Lame design and low-quality besmirch the OPC name
For the second year in a row, Topps has leased the name “O-Pee-Chee” to Upper Deck for use in branding a large set of hockey trading cards. Whereas the prior year’s set of cards was a bit more appealing, this year’s set proves that Upper Deck could stamp the words “O-PEE-CHEE” on a box of crap, and we’d buy it.
Hell, I’m guilty of it. Fed up with Upper Deck’s monopoly on the hockey card industry, just hearing the name “O-Pee-Chee” stirs up memories of yesterday, when you could complete a set of cards without buying twelve boxes of the same product. Back when getting a rookie card of a hot new player wasn’t any more difficult than getting a “common”.
Sadly, this set just proves that we’d buy almost any set of cards – no matter how lame they are – in order to get a rookie card of Patrick Kane or Carey Price. And this set is lame.
Cards 1-500 are considered the “base set”, while cards 501-600 make up the “Marquee Rookies” subset.
Player Selection 5 out of 5
One of the few bright points of this set is that it features a lot of different players. While some of the smaller sets like SPX and Ice have better designs (more on that later), I get tired of seeing the same players over and over in those 100 card sets. Since this is the year’s largest issue, each team is represented by 16 or 17 cards in the “base set”. Where else are you going to get cards of Patrick Sharp, Mike Grier or Gary Roberts? While those players might not get everyone too excited, you have to give props to the second and third liners who may not dazzle, but are the heart and soul of the game.
Front Design 1 out of 5
On the front of the card you will see that the O-Pee-Chee logo is large – in fact, too large. It is loud and proud, as if to say “YOU ARE BUYING NOSTALGIA!”
Well guess what? This isn’t nostalgia – this is junk. Some of those old O-Pee-Chee sets had subpar designs – the lackluster 1975-76 set comes to mind – but none as bad as this one here. The design on the card fronts is straightforward (name, position, team logo) and unimaginative. Nothing about this design “feels” like hockey, let alone an old OPC set. I do give Upper Deck a lot of credit for their Parkhurst sets – which many times do feel like the old Parkhurst sets of yore. This set, though, with its enormous logo and bland design, doesn’t do much to stir up the nostalgia we’d hoped for.
One other big problem I have is the lack of up-to-date photos. For example, Bryan Smolinski finished the prior season with the Vancouver Canucks before joining the Montreal Canadiens for the 2007-08 season. While the front has a Montreal logo, the photo shows him as a Blackhawks player. That was two teams ago – and the kind of BS you’d expect in an August release, but not in a late December one. Surely, if Upper Deck could get photos of guys who played only one game during the first half of 2007-08, then why not also get us some up-to-date pics of Manny Fernandez, Mathieu Schneider, Bill Guerin and the many other guys who have since changed teams by then?
Back Design / Stats & Info 2 out of 5
The backs of these cards suck on several levels. First off, they don’t feature all of a player’s yearly statistics – something that OPC cards traditionally did. Only up to the last ten years are listed, as well as height, weight and shot (or catches for goalies). So while the back of Chris Chelios’ card mentions that he played for 23 seasons, it only lists the stats for the last ten. I have to ask, if all the back of the card has is stats, why not list them all? I could understand if the back of each card had another photo, but no such luck here.
Even worse, the cards are printed on ugly, bland, gray cardstock that makes the stats hard to read. A team logo and O-Pee-Chee logo ghosted behind the stats make things even harder to see. While OPC and Topps, historically, have had some bland, grayish backs, I don’t think they were ever this bad. These look more like free cards that were printed on cereal boxes than something you paid for.
So, what are we buying for a buck-fifty? A shot at a Patrick Kane rookie card, which brings me to my next point…
Marquee Rookie Subset
The last 100 cards in the set feature rookie cards, mostly of guys who debuted in the first half of the 2007-08 season, with a few “leftovers” from the prior season mixed in. But how many rookie cards are too many…and how many of the 100 Marquee Rookies in this set are truly “marquee”?
Personally, I find the overabundance of rookie cards annoying for several reasons. These Marquee Rookie cards were inserted in a rate of one in every two packs. The quick math says that’d you’d have to buy at least 200 packs in hopes of getting every Marquee Rookie card. That makes odds of getting a Patrick Kane card 1-in-200.
So, while I hoped to pull cards of Kane, Nicklas Backstrom, Jonathan Toews, Cary Price – or hell, even Jaroslav Halak -most of the time I seemed to get guys like Steve Wagner, Joel Ward and Denis Tolpeko. Speaking of Kane and Toews, the Chicago Blackhawks have eight rookie cards in this subset – six of them are of ‘Hawks players almost no one cares about. I’m sure we could have waited until next season to see rookie cards of David Koci, Bryan Bickell or Colin Fraser.
One thing I do like about these Marquee Rookie cards is that the backs are printed in color, albeit on similar gray cardstock. It is ironic how the use of color ink on the back is considered “special” here.
Foil-enhanced “Micromotion” and “Micromotion Black” parallel cards were released of all cards 1-600. Micromotion Black cards were numbered and limited to 100 copies each. Cards 1-500 feature a player cut out and placed in front of a radial blue background (silver for Micromotion Black cards).
Micromotion cards for Marquee Rookies have a shiny pattern around the player photo, giving it a very 1990s insert feel.
The parallel cards are printed on a thicker, white cardstock that give the backs of each card a nice look.
Six cards came in a pack and retailed for $1.49 USD.
I wish the normal cards were printed on the stock used for the Micromotion cards. Had this been the case, it would have made the set much better. While I made it pretty clear that I am not a fan of this set, it does have some good rookie cards – assuming that you buy (or build) a full set and not just the base set. While the backs are bland, the fronts are not super-glossy, which makes these cards ideal for autographs. So, I guess even a base set might be cool for that purpose. Still, I wish Topps would stop leasing the O-Pee-Chee name to Upper Deck, and instead start using it again when they can re-enter the hockey card market.
BONUS: Top 5 Rookie Cards
I don’t really think the base cards really show anything of interest. So let’s look at five rookie cards that might become worth owning very soon.
517 – Jonathan Toews – Recently appointed team captain of the Chicago Blackhawks, an injury last season kept him from potentially winning Rookie of the Year. (back)
518 – Patrick Kane – Speaking of which, Toews teammate Kane led all rookies in scoring and was named Rookie of the Year. (back)
540 – Sam Gagner – Fans have lofty expectations for this son of the former NHL player Dave Gagner. (back)
560 – Carey Price – He’s a goalie and he plays for the Canadiens. It’s time to start making those unrealistic (and unfair) comparisons to Patrick Roy! (back)
598 – Nicklas Backstrom – Finally, a reason besides Alexander Ovechkin to get excited about the Washington Capitals. (back)
600 card set
– Base Set: 1-500
– Marquee Rookies: 501-600
Card size: 2 1/2″ wide x 3 1/2″ tall
Click here to download a printable checklist