We’re willing to bet that whether or not you think baseball, or baseball cards, are cool, you probably think monsters are cool. Who doesn’t think monsters are cool? And if an artist took a bunch of famous baseball players and illustrated them as really awesome, creepy, scary monsters to put on baseball cards, well, you’d probably think that’s cool too.
We hope so at least because that’s exactly what’s happened. The artist in question is Alex Pardee, best known for detailed, stringy, bright art that’s usually creepy and scary even if it’s of something cute. This year Pardee was recruited by Topps to help with a project called Project 70, an initiative celebrating the 70th anniversary of the company in which artists create unique baseball cards that could never have existed. Modern players on old designs, old players on new designs, or sometimes players if they were the Predator, a zombie, or a skeleton.
Matching players to a monster was rarely easy. Sometimes, like New York Mets star Pete Alonso, it was. He’s already called “the Polar Bear.” But for most others, Pardee had to dive deep. “For the most part the ‘monster-application’ to the design happened literally when I was drawing the cards,” Pardee told Gizmodo. “I would research photos of them, or read their wiki pages, or watch highlight reels, and sometimes ideas would pop up.”
So you get a stellar third baseman like Pittsburgh Pirates star Ke’bryan Hayes with a ton of arms like a spider. A dual threat like Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani as a Malignant-esque set of conjoined twins, and on and on. “I started researching current/modern players and found out that there’s some really FUN players out there now,” Pardee said. “Younger players that genuinely look like they are having an amazing time playing. Players like Ronald Acuna Jr, Fernando Tatis Jr, and Pete Alonso were all just smiling in highlight videos while they were dominating these games. So I decided I wanted to do about half older players and half modern players.”
io9 is exclusively revealing Pardee’s card for Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. right here for the first time. Just click the next slide to see him, followed by the rest of the series so far, which will include two more yet-to-be-released cards. For more info, you can visit Topps.com or @alexpardee on Twitter or Instagram.
Gizmodo Exclusive: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
With a name like “Vladimir,” this Blue Jays superstar just had to be a vampire, right? It’s Pardee’s first in the series and you’re seeing him here first.
This card arrives on Wednesday, January 19 between 11 a.m. and noon EST on Topps.com. It will only be available for 70 hours and will cost $US20 ($28). Now onto the rest of the series.
Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson was rather fast.
Fernando Tatis Jr.
Here Pardee does Tatis Jr. as a Predator. But Predators don’t see like that so…
Fernando Tatis Jr. Variant
He also did a Predator thermal vision variant.
Shohei Ohtani is the first player in decades to not just pitch and hit in the American League, to be freaking amazing as both. Which is why he’s seen here with a second half.
Ronald Acuña Jr.
The young, hungry superstar from the current World Series champions has some mighty big teeth here.
Rollie Fingers was known for his great name, great pitching, and great mustache.
Ken Griffey Jr.
When I played Fantasy Baseball we had a saying. “It’s never iffy, if it’s Griffey.” That has nothing to do with this card but I’ve always wanted to type that.
Bryce Harper is a beast and, well, here he is.
Who is the Greatest Of All Time in terms of baseball? Probably Babe Ruth. Hence, the GOAT.
Cal Ripken Jr.
Ripken was called the “Iron Man” because he never missed a game, so this one is pretty easy.
Current Yankees star Aaron Judge is very strong and here you see those muscles on the outside.
To be honest I don’t know why early ‘80s Pirates star Dave Parker is dressed as Jason Voorhees. His nickname was Cobra. Still cool though.
According to Pardee, Mets star Pete Alonso is one of the only players to reach out and tell him he loved the card.
“I think his card may be one that I am super proud of simply for how ridiculous it is,” Pardee said. “I had such a left-field obscure idea for what I wanted to do that I didn’t think it was going to get approved at all but it did!”
“Dennis Eckersley’s nickname was ‘ECK,’ and one of my favourite movies is Mars Attacks, and in Mars Attacks, the aliens scream ‘ACK ACK.’ I realised that Topps created the original Mars Attacks property, and that they still own the IP rights to Mars Attacks, so my idea was to create Dennis Eckersley AS a Mars Attacks alien screaming ‘ECK ECK.’ And to my absolute surprise, it worked. That was cool.”
Hall of Famer and star of Little Big League Randy Johnson threw a mean fastball.
Willie Mays as a werewolf? Yup. Sure. Willie Mays as a werewolf.
To play third base, you have to be very athletic. Or have a lot of arms like a spider.
Trout is one of the best players of all time. He’s almost more than a man.
That’s it for now but there are two more cards coming in the next few weeks. To purchase the cards (most of which, unfortunately, are sold out) or find more information, visit Topps.com or @alexpardee on Twitter or Instagram.