1994-95 Action Packed Hall of Fame Prototype Cards

Two promos hint at what could have been a memorable set

Action Packed Hockey Hall of Fame #BH1 - Bobby Hull Action Packed Hockey Hall of Fame #BH2 - Bobby Hull Gold
Action Packed is best known for the “puffy” football card sets they produced in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Their cards were akin to a topographical map; the player’s image was embossed, raising it off of the surface of the card, giving it a 3-dimensional quality unlike any other cards.

But in the early 1990s, Action Packed tried to get into the hockey card market. Unable to secure a license to make standard-sized cards of current players, Action Packed planned on releasing a Hockey Hall of Fame set. Two promo cards of Bobby Hull were issued in 1993 to show off what the set was going to look like. But then the set never came out.

So, what happened?

According to the March 1994 issue of Beckett Hockey Monthly, Action Packed had difficulty finding suitable photographs for their set, which was initially planned to hit shelves in February of 1994.

“It’s very hard to find good photos of the older players, [spokeswoman Laurie] Goldberg explains. “Besides shooting indoors, photographers had to deal with poor lighting and reflections off the ice. We didn’t want to put subpar photos on the cards.” (page 76)

The article further states…

Although a Hall of Fame set could be ready for shipment by this summer, Goldberg says Action Packed will wait until the start of the 1994-95 season to release the set.

“Our research shows shipping hockey in the middle of summer isn’t the right time from an interest standpoint,” she notes.

And we all know how the 1994-95 season played out. Although we do not know the exact reason this set did not come out, it is probable that the lockout led to its ultimate demise.

All we are left with are two cards of Bobby Hull that hint at what could have been.

Action Packed Hockey Hall of Fame #BH1 - Bobby HullThe standard card, like most other cards made by Action Packed, features an embossed player photo.The card has a nice depth to it–Hull’s body is raised off of the surface of the card in varying degrees. For example, his arm is actually raised higher than his leg (since his arm overlaps his leg). The wrinkles on his uniform are textured, too. The card is printed full-bleed (no borders) and has rounded corners.

Notice the Stanley Cup icon in the upper-right corner. We can assume that any player who won a Stanley Cup sometimes during their career would have this icon on their card.

Action Packed Hockey Hall of Fame #BH1 - Bobby Hull (back)The back of the card has biographical information about Hull, as well as the word “Prototype” along the left edge. Three things are particularly interesting about the card back:

  1. The upper-right corner says “1983 Player.” Hull was inducted in 1983 in the player category, obviously. But what this insinuates is that non-player members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, such as builders, officials and broadcasters, would also be included.
  2. Hull’s career stats include his 7 seasons in the World Hockey Association. Most hockey sets gloss over or totally ignore anything accomplished in the WHA, so it is interesting to note that this one would actually acknowledge the rival league to some extent.
  3. The picture on the right is of the puck from Hull’s 545th career goal. Perhaps every card would feature some sort of artifact from the person’s career.

A gold version of the promo card–numbered BH2–was also released. While it is fitting to have a gold-colored card of the man nicknamed “The Golden Jet,” the monochromatic look is not as interesting. That and the silver-colored Stanley Cup clashes with the design of the otherwise golden card.

Action Packed Hockey Hall of Fame #BH2 - Bobby Hull GoldAction Packed Hockey Hall of Fame #BH2 - Bobby Hull Gold (back)We can speculate that a gold-colored parallel set would have been issued too, seeing as how the card is basically the same as the colored version, but printed in black ink on gold foil.

Action Packed Hockey Hall of Fame Promo Card Wrapper
The wrapper for the promo cards.

Packs of Action Packed football and basketball usually contained 6 cards per pack. It is safe to assume that the Hockey Hall of Fame set would also include 6 cards per pack. But perhaps 1 of those 6 cards would have been a gold-colored parallel. By this time, parallel sets were an accepted part of the hockey card market, and such a parallel set could increase interest among collectors.

It is unfortunate that the Action Packed Hockey Hall of Fame set never saw the light of day. A comprehensive set of Hall of Fame trading cards has not been issued since 1987, so this would have provided something very different in the hockey card market at the time. And since this was referred to as Series 1 in the Beckett Hockey article, future sets were implied. Maybe Action Packed eventually planned on making a card of everyone in the Hall of Fame.

Panini America has owned the Action Packed name since buying the company in 1998. Since acquiring the license to make NHL cards in 2010, Panini has resurrected the Pinnacle, Score and Donruss brand of cards, Who knows–maybe one day they will dust off the Action Packed name and give fans a unique set of Hall of Fame cards.

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Time for a Contest
Give yourself a pat on the back for reading all the way to the end. Or, if you just scrolled to the bottom, give yourself a pat on the back for being impatient.

Anyway, I have an extra pair of these Action Packed prototype Bobby Hull cards. I will give them away to one lucky winner. Here is how to enter:

Post a reply and say you want to be in the contest – this gives you 1 entry in the contest.

– OR – 

Post a reply, say you want in, and then leave a comment if you would have bought this set in 1994 (or not), or why you think it did not come out, or anything in regard to this set-that-never-was. Let’s get a conversation started! This will give you 2 entries in the contest.

Feel free to comment as much as you want, but the maximum amount of entries anyone will be given in this contest is two (2).

At the end of the week, I will draw one lucky winner.

Good luck!

Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

22 thoughts on “1994-95 Action Packed Hall of Fame Prototype Cards”

  1. Great post and thanks for the contest. I would love to be in!

    In 1994 I was getting out of collecting cards like many people of my demographic so I suspect that I wouldn’t have likely picked this set up. But later in life, like now I might have been inclined to try and snatch up a set.

    This set might not have been released based on the declining size of the hockey card market (purchasers) and the fact that Pro Set had already declared bankruptcy. Action Packed might have also had trouble selling the 5000 or so sets of their HOF Induction set and realized there wasn’t a market for their cards.

    Neat side note about this photo, it certainly has been used a few times. UD recently used this photo on their 08-09 OPC retro card!

    1. Yeah, I’ve seen that photo of Hull enough times that I don’t really notice it anymore. It has been on at least one magazine or program cover, and I always see signed and unsigned copies of the photo at shows.

      Never thought about poor sales of the HHOF induction sets. But then again, you could only buy one at the HOF in Toronto. I would have gladly bought one in Chicago if I had the chance.

  2. Here is my first entry
    I would like to be entered into this contest.

    My second entry
    I most likely would have bought it as anything that pertained to hockey and was unique was on my radar. A HOF set does lend itself to being updated annually and would be something you could look forward to. The lockout probably did lead to a slow death. Also how could they compete against Donruss, Leaf , Classic and Parkhurst. LOL

    Sal, once again thanks for the contest and bringing some hockey card history to light.

  3. Entry one:
    Excellent post. I want to be in.

    Entry two:
    I didn’t collect hockey cards in ’94, so I wouldn’t have bought this. But I did collect baseball, football, and basketball. (Now I really only collect hockey.) From what I remember from football cards, the novelty of Action Packed was already wearing off by ’94. That left the frustrating, tedious process of storage. They fit in most sleeves, but being much thicker than normal cards and being 3 dimensional, they took up a lot more space. They weren’t worth the trouble or extra cost of storage. And the dominant color on those cards was gold, which wasn’t too terribly attractive.

    The Hull card looks like the way all Action Packed cards should’ve been done from their beginning. That’s a fantastic card. The brand may have had a longer run or even some staying power if they’d done that.

  4. I want in on this contest. I remember getting an Action Packed promo football card in an issue of Tuff Stuff back in the day. I never knew that there was a hockey themed set in the works. Maybe it was too much of a gamble, or maybe not enough interest in a hall of fame themed set. This was in a time when there were a lot more kids collecting than there are nowadays. So, maybe the felt that kids of the time wouldn’t have been interested in players who they weren’t that familiar with. I was 14-15 at the time, and if they were released, I only would have bought them if they were cheap enough. These days, I’d be all over it. Good write-up Sal!

  5. Still fairly new to the site, but as a bit of a rookie, I certainly am finding a lot of interesting reads about the hobby. I certainly would love to be apart of this contest as well!

    I think I have a different take on the conversation. For me I think I would have passed on this in 1994. At the time I was your typical 9 year old who was more interested in getting cards of Mario, Jagr and Francis than the hall of famers, many of whom had passed on by that point, much less had played while I was young enough to remember watching. In fact about the only thing I recall about Action Packed was that they were a card manufacturer for football or baseball or something that I had seen once somewhere. Fast forward to today where I have picked up the hobby again in the last year an a half and I have a much different opinion of the set. As I get into my mid 20’s and am garnering a much higher appreciation of the older sets (30’s, 70’s and the 1911 in particular) this appeals to me much more. I completely appreciate the artwork and where they were going with such rich shots that almost bring that moment back to life for a split second. I love the memorabilia aspect on the back of the card with the puck (in this case) as well as the intention of combining a players career professional totals in respect to the player being a member of the HHOF and not just the NHL. Even the silver Stanley Cup is a neat and unique touch that is as unusual as it is genius. Its a real shame they never went ahead with this set as I think we may have been robbed of something pretty special, especially in the early 90’s market full of mass-produced and in some sense, boring card sets (despite how I have a soft spot for 95-96 UD CC). As I said, couldn’t have cared less as a kid, but today I certainly have much appreciation.

    1. AJ, good point. Kids back then would not have cared. Especially those under 10. I remember buying a Hall of Fame card set when I was 14, and I was fascinated by it. Then again, I was a bit older, was interested in the historical aspect of hockey, and probably was just a weird kid 🙂

      1. Funny you should mention a wierd interest in history. I was very well read on European and North American history by the time I was 12. I guess for me hockey hadn’t caught up yet!
        I guess it goes along with the reasons companies put out sets. For example, we’d all like “The Cup” sets in our collection but that is meant for serious collectors who have the cash to put into the hobby. Thats why UD Series 1 and 2 sells so well as it is affordable, prestigious enough and keeps its value. Looking back to the mid 90’s I think we can all agree it was a changing of the guard so to speak. A lot of the older and veteran collectors seemed to loose interest or get annoyed at the large run sets everyone was pumping out. All of us young kids were buying up everything as it was cheap and easily accessible. I personally believe that they backed off with the fear there was going to be no market/not a large enough market to support the product based on who was buying. I believe there was a small market available who would have bought at the time which would have been the same people who today would go after the higher end/specialty stuff. If they re-launched today, I am 100% confident there would not only be a market, but much success as well.

  6. It Olympics time – count me in the race (contest). To be honest, i was not impressed when the football and baseball Action Packed cards came out. The glut of card makers was already too much.

    But now I would seriously consider it – especially to see what some mask-less Hall of Fame goalies would look like in 3-D !

    Une Jacques Plante trios-D, sil-vous-plait

  7. I want in.
    I might have bought it. Depends on the price. I was really into the 1988 Esso cards that included a lot of HHOF when they were out. By 1994 my interest in cards was non-existent. It might be a set I would try to collect today, depending on price and set size. Although picture quality would be a big issue. At the Toronto Sportscard Expo I got a freebie 3-d Bobby Hull card from a booth. It’s bigger than normal card and the back is just the company logo, ppopz3d.

  8. I would like to be in.

    I couldn’t have bought these cards in 1994 because I was not born yet, but I probably would have bought the prototypes. I have always been huge on the history of the sports I follow, so it would have been really cool for me to have cards of a future (or not) Hall of Fame set.

    The story about the lack of photos and “lack of summer interest” sounds a bit fishy to me, and I don’t feel like that was the actual reason why the set was never released. I have no idea why it wasn’t released, but I doubt it was that.

    1. Sean, great point about the lack of good photos. Maybe Action Packed had to stall production for monetary reasons, and not because of poor photographs. Hadn’t thought of that.

  9. I want int on the contest as well.

    Back in 1994-95 I spent most of my money on Fleer Ultra, Topps Premier, and other shiny things, so I probably wouldn’t not have been interested. Ditto being young and uninterested in things historical. Today, I really enjoy oddball sets, so had it been produced, I definitely would have collected it now. Those rounded corners are great.

  10. 1) I’m in.

    2) While I’m not positive I would have collected the set upon its initial release, I definitely would have collected it today, either as a ’94 issue or a ’12 issue.

    Action Pack football worked well because that sport and all of its padding and
    bulk work well with a 3d-type card. Hockey, I would think, would be no different. It is a shame, really, that this set was never released because the Hull looks fantastic. And I don’t know if I’m in the minority here, but I love old hockey photography with the poorly lit arenas that make for a good backdrop for the desired player.

  11. Entry one:
    I want to be in – That Gold card is attractive!

    Entry two:
    I would have certainly purchased these packs back in the day. I have the card BH1, but do not recall how I received it.. Do you know how they were distributed? Since this set never came out, I purchased the lame Original Six Classics cards released around the same time, or the 1972 Summit Series card packs.

  12. Thanks for the contest Sal and I’d love to be in. Since I wasn’t yet born in 1994 I would not have collected the set then, but depending on the price (I don’t pay much for my cards) I may have collected it later. I think that the lock-out was probably the largest factor into why the set was never released. On a side note, the cards look pretty nice. A guy who works at a local card shop gave me and my buddy half a garbage bag of 199something Action Packed NFL cards for free. I personally like the odd shape of them.

  13. hey everyone ive been looking on a bunch of sites but cant figure out how much my bobby hall gold promo signed BH2 hockey card is worth….. ?

  14. First time I’m seeing these. The basketball Hall of Fame set from 1994 that Beckett calls a 1995 release for some unknown reason does feature artifacts of the back of each card, however, it’s only a 38 card set. Disappointing. Now that I’m collecting NHL full time I will need to hunt down a copy for my collection.

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