Once the hottest product in Topps’ arsenal, Project 70, a set created to celebrate Topps’ 70 years in baseball, appears to be headed for disaster. Two weeks ago, we had Ohtani-Gate, which caused a 4-day stoppage of new Project 70 cards and was canceled after collectors had placed their orders, leaving many upset with Topps. Now we have an even worse case of infringement as supposed artist, King Saladeen, has very clearly stolen artwork created by Pop Fly Pop Shop’s Daniel Jacob Horine.
Instagram account ‘cmi_creators’, who was the first to post the Project 70 card a day before its release, quickly removed the image but the internet always remembers. Horine, clearly annoyed by Topps and King Saladeen, tweeted to his followers which quickly rallied collectors and had everyone talking. The problem is that Topps likely doesn’t have someone dedicated to researching every piece submitted to them by artists and with deadlines and an over 1,000 count checklist, these things are bound to happen.
At the same time, artists should have a little bit more self-respect when creating these cards. Running a photograph through image filters and Photoshopping backgrounds you found online does not constitute creating art. For example, Tyson Beck’s Jose Canseco #74 is clearly just an image with dozens of different filters applied to a well-known photo and the Golden Gate Bridge superimposed in the background. This is something any teen with a week’s worth of computer lessons can create and yet, 1,726 people purchased it.
Another “artist”, Ben Baller, literally takes a baseball card and applies a bunch of diamond filters. This is something I could do with a dozen different apps in the App Store. For some reason, collectors ate that shit up. So much so that Topps rewarded Baller with his own branded Chrome product. To return the favor, Baller, or Yang, as he doesn’t want you to call him, took a Topps Chrome card and burnt it live on his social media accounts, which have millions of followers.
Ultimately, 2021 Topps’ Project 70 will forever be known as the year they lost MLB to Fanatics. Maybe patting themselves on the back was not as important as say, fulfilling redemptions that go back half a decade or improving quality control and/or customer service but what do I know? If you’re still somehow heavily invested in Project 70, check out real artists involved in the project like Alex Pardee, Ermsy, Oldmanalan, etc. and avoid hacks like King Saladeen and Ben Baller.