Trading card company Action Packed really wanted to make hockey cards in the mid-1990s, but they couldn’t get the license to do so from the NHL. At the time, the league was limiting how many companies were making NHL trading cards, so Action Packed did the next-best thing and attempted to launch four different lines of hockey collectibles — including a set of drink coasters called CoaStars.
Get it? They’re coasters…of stars? Star hockey players. Hello?
Anyway, as you can probably imagine, CoaStars didn’t go over too well. But not because it was a terrible idea — and it truly was — but because the 1994 NHL lockout hurt the hockey card market. Shops in fall of 1994 had a hard time selling hockey cards, as the interest dwindled during the lockout, so it was highly unlikely that they were going to order 200 cases of hockey-themed drink coasters, even if they did have Mark Messier on them.
(And if you really wanted hockey coasters, you could have bought a whole 36-pack box of 1990-91 Pro Set Hockey for $5 back in 1994, and ended up with 540 cards you could repurpose as coasters. But I digress.)
Action Packed did do something unique, though. The front of each CoaStar collectible drink coaster — I can’t say that out loud and keep a straight face – pictured the player in their home white jersey, along with their stats on home ice. The back showed the same player, but in their road uniform, along with their stats from road games.
Out of all of the hockey collectibles released by Action Packed, CoaStars are the only ones that do not feature the typical, embossed (“puffy”) photographs. Three-dimensional imagery, where some parts of the photo were raised off of the surface, was Action Packed’s hallmark — not just on their football and basketball cards, but on the scant few hockey items they released. But that wasn’t done with CoaStars, which was probably a good idea, as a drink coaster that isn’t flat would be a pretty awful coaster.
While CoaStars never made it to stores, six promos were released to retailers, so as to show off what these bad boys would look like.
The coasters were going to be issued on a backer board, with a slot for hanging and perforations around each coaster so you could easily remove them.
Curiously, the back has a “tentative” checklist for 110 different CoaStars. However, a print ad states that 90 total CoStars were planned, and would have come in sets of six. That is probably the case, as 90 is evenly divisible by six, resulting in 15 different “sets” of CoaStars, whereas 110 is not evenly divisible by six. Beckett Hockey’s online price guide incorrectly lists 110 CoaStars as if they were released, but the only ones released are these six promos.
CoaStars measured 3 1/4″ by 3 1/4″, and 1/8″ thick. The corners are rounded. Both sides have a glossy finish. Below are pictures of the front and back of each of the six promotional CoaStars.
This print advertisement, which ran in magazines during late summer and early fall of 1994, advertised CoaStars, along with Mammoth, Badge of Honor and Big Picture.
While promos of all of these were released, none of them made it to retail.
So, what are your thoughts about CoaStars? Would you have collected them back in 1994? If a similar set was released today with current players, would you buy it? ■