Two promos hint at what could have been a memorable set
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.
The 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.