Book Review: The Wayne Gretzky Collector’s Handbook

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No player is more collectible than Wayne Gretzky. Period. Sure, some may argue that Bobby Orr or Gordie Howe were better players. But when you consider both the sheer amount of memorabilia items made bearing his image and the droves of people who collect them, no one tops Gretzky. “The Wayne Gretzky Collector’s Handbook,” published in 2016, painstakingly documents over 7,500 items with The Great One’s likeness, including trading cards, lunch boxes, posters, magazines and so much more.

Notes
Title: The Wayne Gretzky Collector’s Handbook
Author: Richard Scott
Pages: 142 pages
Sold Exclusively at Blurb.com.
Size: 6″ x 9″
Publisher: Up North Productions

There is a lot of information packed into this slim, 142-page book. Most of the pages in “The Wayne Gretzky Collector’s Handbook” are checklists. But don’t worry — the book isn’t just a price guide. Author Richard Scott, the former editor of Canadian Sportscard Collector and current editor of The Want List website, breaks up the monotony of endless lists with articles woven throughout.

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Checklist pages feature easy-to-read type.

For example, four pages talk about collecting Gretzky’s autograph, while another four examine the mystique of Gretzky’s rookie card. Six pages list various game-used equipment — such as helmets, gloves and sticks — noting each piece’s most recent auction sale price; some of this data goes as far back as 2002. Another 16 pages show off game-used Gretzky jerseys, complete with the auction’s description of each, as well as the “hammer down” prices. The book also offers helpful tips if you are trying to figure out what year a photo of Gretzky was taken.

The biggest strength of “The Wayne Gretzky Collector’s Handbook” may be that it lists out every Gretzky card ever made; 46 pages list every Gretzky card from 1979 to 2016, another 14 pages list every card with a certified autograph and another 14 list cards with game-used memorabilia. Anyone who tends to focus their Gretzky collection solely on his trading cards will get a lot from this book, which even lists Gretzky’s appearances in non-hockey sets such as SP Authentic Golf and multi-sport sets like Goodwin Champions.

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Throughout the book are several articles which provide the story behind many of Gretzky’s collectible memorabilia items.

Sadly, documenting every single Gretzky collectible is an exhaustive task, and some notable items are omitted. For example, most of the video games endorsed by Wayne Gretzky are absent, such as “Wayne Gretzky Hockey” for the Nintendo Entertainment System, “Gretzky NHL” for the Playstation Portable or “NHL Slapshot” for Nintendo Wii, among many others. But there is a plethora of information on magazines, newspapers, books, ticket stubs, action figures, key chains, posters, puzzles, pucks, school supplies, cereal boxes and many other Gretzky items.

What I like about “The Wayne Gretzky Collector’s Handbook”: The book gives detailed price information about game-used jerseys, sticks, helmets and gloves, tracking auction data as far back as 2002. The checklist pages feature type that is legible and easy to read. Seriously, so many other price guide books have tiny print, but in this book you can actually read the checklist pages and learn about items you never knew existed. The book is small and lightweight enough that it can be easily taken to a sports memorabilia convention when keeping track, or referencing prices, on your next Gretzky collectible purchase.

What I do not like about “The Wayne Gretzky Collector’s Handbook”: Other than the eye-catching cover, the book is entirely in black and white. That seems understandable, considering that the book is over 100 pages long and consists mostly of checklist pages. Still, full-color pictures of the 16 game-used jerseys, as well as the four-page spread of vintage O-Pee-Chee cards, really should have been in color.

Rating 4 out of 5If you collect Wayne Gretzky items, even casually, this book is hands-down a must-have. 

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

5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Wayne Gretzky Collector’s Handbook”

  1. Anything in that collector’s handbook about the old Wayne Gretzky Overtime Table Hockey?

    It’s been more than 15+ years give or take a few since that game was issued by the old Kevin Sports out of Canada. You can still find some of the teams on ebay and the occasional game board itself which I want to say retailed for in the low $100-$130 back in the 90s. Kevin Sports sold and I believe Buddy Inc. took over the license, which then resulted in a smaller game board being released under the “All-Star Hockey” moniker. Eventually, I think they went under too. The real treasure of that Table Hockey line was the 3-dimensional teams, long before stiga. They were more detailed than the old 2-d flat “banana blade type table hockey players”; and the game was affordable compared to the old Super-Chexx Table Hockey line you might see at a Showbiz Pizza, Chuckie Cheese, or an arcade lounge. I just wondered if that handbook had anything on the Gretzky table hockey line?

    1. Hi Eric,

      Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, the other glaring omission in the book is that it does not have any information about the Wayne Gretzky Overtime Hockey game. If you count the different versions of the tables, different teams and manufacturers, you could easily fill a book chapter about that. That could be one reason why these were overlooked.

      Do you collect those figures? I do. Let me know if you ever want to buy/sell/trade any Gretzky table hockey figures. I regret not buying all of the teams back when they went on clearance for $5/team back in 1995.

      Sal

      1. Hey Sal,

        Oh man, you took the words right from me. Back in the late 90s I remember Toy’s R Us had a bunch of North Stars and St. Louis Blues packages in the bargain bin for that $5 amount. I should’ve snapped some of them up too. I guess I just didn’t have the foresight to know something like ebay would roll around or that people would find them as collectable as I thought they’d be.

        I actually got my set and the teams after I saw an advertisement for the line in the back of an old Blackhawk program (still have the Goal Magazine, it’s one with Steve Larmer on the cover). That Christmas I started collecting. There use to be a toy store called Gamer’s Paradise, and this guy there knew a distributor and he’d special order teams. I use to go into his store and just be in awe at the detail of the players. I started out buying a few singles and he noticed my interest and asked me if I wanted any specific teams. That’s how I got the Blackhawks, the Redwings, the Sharks…a lot of my collection came from placing a special order thru that store. Then over the years I’ve added others, MTL, Dallas, Hartford (the original green), and others (my set came with LAvsNYR). I regret not buying more back when I had the chance. You see how pricey they are on ebay now. I also regret not getting Ottawa and Tampa Bay when I had the chance after they first came out. I do still occasionally add a team here or there, mostly when I come across a team I want that I don’t have, and I still have my original table, the accessory set, the zamboni. I suppose Stiga makes a good product nowadays but I still like the Gretzky Table Hockey teams.

        Eric

        1. Eric,
          Did you grow up on the NW side of Chicago? I remember the Toys R Us at Bricktown Square had Flyers and North Stars marked down to $4 or $5 per team. I did buy one North Stars set, but wish I had purchased a second, as I try to get two full sets of each team. I also used to go to the Gamer’s Paradise at the Harlem-Irving Plaza. The store manager looked like Dudley Moore from the “Arthur” films, and used to order me anime VHS tapes. I never thought to ask him to order me hockey teams. I remember when Gamer’s Paradise marked down all the teams to $5. I should have bought ’em all, as now I hate the thought of paying $50 or $60 for an unopened set that I’m just going to open anyway. Good memories 🙂
          Sal

          1. Sal,

            You are right, the Gamer’s Paradise proprietor did look like Dudley Moore; I was going to say he had a youthful Barry Melrose (the longer looking haircut) look. It was total happenstance that I wandered in there and found those table hockey figures. I had gone shopping for something else when I wandered into that place and noticed he had a selection of the players (singles) and a few teams. The singles he sold at around 4.99 and the teams around $20. Which was a bit pricey but Toys R Us hadn’t been stocking anything other than the game board (which included 2 teams) for the longest time. I actually bought several teams and individual players before I ever even got the game table which was around $100-120 somewhere in that range. Oh and yes, I live in Chicago. I wish I had known back then that the Bricktown Toys R Us had sets. I was shocked when I saw the sets at the Toys R Us near Riverview’s mall when they were basically getting rid of stock at the bargain price of $4.99 for an entire team. I don’t know what it’s like for a kid nowadays or what they enjoy besides video games, but wandering the aisles at toy stores..well there were worse ways you could spend your time. Thanks for the nostalgia Sal, it is indeed good memories.

            Eric

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