Review: 1998-99 Panini Photocards

Bad photography makes this one forgettable set

1998-99 Panini Photocards - Patrick RoyThe 1998-99 Photocards set was an odd release for Panini. While the company usually focused on making sticker albums, this season they also made this set of “photo cards,” which were similar in size to postcards. Panini also issued a small hardcover album to store the photocards.

You would think that a larger-sized format set of cards would excel, but this one unfortunately does not. This set falters because of mediocre photography, bad cropping and color problems. 

Player selection  3 out of 5
The set is comprised of 108 oversized cards, and focuses mainly on the star players for each team. Ten players are also featured in All Star jerseys, while another seven are also shown winning trophies.

Also included is a card of the 1998 Stanley Cup winners, the Detroit Red Wings.

For a relatively small set, the player selection is pretty good. We get cards of all the top players and in many cases two cards of the best stars – the second card being an All Star Game photo or a photo from the NHL Awards ceremony.

1998-99 Panini Photocards - Peter Forsberg (All-Star)Card design 1 out of 5
There isn’t much design to speak of – and that’s usually OK with trading cards of this size. If you are purchasing oversize cards, you almost want them to not have any logos, names or other junk that usually takes up space; so that you are left with just a good photo.

But most of the photos in this set are lacking. When doing an oversized set such as this one, you either want action photos, good close up portraits or a combination of both. We get action photos that aren’t all that exciting, as well as portrait photos that – for the most part – are not all that telling.

Making matters worse is the bad cropping of the photos Panini used. Many times, both the top of the player’s head and the bottom of his skates are cropped out for no apparent reason. In some cases, an exciting game action photo gets neutered by an awkward crop job. Overall, these photographs look like the “leftovers” that other hockey card companies didn’t want to use.

1998-99 Panini Photocards Album
An album was released to store the 1998-99 Panini Photocards set.

In addition to the bad photo selection and poor cropping, many of the photos look like they seriously need some color correction, as the color seems to be “off”: whites look purplish-blue, oranges and reds seem to be too saturated and many of the photos seem overexposed. The overexposure is especially noticeable on any portrait-type shots, where you see a lot of the player’s face.

If you produce hockey cards that don’t have any stats on the back, then what’s on the front really has to count. These card “fronts” miss the net.

One nice touch though is the variation between vertical and horizontal photos. Many of the horizontal shots are nice – but still suffer from the problems mentioned above.

1998-99 Panini Photocards - Patrick Roy (back)Stats & info  n/a
Since the selling point of the set was assumingly the oversized nature of the photos, stats don’t really seem all that necessary. The backs of each card do not have any information other than the player’s name and team name; or the name of the trophy if it is an award winner card. That would be OK if the photos on the front were awesome…but they are not. So, the lack of stats becomes just another reason to not vest too much into this set.

This set doesn’t really have any “subsets”, though it does dedicate 10 cards to players in All-Star Game jerseys, and another seven cards to players accepting awards (Jaromir Jagr with the Art Ross Trophy, Dominik Hasek accepting the Vezina, etc.). There is also a photo of the Red Wings having just won the 1998 Stanley Cup.

Final Score: 1 out of 5Bad photography, and not much else. Had the color not looked so lousy on these cards, we could almost forgive the boring, poorly cropped pictures.

BONUS: Top 5 cards
Very few photos in this set have merit. Here are the best 5 photographs.

1998-99 Panini Photocards - Kevin HatcherKevin Hatcher – This is one of the few cards in this set that looks good. It shows Hatcher making a quick stop, the ice shavings spraying upward, as he handles the puck.

1998-99 Panini Photocards - Paul KariyaPaul Kariya – A good use of a horizontal photograph, here Kariya skates with the puck.

1998-99 Panini Photocards - Mark MessierMark Messier – Moose congratulates his teammate after a goal. Photos like these really draw you into the game.

1998-99 Panini Photocards - Chris ProngerChris Pronger – More candid shots like this would have been great. The look of disgust on Pronger’s face makes you wonder what pissed him off so much.

1998-99 Panini Photocards - Garth SnowGarth Snow – The Canucks goalie makes a low save. A rare card that does not suffer from poor cropping.

Picking just 5 stinkers was tough, but here are the worst cards in this set.

Sergei Fedorov – The poor cropping results in an awkward photo of Fedorov looking nowhere.

1998-99 Panini Photocards - Ron Francis (Byng Trophy)Ron Francis (Byng Trophy) – You can really see the color problems when looking at Francis’ face in this photo.

1998-99 Panini Photocards - Mike ModanoMike Modano – Wow, this card sucks. They cut off part of his head. They cut him off at the knees. Then there’s all this dead space in front of and behind him. Why? They should have fired the photo editor.

1998-99 Panini Photocards - Scott NiedermayerScott Niedermayer – More bad cropping. We don’t see the puck, and half of the card is dedicated to an unseen opponent’s stick.

1998-99 Panini Photocards - Pierre TurgeonPierre Turgeon – Lame photograph. Why is some other player’s butt featured so prominently on Turgeon’s card?

108 card set
1 album
Card Size: 3 7/8″ wide x 5 7/8″ tall
Click here to download a printable checklist


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

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