My first question is how to pronounce this name? Is it like saying the word "gum" in Spanish, which is pronounced cheek-lay?
So back to the main discussion. What do I think of National Chicle? Well, basis the pictures that have been released the set looks very rough and unrefined. Certainly not a pile of art that I would be proud of, or is it? Let's compare some Chicle art to that of Masterpieces, which is one of my favorite sets ever!
These two pictures are just a small example of the gorgeous artwork that the masterpieces sets are. The 2007 and 2008 sets are full of well produced individual works of art that capture historic baseball moments in ways that every baseball fan can appreciate. Water color was the perfect medium with which to produce a set commemorating historic baseball moments. It gives a kinda hazy feeling to the images, depicting them as memories of the past rather than vivid images of the present. Now, that said, let's look at 2010 National Chicle:
Here are examples of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Now we all know that the Jackie Robinson is the good; however I'll leave you guys to decide for yourself which of the remaining two is the bad, and which is the ugly.
I want to start with the bad and the ugly. Putting the non-sense of these two cards aside, I want to take a look at the art. (If you want to read about the non-sense that Topps continues to produce please read Cardboard Junkie's take on the sitation, because I believe he hit it on the nose, and worte an all-time great post about the issue: view it here)
Chipper Jones, oops I mean Babe Ruth looks too flat in this image. There isn't enough depth to his body. We all know that a real painting of ruth would have some serious depth to it considering how round he was in '35. Also, the colors on this card are too garish. It is this concentration of color that continues to flatten the image. Don't even get me started on the fact that the foreshortening on his back shoulder is questionable.
The card of the mystery White Sox Player is also a funky work of art. This artist clearly has trouble depicting hands. The right hand of the White Sox player is quite petite and I shall refrain from critiquing the endless issues with the runner's hand. Also, this piece looks like it was done in colored pencils! I love color pencils but this drawing makes me feel like I need to get my eyes checked. the key with color pencils is to leave subordinate areas fuzzy while intensifying the focal points. In this case, the White Sock should be the focal point, and should have more detailed facial features and intensified shadowing to create good contrast. Oh wait, I forgot, if you give him more detailed facial features that would totally ruin the ambiguity of this player's identity. FU Topps.
Before we move on to the good in this set, I would like to cut these artists some slack. Art is very hard. It takes time to produce, and time is money. I tend to favor pieces of realism such as:
"Entombment" done by Carravagio
However, if we were hold our baseball art to such standards it is likely that we would be paying more money for packs of Chicle than we would for a box of Topps Stearling. The type of art featured on cards must be produced efficiently.
Let's look at some of what I believe to be the good in this set.
Very solid work of art. Intense background but the hierarchy is established by the detail work on Jackie vs. the simplified forms of the background. Also, the the two parts are tied together by incorporating the tones of the sky in the tones of Jackie's skin. I like this card.
Very nice relic card. The picture is nicely coordinated with the theme of the card. Mickey is holding bats on a bat relic card. The artist executed this piece in a way that makes the glow of Mickey's smile resonate throughout his body. I actually have a 1/1 Sketch card of mickey boasting a similar smile, and I absolutely love it!
This is another solid work of art. Great depiction of Stan's jersey. I actually believe the way in which it is stretched across his shoulder unlike the Chipper's back shoulder on his card. Also, a very nicely depicted expression on Stan's face.
I am torn when it comes to this piece. The shadows on Pujols' jersey are not pronounced enough. They are too fuzzy and need to have darker darks. However, from the shoulders up, this is a beauty. Another great expression and a nicely done helmet.
I believe that this set will be more widely collected than people currently believe. I also tend to think that there will be way more examples of pleasant art than of artistic atrocities. The art will probably be more impressive in person than the online pictures. I myself, will pursue this set, if only because I love to analyze the art on cards. People will most likely buy a lot of these cards despite complaining about the set the entire time.