I packed up a few boxes of rare and valuable toys and went to the photographer’s studio. Brian would select the background colored cardboard and set up each toy in an interesting position and the photographer would adjust the lighting and take the picture. I just stood around because I trusted Brian’s judgment when it came to the artistic side. After a very long day with this photographer we realized that he didn’t really care about our project enough to justify the huge additional cost for his services. We’d have to go back to taking the photos ourselves.

Brian worked full-time as a schoolteacher and I was very busy running my two collectible stores so we had to squeeze this project into our already busy schedules. We were both committed to making this set of trading cards a success so we were willing to make the time. In the middle of this project my situation changed. The real estate agent that had been trying to find me a larger store location called me with an interesting piece of property.

Next chapter: I make an offer on an interesting commercial building.
Picture: Our new product, Classic Toys Trading Cards

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